Dave Smith Instruments Mopho Keyboard
Dave Smith Instruments'' Mopho desktop synth module ($799) is now available as a full-sized, 32-note, semi-weighted keyboard version with velocity and aftertouch. This all-analog powerhouse features two oscillators, selectable 2/4-pole lowpass filter, two sub-octave generators, feedback, three envelope generators, four LFOs, onboard 16x4 step sequencer, USB interfacing, expression pedal/CV input, and MIDI I/O. It can process external audio through its filter and VCA sections. A free Mac/PC software editor is also offered.
Designed with famed guitar guru/author Andy Babiuk, the Whirlwind ByrdBox ($199) is a unique compressor/EQ pedal that provides the famous bell-like 12-string guitar sound and sustain heard on countless hit records. Usable with 6- or 12-string guitars, as well as bass, ByrdBox lets users dial in their own treble/bass settings or use the built-in Chime Boost preset to make solos jump out loud and clear.
FXpansion BFD Eco
Based on the award-winning BFD2 engine, BFD Eco ($99) from FXpansion is a streamlined software instrument for acoustic drums. Small in price but long on features, BFD Eco comes with a selection of the best BFD2 sounds (recorded at London''s AIR Studios using high-end mics, a vintage Neve console, and state-of-the-art Prism converters) and is expandable with FXpansion and third-party add-ons. Some 40 presets provide great drum sounds in a hurry or dig in with 15 onboard effects (EQ, filtering, dynamics, drive, reverb, and more) and a groove section with 1,500 patterns, advanced humanization, and customizable keymaps to create your own personal sound. It''s Mac- and PC-compatible, and it offers RTAS, AU, and VST support.
Best Service Galaxy II K4
The Best Service Galaxy II ($350) grand piano collection has been upgraded to Galaxy II K4, which includes the new Kontakt Player 4, a new user interface, new features, better performance, and additional samples. Version K4 has three grand pianos: the Vienna Grand (a Bösendorfer Imperial), the 1929 German Baby Grand (a Vintage Blüthner baby grand), and the Galaxy Steinway in stereo and 5.1 surround—more than 6,000 24-bit samples in all. The Mac/PC software can be used standalone or with VST, AU, RTAS, and DXi hosts.
Native Instruments Session Strings
Native Instruments Session Strings ($119) is a versatile, virtual string ensemble for Kontakt 4 and the free Kontakt Player. The collection comprises four violins, three violas, two celli, and two double basses, captured by sampling expert Thomas Koritke, using rare 18th- and 19th-century instruments, played by musicians from top European orchestras. An Animator function can transform incoming notes into virtual staccato/spiccato/pizzicato chords and arpeggios, and a studio-grade convolution reverb provides realistic room ambiences. Also included are Motown versions, using special sonic treatment to recreate the distinctive vintage string sound of legendary ''60s/''70s soul recordings.
Roland Lucina AX-09 Shoulder Synth
The Lucina AX-09 ($599) from Roland is an ultralight synth designed for playing either in a standing position using a shoulder strap or in a traditional tabletop orientation. The unit has 37 velocity-sensitive keys, 128-voice polyphony, 150 onboard sounds ranging from synth leads to violin sounds, and 12 user-selected sounds can be assigned to a Favorites bank for instant access. Adding to the fun is a modulation bar and touch controller, and hands-free altering or morphing sounds by simply waving fingers over the D-Beam control. The Lucina AX-09 is offered in black sparkle or pearl white, and it runs on AC or up to four hours on eight NiMH AA batteries.
Wave Alchemy Drum Machines 02
Offering more than 1,500 expertly recorded electronic drum samples, Drum Machines 02 ($37) from Wave Alchemy delves into the circuitry of the legendary TR-808 and TR-909, and lesser-known Drum Fire DF-2000 and MFB Schlagzwerg drum machines. Drum samples are captured using a unique, high-end signal chain to bring in the depth and character of the original devices, with further processing, editing, and sample layering that transforms these classic machines into the present for a “modern take on a classic sound.” A taster pack of 170 samples from the collection is offered as a free download from Wave Alchemy''s website.
The handheld H1 ($99) recorder from Zoom weighs just more than 2 ounces and has a newly designed user interface. The H1 records up to 24-bit/96kHz, and offers a track marker, auto-record, low-cut filter, and level and volume controls—all with onboard buttons and no menus. The H1 uses microSDHC memory cards (up to 32GB) for recording, providing more than 50 hours of recording time. A single AA battery provides up to 10 hours of continuous operation. An optional accessory kit ($24.99) includes a windscreen, AC adapter, USB cable, adjustable tripod stand, carry pouch, and mic clip adapter.
PowerFX Fairlight CMI ReFills
PowerFX has teamed up with Propellerhead Reason guru/sound designer Patrick Fridh to bring the classic Fairlight CMI to your desktop. The 644MB Fairlight CMI Legacy ReFill for Reason ($69, download) begins with samples recorded from a mint-condition Fairlight IIx and its original 33-disk sample library. The ReFill expands on the original sounds, which are provided as both sample data and NN-XT sampler instruments. Additional Combinator patches make liberal use of Reason''s complement of effects (see Web Clip 1).
The library is topped off with Redrum patches sampled from classic drum machines by Roland, Korg, Linn, and Sequential Circuits, along with ''80s-style synth patches for Reason synths Malström, Subtractor, and Thor. Free updates in the Fairlight CMI Supremacy Refill regularly add new material.
One of the first sampling synthesizers, the Fairlight CMI (Computer Musical Instrument) was designed in 1979 by Peter Vogel and Kim Ryrie. It was used by many popular groups of the ''80s, including Vince Clarke, Peter Gabriel, and Art of Noise. Vogel, now head of Fairlight Instruments and working on a new CMI Series, has officially approved the ReFill.
Sample Logic/Ableton Acoustix
Acoustix ($99, 760MB download) is one of the first releases in the Ableton Partner series of sound libraries such for Ableton DAWs as Live 8, Suite 8, and Live Intro. Described by developer Sample Logic as a toolkit of morphed acoustic instruments, percussives, and atmospheric soundscapes, the library leans toward the cinematic, but you''ll find lots here to add drama to tracks and performances in any genre (see Web Clip 2). Many of the 63 percussion audio loops have a decidedly ethnic flavor, and each is sliced into a matching Drum rack with a MIDI loop to replicate the original audio loop. The 207 Instrument racks are classified as atmospheres, ensembles, melodics, and percussives. Fourteen Live sets, called construction kits, combine several instruments and clips as convenient starting points for composition or performance. All instruments and clips have accompanying effects racks with pre-mapped Macro knobs for easy automation and MIDI control. You''ll find demos on both the Ableton and Sample Logic websites.
Sony Creative Software Continental Drift: World Music Loops & Samples
Continental Drift: World Music Loops & Samples ($69.95, CD-ROM) is an assemblage of studio-recorded African, Arabic, Asian, Celtic, East Indian, Native American, and Ukrainian Gypsy percussion, pitched instruments, and vocals. Veteran sample-library producer Paul Vnuk recorded all the samples in his Wisconsin studio and laboriously processed them with hardware emulations of vintage console gear. The instruments were recorded separately, but the loops have an ensemble feel, owing to consistent miking and processing. The loops and one-shots were assembled and tweaked in Sony Acid Pro and Sound Forge, making it easy to adapt them to varying tempos and keys. Acid Pro users will find five song construction kits fashioned from loops in the library, and the individual stems are collected into song folders to get you started in other DAWs. Although from diverse cultures, the 469 (969MB) 24-bit, 44.1kHz loops and samples mix and match well (see Web Clip 3). You''ll find demo songs and a few loops to try out at the Sony Creative Software website.
Ueberschall Score Elements
Score Elements ($99.95, DVD) is the inaugural module in Uberschall''s new scoring elements series for its Elastik Player virtual instrument (Mac/Win, standalone/AU/VST/RTAS, included). The 2.5GB library of 792 loops and one-shot samples is divided into five categories: Accents, Ambient Beds, Impacts, Transitions, and Whooshes. Together they provide a diverse array of material for film, video, and game scoring; sound effects; and audio logos. Use ambient beds to set the mood, combine impacts and accents into a percussion track, and add transitions and whooshes for dramatic effect (see Web Clip 4). Score them using the multi-output, tempo-flexing Elastik Player plug-in in your DAW to create or augment your scoring project. Get more information from the Ueberschall website and purchase the library from Big Fish Audio.