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What's New, April 2010

March 19, 2010

MOTU Digital Performer 7.1
Digital Performer 7.1 (Mac, $795; free update for DP7 users) brings a passel of new features and plug-ins to MOTU''s flagship DAW. The Tuner plug-in lets you tune guitar, bass, sax, and other pitched solo instruments with adjustable tuning reference and test-tone generation. Auto-Save will save your original or a backup copy at specified time intervals. The new Custom ''59 Series of four amp models delivers preamp, vintage, classic, and modern sounds. Track folder management is enhanced with an overview inspector; contents cut, copy, and paste; and controls for play-enable, solo-exempt, lock, and more. You also get more keyboard shortcuts, faster MIDI and automation data editing, many new plug-in presets, and support for Apple Core Audio Format (CAF) files.

JDK Audio R22
JDK Audio has released a dual-channel, rackmount version of the compressor circuit found in API 
Paragon mixing consoles. The internally powered R22 ($1,195 MSRP) provides the high-frequency protection of the patented Thrust switch; variable threshold, ratio, and make-up gain controls; switchable VU metering (output or gain reduction); and channel linking with RMS power summing for stereo compression. Specs include XLR and ¼-inch balanced inputs and outputs, 20Hz to 50kHz bandwidth, -88dBu signal-to-noise ratio, 1:1 to 10:1 compression range, and 0dB to 20dB makeup gain. The R22 is billed as the perfect companion to JDK''s R20 mic preamp and R24 EQ.

Big Fish Audio Miroslav Vitous String Ensembles
Powered by Yellow Tools Engine and delivered standalone and in VST, AU, and RTAS plug-in formats, Miroslav Vitous String Ensembles (Mac/Win, $1,399.95 MSRP) string collection contains two ensembles: a large orchestra (24 violins, 14 violas, 12 cellos, and nine basses) and a chamber ensemble (14 violins, eight violas, five cellos, and four basses). You get individual control of each string section, along with multiple articulations such as long sustained notes, détachés, legatos, staccato, tremolo, sforzando, sul pont, etc. Ease of use is emphasized in the library''s design: Just load a patch and start playing.

Arturia Origin Keyboard
Arturia describes its new Origin ($3,499 MSRP) keyboard as the first laptop synthesizer. The unit combines the original Origin synth and a 61-note, velocity-sensitive keyboard with aftertouch. The keyboard also sports a ribbon controller and the omnipresent mod and pitch wheels. The Origin synth is hinged to the back of the keyboard and folds down for protected transport. It sports a 5.2-inch LCD, along with numerous knobs, buttons, and LEDs for programming, control, and preset recall. There''s even a joystick for enhanced real-time modulation. The Origin draws on Arturia''s popular soft-synth models: Moog Modular, ARP 2600, CS-80, Jupiter-8, Minimoog, Prophet VS, and tonewheel and rotary organs.

PSPaudioware PSP sQuad
With the release of PSP sQuad (Mac/Win, $249), PSPaudioware delivers six VST, AU, and RTAS equalizer plug-ins inspired by the features and characteristics of classic analog hardware. Intended for treating individual tracks, ClassicQ and 
ClassicQex couple low- and high-shelf filters reminiscent of early Neve EQs with one and two midrange bell-shape filters, respectively. Fashioned on the EQs in consoles from the likes of Amek and MCI, ConsoleQ and McQ are designed for extensive tweaking and track separation. The Q-factor of their midrange bell-shape filters automatically increases with gain or attenuation. RetroQ and preQursor offer PSP''s filter designs with low-resonance peaks and narrow notching to provide enhanced band separation. The control panels emphasize ease of use, and extensive documentation helps you pick the right EQ for the job.

Line 6 FBV Foot Controllers
Line 6 has added two entries to its FBV line of foot controllers: the FBV Shortboard MkII ($199.99 MSRP) and FBV Express MkII ($99.99). The units are designed to control Line 6 amps, POD processors, or any MIDI software or device you can access via USB. Both devices feature a full-sized volume/wah pedal; an LCD (Shortboard) or LED (Express); and USB connectivity for updates, editing, and customization with the included FBV Control software (Mac/Win). The Express houses four footswitches, whereas the larger Shortboard has 13. Both units are powered through USB or an included RJ-45 cable. When used with Spider IV or Valve MkII amps, they offer channel switching and tap tempo, and control the Quick Loop and Pitch Glide effects.

Native Instruments Abbey Road 60s Drums

The first fruit of Native Instruments'' collaboration with Abbey Road Studios is the vintage drum collection Abbey Road 60s Drums ($119, DVD and download). This sample library runs in Kontakt 4 and the free Kontakt Player, and it takes full advantage of Kontakt''s GUI and scripting features to control articulation, sound shaping, mixing, and routing. The collection features Gretsch and Ludwig ''60s-era drum kits recorded using Abbey Road''s classic Neumann, AKG, and STC mics; the REDD.17 and EMI TG mixing desks; a tube-based Studer tape machine; and a host of authentic outboard gear. You''ll also find setups for modern rock, urban, and pop styles. You get as many as 30 velocity layers of separate left- and right-hand samples with as many as six round-robin variations. Loopmasters 

Danny Thompson Bass Samples
Danny Thompson brings 50 years of playing experience with such music greats as John Lee Hooker, Rod Stewart, and Ginger Baker, along with his prized French 1865 Gand upright bass, to the gig. Loopmasters delivers the results, recorded using Neumann U47 and KM84 mics, Focusrite and RCA mic pres, and a bit of Neve compression and EQ. Danny Thompson Bass Samples (about $56, download) comprises 374 Acidized WAV, Apple Loops AIFF, and REX format loops and lines between 70bpm and 160bpm in a variety of keys. You also get bass sample libraries for HALion, Kontakt, EXS24, NNXT, and SFZ samplers, including velocity-layered fingered, bowed, and effects instruments (see Web Clip 1).

Tonehammer Shake Vol. 1
The folks at Tonehammer call Shake Vol. 1 ($49, download) “the fuzzy, buzzy, sandy-sounding chuff, shuck, and jingle of handheld shakers and bells.” For this collection of 46 instruments for Native Instruments Kontakt 3, they''ve sampled strikes and shakes from 14 found and handmade instruments. Those are augmented by sustained rolls, grooves, and glissando effects, as well as a bonus collection of ambient drones (see Web Clip 2). The instruments were recorded dry, and the strikes and shakes include velocity layers and round-robin variations. The material is especially suited for orchestral, Latin, electronic, hip-hop, and rock music. Check out the demos and library details at the Tonehammer website.

Sample Magic The Secrets of House Music Production
Sample Magic ( augments its extensive collection of house-music sample libraries with the release of its first book, Marc Adamo''s 144-page The Secrets of House Music Production (about $57). Featuring tips and tricks, walkthroughs, and insights from industry pros, the book covers all house styles: minimal, tribal, electro, progressive, soulful, jackin'', and so on. The book examines drum sounds, making beats and bass lines, instruments and effects, mixing, mastering, and remixing. Step-by-step tutorials cover Apple Logic, Steinberg Cubase, and Ableton Live. You''ll find 500MB of samples from Sample Magic on the accompanying CD to get you started.

Focal Press Audio Engineering Explained
Author and audio-amplifier designer 
Douglas Self has amassed a 656-page compendium of best design practices from the Focal Press and Newnes imprints of publisher Elsevier. Audio Engineering Explained ($49.95) from Focal Press includes chapters from books by audio-engineering pros such as John Eargle, Glen Ballou, Bill Whitlock, Philip Newell, Keith Holland, and himself. The material is presented in eight parts: fundamentals of audio and acoustics, microphone theory, preamps and mixers, power amps, loudspeakers, digital audio including MIDI and DSP, acoustics and sound reinforcement, and recording-studio design. Most topics are augmented by case histories and ready-to-go examples. Live Courses
Newly launched website offers two levels of instruction for Ableton Live. The courses, which cost $245 each or $370 for the pair, are designed and presented by Ableton certified trainer Rob Jones. Each course includes online videos along with downloadable ancillary material, and both include a 750MB sample library from Loopmasters and the Novation Bass Station virtual-instrument plug-in. Level 1 covers Session and Arrangement views, recording and editing MIDI and audio, effects and instrument plug-ins, DJ''ing, mixing, and mastering. Level 2 elucidates advanced techniques, Live''s premier plug-ins, and practical tips for composing, producing, and performing with Live. You can download a free module at the site.

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