What's New, September 2009

GONE TO POT DAVE SMITH INSTRUMENTS PROPHET '08 PE Dave Smith Instruments (davesmithinstruments.com) honors numerous user requests for a Prophet with that
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Dave Smith Instruments (davesmithinstruments.com) honors numerous user requests for a Prophet with that old-school feel by releasing the Prophet '08 Pot Edition ($2,099; $299 factory conversion). The functionality of the pot and non-pot versions are identical, but the Pot Edition replaces 38 of the Prophet's 52 rotary encoders with 270-degree pots. You choose between three pot modes: Relative (the pot picks up from the current parameter value), Pass-Thru (nothing happens until the pot passes through the current value) and Jump (the parameter immediately jumps to the pot's value). There's nothing quite like the positive feedback of a pot.



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Livid Instruments (lividinstruments.com) has released the second generation of its Ohm64 ($599) MIDI control surface. Its backlit 64-button clip bank, eight faders with mute/solo buttons, 16 rotary encoders and DJ-style crossfader are all custom programmable to send and, in the case of backlit controls, to receive MIDI. Livid provides editing software to make setup easy and supports open-source software tools with a growing library of custom Max/MSP patches. The unit is USB-powered and class-compliant, and it sports MIDI I/O for controlling external hardware devices.



Five12 (five12.com) releases Numerology 2.1 (Mac, $119), a significant update to its modular, multitrack step-sequencing software. The big news is the new chord sequencer, which lets you specify chords by type, scale degree and inversion. Other improvements include support for Audio Units plug-ins in ReWire slave mode and real-time step-sequence recording from a MIDI keyboard. Numerology sports modules optimized for leads, drums, arpeggiation, and the display and processing CV (control voltage) signals for use within Numerology or for conversion to MIDI.



German modular-synth manufacturer Doepfer (doepfer.de) released a stand-alone version of its A111-5 Mini-Synthesizer Voice module. Dark Energy ($399) boasts fully analog audio and control circuitry, along with a digital USB and MIDI interface to communicate with the outside world. Daisy-chain several of them for polyphonic operation. You get a voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO), filter (VCF) and amplifier (VCA), an ADSR envelope generator and two bi-waveform LFOs. Use the VCF as a pitch-tracking sine-wave oscillator and modulate it with the VCO to create playable FM sounds.



Blue Cat Audio (bluecataudio.com) Dynamics (Win and Macs running Leopard, $159) is a multipurpose AU, VST and DXi plug-in offering compression, limiting, gating, expansion and wave-shaping distortion. Its two-thresholds system, VCA/opto and peak/RMS controls, and output-stage brick-wall limiter give you total control. Advanced stereo options include mid/side conversion, stereo linking and single-channel processing. Use the plug-in as a real-time sidechain compressor or use its MIDI CC and automation output to trigger other plug-ins.



Opt in or out of family outings this summer with the seven-pound, 6-watt, battery-powered Line 6 (line6.com) Micro Spider ($149) portable guitar amp. With five amp models — Clean, Crunch, Metal, Insane and Acoustic — full EQ and two effects chosen from phaser, chorus/flange, tremolo, sweep echo, tape echo and reverb, you can hide out in your headphones or make your presence obvious. The Micro Spider includes a chromatic tuner with note-name display, AC adaptor and carrying strap.



Synth designer Rob Papen (robpapen.com) is at it again with his latest Audio Units, VST and RTAS virtual instrument plug-in, SubBoomBass (Mac/Win, $119). SubBoomBass uses Papen's phat-sounding synth engine combined with tuned-percussion samples to put the feet on your music. A built-in groove sequencer and two effects slots let you create complete parts directly within the instrument. With more than 800 factory presets, SubBoomBass is equally at home in hip-hop, dub-step, house, garage and grime.


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Big Fish Audio''s BollyHood Beats
BollyHood Beats ($99.95) takes up where other ethnic loop and sampler libraries leave off by featuring authentic Indian instruments performed in contemporary Western styles—in this case, hip-hop, R&B and pop. The featured instruments are duff (bass drum), dholak (tom-like), manjira (finger cymbal), shaker and tabla. Construction kits range in tempo from 57 to 110 bpm, and include individual instrument loops along with partial and full mixes. The loops were performed by noted Indian percussionist Sanket Athale. They are provided in ACIDized WAV, REX/RMX and Apple Loops formats. Audition and purchase the library from the Big Fish Audio Website.

Impact Soundworks'' Groove Bias
In creating Groove Bias ($99), Impact Soundworks aspired to deliver the “funkiest, phattest acoustic drum library around.” Inspired by classic records of the ''50s, ''60s and ''70s, the company sampled three vintage kits and a set of percussion instruments using beat-up mics, analog gear and tape machines. The resulting 4GB library—edited in Pro Tools at 24-bit, 96kHz resolution—is available in Native Instruments Kontakt 2 and 3, Apple Logic EXS-24, Steinberg Halion and Propellerhead NN-XT sampler formats. Of the three kits, Superfreak is a ''60s Ludwig Silver Comet kit, Tape is a hybrid kit starting with a ''30s Ludwig Pioneer Black Beauty snare, and Herodotus, by John Gump, mimics Cream drummer Ginger Baker''s kit. Listen and buy at impactsoundworks.com.

Bitword''s Oxide 128
Bitword''s Oxide 128 ($59) is a collection of 128 bpm construction kits designed to have a corrosive impact on your music. The 24-bit, 44.1kHz library comes in Apple Loops, ACIDized WAV and REX-2 formats, as well as kits for Native Instruments Kontakt 2 and Battery 3, FXpansion Guru and Ableton Live Drum Racks. The 423 loops in the library are ideal for house, IDM and electronica, and will comfortably stretch up or down 20 bpm. The loops are augmented by 895 individual hits, making it easy to build custom kits to meet your needs. Oxide 128 is also available as a ReFill for Propellerhead Reason ($59; $10 crossgrade). Buy or check out the audio examples at bitword.com.