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electronic MUSICIAN



Nov 8

Written by: masterblogger
11/8/2010 12:42 PM  RssIcon

Okay, so I downed a pot and a half of coffee, dove headfirst into a mountain of audio spec sheets, and emerged with some somewhat coherent thoughts on the cool gear that we saw at up, pics!


The huge news at the show, hands down, was Avid’s announcement of Pro Tools 9, which is now ASIO and Core Audio-compatible. Finally, you can run Pro Tools with pretty much any hardware of your choice (or, none at all). We’ll be talking about the implications of this development in-depth in future posts, but in a nutshell, the fact that this industry-standard platform is finally open, opens up a world of possibilities. PT9 replaces PT LE, offering interoperability with PT HD and offers major new features like automatic delay compensation and EUCON integration; software prices start at $599.

In other big news, in a secret hotel suite offsite, Korg showed us a native multitrack DSD recorder. This was definitely a preview—no name, no price, no release date—but it functioned, and it sounded impressive. We’ll be following developments, and will report them as they happen…

Consoles are back! We were wowed by the Trident Series 82, Malcolm Toft’s first new Trident design in 25 years. Allen and Heath’s GS-R24, is an analog console with a choice of analog or Firewire/ADAT interfaces, plus motorized faders and MIDI control. Grammy-winning producer Eric Valentine debuted his new company, Undertone Audio, and a flagship analog console designed completely with sound quality in mind: Features include Class A circuitry, a tube output stage, and a porous metal work surface designed to minimize acoustic reflections. SSL showed a new version of the AWS console/controller that features 48 inputs in the same 24-fader frame, achievable via a dual-path channel strip design; plus A-FADA automation, which enables its analog motorized faders to follow continuous DAW automation data. SSL also showed the Nucleus desktop DAW controller, which controls three workstations at once, and is based on the concepts developed for the Matrix.

Doing your mixing inside the box? We also saw quite a few console modelers: Sound Toys showed the Juice! analog input channel modeling plug-in (based on modeling technology that had its beginnings in the Decapitator), Slate Digital Software’s Virtual Console Collection models four legendary analog boards, and even though Cakewalk wasn’t at the show, it’s worth it to note that the just-released Sonar X1 includes a console modeler called ProChannel.


API 500 Series modules were once again everywhere at AES. To name a few: Millennia’s AD596 8-channel A/D converter brings high-end digital to the Lunchbox. Purple Audio showed a bunch of modules, and tells us that the Sweet Ten 10-slot rack frame will start shipping this week. Anamod showed the XF Tube processor, which emulates a two-stage tube and transformer amplifier; Elysia showed a discrete Class A stereo compressor.

Ribbon mics continue to make a resurgence. Beyer introduced the RM 510 wireless (yeah, we said wireless) ribbon model; Royer introduced the R101, which were described as “90 percent of the R121 at 80 percent of the cost.” That would be a $799 street price…D.W. Fearn showed the VT-12 tube preamp, which, with 70 dB of gain, is optimized for ribbon mics. And Cloud continues to blow us away with their hand-built mics based on legacy RCA engineering.

Manufacturers continue to follow project-studio trends: We saw quite a few “starter kit” products at the show, such as entry-level mics, headphones, and interfaces. Also, it seems that more and more people are finally recognizing the importance of acoustic treatment in their project spaces, and as this awareness grows, we’re seeing more companies branching out into specific/specialized treatment solutions, such as environmentally sound bamboo and soy-based materials (Auralex) and flexible booth options (Primacoustic).

Other trends? It looks like USB is starting to take over from Firewire. It’s cheaper to design a USB product, because even though USB requires more CPU overhead, it doesn’t need its own hardware; and at this point, USB performance is nearly equal to Firewire anyway. Also, we all know USB 3.0 is just around the corner. As USB emerges, it’s safe to say that Firewire is fading, although it’s certainly not going away…

Tubes still rule; we saw way too many tube products to mention here, but just know that they’re everywhere.

And then there were some just plain cool products that we have to share:

We really love Izotope’s Nectar Vocal Suite, which offers amazing-sounding processing including pitch correction, breath control, doubling, and more.

We dug RME’s interfaces at opposite ends of the spectrum: the 60-channel Fireface UFX, with digitally controlled preamps and 192kHz operation, and the ultra-compact 192kHz, 22-channel Babyface USB interface

BIAS’s new Peak Studio package includes a really effective de-clipping tool for repairing audio files. And, Peak fans rejoice! Version 7 is now multichannel.

Propellerhead Software showed Version 1.5 of Record, which includes the cool new Neptune pitch-correction tool and voice synthesizer.

There are a million other goodies to talk about, and we’ll keep them coming over the next few days. Stay tuned...

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