I was told to keep my picks down to five. Yes, yes, The Man wanted me to keep them down to five, so I did SIX. And would have done a lot more. Would have, could have. I mean if I wanted to. Yeah, it was that kind of show.

AEA R92 Ribbon Mic
by Wes Dooley

One of most striking products at the show was the new AEA R92 ribbon mic. This chrome-domed mic looks like it traveled to the show straight from the 1940s set of some fevered futuristic spaceboiler flick. It’s more compact than the R84, which has become a studio standard in the past two years since its introduction, and offers the black silk covering like its big brother, the R88. Those two have a lot in common, as the 92 has the same motor assembly and large ribbon size of the R88. When I compared it up close with the R84, the difference was amazing. The bottom end on the 84 is exaggerated up close, but on the 92, it’s very smooth even when working as close as 2”. The R92’s top end was astounding, almost sounding like a condenser compared to the R84. Did I mention the list price is under $900? What a cool mic. (I ordered two on the spot. Ribbon fanatic? Who, me?)

Tascam DV-RA 1000 Standalone DSD recorder

Tascam was showing a 2U rack mount recorder capable of 24/192 recording and also DSD. With built-in converters, it records to DVD-R and has no internal drive. The DVD-R will record one hour at the 2.8MHz DSD sample rate. When you’re done, pop it out and pop in another one for another hour of recording. It records industry standard .DFF files that you can import directly into SADIE or Pyramix. With a PS-2 keyboard input on the front, you can now type all your info in instead of scrolling and selecting one letter at a time. This is the natural successor to the Alesis MasterLink, with much more flexibility and capabilities. But the price? Last year, the entry level for DSD was about $8,000. So how much for the Tascam? $1,499 list. Now that’s amazing.

The “New Improved” Manley
TNT Mic Pre

Even before its release (Manley showed it at last year’s AES), Manley overhauled its new TNT preamp to include variables never before seen in a mic preamp. Featuring controls like variable Iron/Anti-Iron, 60s/70s/Clean switch, and five impedance settings that vary not only the impedance but also voltage gain or current gain modes, this preamp promises to be like nothing else we’ve seen before. With one channel of Tube (“T,” featuring the preamp from the SLAM!) and the other channel solid state (“NT” for no tube, a completely new design based around classic English Class A consoles), this design offers a range of sounds previously not available in a single chassis. Designed with input from a host of world-class engineers at the 3D Audio Preamp Summit in early 2004, this unit covers a long list of engineer’s wishes for the ultimate preamp. With a 1Q 2005 release date, this preamp is on the short list of impressive, flexible, no-compromise preamp designs.

Soundelux E250 Tube Mic

I stopped by to see David Bock of Soundelux, and got a chance to hear his new $3,000 marvel, the Soundelux 250. This cardioid-only tube mic is based on his very successful Elux 251 without the multipattern head, along with simpler manufacturing and power supply. But can it sound like a high dollar mic without the high dollar price tag? Yes, and I was very impressed. For a great tube mic at a very reasonable price, this is the most serious contender I’ve

Pendulum Audio’s Quartet II All-In-Wonder Box

This is one impressive piece of design. I have seen and listened to it before but never had a chance to peer inside it. What a testimony to Greg Gualtieri’s design genius — it’s a work of art. The power supply puts out seven different voltages and occupies almost a third of the inside of the unit. The features and sound of this unit make it a “one size fits all” kind of piece, especially if you’re looking for color. Two input transformers (switchable), Pultec style EQ, delta-mu compressor, limiter — there’s nothing I can think of that this unit won’t handle well. It’s 2U of sheer genius.

SADIE BB-2 Portable Editing System For Pc

Sadie showed its new “Baby Sadie” BB-2, which is the size of a trackball controller and includes a spacebar, shuttle wheel and eight programmable soft keys. With connections for power, USB port, analog and digital I/O, headphone and mic input on the rear, it is one seriously capable package. I kept asking Mike Porter of Sadie “This connects to what?” His answer was “Straight to your laptop.” Baffled, I followed up “But it’s just the remote, right? Where’s the actual hardware?” “That’s it.” Sure enough, all the DSP is included inside the unit; this controller with a footprint smaller than a jewel case is it. You can get this 24/96 capable unit with the full Sadie software or in two other configurations, the least expensive being a straight edit only version for just $1,200. The version with the full-blown software, which will also run Cedar’s ReTouch, is $3,800 — a steal when you consider an entry level SADiE was $8,000 before. And that price includes unlimited tech support and free upgrades for life. What a deal.