What's New, November 2008

Read about new audio products in the November 2008 issue of EM
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Universal Audio (uaudio.com) has upped the ante in DSP accelerator cards with its new UAD-2 series (Mac/Win, from $499). You can mix and match up to four of the Solo, Duo, and Quad PCIe cards, which respectively offer 2.5, 5, and 10 times the DSP power of the original UAD-1. The new cards are powered by Analog Devices 21369 SHARC floating-point processors in single and multichip configurations. Universal Audio's existing DSP plug-in partners — Neve, Roland, SPL, Valley People, and Empirical Labs — will be joined by new partners, including Harrison, Moog, and Little Labs, to continue the high level of authenticity of UAD-2 plug-ins.



Toontrack (toontrack.com) Superior Drummer 2.0 (Mac/Win, $349, upgrades from $129) puts a full-featured drum sampler on your desktop and fills it with a 60 GB (compressed to 20 GB on disk) multimiked drum kit, The New York Studio Legacy Series, vol. 1. The package includes EZplayer Pro for auditioning and multitracking MIDI files. EZplayer Pro supports mapping for a variety of popular drum samplers as well as direct through for playing generic virtual instruments. Both plug-ins come in AU, VST, and RTAS formats for Mac and PC. The bundle also includes Toontrack Solo for standalone operation.



Tascam (tascam.com) has launched the GT-R1 portable recorder ($349) for guitar and bass players. The unit expands on the DR-1 recorder with features from Tascam's guitar-trainers series to make it an ideal songwriters' sketch pad. You can record MP3 or 24-bit, 44.1 kHz WAV files using the built-in condenser mics or the ¼-inch instrument input. Sketch pad and training features include overdub, speed change without affecting pitch, and guitar and bass cancellation. The package includes a 1 GB SD card, a rechargeable battery, and a USB 2.0 connection for file transfer and charging.



PG Music (pgmusic.com) RealBand 2008.5 (Win, $129 [MSRP]) combines the most popular features from PowerTracks Pro Audio and Band-in-a-Box for a complete sequencing solution. Start with a blank slate or a Band-in-a-Box arrangement, add your own tracks (including RealTracks and RealDrums live instrument parts), and dial in DirectX and VST plug-in effects to complete your song. Notation, intelligent automatic arrangements, the Audio Chord wizard, support for all audio and MIDI file formats, and a 48-track MIDI/audio mixer with 16 effects buses per track complete the scene.



Mackie (mackie.com) has entered the field of quick-access, easy-to-use mixing with the release of the U.420 ($229.99) and U.420d ($279.99). These 4-channel mixers feature 24-bit, 96 kHz FireWire I/O along with standard ¼-inch TRS jacks and RCA phono inputs. The U.420 offers four stereo line inputs, and you can switch channel 1 to direct input for guitar and bass. The U.420d adds two mic preamps and 48V phantom power. All channel strips have 3-band, full-kill EQ. Both units come with Mackie Tracktion software. Add a pair of Mackie MR5 monitors, and you have a full-performance project studio for right around $500.



VirSyn Software Synthesizer (virsyn.de) takes a fresh approach to pitch-shifting with its AU, VST, and RTAS plug-in Prism (Mac/Win, approximately $295). Prism divides the signal into 27 separate frequency bands, then applies frequency shift (single-sideband modulation) by a different amount to each band. That preserves transients much better than granular- or FFT-based pitch-shifting, while shifting narrow frequency bands preserves harmonic relationships better than broadband frequency shifting. Prism offers lots of creative potential. For example, you could repitch the kick drum in a drum track to fit better in the mix without affecting instruments, such as cymbals, in other frequency ranges.



Hercules (hercules.com/us) has released the DJ Console MK2 (Mac/Win, $249.99 [MSRP]), a cost-effective entry point for aspiring DJs. The 2.5-pound desktop unit controls two virtual decks with large jog wheels, pitch and volume controls, three EQ buttons, and a crossfade slider. In addition to digital USB inputs supporting most popular formats, you get two line/phono inputs for mixing analog signals, a mic input with talk-over function, and a headphone output for cueing. The unit includes Virtual DJ 3 DJ Console Edition software for Mac and PC.


The MIT Press's Game Sound

Game Sound ($28) from the MIT Press (mitpress.mit.edu) offers both practical and theoretical discussions on creating audio for games. The book's two underlying themes — why game audio is different and technological constraints — are interwoven in coverage of the history of game audio, the difficulties posed by nonlinearity and interactivity, and the production process for a contemporary game at a modern, large game company. Author Karen Collins is Canada Research Chair at the Canadian Center of Arts and Technology, University of Waterloo.

Course Technology PTR's Artists on Recording Techniques

Curious about what techniques your favorite artists use to capture their music? Jeff Touzeau has been asking that question in his “Music, Etc.” column in Pro Sound News. Artists on Recording Techniques ($29.99) from Course Technology PTR (courseptr.com) presents, for the first time, the full, unabridged interviews and related bonus material. Everything from vocals to guitar to drums in a variety of styles and genres is covered. Well-known pop and rock artists such as Roger Waters (Pink Floyd), Nick Rhodes (Duran Duran), and Tony Bennett share their insights into every aspect of the creative process.

Hal Leonard's The Business of Audio Engineering

You've mastered the mixing desk and know your way around the studio. Now what? In The Business of Audio Engineering ($17.69), Dave Hampton (davehampton.com) leads you through the real-world jungle of professional engineering, showing you how to establish yourself in the business and make a real living. You learn how to attract and keep clients, book studio time, handle problem artists, deal with producers and labels, and manage those crises you can't prevent. When school's out and it's time to move on, you'll find this book at your local bookstore or online from Music Dispatch (musicdispatch.com).

Sound Advice

Soniccouture (Bowed) Piano

Start with a 9-foot Baldwin grand piano, some nylon fishing line, and bow rosin and add a dollop of imagination and lots of patience, and you have Soniccouture's latest offering (soniccouture.com). (Bowed) Piano (Mac/Win, $99 download, $104 disc) is a 1.6 GB collection of multisampled instruments for Native Instruments Kontakt 2 and 3 and Apple Logic EXS24. In addition to the long, sustained notes played by drawing the nylon through the piano strings, you get short, staccato articulations produced by tongue depressors faced with horsehair. This very playable instrument comes in dry and effects-processed incarnations.

TrackTeam Audio Drum.Crate

TrackTeam Audio (trackteamaudio.com) expands its library of Live Packs for Ableton Live 7 with the vinyl-inspired Drum.Crate (Mac/Win, $39.99). It starts with more than 1,100 one-shot samples of dry and processed electronic and acoustic percussion. Those are organized in 30 Drum Racks with associated professionally recorded MIDI clips. You also get a collection of MIDI effects called the Articulator, which contains more than 60 MIDI Effect Racks for creating authentic articulations such as flams, release strokes, roll, fills, echos, and so on.

Fixed Noise Kreate by Speedy J

Kreate by Speedy J (Mac/Win, $199.99) is a 4 GB collection of more than 500 instruments for Native Instruments Kontakt Player 2 (included). This techno-, trance-, and dance-inspired library from Fixed Noise (fixednoise.com) by Jochem Paap, aka Speedy J, has something for most electronic genres. The instruments are spread across six categories. Kits contains mostly processed percussion hits. FX is a broad assortment of ambiences and otherworldly effects. Loops contains fully composed dance loops, whereas Konstrukt consists of the elements of those loops. In the Sequences bin, you'll find rhythmic as well as abstract sequenced material. Tones rounds out the collection with basses and tuned percussion.