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What's New, July 2010

June 16, 2010

Ableton Partners New Instruments for Live
Now available through Ableton''s web shop ( $39 to $99) is a new series of instruments custom-made for Live by Ableton''s sound partners. These include sounds such as sampled grands, Balinese gamelan, EBowed guitar, boutique vintage synths, found objects, acoustic and electronic percussion, atmospheres, and soundscapes. All work with Suite 8, Live 8, or Live Intro, and most use Live''s Rack format, with the eight Macro Controls carefully mapped to provide powerful, top-level control for immediate tweaking.

Snazzy FX Processing Modules
Snazzy FX launches a new line of tabletop all-analog processing modules. The Wow and Flutter ($330) recreates the warbly sound of tape spinning out of control, but by tweaking the Threshold and Warp controls, it can provide subtle vibrato or wild pitch shifting, rubber band delays, and plastic portamentos. The Mini-Ark ($449) can precisely track a guitar input, add an octave above/below, and mix in the original with a distorted version. Add an infinite hold for droning. Add staccato, swells, Crazy Vibrato, Super Fuzz, or more. An array of CV outputs adds control of external synths or other Snazzy FX units. The Tracer City ($499) analog, multimode resonant filter offers textures from envelope-follower effects to filtered tremolo, or aggressive filter sweeps and subtle coloration to wild possibilities from its two modulation sources, and external CV or audio (FM) inputs.

Roland TD-12KX V-Drums
Intended for live and studio use, Roland''s TD-12KX V-Drums ($3,999) features larger kick and floor tom pads, and stronger hardware than Roland's TD-12SV kit. The included TD-12 COSM sound engine module sports 12 pad inputs and hundreds of onboard sounds. New V-Edit functions include mic placement options, bass drum beater selection, a hi-hat tambourine, a versatile sequencer, and a mix input jack for connecting MP3 or CD players. The set comes with five multilayer mesh-drum trigger pads, three 12-inch CY-12R/C V-Cymbals, and a VH-11 V-Hi-Hat.

Warneck Research Wurlitzer Upgrades
Two new upgrades for classic Wurlitzer Model 200 electric pianos from Warneck Research/Keyboard Cottage include the $379 replacement amplifier board, a drop-in/solder-free installation that reproduces the sound characteristics, EQ curve, and vibrato of the original, but without all of the noise. Also offered is the VariVib ($199) variable-speed vibrato upgrade that provides the original-style vibrato waveform but adds variable-speed control (approximately 1Hz to 15Hz) in a simple three-wire installation.

Yamaha Tenori-on O
The new Tenori-on O from Yamaha provides the same ease of music-making as the original, but by removing a few frills—no battery operation and its LEDs are only visible from one side of the unit—the new version has a $699 street price. Its 16x16 matrix of 256 orange LED switches provide a visual image of the structure of the music. When touched, the LEDs create intuitive compositions, even without specialized knowledge of music.

McDSP 6030 Ultimate Compressor
Designed for plug-in fans who want access to lots of vintage sounds, McDSP''s 6030 Ultimate Compressor ($295) provides a selection of 10 different dynamics processors, from smooth tube emulations to aggressive solid-state designs. The software supports TDM, RTAS, and AU plug-in formats. Expected to ship sometime this summer, it will be included in McDSP''s Emerald Pack (upgrades are available for existing customers) and will also be available separately.

Marantz PMD661
A stereo digital PCM/MP3 pro recorder in a handheld package, the PMD661 ($599) from Marantz offers a small 6.5x3.7x1.4-inch footprint, single-handed operation and records 44.1kHz/48kHz/96kHz, 16-bit/24-bit audio to SD cards (up to 32GB). Features include switchable balanced mic/line XLR inputs, a S/PDIF digital input, unbalanced line outs on RCAs, and a secondary unbalanced line in on a mini-jack connector. A USB 2.0 port can transfer files to a PC or Mac DAW, and included Mark Editor software provides basic editing functions.

TC Electronic PolyTune iPhone App
Now available from Apple''s App Store is a $9.99 iPhone/iPad/iPod touch version of TC Electronic''s PolyTune guitar tuner, which allows for checking the tuning of all guitar strings simultaneously. It also offers an onboard chromatic tuner with ±0.5-cent accuracy. Used with an iPhone or an iPad, the internal mic provides instant tuning of acoustic guitars; for tuning electric guitars, a mini-jack-to-¼-inch adapter is required.

Big Fish Audio Studio Guitars: The Michael Ripoll Project

In Studio Guitars: The Michael Ripoll Project ($99.95, DVD), Big Fish Audio strives to deliver a comprehensive collection of guitar loops covering seven essential styles: acoustic guitar, blues, country, funk, jazz, pop, and rock (see Web Clip 1). 

Each style has its own folder with subfolders categorized by key and tempo. The 1.85GB, 24-bit, 44.1kHz library comprises 1,059 loops delivered in Acidized WAV, Apple Loops, and REX2 format, along with an installer for Spectrasonics' Stylus RMX. All loops are composed/performed by studio guitarist Michael Ripoll, whose professional credits span the covered styles and include Carrie Underwood, Mary J. Blige, and Stevie Wonder.

Tonehammer Ambius 1: Transmissions
If dark, cryptic, and unnatural describes your next project, you''ll like Ambius 1: Transmissions ($79, download). Tonehammer's 2.5GB library includes raw samples and sampled instruments for Native Instruments Kontakt 3 and later. The Kontakt presets fall into three categories. Tuned Instruments deliver playable leads and pads that start with sampled acoustic instruments and add lots of effects. Melodic Ambiences are musical and organic-sounding, but are ethereal and better suited for background washes. Horror Ambiences are meant to be disturbing—the root canal, for example, begins with a recording of the real thing.

Each of the Konakt instruments has three controls; one is mapped to the MIDI mod wheel to manipulate filter cutoff, control the send amount to an ambience effect, or crossfade between different sounds. Presets with pulse in their name are suitable for percussion. The music that naturally evolves from this library is a bit disturbing (see Web Clip 2).

Renegade Media Group Josh Harris Dance Vol. 1, Blast Vol. 1
A collaboration of New York producers Josh Harris and Bobbybass, Renegade Media Group delivers useful sound tools to producers, remixers, and DJs. Their first two releases—Josh Harris Dance Volume 1 and Blast: Modern Urban Production Tools Volume 1—
are designed for dance and hip-hop genres, respectively. Both libraries are $79.99 downloads delivered as Acidized WAV, REX2, and Apple Loops samples and as a Reason ReFill. Dance comprises 15 construction kits in a variety of keys with tempos in the mid-120s to mid-130s. You''ll also find ancillary loops and one-shots of drums, pitched instruments, and sound effects, many of which have matching MIDI files. Blast has 13 construction kits in the neighborhood of 100bpm, along with an 87-piece percussion kit and additional drum and music loops. Reflecting a cohesive design philosophy, the two libraries even mix and match well (see Web Clip 3).

New Atlantis Audio Lost & Found: New York City Nightscapes
Lost & Found: New York City Nightscapes ($19.99, download) is the latest in New Atlantis Audio''s collection of atmospheric, found-sound ReFills for Propellerhead Reason. It is the culmination of six years of nighttime field recording capturing a diverse collection of soundscapes, including tourist attractions, city works, traffic, street vendors, and so on. These have been combined, mangled, processed, and resynthesized, and then sliced in REX2 files for use in Reason instruments. In addition to the REX2 files, you''ll find Redrum kits and Combinators holding playable instruments, layered scenes that combine beats, ambiences, and music loops, and toolkits of dialog and Foley sounds. Weave those into your own productions or use them to create evolving cityscapes (see Web Clip 4).

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