Novation (novationmusic.com) has released a dedicated button-matrix control surface developed in collaboration with Ableton Live 8. The Launchpad's ($199) 858-button matrix uses color-coded backlighting to reflect the state of Live's clip slots. It doubles as a mixer and sports two user modes for custom applications, including setups in Max for Live. You can use up to six Launchpads simultaneously. The 9.4550.7959.45-inch unit is USB-powered, and it will work with other software as an Automap-enabled MIDI device. The DVD-ROM contains Mac and PC installers, a Launchpad version of Live 8, and 1 GB of sample content from Loopmasters and Mike The Drummer (MTD).
MOTU DIGITAL PERFORMER 7
PEDAL, AMP AND CABINET
MOTU (motu.com) Digital Performer 7 (Mac, $499.99; $195 upgrade) steps up with a host of features bound to please guitarists. These include the amp emulator, Custom '59; the speaker cabinet modeler, Live Room | G; and a variety of modeled stompbox effects based on the classics. DP7 also features fast lead-sheet scoring, a streamlined workspace with flexible sidebar display incorporating a channel-strip option, and a bunch of workflow enhancements such as real-time crossfades, range-based automation and Wave64 support for audio files more than 4 GB. Third-party-integration enhancements include sidechain support for AU plug-ins and streamlined operation as a front end for Digidesign Pro Tools HD systems.
TC-HELICON VOICETONE SYNTH
VOICE WITH CHOICE
TC-Helicon (tc-helicon.com) packs a bevy of pop-vocal effects into its VoiceTone Synth ($300) stompbox. It gives you performance access to effects formerly limited to the studio. HardTune is a key-based stair-step pitch corrector with octave and formant shifting built in. It will follow an instrument input or let you pick the key on the fly. Its vocoder offers band options from high-resolution robotic voices to classic low-band-count analog emulations. Provide it with a separate carrier signal or let VoiceTone generate a synth part that tracks your voice. Transducer and filter effects round out the offerings, and you can run all effects simultaneously.
IT'S THE BUZZ
British plug-in developer Sonnox (sonnoxplugins.com) offers a suite of three new audio-restoration plug-ins in its famed Oxford Series. Each plug-in in Sonnox Restore (Mac/Win, $1,995) is provided in AU, VST and RTAS formats. They boast advanced features along with extensive visual and graphic feedback for intuitive operation. Oxford DeClicker has separate sections for eliminating pops, clicks and crackle. Three audition modes let you prelisten to detected events and exclude individual events from treatment. Oxford DeBuzzer removes hum and buzz using scalable high-resolution FFT and a choice of removal filters. Oxford DeNoiser specializes in noise removal with independent hiss and broadband noise correction. It offers a controllable noise profile and includes Warmth control to add sweetening.
FOCUSRITE OCTOPRE MKII
EIGHT IS ENOUGH
Focusrite (focusrite.com) expands its line of preamps featuring Saffire Pro technology with the 8-channel OctoPre MkII ($499.99). Its built-in 24-bit, 96kHz ADAT output makes it the perfect expander for Digidesign Pro Tools and other DAW systems, letting you use otherwise idle ADAT inputs. In a live environment, you can use its line outputs to route each mic pre to a separate mixer channel while using the ADAT output to feed a digital recorder. You get 10dB pads on each channel for easy drum recording. Direct inputs on the first two channels are ideal for guitar and bass. Each channel features five-LED metering and switchable phantom power, and the unit supports a variety of internal and external clocking solutions.
ANTARES HARMONY EFX
IN PERFECT HARMONY
Antares (antarestech.com) introduces a streamlined and affordable little brother to its Harmony Engine Evo vocal-harmony generator. Harmony EFX (Mac/Win, $99) is an iLok-protected AU, VST and RTAS effects plug-in for creating up to four harmony voices with independent panning and formant correction, using Antares Throat Modeling technology. Its several harmony-control modes range from fully automatic to designation by chords and intervals to real-time MIDI control. Eschew robotics with Harmony EFX's Humanize function and lock in harmony range and style with the Spread and Register controls. You can save 12 harmony setups for instant recall using MIDI or host automation.
GLYPH TECHNOLOGIES GT 062E
Glyph Technologies (glyphtech.com) releases the next generation of its workhorse GT 062 RAID storage system. The GT 062E (starting at $369 for 1TB) adds an eSATA port for speeds of up to 230 MB/s in RAID 0 mode. It incorporates the Oxford 936 chip to achieve huge capacities: up to 3 TB with 7,200 rpm drives and 4 TB with 5,900 rpm drives. The unit, which also supports RAID 1 (redundancy) and Spanning (one large volume) modes, is desktop or rackmountable (one or two drives in one rackspace). Improved Glyph Manager 4 software constantly monitors drive health status in the background and reports case temperature, fan speed, drive errors and rebuild failures.
Vir2 Instruments Mojo
Vir2 Instruments (vir2.com) delivers a sampled horn section for pop, funk, jazz and big-band arrangements in Mojo (Mac/Win, $499.95 MSRP). This Native Instruments Kontakt-based sampler library comes with the free Kontakt Player, and you can load it directly into Kontakt 3.5 or later. Advanced scripting and custom control-panel design give you instant access to multiple articulations and up to 10 players in each instance of any of the 12 core wind and brass instruments. Load up 12 channels, and you have it all. When your Tower of Power chops come up short, browse the 1,600 riffs in the library. Mojo is available in the United States from Big Fish Audio (bigfishaudio.com).
Native Instruments Evolve Mutations
Native Instruments (native-instruments.com) has teamed up with the sound-design folks at Heavocity (heavocity.com) to release the next generation in Heavocity's Evolve series. Evolve Mutations (Mac/Win, $119) is a collection of Kontakt instruments that emphasizes the dramatic and is aimed at movie, TV and game composers. Its 275 instruments include pitched sounds, rhythms and ambiences across four categories: Rhythmic Suites, Percussive Kits, Stings & Transitions and Tonality & FX. The 2GB download library ships with the free Kontakt Player, but you can use it as well as create your own mutations in Kontakt version 3 or later.
Tonehammer (tonehammer.com) has set out to prove that bigger is not always better with the release of its latest Kontakt sampler library. Mini (Mac/Win, $79) is a 764MB library (482MB download) comprising sounds made by an assortment of tiny objects from abacus to Zippo — 53 in all. The sounds tend to be click-like with an occasional wheeze, bang and thump, and they emphasize frequencies between 3 kHz and 5 kHz in the audio spectrum. In addition to being useful as sound effects, these samples make excellent sound-design fodder for sample editors and effects processors. They're well suited for electronic, glitch and IDM tracks.
Groove3 FlexTime Explained
If you're an Apple Logic Pro 9 user, you're well aware of Flex Time, which informs a mind-boggling array of new audio-manipulation features. Groove3 (groove3.com) aims to unboggle your mind with its new video series FlexTime Explained ($14.99 30-day online, $34.99 download, $39.99 DVD) by Apple Certified Logic Pro and EM contributor Eli Krantzberg. The series starts with an introduction to Flex Time and the Flex Tool. That's followed by detailed videos on working with Flex markers for slicing, quantizing and track synchronization. The series is rounded out with creative rhythmic and sound-munging tips and tricks.
Backbeat Books Les Paul Guitar Book
With the passing of legendary guitarist Les Paul at age 94, attention has focused on the many innovations he brought to the instrument's electrification and design. In Backbeat Books' (backbeatbooks.com) third edition of The Les Paul Guitar Book, ($24.99) guitar historian Tony Bacon takes you on a beautifully illustrated tour of the 50-year evolution of Gibson Les Paul guitars, including the '52 Goldtops, Sunbursts, double-cutaway Juniors, P-90s and humbuckers. Along with color photos of most makes and models, you'll find chronological documentation of variations, signature editions and finishes.
Digital Music Doctor Ableton Live 8 Know It All
Digital Music Doctor (digitalmusicdoctor.com) has augmented its line of DAW tutorials with Ableton Live 8 Know It All ($34.95, DVD or download). Eighteen videos averaging 10 minutes in length take you through all aspects of using Live. The “What's New” section gets you up and running with the latest features. A two-part “Grand Tour” provides an overview of Live's approach to sequencing, clip triggering, mixing, automation, and virtual-instrument and effects management. Individual videos then focus on each of those functions. The series is rounded out with two segments on live performance: “Session View” and “DJ Features.”