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Article from Music Technology, October 1992


Computer and video games publisher Elite Systems are currently commissioning a series of pop video films which will be used to launch new game titles. These will be used in much the same way as those produced for the music business, ie. for broadcast on those television series with an interest in computer games and/or music.

Airtime already secured for the first film, which features music under license from various established artists includes Channel 4's Gamesmaster and Lunchbox on Sky's Lifestyle channel. In addition, Elite's agents throughout Europe will be using the films for promotional purposes. A second video, to promote a game which features two comical cavemen called Joe and Mac is due for completion in October, while a third is currently in the planning stage.

The company are seeking up-and-coming artists to write and perform the music for further videos and for the games themselves. Anyone wanting to find out more should contact Steve Wilcox at Elite Systems on (Contact Details).

Casing The Rack

New from CP Cases is an all aluminium protective hand-carry case for 19" rack-mountable equipment, available in 2U, 3U and 4U sizes. The CP 19" Strato Rack is both stronger and lighter than the company's old glass fibre GRP case, which it replaces. Finished in hard-wearing Gunmetal Grey, it has removable front and back lids for complete access to equipment, with a neoprene rubber gasket in each lid ensuring weatherproof protection against dust, dirt and rain.

Other features of the Strato Rack include an easy-grip, steel-reinforced handle and key-lockable heavy duty drawbolt catches, together with stacking indents in the seam-welded aluminium body which provide a positive location when units need to be stacked on top of one another. Vertical racking supports and fixings are included with the case.

Prices start from £112.50 for the 2U case. For further information on the Strato Rack and other 19" accessories and protective cases from the company, contact CP Cases at (Contact Details).

Walking the QY

To the long list of users of Yamaha's pocket-sized QY10 Walkstation can be added the name of David Was from the band Was Not Was. While on tour with Dire Straits this summer, Was used the QY to work on songwriting ideas for the next Was Not Was album.

"When you're a songwriter in the vast, silent confines of your hotel bedroom, bouncing ideas off the walls, it's good to have a net to receive the products of your imagination," he explains. "The QY10 is great because it's capable of establishing the real feel of the composition and is especially useful for disappearing into your own world on train journeys!"

Seems like the QY was a failure for Was. Not.

Suggestive Support

The Roland D Series User Group, now more than three years old, has recently acquired both a new chairman, Garry Mason, and a new contact address: (Contact Details). The group is also expanding its remit to provide support for Roland's JV series synths and is looking to recruit a new member to assist in answering any technical queries relating to the JV range and to contribute short articles to the thrice-yearly newsletter (strictly volunteer work).

In addition to the newsletter, the group's annual membership fee of £10 entitles members to many special discount schemes with suppliers of music-oriented products, and, via D-SUG's group membership of the UKMA, assistance in solving MIDI problems. Other "perks" of membership are D-SUG's own public domain editors and tone banks for the D-series synths (Atari ST only).

Anyone interested in joining D-SUG should write to the above address or ring (Contact Details) in order to request a membership application form. Cheques, made payable to "D-SUG", should only be sent when accompanied by a completed application form.

The Atari Falcon 030

Report by Ian Waugh

After months of speculation by the computer press, Atari's new computer the Falcon has, it seems, finally arrived. Officially launched in August at the Atari Messe in Dusseldorf, we can now 'top and tail' the report in our August issue.

The casing is, indeed, the same as the ST but beige in colour. This was apparently done for reasons of speed and to keep costs down - although a new case is believed to be being designed and may make an appearance in the middle of 1993. Inside, however, is a complement of totally new chips and an architecture which has been designed from scratch - it contains no TT or STE chips. 80 percent of the PCB is surface-mount technology representing the highest quality design Atari has ever produced.

We knew the Falcon was based on the Motorola 68030 chip running at 16MHz, but what has also emerged is the inclusion of a 32MHz 56001 56K DSP with no wait states, a 16MHz Blitter chip and three 3 DMA channels. To give you an idea of the relative processing power of the Falcon and the ST: the Falcon chips contain around 40,000 gates and the ST has between 8,000 and 10,000.

The video display is compatible with Super VGA, and in True Colour mode up to 65,536 colours can be displayed simultaneously. It will also plug into a TV (which seems rather a waste of video display power) and it's compatible with ST colour and mono monitors. It accepts external video sync signals to allow high quality genlocking.

External connectors include LAN (Local Talk-compatible), a high speed serial port, an enhanced parallel port and a SCSI II port which can sustain a 2Mb per second data transfer rate. There are MIDI sockets too, of course.

The Falcon can support an internal IDE hard disk and the built-in floppy drive is 1.44Mb and PC-compatible. The internal hard drive has an access time of 19ms and there is also a built-in real-time clock with battery back-up which should last 10 years. As anticipated, the Falcon supports 16-bit, eight-channel simultaneous record and playback with DMA. It has a built-in 16-bit stereo CODEC giving CD quality sounds and all the sound sections can be interconnected. For example, the DSP, the CODEC and the DMA channels can be linked to each other.

The software is based on the desktop features of the TT with many new enhancements such as animated colour icons, 3D window gadgets and buttons. It also incorporates MultiTOS which will allow a degree of multitasking. A large number of operating system calls give programmers easy access to various sections of the machine such as the analogue to digital converters and the DSP.

Applications currently being developed for the Falcon include realtime 3D rendering, shading and object manipulation, photo retouching and scanning software, genlocking and a PC emulator which plugs into an expansion slot.

The D2D company was showing a direct-to-disk audio editor which was doing a grand job of cutting and pasting samples and putting them in a Cue list. The sound quality was subjectively excellent but we'll have to reserve judgement on the full setup until we get our hands on a complete system (...which should lead to fisticuffs in the MT office!).

Currently under development is bit stream font-scaling technology which will work with GDOS applications. Also, a product with the working title of ST Sutra which will let you attach voice or other audio messages to letters and E-Mail. As if reading your boss's scathing witticisms weren't enough - now you'll have to listen to them!

The Falcon will include four pieces of software configured as desktop accessories: a calendar appointment book, a calculator and two games - Landmines and Breakout. As expected, the machine will be available in four RAM configurations - 1Mb, 4Mb and 14Mb. According to Sam Tramiel, Atari's President and CEO, the basic 1Mb machine will cost £499 and a 4Mb version with a 65Mb hard disk will cost £899. (It was rumoured that the 1Mb machine would cost £399 and the 4Mb version would cost £499.) He also claimed UK deliveries will start in September (...though we suspect it won't appear in volume until Christmas or the new year).

Both Steinberg and C-Lab currently have developers machines to ensure that their existing programs work on the Falcon. Sam Tramiel also hinted that they are working on new music programs for it too. The Falcon is highly ST-compatible although programs such as games which directly address certain parts of the hardware are likely to cause problems. But Atari do regard ST compatibility as being very important.

The major breakthrough for musicians, however, is likely to be the Falcon's ability to support direct-to-disc recording without any additional hardware. A complete direct-to-disc recording system could cost around £1200!

Interestingly, work on a Falcon 040 has been confirmed...

Fostex in the Mix

Fostex uphold their long and distinguished record in design innovation with the DCM100 MIDI Mixer and the Mixtab Controller, a complete MIDI-controlled real-time mixing system which costs just £748 including VAT.

In addition to two stereo effects sends, two stereo effects returns and stereo outputs, the 1U 19" DCM100 module provides L/Mono and Right audio connections for each of its eight line-level channels. Real-time MIDI control over pan, mute, send levels and hi/lo EQ for each channel is possible using MIDI control data, as is full level and hi/lo EQ control on both stereo returns. In addition, mix setups can be stored in up to 100 Scene memories, which you can dump via MIDI SysEx to external storage. Larger mixer systems can be configured by cascading up to eight DCM units, giving a maximum of 64 stereo inputs.

The DCM100 can be controlled directly from a MIDI sequencer, but Fostex have sensibly provided the Mixtab unit as an option for anyone who prefers to work with a more physically immediate user interface. Deliberately designed to resemble a conventional mixing console in its layout of controls and faders, Mixtab in fact transmits MIDI controller data, which can be sent directly to the DCM100 or recorded into a sequencer. Although it has eight sliders, Mixtab includes a switch which allows it to interface with up to three DCMs, making a 24:2 configuration of the system possible.

The DCM100 is priced at £449, the Mixtab at £299.

More good news from Fostex comes in the form of price reductions on several existing products. The X28 cassette multitracker is now £339, the R8 eight-track reel-to-reel £1399, and the 812 12-input and 820 20-input Multitrack Mixers, respectively £799 and £1299.

All prices quoted include VAT. For more information, contact Fostex at (Contact Details).

Falling Amigas

While PC-compatible prices have plummeted over the past couple of years and even the Apple Mac range has become newly competitive, the pricing of Commodore's Amiga 3000 series computers has remained unchanged. Dramatic price reductions by Commodore UK on the four configurations of the 3000 therefore bring the company's top-of-the-range machine more into line with current expectations.

The Amiga 3000 25/50 (2Mb RAM, Workbench 2.04, Amiga-Vision authoring software), originally £2999 now comes down to £1299. The 25/100 version (as above but with 100Mb hard drive) comes down from £3299 to £1499, the T 25/100 version (5Mb RAM, Workbench 2.04, AmigaVision) from £3749 to £2044, and the T 25/200 (as for T 25/100 but with 200Mb hard drive) from £3949 to £2540.

Aviator Lands at the PLASA SHOW

At the recent PLASA Show at Earl's Court, Celco broke new ground with the release of their new Aviator range of lighting consoles. The range consists of five models offering between 180 and 720 control channels and 1024 to 2048 dimmer channels. All models have one thousand cues, one hundred 99-step sequences and 25 playlists.

The digital faders used have been jointly developed with Penny & Giles and the use of 32-bit Transputers for the storing of fader positions gives a degree of fault tolerance practically unheard of in the industry. Two on-board LCD screens offer various levels of information which can be displayed in alphanumeric and icon formats - including Channel Level, Dimmer Patching, Cue Fade Times, Cue Fade Operation, Fader Exclusivity and Preset Mode. Also included is full support for MIDI Show Control - in line with their smaller, Navigator console.

The Aviator will be available from January 1993; more information from: Celco on (Contact Details).


Roland JD800 s/n ZC54724 and Korg Poly 800 Mk II: stolen from van in Colchester, evening 18/9/92, please phone Adam Figures on (Contact Details) if you have any information.

Songs for Christmas

With Christmas fast approaching, MIDI Songfile company Words & Music have jumped on the Xmas bandwagon (or should that be Santa's sleigh?) with The Christmas MIDI Song Collection, a disk containing over 100 tunes for the festive season stored in Standard MIDI File format. Included are Christmas songs, carols and medleys plus festive classical pieces by Bach, Beethoven and other great composers. The ST disk even contains an auto MIDI file player with a Christmas tree display which has lights that flash in time to the music (low res only) (Er, phew... Ed)

Also new from the company is Keep On Drummin', a collection of 160 drum patterns on disk, again stored in SMF format. The patterns are grouped into 16 Styles, including Afro, Fills, House, Rock, Rhythm 'n' Blues, Latin, Disco, Hip Hop and Reggae. Several of the patterns have an accompanying bassline, which can be used 'as is' or edited to suit your own music. Files are configured to the General MIDI standard, automatically ensuring compatibility with such instruments as Roland's Sound Canvas range, Yamaha's TG100 and Korg's 03R/W and the package contains full written documentation explaining GM and other drum maps.

Price for each collection is a very reasonable £8.95 including both VAT and P&P. Both collections are available for the Atari ST, Commodore Amiga and IBM PC and compatibles. State computer type and (for the PC) disk size when ordering.

Words & Music can be contacted at (Contact Details).

Dart's Cart Revolution

HHB Communications Ltd has picked up distribution rights in the UK and selected European territories for the revolutionary DART digital cart system manufactured by Berkshire-based company ASC. DART, which has already won orders from the likes of Scottish Television, Classic FM and the BBC World Service, employs 3.5" floppy disks in place of conventional analogue tape cartridges to provide instant-access digital audio. Digital compression technology allows one minute of CD-quality audio to be recorded onto a 2Mb high-density disk, and over five minutes onto a 10Mb high-density disk.

ASC have split DART'S functions across two units which are connected via a single buss cable. The DMP100-10 Master Player's simple interface, consisting of just Cue, Play and Pause buttons, means it will be instantly familiar to users of standard cart players. This leaves the DRM100 Record Module to provide less familiar functions such as mono and stereo digital recording via balanced analogue and IEC-958 Type II digital audio inputs, non-destructive editing of sample start and end points and the ability to loop and unloop samples at will.

The DMP100-10 Master Player is priced at £1620 plus VAT, the DRM100 Record Module at £1400 plus VAT.

For more information, contact HHB at (Contact Details).

World Chaos on TV

Rave culture collides with multimedia on Global Chaos - CDTV, a CD ROM disc described by its developers, London-based company Hex Ltd, as "eight tracks of hardcore techno and ambient chill tunes accompanied by infinitely mutating cyberscratch visual sequences."

Developed for Commodore's CDTV multimedia machine, which is basically an Amiga computer and a CD ROM player combined in one unit, Global Chaos also includes Hex's psychedelic computer game Top Banana, originally developed for the Amiga. Hex have divided Global Chaos into three sections plus the game. The first, 'Global Chaos', provides four Coldcut-produced hardcore dance tracks accompanied by rave-style visuals which consist of graphics based on principles of chaos and randomness.

In contrast, the Digital Love section provides four examples of soothing ambient music and absorbing visuals designed to relax the viewer and provide an opportunity for deep meditation and contemplation. Eternal Rave, meanwhile, offers a continuous flow of computer animations and rave-style graphics which Hex suggest would be ideal for a party or nightclub situation, preferably on a video wall or projector system.

Global Chaos - CDTV is due for worldwide release in October and will retail for a modest £29.99 in the UK.

For more information, contact Hex Ltd at (Contact Details).

International Catalogue

HW International have recently published the 1992-1993 edition of their popular 60-page catalogue, which introduces technical specifications and colour-coded product guides. In addition to existing product ranges from Shure, Pro Acoustics, RCF, 3G and HW International themselves, it includes the new Beta Green microphone range from Shure, the full range of QSC amplifiers, Ultimate Support Systems stands, frames and accessories, and 3G four-buss mixers and micro-line amplifiers.

Copies of the catalogue are available free on request from HW International at (Contact Details).

The MIDI Groove

Metra-Sound, already well known for their wide range of sound cards and sample disks are entering the sample CD market with the Dance Floor Groove Pack, a combination of sample CD and Standard MIDI Files song disk which concentrates on contemporary dancefloor styles.

The CD provides 20 demo songs, 146 drum loops, 110 drum and bass loops and 242 single drum and effect sounds spread across 78 tracks and a total playing time of 55 minutes. Each song is organised into four different tracks with track one being a demo song demonstrating the grooves on the additional MIDIfile disk, the second and third tracks providing the drum and the drum and bass loops separately and the fourth containing the individual drum samples used for the song.

The MIDIfile disk provides equivalent performance data in MIDI form so that you can load the rhythms and basslines into your own music, and edit them if you see fit. The Groove Pack comes complete with a track-chart indicating programmed tempo and drum settings.

Price for the pack is £39.99 including VAT. For more information contact UK distributors Sounds OK at (Contact Details).

Busy in Heaven

Heavenly Music MIDI Software have been extremely busy of late. For a start, they come up with a MIDIfile disk version of George Gershwin's Rhapsody In Blue - in fact, two versions, to be precise, one for piano only and the other a fully orchestrated arrangement. Price is £14.95 including P&P.

Marking a new direction for the company is the 3DCD sample CD, which has been recorded using Roland's Sound Space sound imaging system. A 99-index directory provides samples which include science fiction, atmospheric backdrops, synthesised rhythm loops and awesome intros - from the sublime to the outrageous.

The company are following up their U20/U220 mixer maps for Cubase with maps for Roland's Sound Canvas and D110, Ensoniq's ESQ1/M, Yamaha's TX81Z, DX100/27, SY series and TG100, and Kawai's K series synths. They're also currently in the process of programming a range of style disks for MPI's Feeling Partner and PG Music's Band-in-a-Box software, while their Dr Beat range of disks is soon to be extended with the release of Hot Jazz, Solid Rock, World Rhythm and Classic Dance disks. They've also finished converting their entire range of MIDIfile products for GM/GS compatibility. Is there no stopping them?

For further details contact: Heavenly Music, (Contact Details).

MT Helps FZ

Thanks to a news item and an advert in MT, membership of the Casio FZ Users Club has shot up, according to Adrian Phillip Cox who has taken over running of the club from Will Penney.

One of the new members pulled in by the MT Effect, Andee Graves, has written an Atari ST editor for the FZ series which provides timestretch, resample, optimisation, fade in/out, reverse and invert features, together with a redraw function called Point which allows glitches to be removed from samples.

FZED, as the editor is known, comes with a printed manual and costs just £30. Software updates will be provided in the near future and a full support service is being run by the club for an extra £10.

The Club's £10 annual membership fee gives you six newsletters and access to libraries of sounds which start at £3.50 per disk. There's also a disk retrieval service for the FZ at £2 per disk and at present the FZED editor is only available to club members.

For more information, contact Adrian Phillip Cox at The Casio FZ Users' Club, (Contact Details).

Previous Article in this issue

A Cynic Writes...

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Infinite World

Publisher: Music Technology - Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.

The current copyright owner/s of this content may differ from the originally published copyright notice.
More details on copyright ownership...


Music Technology - Oct 1992

Previous article in this issue:

> A Cynic Writes...

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> Infinite World

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