What's New, January 2011 - EMusician

What's New, January 2011

New audio products profiled in the January 2011 issue of EM
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Far beyond a simple software update, Avid Pro Tools 9 offers the choice of working with the DAW in a $599 software-only, stand-alone configuration or with a choice of Avid or third-party (Core Audio and ASIO) audio interfaces, and with Avid Artist and Pro Series controllers. The new software replaces Pro Tools LE and spans upward to Pro Tools 9 HD TDM. All versions now include Automatic Delay Compensation and EuCon support. Other features include support for 96 mono or stereo voices in the new software-only version of Pro Tools (192 voices with Pro Tools HD systems), 256 internal buses, and 160 aux tracks. In a related announcement, Universal Audio (uaudio.com) is now an RTAS developer, and its UAD-2 platform is now compatible with Pro Tools 9 systems.

X1 is the next evolution of Cakewalk''s SONAR series DAW software for the PC platform. The $399 flagship SONAR X1 Producer bundle (also offered in a $199 SONAR X1 Studio and $99 SONAR X1 Essential versions) includes native 32-bit and 64-bit Windows applications, unlimited tracks, pro effects, world-class virtual instruments, and creative production tools. X1 has Skylight, a revamped user interface supporting multiple monitors and widescreen displays, and faster workflows, such as customizable Control Bars and MultiDock for tweaking the screen to user preferences. The new Pro Channel brings re-creations of classic FET channel and bus compressors, musical 6-band equalizers, and a variable Tube Saturation stage to every mix channel.

Solid State Logic''s Nucleus ($4,999) is a desktop I/O and controller with two banks of eight channel controls, center-section controls, 100mm moving faders, digital scribble strips, assignable V-Pots and soft-keys, user-customizable key-command mapping, and communication via HUI and MCU. Also featured is a SuperAnalogue output with separate +4/-10dB connections, a stereo USB record/playback path to DAW, two combo XLR mic/line/instrument inputs, and a Duende Native Essentials plug-in bundle.

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Tascam expands its recording products line with three new multichannel USB 2 interfaces. The $249 US-800 has eight inputs, six outs (including six XLR mic channels with phantom power), two headphone outs, and MIDI in/out. The $299 US-1800 (pictured) has 16 inputs, including eight XLR ins, six balanced line ins (two are switchable to instrument level), two digital ins, and four simultaneous outputs. The top-end US-2000 ($499) also features 16 inputs and four outs, but offers improved audio specs and a 100-LED meter bridge. All are bundled with Steinberg''s 48-track Cubase LE 5 software.

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Novation''s UltraNova ($699) combines a 37-key wavetable synthesizer, an audio interface, and MIDI controller with Novation''s Automap capabilities. Its single-part synth engine can employ wavetables alongside conventional subtractive synthesis, and it has three oscillators with Density and Detune controls, two ring modulators, a noise source, two filters, six envelopes, three LFOs, five assignable effects slots, and more. Among its built-in effects are distortion, chorus/phaser, delay, reverb, compression, and EQ; an onboard arpeggiator, vocoder (with mic), and patch librarian software round out the package.

IZotope''s Nectar ($299) is a plug-in processing suite with 11 vocal production effects, including breath control, compression, de-essing, doubler, EQ, noise gate, limiter, delay, reverb, saturation, and pitch correction. In addition, a manual note editor lets users capture a segment of audio into its editor, with piano-roll-style editing of pitch and timing. Onboard presets offer fast access to 110 style settings in 12 genres, such as ''60s Motown sound, the early ''90s grunge rock, radio-ready podcasting template, jazz vocals, or a modern pop sound, ranging from delicate improvements to highly produced robotic effects. It''s PC/Mac-compatible, supporting Pro Tools 7 or higher (RTAS/AudioSuite), VST, MAS, AU, and DirectX hosts.

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Arturia''s Analog Laboratory ($299) combines a dedicated MIDI controller keyboard with a collection of 3,500 tweakable preset sounds from its range of software emulations of classic synthesizers such as the Minimoog V, Moog Modular V, CS-80 V, ARP 2600 V, Prophet 5, Prophet VS, and Jupiter-8V. It can be used as a stand-alone app or as a plug-in within popular sequencers such as Cubase, Pro Tools, Live, Logic Audio, Digital Performer, and Cakewalk. Analog Laboratory is also offered as a $249 software-only version.

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Korg is now offering its Legacy Collection with software emulations of its most coveted synths—including the M1 Music Workstation, the Mono/Poly, Wavestation, Polysix, and MS-2—either separately or as a bundle. All can operate as stand-alone instruments or as VST/AU/RTAS plug-ins on PC or Mac hosts, and are $49.99 direct downloads from korguser.net/shop/software. Also offered is the $19.99 MDE-X Effects suite, or all six can be purchased for $199.99.

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Galbanum Synthesism 01

Galbanum founder Andrew Souter introduces a companion to his Abstraction Series of atonal percussion libraries with Synthesism 01, a collection of synthesized melodic and harmonic loops, and one-shots. The library is sold in three parts—Apple Loops, Acidized WAV loops, and single hits—at $39.95 for the first part and $14.95 for each additional part (your choice). The 1GB collection of 24-bit, 44.1kHz audio files comprises 768 loops and 768 single hits. The loops are split between 106 bpm and 128 bpm, and easily stretch to accommodate tempos from 90 bpm to 140 bpm. They are all in minor keys, distributed equally among C, D, F, G, and A.

The loops in Synthesism 01 are all two bars long. The hits are of various lengths and are grouped in batches of 32 samples. They are named after MIDI notes for easy auto-mapping in samplers such as Native Instruments Kontakt that support that. Tonal hits are often grouped on four consecutive keys with the same sound outlining a minor-seventh chord (C-Eb-G-Bb in the C-minor collections, for example). The material especially suits dance, urban, and electronic subgenres, and it mixes well with the percussive material in the Abstraction Series (see Web Clip 1).

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Wave Alchemy Deep Tech and Progressive
Wave Alchemy''s latest sample pack delivers 950GB of acoustic and electronic drum, synth bass, and combi (pitched and synthy) loops aimed at house, progressive, and tech producers. Deep Tech and Progressive (approximately $63, download) starts with 654 WAV and REX-format 24-bit, 44.1kHz loops. All loops are at 125, 127, or 130 bpm, and they easily mix and match. You''ll also find 592 drum and percussion hits and 62 sound effects, along with drum kits formatted for Battery, Kontakt, Reason NNXT, Halion, and EXS24. Those offer a perfect complement to Wave Alchemy''s Drum Tools 01 collection.

To fashion this collection, Wave Alchemy started with 11 classic and modern synths, including Future Retro XS, Roland TR-808 and TR-909, Waldorf Pulse, and others. Along with those are versions with analog sound-shaping using such gear as Empirical Labs Fatso, Sherman Filterbank2, and Thermionic Culture Vulture. The production quality is outstanding, and having both hits and loops lets you easily fashion your own material (see Web Clip 2). Ableton Live, Propellerhead Reason 4, Apple Loops, and Drums-only versions are available separately.

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The Loop Loft ReFill Bundle
Boston-based The Loop Loft has recently teamed up with Propellerhead Software to create ReFills that take advantage of the new features in Reason 5. The ReFill Bundle ($79.95, download) contains its first three releases: two percussion libraries and a comprehensive collection of sax loops. Each of the collections starts with an assortment of REX files, which are also cleverly arranged in Dr. Octo Rex and Kong presets. The Dr. Octo Rex versions let you quickly mix and match eight loops in the same key, tempo, and style. The Kong versions use Kong''s NurseRex module to assign cohesive fragments of the sax loops and single hits from the percussion loops to Kong''s 16 pads. This makes it a snap to create your own loops or to substitute slices in their loops—it''s much quicker than hand-editing REX-derived MIDI files.

Loop Loft''s first release, World Percussion Vol. 1 ($29), features ethnic hand percussion from West Africa, India, and Latin America. The Art of Brushes ($39) samples vintage drums and hand-hammered cymbals played exclusively with brushes. The grooves span jazz, funk, and hip-hop. The Bob Reynolds Collection ($39) culls loops with a soul and jazz flare from 13 studio sessions. The material in these three ReFills ranges in tempo from 60 bpm to 220 bpm, and the sax loops cover a variety of major and minor keys and chords. They may seem disparate, but these three collections work well together (see Web Clip 3).

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Koto Nation ($99, download) is the second meticulously sampled ethnic-instrument library from Impact Soundworks. Like its predecessor, Sitar Nation, Koto Nation is a 24-bit, 44.1kHz sampler library for Native Instruments Kontakt 4. It comprises more than 4,000 samples (8.8GB). Twenty-five instruments deliver a variety of traditional tonal and atonal articulations: glissandi, mutes, slides, tonal and atonal hits and scrapes, harmonics, mordents, and more, including a selection of traditional phrases for the Koto-challenged. Three instruments are represented—koto, bass koto, and shamisen—all performed by renowned instrumentalist Masayo Ishigure. All the Kontakt instruments are provided in close- and room-miked versions. The library is particularly well-suited for film scoring, anime, and ethnomusicology.