Shape Of Things To Come
News of Roland's brand new megasynth, yamaha's latest effects processors, and more — all in glorious colour.
Yamaha's new products for Frankfurt include signal processors, loudspeakers, and the company's first DAT player. The FX900 is a powerful new effects processor, offering seven simultaneous programmable effects, in series, parallel, or a mixture of the two. Compression, distortion, parametric EQ, pitch change, reverb, early reflections, echo, modulation, and wah are among the effects available. Effects can be modified in real time via MIDI, or by the optional FC900 foot controller. High sound quality seems assured by Delta-Sigma A-to-D conversion, and 18-bit 8-times oversampling D-to-A conversion.
Also new in the effects field is the EMP100, a smaller multi-effects processor aimed at the home recordist. The unit offers early reflections, reverb, pitch change, delay, chorus, flange, symphonic, and various combination programs in 100 factory and 50 user programs. Programs can be recalled via MIDI. An interesting feature of the EMP100 is the facility to set delay times via a 'tap tempo' footswitch. Another new processor is the FX500B, a version of the FX500 aimed at bassists.
The DTR2 is Yamaha's first venture into the DAT market. The unit is a top-end product aimed at pro users. It offers 44.1kHz and 48kHz recording, and both coaxial and optical digital i/o. Balanced XLRs and unbalanced phonos are both provided.
Yamaha's NS10 established itself as an industry-standard near field monitor, and from the same stable come the new S12 and S22 speakers. Aimed at personal monitoring, installation and A/V applications, the speakers feature a 2-way bass-reflex design. Both are magnetically shielded for use near video monitors.
Also new from Yamaha are the QY10 Music Sequencer and RY30 drum machine. The QY10 (around £220) is a compact composing and arranging tool, running off either batteries or mains power. It combines an 8-track sequencer with a 28-note polyphonic 8-part multi-timbral PCM sound module and an auto-accompaniment section with 76 preset patterns, two chord tracks, rhythm and bass. A mini keyboard allows music entry, or notes can be input from an external MIDI keyboard. The perfect companion for the musician on the move?
The RY30 (around £400) features AWM2 technology, 180 samples in 2MB of ROM, 16-note polyphony, 12 velocity sensitive pads, and digital filtering for sound modification. A real-time control wheel allows live modification of panning, level, decay, filter and pitch. Sound is output via stereo outputs and two individual outs.
Yamaha-Kemble Music UK, (Contact Details).
Alesis' latest products made quite an impression an Winter NAMM, and will no doubt do the same at Frankfurt. The most interesting is the ADAT 8-track digital tape recorder, a 3U rack unit which records eight tracks of digital audio on to standard S-VHS cassettes giving around 45 minutes of recording time. The unit, with an LRC remote for basic remote control functions, will retail for under £3,500, according to UK distributors Sound Technology. The optional BRC remote control/autolocator offers SMPTE sync and the facility to link up to 16 ADATs together. (See NAMM report for more details).
The Quadraverb GT (£499) is a development of the standard Quadraverb aimed at guitarists, which incorporates an analogue preamp section with compression, distortion, pre-amp tone curves and bass boost, a guitar amp/cabinet simulator, a noise gate, and a slow attack envelope for volume pedal effects. The DTP MIDI foot pedal (£120) provides remote program switching for the GT, or indeed anything else in your MIDI setup.
Also new is the D4 16-bit drum module (£399), which crams over 400 sounds, many stereo, into a 1U rack unit. There are no sequencing facilities — the unit is designed not as a drum machine but as a versatile expander. Sounds can be triggered via six audio inputs as well as by MIDI. There are 32 programmable drum sets, and four audio outs configured in two stereo pairs.
Sound Technology plc, (Contact Details).
Studer Revox have announced a new pro cassette deck. The H1 employs the same 4-motor, twin pinch roller mechanism as the B215, and offers Dolby B, C and HX-Pro, along with Revox's automatic, microprocessor controlled tape alignment system. At £1,121 it is over £500 cheaper than its predecessor.
FWO Bauch, (Contact Details).
Soundtracs will unveil a new range of consoles at the AES — the Megas desks, available in Stage, Studio, and Mix flavours. The Megas Mix is a general purpose console for a variety of applications where a maximum of four busses are sufficient. The various frame sizes can be loaded with three types of input modules, and a maximum of two dual-group modules providing four audio groups.
The Megas Stage is a dedicated Sound Reinforcement console which can be loaded with a variety of mono and stereo input modules, up to four matrix modules to provide a x8 matrix, and up to four dual-group modules. Moving coil VU meters and group mutes are standard.
The Megas Studio is a recording console with 16 or 24 group busses either with or without patchbays. The various frame sizes can be loaded with both mono and stereo input modules plus up to eight dual-group modules (16-bus) or 11 dual-group modules (24-bus) to provide 16 or 24 group outputs and tape returns respectively. It is also fitted with MIDI mute automation.
Soundtracs plc, (Contact Details).
Waldorf have added the Wave-Slave voice expander to their product range. The 1U unit expands a Microwave with a further eight voices, doubling the capacity of the original module. The Wave-Slave simply connects to a master Microwave via MIDI, and the two operate essentially as a single unit. All editing and program selections are controlled by the master Microwave, which can drive several Wave-Slaves.
The Microwave itself (£1099) has now been updated with new operating system software, allowing extensive Sys Ex control. A software upgrade is available for existing owners.
MCMXCIX, (Contact Details).
Roland's new crop of products for Frankfurt include a flagship synth and a more affordable version of the S770 sampler. The new synth is the JD800, which owes a good deal to the classic Jupiter 8 in its design. All synthesis parameters are controlled by front panel sliders, offering a degree of immediacy in programming that has simply been designed out of an entire generation of instruments. The instrument combines traditional analogue architecture (reproduced in digital form, hence the 'D' in JD800), with all the filtering benefits that brings, with contemporary digital technology — there are 108 preset waveforms to choose from, and the instrument is 6-part multi-timbral.
The JD800 is 24-voice polyphonic, and features a digital effects unit that can apply different effects independently to different parts.
Another new keyboard is the JX1 Performance Synthesizer, based on a new, but unspecified, Roland technology. There are 64 preset sounds, and user editing is limited to tone modification through a filter section. The basic sounds take in synth textures as well as multi-sampled 'real' sounds. Four sliders are provided to facilitate editing. An on-board effects section offers delay and chorus, and the unit is 24-voice polyphonic.
The S750 offers S770-quality sampling at a somewhat lower price. The main compromises are fewer separate outputs (eight), and no hard disk, though SCSI support allows the connection of external storage devices. The S750 comes with 2MB of RAM, expandable to 18MB, and version 2.0 software supports TVF, compression/expansion of wave data, sample rate conversion, and resampling.
The SBS5 Sound Brush and SC55 Sound Canvas are, respectively, a new sequencer and multi-timbral sound module (somewhat in the MT32 mould), which implement standard tone maps and MIDI parameters which in turn conform to the General MIDI format adopted by the MMA. General MIDI aims to standardise certain basic sound modification parameters, and allow them to be edited by MIDI controllers rather than by Sys Ex only. Roland's GS standard adopts these conventions, and the standardisation of tone maps ensures that any GS-compatible sound source can use the same sequencer data without having to change program numbers or MIDI channels. Both the SC55 and SB55 are half-rack units, and a wireless remote control for both units is available.
Other new Roland products include the FP8 SA digital piano, RSP550 stereo signal processor, A220 MIDI separator, CR80 Human Rhythm Player (a preset drum box with 'feel), and Rhodes VK1000 drawbar organ.
Roland UK, (Contact Details).
Akai have announced two new digital pianos, the PG5 (£3,499) and PG3 (£1,899). Both feature high-quality 16-bit samples of 24 instruments, including five pianos, two electric pianos, vibes, organs, woodwind, and basses. Sounds can be split on the 88-note piano-weighted keyboard, and digital effects and amplification are built in. The PG3 features an ebony cabinet, and the PG5 a choice of black or white 'mini grand' cabinet.
Akai Professional, (Contact Details).
It may look like something off the front of a Dalek, but what you see above is in fact Bruel & Kjaer's catchily-named WA0609, a special attachment for the 4003 and 4006 mics which... um, makes them look like something off the front of a Dalek. Apart from that, the attachment also functions as both a directional and spectral equaliser. It is a passive acoustical processor which uses diffraction to modify the sound field near the microphone diaphragm, and thus changes the microphone's frequency and polar response.
The results of fitting the WA0609 are claimed to be: semi-directionality without the compromises associated with pressure gradient (cardioid) microphones, such as proximity effect; increased directivity at higher frequencies while maintaining excellent transient response; the addition of the passive equaliser to the existing microphone provides cost-effective modification with calibrated and consistent results.
The WA0609 is the first of a series of attachments for B&K mics that the company are planning to introduce. The attachments have been developed in a joint project between Bruel & Kjaer and Wieslaw Woszczyk, Director of Sound Recording at McGill University in Montreal.
Bruel & Kjaer Pro Audio, (Contact Details).
Digitech have upgraded the DSP256 to the DSP256XL (£399). The new version features improved reverb and chorusing effects to its predecessor. The 28 effects available include: Stereo; Ping-Pong; Multi-tap and Slap-back delays; Chorus; Reverse and Ultimate Reverbs; 9-band Graphic EQ. Up to four effects can be used at once. An EPROM upgrade is available to take older DSP256s to the new specification.
Also new is the DSP16 (£269), another stereo studio effects processor. The unit contains 128 factory programs using 16 different reverb and delay effects. 4-band EQ provides sound tailoring facilities, and there are front panel controls for mix, and output and input levels.
John Hornby Skewes & Co, (Contact Details).
Sound Technology have announced the release of the Digidesign Pro I/O Professional Analogue Interface (£2995 inc VAT). The Pro I/O is an option on both Atari and Mac based Sound Tools systems, offering high quality A-to-D and D-to-A conversion, and features which have been engineered specifically for the professional Sound Tools user, all in a single rack space. The Pro I/O uses the advanced Apogee anti-aliasing filters, 18-bit DACs, balanced connectors, and Phillips Bitstream technology.
Sound Technology plc, (Contact Details).
Opcode announced new products and upgrades to old ones at the Winter NAMM show. OMS (Open MIDI System) is a new MIDI operating system which tackles the task of managing the mass of synths, samplers and other MIDI devices that make up a complex MIDI setup. OMS allows the user to set up a description of a studio, which will then instruct all Opcode programs which is the master controller, what multi-timbral expanders are connected, etc. The result is a consistent user interface: device, song and patch names are the same across multiple applications, and the physical details of the network are transparent to the user. OMS also allows the use of NuBus cards, such as SampleCell, without MIDI Manager.
Galaxy Plus editors integrate the Galaxy universal librarian with Opcode's range of editor/librarians. New editors include those for the Korg Wavestation and Proteus 2.
MAX, previously available only to developers, is now being marketed commercially by Opcode. MAX is a real time graphic programming environment in which complex applications can be created by linking together simple modules. MAX, originally conceived at IRCAM, was designed to control music and audio hardware, but it is not dedicated to music, and is flexible enough to support a wide range of potential applications. 15 sample programs are bundled with MAX, ranging from algorithmic composition tools to effects editors to a MIDI diagnostic. Also new is Track Chart, a studio management package designed to simplify the mixing process by providing the mix engineer with printed charts or real time on-screen graphics. The charts can be created simply by opening a MIDI file.
Vision and Studio Vision have both been updated to version 1.3, incorporating 29.97 SMPTE non-drop format amongst other new features.
On an educational note, Opcode have released The Book Of MIDI, an interactive HyperCard stack providing information on MIDI, music, computers and synths. The stack incorporates samples of synth sounds, and chapters include: What Is MIDI?; Setting Up A Studio; MIDI Hardware; MIDI Software; The MIDI Game.
MCMXCIX, (Contact Details).
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