What's New, June 2008

ACCESS MUSIC VIRUS TI SNOW TIME TO CHILL The much-anticipated Virus TI Snow ($1,350 [MSRP]) is out. This tabletop addition to Access Music's (access-music.de)
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Time to Chill

The much-anticipated Virus TI Snow ($1,350 [MSRP]) is out. This tabletop addition to Access Music's (access-music.de) Virus TI series sports 50 voices and 4 multitimbral parts and is fully compatible with all TI-series patches. It takes just 4 button pushes to call up any of its 1,024 patches and 64 Multis. You use the compact control panel or Virus Control software plug-in to create and store patches, and the panel's Easy Edit mode lets you access essential controls. The back panel houses stereo-audio and MIDI inputs and outputs, and a USB port provides three additional stereo outputs to Virus Control.

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SSL Sound

Solid State Logic (solid-state-logic.com) has followed the recent release of the Duende Mini with this equivalent of the 19-inch Classic Duende in PCIe card format (Mac/Win, $1,495 [MSRP]). The high-bandwidth, half-length card provides 32 channels of Duende plug-in processing at sampling rates up to 96 kHz. You can install two cards or pair one card with a Duende Mini or Classic for 64 channels. The package includes two plug-ins: EQ and Dynamics Channel, which delivers multiband EQ and sidechain compression, and Duende Stereo Bus Compressor, which emulates the classic SSL Master Bus Compressor.

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A Top Performer

MOTU (motu.com) has released Digital Performer 6 (Mac, $795), which features a complete user-interface redesign and a host of new capabilities. For film composers, there's XML file interchange with Apple Final Cut Pro: edit in FCP, export XML edits report, import into DP 6, and conform the score. Full-featured comping lets you record multiple takes, slice across all takes, select the desired slices, and crossfade between them. The new GUI sports a vertically resizable tracklist, unlimited window tabs in any cell, and floating or tabbed inspector palettes. New effects include ProVerb convolution reverb and Masterworks Leveler, which models the Teletronix LA-2A. Many under-the-hood enhancements improve overall performance.

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In Peak Form

BIAS (bias-inc.com) has upgraded its flagship audio-editing software to Peak Pro 6 (Mac, $499; XT version, $999). A redesigned user interface, advanced playlist features, Perpetual Looper DSP, dither-cloning audio technology, and enhanced audio-editing tools figure prominently among the new features. You can author and upload Podcasts as RSS feeds directly from Peak Pro 6. It also exports playlists or audio documents directly to iTunes. The accompanying Peak Pro Production Pack DVD includes audio-restoration tools SoundSoap LE and Reveal LE, Ambrosia WireTap Pro for capturing system audio, SFX Machine LT, audio loops from PowerFX, and much more.

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Mighty Mix

Allen & Heath's (allen-heath.com) new ZED series of USB-equipped small-format mixers combines desktop convenience with rugged construction: vertically mounted PCB boards, rotaries nutted down from the top, and 100mm Alps faders. The ZED-24 ($699) has 16 mono and 4 stereo channel strips, 2 additional stereo inputs, 10 outputs along with 4 aux sends, and a USB effects-send and -return bus for external recording of the main mix or for plug-in effects processing using the signal from any of the aux sends. Each channel has a 3-band, swept-mid EQ and a newly designed 2-stage mic pre for carefully controlled gain. The unit comes bundled with Cakewalk Sonar LE.

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The Soft Kore

Native Instruments (native-instruments.com) Kore Player (Mac/Win, free) is a standalone and plug-in virtual instrument for playing Kore Soundpacks — collections of presets from a cross-section of NI virtual instruments. The download includes 300 MB of sample content to get you started, and additional Kore Soundpacks range in price from $59 to $79. Kore Player incorporates the same integrated sound engines used in the premium software-hardware workstation Kore 2. It is not capable of playing sounds from single NI instruments, but it does include Kore 2's sound morphing, automation, and host-recall features.

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Synful Pleasures

The upgraded Synful (synful.com) Orchestra 2.4.4 (Mac/Win, $479; upgrade, free) starts with a powerful new synthesis engine that supports a variety of full-string playing modes, such as pizzicato, col legno, and sul ponticello, using Synful's proprietary Reconstructive Phrase Modeling technology. Keyswitching gives you quick play-mode access from MIDI keyboards of all sizes, and the program now offers unrestricted MIDI controller mapping. Synful Orchestra is Vista/XP 64 and Mac OS X Leopard compatible, and it supports Digidesign Pro Tools (RTAS) on the Mac, Sibelius 5 on both platforms, and the latest versions of most DAWs.

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Focal Press' Mixing Audio

Mixing Audio: Concepts, Practices and Tools ($49.95) aims to demystify the arcane art of mixing. Drawing on 18 years of mixing and teaching experience, author Roey Izhaki starts with the basic concepts of mixing, then moves on to a detailed analysis of the tools of the trade: monitoring and metering, software and hardware mixing, processing (EQ, compression, reverb, and more-exotic DSP), and automation. He then takes you through four sample mixes — rock, hip-hop/urban, techno, and drum 'n' bass — with extensive audio examples on the included DVD. Get the complete details from Focal Press (focalpress.com).

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Course PTR's Reason 4 Power!

Reason 4 Power! The Comprehensive Guide ($39.95) is an extensive update of Michael Prager's original Reason guide that covers the many new features in Reason 4. It starts with a brief introduction to computer-music basics, then proceeds to creating your first Reason song. Individual chapters follow on the sequencer, each of Reason's modules, automation, synchronization, and connecting Reason with ReWire to all the major DAWs. Appendixes on ReBirth, ReCycle, and ReFills round out the topics. Some chapters include examples that you can download from the Course PTR Web site (courseptr.com).

Celemony Melodyn Plugin 2

Celemony Software has announced a major advance in pitch-correction software. Direct Note Access (DNA), which will debut in the fall of 2008 in Melodyne Plugin 2, is revolutionary technology that detects individual notes within polyphonic parts and lets you manipulate those notes just as you can now for monophonic parts in Melodyne. That lets you edit the harmonies within piano or guitar or vocal backing tracks, for example.

Once you've loaded a polyphonic part into Melodyne Plugin 2, the part is graphically exploded into the familiar Melodyne Blobs, but now there is a separate Blob for each note within the polyphonic part. You can adjust a note's pitch, pitch anomalies (vibrato, drift, and so on), time position, duration, volume envelope, and formant spectrum. If you have a mixed part such as a combined piano and guitar track, you can still use DNA, but it will not separate the piano from the guitar — if they play the same note, it will appear as one piano-guitar Blob. Note detection on highly processed parts is less reliable, although it may lead to creative results.

Beyond part manipulation, DNA brings a new dimension to scoring and MIDI doubling. Melodyne will export the DNA results as a polyphonic MIDI file as well as output the MIDI data in real time for controlling virtual instruments and effects. Melodyne Plugin 2 will retail for $399 with a $129 upgrade path for Melodyne Plugin users and a free upgrade for buyers after March 12, 2008. DNA technology will appear eventually in the multitrack versions of Melodyne (Cre8 and Studio), but no release date has been set. You can find more information at the Celemony Web site (celemony.com).

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TrackTeam Audio's Drum. Droid

If you're tired of the same old sampled drum-machine sounds, have a listen to TrackTeam Audio (trackteamaudio.com) drum.droid (Mac/Win, $29.99). This Live Pack for Ableton Live 7 starts with more than 500 original synthesized, drum-style samples; you won't find any TR-808, SDS, or other drum-machine samples, nor will you find sampled acoustic drums. TrackTeam has used these samples to assemble 40 Drum Racks with 16 pads each, intelligently mapped Macro controls, complementary insert and send effects, and over 200 Live Clips.

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Loopmasters' Harley & Muscle: Deep House Producer

Harley & Muscle: Deep House Producer (Mac/Win, $69.95) is a 2 GB collection of deep house loops, riffs, and hits in WAV, REX, and Apple Loop formats, along with multisampled instruments for most popular samplers. With tempos ranging from 115 to 125 bpm, you'll find Rhodes chords, loops, and sampler Multis; drum loops and progressions; lead and bass lines; and lush string progressions. Italian producers Harley and Muscle have been prominent in house music since 1985. You can order the DVD from Big Fish Audio (bigfishaudio.com).

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PowerFX's Gabi Masso Oriental String Ensemble Sessions

PowerFX (powerfx.com), in collaboration with Swedish composer Gabi Masso, has released a 3-volume library of string-section loops called Gabi Masso Oriental String Ensemble Sessions. The ensemble, consisting of 11 violins, 3 violas, and cello, is made up of top Turkish session players and was recorded in 24-bit, 44.1 kHz stereo. The sessions contain 420 loops divided into 3 downloadable CD volumes ($49 each, $199 bundled): B at 90 bpm, Db at 96 bpm, and D at 125 bpm. The sessions were performed to traditional Middle Eastern rhythms as well as hip-hop and house backing tracks, so they fit well in a contemporary framework while keeping their indigenous passion, power, and drama.

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