Nashville Cats Revisited: Report from Summer NAMM 2004

From July 23rd through the 25th, Nashville played host to NAMM Summer Session ''04, the final NAMM show planned in Tennessee''s Music City. It was held in the Nashville Convention Center and adjoining Gaylord Entertainment Center, located in the heart of the historic downtown area, just as it had been for 12 consecutive years.

From July 23rd through the 25th, Nashville played host to NAMM Summer Session ''04, the final NAMM show planned in Tennessee''s Music City. It was held in the Nashville Convention Center and adjoining Gaylord Entertainment Center, located in the heart of the historic downtown area, just as it had been for 12 consecutive years. Nashville, with its variety of music-oriented nightlife and dozens of recording studios, is well suited for a convention of more than 23,000 musicians. Next year the summer edition of the twice-annual musical products trade show is moving to Indianapolis, to be followed in 2006 by Austin, Texas.

As usual, the expansive indoor exhibit area was brimming with exhibits from literally hundreds of music hardware and software companies, from mom-and-pop operations to some of the biggest names in the business. Anything that music stores might want to stock—guitars, keyboards, drums, band and orchestral instruments, books and magazines, software, and accessories of every description—was on display to members of the National Association of Music Merchandisers and to qualifying visitors. Some companies filled entire rooms in the outlying lobbies and mezzanines. The sports arena, which had also hosted exhibits during previous shows, was empty and unused this time around. Special concerts, a huge public drum circle, and a Sunday gospel pancake breakfast were only a few of the annual traditions that took place away from the show floor.

Throughout the main hall, loud music competed with even louder music from across the aisle, as company reps demonstrated their wares and potential buyers tried out new products. The thunderous cacophony often made verbal communication difficult, and by the end of the weekend many voices had given out. Primedia Business Magazines & Media, publishers of Electronic Musician, Mix, Remix, and Sound & Video Contractor, had a well-attended booth smack in the middle of all the action.

In addition to official NAMM exhibiters, two other classifications of companies were showing their wares: suitcasers and outboarders, both of whom are discouraged by the NAMM organization. Suitcasers are company reps who carry their product literature in their briefcases and roam the show floor in search of interested parties. Outboarders are companies who set up product demonstrations in their hotel suites rather than incur the expense of a NAMM booth. I encountered a few of each, some of whom are mentioned in this report, but don''t expect me to name any names.

Soft and Virtual

Image placeholder title

Compared with its January counterpart, Summer NAMM is a hardware-oriented affair. Nonetheless, several computer programs made their way onto the show floor. Most software vendors were grouped together in one area of the main hall. M-Audio had the largest exhibit in that section, with ongoing demonstrations of the most talked-about product of the show, Ableton Live 4 (Mac/Win, $499; upgrades $119 for a download, $149 boxed). In response to user requests, a host of updated features include MIDI sequencing, support for virtual instruments, and drag-and-drop sampling. Live''s new functions elevate it to the realm of a full-blown DAW while still retaining its hallmark ease of use. MIDI tracks can play external MIDI instruments, instrument plug-ins, or software instruments over ReWire. Other enhancements include Standard MIDI File import, pattern overdubbing, swing and groove control, sample reverse, and new channel-routing options.

Image placeholder title

M-Audio also showed several new titles in the ProSessions ($49.95 each) series of sound libraries in REX2, AIFF, and Acidized WAV formats. Volumes 32 through 41 encompass everything from Dope Beatz and Dance Static to Abstract World Fusion II and Spooky Ghost. Additional new titles include two new Apple Loops compilations, The Best of ProSessions, Volumes 1 and 2 ($99.95 each). Also announced were 11 volumes of Reason Refill collections called ProSessions Premium Instruments ($99.95 each).

Image placeholder title

Arturia journeyed across the Atlantic to preview Moog Modular V 2.0 (Mac/Win $329), a revision that offers more modules, more realistic response, and new user interface features. In addition to a scrollable view that lets you see the entire control panel, MMV 2.0 will have free-running oscillators, 200 new presets, and improved CPU performance. New modules include the 1630 Bode frequency shifter, 928 sample and hold, 912 envelope follower, and three others. This free upgrade should be available in late August.

E-mu Systems showed its PowerFX hardware-accelerated VST plug-ins (Win), a free upgrade for owners of all E-mu audio cards and the Emulator X sampler. PowerFX presets are identical to the ones found in the PatchMix DSP Effects Palette. Effects include a new reverb, seven delay algorithms, and a plug-in that compensates for system latency.

BIAS Software demonstrated Peak 4.1 and SoundSoap Pro, which are now bundled together as Peak 4.1 Mastering & Restoration Edition (Mac, $899). Also included is SuperFreq, a 10-band mastering EQ plug-in. Altogether, the bundle offers a savings of $278 over separate purchases.

Discrete Drums was showing off its new EarthBeat Series Three ($199), a collection of eight CDs that feature performances of African, Eastern, Latin, and other instruments from around the world. A three-disc edition ($99) is available, too. Also on hand was Discrete Percussion: the Eric Darken Collection ($99), a unique three-disc set of looped percussion instruments and found sounds that include a curtain rod, a toilet seat, and a laundry basket.

Image placeholder title

Italian software developer IK Multimedia showed several new products. PC users will be especially pleased to hear about AmpliTube Live ($99) for Windows, a program that lets you use your computer as a virtual guitar amp and effects rack, without the need for a plug-in host. You might also be interested in SampleTank 2 Free (Mac/Win), a no-cost version of the virtual ROMpler plug-in that plays downloadable content specifically encoded for it. IK Multimedia plans to offer free sounds and lessons for ST2 Free every month. Each of the 21 virtual sound modules in the Expansion Tank series (Mac/Win, $99 each, three for $249) includes SampleTank LE, but SampleTank 2 users won''t need the LE version. Three Expansion Tank modules are completely new, and all 21 take advantage of SampleTank 2''s updated features.

Korg previewed the update to its virtual synth studio bundle, Legacy Collection 1.1 (Mac/Win, $645, free upgrade), set for release in late August. In addition to features recently available in version 1.0.1, version 1.1 will provide new sounds for all synths, new wave sequencing functions in Wavestation, more external modulation routings in MS-20 and MS-20FX, and other welcome enhancements.

Moog Music announced a new software editor (Mac/Win, $79) for the Minimoog Voyager. You can use it to precisely manipulate parameters in Edit mode, create random patches, and organize banks of presets. Loading a preset lets you view parameters onscreen to analyze how it was created. Changes you make in the editor are instantly reflected in the synth. Moog also announced a PianoBar software update ($35), a library of PianoBar presets called the Jazz Card ($44), and a training DVD called Beginning and Advanced Theremin Techniques ($49).

PG Music rolled out Band-in-a-Box 12 for Mac OS X ($88). Featuring a 32-bit Carbonized PPC engine, version 12 offers support for odd meters, up to 1,024 Soloists, a harmony voice that plays the roots of chords, drum patterns that play count-ins, and lots of other new goodies. Upgrades are $49 from Band-in-a-Box 11 and $59 from prior versions.

The big news from Tascam was Vienna Giga Symphony (Win), a 24-bit sample collection that will be bundled for free with GigaStudio 3 Orchestra. Comprising more than 4 GB, the library was created by Vienna Symphonic Library and features every orchestral instrument family.

Image placeholder title

In the Waves booth, NAMM attendees got a look at Musicians Bundle II (Mac/Win, $200), a cost-effective collection of five native processing plug-ins: Renaissance Compressor, Renaissance Equalizer, Renaissance Vox, Super Tap, and Doubler. Waves also demontrated V5 Mac/Win), the latest update to its entire product line. V5 provides HTDM support for Pro Tools TDM 6.4, Mac GUI acceleration, updated control surface mapping, tempo sync for four plug-ins, MIDI instrument functionality for Morphoder, and lots of other desirable new features. In addition, Waves showed the second edition of its interactive CD course, Production-Mixing-Mastering with Waves (Mac/Win, $80), written by Anthony Egizii.

Electronic Musical Instruments

Although Summer NAMM is widely regarded as a show for guitarists and drummers, a handful of new MIDI controllers and interfaces, synthesizers, groove machines, and other instruments managed to grab our attention. Alesis had two new USB/MIDI keyboard controllers, the Photon 25 ($TBA) and Photon X25 ($TBA). Both are 25-note, Velocity-sensitive devices with assignable knobs and storage for 20 user configurations. Whereas the Photon 25 has an x-y joystick and a 4-character LED, the X25 has pitch-bend and mod wheels, an AXYZ controller dome, and an LCD. The X25 also operates as a 24-bit stereo audio interface.

Edirol was showing off its new PCR-M1 ($310), a 25-key USB/MIDI keyboard only 1.125 inches high, powered through USB or by battery. Despite its ultra-thin form factor, the PCR-M1 supplies enough assignable knobs, buttons, and jacks to control 27 MIDI destinations. It''s slated to ship in November.

As usual, the Korg booth took up an entire room in the outer hall. The newest Korg instrument on hand was the ES1mkII ($599), a second edition of the Electribe-S Rhythm Production Sampler. Featuring an enhanced waveform ROM and a new case design, the ES1mkII has new sounds and effects, 95 seconds of sampling time, and storage for 100 samples. Though it doesn''t quite qualify as a musical instrument, the Korg Krossfour ($900) had quite an impact on anyone who saw it. The Krossfour is a 4-channel video mixer and switcher that brings real-time capabilities to video performance artists. It allows you to mix and crossfade between video sources with DJ-style controls and offers Luma-key and Chroma-key compositing effects.

In a booth far from heavy foot traffic, Rocky Mountain Music was exhibiting the Limex Guitar Midi ($750), a MIDI interface designed specifically for acoustic, electric, and bass guitars. Limex, an Austrian company best known for MIDI accordion interfaces, has not only developed an interface with a 2-by-3-inch control panel that attaches to your guitar, but a wireless option ($1,200) is also available. The control panel attaches to a wireless transmitter you can wear on your belt like a cell phone. I was pretty impressed when I saw it transmitting MIDI data wirelessly and flawlessly as the inventor played a solo.

Image placeholder title

Native Instruments was in Nashville with all its wonderful software. Live demonstrations of Guitar Rig ($499) were the big attraction, but the newest product was a hardware front end for the B4 virtual organ. The B4D Controller ($449) supplies nine mechanical drawbars, two knobs, and nearly two-dozen buttons to re-create the experience of playing a real Hammond organ. The B4D even has jacks for MIDI I/O, a sustain pedal, and two footswitches.

Image placeholder title

Always a large presence at NAMM, Roland demonstrated several new products out in the first-floor mezzanine. The Boss DR-880 ($549) is a rhythm machine with 20 velocity-sensitive pads, 1,000 patterns, 440 drum and percussion sounds, and 40 bass sounds. But wait, there''s more: it''s also a processor for electric guitar and bass, loaded with COSM effects and amp modeling. And for bass players with electronic inclinations, the GK-3B ($199) is a new bass pickup that connects to the V-Bass, GR-20, and other MIDI bass rigs. Another new product from Roland, the Juno-D ($699) resurrects a classic synthesizer family with modern capabilities. This 61-note MIDI keyboard offers 64-note polyphony, 640 patches, 20 rhythm sets, 63 effects, one-finger chord memory, and a phrase/arpeggio generator.

Image placeholder title

Music Industries showed three new Fatar controllers that don''t yet have estimated ship dates or prices. The Studiologic VMK-149 ($TBA) is a 49-key hammer-action keyboard with Velocity, Aftertouch, a pitch and modulation joystick, three pedal inputs, and lots of programmable knobs, buttons, and sliders. The VMK-149 combines all the advantages of a compact controller with the feel of a fine piano—very nice. The VMK-188 ($TBA) offers the same features in an 88-key model. Also on display was a prototype of the VMK-61B ($TBA), a virtual-organ controller with drawbars, knobs, buttons, and a waterfall action that feels a lot like that of a real B-3. Its most remarkable innovation, though, is a recessed area sized perfectly for a notebook computer.

For the ultimate in keyboard stands, Solid Stand unveiled the Freedom Stand ($1,295), a 35-pound hydraulic stand for a single keyboard. A footpedal lets you adjust its height without having to remove the keyboard, easily transitioning from a standing to a sitting position, even while playing. Optional accessories include a second tier ($89), a mic boom ($79), and a music stand ($27), all of which mount onto the Freedom Stand.

Image placeholder title

Prolific hardware manufacturer Terratec announced its first guitar-to-MIDI controller since acquiring Blue Chip, the Axon AX 100 ($1,295). The AX 100 lets you select timbres using optical pick-position recognition. It also features an early-impulse-recognition system that improves its response time, according to the manufacturer. It also offers 128 programmable presets, an arpeggiator, a built-in tuner, and four programmable footswitch connections. It works with electric and acoustic guitars and basses with steel or nylon strings and should be shipping around the middle of August. Another new TerraTec product is the MIDI Hubble ($79), a little black box combining a 32-channel MIDI interface with a hub that adds three USB 1.1 ports to your computer setup. All ins and outs have status LEDs, and an optional power source supplies current to connected USB devices.

Image placeholder title

Without a doubt, the most unusual instrument on the show floor was the Williams Keytar V-1 ($999), also known as the Keyboard Guitar. This 7-pound instrument has 12 full-size piano keys mounted on a strap-on aluminum body with 12 chromatically tuned strings. Sporting a soundhole and an EMG pickup, it can be played like an acoustic or an electric guitar, but with keys instead of frets. Shipment is expected in the second quarter of 2005.

Yamaha introduced the PLG150-AP ($349), a voice expansion board that supplies acoustic piano sounds to Motif-, CS-, and S-series synthesizers and to the PSR9000 Pro. The 64-note polyphonic card provides 32 presets, all of them sampled from the Yamaha CFIIIS concert grand piano. Yamaha says that wave ROM is equivalent to 29 MB of 16-bit sound, and one 3-layer piano uses the entire ROM. Onboard effects processing offers reverb, chorus, EQ, and insert multi-effects. The PLG150-AP is expected to ship in October.

Audio Processors and Interfaces

Multi-effects, stompboxes, dynamics processors, and audio interfaces were all in plentiful supply at Summer NAMM. The Aphex Model 228 ($349) is an 8-channel unidirectional audio level interface. It converts eight channels from -10dBV audio signals to +4 dBu. It has eight front-panel output trims, eight ground-loop-isolating unbalanced RCA inputs, and eight high-voltage impedance-balanced XLR outputs.

Applied Research and Technology (ART) introduced the 8 Track ($329), an 8-channel tube mic preamp in a single rackspace. Two channels have variable-slope compression, and all channels offer 70 dB of gain. Two front-panel instrument inputs override the rear balanced 1/4-inch and XLR inputs. ART also announced that the TCS - Twin Compressor System ($299) is shipping. The TCS is a 2-channel dynamics processor that offers a choice between VCA and optical compression. ART also displayed the SLA-2 ($379) Studio Linear Amplifier. It offers 200W per channel (560W bridged) in a single-rackspace module with Euroblock connectivity. The ARTcessories Xdirect ($40) is an active direct box that handles instrument-, line-, or speaker-level signals. It has a phase-invert switch and runs off a 9V battery or phantom power. The ARTcessories Zdirect ($30) is a passive version that offers many of the same features.

Image placeholder title

Crest Audio announced a number of products in Nashville. The CPM-2462 ($1,239.98), available now, is a 16-channel desktop and rackmountable mixer suitable for live or studio applications. In addition to 22 60mm faders, 16 XLR inputs, 8 channel inserts, and left and right master inserts, it has 8 extra line inputs that can be assigned to a stereo subgroup. Also introduced were the MLM-2 ($599) and MLS-2 ($799) studio mic- and line-input Intelligibility Processors. The mono MLM-2 and MLS-2 provide dual parametric EQ, compression, expansion, and limiting. SmarTube solid-state processing replicates tube warmth and compensates for high-frequency loss, according to Crest. The STP-1 ($699) processor is a 2-channel, single-space channel strip. It has four functional sections: mic and line preamp, 4-band parametric EQ, SmarTube processing, and output control. The MLM-2, MLS-2, and STP-1 are expected to be available in the third quarter of this year.

Electro-Harmonix has reissued the classic 16 Second Digital Delay ($990). Unlike the original, the new version syncs to MIDI Clock, retains its memory when turned off, and offers more than four minutes of loop time at a 16-bit sample rate of 15 kHz. An optional 6-switch foot controller lets you control functions remotely. The all-new Polyphonic Octave Generator ($690), or POG, can simultaneously generate an octave up, two octaves up, and an octave down from the original signal. It works on chords as well as single notes. Either or both the upper octaves can be detuned. In a departure from its extensive family of stompboxes, Electro-Harmonix also announced the NY-2A ($2,995), a 3-rackspace stereo compressor. It features low-noise vacuum tubes, Lundahl transformers, EM80 Magic Eyes and VU meters, and three opto-couplers that allow for various attack and decay characteristics.

Image placeholder title

Edirol was showing the UA-25 ($295), a compact USB-powered audio and MIDI interface. It is capable of stereo 24-bit, 96 kHz I/O and has front-panel XLR/TRS combo jacks. It provides phantom power, optical S/PDIF I/O, high-impendence input, and a built-in limiter for live recording. It should be available by the end of the month.

Image placeholder title

The blue glow emanating from Korg''s new TB-2 ($TBA) and TPB-2 ($TBA) was definitely a topic of conversation. Both devices are Valve Force preamps with two 12AX7 tubes, optical compression, retro VU-style meters, balanced 1/4-inch TRS analog I/O, and balanced XLR analog I/O. The TP-2 is a compact tabletop box that also has coaxial and optical S/PDIF I/O. The TPB-2 is a user-installable option for Korg''s D32XD and D16XD multitrack digital recorders. Both are slated to ship in September.

Peavey, always a fixture at NAMM, introduced the Dual DeltaFex multi-effects processor ($TBA). It supplies 16 programmable effects and can be configured for series, parallel, dual mono, or sum mono operation. Effects include reverb, delay, compression, pitch shift, chorus, and vocal elimination. It''s expected to ship in the third quarter of 2004.

The fledgling company Pigtronix demonstrated its debut analog effects processor, the EP-1 Envelope Phaser ($279.95). It incorporates an opto-electronic asymmetrical phase shifter controlled by either an envelope follower or an LFO. An Invert footswitch engages subtractive or additive phase shifting. An expression pedal input is available to control the speed of rotary speaker effects.

Image placeholder title

PreSonus introduced the FirePod ($799), a 10-input, 10-output FireWire audio/MIDI interface. It offers eight microphone preamps with phantom power, eight analog line inputs, two instrument inputs, eight balanced line outputs, stereo S/PDIF I/O, and 16-channel MIDI I/O, as well as 24-bit, 96 kHz conversion. Input and output gain controls are on the front panel, and Steinberg Cubase LE (Win) is included.

Veteran audio-interface manufacturer RME announced its new FireFace 800 ($1,799), a high-speed 192 kHz FireWire 800/400 model that offers as many as 35 inputs recorded to 28 channels simultaneously. I/O capabilities includes four mic preamps, eight balanced TRS ins and outs, high-impedance TS in, 16 ADAT Lightpipe channels, and MIDI. TotalMix (Mac/Win) software recalls all settings in flash memory and allows up to 14 independent stereo submixes. The ADI-2 ($799) is a compact 2-channel A/D/A converter that handles 24-bit audio at rates up to 192 kHz. Supported digital I/O formats include AES/EBU, S/PDIF, and ADAT Lightpipe. Balanced analog inputs are on Neutrik combo jacks, and outputs are on separate XLR and TS jacks. Also from RME, the OctaMic ($1,099) is an 8-channel mic preamp with balanced Neutrik combo inputs, balanced TRS outputs, and separate front-panel controls for each channel. The ADC-Module ($399) gives the OctaMic optional A/D conversion capabilities.

One of the coolest products from Roland, the Boss RC-20XL Loop Station ($399), extends the original RC-20''s real-time loop-recording capabilities nearly threefold. This digital phrase recorder has impressive overdub facilities and offers 16 minutes of recording time. An Undo function erases mistakes, and the RC-20XL can store 11 loops and one-shot phrases for later playback.

Image placeholder title

SM Pro Audio has begun shipping the Red Valve series of channel strips. The TB202 ($319) is a single-rackspace, 2-channel mic/line preamp combined with an optical compressor and three bands of sweepable EQ. The TB101 ($199) is a half-rack, single-channel unit with identical features. Both models incorporate 12AX7 tube preamplification. Also from SM Pro, the OC8 ($649) offers eight discrete channels of optical compression in a 2U rackmount configuration.

TC Helicon''s voice-modeling technology continues to improve with every product introduction. The VoiceLive ($995) is a floor-mount vocal processor that borrows automatic pitch-correction, voice doubling, and harmonization algorithms from the VoiceWorks rackmount processor. The VoiceLive provides a studio-quality mic preamp and MIDI-controllable harmonies.

For the first time in years, Zoom announced a couple of 1U rackmount effects processors, the RFX-1100 ($264) and RFX-2200 ($349). Both are 24-bit, 44.1 kHz processors with 121 reverb presets and XLR/TRS combo inputs. The RFX-1100 offers 33 multi-effects types, and the RFX-2200 has 48 multi-effects, 100 user programs, S/PDIF I/O, full MIDI control, and a tap-tempo function.

Mics, Mixers, and Monitors

Never let it be said that microphones, mixers, and monitor speakers were in short supply at Summer NAMM. Compact mixers and condenser mics were especially prevalent. Alesis did its part, exhibiting the Multimix 8USB ($TBA), 12USB ($TBA), and 16USB ($TBA) tabletop mixers. Each has a USB connection that allows it to serve as 16-bit stereo computer interface. The 8USB and 12USB each have four balanced XLR and TRS inputs with phantom power, and the 16USB has eight balanced XLR and TRS inputs with phantom power. In addition, all models provide 100 preset effects.

Audix''s latest contribution to bringing down the cost of professional mics is the F-90 ($139), a miniature condenser mic that can fit in very tight places. It is recommended for drums, cymbals, and hand percussion. The F-90 has a cardioid pickup pattern and includes a chrome-plated clamping system.

Mic maker CAD has begun shipping the e1002 ($399), the first in its Equitek2 series of condenser models. The e1002 has a supercardioid pattern and is suitable for everything from strings to percussion. The e2002 ($399), shipping in November, is an externally biased, dual-capsule condenser mic. The dual-diaphragm e3002 ($499) has three polar patterns and is being touted as CAD''s finest vocal mic.

Image placeholder title

Roland introduced some new monitors in Nashville. For portable applications, the CM-30 Cube ($249) definitely caught our collective eye. it features a 6.5-inch two-way speaker, a 3-channel mixer, and 30W output. Channel 1 has separate XLR and 1/4-inch inputs, and channels 2 and 3 have two 1/4-inch inputs. Auxiliary stereo inputs accept RCA and miniplug connections. A stereo-link function lets you chain two CM-30s as a 10-input, stereo output system. Roland''s new flagship reference monitors are the DS-5 ($229), DS-6 ($349), and DS-7 ($579). In addition to an XLR/TRS combo analog input, all have XLR, coaxial, and optical digital inputs that support AES/EBU and S/PDIF, 24-bit resolution, and rates as high as 192 kHz. All are biamplified and available now.

Rude Audio introduced a new line of Chinese-manufactured condenser mics. Suitable for a variety of applications, the Rude range includes cardioid mics such as the RA-LD1 ($139.95), RA-03 ($199.95), and RA-25 ($189.95), as well as models with selectable polar patterns. Sporting a 1.07-inch diaphragm, the RA-MultiFET ($389.95) offers cardioid, omni, and figure-8 patterns. The MultiTube ($699.95) also has a 1.07-inch diaphragm and lets you choose from nine patterns using a switch on its power supply. Available only in stereo-matched pairs, the RA-Tube Twins ($1,095.95/pair) are tube condenser cardioids.

Image placeholder title

Another transducer manufacturer with new products for NAMM was Samson . Its most unusual offerings were two active ribbon monitors, the Rubycon R5a ($449) and R6a ($559). Each is a biamped system housed in a tuned, shelf-ported enclosure that incorporates a 2-inch velocity-ribbon high-frequency driver. The 75W R5a has a 5-inch inverted-cone woofer, and the 100W R6a has a 6.5-inch inverted-cone woofer. The CL8 ($599) is a multipattern mic with a capacitor-based condenser element and a second, 1.1-inch diaphragm. Switches allow you to select from three patterns, enable a highpass filter, and activate a 10 dB pad.

Image placeholder title

An impressive line of condenser mics was announced by SE Electronics, an American-owned Chinese company that manufactures its own brand rather than offering its products as OEM models. At the top of the line is the Gemini ($1,499), a dual-tube model with a fixed cardioid pattern; instead of a traditional transformer, it has a 12AX7 on the input stage and a 12AU7 on the output stage. The Icis ($749) is a single-tube condenser with a 1.07-inch diaphragm and a cardioid polar pattern. A new small-diaphragm pencil condenser called the SE2 ($399) has three interchangeable capsules offering a choice of omni, cardioid, or hypercardioid patterns. The versatile Z3300A ($599) is a solid-state, 3-pattern, Class A model suitable for voice, piano, and other acoustic instruments.

For owners of the 01V96 digital mixing console, Yamaha announced a free, downloadable upgrade to version 2. The new software supplies almost 50 new features, including expanded Studio Manager V2, DAW control, and the ability to run add-on effects packages. Also from Yamaha, the MY16-mLAN expansion card gives FireWire-based networking capabilities to the 01V96, 02R96, DM1000, and DM2000 digital mixers. The 24-bit, 96 kHz-compatible card adds up to 16 channels of audio I/O.

DAW Gone

Computer maker Digital Audio Wave launched the DAWin 6400

Media Workstation ($1,995 and up), a notebook computer with a 64-bit AMD Mobile Athlon processor, dual-channel DDR400 memory, and a 17-inch WXGA display. Designed to boot in either full Windows XP or a lean music-oriented version, the 9.15-pound 6400 comes standard with built-in FireWire, S/PDIF out, an integrated digital camera, and 802.11g wireless LAN. Also new is the G5000 ($1,695), a Pentium 4 HT-based PC in a case that minimizes noise and resembles the Apple Power Mac G5. Inside is an Intel LGA 775 processor and 925X Express chipset, dual-channel DDR2 533 memory, two PCI Express slots, four standard PCI slots, two Serial ATA drives, and bays for four additional hard drives. Bundled software includes a system recovery DVD and a music software package.

Roland announced a version 2 upgrade to the MV-8000 multitrack audio workstation. In combination with the MV8-VGA expansion board ($299), it allows users to connect a mouse and a VGA display to view and edit data graphically. Version 2 also adds the ability to load Akai MPC2000 and S1000/3000 files, mute and solo the velocity-pad tracks, and perform additional functions.

Image placeholder title

New from Zoom is the MRS-8 ($599), an 8-track digital audio recorder and a fully-programmable bass and drum machine with touch-sensitive pads. Each track can record ten virtual takes, allowing you to record 80 tracks and play them back eight at a time. The MRS-8 also provides eight multi-effects algorithms and 100 effects types.