The Well-Accessorized DAW

Aug 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By George Petersen

50 COOL ADD-ONS THAT TAKE YOUR WORKSTATION TO THE NEXT STEP

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UNIVERSAL TRANSLATORS

Now in Mac and PC versions, SSL's (www.solid-state-logic.com) Pro-Convert ($699 list) lets DAW users convert session project files from one format to another, including Pro Tools 7.x, Cubase, Nuendo, Logic, Final Cut Pro and Soundscape. Its new interface (coming to PC users later this year) streamlines the process.

Translator ($149) from Chicken Systems (www.chickensys.com) takes any pro sampler CD-ROM/disk (Giga3/GigaStudio, EXS24, Kontakt, Reason NN-XT, SFZ, SoundFont, SampleCell, Kurzweil, Ensoniq, Akai, E-mu, Roland and more) and converts one or any of its programs, instruments or samples — or the entire disk — into a format you can use with EXS24, Kontakt, Structure, Independence, HALion, Reason NN-XT, SampleTank, SFZ, Roland MV8000/Fantom, Alesis Fusion, Korg Triton and Battery 1.

A must for Logic users — or with any sampler that can import EXS-format instruments — the Compendium Bundle ($549) from Redmatica (www.redmatica.com) combines three tools — ExsManager Pro, Auto-Sampler and Keymap — for creating and managing multisampled instruments, removing the drudgery of resampling your hardware and software virtual instruments.

Snapper from Audio Ease (www.audioease.com) is a simple $79 Mac app that automatically appears whenever an audio file is selected in the finder and displays the waveform. From there, you can opt to play the file (more than 50 formats are supported, including 192kHz and 5.1 surround files) and upload it to your Pro Tools cursor or export it to MP4, AIFF, WAV, BWF, etc., or split stereo files into L/R mono (or vice-versa).

DSP HORSEPOWER

The $3,495 TC Electronic PowerCore 6000 offers System 6000 algorithms for a fraction of the original's price. The unit's eight DSP engines are the same DSPs used in System 6000, and its SRAM memory design lets users run the 6000's many included reverb and effects programs with popular DAWs, as well as with any other VST- or Audio Units-compatible host.

Ideal for small studios or laptop-based DAWs, Duende Mini from SSL provides more DSP punch for driving up to 16 mono channels — upgradeable to 32 — of plug-ins at up to 96 kHz within your DAW. The compact $699 unit interfaces via FireWire, and includes SSL EQ and dynamics.

Now shipping, Universal Audio's (www.uaudio.com) UAD-2 SOLO/Laptop ($499 MAP) ExpressCard-based DSP accelerator brings the power of UA's Powered Plug-Ins to your mobile rig, freeing your laptop's brain for mixing duties. It comes with the 1176SE compressor, Pultec EQP-1A EQ, Realverb Pro, CS-1 channel strip and a $50 voucher for other UA goodies. This Mac/Windows system has VST, Audio Units and RTAS support, and it includes Mellowmuse ATA Auto-Delay Compensation for Pro Tools LE.

STUDIO ESSENTIALS

Perhaps a bit more than an “accessory,” Korg's (www.korg.com) MR-2000S ($2,499) is a 1-bit, ultrahigh-res recorder that records/plays in superlative 1-bit formats (1-bit/2.8MHz or 5.6MHz), as well as various PCM resolutions (16-bit/44.1 up to 24-bit/192kHz).

If you're tracking guitars or vintage synths, staying in tune is a must. Peterson's StroboSoft Deluxe Suite (www.strobosoft.com, $149) tuning software offers 0.1-cent accuracy and works in stand-alone mode or as an insert or bus in your VST- or Audio Units-capable DAW.

The CLASP (Closed Loop Analog Signal Processor) from Endless Analog (www.endlessanalog.com) turns your 2-inch analog deck into a tape-flavored “plug-in” for your DAW. The system comprises a hardware interface, VST plug-in (one for every channel) and a sync cable. Just run the session from your DAW as usual and CLASP performs real-time, synched transfers from the repro head of your deck.

FlexiBooth ($399) from Primacoustic is a collapsible, 24×48-inch wall-mount vocal booth that opens up when needed, folds out of the way when unused and doubles as a wall acoustic treatment.

A short USB extension cable can keep your iLok from sticking straight out of your PC or laptop, where it's susceptible to damage or being snapped off. Available nearly everywhere for about $2, this is cheap insurance for all those pricey plug-in authorizations.

Another low-cost add-on is a USB gooseneck light like the Middle Atlantic Products (www.middleatlantic.com) LT-GN (about $15), which can put a bit of much-needed illumination over your QWERTY or music keyboard or DAW controller, especially in those dim control rooms.

Admittedly, there are some slow periods during studio sessions, so you might check out the Hauppauge (www.hauppauge.com) WinTV-HVR-950Q ($129) digital TV tuner on a USB stick, which lets Mac or PC users watch/record high-def TV on their desktop or laptop.






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