PUT THE FEET ON THE MUSIC
Spectrasonics (spectrasonics.net) has released Trilian (Mac/Win, $299 MSRP, $99 upgrade), the long-awaited successor to its sampled-bass virtual instrument Trilogy. Trilian sports an all-new 34GB library of sampled electric, acoustic and synth bases along with remastered versions of all the basses in the classic Trilogy and Bass Legends sample libraries. It uses the same Steam Engine technology that powers Omnisphere, letting you use Trilian's library in Omnisphere 1.1 for extended sound design. Beyond that, you'll find the full complement of effects from both Omnisphere and Stylus RMX and an advanced arpeggiator incorporating Groove Lock technology for locking to an RMX groove or a MIDI file. Trilian is eight-part multitimbral, and it lets you keyswitch seamlessly between articulations.
NATIVE INSTRUMENTS THE FINGER
A BIRD IN THE HAND
Native Instruments (native-instruments.com) The Finger (Mac/Win, $79 download) lets you instantly insert and arrange multiple effects from your MIDI keyboard or DAW. MIDI notes select effects, and the order in which held notes are played controls the effects' serial order. The Finger is hosted by the company's free Kore Player, and it will also run in Kore 2 and Reaktor 5. The Reaktor version lets you set up custom effects presets and note mappings. The Finger's array of 42 processes includes sample transformers (reverse, scratch, granular, loop etc.), filters, gaters, delays, reverbs, distortion and modulation. You'll find videos on Native Instruments' Website of instrument creator Tim Exile wreaking havoc with all 10 fingers.
AVANT ELECTRONICS AVANTONE ACTIVE MIXCUBES
Avant Electronics (avantelectronics.com) has redesigned its Avantone MixCube line of active monitors from the ground up. The Avantone Active MixCubes ($459 pair, $239 Mono-Blok) now boast low-noise and -distortion Class A/B amplifiers delivering 60 watts RMS per box. The buttercream-colored, 7.125-pound, 6.5-inch cubes claim a usable frequency response of 90 Hz to 17 kHz. The speakers employ a proprietary 5.25-inch aluminum frame. The back panel houses ¼-inch TRS/XLR combo jacks supporting +4dB balanced and -10dB unbalanced input, a detented gain knob, and ground-lift and on/off switches.
AKAI LPD8 AND LPK25
IN THE BAG
Akai (akaipro.com) makes it easier to take your music on the road with two bus-powered USB-MIDI controllers. The LPD8 ($69) features eight backlit, velocity-sensitive pads and eight 270-degree knobs. You can program each control to send MIDI note, CC or program-change messages. The LPK25 ($69) offers a two-octave, velocity-sensitive mini keyboard; sustain, octave and tap-tempo buttons; and a built-in arpeggiator. Both units have four programmable memory banks and come with software editors for the Mac and PC, and each is designed to fit comfortably in a gig bag or laptop case.
MODARTT PIANOTEQ PRO
Winner of EM's 2008 Editors' Choice award for most innovative product, Modartt Pianoteq (pianoteq.com) has reached a new level of programmability with Pianoteq Pro (Mac/Win, $595 approximate MSRP). The big news is per-note access to 22 physical-modeling parameters. Double-clicking on any slider for which per-note adjustment is available opens the Note Edit window, where you adjust individual values on a piano-roll-style bar graph. The global sliders then offset the whole bar graph. The Note Edit window has randomize, smooth and rescale functions, letting you quickly create your own prepared-piano-style variations. A free upgrade to Pianoteq 3.5 for Pianoteq owners includes the much-enhanced physical-modeling engine in Pianoteq Pro. You'll find full details and an instructional video on Modartt's Website.
Although it is more commonly associated with dynamic and condenser mics, Shure (shure.com) also has a long history of manufacturing ribbon mics. The company has now decided to continue the Crowley and Tripp Naked Eye ribbon mic, which it acquired from Soundwave Research Laboratories, in its KSM series. The KSM313's ($1,295) Roswellite ribbon boasts higher tensile strength and more resilient shape memory than foil ribbons. That makes it suitable for high-SPL applications such as close-miked drums and guitar cabinets. A Dual-Voice ribbon motor-unit assembly lets you choose between the warm, full sound (front) best for instruments and the bright, accurate sound (rear) better for vocals. The KSM313 is hand-assembled in the United States, and it comes with a mahogany case and monocle swivel mount.
Sonivox (sonivoxmi.com) has beefed up its line of hip-hop production tools with Sampla (Mac/Win, $149). This stand-alone, AU and VST virtual instrument lets you record and import samples, slice and edit them, map them to notes or pads on your MIDI controller, and apply a variety of built-in filters and effects. For modulation, you get a full-featured pattern arpeggiator along with LFOs and envelope generators. Sampla comes with a 3.5GB library of factory content including sampled virtual instruments, loops and pad-and-keyboard setups. More than 200 sampled instruments cover drum kits (acoustic and electronic), basses, keyboards, synth leads, guitars, strings, pads, vocals and sound effects.
Soniccouture Glass / Works
Soniccouture's (soniccouture.com) latest labor of love is a sample library of three rare instruments made of glass. Glass / Works ($159) is Soniccouture's first Native Instruments Kontakt Player instrument — you don't need to own Kontakt to use it. “Le Cristal” is a 1952 sound sculpture by Bernard and François Baschet comprising four octaves of tuned glass rods. Tones are produced by rubbing the rods with wet fingers. A metal block and large steel plate provide resonance and amplification. “Glass Armonica,” invented by Benjamin Franklin, is fashioned from glass goblets. Harry Partch poached discarded cloud-chamber bowls from the UC Berkeley Radiation Laboratory and hung them from a wooden frame to create “Cloud Chamber Bowls.” Check out the demos and pictures on Soniccouture's Website.
Bitword Oxide Kits Volume 2
Bitword (bitword.com) is back with more Oxide for your electro-organic percussion tracks. Oxide Kits Volume 2 ($79) is a 1GB library comprising 2,928 samples of pitched and unpitched percussive oddities, musical noises and analog drums (some highly processed). All reverberant hits are also provided dry. The package includes 24-bit, 44.1kHz WAV files as well as 48 sampler kits with 61 hits each for Native Instruments Kontakt and Battery, Apple Logic EXS24 and Ableton Live Drum Rack. You can also purchase the library as a Propellerhead Reason ReFill and crossgrade to the full bundle for an additional $10.
Loopmasters Circuit Bent Sounds 2
Loopmasters (loopmasters.com) has teamed up with U.K. circuit-bending pioneer Paul Norris (circuitbenders.co.uk) to produce the second of its bent-circuit libraries, Circuit Bent Sounds Volume 2 ($29.95 download). The collection includes loops and hits from a broad range of tortured drum machines (119 loops and 76 hits), synths (144 loops and 132 hits) and children's toys (44 loops and 250 hits). In addition to Acidized WAV and REX2 files, you get preconfigured instruments for a variety of popular samplers.
Course Technology PTR Getting Great Sounds: The Microphone Book
In Getting Great Sounds: The Microphone Book ($39.99 MSRP) from Course Technology PTR (courseptr.com), educator and recording engineer Tom Lubin reveals hard-won lessons on the selection and placement of microphones. The book begins with chapters on mic history and technology and then takes you through the details of recording specific instruments. Two appendices cover compression and EQ. A companion Website hosts audio and video examples. The author presents the material in an informal style, often using humor to detoxify the more technical details.
Hal Leonard The Desktop Studio
The revised edition of The Desktop Studio ($27.99) from Hal Leonard (halleonard.com), written by EM contributor Emile Menasché, fills in the five-year period during which most aspects of music production migrated to the desktop. The book is a compendium of tools and techniques for recording, using software instruments and effects, mixing, editing, video production and online distribution resources such as iTunes and MySpace. You'll also find tips for beginners and sections devoted to laptop musicians and handheld recorders. The book ends with a roundup of the latest gear and a look at what advances to expect in the future.
Routledge Music Music Theory Through Improvisation
University of Michigan Professor of Music Edward W. Sarath aims to bring the teaching of basic theory and musicianship into the 21st century with Music Theory Through Improvisation: A New Approach to Musicianship Training ($64.95) from Routledge Music (routledgemusic.com). Although it adheres to the traditional progression from diatonic to non-diatonic harmony, the book departs from the Euro-classical emphasis on four-part chorale writing. Instead, the theory evolves from improvisation and composition in diverse contemporary styles ranging from jazz to pop. Although designed for music theory courses, the accompanying CD and companion Website make the book viable for independent study.