Archive for October, 2007


Traditionally, the annual (American) convention of the Audio Engineering Society (AES) has been the playground for the recording industry elite, who labor behind Lexus-length SSL and Neve boards in multi-million dollar studios, rather than tiny MIDI controllers tucked into cramped bedrooms. You could think of AES as a luxury box at the Kentucky Derby as opposed to a NASCAR parking lot (which would represent, say, clearance day at your local pawn shop).

However, in the last few years, the AES show has been gaining steam as the “other NAMM” for computer-based project and home studios, an epicenter of music technology as companies such as the aforementioned SSL and Neve have started to adapt their products for the smaller-studio, computer-centric world.

DJ gear may be all but absent at an AES congregation, but there was plenty for elctronic-based producers and performers to drool over at this year’s AES convention. Here are the top 13 products that rolled up a towel and snapped Remix in the ass.

Ableton Live 7 screenshot
Ableton previewed Live 7 ($599), which includes improved audio and MIDI engines to minimize jitter. Other upgrades include a new compressor effect with three compression models and side-chaining. The Gate and Auto Filter effects also have side-chaining, while the EQ Eight plug-in has an enhanced user interface and a 64-bit mode for greater accuracy. A new spectrum analyzer provides visual feedback for any audio.

Most interesting may be the new Drum Rack, which streamlines beat-making with a drag-and-drop interface and REX file compatibility for slicing and dicing.

Ableton is also stepping up its virtual instrument offering with featured add-on instruments based on Applied Accoustic Systems’ technology called Analog, Tension and Electric, as well as a larger comprehensive instrument suite.

Apple Logic Pro 8 screenshot
Apple updated its flagship Logic music/audio production software as a bundle called Logic Studio ($499), including Logic Pro 8, which includes a redesigned interface that speeds production; Soundtrack Pro 2, Studio Instruments, Studio Effects, including 80 plug-ins; Studio Sound Library, with 18,000 Apple Loops and 1,300 sampled instruments; and the new program MainStage, a new live performance rig that simplifies using software instruments or guitar/keys/bass onstage.


Analog Factory Experience ($349) combines a 32-key MIDI keyboard with Analog Factory 2.0, a software instrument offering 3,500 acclaimed synthesizer sounds. You just plug the keyboard via USB and launch the software to play and easily control the plug-in instrument from the keyboard.

The presets were selected from the Arturia Classic Synths: the Minimoog V, the Prophet V,
the ARP 2600V, the Moog Modular V, the CS-80V and the recent Jupiter-8V. The product is compatible with Mac OS X (PPC and Intel) and Windows XP or Vista and a stand-alone program or VST, AU or RTAS plug-in.

The Analog Factory Keyboard is made of ultra-thin aluminium and wood, with 32 semi-weighted, Velocity-sensitive keys. It lets you control every aspect of the software, including selecting
sound categories, browsing presets, modifying sound, recalling snapshot sounds, saving snapshots, etc.

Okay these these are two completely different products, but he who makes the rules breaks the rules, or something like that (see Congress for an example). Blue‘s clever new Snowflake ($79) USB mic clips to the screen of any laptop or desktop PC or folds into a desk stand.

Blue Joe microphone
The Joe ($499) cardioid condenser microphone is aimed at project studios. Joe’s attractive anodized design is hand-built with Blue‘s large diaphragm capsule and a Class A discrete amplifier circuit for rich lows and detailed highs. It has a unique swivel mount for easy positioning and comes with a velvet storage bag.

Cakewalk’s Sonar 7 software for the PC is packed with new features, such as enhanced MIDI editing with functions for splitting/gluing/muting notes, advanced multiband linear-phase mastering effects and an external hardware effects insert with automatic plug-in delay compensation. Other extras include the Z3TA+ waveshaping synth, Dimension LE, Rapture LE, DropZone and Roland V-Vocal 1.5 and tools for presenting/publishing music online.

Heil Sound The Fin microphone
For starters, just look it. Cool, right? Heil Sound‘s The Fin puts a cardioid dynamic element into a stylish, Art Deco housing, with four LEDs inside the mic that glow when connected to phantom power. It’s particularly suited to miking amps, vocals and harmonica.

IK Multimedia ARC System
Accurate monitoring is one of the most key elements to creating exceptional mixes, and room ambience created by varieties of reflection and absorption can be difficult to conquer. IK Multimedia ARC ($699, Advanced Room Correction) System is designed to improve the accuracy and clarity of your studio monitoring, whatever your setting, with just a few simple steps. The stand-alone measurement program and VST/AU/RTAS-compatible EQ plug-in work together with the included 1/4-inch Omni Condenser Mic to deliver everything needed to compensate for even the more bizarrely shaped room. Simply open the measurement software, use it with the microphone to measure the acoustics of your room, and ARC will calculate an EQ correction to apply to your DAW’s master bus using the plug-in. ARC makes what can be a daunting process into a much easier one; room correction is something that studios of all sizes need, whether with ARC or in some other way. This is just the easier route.

iZotope RX screenshot
A jaw-dropper at the show, iZotope RX ($349 or $1,199 for iZotope RX Advanced) cleans and repairs audio, removes hiss/buzz, eliminates clicks/crackles and repairs clipping or gaps in audio. New technology provides noise reduction with less artifacts and a more natural sound than traditional techniques. RX‘s stand-alone environment includes an advanced spectrogram display, selective processing tools and innovative workflow features.

AES attendees gawked at impressive demos where an iZotope employee removed a door creaking sound from an audio recording. While RX may be targeted mainly toward for audio restoration and post-production professionals, musicians, engineers and sound designers could all find great uses for it.

MOTU Mach Five 2 screenshot
Software sampling nuts, take heed. MOTU has release Mach Five 2, and it is DEEP. The attraction to the program is a combination of great audio quality, fast operation and across-the-board compatibility with all platforms and all major sample libraries. It also includes four DVDs with 32 GB of samples, including an 8GB sampled grand piano, many surround instruments and loops and the VSL Orchestra MachFive Edition: an exclusive collection of expressive orchestra sounds from the most respected name in orchestra sound libraries.

Just some of Mach Five 2′ many features include disk streaming and modular design for maximum CPU efficiency; 24/192 kHz sample playback; unlimited multi-timbral operation; unlimited polyphony; unlimited sample keygroups and keygroup layers; full-screen keygroup/sample editor with unlimited undo/redo, batch processing, and 47 DSP effects; advanced time-stretching and pitch-shifting engine; LoopLab beat-slicing editing of multi-channel loops; surround (5.1 to 7.1) capability; built-in graphic mixer with faders, FX inserts, metering; and a combination of traditional synthesis with samples.

PreSonus Monitor Station
Monitor switching is becoming more popular even in smaller studios, so PreSonus has responded with the Monitor Station ($399) a fairly compact tabletop box with three stereo inputs (two balanced TRS, one RCA Aux/Phono) and three stereo outpus (three sets of balanced TRS speaker outputs each with level adjustment). That all facilitates quick switching of several input sources (such as a main audio interface or a reference CD player) to several sets of monitor speakers. Monitor Station also has four headphone amplifiers with separate volume control and independent input source selection and a talkback section including a built-in talkback microphone with volume control to feed the headphone and Cue outputs or an XLR input for external dynamic talkback microphone.

RND SPL-izer screenshot
Roger Nichols Digital SPL-izer ($129) is an adjustable 3-band 24 dB/octave FIR frequency splitter that allows three bands to be isolated/routed to aux or instrument tracks for separate processing. Applications include reverb auxes, for no reverb on the low end, the original reverb on the mids and the same reverb but with reduced decay on the high end, or an acoustic guitar with the low end muted, mids unaffected and a short echo/chorus only on the highs. SPL-izer is available in RTAS , VST an AU for Mac and RTAS and VST for Windows XP and Vista.

SSL X-EQ and X-Comp
SSL X-EQ screenshot
Owners of Solid State Logic’s Duende FireWire DSP plug-in host will have a new toy to play with called X-EQ ($599). It’s a 10-band parametric EQ that SSL claims can do basically anything that’s possible to do with an EQ. Bands 1 and 10 are high-cut and low-cut filters with five selectable topographies each. Bands 2 and 9 are Shelving EQ‘s with proportional Q values. Bands 3 to 8 are bell filters with 20 Hz to 20 kHz range and nine individually selectable EQ types. In addition, bands three to eight also can be switched between standard series and parallel signal flow for classic graphic EQ style operation. The extremely flexible plug-in has MIDI control over all it parameters.

SSL will follow X-EQ later on with X-Comp, a mastering grade stereo compressor also for the Duende platform. Another very versatile plug-in with full MIDI control of all parameters, X-Comp has an A/B switch to compare two compression settings and an amplitude histogram display that gives advanced real-time pre/post signal analysis.

Sony PCM-D50
The $599 handheld PCM-D50 field recorder from Sony Pro Audio features 96kHz/24-bit recording with two adjustable mics (XY or wide stereo) and PC/Mac file transfer via USB. Its 4GB of onboard memory stores six hours at 44.1kHz/16-bits or more via a Memory Stick Pro-HG Duo slot.

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Made It Through Another One…

Well, it’s the end of another AES show, and we’re packing up and heading home. AES 2007 was full of amazing stories, from pro sightings to product debuts; stay tuned to for more video reports and podcasts from the show, and watch for a full report in next month’s issue. In the meantime, we’re already getting ready for Winter NAMM-see you then!

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AWE, No Shock

Minnetonka has re-named and re-priced their Batch Pro application. It’s now known as AWE (Audio Workflow Engine). It comes in a new version that offers Hot Folders that give the user the ability to do simple drag and drop tasks across one 5.1 input, and the others will auto-load. It is a “Fat” client, meaning you can do some or all of your processing locally, or send some tasks to a server. The price for the AWE is $395 and the server is $2495.

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New Podcasts including Calbi, Fig, Lexicon, and more

AES photo

Here are seven more podcasts from AES 2007 (mostly from day 3) including both interviews and product coverage:

A chat with renowned mastering engineer Greg Calbi.

David Letterman drummer Anton Fig talks gear.

An interview with Public Enemy’s Johnny Juice.

A very bizarre tale from Blue Microphone’s Skipper Wise regarding a chilling shipment that arrived in place of part of the company’s booth.

A visit from Michelle Moog-Koussa of the Moog Foundation.

Kimberly Britton of Lexicon discusses the new PCM96 reverb.

Jonathan Perl and Steve Horelick of the company Mac Audio Trainers offer their take on the recently released Apple Logic Studio.

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SSL Will Convert For You

I’m here with Dan Duffell from SSL, and there’s been quite a bit of buzz about a new product that he hopes just goes away. Dan?
Well, for the last two days we haven’t stopped explaining all about Pro-Convert. It’s a piece of software designed to try and make a big problem in the industry go away. We reckon that it makes no sense that in the audio industry you still can’t just open sessions from one DAW or audio application in a different system. Pro-Convert is a piece of simple and extremely efficient format conversion software. All you do is open up a session from a DAW, choose the application format you want to save it in and work your way through half a dozen simple dialogue boxes… at the other end you hit the ‘convert’ button and a few seconds later you have a session folder in the format of your choice.
Along the way you get to make choices about sample rates, bit depth, frame rame, offsets, automation data for volume and pan, markers, PQ data, clip and track volume re-scaling and a bunch of stuff about how to handle any missing audio files.
We feel that it would benefit the entire industry if we could all just be able to move our projects from one environment to another, and it is holding everybody up not being able to do it. In some ways we would be very happy if all Pro-Convert achieved was all DAW manufacturers working together to make it possible to open each others files and for this software to become unnecessary.
In the meantime, we felt it was about time somebody made life a hell of a lot easier.
And we also showed X-EQ, new X-Rack modules and a new free plug-in called X-ISM that you can download from the site. Good show all around, and the two TEC Awards didn’t hurt!

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Noise Reducer

Hi, Mike Levine here. I just saw a brand-new, very impressive audio restoration program from iZotope called RX. Designed to deal with broadband noise, hum, clicks, pops, distortion, and more, it has a range of audio-restoration features including a spectrogram view that really lets you zero in on specific parts of complex sounds and edit them. For example, in the demo, a brake-squealing sound was removed from the background of an interview without affecting the dialog. The iZotope folks also demonstrated a clipped waveform that was reduced and rebuilt, with RX figuring out what the waveshapes would have been had it not clipped.

RX is currently a standalone application, but it will soon be available as a plug-in in multiple formats.

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Equator Audio Research: the new name in DSP monitors

Equator reference monitors

Ted Keffalo, who started Event Electronics has a new company called Equator Audio Research that’s trying to do something really special in monitoring. It has three sizes of digitally-controlled bi-amplified references monitors–q10, q12 and q15 (as well as a subwoofer)–and they each have a CPU inside for DSP room correction. Equator uses its proprietary Secondary Reflection Correction system which includes computer software and can support a network of speakers as large as three separate 8.2 surround systems connected via USB or CAT5 connections on each speaker.

Equator monitors also have digitally controlled transducers that can correct anomalies that are inevitable in the transducer production process and can result in small but noticeable boosts or dips in certain frequency ranges.

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GenAudio Astounds!

We’re here with Michel Henein who has a few things to say about a new process for 4-D audio…that’s right, it includes true 3-D audio with an elevation element, plus time. Michel, describe the AstoundSoundPro process to us…

Thanks, Tom. Last night was the beta release party which introduced the process to some of the greatest ears in the audio business. AstoundSoundPro is essentially a virtual binaural spatialization technology that allows a user to pan sound elements around in 360 degrees of space. What sets this technology apart is that it requires no special decoding hardware and can be used with any playback format in either stereo or surround, even over speakers! Check out GenAudio’s website at for more news to come.

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2007 TEC Awards Winners Announced

Apogee Electronics Symphony

Apogee Electronics Ensemble

SSL XLogic Alpha Channel

Neumann KMS 104

Royer R122-V

Sennheiser NET1

JBL Professional VP Series

Genelec 8200/7200 DSP Series

Moog Little Phatty

Focusrite Liquid Mix

Universal Audio Neve Classic Console Bundle

Digidesign 003

Tascam DV-RA1000HD

Digidesign D-Show Profile

Trident Series 8T-8

SSL Duality


John Mayer Continuum Tour
FOH Engineer: Chad Franscoviak

Monitor Engineer: Mike Adams

Tour Company: Clair Showco, Lititz, PA

49th Annual Grammy Awards, CBS

Production Mixers: Thomas Holmes, Paul Sandweiss

Music Mixers: John Harris, Eric Schilling, Joel Singer

Remote Facility: XM Productions-Effanel Music, NYC

The Sopranos, HBO

Supervising Sound Editor: Jason George

Re-Recording Mixers: Kevin Burns, Todd Orr

Production Mixer: Matthew Price

Audio Post Facility: Todd-AO West, Santa Monica, CA


Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Jerry Bruckheimer, Walt Disney

Supervising Sound Editors: Christopher Boyes, George Watters II

Sound Designer: Christopher Boyes

Re-recording Mixers: Christopher Boyes, Paul Massey, James Bolt, Lora Hirschberg

Production Mixer: Lee Orloff

Score Mixer: Alan Meyerson

Recording Facilities: Air Lyndhurst; Skywalker Sound; Sony Picture Studios; 20th Century Fox Studios; Todd-AO Radford, Studio City, CA

Audio Post Facility: Buena Vista Post Production Services

STUDIO DESIGN PROJECTRecord Plant/SSL 1, Hollywood, CA

Architects or Studio Designers: Vincent van Haaff, Jason Carson

Acoustician: Vincent van Haaff

Studio Owner: Rick Stevens

Tomb Raider: Legend, Eidos Interactive

Audio Director: Troels Folmann

Sound Designer: Mike Peaslee

Sound & Music Integrators: Gregg Stephens, Karl Gallagher

Audio Programmers: Gregg Stephens, Karl Gallagher

Re-recording Mixer: Mike Peaslee

Audio Post Facility: Crystal Dynamics Audio Studios

Love, Beatles (DVD-A)

5.1 Mixing Engineer: Paul Hicks

Mastering Engineer: Tim Young

Producers: George Martin, Giles Martin

Mixing Facility: Abbey Road Studios, London, UK

Mastering Facility: Metropolis Mastering, London, UK

“Waiting On The World to Change,” Continuum, John Mayer

Recording Engineers: Chad Franscoviak, Dave O’Donnell

Mixing Engineer: Manny Marroquin

Mixing Facility: Larrabee Studios, Los Angeles, CA

Producers: Steve Jordan, John Mayer

Recording Studios: Avatar Studios, NYC; The Village, West Los Angeles, CA

Mastering Engineer: Greg Calbi

Mastering Facility: Sterling Sound, NYC

Continuum, John Mayer

Recording Engineers: Joe Ferla, Chad Franscoviak, Dave O’Donnell, John Alagia

Mixing Engineers: Michael H. Brauer, Manny Marroquin

Mixing Facilities: Quad Studios, NYC; Larrabee Studios, Los Angeles, CA

Producers: Steve Jordan, John Mayer

Recording Studios: Legacy Recording Studios, NYC; Royal Studios, Memphis, TN; The Village, West Los Angeles; Avatar Studios, NYC

Mastering Engineer: Greg Calbi

Mastering Facility: Sterling Sound, NYC

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MOTU MacFive 2 podcast

MOTU MachFive 2 screenshot

Listen to an excerpt from Motu’s demo of its new MachFive 2, a very deep plug-in/stand-alone virtual sampler that comes with a 32GB sample library and is now shipping for $395 ($195 upgrade). MachFive 2 also comes with an integrated synth, so you can combine synthesis to sampled instruments. You’ll hear an example of that in this podcast, as well as MachFive 2′ 8 GB multi-sampled grand piano, some of the 8 GB of licensed sounds from the Vienna Symphonic Library and many details on the product.

MOTU MachFive 2 podcast

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