Tascam and Antares Audio Technologies have collaborated on the TA-1VP ($449.99 MSRP), a hardware-based vocal processor that combines a microphone preamp, a compressor, a 2-band EQ, and a de-esser with real-time pitch correction and doubling in one rack space. The device features the Evo version of Auto-Tune as well as Antares'' mic and tube modeling. The TA-1VP has a front-panel XLR input, as well as balanced 1/4-inch analog I/O and MIDI and S/PDIF connections on the back panel.
Eventide has expanded its effects pedal line with Space ($579 MSRP; $499 street), which offers 12 types of reverb based on algorithms from the company''s Eclipse V4 and H8000FW hardware processors. The presets, which range from spring and hall programs to ModEchoVerb and Shimer, include spatial and delay effects. The stomp box has stereo 1/4-inch I/O and is controllable via an expression pedal or MIDI (including MIDI sync). A USB 2.0 port is included for installing upgrades.
BLUE MICROPHONES YETI PRO
The Blue Microphones Yeti Pro (Mac/Win; $249 MSRP) sets the bar high for USB mics by combing professional features with 24-bit, 192 kHz direct-to-computer recording. The mic''s triple-array capsule offers four pickup patterns— cardioid, figure-8, omnidirectional, and stereo. Zero-latency monitoring is available from the headphone jack, and the onboard controls include gain, output level, and mute. The Yeti Pro, which comes with a stereo XLR connector and breakout cable, can also be mounted on a conventional mic stand.
Styled after the classic RE20, the Electro-Voice RE320 ($499.95 MSRP) dynamic mic was created for vocals as well as amplified and acoustic instruments. The company''s Variable D technology keeps the frequency response of the cardioid element uniform when sources are off-axis. Although its nominal frequency response is 45Hz to 18kHz, the RE320 has a switchable EQ curve designed for kick drums that extends the low end to 30Hz.
Leave it to Pigtronix to come up with the most sought-after device of the year. Keymaster ($299 MSRP) begins with a pair of true-bypass effects loops, which you can run parallel and crossfade between manually or with a pedal. Add to that an active A/B/Y box and the ability to handle DI and reamping chores, and you''re set for stage or studio. The I/O is on XLR and balanced 1/4-inch jacks.
PSP AUDIOWARE PSP N2O
Going a step further than Nitro, the PSP Audioware PSP N2O (Mac/Win; $149, $99 upgrade) is a semi-modular multi-effects plug-in (RTAS/AU/VST) that includes a 16-row modulation matrix and 8 assignable controls. There are three types of filters—SVF, Biquad, and Moog, a virtual 4-pole lowpass filter—and a number of new effects, including pitch shifter, stereo delay, stereo enhancement, and formant filter. Other enhancements include latency-matching delay for the dry signal and a sidechain input.
DOEPFER DARK TIME
Doepfer designed the Dark Time ($675 red LEDS; $700 blue LEDS) 16-step analog sequencer to accompany its monophonic synth module, Dark Energy. It can run as two parallel 8-step sequencers—forward, backward, or randomized—with skip and jump settings for each step. Dark Time has three octave ranges and can be clocked internally or via MIDI or voltages. Standard MIDI I/O and a USB port are included. CV and gate connections are on 3.5mm jacks, making Dark Time compatible with Eurorack modular systems.
Ueberschall/Big Fish Audio Jazz Colors
Jazz Colors ($99) is a 3.8GB collection of 20 jazz constructions kits for Ueberschall Elastik Player 2 (free and included). Producers Uwe Kinast and Hakan TürkoÅNzü assembled a team of professional jazz musicians to record these sessions, which cover a variety of jazz idioms including swing, bebop, Latin, and fusion. Each kit contains four folders: Intro & Outro, A (main theme), B (alternative phrases), and C (variation on the main theme). Instrumentation includes drums (with separate kit-piece loops), electric and acoustic bass, guitar, piano, Fender Rhodes, Hammond B3, sax, trumpet, and flute (see Web Clip 1). The kits range from 50 bpm to 150 bpm in a variety of major and minor keys. Elastik Player 2 is a significant upgrade by developer Zplane Technologies. It features graphic XY control of parameter pairs such as volume and pan, pitch and formant, and filter cutoff and resonance. You can also adjust individual parameters graphically on a perslice basis. The loops are tasty, and creative loop-munging is great fun with this collection.
Tonehammer Montclarion Hall Piano
At an undisclosed location in the Montclair district of Oakland, California, a half-century-old A-frame chapel is home to an equally mysterious grand piano. The folks at Tonehammer describe this piano a "nothing special" but a perfect match for the remarkable acoustics of the room. They further note, "If you're looking for a clinical, tame, or perfectly clean piano, we're sorry." Montclarion Hall Piano ($99, download) is a sampler library for Native Instruments Kontakt 3.5 or later. It starts with three versions of the basic piano (light, medium, and high memory), miked from three perspectives: close, mid, and far. These instruments are augmented by six custom versions featuring damping, scraping, and sliding string techniques; hand percussion on the body of the instrument; and sound effects such as bench creaks, lid opening, sheet-music shuffling, and so on (see Web Clip 2). Seven additional presets use effects processing and convolution reverb. Custom scripted panel controls let you further sculpt the sounds to suit your project. The basic piano is charming, and the variety of sounds available from the preparations and effects is astounding.
Loopmasters Minimal Tech Vox, 5Pin Progressive Tech BeatsMinimal Tech Vox ($48) and 5Pin Progressive Tech Beats ($32) are extensive collections of dance and techno-oriented loops and one-shots. Although sold separately, they complement each other nicely (see Web Clip 3). Both are available as downloads from Loopmasters. Minimal Tech Vox delivers 337 female, male, and mixed vocal loops, 67 of which are heavily processed. Most major and minor keys are represented and tempos range from 126 to 128 bpm. Beyond that you'll find 401 vocal hits along with 121 bass, percussion, and synth loops. The 850MB collection includes eight sampler patches in Kontakt, Halion, NNXT, EXS24, and SFZ formats. An Apple Loops library is available separately. Progressive Tech Beats is the first in 5Pin Media's MIDI Focus series. It starts with 10 drum kits in Live Drum Rack, Kontakt, Battery, EXS24, Halion, SFZ, and MPC formats. Those are accompanied by MIDI loops broken down by song section—intros, verses, choruses, fills, and percussion. All loops come in full and no-kick versions. Being GM-Standard MIDI, the loops accommodate a wide range of tempos, are easy to customize, and fit all standard drum kits.
Cinematique Instruments Boxed Version
Cinematique Instruments specializes in sampling weird, odd, and rare instruments. The Boxed Version ($228) includes all their offerings through early 2010. It is available from Best Service, and it includes their proprietary sample player, Engine, developed by Yellow Tools. Unlike many free players, Engine gives you extensive freedom in editing and layering sounds. The 2GB Boxed Version library comprises 16 collections. Stringed instruments include a 36-string.