Search Gear

What's New, March 2011

March 1, 2011

When master synth designer Dave Smith gets together with legendary drum machine pioneer Roger Linn, a firestorm is likely to be brewing. The result from Dave Smith Instruments is Tempest ($1,999), a hardware analog drum machine with six analog voices, each with two analog and two digital oscillators. Retro and new school in one monster box, Tempest also features 16 pressure- and velocity-sensitive pads, two slide controllers, and onboard effects such as compression, distortion, and beat-synched delay.

The award-winning technology from Moog Guitar takes a new bend in the form of the Moog Lap Steel, a 6-string version featuring a shaped body style and raised action that''s perfectly suited for the steel player. Offered on a custom basis, the Moog Lap Steel delivers infinite sustain, controlled sustain, and mute modes—greatly expanding the expressiveness of the original instrument—and features an onboard Moog ladder filter that''s controllable with a foot pedal. Prices start at $2,895; various wood/finishing options are available.

It''s shaped like a guitar, but there are no strings. The Kitara Digital Guitar from Misa Digital is played via six switches on each fret of its 24-fret neck, providing all the notes you''d get on a guitar, while the player''s other hand “strums” a touchscreen using various articulations to trigger the notes. An onboard synth has 128 preset sounds and a MIDI output. Two models will be offered: a high-density, injection-molded ABS polymer body ($849) and a solid-aluminum style ($2,899); both have 8-inch multitouch screens.

iZotope''s Stutter Edit ($249, Mac/Win, VST/AU/RTAS) is a plug-in developed with BT (Brian Transeau) to emulate his signature stuttering audio effects. It requires a MIDI input from your host to achieve its effects, so it only works with certain platforms, which include Apple Logic, Ableton Live, Pro Tools (7.4+, RTAS only), Cakewalk SONAR, Steinberg Cubase/Nuendo, Image Line FL Studio, Cockos REAPER, and MOTU Digital Performer.

Designed for headphone listening, the VRM (Virtual Reference Monitoring) Box ($99 street) from Focusrite lets users select from 10 pairs of industry-standard near-field and main monitors in an acoustically treated control room to provide various references when listening to their mixes. It''s all virtual—of course—and for more variation, convolution-modeled room environments include a living room, bedroom studio, and a pro studio. The VRM Box functions as a high-quality, 24-bit/48kHz USB audio playback interface, and also has a S/PDIF input supporting sample rates up to 192kHz.

Combining PCM synthesis with COSM instrument/amp modeling derived from the VG-99 V-Guitar System, Roland''s GR-55 offers improved playability, features, and sound quality, including onboard virtual guitars, basses, amps, and synth voices. It can play up to four sound sources at a time: two PCM synth tones, COSM guitar modeling, and normal guitar input. Also featured are more than 900 fully editable PCM sounds, two multi-effects engines, global reverb/chorus/delay effects, an onboard looper, and a built-in USB audio player with foot control. Price with a GK-3 hex pickup is $799 or $699 without the GK-3.

One of the most talked-about products at NAMM, Kronos features nine synth engines of various types and can switch sounds seamlessly (or instantaneously) while being played, even from huge 4GB acoustic piano samples, thanks to its Virtual Memory Technology and a fast solid-state disk. Onboard effects, a 16-track sequencer, and 16-track recorder create an all-in-one system. From ethereal textures to complex layered tones, Kronos covers a huge range of sonic territory, as well as classic keyboards, pianos, tonewheel organs, electric pianos, and orchestral, percussion, and pop sounds. The 61-key Kronos-61 is $2,999; the Kronos-73 is $3,499; and the 88-key version is $3,799.

Zoom took the design of the R24 and reduced the footprint for a portable, powerful music production solution. In addition to 8-track playback and 2-track simultaneous recording (44.1/48kHz at 16/24-bit) using SD memory cards, the R8 ($499) is a digital multitrack recorder, USB audio interface, control surface, and a pad sampler. The R8''s built-in drum sounds can be triggered using eight pads and three bank keys to assign sounds to each track and create loops. You can also use the unit''s drum machine to create original backing beats, or simply output a metronome for tempo control. The R8 includes a 2GB SD card and supports up to 32GB SDHC cards for a maximum of 100 track hours.

The latest version of Steinberg''s popular cross-platform DAW software, Cubase 6 ($499) and Cubase Artist 6 ($249) offers a bevy of new features, including enhanced workflow features within the Project window and the Track Edit Groups option allowing related events on multiple tracks to be grouped and edited simultaneously. Other features include Lane Track for convenient multitake comping, a redesigned transient and automatic tempo detection, phase-accurate audio quantization, and drum-replacement functions to smooth out any glitches in live recorded drum tracks.

The Universal Audio UAD-2 Duo and Quad Satellite family (priced from $899) of DSP accelerator packages (with two or four SHARC processors) put the entire UAD Powered Plug-Ins library within easy reach of any FireWire 800- or 400-equipped computers, with no PCIe card installation required. Compatible with a wide range of modern Intel-based iMacs and MacBook Pros, these let users run larger mixes in Pro Tools, Logic, Cubase, Nuendo, Performer, and more—without taxing the host computer''s CPU.

Apple''s iPad has proven itself ideal in all sorts of pro audio/music applications, with a near endless supply of useful apps available. Its main drawback had been a lack of pro connectivity, but the Alesis StudioDock ($199), an audio interface for your iPad, features two XLR/¼-inch jacks (each with its own gain control and switchable phantom power) and MIDI I/O ports. StudioDock can also connect to a Mac or PC using the USB port to send MIDI back and forth for creative, new applications of the iPad and computer used in tandem.

Arturia''s latest creation is Spark, a hybrid software drum machine with a hardware controller. Offering analog synthesis, as well as sampled and physical-modeled sounds, the product is designed for creative beat production. Slated to ship in April at $599, Spark also features eight velocity/pressure-sensitive pads, 480 instruments/30 kits (including acoustic drums, modern electronica, and vintage drum machine re-creations), a 16-key/64-step sequencer, looping mode, real-time automation of all parameters, a 16-track mixer, nine onboard effects, and more.

Samplerbanks Electrolyzium

Electrolyzium ($46.82, download) from sample-library distributor Samplerbanks is a 1.1GB collection of loops and one-shots from trance-label Anjunabeats producer Márton Levente (aka, Sunny Lax). The material is culled from his work in electro, progressive-house, and trance genres. You''ll find bass (76), drum (240), and synth (59) loops in both Acid WAV and REX2 formats. Tempos range from 128 to 134 bpm, and the loops are labeled with key information where appropriate. The one-shots include hundreds of drum and percussion hits with a smattering of sound effects. Beyond that, sampler instruments and their associated multisamples are provided in Native Instruments Kontakt, Apple EXS24, Steinberg HALion, Propellerhead NN-XT, and SFX formats. These include basses, leads, and multisampled percussion. Many of the drum loops are sparse and all are no-kick style, leaving you with ample room to fill them in with the individual hits (see Web Clip 1). Electrolyzium is also available in Propellerhead Reason ReFill, Ableton Live Pack, and Apple Loops versions.

Twisted Tools Richard Devine''s Analogue Microcosm
If descriptions like “nonlinear sequential tuned voltage map,” and “uses the Cartesian coordinate system to unlock the analog step sequencer from the shackles of linearity” resonate with you, that''s all you need to know about Twisted Tools Analogue Microcosm ($39, download). If they leave you a little mystified, check out the video and audio clips at for a closer look.

Sound designer Richard Devine has unleashed the full force of his extensive analog modular-synthesis studio to create this library of 570 WAV files; no software or DSP plug-ins were used. The samples are spread across five categories: percussion, short effects, long effects, crackles and noise, drones and textures, and bass (bone-rattling sub-bass sounds). The percussion section is perfect for fashioning analog drum kits, whereas the other sections emphasize effects and atmospheres. Some of the longer files (the longest is 43 seconds) have rhythmic content, but most are pulses, whooshes, bursts, or ambiences (see Web Clip 2).

Twisted Tools has fashioned 40 kits from these files and formatted them for Native Instruments Battery, Maschine, and Reaktor (for the included MP16 custom drum machine); Apple EXS24; Ableton Live Simpler; and Propellerhead NN-XT. The WAV files are included so you can easily build kits for other sample players. You may start out thinking of this as a sound effects library, but you''ll find it useful for much more.

Loopmasters The Funky Underground
Producer Darren Payton, creator of Loopmasters'' ( Fidget House titles, branches out to deliver The Funky Underground ($37, download). The 630MB, 24-bit, 44.1kHz collection includes 500 WAV and REX2 loops at 124, 126, and 128 bpm, along with 600 drum and sound effects samples provided as WAV files and in kits formatted for popular samplers such as Apple EXS24, Steinberg HALion, Native Instruments Kontakt, and Propellerhead NN-XT. The material is suitable for all variants of house music but has a decidedly funk flavor. For added flexibility, the 214 drum loops include kick-and-snare, percussion, and tops variations. The 111 bass loops make up the next largest collection. Beyond that, you''ll find a good assortment of synth, vocal, and electric piano loops, along with combi loops and sound effects (see Web Clip 3).

Native Instruments Abbey Road Modern Drums
Native Instruments ( expands its collection of drum libraries of the decades with Abbey Road Modern Drums ($119, DVD or download). The first three releases in the series feature classic sounds of the ''60s, ''70s, and ''80s. The new collection brings you up to the minute. It comprises a mid-''90s Collector Series kit from Drum Workshop and the mid-''00s Pearl Reference Sparkle Kit, recorded in Abbey Road Studio Two and Studio Three, respectively.

The collection was recorded through the Redd 51 and EMI TG12428 mixing desks, using SSL 95 mic preamps, and modern and vintage mics from Abbey Road''s unmatched collection. The analog recordings were then converted to the digital domain with Prism ADA-8 converters. The 17.4GB library (7.4GB compressed) has more than 40,000 samples, with as many as 27 velocity layers for some sounds. In addition to the full kits, you''ll find a variety of specialty drums and cymbals. Abbey Road Modern Drums comes with the free Kontakt 4 Player and also runs in the full Kontakt 4.

Keep up-to-date on the latest news
Get our Free Newsletter Here!
Show Comments

These are my comments.

Reader Poll

Are you a gear DIY-er?

See results without voting »