10 + 1 Cool Things You Might Have Missed

The powers on up said they were sending me to NAMM. The ubiquitous “they” always say that the first tour of duty is always the hardest, but still. . . . It didn’t calm my nerves any when my pharmacist said there was no such thing as Agent Orange repellant. So I packed my bags, said goodbye to my loved ones, and checked the list.Bowie knife: check. Digital audio recorder: check. Earplugs: check. Garotte: check. Pool ball in a sock: check. Digital camera: check.Ready to roll.

It turns out that it wasn’t really all that horrific. OK, shell shock can affect you to the extent that you’ll find yourself saying “what?” a lot during conversations at the end of each conference day (refer to item #3 on our checklist). That and your knees will never forgive you. But I came back in one piece, although I’ll always hit the deck when I hear someone do a rapid roll on a snare.

And while you might not have been brave enough, bold enough, or even otherwise able to attend the 2006 NAMM convention in Anaheim, here’s a helpful list of music software products that you might have missed.

M-Audio Pro Tools M-Powered 7

OK, so it’s an update, but if you’ve already got version 6, you can get the newer version for free, and perhaps enjoy features like how the software can combine audio and MIDI capabilities on one channel, and how it’s now compatible with ACID and REX file formats. Newcomers still pay around $250.

Sibelius 4

Even though the software comes packaged in what appears to be a box of tampons, we were pretty excited about this product. Sibelius 4 saves composers a ton of time and lessens human error by automatically revising all desired parts in a score at once, or changing all the parts in a score when altering one specific part (violins, for example). The 1,700+, ready-to-use worksheets are then ready to print. Expect to pay around $435.

You can also get just the sample library in Sibelius 4, named the Garritan Personal Orchestra, for around $210.

MOTU Digital Performer 4.5

Yeah, it’s an update, but it’s got new features like Beat Detection, automatic delay compensation, retooled EQ features, and Apple Loop support.

Adobe Audition 2.0

The new version of this program features a new, low-latency mixing engine, features 50 audio effects and DSP tools, 5.1 surround sound support, and new mixing and mastering tools, amongst others . . . a hot ticket item, fo’ sho. Buy the full one for $350, or upgrade for $130.

MOTU Mach 5

This plug-in sampler supports every major production platform on Mac or Windows, and allows you to load samples from every major sampler format. It also supports 24-bit, 192kHz audio. Mac users get screwed, though, and have to pay $70 more than the $300 Windows users will.

MOTU Symphonic Instrument

For $280, you get MOTU’s 8GB library of orchestra sounds that can be loaded into a maximum of 16 different instruments per instance.

BIAS Peak Pro XT 5

For about a cool grand, you can get this Mac-only audio editing software, whose new features include BIAS Freq v. 2.0 4-band paragraphic EQ, a new compressor/limiter plug-in, and unlimited undo/redo.


With all these MOTU items in the list, you might be raising an eyebrow. Well, it’s partially because this is the most METAL (my specialty) company in this report. I mean, “MOTU” does stand for “Mark of the Unicorn.” Wow! Makes you expect Dio and Kai Hansen to team up and bust through your door as soon as you install the Mac-only MX4 MultiSynth with unlimited voices, polyphony, and instantiations. Is $280 a lot to pay for just another song about horned horses? Haha, no.

Synful Orchestra

According to Synful, the Orchestra plug-in is a revolutionary program that goes beyond acoustic instrument sampling or synthesis — the sounds in the program’s library are all recorded phrases that can be manipulated to levels unheard of in the realm of simulated acoustic performance. Another purportedly unique aspect is how 10 virtual players will divide the notes played amongst themselves, rather than all playing the same notes, as other programs would have them do. Can we get a copy? Pleasssseee?

Tascam GVI Gigastudio Plug-In

According to TASCAM, this plug-in shares many of the same attributes as the GS3, like 96kHz/24-bit sample support, unlimited polyphony and embedded GigaPulse convolution, but in plug-in form, that should work with your Windows-based workstation software.

TC-Helicon Harmony4

This little plug-in allows you Pro Tools HD and TC Power Core users to add one- to four-part harmonies to vocals, even after the singer is long gone. MSRP for this item is $745. We have a feeling you’ll pay less in the real world.