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Picking up the signals from the world of music and technology...

Gajits hove the technology

Manchester-based company Gajits Music Software, who are well known to MT readers for their inexpensive ST MIDI sequencers Breakthru, Sequencer One and Sequencer One Plus, have announced that they are to be Gajits no more.

Although the company have been trading as Gajits Music Software for about four years, they've only used the name in the UK. Elsewhere in the world they're known by the more prosaic name Software Technology Ltd - and now they've decided to adopt this name in the UK as well. With the name change comes a change of logo (see accompanying design).

New product releases due from the company include a major upgrade to Breakthru and Breakthru Plus, a score-printing package and a new range of synth editor/librarians going by the name of Patchking.

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

Future Shocked

"This is a video that delivers what it promises, and there should be more like it. The Dr Devious team is clearly going from strength to strength.", so said our reviewer of the Future Shock video in last month's End Product. Going from strength to strength they may well be, but the team behind Future Shock is in fact Hyperbolic Systems and not the good Dr. Devious. Our apologies to all concerned for the error. Hepton - write out "I must check my facts" five hundred times and stay behind after school.

Created by Paul Simpson, Colin Irwin, Mike Frost and Daz Jamieson with additional contributions from James Boty, Brooke Standford and Justin Cornish, the video was made in a tiny house in a small village near Stansted Airport using eight 486 computers networked with corporate sponsorship by Autodesk UK. It was, says Paul Simpson, their first major attempt at making a music video combining hi-tech computer graphics and film.

Hyperbolic Systems, who have now been trading for a year, have also produced a video for The Prodigy's 'One Love'. Current projects are a corporate video for the Ladbrokes group and a promo video for Anaesthesia. The team work out of two studios, one in Sussex which is their animation base and another in Aylesbury where they do all their rendering using a network of 12 486 DX66 machines running day and night.

In addition to using the latest commercial graphics programs, the company develop their own software for specific tasks: neural network-driven robotic dancers and MIDI-controlled 3D objects are two projects currently being worked on.

Hyperbolic Systems want to continue producing groundbreaking graphics work for promo videos (covering a wider range of music) and also expand into high-end adverts, film/TV special effects, and theme park rides. The future beckons...

As for the real Dr. Devious, look out for reviews of his productions in forthcoming issues.

Are U up 4 it?

Attention vocalists (male and female), producers/programmers (Cubase, Pro24), songwriters (indie/rock/pop/ambient/techno), dancers (male and female) and bands (guitar and techno). Your big break could be just around the corner... U4Ria Records and IA Management are embarking on several new major recording projects due for world release in 1994 and they're looking for you! Well, maybe. Applicants should be free from contractual commitments and be available for recording sessions, photographic assignments and tours. Send photos, demos and biographies to: U4Ria, (Contact Details).

Orchestrated electronics

It seems that MIDI technology is getting everywhere these days - even infiltrating the recent 1993 Classic Music Show.

Music production company Oscar Music constructed a walk-through 'orchestra'especially for the Show, with 13 Quad electrostatic loudspeakers representing the different instruments; the actual instrumental sounds were provided by a Yamaha SY77 synth, a Roland S750 sampler and a Proteus II orchestral module.

Eight Apple Mac computers running Notator Logic software were used to play Oscar Music's transcripts of Mozart and Beethoven, with the scores scrolling by onscreen as the music played. Visitors to the Show were even able to conduct this 'orchestra' themselves using a special dataglove; what would Herbert von Karajan have made of it?

Also featured in Oscar Music's technology area of the Show was the world's first virtual reality musical instrument, created by London-based VR company Virtual S.

Coming to a concert hall near you soon? Stranger things have happened...

ISDN phone home

Broadcasting from home with ISDN

These days there's much grand talk about fibre-optic data super-highways and global satellite communications networks. However, a comparatively inexpensive technology which allows audio, video and text to be transmitted digitally down ordinary phone lines already exists, and its name is ISDN - Integrated Services Digital Network. You're going to be hearing a lot more about ISDN in the coming year, so you might as well add it to your vocabulary of 4-letter words right now.

If you want an example of how ISDN is already affecting working practices in the world of music, tune in to Quentin Howard's Six Of The Best musical quiz show on Classic FM (Saturday evenings between 10pm and midnight). The presenter is sitting in a studio at the radio station, right? Wrong. He's actually sitting in his living room, broadcasting live from his home in Wiltshire. With two British Telecom ISDN lines linking home and studio, he can play CDs, set the quiz, and receive instructions from the studio and calls from listeners simultaneously. And if he doesn't have the right compact disc at home, he can remotely control the music on a player in the studio by computer, again via ISDN.

"The advent of low-cost compact disc systems and digital audio computers, coupled with ISDN, is set to revolutionise the way radio stations operate," says Quentin. "The future is definitely in digital audio broadcasting."

Not that it's as simple as plugging your amplifier output straight into an ISDN line. Before the digital audio signal can be sent via ISDN, it has to be compressed using an APT-X DSM100 Codec (COder/DECoder); then the signal has to be decompressed at the studio end before being broadcast to nearly five million listeners.

But the fact remains that full-bandwidth digital audio can be transmitted in real time via an ordinary telephone line, and the implications of that for radio stations and for the music industry as a whole are staggering.

Amazingly, you pay normal telephone rates when making an ISDN call in the UK. However, at present, BT are primarily aiming ISDN at business users, a fact which is reflected in the £400 plus VAT installation charge and the £84 plus VAT quarterly rental charge for an ISDN 2 line. It's reasonable to assume, though, that these charges will fall as ISDN use increases. In time, ISDN may even end up replacing normal analogue lines.

Now imagine that phones and computers with built-in ISDN, Codec and videoconferencing facilities become widely available. Imagine also that you can send MIDI Time Code and other MIDI data down the phone line along with the compressed digital audio data; all of a sudden you're into a situation where you can collaborate in real time with musicians on the other end of a phone line in the same or another country (ISDN is already available in some 18 countries, including Germany, Italy, Spain, Singapore and Japan).

Of course, in the real world, problems can arise through standards incompatibilities and digital switching delays, while that on-line collaboration with a musician in Japan will send the cost of your phone bill through the roof. But if you're intrigued enough to want to find out more, you can call BT's ISDN Help Desk free at any time on 0800 181 514.

The DAT pack

The Professional Audio/Video Group of leading magnetic media manufacturers 3M have expanded their Professional DAT cassette range with new 15- and 30-minute tapes.

These can be supplied in 'hanger box' versions which provide a secure container for two cassettes, include APRS-standard labelling, and are designed for use with the space-saving 3M Box/Bar Storage System.

For further information contact the Professional Audio/Video Group at 3M House, (Contact Details).

Winning ways

In the run-up to Christmas, Lowrie Woolf Associates are introducing a range of PC multimedia systems based around their SeqWin Multi-Media sequencer for Windows 3.1. The company's aim is to adopt an entry-level pricing policy for all their products without sacrificing quality, features or support.

SeqWin MultiMedia systems start at a modest £179 including VAT and include the SeqWin MultiMedia software, MIDI Master Plus and either a Novation MidiCon velocity-sensitive MIDI keyboard with MIDI cable or Sound Galaxy BXII, speakers, software and MIDI cable.

For further information, contact Lowrie Woolf Associates at (Contact Details).

Passport to the UK

California-based MIDI software developers Passport Designs have chosen Arbiter Pro MIDI as UK distributors for their range of Macintosh and PC-compatible music software.

Among the products on offer from Passport are Encore at a new price of £399 plus VAT, Master-tracks Pro reduced to £169 plus VAT, Music-Time, Trax, and a new multimedia product available exclusively on the PC, Trax 3 at just £99 plus VAT.

Passport Designs' Mikel Estrin comments: "This is a positive step for us. The UK market for music software has been expanding at an incredible rate, and this relationship will help us continue to grow and serve our customers in the UK."

For more information contact Arbiter Pro MIDI on (Contact Details).

Learning to sequence

If you live in the Hampshire area and you're struggling with MIDI sequencing, help could be at hand in the form of an upcoming 10-week evening course.

Commencing January '94 at South Downs College in Havant, the imaginatively-titled 'Basics Of MIDI Sequencing' course will focus on Atari sequencing with Creator and Cubase. Topics covered will include basic principles and applications of MIDI, how to connect a basic MIDI setup, MIDI song files, General MIDI, creating a basic multitrack sequence track by track, and creating a sequence using the Band-in-a-box automatic musical accompaniment program. There will be plenty of opportunities for gaining hands-on experience.

Course tutor is gigging musician and GEM User Group member Chris Russell. The cost of the 10-week course is a modest £38.

For more information contact Chris Russell on (Contact Details).

A bulletin from Akai

Akai UK have teamed up with AL Digital to provide two new support services for Akai sampler owners. The first is an expanded version of the sample copying service Akai have been offering to users for the past five years, with a new mail order system introducing a fast, convenient and cost-effective method of acquiring the entire official Akai sound library.

Sample libraries are available for the S01/S900/S950/S1000 series/S1100/S3000 series (including the S2800) and the MPC60. Prices range from £1.00 for an HD disk to £200 for a 5.25" Magneto-Optical disk which contains the complete S1000/S1100 library. Other formats available include CD-ROM and 3.5" Magneto- Optical disk. AL Digital are also offering a data recovery service and the ability to create personal sound libraries on CD-ROM.

The second support service is aimed at computer users with a modem. By dialling into the new Akai Bulletin Board, sampler owners will be able to download samples directly into their computer at any time of day or night. The Board will also provide product news and information on software updates, together with a Q&A section, hints and tips, and a notice board for subscribers.

Both services are being launched on 1st December 1993. A full price list and catalogue are available from Akai-approved Dealers, from Akai UK at (Contact Details), or from AL Digital on (Contact Details).

Phantom Emissions

Phantasm Records are looking for the best new trance/progressive techno/ambient house tracks for inclusion on a new 12-track CD compilation. Send one track only lasting not more than six minutes, and enclose an sae for return of tapes.

"Sorry all you ravers/metal heads/rockers etc," say Phantasm, "but keep a sharp lookout for our different style compilations in the pipeline!"

For more information contact Simon Maine/John Ford at ASM Music, (Contact Details).

A little bit of Christmas (E)magic

Hold on to those reindeer! As Christmas draws near, the battle between top MIDI sequencing packages Notator and Cubase is, er, hotting up.

As part of their Emagic Xmas Special campaign, Notator distributors Sound Technology have reduced the previously stratospheric price of Notator Logic on the Mac and ST by 30% to just £349 including VAT. Out of the clouds and down the chimney, you could say! Every Notator Logic package bearing an Xmas Special sticker comes with some extra Christmas goodies thrown in - namely a 200-page Tutorial manual, an Emagic mouse mat, a Check Notes notebook and an Emagic postcard and sticker.

The Emagic Christmas campaign also sees price drops on the classic Atari sequencing and notation programs Creator SL and Notator SL, reduced respectively from £259 to £199 and £329 to £269. At the same time, existing users of these programs can upgrade to Notator Logic (Mac or Atari) for £99. The Xmas offer period runs from 1st December 1993 until 31st January 1994.

Emagic have also announced a couple of additions to the Logic line-up. Notator Logic Audio, an add-on module for Notator Logic retailing at £225, available now, allows the integration of direct-to-disk audio recording with MIDI sequencing. Any number of virtual audio tracks can be created, and freely moved around in the sequencer's track arrangement window just like MIDI tracks. You can have four physical channels of audio with Digidesign's Audiomedia II card or Sound Tools II, or up to 16 channels with Pro Tools. Logic Audio lets you record up to four audio tracks and one 16-channel MIDI track simultaneously. Non-destructive cut, copy and paste editing is included, along with waveform editing to single-sample resolution. Also included is a function to match sequencer tempo to audio tempo, and digital sound processing with onscreen faders for volume, pan, frequency, bandwidth and gain.

Meanwhile, Emagic are venturing into the PC Windows market for the first time with MicroLogic, a cut-down version of Notator Logic which still manages to be a well-featured program, with an unlimited number of sequencer tracks, an event list editor, a grid editor and a fully-functioning score editor plus notation printout capability.

MicroLogic is available from December at an RRP of £125. A full version of Notator Logic for the PC will be available in 1994, with an upgrade path for existing MicroLogic users who want to trade up.

All prices include VAT.

For more information, contact Sound Technology plc at (Contact Details).

Sampling the Roland way

Roland have announced the launch of a new sampler, the S760 - and at £1699 inc VAT it's the cheapest yet in their S7xx range. Available from early December, the S760 is remarkably well-specified for its price.

The 1U 19" rackmount S760 provides 16-bit A/D conversion at sampling rates of 48, 44.1, 32, 24, 22.05 and 16kHz, together with 24-voice polyphony and 32-part multitimbrality. It can load both Roland and Akai sample and program data via SCSI, making it compatible with not only Roland's S750, S770, SP700, S550 and W30 samplers but also Akai's S1000, S1100, S2800, S950 and S900 (although apparently it can't load S3000 and S3200 sample data).

Other features of the new sampler include a built-in 3.5" floppy disk drive, a SCSI port for connecting a wide range of hard, optical and CD-ROM drives, and 2 stereo outputs which can be configured as 4 mono outputs. The optional OP-760-1 digital I/O board at £299 inc VAT (due in February or March) provides two digital ins (stereo) and four digital outs (2 x stereo pairs) together with a mouse interface and a composite video output for external screen display of software pages.

The S760 comes with 2MB of RAM fitted as standard, upgradeable to 32Mb maximum using Mac-compatible 72-pin SIMMS. Samples are named automatically during sampling, and 2-band digital EQ is available on both inputs and all eight outputs. A free CD-ROM is included with the sampler containing samples from Roland's new Professional L-CDP and L-CDC CD-ROM sample libraries. These libraries include Keyboards of the '60s and '70s, Africa, Drums and Cymbals, Guitar and Bass, Orchestral Percussion, Symphony Orchestra, Jazz, and Dance CD-ROMs, with prices starting from £129.

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

From little Acorns...

ElectroMusic Research, long-standing developers of music software for the Acorn computer range, have announced a number of new and upgraded products.

Microstudio 2, the company's 24-track MIDI/internal-sound sequencer, has been rewritten and enhanced, while the latest version of their Desktop Scorewriter software can now play up to eight score parts directly on the Archimedes' internal sound system. Music Player 3 is a new Standard MIDI File player designed for Yamaha's Hello! Music! package, while EMR's realtime multimedia program Studio24Plus Version 3 for the Archimedes now has direct-to-disk recording added to it, using a new range of MIDI/sampling interfaces developed by HCCS in conjunction with EMR. Claim the company, you can sample to disk (in 8-bit mono with a sample rate of up to 50kHz) while playing back a MIDI sequence, displaying animated graphics and karaoke-style vocals, and controlling a CD player and SMPTE-locked video/multitrack machines. Finally, all EMR music library files now have presets to match the General MIDI patch format.

For more information contact EMR Ltd at (Contact Details).

Yamaha's new synth: virtually here...

Ten years ago Yamaha brought out the DX7 - and the synthesiser world was never the same again. Now they could be set to repeat that achievement in the '90s with the new synth, the VL1.

Demonstrated recently on BBCl's Tomorrow's World program, the VL is the first synth to implement a technology which many companies have been working away on feverishly: physical modelling. This new form of synthesis, termed Virtual Acoustic Synthesis by Yamaha, sets out to model how the sound is produced by an actual physical instrument - in effect, it creates a 'virtual instrument' in software.

While a more accurate imitation of 'real' instruments is one goal of physical modelling, the technology also enables the creation of virtual instruments which have no counterparts in the physical world.

The VL1, which is due to be released in January/February of the New Year, is a monophonic synth with a 4-octave keyboard. With a retail price around the four grand mark, it's clearly not going to be a mass market instrument - but no doubt the technology will, er, filter down to the cheaper products. Next summer will see the release of a more sophisticated polyphonic version, the VP1; no details on price, as yet.

Yamaha UK will be demonstrating and lecturing on their new synthesis technology at the Imperial College Conference Suite, Prince's Gardens, London SW7 on January 11th. Doors open 6.30pm, the event starts at 7pm. Further details are available from AES on (Contact Details). For more information on the VL1 contact Yamaha-Kemble Music (UK) Ltd at (Contact Details).

Intrinsically Cubase

New from Intrinsic Technology Ltd, the company responsible for the Atari ST/Falcon SLAM sample/CD librarian software, Dr Tiricc's Voice Of House ST speech software and the MixIT Falcon audio interface and sub-mixer, is the Cubase Powers Users' Guidebook.

Written by Intrinsic director Peter Buick, the book is aimed primarily at v3.0 Atari/Falcon users (though most of the information will apply to other platforms) and has been written as a supplement to, rather than a replacement for, the Cubase manual. Included is a section on Cubase Audio, along with plenty of hints, tips and ideas.

The Cubase Power Users' Guidebook costs just £10. You can save £2 on the cost of the company's Cubase Hot key chart (normally £4) when you buy book and chart at the same time.

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

Competition winners

Ambient quiz: the results

The MT Ambient Quiz (Slight Return) in issue 84 produced the following blissed-out winners of 152 Minutes 33 Seconds, A Brief History Of Ambient Volume 1, Virgin's double CD compilation of horizontal hits: Neil Moore, Manchester; Adam Huffman, Manchester; M S C Harding, London; Rob Derkin, Brighton; Peter Hanes, Teddington; Rory Walsh, Aylesbury; David Cooper, Redditch; Elaine Marsh, Leeds; T L Gunnersbury, London; Rosy Bardon, Leicester.

Answers: 1 EG. 2 My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts. 3 Tangerine Dream. 4 Terry Riley. 5 Strange Cargo III.

Trantec winner

The radio-controlled winner of our Trantec S1000 radio microphone system competition is Brian Haigh of Oldham. The correct answers are: 1. Radio Heart. 2. Radio Gaga. 3. Radio Musicola. 4. Radio Radio. The mic is in the post, Brian...

Time+Space winners

The three lucky winners of our Time + Space competition are: Mike Sinclair of Nottingham, Jim Cassidy of Whitley Bay and Roy Palmer of Canterbury. Masses of Time + Space sample CDs are on their way to you, guys... The correct answers are: 1. Time And Relative Dimensions In Space. 2. Nine. 3. M/A/R/R/S.

Tom Oberheim's analogue heaven

In 1969 Tom Oberheim founded Oberheim Electronics. Then he went on to develop some of the best-loved synthesisers in the history of the instrument - including the 4-Voice, the OB8, the Xpander and, of course, the truly wonderful Matrix 12.

Now he's at it again, this time with Marion Systems, the company he founded back in 1987. On October 1st of this year, Marion Systems announced the development of the MSR-2 Modular Synthesiser System. At the heart of the MSR-2 is the Mainframe, a 1U 19" rack-space device capable of holding two plugin MSR sound modules. Each module, which is a complete synth in its own right, can be slid into the Mainframe with the speed and ease of a RAM card into a conventional synthesiser.

MSR sound modules can be based on any sound technology. However, fans of Oberheim's analogue synths will be glad to know that the initial module is an 8-voice analogue synthesiser featuring proprietary High Resolution Oscillators which combine classic analogue sound with digital stability. The module also includes warm 2-and 4-pole VCFs, audio inputs into each filter for the processing of external sounds, and an extensive modulation matrix for real-time expressive control.

Future MSR modules will feature wavetable synthesis, sample recording and playback, reverb/effects, and other new technologies as they are developed.

The Mainframe's front panel has been designed to be completely 'soft', allowing it to accommodate any module (even ones that Marion Systems haven't thought of yet) with a consistent interface across every technology.

Exciting or what? The American synth renaissance continues apace, it seems.

The UK retail price has been set at £999 plus VAT. For more information contact UK distributers TSC at (Contact Details).

Needless to say we'll bring you a full review of the MSR as soon as we can get our hands on one!

Previous Article in this issue

In the first place

Next article in this issue

Rack & Roll

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


Music Technology - Dec 1993

Donated by: Chris Moore

News by Simon Trask

Previous article in this issue:

> In the first place

Next article in this issue:

> Rack & Roll

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