The Giga Family

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Tascam's new GigaStudio 3 is available in three versions to accommodate different setups and budgets. The flagship product, GigaStudio 3 Orchestra ($599), offers a full complement of high-end features such as unlimited polyphony, eight MIDI In ports, and the GigaPulse Pro reverb plug-in. At the next level down, GigaStudio Ensemble ($369) has an upper polyphony limit of 160 notes and only four MIDI ports. GigaPulse Pro is not included, however a playback-only version called GigaPulse SP (sample playback) lets users play the same convolution-encoded libraries as the top-of-the-line version. (You can't, however, create your own reverb impulses and presets for processing instruments.) GigaPulse SP becomes available only when a convolution-embedded instrument is loaded. The plug-in then allows a few basic adjustments but not the full range of controls and placement options found in the Orchestra version.

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FIG. A: GS3 Orchestra comes in a nice wooden box with mortised corners and a sliding lid.

GigaStudio Solo ($199) is the least expensive version of the program. Its polyphony is limited to 96 notes with only two MIDI ports. It, too, supplies GigaPulse SP. All three versions support VST as well as NFX plug-ins, and all three also support ReWire.

The GS3 Orchestra and Ensemble versions come on DVDs, and in addition to the program itself, include a large assortment of instruments from various sample libraries. GS3 Orchestra includes 18 GB of samples; GS3 Ensemble provides 10 GB. The main difference is that only the Orchestra version has the Vienna Giga Symphony collection, which serves as a nice high-quality starter set for orchestral writing. These two versions also include the new high-tech 24-bit GigaPiano II library.

The Solo version, which comes on CDs, supplies only 3 GB of samples in a much-reduced collection. Its LE version of GigaPiano II is based on 16-bit samples. And finally, GS3 Orchestra comes in a nice wooden box with mortised corners and a sliding lid (see Fig. A). The other versions don't. To learn more about the different GS3 versions, check out the GigaStudio Web site: www.tascamgiga.com.