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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MUSIC FUN

If you do drum parts, this is the best investment you'll ever make. Korg's nanoPAD ($72) combines 12 responsive pads with an X/Y controller — with roll and flam modes — and the ease of USB powering. A function for entering chords from a single pad puts this way over the top — cool!

The Novation 25 SL MkII ($499) is a 25-key desktop USB/MIDI controller with Automap 3 PRO for DAW interfacing. Features include eight faders and 16 knobs (all touch-sensitive), eight rotary encoders with LED rings, a 144-character status display, 32 backlit buttons (including transport keys), speed dial, Xpression pad and eight soft-feel drumpads.

M-Audio's (www.m-audio.com) Axiom Pro 25 ($499) USB/MIDI controller features a 25-note keyboard, HyperControl MIDI/host mapping, eight velocity-sensitive trigger pads, eight rotary encoders, six reassignable DAW transport buttons, 50 memory locations and toggle switching between instrument and mixer control modes.

Akai Professional (www.akaipro.com) teamed up with Ableton to create the APC40 ($599) stage or studio hardware control surface. Designed specifically for Ableton Live, the unit communicates bi-directionally with Live, displaying data from the software on its clip matrix of 40 triggers and LED rings surrounding each knob.

MOTU (www.motu.com) Volta ($249) Mac Audio Units plug-in lets users with a TRS-output MOTU audio interface play vintage (or modern) synths/gear with Control Voltage interfacing using MIDI notes and controller data — including automating effects parameters. Sweet!

Realistic conga and percussion parts require a hands-on approach. Roland's (www.rolandus.com) HandSonic 10 ($799) features 10 individual pressure-sensitive pads, 400 onboard sounds, multi-effects and a D-Beam controller for real-time sound and pitch control. Best of all, it's fun!

Tanager Audio Works' (www.tanageraudioworks.com) Chirp is a $29 Mac/PC app that turns your computer or laptop keyboard into a virtual MIDI keyboard controller with 18 piano keys and 10 drum triggers to drive any music software or soft synth. This low-latency controller accommodates playing up to seven simultaneous notes in real time, allowing for even complex 9/11/13 chord-entry over two octaves.

INTERFACING

Whether for digital DJ'ing or archive transfers, the USBPhonoPlus V. 2 ($129) from ART (www.artproaudio.com) packs an RIAA preamp, line-level inputs, TosLink optical I/O, S/PDIF input, USB output and headphone monitoring into a versatile do-all box. It can be powered from the USB bus or an external supply.

Soundflower (freeware) from Cycling '74 (www.cycling74.com) is an interapplication audio routing utility for Mac OS X that presents itself as a simple audio device, allowing any audio application to send and receive audio with no other support needed. It's available as 2- and 16-channel devices.

MXL's (www.mxlmics.com) Mic Mate ($99) turns any dynamic or condenser microphone into a USB mic for grabbing a quick sound effect or those record-it-now laptop sketchpad sessions. No drivers required, and it can supply 48VDC phantom, as well.

Creating custom studio cabling has never been easier, thanks to the Modular Snake ($17 to $120) system from Planet Waves (www.planetwaves.com). Users select from 5/10/25/50-foot “core” oxygen-free copper cables with DB-25 connectors and mix/match various breakouts to suit any application. Available terminations include digital (AES, with four male/four female XLRs) and analog (with eight channels of XLR male, XLR female, TT, TRS or raw ends for custom connectors).






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