Developments and equipment
The latest developments on the equipment scene
Sony have announced that the world's first combined home video camera and cassette recorder will go on sale to the public in November. The functions of a top quality video camera and recorder have been combined in a single compact unit which uses a standard Betamax cassette. 'Betamovie' completely eliminates the need to carry a separate bulky video recorder when making home movies, and is extremely light — only 5½ lbs (2½ kgs) — which is actually less than some conventional video cameras alone.
Major technological innovations have made possible the reduction in size and weight, but Betamovie is also packed with useful features which would make demo videos much cheaper and simpler. 'Betamovie' can cope with very low light conditions and automatically adjusts for light change as the user pans across light and shaded areas. The through-the lens viewfinder includes four indicators which give the user information needed to capture the best results. Using a single battery inserted into the handgrip, 'Betamovie' allows for one hour of continuous recording.
Other new products seen at Sony's recent dealer presentations include the Trinitron KV1430 14" colour television, which has a switchable RF socket on the front panel making it an ideal choice for home computer owners. There's a new Walkman, the Walkman Gold, which puts Dolby B and Metal compatibility into a package the same size as a cassette and weighing 6½ ounces, and also a revolutionary new Hi-Fi video system.
The Beta Hi-Fi System is claimed to give sound quality approaching that of digital recording. This is achieved by adding an extra pair of audio recording heads which scan the tape in the same way as the video heads. Frequency modulation and demodulation avoids interference with the picture, and the system allows the entire tape width to be used for the sound track instead of just a narrow band. This increases dynamic response to around 80dB, as compared to 60dB or so on other Hi-Fi media. Frequency response shoots up to 20Hz-20kHz, leaving behind the problem of dull and woolly sound on music videos. Since the Beta Hi-Fi system still records and plays on the linear audio tracks as well it's quite capable of playing non-Hi-Fi Beta videos, and videos recorded on it can be played on a conventional Beta machine; it's only when the Hi-Fi machine is used for both record and replay that the Hi-Fi qualities are obtained. The system will be available in the UK in summer 1984.
Betamovie will be on sale in November at around £1,200 including battery, recharger and case. The Trinitron KV 1430 TV will be available at the same time for around £239, and the Walkman Gold for around £99.00. Further information can be obtained from Peter Greatorex, Sony UK, (Contact Details).
Panasonic introduce a new series of 'RX Sound' portable audio systems including the SG-J500, a compact unit complete with speakers and record deck. The unit has an auto-stop cassette deck, three-band tuner and a slide-out turntable which saves space and increases portability. Power output is 8W and the unit sells for around £133.00. Further information from National Panasonic, (Contact Details).
Korg's new MM-25 monitor seems set to become a permanent fixture in many home studios. It delivers 25W (50W peak) and has six alternative input levels for Line, High and Low Keyboard, Guitar, Distort Guitar and Microphone. There are bass and treble equalisation bands and headphone and line outputs. The MM-25 uses a single 12" bass reflex speaker and has a built-in carrying handle, and it's possible to chain units to form a multiple or stereo system. More information from Rose-Morris, (Contact Details).
At the BMF, a new English representative of an Italian company — Siel Uk — presented a fascinating range of new keyboards. These included the Cruise and Orchestra 2, a pair of polyphonic ensembles; the Mono, a three-octave preset/variable synth; the piano Quattro, a six-octave touch sensitive design; and the Opera 6. This last is probably the most interesting machine, a six-note polyphonic, 12 oscillator, 5-octave programmable synth fitted with MIDI and a white noise generator. The keyboard is also dynamically sensitive, and is seen here being demonstrated at the show. Stocks should be in the country now — enquiries to Siel UK at (Contact Details).
Crumar introduced the Spirit, a three-octave monophonic synth with two ADSRs and three modulation wheels for the ultimate in expressiveness. Comprehensive modulation routing, white noise, ring modulator for metallic effects and a versatile arpeggiator are also included. Enquiries to Chase Musicians at (Contact Details).
Hidden away in the Piano and Organ Trade Show were two highly innovative products from Roland UK designed for their Piano Plus range. These were the PR-800 Digital Piano Recorder and the PB-300 Rhythm Plus unit. Designed to provide polyphonic sequencing and chords/bass/arpeggio respectively, the units have a much wider application through the inclusion of the very wonderful MIDI interface. In effect, then, we have the first polyphonic, real-time, cassette-dumping universal sequencer synchronisable to a rhythm unit, allowing programming at home on one MIDI synth (eg the relatively inexpensive Roland JX-3P) and replay at a later date in the studio on a larger synth such as the Prophet T-8 or, indeed, the Fairlight. Enquiries to Roland UK at (Contact Details).
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