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Article from Music Technology, February 1993

PC In A Jam

Attention PC owners! PC MIDI specialists Digital Music are currently including a free copy of the Windows 3.1 MIDI sequencing program WinJammer with every Music Quest MIDI interface card they sell.

WinJammer is a 64-track sequencer which runs in all Windows modes, provides full online help and piano roll-style editing, and can import Ad Lib ROL files. The program also supports Standard MIDI Files, SysEx bulk dumps and real-time SysEx event recording, up to 256 MIDI channels, and Windows Multimedia Extensions. It comes with a companion program, WinJammer Player, which can play MIDI Songfiles in the background.

Any MIDI device supported by Microsoft's Multimedia Extensions is automatically supported by WinJammer.

The sequencer is shareware, which means that you can try it for free, then if you want to continue using it you should register it as per the 'on disk' licensing information.

For more information, contact Digital Music at (Contact Details).

Sign O' The Times I

In printed format it's an annually-updated, 2,200-page, two-volume publication. In CD-ROM format it fits onto a single optical disc and is updated bi-monthly. Containing data on over 170,000 recordings, the Music Master catalogue provides ready answers to questions about recorded music in the UK rock, pop, soul, jazz, country, dance and metal fields during the past 25 years.

In many respects, CD-ROM is the ideal medium for storing and accessing such a wealth of data. Using PC-based retrieval software provided with the Music Master CD-ROM, the disc can readily be searched for an artist's name, recording title, catalogue number, label name, distributor or release date. Once found, information can be printed out, or it can be saved to disk for subsequent incorporation into word-processor documents.

Of course, all this extra sophistication comes at a price. In addition to the potential 'startup' cost of a PC-compatible computer, a CD-ROM drive and a printer, an annual subscription to Music Master, including all updates, will set you back £499 (special launch price) subsequently rising to £750! Er, is this what's meant by the price of progress?

For more information, contact CD-ROM Systems (Europe) Ltd at (Contact Details).

Sign O' The Times II

Mitsubishi, long a prominent name in digital audio tape machines, have begun a phased withdrawal from the pro-audio market - ten years after they introduced their Pro-Digi format tape machines at the 1982 AES.

Sales of Mitsubishi Digital Recorders from the company's UK and European sales office in Hatfield ceased at the beginning of this year, though field service support and spares for the machines will continue for the foreseeable future, with the existing team of engineers continuing to work out of Hatfield.

Pointing to the current recessionary climate, Adrian Bailey (Sales & Marketing) explained: "Like many manufacturers, Mitsubishi has been searching for viability in its operation in the pro-audio industry. Sadly, the continuing downturn of business has endorsed earlier decisions to withhold development and introduction of new products, but accelerated the need to withdraw from this extremely slow-moving market."

Exit Mitsubishi - but enter Alesis, Fostex, Tascam...

Cambridge on the Move

Following a very successful 1992, keyboard stand manufacturers Cambridge Innovation Systems (International) Ltd have moved to new premises and are, they say, looking confidently ahead. Plans for '93 include the introduction of a "complementary range of accessory products for the professional keyboard market."

C.I.S. can now be contacted at (Contact Details).

And Why Not?

Newtronic Sound Design & MIDI Software Ltd have become the official UK distributors for a range of editing software from new German company Y-Not Application Design, a group of ex-Steinberg programmers who have set up on their own. Spec sheets suggest that these are very sophisticated programs, in the tradition of Steinberg's Synthworks editors. Available are Atari ST/STE editor/manager/librarians for Yamaha's SY99 synth (System 99: £129), Korg's 01/W synths (Shape?: £89), Korg's 03R/W synth module (Aftershape: £59), Alesis' D4 drum module (Alexis: £49), Yamaha's SY55/TG55 synth and module (Edith (!): £59) and Roland's JV80/880 synth and module (Jive: £tba). The SY99, 01/W and SY55/TG55 programs come with new sounds. Quoted prices are valid until the end of January.

Newtronic are also supplying new sounds for Korg's 01/W synths, available on 01/W disk for those instruments with an onboard disk drive and on Atari disk for those without. Called Magic Patches, the new sound sets, which consist of 200 Programs and 200 Combinations, retail at £29 each. The range includes acoustic and electric pianos, clavinets, organs, acoustic and electric guitars, strings, choirs, brass and woodwind, 'analogue' sounds, orchestral textures and sound effects.

Also new from the company is the U20/220 GS conversion disk, which provides sounds that are sorted according to Roland's GS Format patch organisation. Newtronic are also planning to release a new U220 editor package in the near future.

Lastly, the Geerdes MIDIMUSIC Collection, available from Newtronic, has been expanded with 200 new titles, taking the total to over 2000 GS-compatible songs - ranging in scope from Handel's Water Music to The Shamen's 'Ebeneezer Goode'.

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

CHEETAH: Cutting A Swathe Through The Hi-Tech Jungle...

Starting the New Year off with a roar rather than a whimper, Cheetah are launching four new products at the Winter NAMM show, each of which marks, to a greater or lesser degree, a new step forward for the company.

As its name indicates, the MS6 II is a progression on from Cheetah's popular analogue synth module, the MS6. The new module contains all the features of the original, but provides stereo output in place of the MS6's mono, and adds onboard effects processing together with auxiliary inputs which allow other instruments to be routed through the II's effects processing.

The MS6 II's effects section provides small and large hall reverbs, small and large rooms, and two plates, together with a selection of special effects which includes regen reverb, room ambience, stereo echo, three-tap panning echo, gated reverb, delay, and dark/normal filter setting. Eight time settings are provided, ranging from 50ms to 15 seconds delay. The MS6 II is set to retail for £450.

Responding to requests from professional users of their Master Series MIDI controller keyboards, Cheetah have also come up with two new 88-note controllers, the Master Series 7000 and 8000, whose external presentation should, at last, do justice to the high-spec software contained inside the casing. In fact, an extensive list of features suggests that these are going to be the most sophisticated MIDI controllers on the market.

Hardware features of the two controllers (which differ only in their choice of dynamic 'piano action' keyboard) include a large backlit LCD screen, 'soft' function buttons, an internal power supply and high-density Jeida RAM card storage, together with a generous helping of programmable front-panel sliders and switches and rear-panel footpedal and footswitch inputs, a MIDI joystick controller, two mergeable MIDI Ins, two MIDI Thrus, four MIDI Outs, and pitchbend, mod and MIDI volume wheels.

Software-implemented features include eight programmable overlapping keyboard zones, independent velocity scaling and MIDI effects programming (arpeggiator and MIDI echo) per zone, programmable zone names, four programmable note layers per zone with transpose, velocity curve, MIDI channel and MIDI output port parameters per layer, and programmable onboard sequences which can be triggered and transposed from the keyboard.

The Master Series 7000 will retail for £1200, the Master Series 8000 for £1500. Neither are replacements for the less expensive Master Series 770 and 550, which will remain in the range.

A page from Soundscape

But in many ways the most exciting new product to emerge from the Cheetah camp is a PC-based multitrack hard-disk recording system called Soundscape, which is set to retail for £2500 (excluding computer setup and storage medium). The base system consists of a single 2U 19" rack unit which provides four physical tracks, with two-track recording and four-track playback. However, depending on the speed and type of PC used, and the number of expansion card slots available, up to 64 physical tracks can be accommodated (each card can support two units).

Soundscape provides 16-bit linear sampling with a choice of 32, 44.1 and 48kHz sampling rates, and 24-bit internal processing. A/D and D/A conversion are both 16-bit sigma-delta with 64 x oversampling, and each unit is fitted with analogue and digital (S/PDIF) inputs and outputs. Detailed waveform editing is implemented along with non-destructive 'cut 'n' paste' editing of audio data, and data can be backed up to DAT via digital I/O or to PC hard/optical drive.

All the new products are scheduled for April availability.
All prices quoted include VAT.

For fuller details, contact Cheetah International Ltd at (Contact Details).

Creative Improvisation

First there was Improviser, the Atari ST program which could generate improvisations in real-time over any four-track MIDI File. Now Creative Sounds, the company responsible for developing Improviser, have come up with Improviser Pro.

The new program builds on the features of Improviser, adding variable-length melodic patterns (2-15 notes), variable-length rhythm patterns (1-4 bars), major, minor, dominant and half-diminished altered scale options, and recognition of extended harmonies.

Other new features provided are auto or user choice of altered scales, the ability to change the Rhythmic style of the harmony track, transposition to any key, call-and-response playing option, and the ability to save chord symbols in MIDI Files.

Improviser Pro comes with a theory guide which explains how the program works, complete with notated examples. The main aim of the program, which has been developed over the past three years by professional musician Paul Hodgson, is to assist in the process of learning instrumental improvisation and to help with composition. It can also be used as an ear-training tool.

Improviser Pro is available for £149 from Creative Sounds, (Contact Details). Owners of Improviser can upgrade to the Pro version for £39.

M1 Extension

Invision, the company who first made their mark with the Protologic upgrade board for E-mu's Proteus/1 module, have changed their UK distribution from TSC to Zone.

Latest product from the company is the Plus 1 expansion board for Korg's best-selling M1 workstation synth, which adds 4Mb of samples to the M1's existing sample ROM. The new samples, which include electric guitar, flute, violin, rock organ, electric piano and percussion, have been chosen with a view to complementing and enhancing the existing samples.

Although easy to fit, the Plus 1 board should be installed by a qualified engineer, and to this end Zone are establishing a network of service centres which will provide on-site fitting.

Zone are also making available a compact disc demo of the Plus 1's sounds.

Provisional price of the Plus 1 board is £295.

More information from Zone Distribution, (Contact Details).

Sampling Artistry

Art of Noise founder-member JJ Jeczalik is the latest name producer to release his own sample CD, cunningly titled Art of Sampling. The newest addition to Hit Music's Producer Series sample CDs, Art of Sampling features the finest sounds from JJ's Fairlight library, including a wide range of FX, vocal, percussion, drum, ethnic, synth and orchestral samples and various weird sounds which defy ready categorisation.

A number of the classic Art of Noise samples are included, from the 'Beatbox' drum samples to Tom Jones vocal samples from 'Kiss'. The CD also includes four S1000/1100 data sections for direct loading of samples via digital I/O.

Art of Sampling is available from AMG for £49 fully inclusive.

For further information, contact AMG at (Contact Details).

FARFISA: Rebirth Of The Eurosynth?

Last year it was Generalmusic, with the Gem S2 and S3 workstation synths, who provided evidence of heavyweight technological stirrings within the Italian electronic musical instrument industry.

This year, it's the turn of Farfisa, who are set to start the New Year off with a bang by launching the F1, a new keyboard which represents the first commercial application of DSP chips and a multisynthesis technology developed by the company over the past five or six years.

In presentation, the F1 is a highly sophisticated keyboard which sets technological and functional standards that other keyboard manufacturers will have to match. Features include a 76-note semi-weighted keyboard with velocity and channel aftertouch dynamics, a large backlit LCD with adjustable contrast, 34-note polyphony, four poly sections plus bass and rhythm sections, separate effects processing for each poly section plus master reverb, line/mic stereo 14-bit A/D inputs with three simultaneous effects, and a 16-track 50,000-note sequencer offering the sort of capabilities usually only found on workstation synths - plus one you're unlikely to find: the ability to display song lyrics in the LCD, karaoke-style! The F1's onboard PCM sample ROM provides 132 instrumental sounds and 133 drum and percussion sounds (the latter organised into 16 drum kits), which are utilised in 132 patches. Although these patches won't initially be editable, second-release software will allow up to 20 patches to be edited via MIDI; Farfisa themselves will be making available PC- and Atari-based editing software. A further release may introduce onboard patch editing.

An onboard 3.5" DSDD disk drive allows for storage of F1 sequences and for import/export of Standard MIDI Files, while a card slot provides access to further PCM samples. This being a keyboard (although Farfisa prefer to call it simply an electronic instrument), there are also 80 Styles consisting of bass, rhythm and two accompaniment parts, with a further 15 Styles loadable off disk. Each part can be assigned one of 16 levels of 'busyness', and each Style has four custom memories for storing different combinations of levels. Using a feature called Human Touch Accompaniment, you can vary the busyness of a Style in performance through the dynamics of your playing.

The F1 also features onboard speakers, powered by a 30 + 30W RMS amplifier. The speaker boxes are revolving and detachable, and can alternatively be used as monitor speakers for an external amplification system.

Watch out for a review of the F1 in Music Technology soon.
Price £tba.

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

Latest News From Heaven

MIDI Songfile purveyors Heavenly Music have hit upon a clever way of publicising their Songfile library and other products. You can now obtain free-of-charge a self-loading Atari disk (previously sold for £3) which contains not only 20 'bite-sized' MIDI Files ("enough to get you hooked", they say) but also a textfile catalogue of the company's entire Songfile library (which currently runs into hundreds of GS/GM-compatible songs) together with latest news of upgrades and product releases.

All you have to do is send off a 3.5" DSDD floppy disk and a stamped addressed envelope, and Heavenly Music will do the rest. You can make use of this service as often as you want.

New from the company is Easel, an ST-based graphic editor for Roland's Sound Canvas module retailing for an introductory price of just £24.95 plus £1.50 p&p. Easel offers onscreen access to all parts, parameters, drum levels, tuning, reverb sends etc.

Finally, in true Euro-competitive spirit, Heavenly Music's products are now also available through Quasimidi in Germany and Musicaro in Spain.

For more information, contact Heavenly Music on (Contact Details).

A Tough Case

Founded over a decade and a half ago by musicians for musicians, US company SKB today make cases for military weapons, medical equipment, computers, and test and measurement equipment as well as musical instrument cases. Consequently, many of their products have to meet the most demanding specifications governing impact resistance and durability, and they use the most technologically advanced materials to ensure resistance to temperature extremes, solvents and 'environmental problems'.

As well as a variety of guitar, bass, violin, saxophone, trumpet and microphone cases, SKB manufacture the ATA Universal Keyboard Case (£185), the ATA Drum Machine/Sequencer/Sampler Case (£125) and a range of ATA 19" Rackmount Cases from 2U to 12U heights (£99-179). All are made out of military-grade 50-100 ultra high molecular weight polyethylene material, and all meet or exceed all ATA specifications.

The Universal Keyboard case, which weighs only 16lbs and is lockable, is claimed to fit 95% of all popular professional keyboards being played today, such as the DX7, M1 and most Roland models. The interior size of the case is adjustable by a patent-pending design which utilises foam blocks that lock together to provide secure and durable protection around the keyboard. The case also comes with rectangular foam inserts which can be placed in the lid to provide added protection for front-panel controls and LED windows. Twist-action steel latches and a gasket-sealed valance keep moisture and dirt from getting to your keyboard.

The Drum Machine/Sequencer/Sampler case, which weighs just 10 pounds, utilises the same interlocking foam block system as the keyboard case, allowing its interior to be adjusted to fit varying equipment sizes; it also has a place for storing disks. Again, steel latches and a gasket-sealed valance ensure protection from moisture and dirt, and the case is lockable.

The rackmount cases, which have both front and rear covers, provide the same degree of protection against the elements, are stackable, and are less than half the weight of wooden rack cases.

For more information, contact UK distributors John Hornby Skewes & Co Ltd, (Contact Details).

Rolling Out The New

US company Rolls Corporation have several new products scheduled for unveiling at this year's Winter NAMM show. Most unusual among them is the RP93 Patchwork, a device for switching non-MIDI devices using MIDI patch changes. Using relay-isolated outputs, it can operate up to eight different functions with no interference from one another.

The RM42 Stereo Mixer, a budget unit designed for professional disco use, features an XLR mic input, two phono/line channels, two line channels, an assignable crossfader, a cue facility on all channels, tone controls and LED output meters.

The RM64 Audio Mixer, on the other hand, is a 6:2 console mixer in a micro-style design to complement smaller PA systems. Each individual channel has volume, monitor send, pan, bass, treble and FX send, while the master channel provides FX return plus level controls for the left and right channels.

Rolls are also bringing out a pair of 1U-high eight-channel rackmounting mixers, the mono Mix Max and the stereo Mix Max 2. Both are recommended for studio and general reinforcement applications, while the latter may also be used for stereo keyboard mixing.

For more information, contact UK distributors The Bass Centre at (Contact Details).

Mixer Mapping

New from Maplin Electronics is a budget eight-channel mixer, the BX-810, which provided three independently-controlled stereo outputs: master, monitor and sub. Mono input channels 1-6 are each switchable between line and unbalanced mic, while channels seven and eight each feature a built-in stereo RIAA-equalised phono preamplifier for turntables with magnetic cartridges. These preamps can be switched out and replaced by mono microphone inputs if required.

Each of the eight channels has controls for input signal gain, mono effect send, and bass, mid and treble.

The BX-810 costs £199.95 including VAT.

For more information, contact Maplin Electronics at (Contact Details).

Press release

New from Quinsoft - an Atari based synth editor for the Oberheim 1000. The editor includes a Librarian and 100 new patches and retails at £49.95. Distributed and available from Patchworks, (Contact Details).

Environmentally Friendly

The latest effects processor to emerge from the Zoom Corporation is the 9120 Sound Environment Processor, a 16-bit stereo multi-effects unit in familiar 1U 19" guise. The company claim to have spent "thousands of man-hours" crafting the algorithms to offer authentic-sounding effects - such as smooth, dense reverbs of a quality previously only found on top-end reverb units costing several times the price of the 9120.

Effects on the new unit include hall, room, plate and gated reverbs, early reflections, chorus, delay and pitch-shift. There are also a number of Special Effects algorithms, including trigger-controlled gating, a vocal eliminator, surround-sound simulation, and pedal-controlled pitchbend. Multi-effects algorithms allow you to use, for instance, delay, stereo chorus and reverb simultaneously. A built-in time/tempo calculator helps you to match delay times to the tempo of the music.

The Zoom 9120 has an RRP of £449.95 including VAT.

For more information, contact distributors MCM at (Contact Details).

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A Cynic Writes...

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The New Statesmen

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 - Feb 1993


Previous article in this issue:

> A Cynic Writes...

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> The New Statesmen

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