M-AUDIO FAST TRACK ULTRA 8R
M-Audio (m-audio.com) has expanded its Fast Track series of USB 2.0 interfaces with the Ultra 8R ($499). The 1U rackmountable 8 × 8 audio and MIDI interface incorporates eight Octane-technology preamps, phantom power, and M-Audio's MX Core DSP mixer, which allows you to mix eight audio streams from the computer with the eight hardware inputs, complete with reverb and delay effects for cue mixes. It features 24-bit, 96 kHz resolution throughout the signal path, and all input channels accept mic-, instrument-, and line-level signals. You get two front-panel ¼-inch instrument inputs along with a 1 × 1 MIDI interface and two channels of S/PDIF digital I/O.
TAKE THE NIGHT SHIFT
Novation (novationmusic.com) has just released its latest control surface, which features Automap Universal 2.0 technology. The 9.4 × 5.4 × 1.1-inch Nocturn (Mac/Win, $149.99) has eight touch-sensitive rotary encoders, eight assignable buttons, and the Novation Speed Dial, which automatically links wherever your mouse hovers. Although designed primarily for home recordists, the unit's 45 mm crossfader and bright backlighting of all buttons and rotaries also make it ideal for DJ'ing in the dark. Automap Universal offers instant, intelligent mapping of Nocturn controls to plug-ins in any major DAW, but you can remap the encoders with a simple touch. A transparent GUI lets you see all parameter assignments.
OFF THE RADAR
After years of perfecting the Classic, Nyquist, and S-Nyquist converter cards used in its iZRadar multitrack recorder, iZTechnology (izcorp.com) has made its A/D/A converter technology available to DAW users. You can configure your made-to-order ADA unit with 8, 16, or 24 channels of 48, 92, or 196 kHz conversion, then expand the I/O ratios and channel counts later as needed. Eight-channel ADA units start at $7,500 with standard MADI digital I/O, and other I/O options are available. The units interface with all major DAWs, and touch-screen front-panel controls along with a graphical user interface make them easy to set up.
KRK ROKIT MONITORS
HELPS YOU ROKIT
The Generation 2 RoKit monitors ($299 to $499 per pair depending on model) represent a major improvement to KRK's (krksys.com) popular line of powered studio monitors. Models are available with 5-, 6-, or 8-inch glass aramid composite cone woofers, and all feature 1-inch neodymium soft-dome tweeters. The company's specs claim a peak SPL of 107 dB and 52 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response. The RoKit's radically curved edges provide a wider sweet spot by virtually eliminating diffraction, and front-firing ports reduce port turbulence. You get RCA, ¼-inch TRS (balanced and unbalanced), and XLR inputs, as well as an input-gain control with +6 to -30 dB range.
TC Electronic Nova Line
STOMP ON THIS
Two new effects grace the TC Electronic (tcelectronic.com) Nova line of guitar pedals. Modulator ($249) adds a triple chorus, a through-zero flanger, and upgraded vibrato to the chorus, phaser, flanger, and tremolo from TC's G-System. Dynamics ($249) combines a stomp compressor, a studio compressor, and a noise gate. Both units sport dual engines, allowing you to combine effects and reconfigure the signal path. Modulator offers tap tempo, LFO synchronization, and nine user presets. You can use Dynamics' two engines in series or have completely separate signals.
IZOTOPE RX PLUG-INS
AUDIO FIRST AID
IZotope (izotope.com) has added plug-in versions to its RX suite of audio-restoration software (Mac/Win, $279). The plug-ins, which come in all major formats, are included in the standalone package and are a free upgrade for existing RX and RX Advanced users. The suite, consisting of Denoiser, Declipper, Hum Removal, Declicker, Spectral Repair, and Advanced Spectrogram, is ideal for applications requiring spotless audio. In addition to removing unwelcome artifacts, the Spectral Repair algorithms will analyze and fill gaps in audio files. RX Advanced ($1,199) adds more-precise control and multiresolution processing to the mix. A fully functional ten-day trial version is available from the iZotope Web site.
IMAGE LINE SOFTWARE FL STUDIO 8
FRUIT FOR THOUGHT
FL Studio 8 (Win, $99 to $299) brings new plug-ins, an improved interface, a revised mixer, and a new sound engine to Image Line Software's (image-line.com) flagship DAW. You can design your own plug-ins with the FL-native version of SynthMaker. The Slicex drum loop slicing and rearrangement tool includes time-stretching and piano-roll sequencing. The Edison audio editor adds audio-to-MIDI analysis. A MIDI Score Logger remembers the last 3 minutes of MIDI input. The multilink controller function permanently remembers links you set up between FL plug-ins and your controllers. A mixer track system for creating visual effects rounds out the new features.
PEAVEY REVALVER MK III
ReValver MK III (Mac/Win, $249) from Peavey Electronics (peavey.com) takes amp modeling to a new level. You drag-and-drop to add and configure individual components — amps, preamps, stompbox effects, and so on. Then right-clicking on any component takes you under the hood to the circuit level, where you can swap tubes and calibrate their voltage parameters. Stompbox effects include chorus, distortion, wah, tremolo, compression, delay, octave doubling, and FFT-based convolution reverb into which you can load your own IR samples. Normal and HQ (with 64-bit oversampling) operation modes meet the needs of CPU-limited and hi-fi-minded users, respectively.
PSP AUDIOWARE MIXPACK2
FIXED IN THE MIX
PSP Audioware (pspaudioware.com) MixPack2 (Mac/Win, $199) updates five mastering and tracking utility plug-ins with new features and an upgraded 64-bit double-precision floating-point engine that supports sampling rates up to 192 kHz. MixBass2 and MixTreble2 add low-frequency punch, treble clarity, and sparkle to any kind of material. MixPressor2 is a full-featured sidechain compressor intended to complement MixSaturator2's analog-emulating algorithms. MixGate2 rounds out the bundle with high-precision noise-gating. The plug-ins, in AU, VST, and RTAS flavors, model the sound and features of analog circuits but not specific hardware units.
Multi-Platinum Pro Tools DVDs
Multi-Platinum Pro Tools' (multiplatinumprotools.com) new suite of five tutorials (Mac/Win, $9.95 to $74.95 each) and accompanying Pro Tools session files is available for download or on eight DVDs. More than 26 hours of HD QuickTime movies cover mixing; track editing; mastering; vocal editing, including comping; song construction; and final production. Each tutorial author boasts production credits with well-known artists and offers real-world tips and tricks. You can buy the tutorials individually or in various bundles, including the entire set for $219.95.
Course Technology PTR's Musician's Legal Companion
The Musician's Legal Companion, 2nd ed. ($26 [MSRP]), from Course Technology PTR (courseptr.com), will keep you out of court while sparing you the mind-numbing legalese of music law. It covers the four main music contracts — recording artist, songwriter, management, and performance — in plain English and guides you to a more cost-effective relationship with your attorney. The second edition expands coverage of topics such as independent producers, distribution and marketing, and media and merchandising agreements. Author Michael Aczon recounts many of the lessons he's learned during his 25-year career as a music-business lawyer.
Focal Press's Recording Studio Design
Recording Studio Design, 2nd ed. ($84.95 [MSRP]), by Philip Newell, shares the author's extensive knowledge and experience in the acoustics of recording-studio design. The hardcover book discusses basic principles, electroacoustics, and psychoacoustics in full detail, then updates the original edition to reflect current technology and practice. New and expanded topics include digital signal processing, design for soundtrack mixing and Foley room, control rooms, studio monitors, and surround sound. Newell, former technical director of Virgin Records, has designed more than 200 studios over his 30 years in the recording industry. More details are available from Focal Press (focalpress.com).
Samplebase's Phat Brass
Deep Sea Music: Phat Brass (Mac/Win, $29) is a collection of funky 4- and 8-bar brass-section and baritone-sax loops meant for mixing and matching. The collection is in SoundBlock format, requiring Satellite (free) or Satellite Pro ($149) for playback. These are big-band-style phrases with a 4/4 funk, pop, and soul feel. They come in four tempos and three keys (95 bpm in A, 118 and 130 bpm in E, and 126 bpm in D), but you can time-stretch and pitch-shift them within reasonable limits in Satellite. Visit samplebase.com to purchase and download these and other SoundBlocks.
Big Fish Audio's Jazz Drums
Big Fish Audio (bigfishaudio.com) has released Jazz Drums ($99.95), a collection of more than 1,000 drum loops at 21 tempos ranging from 50 to 200 bpm. Most tempos contain numerous loops of the same style but differing feels (half time, double time, polyrhythmic, and so on). Having several loops of each style makes it easy to create authentic, nonrepeating sections for your songs. This 24-bit, 44.1 kHz collection comes in Apple Loops, REX, RMX, and Acidized WAV formats on a 3.5 GB DVD, which also contains a demo version of Ableton Live 6.
Scriptorium (Mac/Win, $99) is a download collection of 35 scripts for Native Instruments Kontakt 2 and 3 from Soniccouture (soniccouture.com). The powerful Kontakt Script Processor (KSP) is used to build a variety of tools ranging from custom control panels to performance enhancers such as arpeggiators, step sequencers, and chord generators. Most factory and third-party Kontakt instruments employ scripts, and this is a collection of Soniccouture's best. You get 60 ready-built instruments from Soniccouture to illustrate how these scripts work. Four video tutorials and a detailed 35-page manual show you how to use them in your own Kontakt instruments.