GROOVE ON THE MOVE
NATIVE INSTRUMENTS MASCHINE
Native Instruments (native-instruments.com) calls Maschine (Mac/Win, $699 [MSRP]) a next-generation groove production studio. This software-hardware combination offers the flexibility of a software plug-in with the intuitive work flow and standalone operation of a classic hardware drum machine. The hardware sports 16 backlit pads, 11 rotary encoders, 2 large LCDs, and a host of buttons, and it doubles as a MIDI control surface for your DAW. Real-time polyphonic-keyboard and drum-machine-style record modes make Maschine equally at home with tonal and percussive material. You also get a 5 GB sound library with Kore-style browser, integrated performance effects, recording on the fly, and live sampling and resampling.
YAMAHA POCKETRAK CX
Yamaha (yamahasynth.com) has just added to its line of pocket-size recorders. The Pocketrak CX ($499 [MSRP]) extends the technology of the earlier Pocketrak 2G to live-music recording with an upgraded stereo microphone system, a variety of recording resolutions in both PCM (WAV) and MP3 formats, and an onboard speaker. The unit accommodates a larger rechargeable battery for up to 40 hours of recording and playback. Memory is expandable using microSD cards from 512 MB to 4 GB (a 2 GB card is provided). You'll find musician-friendly features such as a peak limiter, variable-speed playback, and Cubase AI DAW software.
BETTER BEATS AND VOCALS
STEINBERG CUBASE 5
Steinberg (steinberg.net) has upgraded its flagship DAWs Cubase and Cubase Studio to version 5 (Mac/Win; Cubase 5, $599, Cubase Studio 5, $399 [both MSRP]). The emphasis this time around is on beat-creation tools and pitch editing for vocals. New rhythm-oriented tools include the LoopMash and Groove Agent One VST instrument plug-ins and Beat Designer for perfect groove alignment. On the vocal side, VariAudio lets you edit pitch directly in the Sample Editor, whereas the VST plug-in PitchCorrect incorporates Yamaha Pitch Fix technology to correct intonation on the fly. The convolution reverb REVerence rounds out the new plug-in offerings. You'll find myriad under-the-hood and user-interface enhancements, including an improved MediaBay, advanced batch export, and full Windows Vista 64-bit support.
BLUE MICROPHONES ICICLE
Pursuing its stated goal of keeping technology out of the way, Blue Microphones (bluemic.com) has released the USB mic interface Icicle (Mac/Win, $59.99 [MSRP]), which packs a mic preamp, 48V phantom power, and analog gain control into a cylindrical, in-line package. Cable one end to your computer's USB port and plug the XLR cable from a dynamic or condenser mic into the other, and you're ready to record. The unit supports plug-and-play driverless operation on both Mac and PC and offers 16-bit, 44.1 kHz conversion.
XSEED GAMES KORG DS-10
Xseed Games (xseedgames.com) has packed an enhanced version of Korg's classic MS-10 synth into the Nintendo DS handheld game player. The Korg DS-10 ($39.99 [MSRP]) features two dual-oscillator synth parts along with four drum parts. Onscreen synth controls let you program and patch the synth. You then use a graphical keyboard, emulated Kaoss pad, and 6-track step sequencer to play the synth. You can link as many as four units in Multiplayer mode (for real-time collaboration) or Data Exchange mode (for trading songs).
HOW SUITE IT IS
SONALKSIS MASTERING SUITE
Sonalksis (sonalksis.com) has released a new Mastering Suite (Mac/Win, $599) consisting of four plug-ins: MultiLimit, MaxLimit, StereoTools, and Ultimate-D. The smaller Mastering Tools bundle ($349.99) includes MaxLimit and StereoTools. The plug-ins, which come in VST, AU, DirectX, and RTAS formats (with Pro Tools TDM versions coming soon), are also available individually. MultiLimit is a 5-band EQ with linear-phase crossovers and dynamics functionality. MaxLimit is a limiter optimized for maximizing. Both feature analog-quality smoothing and K-System metering. StereoTools is for stereo-image manipulation and offers detailed visual monitoring. Ultimate-D uses proprietary algorithms for pro-quality dithering. You can download trial versions from the Sonalksis Web site.
LINE 6 POD STUDIO UX2
Line 6's (line6.com) new USB interface for recording guitarists, the POD Studio UX2 (Mac/Win, $269 [MSRP]), provides 16- or 24-bit, 44.1 or 48 kHz recording and playback. You get assignable VU metering, two ¼-inch guitar inputs (normal or pad), two balanced XLR inputs with mic preamps and phantom power, and S/PDIF digital output. The UX2 ships with RiffWorks T4, the 16-track Ableton Live Lite Line 6 Studio Edition, Propellerhead Reason Adapted, and the POD Farm AU, VST, and RTAS plug-in, which features 50 guitar and bass amp-and-cabinet combos, 35 stompbox effects, and 6 mic preamps.