ELECTRO-HARMONIX VOICE BOX
THIS BOX SINGS
According to Electro-Harmonix, the Voice Box stompbox effect ($214.50) is like having the Beach Boys, Dixie Chicks, or Supremes do your backup vocals. It follows your singing to create 2- or 4-part harmony on the fly and has two built-in reverbs to add depth independently to your voice and the backup vocals. The unit also features a 256-band vocoder with formant shifting for when you want to go robotic. You get a balanced XLR input with phantom power and a mic preamp with a gain switch, an unbalanced instrument input, and a balanced XLR output. Hear and see it in a YouTube video on the Electro-Harmonix Web site (ehx.com).
URBAN BEATS AND MORE
MOTU (motu.com) packs a lot of wallop into its new standalone and plug-in virtual drum machine BPM Beat Production Machine (Mac/Win, $295 [MSRP]). You start with thousands of presets, over 10,000 samples, and more than 1,000 loops in its 15 GB of content. Although urban inspired, the content fits R&B, rock, hip-hop, and techno genres well, with special attention paid to vinyl and old-school beats. BPM provides 64 simultaneous pads and a step sequencer that lets you record, overdub, and quantize patterns in real time. A categorized browser, a powerful drum synth, and drag-and-drop audio file import round out BPM's bag of tricks.
KEITH McMILLEN INSTRUMENTS K-BOW AND STRINGPORT
Keith McMillen Instruments (keithmcmillen.com) has a better idea for getting string players into the electronic-music act. The K-Bow (Mac/Win, $3,995 and up) and StringPort ($499) bring the gesture and sound of stringed-instrument performance into your computer for audio processing as well as for controlling virtual instruments and other software. The K-Bow, which has the weight and feel of a fine violin bow, translates motion along the x-, y-, and z-axes to MIDI or OSC messages. Messages can also be sent from grip pressure, hair tension, tilt angle, and relative bow position. The StringPort is a polyphonic string-to-USB 2.0 converter. Both units come with custom processing software.
i3 DSP-QUATTRO 3
REDESIGNED AND OPTIMIZED
Audio file editing and playlist-management software DSP-Quattro 3 (Mac, $199) from Italian developer i3 (dsp-quattro.com) has been redesigned from the ground up to take full advantage of Mac OS X on both PowerPC- and Intel-based computers. The playlist now has its own waveform editor. Managing regions, including their overlaps and crossfades, is simpler and more intuitive. This version still hosts virtual instrument and effects plug-ins, and there are separate insert slots for audio file playback, audio input, recording, instruments, and the playlist. All popular audio formats, bit depths, and sampling rates are supported, and you'll find a full complement of destructive and nondestructive editing functions.
LINE 6 POD STUDIO KB37
Line 6 (line6.com) has released the POD Studio KB37 (Mac/Win, $349.99). The unit packs a full-size, Velocity-sensitive 37-key controller keyboard; a USB audio interface; and pro-audio effects, including the renowned POD Farm for your DAW, into a compact desktop package. You get dual ¼-inch analog I/O, a headphone out, a ¼-inch guitar input, a pair of phantom-powered XLR mic inputs, a S/PDIF audio output, and Line 6 Tone Direct Monitoring. The panel houses transport controls, four user-assignable knobs and buttons, mod and pitch-bend wheels, sustain- and expression-pedal inputs, and a pair of analog VU meters. Bundled software includes 16-track Live Lite Line 6 Studio Edition, Reason Adapted, and RiffWorks T4.
CAMEL AUDIO ALCHEMY
After four years of development, Camel Audio (camelaudio.com) unleashes its newest soft synth, Alchemy (Mac/Win, $249). This AU and VST plug-in combines additive, spectral, virtual analog, and granular synthesis with sampling and resynthesis to produce a huge variety of sounds. Two GB of sample content and 300 factory presets get you off to a good start, while 2 add-on sound banks ($59 each) from major sound designers are available, and more are in the works. Alchemy also offers extensive performance controls, a groove-synchronizing arpeggiator, easy MIDI mapping, and preset morphing and randomization.
PRESONUS STUDIOLIVE 16.4.2
PreSonus (presonus.com) hit the ground running with its new digital mixer, StudioLive 16.4.2 (Mac/Win, $1,999), which offers 16 input channels, FireWire I/O, 4 subgroups, 6 aux buses, 3 stereo outputs, and a mono output for 32-by-18 FireWire recording. DSP-based Fat Channel processing provides 4-band semiparametric EQ and compression, limiting, and gating on every channel and bus. The StudioLive also sports two stereo, programmable 32-bit DSP engines on dedicated buses. QuickTouch design gives you fast access to all parameters using rotary encoders. You can save and recall single-channel and complete setups. Each input channel has a discrete Class A XMAX mic preamp and an analog insert point. The mixer features 100 mm faders, fast-acting LED metering, talkback communication, and PreSonus's Capture recording software, which is designed for the mixer, so no configuration is necessary.