Snapshot Product Reviews

Aug 1, 2006 12:00 PM

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ABBEY ROAD/CHANDLER LIMITED
TG12413 Limiter Plug-In

The TG12413 Limiter plug-in is based on the '60s transistorized EMI Abbey Road TG12413 Limiter module from its vintage 24-input, 8-track mixing console. The plug-in is available in RTAS, TDM and Audio Suite versions for Pro Tools HD, LE and M-Powered systems on both PCs and Macs; VST and Audio Units versions are planned. It supports up to 192kHz sample rates and mono, stereo and multichannel tracks up to 7.1. Standard Pro Tools plug-in setting file format, multichannel linking and automation are also supported. The TG package includes two plug-in versions: the TG12413 1969, a re-creation of the classic module, and the TG 12413 2005, which emulates the Chandler Limited TG1 hardware unit.

The 1969 version has a Hold control that sets the threshold for either compression or limiting. Without signal, the VU meter tracks the Hold control's setting. Start at the 0dB center position and as you turn clockwise, more gain reduction occurs and the level increases.

The 2005 version uses an input control that pushes more and more level into the gain reduction section for more squash — working just like an 1176LN. The 1969 version is for more subtle compression and limiting chores, while the 2005 version can be set to pump madly to fantastically affect drum tracks or any dynamically chaotic recording.

The TG Limiter is iLok-authorized with a license card provided with the installer CD-ROM. After a quick install into a Mac G5 Quadcore, both plug-ins came up normally.

Bass guitar tracks can be made to “freeze” in level change. This super-compressed sound is clean and solid with no objectionable artifacts — pumping and breathing were evident, but it sounded great on this particular bass part with its many octave jumps and soloistic fills. I set the TG 2005 version to comp (compression), the slowest recovery (6) and the input to 6.5. The meter hovered around -5 dB, meaning about 15 dB of reduction!

Using both plug-ins in series on a female vocal track imparted a thick sound quality and constant level. For this “double spank,” I set the TG 1969 version on compression with the Hold control set about midway and selected the fastest recovery setting (1). I set the TG 2005 version on limit (limiting) with the input set to 6, and also selected the fastest recovery (1).

Electric guitars sounded great through the EMI TG. Bright guitar tracks become thicker, with a little more sustain while retaining brightness and size.

At $675 for the TDM version and $450 for the LE version, the Abbey Road/Chandler Limited TG12413 Limiter plug-in is a useful tool that's full of personality, as opposed to being clear, neutral and transparent-sounding. I use them any time I want a track to take on a unique and colorful quality.

Chandler Limited, 319/885-4200, www.chandlerlimited.com.
Barry Rudolph

ARTURIA ARP2600 V
Vintage Synth Software Clone

In the mid-1970s, the ARP 2600 was a serious rival to the Minimoog. I learned synthesis on a 2600, so the panel of Arturia's ARP2600 V brought back fond memories — as did its rich, organic sound.

The 2600 had numerous normaled audio and modulation routings, which could all be overridden by inserting patch cords. It had three oscillators, a 12dB-per-octave resonant lowpass filter, two envelope generators (ADSR and AR) and extras such as sample and hold, a lag processor, a ring modulator and a spring reverb.

Priced at $249, the 2600 V looks and operates very much like a hardware 2600, but offers numerous enhancements, starting with polyphony (up to 32 voices), patch memory and MIDI Learn for controlling any slider from a MIDI Control Change message. MIDI velocity, mod wheel and after-touch are available via “jacks” on the keyboard module. The 2600 V also includes a re-creation of ARP's 1601 step sequencer, which sports a couple of useful voltage-level quantizer modules.

New synth features not found on the original 2600 include a chorus and stereo delay, oscillator octave switching and semitone tuning, a synchable oscillator, a multimode filter, four dual-input “voltage” processors and four unique (and extraordinary) tracking generator/LFOs.

The voltage processors each have two inputs, with a crossfade slider that can be modulated from a third input. By using these patch points, you can mix two signals and send them to a single input elsewhere, set up LFO-based panning or add LFO vibrato under mod wheel control. I did spot an obscure bug: When the voltage processor module is used polyphonically, the output is lower for one of the voices.

I love the hundreds of factory presets, which show off the 2600 V's versatility and expressive power. I had fun patching up some buzzy drones using audio rate modulation of the filter, and quickly found a sound that inspired a new tune. Using the 2600 V as a VST effect, its audio input and envelope follower worked more or less as expected, allowing me to filter and ring-modulate a sampled beat.

I regularly use a couple of software-based modular synths that go much further than the 2600 in terms of flexible signal routing and sound design. Even so, I love the 2600 V, not only for its vintage appeal and authentic analog sounds, but because the whole patch is right there on the screen, with no hidden functions.

Arturia, dist. by Yamaha, 714/522-9011, www.yamahaproaudio.com.
Jim Aikin

GLYPH GT050Q
FireWire Hard Drive

DAW users often think of a hard drive as the “bank” where precious work and irreplaceable assets are stored and organized. With that in mind, why trust a brand “x” FireWire drive that was on sale at the local discount electronics store? Pros understand that a drive failure during a session is disastrous. Designed for serious use, Glyph offers tested and verified drives with a three-year warranty and overnight replacement during the first year.

The latest drive system in Glyph's GT Series, the GT050Q features Seagate Technology's new SATA drive technology. GT050Q drives come in many sizes — from 80 GB to 750 GB — all with Seagate 7,200 rpm drives, an Oxford 924 bridge chip, 8MB buffer cache and an average seek time of 8 ms. This stand-alone desktop drive weighs a little more than four pounds and is housed in a stainless-steel case with optional 19-inch rackmount hardware. To absorb the transmission of the drive's acoustic noise to the outside, three-layer laminated metal sound-damping brackets attach the drive to the internal chassis. The GT has a built-in power supply (no wall wart to chase down!) and a quiet cooling fan. But the big surprise is on the back panel.

The rear panel has five interface port connectors. Known as a “quad” interface, it offers a single FireWire 400 port, two FireWire 800 ports, a USB connector and one eSATA port. eSATA provides for even faster transfer data rates than FireWire 800 — up to 1.5 gigabits per second. eSATA is an offshoot of internal SATA 1, and eSATA ports are being added to the newest PC motherboards. You can also add a separate PCI card to your computer, one card per port per eSATA drive — these can't be chained together like FireWire drives. Using the eSATA port, the GT050Q can provide transfer rates of up to 109 MB per second, making the drive ideal for video editing and/or huge audio track counts.

Connected by a single FireWire 800 cable (both an 800 and 400 cable are supplied), the drive never worked hard to play and record 96 tracks at once. Furthermore, there is no noise; it is quieter than the internal hard drive in my Mac G5 Quadcore computer.

With four different connectivity options, the proper port ought to be available to a studio's computer. The Glyph GT050Q drive is a remarkable and worthwhile studio workhorse that will instill a quiet confidence and peace of mind within your daily session routine, and I highly recommend it for audio and video professionals.

Prices: $699, 500GB model; $299, 250GB model.

Glyph Technologies, 800/335-0345, www.glyphtech.com.
Barry Rudolph

SE ELECTRONICS REFLEXION FILTER
Portable Vocal Booth

New from SE Electronics, Reflexion Filter is a $399 portable vocal booth that sits behind a mic, providing isolation from problem reflections and room ambience.

This sturdy metal unit is approximately a foot tall and two feet across and is composed of multiple layers. The outer layer is an aluminum skin with holes punched at regular intervals. Below that is a layer of absorptive wool, then a layer of aluminum foil. The next acoustic barrier is a small air space followed by a series of suspended and angled aluminum, wool-covered baffles. These absorptive barriers prevent room energy from entering the back of the mic, while keeping the voice from leaving the area of the mic and reflecting back.

The Reflexion Filter can be set up on the same stand as your mic, but don't try to do this without instruction. Somewhat Rube Goldberg-ian in design, it can't be figured out by mere mortals. Unfortunately, the diagram that came with the package I received was imprecise and incomplete. I printed a picture of the mounted unit from the SE Website, which made setup easy. [Eds. note: This review unit was an early release. Since then, the company has written a comprehensive manual detailing the setup of the filter.] In any event, use a sturdy mic stand because the Reflexion Filter and mic together carry a lot of weight.

Dubbed the Robo-Gobo by one of my session players, the unit was set up in a medium-sized vocal booth. The first track was done without the filter, and then a second ad-lib track was recorded so I could compare the two. The recording done with the filter was decidedly warmer. The engineer commented that she usually has to notch out 1k when recording voice in this particular room. Here, the filter naturally reduced this problem peak without EQ.

Next, I cut a vocal in the control room with the singer set up in the back of the room, off to the side and facing the console. Even with the speakers in the control room turned up considerably, the vocal tone was solid. I was able to cut a good-sounding, usable vocal track live in the room with minimal leakage.

I was skeptical of the Reflexion Filter at first, but after some experimentation and comparing tracks, it made a believer out of me. Be aware that it's impossible to read a lyric sheet or see visual cues during use. But if that doesn't bother you and you're having problems recording vocals in less-than-perfect environments, then the Reflexion Filter is worth a look.

SE Electronics, dist. by Sonic Distribution, 617/623-5581, www.sonic-distribution.com.
Kevin Becka

M-AUDIO BUNKER 8 BEYOND FOLEY
Foley Effects DVDs

M-Audio's ProSessions 24 line of sample/loop collections is known for its cool drums, instruments and electronica sounds. Now, the line expands with Bunker 8 Beyond Foley in two single-DVD volumes, each priced at $49.95. Recorded by Toronto's Bunker 8 Digital Labs, these 24-bit WAV files are sampled at both 44.1 kHz and 48 kHz, and easily load into just about any DAW.

Each disc is packed with about 3 GB of sounds. Volume 1: Inorganic has man-made sounds: taps, hits, smacks and crashes; clothing, fabrics and materials; kitchen and bathroom; home sounds; office, tools, gadgets and equipment; stereo ambiences and atmospheres; and transportation. It's not all Foley — there are also long stereo ambiences (restaurants, streets, car interiors) and sound effects (car starts, computer sounds, toilet flushes and bathroom/kitchen water). All are cleanly recorded and most are quite useful — the pots and pans, car starts, door slams and clothing sounds are particularly good. Some sounds are odd — almost otherworldly (“walking on plastic muffin container”) — while others seem esoteric, such as “scraping CD through radiator in washroom,” which could easily pass for applying concrete or mortar with a trowel.

Volume 2: Organic follows the same routine, with a mix of Foley, sound effects and ambiences. Categories include animal kingdom; outdoor environments; stones, ceramics and glass; streams, falls, beaches and lakes; underfoot and water zone; and wood vibes. There are lots of effects: animal sounds, glass breaking, etc., and long ambiences. But here, again, the best part is the Foley stuff, such as footsteps on various (mostly outdoor) materials and water splashes/items dropped into water.

A simple HTML file arranges each disc's sounds into logical categories and subcategories, and a Click to Listen feature makes auditioning sounds a breeze on Mac or PC. There are lots of sound effects sources, and true Foley is hard to come by. The main downside is that these leave you wanting more, especially Foley — no footsteps on wood, concrete or marble? No body thuds, breathing, grunts, punches and carcass drags? Maybe that's what future volumes hold, but at $100 per set, this one's off to a good start.

M-Audio, 866/657-6434, www.m-audio.com.
George Petersen






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