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What's New, February 2011


Celemony is now shipping Melodyne Essential, an entry-level version of the company''s flagship Melodyne Editor pitch/timing editor, but at an affordable $99 price. As with its sibling, Melodyne Essential divides recordings of lead vocals, monophonic instruments, or drums and percussion into notes where the pitch, position in time, and note duration can be intuitively modified on a piano-roll graphic display; Melodyne macros for pitch and timing correction also can be employed. Notes can be moved and copied at will, which allows adding additional voices and chords to melodic material or breaks to rhythmic material. This Mac/PC app can run in stand-alone mode or as a VST, AU, or RTAS plug-in on a compatible DAW host.

The Focusrite Midnight ($99 street) plug-in suite offers models of the ISA110 EQ and ISA130 compressor from its legacy Forté console. The plug-ins are compatible across VST, AU, and RTAS formats, and feature attractive and easy-to-read GUIs. The EQ features variable highpass and lowpass filters, sweepable high- and low-shelving bands (±16dB), and fully parametric high- and low-mid bands. The compressor offers the expected threshold, ratio, attack, release, and makeup gain controls, plus a variable wet/dry control for parallel compression effects.

High-performance PC supplier Rain Computers debuts its next-generation Nimbus Multimedia Workstation designed for professional production applications. Rain Computers states it has tested and certified Nimbus for optimum performance and stability with software (such as Steinberg Cubase, Adobe CS5, and Sony Vegas) and hardware. The sleek, all-aluminum enclosure features swing-out front doors that protect access to the optical drive, media panel, and optional removable drives. Priced from $1,799, Nimbus is built around AMD''s recently released 6-core processor architecture, and memory and storage can be expanded to 16GB and 8TB, respectively. The system is controlled by a version of Windows 7 Pro 64-bit that is specially tuned by Rain for audio and video production.

Native Instruments'' Abbey Road Modern Drums is a new Kontakt-based instrument featuring two expertly engineered drum kits for contemporary music production. Both kits were recorded at Abbey Road''s Studio Two and Studio Three, taking full advantage of the acoustic properties of these famous recording rooms and using high-end gear such as Brauner and Neumann mics; SSL, REDD, and EMI TG preamps; the legendary Fairchild 660 compressor; and the acclaimed Empirical Labs Distressor. Additional specialties include a range of “splash on snare” sounds and kicks recorded through a rewired monitor speaker for additional punch, for more than 40,000 overall samples. It''s $119 via download or DVD.

Latvian mic specialists JZ Microphones announce the JZ DMK1 ($1,000), the company''s first drum kit package. The set comprises three JZ BT201 small-diaphragm condenser microphones: a matched pair with open cardioid capsules for overheads and a single mic with -20dB open cardioid capsule for kick drum. The kit also includes custom JZ mic clips for all three mics and a rigid, protective carry case for safe transport.

New from XILS-lab, PolyKB II ($199) captures the sound of the legendary 1980s RSF PolyKobol analog synth, including its continuous morphing oscillator, which can be fully modulated by many sources. The PolyKB II is a polyphonic subtractive virtual synth based on two waveform-morphing, aliasing-free oscillators and a self-oscillating, 4-pole lowpass filter. It''s available for Mac and PC, supporting VST, AU, and RTAS hosts (Pro Tools 7 and later). A free demo is available from the company website.

Sounddust Sample Libraries

British composer and sound designer Pendle Poucher confesses to being a lover of funny noises, and the six Sounddust sample libraries deliver both funny noises and eminently playable instruments (see Web Clip 1). Each of the download libraries is priced at £15 (roughly $23), and most are available in multiple formats: Native Instruments Kontakt, Apple EXS, Ableton Live Sampler, Reason NN-XT, SFZ, and Soundfont.

The sound sets feature vintage and hybrid instruments, along with prepared percussion. Dulcitone 1884 and Ships Piano are sampled keyboards from the mid-1800s. The woody-sounding Dulcitone uses felt hammers to strike metal tines—like a Rhodes piano without the electronics. Ships Piano, from the same period, is a 5-octave keyboard that sits on a table top. Its shortened stature delivers a muffled piano sound that gets flabbier in the lower registers. Pendleonium is a hybrid instrument layering amped and processed baritone and standard guitars along with a viola. Grand Thrift Auto(harp) layers a plucked grand piano with an autoharp. Tiny Binaural Harpsichord samples a modern Arnold Dolmetsch portable harpsichord. It comes in straight and prepared piano flavors. Steel Drum Percussion Room samples acoustic and steel drums with preparations that deliver an array of percussive funny noises. You''ll find demos and more info on the Sounddust website.

Producer Loops Liquid Drum & Bass Vol. 3
Producer Loops augments its drum ''n'' bass offerings with Liquid Drum & Bass Vol. 3. The full library of five construction kits (roughly $33.10) is offered in three configurations—WAV, MIDI, and REX; Apple Loops, MIDI, and REX; and Reason ReFill—and weighs in at 1.7GB. You can also buy individual kits for about $10.50 apiece.

All the kits are at 177 bpm, with three Eb and two in Bb, and all include MIDI files for most of the instrumental parts. This lets you swap your own synth and sampler presets for the loops in the kit, and makes it easy to match parts from kits in different keys. The kits are quite large, typically holding 70 or more loops, along with one-shots from the drum parts and tails for many of the loops. Most loops are provided in dry and wet versions. You''ll find plenty of vocals, leads, keyboards, guitars, pads, and grooves to get your drum ''n'' bass juices flowing (see Web Clip 2).

Ueberschall Nightshift
Nightshift ($99) is a collection of 18 construction kits for Ueberschall''s free Elastik Player (Mac/Win, stand-alone and plug-in), which is included on the DVD. The 2.9GB library comprises 950 loops in a variety of keys (mostly minor) and ranging in tempo from 59 bpm to 91 bpm. Parts include vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, pads, drums, and sound effects. Each kit comes in Intro, Main, and Outro versions, and each version offers full mixes, submixes, and individual parts. Nightshift is the creation of producer and remix artist Marc Steinmeier, whose credits include LL Cool J, Alicia Keys, George Clinton, and Eminem. It is intended for smooth jazz, lounge, commercials, and film cues. The chill is on (see Web Clip 3).

vir2 instruments Q
With the release of Q ($299.95), VIR2 Instruments has laid down its marker in the field of broad-spectrum, cinematic scoring libraries. Q, as in Cue, delivers 16GB of sampler instruments for Native Instruments Kontakt 4 and Kontakt 4 Player (included) spread across 23 categories. It is available as a download or on DVD, which also includes many of the sound effects as 24-bit WAV files. Much effort has gone into sample mapping and Kontakt scripting to make Q easy to use. For example, the FX tab on each instrument features buttons to toggle each effect (reverb, filter, delay, limiting, chorus, and so on) and to open a clear, uncluttered control panel for tweaking.

Q''s sound categories cover standard and ethnic percussion, atmospheres and soundscapes, and a variety of single, layered, and morphed instruments. Beyond that, you''ll find 39 construction kits offered in three variations: each loop on a different key, one loop mapped across the keyboard for transposing, and individual loop slices mapped across the keyboard. In all cases, Kontakt''s Time Machine or Beat Machine mode is used to sync loops to tempo. The material is well-organized and clearly labeled, although original tempo and pitch labels, where appropriate, would be useful (see Web Clip 4).

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