Tools of the Trade

Jul 1, 2006 12:00 PM

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SE ELECTRONICS REFLEXION FILTER
Now shipping is the Reflexion Filter ($399) from SE Electronics (dist. by Sonic Distribution, www.sonic-distribution.com). This “portable vocal booth” — which comprises an advanced composite wall positioned behind any microphone, held by a variable position stand clamp (included) — allows the user to record live sources with reduced room ambience. Intended to help obtain a dry vocal or instrument recording, it's especially useful in studios that don't have proper acoustic treatment, but it can also be helpful for recording takes in control rooms, where the performer also has to operate the recorder, or in live or rehearsal studios.

FOCUSRITE SAFFIRE LE
Looking very monolithic in its black and silver case, Focusrite's (www.focusrite.com) $399 Saffire LE offers affordable desktop I/O and more. It has six inputs and eight outputs (including stereo digital I/O) with monitoring and I/O control options, ACS and DTS compatibility, MIDI I/O, and a 470MB sample and software bundle, which includes BFD Ultralite, GURU demo version and B-Station. While Saffire LE lacks the onboard DSP of the original Saffire, it's bundled with the same acclaimed compression, reverb, amp modeling and EQ VST/Audio Units plug-ins. Also included is Live 5 Lite, a Focusrite edition of Ableton's award-winning performance/sequencing software.

RME ADI-8 QS
Hot from the floor of AES in Paris comes the RME (www.rme-audio.com) ADI-8 QS, a full-featured 8-channel AD/DA converter. The single-rackspace unit features analog and digital limiters, four hardware reference levels up to +24 dBu, AES/EBU (25-pin) and ADAT I/O (including S/MUX) up to 192 kHz, optional MADI I/O, remote control via MIDI, remote digital input trims for full input calibration and remote volume control of its eight analog outputs, either separately, globally or ganged. The unit also offers SteadyClock, RME's unique clock technology and jitter suppression, and RME's Intelligent Clock Control (ICC), SyncChec and SyncAlign. The QS uses the latest A/D and D/A converter circuits operating up to 192 kHz, boasting 120dB S/N ratios and a maximum conversion delay of eight samples. An expansion slot supports a MADI option card. All interface options can be used simultaneously under all conditions.

MXL MICROPHONES M3
MXL Microphones (www.mxlmics.com) has unveiled a baby-blue beauty in the seemingly contradictory M3 Silicon Valve solid-state microphone. The title refers to the designer's promise to deliver a solid-state FET amplifier output stage that resembles the performance characteristics of a tube mic. The large-diaphragm, pressure-gradient condenser mic uses a 1-inch capsule with a gold-sputtered, 6-micron diaphragm, and is optimized for vocal work. It comes in two versions: one standard (M3, $349), the other voiced specifically for female vocals (M3-P, $369).

DTS HD MASTER AUDIO SUITE
DTS (www.dtsonline.com) ups the ante of the HD game with its $1,495 DTS-HD Master Audio Suite (MAS). Used to prepare audio streams for next-generation and current optical disc media formats (Mac OS 10.4.x or Windows XP), the bundle includes an encoder module, a StreamPlayer decoder and StreamTools stream editing and verification tools. The Suite will encode bitstreams in DTS Digital Surround, DTS-ES 6.1, DTS 96/24, DTS-HD High Resolution and DTS-HD Master Audio, which is bit-for-bit identical to a master soundtrack. MAS supports encoding HD DVD (HD) or Blu-ray Disc (BD) primary or main audio streams with up to 7.1 channels of audio at sampling rates of up to 192 kHz. MAS also includes a low bit-rate (LBR) encoder that will encode DTS audio streams for use as sub or secondary audio on HD/BD with bit rates optimized for Internet delivery. Streams that are encoded in DTS-HD Master Audio bit-for-bit format support downmixing from 7.1-channel to 5.1-channel and from 5.1-channel to stereo, and are also backward-compatible with existing DTS decoders.

JOEMEEK MC2 COMPRESSOR
Another Joemeek (www.joemeek.com) product aimed at making you “green” with envy, the $199 mc2 compressor features balanced/unbalanced I/Os, sidechain input, front panel controls for input gain (with peak LED), compress (threshold), slope (ratio), attack, release and makeup gain. LED ladder meters monitor gain reduction and levels. Other features include gain-reduction hold and stereo width, variably modifying the stereo image from mono to normal stereo.

SADIE VERSION 5.5 SOFTWARE
Coinciding with the availability of the unique new SADiE (www.sadie.com) LRX location audio workstation shown at NAB, V. 5.5 (free download) introduces many powerful editing/recording functions, including a radically improved user interface with a new coloring scheme. It also features increased support for the PCM-H64 multitrack platform, with a new dedicated “MTR” multitrack recorder interface for simpler setups and operation of systems in the style of traditional multitracks. Also new is a comprehensive metadata interface for inserting metadata, and handling of file and take names during the record process. Those with safety in mind will love the support for redundant recording to a mirrored disk in addition to the primary recording drive, providing simultaneous file backups. Other enhancements include improved and updated OMF import and export option, auto-conform enhancements and direct creation of DDPi and CDs from high sample-rate material.

PSP NEON, NEON HR
PSP Audioware's (www.pspaudioware.com) PSP Neon ($149) and Neon HR ($299) are fully featured EQ plug-ins. Neon offers eight EQ bands, each of which can be assigned one of seven filter types, and uses frequency-domain, fast, convolution-based linear phase algorithms for the best balance between CPU efficiency and phase accuracy. For those who want to use the excellent analog-modeled PSP Neon filters in even more CPU-critical applications, you can toggle off the linear phase mode and take advantage of PSP Neon's minimum phase error Infinite Impulse Response (IIR) mode. Neon HR offers even more with operation up to 192 kHz, PSP's proprietary FAT mode, independent processing and control of each stereo channel, stereo/mid-side operation, and high and max resolution modes. PSP offers 14-day fully functional demos of both PSP Neon HR (iLok required) and PSP Neon.

AUDIO PRECISION APX585 ANALYZER
Audio Precision's (www.audioprecision.com) APx585 ($21,000) 8-channel analyzer breaks new ground for surround, offering eight channels of analog I/O and a user-friendly interface for easily automating test sequences. A broad set of measurements can simply be made by selecting a checkbox and then clicking Run. Test sequences run on the APx585 are supported with an integrated reporting facility, which generates rich graphic reports on individual test settings and results. These exportable reports can be customized with a company's name/logo. Measurement settings and automated sequences are saved in the project file, which can be loaded and immediately run by another 585 user, allowing test results to be quickly reviewed and independently analyzed by different team members.

SONOSAX SX-ST8D MIXER
The Sonosax (www.sonosax.com) SX-ST now comes in a more compact, enhanced version titled the SX-ST8D. This digital version offers eight high-quality 24-bit A/D converters offering sampling rates from 44.1 up to 192 kHz with output on four AES/EBU lines. Each individual ADC can be assigned either from the direct out of the channel or from the mix. A switchable fast limiter is also provided. The mixer will also soon be available with a new optional recorder module featuring eight tracks of hard disk and CompactFlash card recording integrated within the unit.

VIRTUAL KATY CONFORMER WITH PRO TOOLS
Pro Tools HD and DV Toolkit purchasers now get a free version of Virtual Katy's (www.virtualkaty.com) VK Conformer. VK Conformer promises to accelerate Pro Tools post-production workflow. It features support for EDLs and change notes; list cleaner, eliminating unwanted elements from lists; Preview mode, enabling the user to preview and modify region boundaries before committing to the conform; and conform, identifying necessary sound file changes and then automatically re-synching the Pro Tools session. After a 30-day demo, customers who receive VK Conformer as part of their Pro Tools purchase can upgrade to VK2 for $500.

NEUTRIK LIGHTED ETHERCON
Those wanting to see if the lights are on and someone is home will want to check out Neutrik's (www.neutrik.com) latest EtherCon connector. In addition to providing the components of Neutrik's Shielded EtherCon, first unveiled at NAB 2006, the Lighted EtherCon ($6.87) offers two Lightpipes for standard 3mm LEDs to indicate data transmission and status. Typically mounted to a horizontal PC board, the LEDs fit into an opening at the bottom of the Lightpipes and transmit the light to the front panel.

UPGRADES AND UPDATES
IK Multimedia
(www.ikmultimedia.com) is now shipping Amplitube 2. The guitar-god-in-a-plug-in features 14 preamps, 14 amp EQs, seven power amps, 16 cabinets, six mic models with four placement options each, 21 stomp effects and 11 rack effects…Metric Halo has released the Universal Binary version of ChannelStrip AU. Version 2.2 of ChannelStrip AU is supported for operation with systems running Mac OS 10.4.3 or later and Audio Units — compliant host applications. It can be downloaded free from www.mhlabs.comAbleton (www.ableton.com) Live 5.2 is a Universal version of this professional audio app designed to run natively on Intel-based Macs. The new version makes significant performance increases possible, and is a free bug-fix update for users running Live 5 on non-Intel Macs or Windows computers…Cakewalk (www.cakewalk.com) is offering a free update for SONAR users. Version 5.2 offers VST 2.4 support, MIDI output data from VSTi plug-ins, 4,096 (!) MIDI channels to any ReWire device and more…The Portico 5043 compressor/limiter duo from Rupert Neve Designs (www.rupertnevedesigns.com) is shipping. The 5043 features two independent compressor/limiters in a half-rack, single-rackspace module…Apogee Electronics (www.apogeedigital.com) is now shipping Symphony, a multichannel PCI Express card designed specifically for use with Mac computers. The card is a digital computer interface that is based on the PCI-Express architecture in Apple's PowerMac G5 computers, allowing access of up to 192 channels of audio simultaneously in a single computer…M-Audio (www.m-audio.com) announces a free V. 2 firmware update for Black Box, the Roger Linn — designed creative tool for guitarists that combines amp modeling, effects, guitar/mic preamps and drum tracks with an audio interface for computer-based recording. New features include 28 new guitar and bass amp emulations, five different reverbs, compression and new modulation options, as well as a host of new beat-synched effects for a total of 121 total effects…Rain Recording (www.rainrecording.com) and Tascam (www.tascam.com) have buddied up. Rain Recording computer systems have been tested and certified by Tascam for use with GigaStudio 3 software. In addition, all Rain computer systems are now shipping with Tascam GigaStudio Solo. Tascam has also released Universal Binary drivers for the US-122, US-224, US-428, FW-1884, FW-1082 and FW-1804, making these interfaces compatible with the latest Mac-Intel computers…Sony Media Software (www.sony.com/mediasoftware) is shipping ACID Pro 6 software. The upgrade offers many new features, including unlimited tracks of audio and MIDI, real-time pitch and tempo matching, VST effect and VSTi support, more than 20 real-time DirectX effects and more.






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