AES IconSweetwater Sound's Special AES Report

Their new R1 recorder was shown with a mammoth CS3000 console. The 24 track digital recorder is designed to seamlessly replace an analog 24 track machine. It comes complete with a beautiful control surface and as much hard drive and archival abilities as you want. The stock machine has digital I/O only, but very high quality 24-bit converters are available. A whole package, with converters, is about $35,000.

They had Layla up and running on a Mac. I heard a new powered subwoofer for their monitor range. It has 250 watts driving a down firing 15" speaker. It includes a variable crossover and, interestingly, six inputs so you can also run your surround channels through it. It is scheduled to ship in December for $999. They also announced DSPFX version 5.0, which will include even more plug-ins than the previous version while maintaining the $249 price.

Showing a clear misunderstanding of our perception of the word "platinum" these audio authorities have made their platinum series their most affordable units yet. Their Voice Master ($699) is a full featured vocal processor, and the Tone Factory ($699) is a real serious instrument pre amp. Apparently there is some real buzz on the Tone Factory with guitarists saying it is voiced a lot like an old Marshall.

Fostex debuted their new FD-8 multi-tracker ($899). This big brother to the FD-4 adds, not only an extra four tracks, but has 16 virtual tracks a ADAT and S/PDIF digital I/O, and a disk to disk transfer ability for archiving. The digital I/O will make it easy for this machine to be integrated into almost any computer disk based system. They are expected to ship in November. Fostex also showed a very cool new flat panel speaker system. These speakers can be hung or mounted on walls and make a very nice solution for surround sound applications.

This Digidesign partner has a host of related products that, because they are so specialized, are easy for the passer by to overlook. Sample Search ($399),which comes with CD Studio is a comprehensive file management tool. CD Search is available by itself for $149 and is a super-easy tool for getting audio off of compact discs. Interpreter ($249) is sort of a CD Search, but designed for Akai disks, while
Otari with their new multi-player Pong Mixer
Otari with their new multi-player Pong Mixer • Larger Image Available (63 kb)
EOS Browser ($249) and E-mu File Assistant ($249) are for manipulation and transfer of E-mu sound files. Turbo Morph ($249) is their multi-media DirectX processor, and Gearbox is a simple sample rate converter. In the domain of post production they have some really amazing tools. DAT Studio ($2795) reads audio right off of DAT tapes using a high speed data DAT drive. Production Palette ($999), their only hardware device, is an editing control surface comprised of 128 push-buttons. Through its software it can be configured to bring every command (or series of commands) of any software to a dedicated button. I saw very elaborate series of commands in Pro Tools being initiated through one button press. ADR Studio ($1695) is the ultimate ADR and foley tool for Pro Tools. It can interact with a 9-pin machine and/or VocAlign software to make the tedious process of rerecording a snap. Session Cutter ($999) allows multiple Pro Tools sessions to be opened with an edit window view so tracks can be easily and graphically copied from one to another and place in the proper place. Session Browser allows the user to see all of the characteristics of a session (including used plug-ins) prior opening the session. A big time savor or studios working with unfamiliar work.

The new PC/Mac 241 CPU switcher allows the user to switch effortlessly between Mac and PC using the same keyboard and monitor. Their units were widely used around the show by companies showing cross platform products.

Did I already say surround sound monitoring was the buzz of the show? Genelec's new 1038AC is a tri-amplified center channel monitor designed specifically to go with their 1038 monitors. It has two 10" speakers, a 5" speaker, and a 1" metal dome tweeter with two 200 watt, and two 120 watt amplifiers.

They had the LEM Falcon ($1395) digital mixer up and running, and have brought on long time Sweetwater friend Mike Ketchell who designed and built the highly acclaimed MegaMix automation system years ago (with Sweetwater being one of his first installations). He's giving them some real grounding in what to do with this mixer to make it a success in the States. The ten channel board currently has two on board time based effects (one reverb and one multi FX) and 12 more other processors, which can do compression, limiting, or whatever on an insert basis. It is fully automatable and there is also an ADAT I/O card option which will also bring another 14 processors to the table. This product is supposed to be ready to go in November. It's big brother, the Eagle ($2595) looks less complete, but is going to have a similar architecture. All of its faders are motorized and, though the shown prototype didn't have it, will have an expansion port for an ADAT card or AES/EBU card. It has a total of 32 built-in processors, two of which are time based as in the Falcon. It looks good, but it's a wait and see proposition right now.

Given that all they make are hard drives it always amazes us how much stuff we buy from them each year. It sure tells a story about where technology is headed. We have a great relationship; they love us and we love them. They are the only hard drive company we've been able to find who REALLY stands behind their product, even when the going gets tough. They have a very slick storage area network solution based on fibre channel. I saw a system of three Mac's and one PC (all running Pro Tools) tied together with a bank of 9-gig drives. This means that all of these computers were able to access the same files on these drives. For multi-system facilities this is definitely the way to go. The basic system can support up to five different computers (Mac or PC), but is expandable about as far as you can imagine. In addition they have some great new three space enclosures that feature some of their best art work yet. Nice stuff.

Throwing their hat into the studio monitor ring, HHB showed the Circle-5 passive ($749) and active ($1399) studio monitors, which are designed for 5.1 and 7.1 applications. The active ones are bi-amped with 120 watt and 70 watt amps. The 8 inch woofer has that distinctive HHB purple color. Due the current hypercompetetive CDR market they announced that their CDR 800 will go down in price to $1795. The Genex GX8500 is the worlds first DSD (Direct Stream Digital) compatible digital audio recorder. It also supports UDF (Universal Disc Format), and BWF (Broadcast Wave File), and has non-linear editing capabilities. The 5.2 gig MO drive is fully capable of recording its 24-bit, 192kHz multi-channel audio.

One of the few companies still devoting proper attention to passive studio monitors, JBL had one of the most spectacular audio demos of the show. Their LSR series monitors were set up in a 5.1 configuration with some very well crafted mixes being played. These monitors really need to be heard to be fully appreciated.

They showed a nearly finished version of their long awaited Expression Mate controller system and the still unreleased K2500 AES keyboard. Delivery dates were said to be "soon." KDFX for the K2500 was working impressively as well as Live Mode. We were also shown the undocumented procedure for using live mode to turn the K2500 into a full featured vocoder. You'll get that off the Net soon enough.

When we arrived at their booth they surprised us by awarding us their Dealer of the Year award. It's always nice to be recognized in this way and we appreciate them making the effort. Their big announcement is that they are going to have full ASIO support for their Lexicon Studio recording system. This will make them compatible with all of the popular digital audio/MIDI programs around. They were also showing their new guitar processor being integrated into their Signature 284 amp, which makes an incredibly powerful, yet simple guitar rig.

Remember them? The guys with those commercials. They're still in the audio business. They have some very nice 24-bit, 96k two-channel digital converters. The A/D is $899, while the D/A is $749. They also make an eight channel unit ($3295) that is specifically for Sonic Solution systems.

Version 3 of their Spectra Foo metering software suite is looking great and won EQ Magazine's Blue Ribbon award. It is one of the most comprehensive metering system I have seen. For $500 one could afford to buy all the computer hardware to run it and still have way less money invested than competing systems.

Showed Mix51 audio recording/editing software, which is specifically designed for 5.1 surround work. The interface has a joy stick instead of pan controls for very intuitive operation. Currently it only supports the DAL V-8 hardware.

This little known company makes some very competitively priced converters. The AD24 ($750) is a 24-bit eight channel unit with ADAT light pipe outputs and the DA24 ($550) is the D/A version. Each sports balanced XLR jacks and LED signal monitoring. They are half rack units so together they only take up one rack space.

On display were the new U87 gold special edition and the incredible new M147. After winning their second TEC Award in a row (this time for the TLM1030) they stand a legitimate chance, with the M147, of getting the hat trick next year.

John Oram has perked the interest of many of the "big" console manufacturers with his Series 48 desk. The board employs his legendary analog designs, but puts them completely under digital control. The is a microprocessor on every channel module, which give him tons of headroom for future enhancements as well
Oram's new Series 48 Console
Oram's new Series 48 Console • Larger Image Available (118 kb)
as the ability to recall every parameter on the desk in a mere 8 micro-seconds. Most boards take around 80 milliseconds to do this. Thus it is the only analog desk with automation specs rivaling that of high-end software and digital systems. But he hasn't stopped there. Not only can the board recall and automate itself, but his system TOR (Total Operational Recall) can reconfigure everything in the session, including which mics were used, placement of the instruments, outboard gear used (and their settings), and all sorts of other parameters of a session. His scheme is the first ever to really give one the tools to totally recall a particular session. All of the automation data is time and location stamped using a GPS system so projects that move around the world, or are happening simultaneously in different parts of the world, can all be synchronized. Best of all is that there is no learning curve. The board looks and acts just like a big analog desk. There are no menus and, while there is a screen for deeper functions, it is not required at any point for mixing. Prices range from just under $200k to around $500k depending upon how many channels are configured.

They've upgraded the DA7 software to version 1.1. This new version adds comprehensive MIDI communication, enhanced EQ and surround sound capabilities, and several other improvements. The upgrade is free to all users.

Phillips was there with the popular CDR-880 CD recorder ($599). This is really a consumer unit with unbalanced and optical I/O, and SCMS. There is a bit of controversy around this unit about its alleged ability to record on the inexpensive, non RIAA taxed disks. Basically it can be done (with a special trick), but rumor has it that a new software rev is coming that will break that. We'll continue to try to get to the bottom of it and let you know. They are also bringing out a CD player/recorder that does dubbing, albeit with SCMS. The CDR-765 ($599) will be able to work with rewritable media and be capable of high speed dubbing. It will, however, have SCMS and the new "fixed" software requiring the more expensive media. Of most interest in their booth was one of the finest flat screen displays ($15,000) I've seen.

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