A report on the 2005 AES convention.
It was cloudy and rainy in New York City during all four days of the recent AES show, but inside the Jacob Javits Convention Center it was all sunshine and blue skies. The crowds were excellent (more than 20,000 attended), the morale was high, and the new gear was everywhere.
It's hard to recall a previous AES show with as many product introductions. There were new items from manufacturers in wide range of categories. No major trends were in evidence, although there was a surprising number of new portable recorders and ribbon microphones.
It was impressive how much of the new gear was either already shipping or within a month or two of doing so. There seemed to be less vaporware than at previous music trade shows. If this AES show is any indication, 2006 will be a good year for gear.
The following are some of the highlights from the show, arranged in categories and presented in alphabetical order by manufacturer name.
HOT NEW HARDWARE
Although the recording field is more and more dominated by software, there was lots of cool hardware on display.
AEA was showing off its new Ribbon Mic Preamplifier ($800), a two-channel mic preamp designed expressly for ribbon mics. (AEA makes several ribbon mic models, but the unit will also work with other brands.) It features XLR I/O and very high impedance (18,000Ω). The Ribbon Mic Preamplifier is expected to begin shipping in January.
The most notable of several new products introduced by Core Sound was 4Mic ($750), a handheld, battery-powered, 4-channel mic preamp and A/D converter. The unit handles audio resolutions up to 24 bit, 192 kHz. Here's the really cool part: according to Core Sound, the 4Mic can "multiplex the four microphone channels into two recorder channels, turning a two-channel 24/192 recorder into a four-channel 24/96 recorder." The unit gets nearly four hours of running time on set of batteries, and can provide 48V phantom power to all four channels. The 4Mic is expected to ship in November of this year.
Electro-Harmonix Flanger Hoax
Electro-Harmonix showed another new pedal, the Flanger Hoax ($298), which the company calls a Flanging Phaser Modulator. It gives you a range of flanging and phasing effects, Direct, Blended, and Effect outputs and more. It's available now.
E-mu entered new territory by unveiling a powered monitor, the PM5 Precision Monitor ($699/pair). Due to ship in mid-November, the 40W/40W biamplified PM5s have 4-inch woofers, and neodymium high-frequency drivers. Inputs include balanced XLR, 1/4-inch, and unbalanced RCA. Each monitor also has Treble, Bass, and Input Sensitivity controls.
Genelec displayed the 8020A ($429 each) the newest member of its line of active monitors. It sports a 4-inch bass driver and a 3/4-inch tweeter. According to Genelec, the frequency response is 66 Hz to 20 kHz (± 2.5 dB). Also on display was the 7050B ($1,095), a new subwoofer that's designed to go with the 8020A. Genelec is also offering the 8020 LSE Espresso System ($2,999), a 5.1 system that combines five 8020s with a 7050B.
HHB, which is distributed in the U.S. by Sennheiser debuted the FlashMic DRM85 ($1,300), which it termed "the world's first professional digital recording microphone." Scheduled to ship in January of 2006, the self-contained FlashMic DRM85 looks like a conventional handheld mic with some additional controls on the end. The unit is designed for high quality voice recording and records in mono only at up to 16-bit, 48 kHz resolution. It features a Sennheiser omnidirectional capsule, is equipped with 1GB of Flash memory, and has a USB interface for transferring files to a computer. Power is supplied through a pair of AA batteries, which HHB says gives users over 6 hours of battery life.
JBL announced two new active monitors featuring the company's RMC Room Mode Correction features, which let you tune the speaker to the room's acoustical characteristics. The LSR4326P $1,399/pair) is a 6-inch, 2-way system, and the LSR4328P ($1,699/pair) is an 8-inch, 2-way system. Both have 24-bit AES/EBU and S/PDIF digital inputs as well as XLR and 1/4-inch analog inputs. The monitors are equipped with Harman's HiQnet network protocol that allows for central control of the speakers from a single position. The speakers can be controlled from your desktop with the Control Center software (QQQ & Win) The monitors come in pair packs that also include a calibration mic, cables, and a remote control.
The big news at Lexicon was the introduction of the Lambda (price TBA) USB audio interface. Although not as fully equipped as its more expensive sibling, the Omega, the Lambda offers plenty of features including two XLR mic inputs, two 1/4-inch balanced line inputs, balanced line outputs, an 1/8-inch headphone output, and a monitor mix control knob that varies output between the direct and the playback signal. Included with the Lambda are Cubase LE and the Lexicon Pantheon reverb plug-in, both of which run on Mac or Windows.
Line 6, which had a large, lounge-like booth with sofas and comfortable chairs, was showing off its two new TonePort USB interfaces that are designed for both Mac and Windows. The TonePort UX2 ($279) was the most impressive, sporting two mic inputs with phantom power, separate controls for the headphone and main outputs, two footswitch jacks (start/stop and punch-in/out), analog VU meters, a DI input, and more. The TonePort UX1 ($199) has a single mic input, a DI input, stereo analog I/O, and more. Both units offer 44.1 and 48 KHz sampling rates, 16- and 24-bit resolution, and also have a 96 KHz mode. Both feature the same sound engine as POD XT and the Vetta amp, and come with come with Line 6 GearBox software, which provides amp and cabinet models for guitar and bass, as well as models of vintage mic preamps. The units each have drivers for ASIO, WDM, and Core Audio, and are due to ship in November.
Best product name of the show had to go to Little Labs for its LMNOPRE ($1,680), a single-channel mic preamp with a fully discrete gain stage, 68 dB of gain, and a low frequency resonance control that the company says will allow users control over the amount of proximity effect and the amount of transformer saturation. The unit also has a DI input among many other features.
Mackie was previewing the Onyx 1200F ($1,999), a 24-bit-192 kHz-capable FireWire audio/MIDI interface with 34 inputs and 30 outputs. The unit, scheduled for release in February of 2006, offers a range of I/O including 12 analog XLR/1/4-inch combo jacks, dual ADAT Lightpipe I/O, S/PDIF I/O, AES/EBU I/O, Word Clock, dual MIDI In and Out, four headphone jacks that can support four different mixes, and two FireWire ports. A built-in talkback mic is also included, and the Onyx 1200F will be bundled with Mackie's Tracktion 2 DAW software.
M-Audio ProjectMix I/O
M-Audio debuted a new control surface and FireWire-audio interface called Project Mix I/O ($1,299). The unit has motorized faders, eight mic pres, globally switched phantom power, a dedicated instrument input, Lightpipe and S/PDIF I/O, and two pairs of stereo outputs. The Project Mix I/O, which is shipping already, comes with drivers for Digidesign Pro Tools M-Powered 7 and Ableton Live 5, and will soon also support MOTU Digital Performer, Steinberg Cubase, and Cakewalk Sonar.
Mercury Recording Equipment was showing a new mic preamp called the Grand Pre GP1 ($1,300). The 2U rackmount unit has input and output controls, 48V phantom power, an FET Direct Input, a phase reverse switch, and more. It's designed to get a "British" sound. A 2-channel version is available for $2,000.
Mindprint had the Trio USB ($549) on display, a USB version of its all-in-one channel-strip processor. The Trio USB, which was announced back in August and is due to ship in October, has the same controls and functions as the original Trio, but replaces its S/PDIF ports with USB I/0.
At the Muse Research booth, the company showed several improvements for Receptor, its hardware plug-in player. First, it debuted version 1.4 of Receptor's software, which it says improves both MIDI functionality and RAM utilization. In addition, it announced that dozens of plug-ins, from such companies as Native Instruments, FXpansion, EastWest, IK Multimedia, and Cycling '74, among others, are now compatible with Receptor. But the most exciting Receptor news, at least from a recording standpoint, was the introduction of a technology that Muse calls UniWire. It allows you to connect a Receptor to your computer over an Ethernet network, providing you with 32 channels of audio.
Nagra a company known for its high-end portable recorders was showing the ARES-M ($970), a competitively priced, handheld audio recorder. The unit features 1 GB of built-in recording memory, a mono internal mic, an external stereo mic that clips into the unit's 1/8-inch mic input, a built-in speaker, and a USB port for data transfer. Audio can be recorded compressed (MP2) or uncompressed (WAV), with maximum a sampling rate of 48 kHz. The unit is powered by 2 AA batteries, which can yield up to 10 hours of continuous recording.
Novation was showing the ReMOTE SL 25 (price TBA), the company's most fully featured USB/MIDI keyboard to date. It sports 25 semi-weighted keys with aftertouch, two 144-character LCD displays that can show as many as 16 different parameter names at a time. The keyboard sports a whopping 56 assignable knobs and sliders, eight velocity sensitive trigger pads, and a touch pad. The unit comes with 40 templates, 39 of which are programmed with control maps for popular music software titles. The 40th is used for Novation's Automap mode, which is designed to automatically recognize and map the controls of a connected device (if that device supports Automap). A software editor is also included.
Open Labs Neko Gen 2
Open Labs introduced revamped and lower-priced "second-generation" versions of its self-contained keyboard/computer workstations. The NeKo64 Gen 2 (61-key:$5,995; 76-key $6,595) runs on a 2.0 GHz Athlon dual-core 64-bit processor; and offers Ethernet, USB, FireWire, MIDI, S/PDIF, Wordclock, and analog I/O, among its many features. The affordable NeKo LE Gen 2 (61-key: $2,295; 76-key: $2,895) gives you S/PDIF, AES/EBU, and analog I/O, and much more. Both units feature Open Labs 2.0 GUI software, Windows XP Professional OS, a DVD combo drive, and a 15-inch LCD touch screen. According to Open Labs, these two keyboards are "the fastest keyboard production stations in the industry." Both offer the Clone Hardware option, which allows you to sample the sounds of any keyboard or module directly into them. The second-generation Nekos are due to ship in late October.
Fans of high-quality analog processors will be impressed with the new PL-2 ($2,500) from Pendulum Audio. The unit is a brickwall limiter with two independent channels (with a stereo link mode); two limiting modes: hard (JFET) and soft (MOSFET); and a transformerless, solid-state design. It's scheduled to ship in December.
At the PMI Audio Group booth, it was announced that two previously announced Joemeek processors were now shipping. The OneQ ($799) is touted by Joemeek as "the most full-featured, technologically advanced studio channel" that it's ever made. This 2RU single channel unit has a mic pre, a 4-band EQ, an optical compressor, an enhancer, and a de-esser. The SixQ ($599) is a 1RU, single-channel mic pre with an optical compressor with makeup gain, a 3-band Meequalizer, and more.
PreSonus Inspire 1394
Presonus unveiled the Inspire 1394 ($229) a 4-channel FireWire recording interface with two XLR mic pres, two instrument preamps, and stereo RCA analog I/O. The unitwhich will be shipping by the time you read thiscan be daisy chained with up to three other Inspire 1394's to provide additional channels. It comes with Steinberg Cubase LE (Mac/Win) Sony Acid XMC (Win), as well as a collection of plug-ins and 2 GB of samples and loops.
Among many new products at the Radial Engineering booth, the one that stood out most from an EM reader's standpoint was the Pro D2 ($149), a full-range, passive, stereo DI box, which is particularly suited for keyboard-recording applications. Like other Radial products, the Pro D2 is very solidly built. The unit is available now.
Rupert Neve Designs, which introduced its Portico range of processors earlier this year, rolled out another new one, the Portico 5032 ($1,995), a half-rack-sized, single-channel mic preamp and EQ. The company describes the EQ as having "steep Shelving high and low bands and a wide ranging mid band." The unit features the same mic-preamp circuitry as in the Portico 5012 ($1,795) dual mic pre, which was released in May.
Sony revealed the PCM-D1 ($2,000), a handheld stereo digital recorder. The solidly built unit comes with 4 GB of Flash memory, and recording time can be increased further with an optional memory stick. The PCM-D1 has a built-in stereo mic, analog mic and line inputs and line outputs, and a USB 2.0 port. Maximum recording resolution is an impressive 24-bit, 96 kHz, and the unit can record uncompressed or compressed audio. It's powered by either four AA rechargeable batteries (included), four standard AA batteries (which yield significantly less recording time), or an included AC adapter. It's scheduled to begin shipping in December.
Speck Electronics, a company known for its pro audio products, showcased a relatively low-priced 32x4 line mixer called the X.Sum ($1,490). Due out in November, the unit offers balanced 1/4-inch TRS I/O, 16 stereo channels, and Mix and Mix B outputs. Each channel features level, pan, mix-assign controls, and a mono switch.
Tannoy was showing off several new monitors that were previously announced but now are shipping. Among the models were the Reveal 5A ($399 each), which has a 5-inch driver; a 25 mm, soft-dome Neodymium HF driver; a 40W/20W biamplified power amp; a balanced XLR input; and more. The Precision 8D ($1,029 each) sports an 8-inch driver; a Tannoy SuperTweeter; XLR, 1/4-inch, and S/PDIF inputs; and a S/PDIF output for slaving a stereo pair. The 6-inch version, the Precision 6D ($859 each) was also on display. The Precision speakers are equipped with Activ-Assist technology that includes software thatin conjunction with a measurement mic (not included) and DIP switches on the monitor's rear panelhelp tune the monitors to the space they're located in.
The featured item at the Tascam booth was the HD-P2 Portable Stereo Recorder ($1,249). Due to ship in November, the unit (which was co-developed with the Frontier Design Group records at up to 24-bit, 96 kHz resolution onto CompactFlash media. It sports FireWire, S/PDIF, and analog (RCA) I/O, phantom-powered microphone inputs, and a built-in mono mic and speaker. It has such professional features as support of Broadcast WAV files, a 10-second record buffer, a Re-Take button, and SMPTE time code synchronization. It records on eight AA batteries, which provide five hours of continuous operation. Tascam also displayed three new CD duplicators, due to ship in November: the 1x1 CD-D11U ($399), the1x3 CD-D13 ($799), and the 1x7 CDD17HD ($1,399). All three feature 52X CD drives.
TL Audio Fat Funker
TL Audio launched its new "Fatman" line of tube processors with two new products. The first, Fat Funker ($968), is a single-channel processor designed as a front end for live and studio guitarists. It has a preamp stage with an input gain control, a compressor and a gate, and 4-band EQ. The second is 2 Fat ($720), a tube mic preamp/DI/channel strip that gives you a variable compressor with 15 factory presets and a highpass filter. Both units feature VU metering and optional digital interface cards.
Trident Audio was previewing a 16-channel mixer from its Series 8T line of analog consoles. It had 8 subs, 8 auxes, 32 line inputs, 100 mm faders, analog VU meters, direct outs, and more. It's expected to be released in about two months. In addition to the 16-channel model, which has a retail price of $3,500, there will also be a 24-channel model ($5,250), and a 32 channel model ($7,000).
True Systems P-Solo
One of the coolest mic preamps at the show was the P-SOLO ($749) from True Systems. It features the same analog preamp that's in the company's Precision 8 and P2 units. The red, single-channel P-SOLO is outfitted with all-discrete components, an oversized volume control, XLR and DI inputs, switchable 48V phantom power, an 80 Hz highpass filter, and 4-stage metering. It's scheduled to begin shipping at the end of November.
Universal Audio announced two new single channel mic preamp/instrument DIs. The Solo 610 ($999) is an all-tube model and the Solo 110 ($999) offers Class-A circuitry. Both are desktop-style units with gain, level, and impedance controls; XLR I/O; 1/4-inch DI and Thru inputs; switchable 48V phantom power; a low-cut switch, and signal-present and power lights. The Solos are scheduled to ship in the first quarter of 2006.
SOFTWARE AND SOUNDS
Fans of plug-in versions of vintage gear will be glad to know that Abbey Road Studios and Chandler Limited will soon release a TDM and RTAS plug-in of the EMI 2413 limiter from the original Abbey Road console. At AES, the plug-in was demoed on a recording of a drum kit, and its effect was dramatic. Prices haven't been confirmed yet, but reportedly will be $400 for the RTAS version and $600 for the TDM. Expected ship date is January.
Arturia announced the release of Brass ($249; Mac/Win), the company's physically modeled soft-instrument (developed in conjunction with IRCAM). According to Arturia, the software, which runs standalone or as a VST, DXi, RTAS, HTDM, or AU plug-in, will be available in the U.S. in November. Brass offers multiple models of trumpets, trombones, and saxophones. The demo was extremely impressive.
BIAS announced that it had begun shipping Peak Pro XT 5 ($1,199), a bundle that consists of Peak Pro 5 editing software, the SoundSoap and SoundSoap Pro restoration plug-ins, and the company's new Master Perfection Suite containing its Pitchcraft, Reveal, SuperFreq, Repli-Q, Sqweez-3 & -5 and GateEx plug-ins. The Master Perfection suite will also be released as a standalone product (price TBA) in the first quarter of 2006, and will run on Mac OS X or Windows XP.
Cakewalk Sonar 5
Cakewalk debuted Sonar 5 (Producer Edition $799, Studio Edition $427, upgrade pricing available) a major update of its flagship digital audio sequencer for Windows. The software runs on a 64-bit audio engine (that's also compatible with 32-bit computers). According to Cakewalk, 64-bit operation will translate to more available tracks and processing power. New features include an impressive vocal-editing and pitch-correction feature called V-Vocal, that utilizes Roland's VariPhrase technology and lets you edit pitch, vibrato, and even phrasing. Five new instruments have been added, including PSYN II, a subtractive synth; Pentagon, an analog-style synth, and RXP, a REX file player. You also get Perfect Space, a convolution reverb, and many more new features and enhancements.
Centrance was showing its CE1506 Universal Driver software for Windows. The driver will allow PC users to use multiple FireWire interfaces simultaneously with their audio software. According to Centrance, it's driver is compatible with "most" FireWire interfaces. The CE1506 can handle up to 32 input and output channels at (FireWire 400), and 64 input and 64 output channels (FireWire 800). It's compatible with sample rates from 44.1 kHz to 96 kHz at both 16- and 24-bit depths. It's due to ship in the first quarter of 2006, and the price is estimated at under $100.
Cycling '74 was previewing a soon-to-be-released application called UpMix (price TBA), which converts stereo tracks into surround. It provides several options for producing surround mixes, allows you to create an LFE channel, and gives you the option to rotate the mix. According to Cycling '74, UpMix can produce surround files suitable for film, broadcast, and music formats.
Pro Tools LE 7
One of the biggest software announcements from the show came from Digidesign, which was showing Pro Tools 7. The excitement for version 7 was palpable at the show, and it was standing room only whenever it was demoed on the booth's large screen. The new software, in HD, LE, and M-Powered incarnations, offers a slew of new features: MIDI capabilities have been beefed up with real-time MIDI processing functions, support for ACID and REX files has been added, the menus have been rearranged to make a more efficient user interface, and a Tips feature has been added to help users familiarize themselves with the program. Upgrade pricing is available, and customers who purchased a Pro Tools system after September 1, 2005, are automatically eligible for an upgrade to version 7.
E-mu debuted Modern Symphonic Orchestra ($449), an impressive-sounding sample library for Emulator X and Proteus X. The 10 GB collection utilizes key switching and other techniques to help facilitate realistic MIDI performances. Overture 4 SE (Win) notation software comes bundled with the library.
At the Fxpansion booth, an electronic drum kit was provided to let visitors play sounds from various products including BFD Deluxe (Mac/Win; $249), a new expansion pack for the company's BFD software drum module. The drums on it were recorded at Steve Albini's Electrical Audio studio in Chicago. Fxpansion was also displaying BFD 1.5 ($329, free upgrade for registered users), the latest version of its flagship software.
The sounds of a virtual jazz ensemble were heard at the Garritan booth, where the Garritan Jazz and Big Band Library ($259) was being demonstrated. The library, which has over 50 individual instruments16 saxes, 5 trumpets, 5 trombones, guitars, pianos (electric and acoustic), drums, acoustic and electric basses, and Latin percussion, among othersis expected to be released sometime this month. The library is powered by the Kontakt Player, and will work as a standalone, or as a plug-in supporting VST, DXi, AU, and RTAS formats. Garritan also announced a new impulse-response library called Real Spaces ($189), which contain IRs sampled from a range of performance venues from all over the world. According to Garritan, the file format will be compatible with most convolution reverb applications.
At the i3 Software booth, the news was about DSP-Quattro 2.5, which is doe to ship in early December. The new version of the 2-track editor software will offer such improvements as user configurable key commands, a playlist interface that features ISRC and PQ subcodes for audio CD burning, and latency compensation. In addition, it will be "Mac Intel Ready," positioning it for when Apple begins producing Macs with Intel chips.
IK Multimedia Stomp I/O
IK Multimedia was showing Amplitube 2.0 (Mac/Win; $399, upgrade pricing available), its completely revamped guitar modeling software that's due for an early November release. It features a redesigned GUI, a souped-up DSP engine, numerous new models, the ability to run two rigs simultaneously, and much more. The company also announced the StompIO ($TBA), a USB hardware controller for Amplitube 2.0. StompIO has seven knobs, ten footswitches, two displays, as well as USB, S/PDIF, analog, and MIDI I/O. IK also showed off Classik Studio Reverb (Mac/Win XP; $399), a plug-in suite of four reverb units that emulate various classic hardware reverb units.
McDsp had several exciting new software products on tap in the RTAS/AudioSuite-format, all of which are scheduled to ship in November. Revolver ($495, Mac only) is a new convolution reverb that offers a large impulse library and flexible routing and EQ options. Analog Channel LE ($195, Mac/Win XP) is a tape emulation plug-in that comes with compression curves based on Studer, Otari, MCI, Ampex, Sony, and Tascam tape machines. Project Studio ($495, Mac only) is a plug-in bundle comprised of "LE" versions of five of McDSP's plug-ins including Revolver LE, Filterbank LE, CompressorBank LE, Chrome Tone LE, and Synthesizer One LE. The LE versions have less features than the originals, but are still highly functional.
Native Instruments Guitar Rig 2
Native Instruments had several major product announcements, but the two most compelling each combined software with hardware. Guitar Rig 2 (Mac/Win; $579; upgrade $119 software only, $339 w/pedal) features an upgraded version of its guitar-modeling software, which has several new amp, effect, and microphone models. It also adds models for recording bass guitar. The original Rig Kontrol pedal has been replaced with Rig Kontrol 2, a USB 2.0 audio interface with an expression pedal, patch change footswitches, analog I/O, a headphone out, and more. The other product is B4 II ($229, $99 upgrade) a improved version of the B4 soft organ module. According to Native Instruments, the B4 II now features realistic tone-wheel leakage, an extended bass pedal section, and revamped rotary and cabinet sections. B4 II will be sold alone or in a bundle with NI's B4D Drawbar Controller ($339). The bundle price will be $449. Both Guitar Rig 2 and B4 II are scheduled to ship in November.
One of the best values at the show was on display at the Princeton Digital booth. The VST Plate Reverb ($99) is a VST version of the company's Plate 2016 Reverb plug-in, and is now on sale at the company's Web site (a 10-day demo is also available). The plug-in is a recreation of Eventide's SP2016 plate reverb and has previously been available only for Pro Tools TDM.
PSP Audioware was showing a number of its recently released software plug-ins. PSP MasterComp (Win; $249), is a stereo compressor with 64-bit, floating point operation that runs on VST, DXi or RTAS platforms. PSP 608 MultiDelay (Mac/Win, $149) offers a comprehensive group of parameters including selectable feedback, stereo image and position, filter, modulation, delay time, saturation, and reverb for each tap. PSP 608 runs on VST, AU, RTAS and HDTM on the Mac; and VST, DXi, and RTAS on Windows.
Serato Rane Series Parametric EQ
Serato Audio Research, the makers of Pitch 'n' Time software, introduced the Rane Series of TDM plug-ins (Mac/Win). The new plugs are based on the algorithms of classic Rane processors There are three different products in the series. The 31-band Graphic EQ ($699) is based on the Rane DEQ 60/60L. The 10-band Parametric EQ ($699) is based on the PEQ 55. The Dynamics Bundle ($699), has plug-ins based on the Rane C4 Compressor and G4 Gate. The Rane series plug-ins not only emulate the originals, they add additional features, as well. The plug-ins are due to ship at the end of October.
At the Soundtoys booth, the biggest news was the release of the TDM Effects Bundle ($1,195, Mac), which brings together the company's entire effects line in a single package. The bundle will include nine effects, EchoBoy, SoundBlender, FilterFreak, PhaseMistress, PurePitch, PitchDoctor, Tremolator, SPEED, and Crystallizer. It's scheduled to be available sometime during the fourth quarter of this year.
TC Electronic announced PowerCore Unplugged ($745), which lets you purchase the PowerCore PCI-card by itself and buy your own choice of plug-ins separately. TC also announced that it would start shipping its VSS3 ($875) reverb plug-in for Pro Tools HD during October.
Universal Audio announced a new way to purchase its UAD-1 PCI powered plug-in system. When you buy the new UAD-1 Flexi-PAK ($899), you not only get the UAD-1 PCI accelerator card, but also a $500 credit at the company's online store to purchase the plug-ins of your choice. Unlike the company's other bundles, which come with specific plugs, the Flexi-PAK allows you to customize your plug-in lineup.
Waves showed two new plug-ins designed for vocal-track editing and mixing. Tune ($650), is a ReWire-powered pitch-correction plug that features formant correction, 32 levels of undo, flexible transposition, line and pencil tools for precise onscreen editing, the ability to add synthetic vibrato, and more. DeBreath ($300) was designed to automatically reduce breath sounds from vocal tracks. It separates the breath sounds from the rest of the vocal information so they can be removed or reduced in level. The plug-in also gives you the option to add room tone to make the sections where breaths were removed sound more natural. Both Tune and DeBreath are offered as part of the Waves Vocal Bundle ($1,000), which also includes the Renaissance Channel, the Renaissance DeEsser, and Doubler.
MICS AND MORE MICS
There was no shortage of new microphones at the show. Instead of the usual abundance of large-diaphragm condensers, the majority of new models at AES were ribbons or small diaphragm condensers.
Audio-Technica announced the AT2041SP Studio Pack ($249), which contains a new mic, the AT2021 small-diaphragm condenser, along with an AT2020 large-diaphragm condenser. The AT2041SP is currently available only as part of the Studio Pack.
Blue Microphones announced a new mic, the OmniMouse ($1,699), a pressure-gradient omni condenser with a rotating capsule. The capsule itself is a B4, which is the same one Blue uses in its well-respected Bottle mic. According to Blue, the OmniMouse is particularly well-suited for recording in situations where room sound is desired. The mic has a max SPL rating of 145 dB (THD 0.5%), and a dynamic range of 96 dB. It's expected to ship in January. Blue also announced that the Snowball ($159), its spherical, white, condenser mic with a USB output, is now shipping.
DPA, a company whose high-quality mics are typically priced out of range of many personal studio owners, announced the 4090 ($499), a surprisingly affordable small-diaphragm mic with an omni capsule. According to DPA, the mic should be available by the end of October.
Earthworks Periscope mics
Earthworks debuted the Periscope series of mics. Each mic in the series has a flexible neck that allows for more precise positioning. Two neck sizes, 3-inch and 6-inch will be available. Cardioid and hypercardioid versions are due for shipping in December, and an omni is planned for later release. According to Earthworks, the mics are expected to be priced at $995, but that hasn't been finalized.
Groove Tubes Velo-8
Groove Tubes joined the increasingly competitive ribbon-mic market with the Velo-8 ($799). The mic, features a large ribbon element and a Neodymium magnet. Groove Tubes recommends it for use on both vocals and instruments. It comes with a hard mount and a shock mount with a built-in pop screen. The Velo-8 is scheduled to ship in January.
THE introduced several new mics including two affordably priced, hand-built, condensers: the cardioid CR-5 ($348) and the omni CR-6. Also shown was the KS-1 ($429) a handheld condenser designed for live use.
The Transaudio Group showed off a new line of mics from Heil Sound, which are designed by industry legend Bob Heil (of talk-box fame). The mics include three large-diaphragm dynamic mics which are designed primarily for broadcast applications, but have studio uses, as well. The models are: the PR 40 ($325) has a frequency response that goes down to 28 Hz and remains flat all the way through 18 kHz. The PR30 ($289) is a shock-mounted model with a "smooth" frequency response that goes from 40 - 18,000 Hz. Finally the , and the PR20 ($160), is a handheld cardioid with very little off-axis coloration.
MXL had a new small diaphragm condenser on display, the 604 ($179.95). Scheduled to ship in November, the MXL 604 comes with interchangeable omni and cardioid capsules, a plush wooden case, a windscreen, and a mic clip.
The Swedish microphone maker Pearl, which is distributed in the U.S. by Independent Audio, was displaying a new omni condenser, the OM 16 ($550). The mic has a transformerless design, and Pearl touts its flat frequency response. It's recommended for both instrument and vocal applications.
Røde Microphones unveiled the NT6 ($499), a small-diaphragm condenser with a detached capsule that connects to the mic body with a 3-meter (9.84-foot) cable (included). This design was intended to give the mic more versatility for positioning. The capsule is the same one used in Røde's NT4 and NT5 models. The mic has -10 dB pad switch, and an 80 Hz highpass filter. It comes with a stand mount, a swivel mount, a pouch, and a windscreen.
By the time you read this, SE Electronics should have released the R1 ($999) Dynamic Ribbon Mic. The R1 contains a 1.8 Micron aluminum element, a Neodymium magnet, and comes with a shock mount, a flight case, and a 5-year warranty that includes three ribbon replacements. SE recommends the R1 for miking brass, woodwinds, vocals, and string sections; and as a drum overhead and electric guitar cabinet mic.
Soundwave Research Labs introduced three new models of hand-built ribbon mics under the Crowley and Tripp moniker. The Soundstage Image ($1,695) is designed to reproduce without coloration, and is recommended for orchestral, soundstage, and broadcast applications. The Studio Vocalist ($1,695) features a smooth response, an enhanced proximity effect, and is particularly suited for vocals, amp cabinets, and more. The Procenium ($1,785) offers a warm, traditional ribbon mic sound, and is suggested for classical recording applications. All three mics are available directly from the Soundwave Research at prices substantially discounted from list.
MORE COOL STUFF
The following are more highlights from AES that don't fit into the previous product categories.
Auralex Audio Tile
Auralex introduced a line of acoustical treatment products called "pART Science." Designed in collaboration with renowned acoustical designer Russ Berger, the line is aimed at those who want not only good room treatments, but also a stylish look. Three pART Science products were announced: the Space Coupler ($299 each), designed to help couple two acoustic spaces and make rooms sound bigger; Audio Tile ($499 for 48 square feet), a tessellated broadband absorber tile that can be configured in many geometric shapes; and a diffuser panel called Space Array ($399). The products will be available November 1 of this year.
eSession is a new Web-based service that offers users a database of top-flight studio musicians, singers, engineers, and producers available for remote sessions. Its Web interface is truly impressive, offering, among other items, a drag-and-drop Web page for file transfers, a plug-in that allows for client and talent to work together in real time, built in chat, a Web application called eChart that lets you quickly put together a chart to send to the talent, and even an online store to purchase gear.
A solution for real-time connection between remote Pro Tools systems was being demoed by Source Elements. The Source Connect (Mac/Win, $1,495) plug-in works with Pro Tools TDM or LE systems and offers instant messaging, up to 160 kbs bitrate, the ability to play and record in sync while connected, live streaming to QuickTime from Pro Tools, and more. Source Connect will work with Pro Tools 6.4 or later and requires a T1, cable, or DSL connection.
Recording-media producer Quantegy was on hand, showing AES attendees that it's once again producing analog tape, among other products. For those looking for reel-to-reel media, which has been in short supply, this is good news. "We are excited to show audio engineers that Quantegy is back," said company CEO Peter Hutt.
Studio Panel Salon Acoustics
If you want to treat your studio's acoustics in a stylish way, Studio Panel's Salon Acoustics ($6-800 per panel) might be your answer. They're absorber panels upon which an image of your choice can be printed. Not only do you get absorption down to 500 Hz, but the ability to custom decorate your studio. Studio Panel offers a collection of images you can choose from, or you can submit your own to be printed on the panel.
One of the most memorable displays at the show was in the demo room for Zenph Studios, where the music of great pianists of the past such as Art Tatum and Glenn Gould was heard coming from an acoustic piano in the room. These "virtual" (and slightly eerie) performances were the result of Zenph's technology, which allows it to breakdown audio piano performances into proprietary, high-definition MIDI files that represent the exact keystrokes and pedal actions from the original recording. These files are then played back through a Yamaha Disklavier Pro piano. The replication of the performance is so precise that the Zenph version can be played back in one channel while the original plays in the other, and it's hard to discern any difference. The company representatives stated that Zenph was currently licensing its technology to the estates of well-known pianists from the past, so that new, higher-fidelity recordings could be made of their works. It was also hinted that this technology could very end up being used in the education field for learning the playing styles of legendary pianists.