BUNDLE OF JOY
Native Instruments (native-instruments.com) has just released Komplete 6 (Mac/Win; $559 MSRP, $169 update). The bundle comprises all of Native Instruments' software instruments and effects — Battery 3, FM8, Massive and Reaktor 5 — as well as such important upgrades as Absynth 5, Kontakt 4 and Guitar Rig 4 Pro. Akoustik Piano, B4 II and Pro-53 have been discontinued, and Elektrik Piano is now included in Komplete 6 as a Kontakt 4 instrument. The 60GB collection includes more than 7,000 presets accessible with Native Instruments' categorized browser technology. For a limited time, owners of any version of Kontakt or Reaktor can upgrade to Komplete 6 for $339.
CAKEWALK SONAR 8.5 PRODUCER
MORE PING FOR THE BUCK
Cakewalk (cakewalk.com) SONAR 8.5 Producer (Win; $499 MSRP, $99 upgrade) brings a host of new features to the table. The cell-based Matrix view provides live triggering of audio and MIDI clips for performance and nonlinear arranging. AudioSnap 2 time-shifting and audio-quantizing technology offers enhanced performance and improved workflow. Session Drummer 3 sports a new look and plenty of new kits and patterns. You'll find new vocal and percussion effects-processor strips, powerful step sequencing with Step Sequencer 2 and an arpeggiator integrated into each track. Under-the-hood improvements include hot-swapping of devices without restarting, REX file support and BitBridge XR technology for hosting 32-bit plugins in 64-bit environments. And SONAR 8.5 Producer is Windows 7-ready.
DAVE SMITH INSTRUMENTS TETRA
Things just got better for fans of the Dave Smith Instruments sound (davesmith instruments.com). Tetra ($799.99) offers four Mophos in a slightly larger box for less than twice Mopho's price. Configure Tetra as a four-voice poly synth (like a mini-Prophet) or as a multitimbral synth with four separate outputs. You can link Tetras to use them as voice expanders for Prophets or other Tetras. All parameters are accessible with the four assignable rotary encoders, and dedicated knobs serve common performance parameters. The unit ships with software editors for Mac OS and Windows.
FISHMAN AURA SPECTRUM DI
SPIFF UP YOUR IMAGE
Bring that studio-miked sound to your guitar pickups with Fishman's (fishman.com) Aura Acoustic Imaging technology. The Aura Spectrum DI ($329.99) holds 128 preloaded images of acoustic instruments, along with 16 user-configurable images that you download with the included Aura Image Gallery software. The ruggedly constructed all-metal unit is powered with a 9-volt battery or (optional) adapter, and it features balanced XLR DI, mono ¼-inch I/O, 24-bit conversion and 32-bit processing. Extras include 3-band EQ, one-knob compression, anti-feedback suppression, automatic ground lift and a built-in chromatic tuner.
In developing Toraverb (Mac/Win, $50 approximate), plug-in designer D16 (d16.pl) ventured outside the box, eschewing space emulation (spring, room, hall, plate, etc.) in favor of sound design. The AU and VST effect offers high-quality diffusing algorithms using allpass filters to minimize flutter-echo effects that often muddy the reverb tail. Toraverb's reflections algorithms employ crosstalk between stereo channels for enhanced spatial realism. Independent parametric EQs for early and late reflections give you precise control of the reverb character. You can further sculpt the reverb tail with the modulation controls for the diffusion filters. For a different flavor, check out the demo at d16.pl.
BANG FOR YOUR BUCK
Sonivox (sonivoxmi.com) SoundStage (Mac/Win, $99) brings more than 200 instruments, sound effects and drum kits to your desktop. The content, programmed by company founder Jennifer Hruska, roughly follows the Roland extended General MIDI specification (GM GS) to give you a complete music production library in an affordable and CPU-efficient package. The 1GB download delivers VST, AU, RTAS and stand-alone versions of SoundStage in Sonivox's proprietary DVI format. Its basic set of synth controls is augmented by four effects — reverb, EQ, chorus and delay — and you can save your own tweaks to expand on the factory sound set.
AVANT ELECTRONICS AVANTONE BV-1
PASS THE BOTTLE
The first of Avant Electronics' (avantelectronics.com) new high-end mic series, the Avantone BV-1 Bottle Mic ($999 MSRP) complements the company's popular CV-12. The BV-1 is designed for vocals (lead and background), as well as acoustic and electric instruments across the sonic spectrum. It features premium components including a hand-selected 6072A tube and a custom-designed 3-micron, 34mm dual capsule. The vintage-style power supply supports nine selectable patterns, and the mic has separate -10dB and 80Hz roll-off switches. The BV-1 was vetted through exhaustive real-world testing by industry professionals. The package includes a detachable pop filter, a 15-foot Gotham GAC-7 cable and Switchcraft nickel XLR connectors.