Analog synthesizer module
Highlights All-analog, trianglecore, discrete-transistor oscillator with multiple waveform outputs, including a sine-wave mix output • 8 independent sine wave outputs—a fundamental and 7 harmonics—with individual VCAs • exponential and linear FM inputs • harmonic-scan and spectral-tilt controls with CV inputs • 32 HP
Target Market Eurorack modular synth owners
Analysis Based on a vintage Buchla module, the Harmonic Oscillator gives you additive synth capabilities, with individually addressable harmonics.
USB and iOS guitar interface
Highlights Supports 24-bit, 96kHz analog-to-digital conversion on the Mac, iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch • discrete Class A input with gain control • comes with three cables—30-pin and Lightning for iOS and USB • input level control • multicolor LED shows input level and status • made in the U.S.A.
Target Market Guitarists, songwriters, hobbyists
Analysis An inexpensive way to integrate your guitar with iOS and Mac recording and ampmodeling apps using Apogee’s highly respected A/D converter.
Headphone amp/latency-free cue mix
Highlights Designed to be placed before your ADC to provide a no-latency cue mix for 2-channel digital recording and overdubbing (mono or stereo) • hard-wired signal path keeps signal from being degraded • stereo playback monitoring • adjustable volume steps: 3 and 0.5dB increments, 0-66dB • inputs accept +4 and -10 signal levels • maximum output level 18dBu (full scale)
Target Market Engineers and musicians
Analysis A useful tool for both mitigating latency and providing high-quality headphone amplification while tracking.
Active studio monitor
Highlights 2-way powered monitor with 6" woofer and 2.5" air-displacement ribbon tweeter • 100W • frequency range from 45Hz-27kHz • EQ controls for upper and lower frequencies • XLR, TRS, and RCA inputs • vinyl-wrapped MDF enclosure • also available with a 5" woofer; the RXA5 ($199) handles 75W and has a frequency range of 50Hz-27kHz
Target Market Musicians, engineers with project studios, educational facilities
Analysis An affordably priced reference monitor designed to cover recording, mixing, and multimedia work.
Highlights 1/4" TRS and TS I/O for combining pedals and pro-level effects • XLR for mic-level output • blend processed and dry signals • can be used for re-amping • impedance control • analog circuitry • send/return trim controls • external footswitch input • rackmountable • expansion output for other Little Labs products
Target Market Guitarists and bassists who record and gig
Analysis Designed to solve a wide range of problems when using pro effects and a pedalboard onstage and in the studio.
Guitar amp/Bluetooth speaker system
$499 street 150W; $399 street 75W
Highlights 5-speaker design: guitar speaker, 2 tweeters, 2 mid-bass drivers • supports Mac, Win, iOS, and Android • remote iOS app for parameter control • unlimited preset storage in the cloud with ability to share with others • includes Line 6 tone-matching technology
Target Market Guitarists who record, jam, and want to listen to their music library
Analysis Amplifi serves a wide range of listening needs, while offering the ability to automatically match guitar tones.
Digital audio workstation
$399 download; $449 boxed
Highlights Includes 50 devices spanning instruments, effects, and more • use as traditional timeline sequencer or for nonlinear clip launching • automatic sampling slicing • 3GB of content • open-controller API for custom MIDI integration • Mac, Win, and Linux • multiprocessor, multicore support
Target Market Studio production and recording, live performance
Analysis Years in the making, this DAW was designed to make music creation easy and fun while offering a contemporary feature set that fits both studio and stage.
Free; additional content available via in-app purchases
Highlights Redesigned GUI with separate windows for amp/cabs, pedalboard, and effects • Audio Cloning Technology instrument modeling • Gig mode allows you to switch among 8 user presets • works on Windows tablets • supports AAX • hosts VST and AU plug-ins, even when used within Pro Tools
Target Market Songwriters, guitarists, and the engineers who record them
Analysis A substantial update, thanks in part to the addition of instrument modeling and enhancements aimed at live performance.
Software drum machine
Highlights 50 new kits and 800 new instruments • 32 patterns • updated UI • greater programmability with the ability to choose modules (oscillators, filters, envelopes, etc.) and select patch routing • users can assign up to 6 macro controls • expanded pattern editor • new mixer window • improved library management
Target Market Musicians, DJs, producers
Analysis A strong beat-production program has just gotten stronger, with added content and greater programmability of its modular sound engine.
Highlights Combines a tube-based, Class A microphone preamp with a compressor, equalizer, and limiter • mic pre offers more than 70dB of gain • high-shelf, low-shelf, and sweepable-midrange EQ • analog meter shows gain reduction, preamp output, or main output levels • XLR I/O • TRS insert • DI input
Target Market Musicians who record at home
Analysis Designed to provide high-quality audio with plenty of headroom and pro-level features that are easy to set up and use.
Audio-to-tablature transcription software
Highlights Automatically detects chords from songs in your iTunes library, then displays the chord shapes and tablature • transpose a song’s key using the pitch slider • supports alternate tunings • effects include vocal reducer and a 10-band EQ • time-stretching algorithm slows music without changing pitch • looped playback • count-off and metronome
Target Market Guitarists, songwriters, performers
Analysis Designed to make learning a song as easy as selecting the notes from the spectrogram view.
Liquid Rhythm 1.3
Beat production software
$129; Liquid Rhythm Intro $49
Highlights Create patterns by painting note groups onto the arrange window • rhythm-displacement module • comes with large number of rhythm patterns and variations to get you started • pattern randomization • includes library of samples and loops • integrates into Ableton Live • VST, AU, and RTAS support • import and export audio and MIDI
Target Market Producers, DJs, musicians
Analysis A highly sophisticated rhythm generator that was specifically designed to be simple and intuitive to use.
BONUS SPOTLIGHT: Roland Aira Series
BY GINO ROBAIR
After months of teasing, Roland finally unveiled the first four items in its new Aira line—the System-1 keyboard synth ($599 street), the TR-8 Rhythm Performer ($499 street), the TB-3 Touch Bassline ($299 street), and the VT-3 Voice Transformer ($199 street). Using the company’s proprietary Analog Circuit Behavior (ACB) technology, each instrument models the sound and response of Roland’s classic analog designs while providing modern features and connectivity. For example, all of the instruments offer features called Scatter, which are performance-oriented, real-time effects that are instrument-specific.
System-1TR-8TB-3VT-3 The System-1 Plug-Out is a stand-alone hardware synthesizer that can be used as a USB controller as well as a host for Roland-related virtual instruments (hence the term “plug-out”; the SH-101 will be the first soft synth available.). Once a soft synth is loaded into the System-1, you can switch between the keyboard’s internal sound engine and the virtual instrument, with or without your computer connected. The onboard synth itself has four oscillators, 2- and 4-pole lowpass filters, an independent highpass filter, and an arpeggiator offering Scatter effects.
The TR-8 is a hardware rhythm box that adds modern functionality to re-creations of the TR-808 and TR-909. In addition to 16 kits compiled from 11 types of instruments, the TR-8 includes a step sequencer, pattern randomization, mute buttons, reverb and delay, sidechaining, and the ability to create four types of rolls in real time. Tuning and decay controls have been added to each instrument, as well as Attack, Snappy, and Comp parameters for the kick and snare. Here the Scatter function lets you add one of 10 effects (stutter, glitch, truncate, reverse, gate, etc.) to patterns or external input.
The TB-3 models the TB-303 bass synth while adding three banks of new sounds, randomized pattern generation and modification, Scatter effects, and a pressuresensitive touch-pad that offers a number of new performance options. The VT-3 is a voice processor with 9 “voice characters” (including automatic pitch correction, a vocoder, and several lo-fi and synthesized tones) as well as immediate hands-on control over pitch, formant, and reverb. The mic input provides phantom power allowing you to use a condenser or dynamic mic, and the stereo outputs can be configured to provide discrete wet and dry signals.
As is clear by the types of instruments Roland chose to launch this product line—keyboard synth, drum machine, bass synth, vocal processor—the Aira instruments provide a complete music performance system when interconnected. The System-1, TB-3, and TR-8 can send and receive audio and MIDI from your computer over USB, but include standard MIDI ports and MIDI Clock synchronization. The VT-3’s USB port can be used as an audio interface, as well as a power source.