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Shape Of Things To Come

A colourful round-up of what's new in the hi-tech recording arena.


Computer manufacturer Commodore has announced full details of its CDTV player, which is the first product of its type to exploit CD ROM technology in a consumer market and should be available some time in September.

The CDTV is similar in appearance to a Compact Disc player, but combines CD quality audio with Amiga computer technology and infra-red remote control, offering multimedia capabilities for a vast range of leisure and education applications.

Commodore's CDTV uses a CD ROM disc similar to conventional audio CDs but with a data storage capacity of 700 normal floppy disks - the equivalent of 250,000 pages of text (or about 208 years' worth of Sound On Sound's!!). This huge capacity allows CD ROMs to store massive amounts of data as either text, pictures, sound, or software code.

The unit can be used as a full function audio CD player, displaying track and time information, and includes a headphone socket. On the rear panel connectors are to be found which interface the CDTV with any television set, RGB computer monitor, and external disk drive. There is also a serial modem port and parallel printer port, together with an output to dump CD ROM still and moving pictures to Super VHS video recorders. At the heart of the CDTV is a Motorola 68000 16/32-bit processor chip and 1Mb of RAM, plus Commodore's custom graphic and audio chips.

A 'smart card' facility is provided as standard which allows you to save up to 64K of information on a RAM card, and this may be reinserted at anytime without loss of the data. If larger amounts of information need to be stored, an external 3.5" floppy disk drive can be used. Internal expansion space has been made available for users to install Genlock video cards as well as DMA, SCSI, and LAN interfaces.

As a final note, it's encouraging to see the inclusion of MIDI connectors alongside all the computer and video socketry on the CDTV. Although no price has yet been announced, reliable sources reckon it may be around the £700 mark.

Commodore Business Machines UK Ltd, (Contact Details).


Yamaha took the opportunity of unveiling a new rack-mounted version of their flagship SY77 synthesizer at the recent APRS exhibition — the TG77 (approx £1,500). Most pundits were half-expecting the SY77 to be put into rack-mount format at some stage, though Yamaha inform us that the TG77 is not a straightforward repackaging exercise. Having listened to musicians' comments about the SY77, they have taken the opportunity of reworking a few features.

Although a very powerful synthesizer, the SY77 is limited somewhat by the presence of only stereo audio outputs. So the TG77 comes with eight individual outputs. The sequencer section has been removed, as many people will use the TG77 purely as an expander, preferring to trigger it from a more powerful computer-based sequencer. The third change is the removal of the 3.5" floppy disk drive, though the card slot has been retained.

Apart from the changes mentioned, the TG77, which should be in the shops by early August, contains all the same RCM characteristics of the SY77, with its 4-element AWM/AFM tone generation circuitry, built-in effects, and drum samples.

Yamaha Kemble Music, (Contact Details).


Kawai are planning to launch a number of new hi-tech products at the coming BMF, with the XD5 drum module being perhaps the most interesting to SOS readers.

At the moment information is limited, but we can tell you that the XD5 is a 2U rack-mounting unit which offers 16-bit sampled drum and percussion sounds. It is based around K4 type sounds, with a new ROM, and all the sounds are editable. The sampling rate and frequency response of the sounds have both been improved when compared to the K4 sounds, and the unit features individual outputs (though Kawai aren't telling us how many just yet!). The price is also yet to be announced, but Kawai are aiming the XD5 very much at the pro musician.

Kawai UK Ltd, (Contact Details).


With a more open approach being adopted by the British Music Fair, American based Emu Systems will be exhibiting at the BMF for the first time this year.

To make the event all the more special, Emu will be showing a number of enhanced products including the Emax II with Version 2.10 software, the updated Proteus/1 XR featuring the 'bonus presets', Proteus/2, and the all new Proformance/1 and Proformance/1+ piano modules.

The updated Proteus/1 XR includes a further 128 new preset sounds based on customer feedback over the past months. These are included with all instruments shipped from now on, though existing users can upgrade their machine by contacting Emu.

Of particular interest are the two new Proformance expander modules. Based on the same proprietary VLSI technology used in Proteus, Proformance offers greater than 90dB sound quality and true stereo samples taken directly from their Emulator III. The Proformance modules contain actual stereo recordings that precisely capture the fine detail of a concert grand piano.

Available in two versions, Proformance/1 offers grand piano, rock piano, honky tonk and more, whereas Proformance/1 + includes further instruments like electric piano, organs, vibes, acoustic and electric basses.

Emu's underlying philosophy is "to produce the most accurate sounding instruments and offer them to the musician in a compact unit at a competitive price." Both Proformance units feature 16-voice polyphony, assignable split points, full MIDI implementation, and MIDI overflow.

Emu Systems UK Ltd, (Contact Details).


John Hornby Skewes Ltd have introduced a new range of equipment stands. The Street Life range includes an amplifier stand (£39.95) with adjustable angle, which takes a speaker cabinet or small combo and is ideal for getting a speaker off the ground when on-stage monitoring is crucial. Other products include a sturdy guitar stand (£16.99), a keyboard or drum seat (£39.95), and a flat support stand (£39.95) which is suitable for mixers and rack units.

JHS & Co Ltd, (Contact Details).


Audio Visual Research have launched a new 12-bit sound sampling system for use with the Atari ST computer. The Pro-Series 12 is an external box which plugs into the cartridge port of the computer and costs £245 inc VAT. Sound can be digitised and manipulated with AVR's sample editing software, which allows all the usual cut and paste functions together with built-in effects processing for echo, reverb, and flanging. Sounds can be displayed as a 3D graphic, showing frequency/amplitude content and the software will also edit Hybrid Arts ADAP1 samples.

Included in the package are two further programs. MIDIplay converts the ST into a MIDI expander, allowing any MIDI keyboard to play four simultaneous sounds from a selection of 128 samples stored in memory. Alternatively, the Drumbeat program configures the system to perform as a drum machine and allows you to assign any of your samples to a 'drum kit'. Patterns may be recorded and edited, and all samples can be individually tuned and assigned to MIDI note numbers.

Audio Visual Research, (Contact Details).


Studiomaster have introduced the Trackmix 24 mixing console. The new desk is aimed directly at the budget 24-track recording market that has blossomed since the arrival of Tascam's pioneering MSR24 1" 24-track tape machine.

Trackmix is a 12 bus console available in a choice of either 24 or 32 input formats at £4275 and £4750 (ex-VAT) respectively. Both models feature 24-track monitoring which, through the use of separate Aux/Line inputs, can be configured as additional instrument inputs to give a total of 50 or 58 channels at mixdown. The Aux/Line inputs include controls for level, pan, and aux send to three of the console's six sends, with 12 of the inputs having two-band EQ.

All this is in addition to the normal 24 or 32 main input channels, which themselves include three-band swept mid and low range EQ, six auxiliary sends, insert points and direct outputs.

In common with much of the Studiomaster range, the new Trackmix 24 features MIDI Controllable Mutes (MCM) on all input channels plus the auxiliary 1&2 send busses. These can be controlled via any MIDI sequencer in real time during a mix.

Studiomaster UK plc, (Contact Details).


Following the introduction of their 200 Delta series, Soundcraft have announced the release of a new 8-bus recording console to be called the Delta 8. Designed for 8/16-track recording work, the new Delta 8 combines many of the 200 Delta features together with high performance specification, which makes it ideal for both serious home recording, broadcast, and post-production applications.

Technically, the mixer offers eight groups with a choice of 20, 28, or 36 input channels. Mono input facilities include six aux sends, four-band EQ with two swept mid bands, high pass filters, and phase reversal. Stereo input modules feature three-band sweep EQ, six aux sends, and stereo width control (as found on the new Soundcraft Venue consoles).

A further feature of the Delta 8 is its ability to use the 16 monitor returns as extra direct inputs during mixdown, for increased flexibility when combining off-tape and live sources.

Soundcraft Electronics Ltd, (Contact Details).

Fostex have introduced their new MTC1 interface for use with their R8 reel-to-reel 8-track tape recorder. The unit has been designed to integrate with Steinberg's Cubase software sequencer and allows full mouse operation of the tape recorder's transport controls directly from Cubase's own on-screen controls. Clicking on the Play button of the sequencer will also switch the tape machine into play mode, giving direct desktop control over both computer MIDI sequencer and audio tape-based music simultaneously.

The use of such an interface greatly extends the capabilities of the R8 and allows full sync control and powerful cue point location up and down the length of the tape, enabling users to spool to a specific bar in the music and drop in to record.

This type of control has previously only been possible on more expensive tape machines and has relied on assembling together a number of different specialised pieces of equipment. The new Fostex MTC1 at £189 has now brought this powerful control feature to the home recording market.

Fostex UK Ltd, (Contact Details).


Executive Audio have secured the European distribution rights for products from Sound Source Unlimited of America. Downloaded is the name of a range of cards and floppy disks that contain sounds individually tailored for the keyboards of today. Sounds are available for the Roland D50, D20 and D10, Yamaha SY77 and DX7 range, together with the Korg M1, Kawai K1, and Ensoniq EPS.

Many of the Downloaders series come on 3.5" and 5.25" floppy disks for loading via Atari, Macintosh, and IBM PC computers utilising MIDI System Exclusive. All the sounds are claimed to be quite spectacular and are programmed by the people who produce some of the Yamaha SY77 voices in Japan.

Executive Audio Ltd, (Contact Details).


New from Lester Laboratories is the DAS 2000 fibre optic routing system. The DAS 2000 system has been designed to overcome running conventional copper cables over long distances, with their inherent loss of signal and radio frequency interference problems.

This rack-mounted system converts the audio input to an 18-bit digital signal and transmits it as a lightwave down fibre optic cables. Once in the light domain, signal degradation due to environmental interference becomes a thing of the past and audio may be freely transmitted over great distances without any loss of quality. The system is ideally suited to live concert work but would be equally at home in large studio installations.

The DAS 2000 comes in a number of parts starting with the basic 16 channel unit, which may be expanded to 64 channels in 8 or 16 channel blocks. Each channel of the system is contained on an individual slot-in board for ease of service. A remote control Soft Patch unit provides 100 non-volatile memories and allows the operator to manipulate sound input levels, phantom power, and channel distribution. The added flexibility of the DAS system also lets any set of outputs co-exist as point-to-point and point-to multipoint transmissions to provide different feeds throughout an installation. Audio sources can be interfaced directly with line inputs on mixing desks or analogue/digital multitrack recorders.

Plasmec Systems Ltd, (Contact Details).


New from Dr.T is Beyond, a high-powered Macintosh sequencer. Features include: scrolling real-time piano roll note editing; graphic controller and tempo editing; programmable looping cue points with gapless recording; smart instrument setups; 32 MIDI channels; 480/384/240/196ppqn variable note resolution; MTC support; Humanise and Intelligent Quantise functions; SMPTE display on edit screens and markers.

Also new from Dr.T is V3.0 of their Keyboard Controlled Sequencer for the Amiga and Atari ST.

MCMXCIX, (Contact Details).


Well known for their range of mixing desks and recording accessories, MTR have introduced two new Direct Injection boxes to update their current range. The original DI 1 has now been replaced by the DI 3 (£33) and offers a flatter frequency response, DC power supply input socket, and a 'low battery' warning LED. Additionally, the DI 2 (£63) offers the same improved specification but contains two individual channels for use with stereo keyboard audio outputs. DI boxes are particularly useful in a recording environment where low noise 600 ohm balanced signals are required to feed a mixing desk.

MTR Ltd, (Contact Details).


High output power in headphones is a must both on stage and in the studio. To provide the necessary signal level over what are often greater distances than the normal headphone lead will stretch, AKG have introduced their new V6HP unit. It has been designed for use by professional studios, home recordists, and performing bands, where foldback is the lifeline of every musician.

Comprehensive signal switching is provided, allowing left or right signals to be routed to either ear or both, thereby overcoming mono/stereo source problems. A total of six headphones can be driven off one unit and three separate feeds can be configured. The V6HP is mains powered and can be located on a microphone stand fitted with either a 3/8" or 5/8" screw thread.

AKG Acoustics Ltd, (Contact Details).

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Ensoniq SQ1

Sound On Sound - Copyright: SOS Publications Ltd.
The contents of this magazine are re-published here with the kind permission of SOS Publications Ltd.


Sound On Sound - Jul 1990


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