What's New, February 2010

MOTU ULTRALITE-MK3 HYBRID ANY WAY YOU WANT IT MOTU (motu.com) releases its first hybrid FireWire and USB 2 audio interface. The UltraLite-mk3 Hybrid ($549.99)
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MOTU (motu.com) releases its first hybrid FireWire and USB 2 audio interface. The UltraLite-mk3 Hybrid ($549.99) comes in a half-rack-sized desktop or rackmount enclosure. For I/O, you get two mic/instrument inputs, eight analog inputs, 10 analog outputs, stereo headphones out and stereo S/PDIF. The included CueMix FX (Mac/Win) software provides graphical mixing and EQ, along with full-screen real-time FFT, spectrogram and oscilloscope display. The UltraLite-mk3 is equally at home onstage; after programming the onboard mixer from your computer, it functions as a stand-alone mixer with all mixing and effects parameters adjustable from the front panel. Built-in no-latency hardware DSP effects include MOTU's Classic Reverb, 7-band parametric EQ and dual-mode compression (conventional or leveling). In your studio, use it with your DAW or the included AudioDesk workstation.



Blue Microphones (bluemic.com) releases the first THX-certified microphone. The Yeti ($149.99) USB condenser mic builds on the technology featured in Blue's Snowball. It adds an amplified headphone output with volume control for zero-latency monitoring, a mic-gain control and a Mute button. Most importantly, its triple-capsule array accommodates four pattern modes: omni, cardioid, stereo and bidirectional. The Yeti features driverless installation on both Mac and PC, and it comes with an adjustable desktop stand. It is designed for diverse applications including recording podcasts and interviews and capturing your band's instruments and vocals onstage or in the studio.



Celemony (celemony.com) has released the long-awaited upgrade of Melodyne (Mac/Win, $349) editor with what promises to be jaw-dropping new technology, Direct Note Access (DNA). The program comes in stand-alone and AU, VST and RTAS plug-in versions, and it offers iLok activation or challenge/response authorization on two computers. The big news, of course, is the ability to unravel polyphonic material so as to adjust the pitch, amplitude, timing, formants and various nuances of the constituent parts. The stand-alone version can also export a MIDI file matching a polyphonic part, which is useful for scoring and part doubling. As with previous versions, you also get modes for reshaping rhythmic and monophonic material. Beyond part repair and modification, DNA offers unusual and fascinating sound-design possibilities (see “Sound Design Workshop” on p. 56 of this issue).



The much-anticipated release of Cycling '74 (cycling74.com) Max/MSP/Jitter for Ableton (ableton.com) Live has arrived. Max for Live (Mac/Win; $299, $99 for Max/MSP/Jitter 5 users) harnesses the power of Max/MSP programming for creating virtual instruments and audio and MIDI effects for Live 8.1. In Live, the plug-ins work and look similar to Live's native plug-ins, but with an expanded set of user-interface elements. Clicking on a plug-in's Edit button opens Max 5, in which you can analyze and modify the plug-in as well as build new instruments and effects from scratch. Max for Live comes with an extensive API (application programming interface) letting you manage many aspects of Live's internal operation along with ancillary hardware such as the Akai APC40 and Novation Launchpad. See Jim Aikin's full review on p. 60 of this issue.



If you have better things to do with your time than ride the faders for your lead and background vocal tracks, Waves (waves.com) has the answer. Vocal Rider (Mac/Win; $400 native, $800 TDM) takes the drudgery out of both riding the fader and drawing automation. You set the target range for the vocals relative to the rest of the mix (directed to Vocal Rider's sidechain input), and then Vocal Rider takes over, monitoring and adjusting the vocal track level as needed. Additional vocal- and music-sensitivity controls let you fine-tune Vocal Rider's impact. Unlike compression, Vocal Rider adds no coloring to the track; it rides the vocal fader and nothing more.



M-Audio's (m-audio.com) redesigned Oxygen Series of bus-powered USB MIDI keyboards automatically maps its sliders, knobs and transport controls to many popular DAWs using the new DirectLink protocol. The keyboards come in 25, 49 and 61-key models ($119, $139 and $169, respectively). In addition to full-sized velocity-sensitive keys with four velocity curves, you get mod and pitch wheels, eight assignable knobs, nine assignable sliders (one on the Oxygen 25) and dedicated transport, program-select, and track increment and decrement buttons. Weights range from 3.8 pounds to 7.5 pounds and widths from 16.2 inches to 35.7 inches. All units are 3.7 inches high and 9.4 inches deep. The rear panel provides a USB 2 port, a ¼-inch sustain-pedal input and an on/off switch.



The latest addition to FabFilter's (fabfilter.com) line of professional mixing and mastering plug-ins is a graphic EQ promising ease of use and uncompromising quality. Pro-Q (Mac/Win, $199) gives you as many as 24 bands with five choices of curve: bell, low- and high-shelf, and low- and high-cut. It sports both a zero-latency mode and a linear-phase mode with adjustable latency. You can set each band to affect either or both channels and choose between Left/Right and Mid/Side operation. You create and adjust bands directly in the filter graphic or use MIDI-assignable knobs for the selected band's frequency, gain and Q. A built-in frequency analyzer lets you know where you are, both pre- and post-EQ. Pro-Q comes in AU, VST, VST3 and RTAS formats, and you'll find a variety of plug-in bundles available on the FabFilter Website.



Electro-Harmonix's (ehx.com) newest stompbox, the V256 vocoder ($217.50), puts full-featured vocoding at your toe tips. The V256 offers 8-band to 256-band vocoding. Nine modes with footswitch-selectable presets give instant access to a variety of vocoder techniques: robotic voices; monophonic, major and minor drones; vocal transposition; pitch follower relative to an external instrument; and pitch correction. You can use the built-in MIDI-controlled synthesizer in place of an external carrier signal. Connectivity includes a balanced XLR mic input feeding a built-in mic preamp with phantom power and gain control, a ¼-inch unbalanced instrument input, MIDI input, balanced XLR effects output and ¼-inch unbalanced instrument output.

Sound Advice

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Propellerhead Software Soul School
Propellerhead Software's (propellerheads.se) latest ReFill, Soul School ($99, download), brings vintage soul licks to Reason and Record. The collection focuses on three centers of soul music in the '60s and '70s: Detroit, Memphis and Cincinnati. All the material was culled from drums, bass, guitar and horn ensembles recorded live without overdubs. Individual parts were then converted to REX loops to allow pitch and time manipulation in Reason's Dr.Rex and NN-XT instruments, as well as on Record audio tracks. You get four grooves from each school in tempos ranging from 80 bpm to 145 bpm. Each groove is played in three major or minor keys: Bb, D and F. You'll find additional percussion loops and instrument patches befitting most grooves along with a separate Soul Keys ReFill of keyboard instrument patches for the free Reason Factory Sound Bank and Electromechanical libraries and for the premium Reason Pianos and Abbey Roads Keyboards libraries (see Web Clip 1).

Native Instruments Sonic Fiction
Native Instruments (native-instruments.com) continues its series of Kore sound libraries with Sonic Fiction ($79, download) from sound designer and avid science-fiction fan Jeremiah Savage. This 1.6GB library comprises 100 Kore instruments fashioned from natural, industrial and handcrafted mechanical sounds. The recorded sounds are combined and processed in Native Instruments Absynth 5 and Kontakt 4 and then reassembled for Kore to take full advantage of its two-dimensional morphing engine. The result is a flexible collection of otherworldly sounds suitable for beds, ambiences, tuned and untuned percussion and sound effects (see Web Clip 2). You can make full use of the library in either the free Kore Player or the full version of Kore 2.

Fixed Noise Rhythm Objekt
Fixed Noise (fixednoise.com) delivers a 4GB collection of sampled instruments especially suited for electro, R&B and urban productions. Designed by Detroit's Jimmy Edgar, Rhythm Objekt (Mac/Win, $199.99) runs on the included Native Instruments Kontakt Player 3 as well as in the full Kontakt 3. Its instruments fall into four categories. Chords & Melodic emphasizes minor chords and dark, pulsating pads. Drum Kits offers a cross-section of electronic and intimate lounge drum sounds to augment your drum tracks. Experimental takes it to the next level with wordless vocals, electronic sequences and highly processed sound effects. Loops gives you a variety of rhythmic and tonal content upon which to build, and a collection of Kontakt multis suggests nine ways to put it all together (see Web Clip 3).

Toontrack Music Electronic EZS
The latest release from Toontrack (toontrack.com) resulted from a collaboration between sound designers Richard Devine and Josh Kay and Toontrack EZX library producers Brad Bowden and Mattias Eklund. Electronic EZX ($89, download or DVD) brings you 33 kits filled with the classic, circuit-bent and resampled electronic drum sounds that lead designer Devine is especially noted for. Additional menus are filled with a large selection of popular electronic kicks and snares. The material is suitable for just about any electronic genre, including house, techno, experimental and glitch. For customization and added variation, you'll find extensive use of parallel effects processing. Electronic EZX is compatible with Toontrack's EZDrummer (Mac/Win, $179) and Superior Drummer 2 (Mac/Win, $349).

Get Smart

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Hal Leonard The Studio Musician's Handbook
In Hal Leonard's (halleonard.com) The Studio Musician's Handbook ($34.99), authors Bobby Owsinski and bassist Paul Ill unveil the inner workings of a major studio recording session. They start by telling you how to get there: who hires, what you get paid and what skills and gear you need. They then cover session etiquette and how to deliver your best. The book includes individual session guides for guitar, bass, drums, vocals, keys, horns and strings. Interviews with influential session players and a DVD taking you inside a world-class session round out the package.

ASK Video Cubase 5 Tutorial DVD Level 2
Cubase 5 Tutorial DVD Level 2 ($49.99) is the second in a four-part series from ASK Video (askvideo.com) covering Steinberg Cubase 5 from beginning to end. With 10 years of experience as a Steinberg Canada product specialist and clinician, author Steve Kostrey knows what to explain and how to make it clear. Level 2 comprises 44 videos totaling more than three hours of instruction. Topics include the Key, Drum, Audio and Score editors; mixing, routing and automation; and media access using the Media Bay and Pool. Special attention is given to getting the most from VariAudio. Although designed primarily for Cubase 5, the series is also relevant for Nuendo and Cubase versions LE, AI, SX3 and 4.

Music Business Solutions Indie Business Power
Director of career development at Berklee College of Music Peter Spellman reveals the opportunities and pitfalls of running your own music business in Indie Business Power: A Step-By-Step Guide for 21st Century Music Entrepreneurs ($19.95 e-book, $29.95 print) from his company, Music Business Solutions (mbsolutions.com). The material is divided into two sections on arranging and conducting your business. Sixteen chapters cover such diverse topics as recognizing opportunities, marketing, spotting trends and finding resources. You'll learn how to create a business plan, get financing, build a team and manage your company to success. The book concludes with a 36-page resource directory.