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Microphone Month 4

117th AES inSync Report – DAY 2 of 5.

Welcome to this installment of our inSync report of the 117th AES Convention! Each day this week we’ll cover some of the latest and greatest products that appeared for the first time at this year’s AES show. If you’d like to get the whole scoop on our online report, check it out here. Enjoy today’s installment!

Aphex 230

Combining several of the company’s proprietary technologies in preamplification, dynamics processing, psychoacoustics and more, the Model 230 Broadcast Voice Processing Channel appears to be geared toward voiceover talent, but we believe it just might find a home in quite a few recording studios as a general vocals channel strip!

The Aphex Model 230 is a quality, analog, single-channel preamplifier and voice processor. Its comprehensive features include “RPA” tube preamplification, “Easyrider” compression, Logic Assisted gating, split band de-essing, parametric EQ, and Aphex’ Aural Exciter and Big Bottom psychacoustic effects, all in a single space, rackmountable package. The Model 230 implements an XLR mic input and +4dBu output, a 1/4″ TRS -10dBV output, 1/4″ TRS send and receive insert, AES3, S/PDIF and Optical digital outputs up to 96kHz, plus word clock I/O on BNCs. Another convenient feature on the Model 230 is a simple to implement contact closure to ground Cough switch on a mono 1/4″ connector.

Aphex’ patented Aural Exciter and Big Bottom, longtime favorites for voice processing, are included in the Model 230, each offering individual tune and mix controls. A master output level rounds out the well-designed front panel. In addition to its analog input, analog output and myriad of digital outputs included standard with the Model 230, the processor also offers a post-compressor send and return. The digital outputs provide up to 96kHz sampling rates. A word clock input and output allow the Model 230 to be digitally locked with other equipment.

Aphex 207D

Aphex Systems introduced their new Model 207D tube microphone/instrument preamplifier at the AES convention. The affordable 207D takes Aphex’ popular Model 207 and adds AES/EBU and S/PDIF digital outputs for direct digital connection throughout your signal chain, with up to 96kHz sampling rates. The new 207D also adds Word Clock in/out for digital clocking synchronization. It’s clearly an attractive dual channel tube preamp for home and project studio owners who want to augment the preamps on their audio interface and add warmth to their digital recordings.

The Aphex Model 207D is an audiophile quality two-channel tube mic preamp that meets or exceeds the performance of preamplifiers costing more. Designed to reveal the subtlety and power of vintage condensers, ribbons, electrets, and popular dynamic mics, the 207D is a fine complement to the world’s most respected microphones. It also offers instrument inputs that are quieter and have more gain than conventional instrument preamps. The 207D makes use of Aphex’ patented Reflected Plate Amplifier (RPA) technology, a true vacuum tube circuit which has all the desired characteristics without the heat, fragility, sonic variability, short life and high frequency roll-off of conventional tube designs.

The 207D’s MicLim circuitry, also found on Aphex’ flagship Model 1100 MkII and Model 1788 mic preamps, offers virtually crashproof performance, and makes it a perfect front end for digital recorders. An insert loop is provided for adding dynamics or effects processing prior to conversion.

Apple Logic Pro 7

Apple’s new Logic Pro 7 has a lot to say about making music on the Macintosh! This newest upgrade includes over 100 enhancements, but for the sake of space and time, here are three biggies:

1. Distributed Audio Processing. Add processing power to your audio studio AND get a computer out of the deal that you can use for other purposes! The new distributed audio processing feature in Logic Pro 7 offers a plug-and-play solution that provides the ability to tap networked Macintosh G4s and G5s for more DSP processing power! Simply add one or more Macintosh systems via Ethernet to your Logic Pro 7 system – the result is an audio and music production system with processing power that was previously unimaginable: up to 128 stereo streams.

2. Apple Loops. When you insert Apple Loops in software instrument format onto a software instrument track, Logic imports them as MIDI sequences with the originating instrument and effect settings intact. This allows you to change pitch, instrumentation or effects – something you could only dream of with standard audio loops technology. Logic also uses this functionality when you import GarageBand compositions, preserving every detail as you migrate the sessions for editing and producing in a truly professional environment.

3. Three new Instruments (including Sculpture, which offers an inexhaustible variety of naturalistic sounds, based on component modeling technology, seamlessly integrated into the Logic Pro 7 software) and nine new Effects processors (including Guitar Amp Pro which offers a wide range of legendary guitar amplifier sounds and a variety of different speakers, which you can freely combined).

Apple Logic 7 comes in two flavors: Pro and Express. Check out Pro and Express at Sweetwater.com for the differences!

Audio-Technica AT2020

Continuing to deliver high value and great quality, Audio Technica showed off their brand new AT2020 studio microphone. Obviously targeted toward the home and project studio owner, the AT2020 is a large diaphragm condenser microphone with a fixed cardioid polar pattern and appears to street for under $100! While we didn’t get the opportunity to hear the AT2020 yet, it’s well constructed and holds its appearance well. For the price, we have to wonder whether it might be not only the perfect “first” mic for the studio student, but by purchasing two for the price of other value mics, it might just be that stereo overhead set you don’t mind taking out for mobile recordings! Whatever the case, we’re sure that Audio Technica has a hit on their hands with the AT2020!

Audio Technica AT2020 Features:

  • The price/performance standard in side-address studio condenser microphone technology

  • Ideal for project/home-studio applications

  • High SPL handling and wide dynamic range provide unmatched versatility

  • Custom-engineeredlow-mass diaphragm provides extended frequency response and superior transient response

  • Cardioid polar pattern reduces pickup of sounds from the sides and rear, improving isolation of desired sound source

  • Pivoting, threaded stand mount attaches securely for easy and precise placement of the microphone

BIAS, Inc. SoundSoap 2

The one-click noise reduction solution for Mac OR Windows just got better! SoundSoap 2 from Bias is the perfect addition to your software DAW, whether you’re shooting videos, restoring vinyl LP’s, building websites or making music. Why? It’s simply marvelous at noise reduction and it’s incredibly easy to use. New in SoundSoap 2 is the “REMOVE CLICK & CRACKLE” and “ENHANCE” controls. So, in addition to removing noise, you can now buff out those scratches and restore your record collection! Plus, after you’ve cleaned up your audio, you can leave a super-fine polish with the new Enhance slider.

We heard a very realistic and convincing demonstration of SoundSoap 2 today in the Bias booth and I’m here to tell you that it works extremely well. It certainly does not have the surgical ability you’ll need to do some projects, but for your everyday clean up jobs, SoundSoap 2 is your application.

Bias SoundSoap 2 Features:

  • Reduces clicks & crackles, hiss, hum & buzzing, rumble & most other noise – without harming the audio you wish to preserve

  • The ideal audio companion for almost any MiniDV, Digital8, or other digital camcorder; video editing software; audio CD burning software; digital audio workstation; audio enabled website; presentation software; or other multimedia application

  • Use SoundSoap as a standalone application. Or run it as a fully integrated plug-in with any compatible Audio Units, DirectX, RTAS or VST host program – contact BIAS for latest host compatibility information

  • SoundSoap’s easy & intuitive workspace makes cleaning audio a snap – while its unique Wash Window shows how well it works

  • Use SoundSoap’s one-step Learn Noise button to automatically reduce noise – or use its manual controls for more advanced applications

  • Includes Enhance slider for additional tone control

  • Standalone version works with most QuickTime or Windows Media compatible audio or video file (AVI, DV, .WAV, SDII, AIFF, MP3, MP4 & many more)

  • Preserve Voice button helps reduce noise (and other audio) outside of the range of the human voice

  • Hum removal optimized for 60 Hertz (North America, etc.) or 50 Hertz (Europe, Australia, etc.)

  • Noise Only mode lets you listen only to the noise being removed & is ideal for fine-tuning SoundSoap’s controls

Cakewalk Sonar 4 Producer & Studio

If you make music with your PC you’ve undoubtedly heard of and probably used one of Cakewalk’s software programs over the years. With SONAR 4, Cakewalk has added powerful new recording, editing, comping and navigation tools that optimize workflow for today’s professional. In addition, version 4 combines innovative surround and AV capabilities along with precise engineering tools.

SONAR 4 Producer Edition is the perfect solution for composing, recording, editing, mixing, and remixing music productions; and for providing voice over, score, sound design and post audio for film, TV, video, commercials, and games. Sonar 4 Producer Edition adds surround support, a Lexicon Pantheon surround reverb and more.

Cakewalk SONAR 4 Features:

  • Record, edit, arrange and mix unlimited tracks of audio and MIDI

  • Dynamic Console

  • Universal Bus Architecture with on-the-fly configuration

  • 32-Bit floating point audio engine

  • Full plug-in delay compensation

  • Ultra-high quality sample rate conversion with Windowed Sinc resampler algorithm

  • Support for any sampling rate (44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 192, 384 kHz, etc.)

  • Precise waveform display at any zoom resolution

  • Rock-solid synchronization of audio, MIDI, video, external hardware

  • Sub-sample accurate internal timing resolution for audio, soft synths and automation; 960 PPQN for external MIDI devices

  • Multiprocessor optimization

  • Loop-based composition, construction, and editing tools with ACID™ loop and MIDI groove clip support, Cyclone DXi

  • Support for DirectX and VST audio effects; MFX MIDI FX; DXi and VSTi soft synths; and ReWire 1.0 & 2.0 clients (Project5, Kinetic, Reason, more)

  • Includes 31 audio effects 3 DXi soft synths, 14 MFX

  • Advanced MIDI routing & synth layering

  • Unlimited undo/redo with edit history

  • Assign hotkeys for custom screen layouts

  • Views: Arrange, Big Time, Console, Drum Editor, Event List, Loop Construction, Lyrics, Markers, Multitrack Piano Roll, Staff Notation, Playlist, SYSEX, Synth Rack, Tempo list/graph, Video, more

  • Professional Project File Management Tools: per project audio directories; consolidate project files for fast backup; search for associated files

  • Extensive, context-sensitive online help and 650+ page printed manual

  • Unparalleled, free customer service and online user community

  • Hassle-free copy protection (serial number on installation)

  • Designed exclusively for and optimized for Windows XP/2000

Digidesign Pro Tools Version 6.7 Software

Whether you work with MIDI, audio, or both, Pro Tools LE 6.7 software offers powerful, flexible new features for music composers and musicians. The Pro Tools LE 6.7 release appears to have been developed specifically for inspired musicians who require world-class tools to support and accelerate the creative process. With Pro Tools LE 6.7 software, MIDI sequencing capabilities are more comprehensive than ever, while MIDI recording, editing and mixing features are still as easy to work with as audio.

The audio and MIDI feature set in Pro Tools LE 6.7 has been greatly expanded to deliver tempo-dependent audio placement, tempo-dependent automation, graphic tempo editing, precise control of meter changes, MIDI step input, MIDI Detective, and Beat Detective LE (thank you Digidesign!). Pro Tools LE 6.7 also brings true cross-platform parity for simplified session transfer with major MIDI functionality enhancements to Windows.

New in Digidesign Pro Tools 6.7 Software:

  • Support for multiple plug-in outputs enables mixing and processing of individual sound sources from instrument plug-ins.*

  • Simple yet thorough step-by-step song composition with the MIDI Step Input window; facilitates building complex or difficult MIDI tracks.

  • New MIDI Detective functionality allows generation of tempo maps and groove templates directly from “free” MIDI performances.

  • With Beat Detective LE, Pro Tools LE users can now take advantage of many of the Beat Detective features previously only available to TDM users.

  • The TC/E tool’s support for MIDI regions enables operators to expand or contract MIDI passages exactly as they do with audio regions, allowing timing changes of individual MIDI regions without affecting the overall session tempo

  • Fast and precise drawing and editing of tempo curves are now facilitated through theTempo Editor pane, including nudging and trimming of tempo segments

  • Flexible tempo curves, global insertion/deletion of time, and auto-editing of data when changing meter are all now available through the new Tempo and Time Operations windows

  • Tick (musical tempo)-based Audio, Aux and Master tracks keep audio region start points and automation in perfect sync with MIDI

  • Straightforward management of external MIDI devices on Windows XP via the MIDI Studio Setup window and advanced patch name support

  • With Windows-based systems, support of MIDI Time Stamping and MIDI I/Obrings some of the most accurate playback timing resolution available on any platform, as continues to be the case on Mac-based systems as well

  • Organization by function within Pro Tools sessions is now available through color-coding feature – Color-code tracks, regions, markers and much more for instant identification

  • New Undo History window enables your customers to instantly and conveniently return to previous stages of a session’s development

  • Non-administrator user support for Macintosh and Windows enables users who do not have administrative access to run Pro Tools unimpeded, and IT professionals in facilities and schools to manage user preferences and access

  • Enhanced Windows interoperability with legacy Macintosh sessions – Open and convert older SD II-based sessions in one easy step

Pro Tools 6.7 is free to some, and a paid upgrade for others. To see which criteria you fit, check out the Pro Tools 6.7 page on Digidesign’s site.

Digidesign VENUE Featuring D-Show

Just when you thought you’d seen and heard of everything innovative, Digidesign decides to turn the live sound reinforcment industry (yes, that’s LIVE sound reinforcement industry) upside down with a solid, fresh approach to large format live mixers!

VENUE consists of the D-Show mixing console, FOH mix engine (a highly developed PC rack unit), a Stage Rack I/O unit with recallable, remote-controlled preamps and a multi-channel digital snake. The system is highly expandable, allowing up to 96 mic inputs to be mixed to 27 busses. The powerful mix engine provides EQ and Dynamics processing on every input channel, along with 24 assignable graphic EQs and full support for Pro Tools plug-ins. VENUE also features an integrated recording and playback option for industry-standard Digidesign Pro Tools systems.

VENUE’s D-Show features an extremely powerful, precise, and flexible digital live sound mixing engine, providing incredible sound quality, headroom, and fidelity. The D-Show mixing console is the result of years of design and ergonomic refinement, with input from leading mix engineers in touring sound, theater, and fixed installations. The console provides an intuitive and manageable interface to enable control of a large number of inputs from a smaller mixing surface, while allowing operators to expand the console to eliminate the need for layering or assignment.

D-Show combines a familiar central Assignable Channel Section (ACS) with two encoders per channel to allow instant adjustments where needed. The console is heavily populated with displays and indicators, enabling operators to confirm signal routing, the status of dynamics, EQ, and other insert processes, as well as signal activity or overload – even on layers not currently visible. D-Show’s control software further supplements this visual feedback, ensuring that mixers can always assess the behavior and performance of a large number of inputs at a glance.

At a private screening, we were able to see and hear the new VENUE system first hand. In person was an engineer who just got off the road with a VENUE system from a high-profile tour. As he lead us around the workings of the VENUE system, I couldn’t help but wonder if we weren’t seeing evolution before our eyes. The VENUE system works and sound engineers are going to adore the flexibility and reliability it will provide – the creativity is endless.

Digidesign Synchronic

Make way for a whole new approach to stirring up your mix: the Synchronic plug-in for Pro Tools. When combined with a MIDI controller, all of its parameters can be controlled in real time, and individual presets within Synchronic’s modules can be recalled simply by triggering a MIDI key. And multiple instances of Synchronic can run within the same Pro Tools LE or TDM session to meet your creative demands. Synchronic can even work alongside other music software products such as Ableton Live and Propellerhead Reason to bring a new breadth to your music.

Unlike other beat and looping software products, Synchronic synchronizes to the Pro Tools MIDI Beat Clock directly. This relationship results in Synchronic playback locking to the Pro Tools session tempo (including tempo changes) even while you create modifications in the playback order, speed, and volume of individual beats and subdivisions of the beat (or “slices”) within a loop. Synchronic is fully capable of performing complex beat manipulations, effects, and cross-modulations while remaining tightly synced to the Pro Tools MIDI Beat Clock. These effects are not limited to being applied only to loops in their entirety but also to individual beats within the loop, allowing you to create complex soundscapes that are still tied to an underlying pulse from the MIDI Beat Clock.

Synchronic features five main sections or modules, each of which can be edited, stored, and recalled through presets accessible via the plug-in:

  • Sound Module – The Sound module can load up to twelve different mono or stereo audio files of any bit depth and sample rate. After importing a file, the loop can be sliced up to play in synchronization with the Pro Tools MIDI Beat Clock. Any two sounds (A and B sources) can be played back simultaneously.

  • Playback Module – The Playback module manipulates the output of the Sound module. Various aspects of sound playback – such as speed, order, duration and direction, as well as modes such as “Stab,” “Spin,” and “Smear” – are synchronized with the Pro Tools MIDI Beat Clock.

  • Effect Module – This module processes the output of the Playback module and can be synced to the Pro Tools MIDI Beat Clock to introduce any combination of four concurrent in-tempo effects: Gain, Noise, Filter, and Delay.

  • XFade Module – Synchronic’s XFade (crossfade) module mixes the A and B sounds after they have been processed by the Sound, Playback and Effect modules. The crossfade between the A and B sounds can be controlled by either a Synchronic preset or through a mixer’s crossfader. The XFade module presets can also be synced to the Pro Tools MIDI Beat Clock for in-tempo crossfading.

  • MIDI Module – Synchronic’s MIDI Module enables you to assign and trigger combinations of sounds and module presets using MIDI. You can also freely map MIDI controllers to Synchronic controls.

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