One of the nice things about a themed roundup is we can choose any theme we want: Mastering tools, virtual instruments, USB mics . . . or for that matter, things that come in orange boxes. So, the theme this month is “products that all have some unique hook, and deserve a review.” Or maybe the theme is “the inbox is getting really full—let’s pick some fun stuff to review, and send back the rest.” Either way, it’s an interesting group.
Mackie’s 820i is the first in a family of FireWire mixers with Pro Tools M-Powered compatibility—the first non-Digidesign product to do this—but it also works with other DAWs. FXpansion’s DCAM: Synth Squad is a suite of instruments that doesn’t just emulate the sound of vintage synths, but actually nails the character. And speaking of instruments, Vir2’s Mojo: Horn Section (based on NI’s Kontakt 3 Player) fits the studio like a glove, thanks to sophisticated articulations that let you pull convincing solo and ensemble horn parts out of a keyboard controller.
The PAA6 Personal Audio Analyzer from Phonic lowers the price tag for studio test gear, making it easier than ever to test properties like acoustics, polarity, frequency response, noise, distortion, and the like. We’ve also included a couple of interesting computer audio interfaces: Focusrite’s Liquid Saffire 56 puts some seriously mic-friendly horsepower into a workhorse interface, while Steinberg’s MR816csx includes clever, Cubase-specific integration as well as some spiffy on-board DSP.
If there’s one thing these products all demonstrate, it’s that regardless of what’s going on in the outside world, ingenuity is alive and well when it comes to music and recording. Enjoy the roundup!