Shape Of Things To Come
Our colourful round-up of whats new in hi-tech music and recording.
Alesis continue to produce innovative drum machine technology in the form of their SR16. With over 100 new onboard sampled sounds, the SR16 offers a total of 200 preset and user patterns with fill variations. Each user pattern may be configured as a different drum kit, for use with a sequencer, and dynamic voice allocation eliminates the 'machine-gun' effect of fast drum fills. Another new feature, Dynamic Articulation, emulates the way the timbre of a real drum changes with playing intensity. Alesis' very own Sound Stacking, which lets you assign one pad's voice to any other, is also incorporated to give depth and feeling to any drum sound.
On the MIDI side, any note is assignable to any drum sound so that you can set up your favourite kit on your keyboard. There are 127 MIDI velocity steps, and the MIDI Out/Thru port can be used for saving data to a filer, such as the Alesis DataDisk. The SR16 should be available from October at £299.
Sound Technology plc, (Contact Details).
Dr.T's acclaimed X-Or universal editor/librarian is now shipping for Microsoft Windows on the IBM PC computer. Running under Windows allows X-Or to take advantage of all of the facilities of Windows, which includes multitasking and switching. X-Or runs under Windows 3.0 in 'Real' mode and a future update will allow it to function in 'Enhanced 386' mode. X-Or comes with both 3.5" and 5.25" high density disks and includes a run-time version of Windows 2.11 at no additional charge.
A PC with a mouse, hard disk, 640K of memory, and high density disk drive is required, and X-Or PC is compatible with the Roland MPU401, LA-PC, and Yamaha C1 MIDI interface protocols. Other interface types will be supported in the future.
X-Or PC comes with complete editing 'profiles' for over 80 popular instruments and librarian-only profiles for a number of others. Registered users can access Dr.T's bulletin board to obtain new and updated profiles, as well as obtain technical support. Profiles created on the Atari (and soon to be released Macintosh) version of X-Or are completely compatible with the PC product. E-Or PC, the profile editor for X-Or, is not yet available, although Dr.T inform us that registered users will be able to obtain this at no charge when it is released. E-Or is currently being upgraded to a completely object-oriented MIDI programming language.
MCMXCIX, (Contact Details).
BCK Products have released their QuasiMIDI QM E-Cards, aimed at Roland E20/30, RA50 and KR500/3000 owners. There are currently four cards available and each one contains 16 rhythm arrangements with four variations and an intro/ending. The collection includes styles as diverse as waltz, jazz, latin, pop, lambada, and even house music. They sell for £129 inc VAT.
BCK Products, (Contact Details).
Patchbase, from Audio Integer, is a patch selection database which is fully interactive, updatable, and runs on the Atari ST. It is not a patch librarian or a patch editor. It deals only with MIDI Program Changes, not System Exclusive data. Patchbase can be used with up to 16 separate MIDI devices, which are displayed on screen in sets of four. By entering the names of patches as they are being selected for you (automatically, over MIDI) in the editing program, you can organise them into families; these can be named anything you like and grouped in any way.
Once set up, the Patchbase desk accessory, which costs £35 inc VAT, takes care of everything and allows full access to all your MIDI devices' Program Change capabilities from within your sequencer/notation package.
Konovia, (Contact Details).
Exhibited for the first time at the APRS '90 exhibition was Allen & Heath's new Saber mixer, the latest desk to be spawned by the arrival of the Tascam MSR24 budget 24-track tape recorder.
Saber follows in the footsteps of its smaller 8/16-track brothers and is available in a number of formats. For 24-track recording purposes, the desk comes in 28, 36 or 44 input channel versions, with bargraph or VU meters and optional patchbay.
As with all of the Saber range, the new desk includes a MIDI Mute system as standard. This may be used via the onboard memory system, where up to 33 different 'scene changes' may be stored, or you can link the desk to any external MIDI sequencer for greater control and capacity.
Allen & Heath, (Contact Details).
Audio connection specialist Rendar offers a full range of high quality RCA phono plugs and jacks, designed to meet the most exacting audio connection needs. As well as standard phono plugs and jacks, the range boasts specialist connectors including right-angled plugs and PCB mounted jacks. Plugs are available with or without shielded handles and cable protectors, in standard or right-angled formats.
RCA jacks are available in a wide variety of mounting options, including chassis mount and PCB mount. PCB mounted RCA jacks can be ordered with one, two, or four jacks housed in a single unit.
Rendar Ltd, (Contact Details).
Version 3.0 of C-lab's Creator and Notator programs (available August) will come with a completely new manual (around 400 pages), which promises to be more straightforward and 'English' than previous documentation. They will both sell for the same price as the current version. However, existing users can upgrade their Creator for £39 or their Notator for £49.
Creator's new features include the following:
• Arrange Pattern Overview: new menu window showing what patterns are in use in the arrange list, which are free, etc.
• Arrange Pattern Horizon: arrange list shows what is playing in a chain even though the arrange pattern may not be in sight.
• Macro function: allows any number of single or multi keystrokes to trigger user-defined mouse movements and keystrokes.
• Adaptive Groove: eight new user-definable multi-quantise strategies that tighten up timing without losing trills, triplets etc. Quantise parameter has eight more user-namable settings.
• Hyper Edit (new in event editor page): highly interactive graphic display tool that displays contents of one track according to note pitch and/or controller number and/or MIDI status and/or channel; or any combination thereof. Display consists of a series of beams that reflect position, plus velocity in the case of notes. Users can pre-programme up to eight 'sets', each containing up to 16 'instruments' to display what is in any track. Each "instrument" can have its own delay/advance or Groove (applies to notes normally). User-zoomable over x and y axis. Possible applications include: editing, enhancing or creating drum tracks; viewing/editing results of an RMG MIDI Volume operation, etc.
• Human Touch: can now trigger a user-defined MIDI note.
For Notator users, all the above are included in Version 3.0 with the addition of some further notation specific features.
• Diatonic Insert: entered note adopts pitch of key signature.
• Hide Stems: hide stems of single notes or whole track.
• Drum Notation: more note heads available. Can now print stems without heads.
• MIDI Meaning: gives a MIDI velocity increase with accent signs.
• Fonts: text, lyrics, bar numbers, track names, tempo symbol, tuplets, chords/descriptors, rests of more than one bar — all these can now receive new styles and sizes of font. V3.0 comes with an extra disk containing selections of Times Roman and Helvetica fonts in 10, 12, 18, and 24 point sizes; the sizes can be increased/decreased by ratio; there are three sorts of font provided: screen/9-pin printer, 24-pin printer, laser/deskjet printer.
• Page Preview: can now see printer page at-a-glance. Ability to override automatic choice of number of bars or setting overall number of bars. Can turn pages on screen and print out any single page.
Sound Technology plc, (Contact Details).
Roland's MC Series Micro Composers, which started life a few years ago with the MC500 and now include the Mark II version, MC300, and baby MC50, provide musicians with a highly portable sequencer. Roland have now introduced their new MRM500 Standard MIDI File Convertor software, which will make your sequencer data equally as portable. The MRM500 software enables disks containing song data created by any sequencer compatible with Standard MIDI Files to be played back or edited on the MC Series, and vice versa. This means you can record song data on a personal computer and use the same disk with a portable MC Series Micro Composer.
MIDI data created on the IBM-PC and Atari computers can be used directly on the Roland MC Series even if the disks were formatted on the computer. For Macintosh models with Super Drives, data must first be converted to IBM-PC DOS format, using Apple's File Exchange utility (part of the system software).
Roland UK Ltd, (Contact Details).
The Quadraverb has undergone a major software update which gives it new features, including sampling, multi-tap delays, panning, ring modulation, and MIDI controllable resonant programs in addition to its existing repertoire. The new version is to be known as the Quadraverb Plus. However, this doesn't mean that current owners will be left out in the cold — the Quadraverb Plus software will be made available to existing Quadraverb owners in the form of a replacement chip, at a cost of £12. This chip may be fitted by yourself or any Alesis dealer, and will be available from August.
A software update means that the DataDisk MIDI data filer can now record and play back MIDI sequence information in real time. Aside from the obvious convenience of being able to use MIDI sequences live without the need to take a dedicated sequencer on stage, the unit also has many studio applications. As with the Quadraverb, existing owners will be able to update their machines by installing a new software chip, which is available now for £12. Customers can apply directly to Alesis's UK distributors, Sound Technology, for their updates.
The latest in a long line of reverbs from Alesis appeared at the BMF. The Microverb III offers more preset reverb effects and comes in a full-size 19" rackmount case, rather than the previous half-rack size. It offers a total of 256 different programs. These include: 112 reverbs, 80 delays, 32 gated/reversed reverbs, and 32 multi-tap and effect programs. The reverb algorithms contain some of the best Alesis reverbs from previous models, as well as a selection of brand new sounds.
A two-band equaliser may be used to further treat the pre-reverb signal and the conventional control layout means that operation is simplicity itself. The Microverb III's 16-bit processor has a 15kHz bandwidth, and the back panel features stereo in and a defeat footswitch jack. The Microverb III will be available from September and will cost £199.
Sound Technology plc, (Contact Details).
The MV30 Studio-M is a complete personal MIDI studio system that combines a powerful sequencer with a high quality multitimbral sound source. The MV30 is suitable for both beginners and pros alike, and would be useful in a home recording environment where it makes an ideal 'composition notebook'. It includes built-in digital effects and tape sync.
The MV30's built-in sequencer is the product of Roland's advanced software/hardware technologies developed for the MC Series Micro Composers. It features an internal memory capacity of 50,000 steps and 16 tracks, which are split into eight tracks for internal sources and eight for external sound sources. Comprehensive data editing functions are included and all data can be saved on the built-in 3.5" floppy drive. Due to the MV30's Standard MIDI File format, songs created on the Roland W30 can also be played back on the MV30.
Sound-wise, the MV30 adopts the U220 approach to customising the internal RS-PCM sounds, which may be modified by the user and stored. Further sounds may be loaded via additional ROM cards.
The MV30 also features built-in digital effects processing and Compu-Mix, a MIDI recording system which allows control and recording of volume and panning of all 16 tracks in real time, via the front panel faders, whilst a song is playing.
Roland UK Ltd, (Contact Details).
DD2D Systems have launched two products into the hard disk recording market: one for the Macintosh and one for the Atari ST.
The ADAC-SE (£499 inc VAT) is designed solely for use with the Macintosh SE range (not SE30) and offers direct to hard disk stereo recording at 32, 44.1, and 48kHz sampling rates. No data compression techniques are used and the system offers 10 megabytes per minute of record time at 44.1kHz, with record durations dependant on hard disk capacity. The software allows non-destructive editing, cue sheets, scrubbing, waveform zoom, cut and paste. Recordings may be MIDI Time Code stamped and cue sheets can be synchronised to the internal clock or MTC.
As well as functioning as a hard disk recorder, ADAC-SE can also be used as a four-voice MIDI controlled sampler. The whole unit is built on a compact card for installation inside the Mac SE, and rumour has it that a DAT I/O interface is following very soon, making editing of DAT tapes feasible.
For the Atari ST owner comes the ADAC-ST at £699 inc VAT. This is an external unit which sits between the Atari 1040ST computer and its external hard disk and offers similar quality and software features as the Macintosh version. A separate DAT I/O interface is also available for use with the Atari ST version only, and costs £299 inc VAT.
D2D Systems, (Contact Details).
At APRS '90 Mitsubishi UK, famous for their high quality digital tape recorders, announced their entry into the tapeless recording market. The move stems from a tie-up with Steinberg Digital Audio, who have been developing a Macintosh-based hard disk recording system, called Topaz, over the past few years. Mitsubishi has signed an exclusive agreement to distribute Topaz as the renamed Mitsubishi 'Diamond Workstation' within the UK and Ireland.
The basic configuration offers a 30 minute stereo system which utilises a 320Mb hard disk. With all functions controlled via the Macintosh computer, the workstation provides real-time control over cut and paste, effects editing, time and pitch warp, as well as EQ and level adjustment. In addition to digital recording, the system can also offer complete MIDI integration with Steinberg's flagship Cubase sequencer for full-blown music production. Mitsubishi expect the Diamond Workstation to be available from July onwards, with prices starting at around £15,000.
Mitsubishi Pro Audio, (Contact Details).
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