The Goods, the Goodies & Everything In Between

AIR MOTION CAPTURE DEVICES Well, I just didn’t want to say “mics.” There were, like the jokes in my repertoire, a zillion of them, and so here are a few for your viewing pleasure. Don’t say we never gave you nothing. AKG Acoustics’ C 542 BL Boundary Layer Microphone ($320) is small, unobtrusive, and designed t
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AIR MOTION CAPTURE DEVICES

Well, I just didn’t want to say “mics.” There were, like the jokes in my repertoire, a zillion of them, and so here are a few for your viewing pleasure. Don’t say we never gave you nothing.

AKG Acoustics’ C 542 BL Boundary Layer Microphone ($320) is small, unobtrusive, and designed to be placed on a large, acoustically reflective surface (such as the studio’s walls, ceiling, floor, or the lid or back of a piano) to record sources that benefit from an acoustic space’s “room sound.” www.akg.com

Behringer’s Studio Condenser Mics C-2 is a set of two condenser mics, sold as a stereo pair. They feature a cardioid pattern, low-mass diaphragm, and transformerless FET input. www.behringer.com

Beyerdynamic’s Opus Series Mics target drums, percussion, instruments and boundary applications. The percussive series includes the Opus 53 (condenser mic with tight cardioid pattern), Opus 83 (condenser cardioid mic), Opus 88 (cardioid condenser mic mounted on a short gooseneck), and Opus 99 (optimized for miking bass drums). The Opus 51 acoustic boundary microphone integrates the mic element into a solid metal plate with a heavy-duty protective surface. www.beyerdynamic.com

Blue Microphones’ Kickball is optimized for recording kick drums. www.bluemic.com

Peavey’s Studio Pro CM1 ($199.99), a handheld cardioid condenser microphone, handles SPL levels up to 136dB. It features a transformer FET circuit, built-in shockmount, and a dual-layer pop filter . . . the PV MSP1 ($59.95) is a mic/accessory package with a PVi 100 dynamic cardioid mic, tripod-style boom stand, XLR-to-XLR or XLR-to-1/4" cable, mic stand clip, protective nylon mic bag, and zippered gig bag. www.peavey.com

Red’s Type B ($699) is a Class A discrete solid-state mic that accommodates interchangeable capsules, including classic Neumann-Gefell capsules and Blue’s Bottle Caps line. The Type B comes with the versatile Red Lollipop Capsule and Type B Accessory Pak (mic cable and shockmount). www.vintagemicrophone.com

Roland has introduced three new mics. The DR-80C is a large-diaphragm studio mic, the DR-30 is a handheld cardioid mic, and the DR-50 is hyper-cardioid handheld mic with enhanced shock absorption. www.rolandus.com

SE Electronics’ Titan ($1,499) features a titanium diaphragm, transformerless active balanced output, three patterns (cardioid, omni, and figure of 8), 100Hz filter, 10dB pad, and a deluxe aluminum flight case . . . A matched pair of SE3 mics ($749) features a heavy duty adjustable stereo bar and custom aluminum flight case . . . The Ghost Studio Boom Stand has all-metal construction, locking height and angle, and an included sandbag for maximum stability. Large size $399, medium $299. www.sonic-distribution.com

Studio Projects’ CS1 is a single-pattern (cardioid) large diaphragm condenser. Three thumb-wheels control highpass filters, lowpass filters, and pad . . . The CS3 is a dual diaphragm multi-pattern large diaphragm condenser. It combines the CS1’s features with a fourth thumb-wheel that adjusts the mic pickup pattern. www.pmiaudio.com

Telefunken North America’s Ela M 16 ($1,399) is a hand-built, 9-pattern tube mic with shockmount that breaks the price barrier compared to other mics in the same line. www.telefunkenusa.com

SOFTWARE PLUG-INS

Plug-in companies have been battered by theft, but the survivors continue to deliver great stuff. Let’s hope they do. Survive, that is.

Cycling ’74’s HIPNO 1.0 ($199) is a suite of over 40 effects and instrument VST plug-ins for VST/AU/RTAS Mac OS X hosts (Windows XP is next). The package includes a mix of granular, spectral, and filter/delay-based plug-ins, modulator plug-ins, and a set of processors that use live video input as a control source. . . . The plug-in suites Pluggo and Mode ($199 each) are now available for Windows. . . . Cycling ‘74 will distribute JazzMutant’s Lemur multitouch control surface ($2,495), a sleek portable controller for live performance computer music applications. It features a 12" LCD and touchscreen interface that can simultaneously track multiple fingers. Users configure the Lemur using an editor application. . . . Octirama is a multi-band surround dynamics processor for the Digidesign TDM environment. Over 40 simultaneous meters provide detailed operational feedback.www.cycling74.com

Eventide’s Anthology bundle ($1,195) for Pro Tools TDM systems offers all nine Eventide TDM plug-ins, including the H3000 Factory, and all five plug-ins from Clockworks Legacy. www.eventide.com

T.C. Electronic VSS3 Stereo Source Reverb for PowerCore ($625) has been ported directly from the System 6000. Want to tweak? The almost 800 parameters should keep you off the streets and out of trouble. www.tcelectronic.com

Wizoo wanted me to come to their suite and see their new W2 (stereo) and W5 (surround) digital reverbs. I’m generally not a huge fan of digital reverbs, but the W2 sounded astonishingly realistic, even though they let me set the parameters for “wrong” sounds just to see what would happen. Apparently convolution is only one of several components used to create the sound. www.wizoo.com

VIRTUAL INSTRUMENTS

Hey, remember when your studio’s space was taken up by all those keyboards? Now instruments just take up a lot of space on your monitor — and they continue to get smarter, better, and offer higher fidelity.

Ableton’s Operator ($149) incorporates four oscillators and a resonant multimode filter to provide both subtractive and frequency modulation (FM) synthesis. Also, every Operator parameter can be automated or remote-controlled via MIDI. www.ableton.com

Applied Acoustics’ String Studio ($249) isn’t an ork thing, but a virtual string synthesizer, from plucked to bowed. Cool stuff. www.applied-acoustics.com

Arturia. The ARP 2600V soft synth emulates the original 2600 but adds MIDI control, polyphony, tracking generators, and additional effects. It comes with over 400 presets. www.arturia.com

Fxpansion. Drag a drum loop into Guru (OS X/XP); it automatically slices the beat and maps the slices onto 16 drum pads. Tweak slice points, automate volume/filter/pitch, etc. for each pad, layer sounds, add effects, and use the internal step sequencer to create new grooves. www.fxpansion.com

Gforce’s Minimonsta ($199.95) is another Minimoog tribute, but with a few wrinkles. It does VST and RTAS with Mac/PC, as well as MAS and AU. www.m-audio.com

Glaresoft iDrum is an AU drum machine, but also works standalone in OS X and Windows. Use the existing library of patterns, or load samples up to 2MB. www.m-audio.com

Hartmann’s Neuron VS ($999) is a VST/AU, Mac/Windows software version of the Neuron synthesizer. Cool feature: The Nuke remote control unit, which connects to the computer via USB and is designed to give the human touch to software synthesizers. It even has an upholstered hand rest. www.hartmann-music.com

Steinberg Groove Agent 2 ($249, update $79.99) folds in new styles (including punk, grunge, old skool hip hop, and retro rock) and nine new drum sounds. Other refinements include added output buses (up to eight stereo outs, an overhauled GUI, and a “Save to MIDI file” feature. www.steinberg.net

Way Out Ware TimewARP 2600. And way out they were, in possibly the most remote part of the convention center that could still be considered part of the United States. But that didn’t deter those who wanted to check out this virtual ARP 2600, which has the blessing of Alan R. Perlman (ARP) himself. www.wayoutware.com

Wizoo teamed up with M-Audio for the Key Rig plug-in, with four virtual modules: stage piano, poly synth, electromagnetic organ, and general MIDI. The related Drum & Bass Rig isn’t so much about RONI SIZE but a plug-in/standalone device with a drum module, electric bass, loop creator, and bassline .www.m-audio.com

SOFTWARE PROGRAMS

Chicken Systems’ Constructor lets you create platform-independent sampled instruments, and save them to dozens of standard formats. Edit wavesamples with external editor or basic internal editor, import samples or whole or partial programs from any source, and do batch processing. . . . Sample Manage provides a central location for sampled sounds, as a floating desktop utility. Access databases of sound by keyboard or location, then drag-and-drop into your sampler; supports virtual drives and all pro sampler formats . . . Translator Pro 6 is a universal file converter and sampler tool. It features integrated search and database functions, batch conversion, VST hosting, and a 50 x 50 matrix of sampler format sources and destinations. www.chickensystems.com

Circular Logic InTime 1.1. This tempo tracking system lets sequencers and drum machines follow your playing, not the other way around. Of particular interest: When you record with InTime, it can create a tempo map that’s written out to a MIDI file. Load it into a host sequencer, then sync up MIDI tracks to the original feel. www.circularlogic.com

Immersive Media Research. All programs are for OS X, with XP support slated. Vortex Surround Mixer ($300, OS X/XP) is a multichannel sound-file mixer (with ReWire host capability) that spatializes eight or more ReWire channels or mono sound files to eight output channels. Supports seven surround configs (from 4.0 to 8.0), VST plug-ins, automation, loop-based spatial path control, etc. . . Vortex Surround Designer ($400, OSX/XP) spatializes mono or stereo signals to up to eight surround channels, and serves as a ReWire client. Sound paths can be saved independently of the sound file itself, creating a library of spatial paths that can be re-used for any mono sound file . . . Vortex Surround Encoder ($200) DTS, binaural encoding) encodes several individual sound files into a single multichannel master file. www.vortexsurround.com

Magix Samplitude Professional 8.0. Is this the year that Magix Samplitude breaks out from cult status to mainstream? Sure, it supports surround, including a surround effects package with EQ and dynamics, along with a surround-friendly convolution reverb. But project management has also been greatly improved, and new effects include an analog modeling suite with tape saturation and transient designer. Other features include “elastic audio,” Melodyne-like pitch editing, a drum editor, advanced MIDI editing, enhanced video sync, ReWire support, and the Robota Pro virtual analog synthesizer with integrated step sequencer. This baby is picked to click. www.synthax.com

Sony Sound Forge 8 ($399.95) integrates CD Architect for advanced CD burning, application scripting and batch processing, support for ASIO and VST plug-ins, and direct track export functionality. www.sony.com/mediasoftware

SMALLER HARDWARE GOODIES

A Designs. The ATTY dual passive audio level control with mute switch, for example between mixer and powered monitor. www.adesignsaudio.com

AP Audio. The ABR-22 mobile recording package combines a cardioid condenser mic with 1" diaphragm, monitoring headphones with soft carry pouch, mic shockmount, XLR mic cable, and a gig bag. www.aceproducts.com

ART. The single rack space T8 (Transformer 8; $179) with all-steel case is a passive audio interface with eight transformers. These separate input and output signal grounds, which isolates two systems to reduce hum and ground loop noise. www.artproaudio.com

Behringer. The BCN-44 is a compact MIDI controller with four assignable push encoders, four assignable buttons, learn mode, and downloadable editor/librarian software. www.behringer.com

E-Mu. The 1616 ($399) is a PCMCIA card with onboard DSP and headphone amp; it can also be combined with the MicroDock interface to create the CardBus Digital Audio System ($499), which provides 16 ins and outs with MIDI I/O. It offers ASIO2 and WDM drivers for Win2000/XP, and a software bundle. www.emu.com

Graph Tech. The Ghost Modular Pickup System is designed for MIDI guitar and features a user-adjustable tracking curve, as well as the ability to optimize the hex output signal for the best match with particular guitars and playing styles. www.ghostinside.com

Radial Engineering. The Tonebone Classic Tri-Mode is a 12AX7-equipped tube distortion pedal. There’s true bypass clean tone, two distorted channels with separate input drive and output level controls, effects loop on channel 2, master bass and treble equalization, and independent mid boost on each channel . . . The JDX direct box connects between the guitar amplifier head and the speaker cabinet to capture the full guitar amp sound. Use alone or combine with a mic, as you can time-align the miked and direct signals. Dual ground lift and transformer isolation help eliminate ground loops . . . The Pro-D2 passive stereo direct box ($149) uses a proprietary custom-made transformer for each channel and features heavy-duty steel construction. www.cabletek.ca

Roland. The CD-2 records directly to CD or CompactFlash media (up to 2GB capacity) for hours of recording time. Once recorded, audio can be edited, processed, and burned to CD. The CD-2 includes a stereo mic, or you can plug external mics in via the CD-2’s two XLR inputs, complete with phantom power. RCA phono and 1/4" I/O is also provided; a variety of audio effects are available. www.rolandus.com

SM Pro Audio’s A08 is a compact, half-rack sized 8-channel analog to ADAT format converter with 24-bit/96kHz A/D conversion. www.smproaudio.com

Terratec Producer. HI JACK is a front-end preamp with a high-impedance FET input that’s optimized for electric guitars and acoustic instruments with magnetic or piezo pickups. It has a balanced out and provides up to 40dB gain . . . The SINE MLM 62 is a 1U, compact six-channel stereo mixer that has two mic pres with two-band EQ, four line ins, effect insert options, and gain controls. www.terratec.com

THAT Corporation. The InGenius IC is a balanced line receiver, available with three different gain options, that claims to include patented circuitry to improve noise- and inteference-canceling characteristics. www.thatcorp.com

VTG. Want a CAT5e Ethernet cable that meets rock and roll specs? The Dura-Cat can be ordered with Neutrik EtherCon series housing for RJ45 connectors, which protects the connector with an XLR-type housing. www.horizonmusic.com

XP Sound. The XP202 USB audio interface for Mac or Windows features two onboard mic preamps with phantom power, stereo line in, stereo phono pre with RIAA equalization, stereo headphone amp, and two parallel stereo outputs (one front, one rear). www.xsound.com

Zoom. The compact RT-223 RhythmTrak incorporates 70 drum kits, including an analog set and “human beatbox” samples. The bass machine offers several different electric bass styles, and trigger pads are velocity-sensitive. www.zoomfx.com

LARGER HARDWARE GOODIES

Audient. The Sumo High Resolution Balanced Summing Amplifier, an external analog summing mixer, delivers the sound of an Audient large-frame console in a single rack space. It offers 16 paired input channels through DA88 (DTRS) standard D-Sub connectors. Mix inserts on balanced TRS jacks are available on each input for external processing units such as EQ or channel compressor/limiter. An optional AES/EBU output card can be externally clocked via a rear-panel BNC connection. www.axidistribution.com

Brainstorm Electronics. The SR-8000 is multiple-machine remote control device. It provides track arming, transport control, 100 locator points, ADR beeps, pre-and after roll, automatic looping, and more for up to eight audio/video recorders or DAWs via serial Sony 9 pin or MIDI interface. www.plus24.net

CME. The self-powered UF8 master keyboard offers 88 keys with weighted hammer action and aftertouch, a breath control interface, eight knobs, nine sliders, a USB interface for MIDI data transfer, pitch bend and mod wheels, and it features metal construction for durability. A FireWire expansion board ($299) provides digital audio I/O capabilities (two 24/192 balanced ins and outs, mic in with preamp, MIDI interface, FireWire port, and headphone out). Other models (the UF5/6/7) are available with 49/61/76 keys respectively, and have a semi-weighted action keyboard with aftertouch. Keyboard dude Ken Hughes (no relation to Howard) applied the famous “Hughes Torture Twist Test” for master controllers, and walked away impressed. They’re inexpensive and even look cool, too. www.kaysound.com

Focusrite. The TrakMaster Pro mic pre/compressor includes front panel DI, impedance switch, mid-scoop EQ with two different cut depths and an adjustable frequency control, optical Class A compression, and latency-free monitoring. TrakMaster Pro also accepts the Platinum Pro 24-bit, 96kHz stereo Analog to Digital converter, providing a direct digital route from the TrakMaster Pro to the DAW . . . OctoPre LE includes eight preamps, including two “super channels” with instrument input and switchable impedance. 8 channels of 24-bit A/D and D/A converters, with ADAT I/O, make for easy interface with ADAT-compatible devices. www.focusrite.com

OpenLabs. mFusion is a set of software technologies along with a control panel that allows users to navigate, access, and remap control surfaces with ease for all OpenLabs control panels, as well as 3rd-party MIDI control devices. Once the mapping process begins, a button can send a note-on, program change, or launch an application. This versatility extends to encoders, knobs, faders, drum pads, and other common control types, and can address and remap up to thousands of controllers simultaneously. . . . The NeKo GS keyboard workstation ($4,995) integrates mFusion with a high-end Pentium 4-based system to control TASCAM’s GigaStudio3, Pro Tools, E-Mu’s Proteus X, and other digital music systems. www.openlabs.com

Roland’s V-Synth Version 2 has a new set of patches, additional analog-modeled oscillators, and a Rhythm Set function, which deploys V-Synthesis power separately to each key for complex drum kits. Furthermore, a new Sound Shaper function simplifies complex editing. V-Synths can be upgraded to V2 via free download. . . . But the big news is the V-Synth XT ($2499), a portable, rack-mountable V-Synth that can be positioned flush or tilted and locked at an angle, or taken out of the rack and placed on a flat urface. The XT comes pre-installed with Roland’s VC-1 (D-50 emulator) and VC-2 (Vocal Designer), and has everything that made the original V-Synth rock. www.rolandus.com

TASCAM’s DM-3200 is a 48-channel, surround-compatible digital console. With the IF/FW-DM FireWire Interface card, the DM-3200 provides pro functions like eight aux buses, talkback and monitoring sections, automation, and 16 buses — along with 24-channel audio interfacing and surface control of DAW mixing features. Other features include 96kHz resolution, 4-band parametric EQ and dynamics on each of the 32 channels, 4 stereo effects or two surround effects (8-in/8-out), 17 touch sensitive 100mm motorized faders, driverless USB 1.1 connection to computer for data backup, and TASCAM Mixer Companion software for Windows /Mac OS X for project management along with time code and meter displays. It’s pretty amazing. www.tascam.com

TC-Helicon. The VoicePro ($3,495) does for voice processing what the System 6000 did for general signal processing. You’ll find pitch shifting, voice modeling, harmony generation, transducer emulation, multieffects, EQ, dynamics, and more, all wrapped in a dead-simple user interface that makes it easy to create presets, as well as access loads of factory presets. Good stuff if your budget can take the hit. www.tc-helicon.com

Yamaha. Despite being busy buying Steinberg, Yamaha found time to introduce the Motif-Rack ES. Okay, it’s not as sexy as an $8,000 workstation, but it’s affordable, proven, and falls under the category of “why-mess-with-success.” It was also demoed working with Studio Manager . . . impressive. www.yamaha.com

NEARFIELD MONITORS

The Alesis M1 Active 520 is a two-way, 75W, magnetically shielded, active nearfield reference monitor with 5" woofer and 1" silk dome tweeter. The M1 Active 620 is rated at 100W and has a 6.5" woofer. www.alesis.com

Dynaudio Acoustics’ BM 5A active nearfield monitor ($1,250/pair) features a 6.9" woofer and a very compact size. The BM 9S ($1,245) is an active subwoofer with a 10" woofer that complements the BM 5A, as well as other products in the BM series. www.dynaudioacoustics.com

TASCAM’s VL-X5 home studio powered-monitor system features 5-1/4" woofers, silk-dome tweeters and a 60+30-watt bi-amplified active power amp. www.tascam.com

The MA-15D digital stereo monitors from Edirol are a 2-way bass reflex system. The monitors are shielded for placement near a computer and offer both 1/4" and RCA inputs with independent volume control. The MA-15Ds also host S/PDIF coax and optical inputs to play audio directly from digital sources up to 24-Bit/192 kHz. The MA-15D also comes with a built-in “bass enhancer” which uses psychoacoustic principles, causing the user to perceive accentuated low-end signals without over-driving the 100mm woofers. www.edirol.com