Sweetwater Winter L.A. NAMM Special Report!

Mark of the Unicorn
MOTU is still turning up the heat on all of their competitors with new released versions of their software. Digital Performer for the Macintosh is now at 2.3 with several very cool new features. With a real time tube preamp plug-in, the PreAmp-1 is really amazing! We saw a personal demo both here at Sweetwater and at NAMM is it's simply amazing. Both high in fidelity and ease of use... For the rest of the version checks, Freestyle is now up to version 2.0 and Performer now reaches 6.0. A lot of good things are right around the corner for MOTU - be sure to keep your eyes (and ears) open!

New versions of Opcode's software were on display in their booth this year. Studio Vision Pro has upped the ante with version 4.0 ($995 list). The now shipping Studio 64XTC ($499 list) had many people interested as well as new additions to Opcode's fusion: line of plug-ins: fusion:FILTER ($199.99 list DirectX, $495.00 list TDM) and fusion:VINYL ($99.95 list DirectX).

Several new products made their way into the PreSonus line - products that you can't be without! For those of you using Pro Tools, the M80 ($1899.95 list) eight channel microphone preamplifier is sure to warm up your "digital" sound! It's fully loaded back panel include XLR and TRS line input/outputs via Neutrik combo connectors all in a two rack space, steel blue chassis. It's little brother, the MP20 ($599.95 list) carries the same specs as the M80 but with only in a two channel capacity. Also showing was the ACP88 ($999.95 list) eight channel compressor/gate. With increased dynamic range, a completely redesigned noise gate, and LED indicators on all the buttons, this two rack dynamics processors made a great showing!

Roland MC-505
Roland's Hot New MC-505

One word... Groove. While taking up what seemed like an acre of the show space - Roland is definitely taking on the groove/dance/hip-hop market head-on! Leading the pack is the MC-505 ($1595 list) - built upon the tremendous success of the MC-303. The first of the cool features that's making its way into a lot of Roland's new gear is the D-Beam light sensing controller. By using your hands you can control just about any parameter from tempo to filter response to pitch bend - and everything in between! New fat sounds, new preset dance patterns, and more new powerful effects make the MC-505 any DJ, techno or dance artist's next new "must" have box! Also on the new groove list is the SP-808 Groove Sampler ($1695 list). Half sampling workstation and half hard disk recorder - the SP-808 uses its built in Zip drive to mix and remix all of your samples and grooves with 8 tracks of digital audio available! Add Roland's famous mix of effects processing and you're set to make the fattest sounding grooves and professional-quality remixes. (Roland also introduced their new "Groove" based Web site. Be sure to check it out!

Bringing up Roland's new keyboard section is the new XP-60 ($1995 list). Built upon the premise that more should be less, the XP-60 fits into the XP-series of keyboards with ease. 61 weighted keys, 64-voice polyphony, General MIDI, 4 expansion slots for SR-JV80 expansion boards, a powerful new arpeggiator, and an advanced sequencer with "Realtime Phrase Sequencing" make the XP-60 the most easy to use performance keyboard yet! The JX-305 ($1495 list) brings Roland's Groove boxes into the keyboard arena. 61 velocity-sensitive keys, the dance sound set of the MC-505 Groovebox, 9 realtime control knobs, onboard arpeggiator, and full MIDI implementation is sure to create much anticipation for the groove-oriented musician.

Roland VS-1680
Roland's 16-Track Recorder VS-1680

For those of you needing to fill up your JV-2080, Roland also introduced another SR-JV80 expansion card, the Hip-Hop Collection ($395 list). Featuring 255 Waveforms, 256 Patches, 40 cutting edge Hip-Hop phrase loops, and 8 Rhythm Sets, the SR-JV80-12 will start your funky creations rolling!

Probably the biggest, coolest, new piece of recording equipment to hit Winter NAMM '98 has to be the Roland VS-1680 ($3195 starting list) 24-bit, 16-track Digital Studio Workstation. This 16-track beast has some of the coolest features around: 24-bit MT Pro Recording Mode for massive headroom and dynamic range, custom 320x240 LCD Panel, 20-bit A/D, D/A Convertors, 2 optional 24-bit Stereo multi-effects processors, 10 audio inputs and 12 audio outputs, and new EZ Routing function that allows the creation of templates for instant recall. So with up to 128 GB of storage, 16 tracks max simultaneous playback and 8 tracks max simultaneous recordings, it's easy to see why the next wave of hard disk recording is just around the corner!

Sonic Foundry
From the company that brought you the practically "defacto" standard in Computer Digital Audio Editing for Windows, Sound Forge, Sonic Foundry is bringing you more high level, high quality plug-ins. A new 5.1 Surround Sound Encoder ($1995 list) is in the works as well as a smaller scaled 2-channel version ($695 list). Also on hand was a new set of 6 plug-ins for software based dynamics processing called XFX 2.

Sony's MDM-X4mkii
Sony's 4-Track MiniDisc Recorder, the MDM-X4mkII

Sony was making some improvements on some "old" favorites. The popular MDM-X4 gets a MKII nameplate as well as some great enhancements. Now the MDM-X4MKII ($895 list) adds the ability to group multiple units together or chase lock to an external MTC source, expanded song/disc name capacity, jog/shuttle, and more! The new multi-effects processor DPS-V55 ($550 list) was on hand featuring 4-channel inputs configurable as 4 mono or 2 stereo pairs.

Digital is still the name of the game as Spirit brought out their new Digital 328 mixer. Great features abound as the 328 comes ready to interface right out of the box with two TASCAM TDIF and two ADAT optical interfaces. AES/EBU and S/PDIF standard as well. Adding to the 328's value would seem only natural as this mixer also contains two separate studio effects units from Lexicon.

t.c. electronic
Another one of the cool products of the show was t.c. electronic's FireworX ($2195 list). More than just an explosive new multi-effects box - with 80 MIPS DSP, 24-bit Digital and Analog inputs and outputs, and effects algorithms that have never been seen before - the FireworX is an effects dream! (Not to be biased, but Daniel Fisher, our Director of Soundware Engineering, was a beta tester and some factory preset programming. Most famous for his "Darkside" programming on the K2000, he was also able to program "Darkside" on the FireworX! Now how's that for flexibility in programming... in an effects box!)

Improving on the award winning Finalizer, t.c. electronic breaks new ground with the Finalizer Plus ($2895 list). With new features and numerous enhancements, professional mastering is now within reach for every studio! New 24-bit convertors, AES/EBU, S/PDIF, TOS, and ADAT Interfaces, plus it's world famous and successful Wizard settings make it a definite addition to your studio.

On the software side, TC|Works had on display several DSP plug-ins available for Windows 95/NT. Working with any DirectX-compatible audio software, TC|Native Reverb finally brings the famous TC-quality reverb inside to the digital computer domain! For the software EQ side, TC|Native EQ works was also running on their display PC. Similar in nature to TC|Native Reverb, TC|Native EQ showed some excellent, high quality EQing possibilities.

TASCAM's New Digital Mixer
TASCAM's New Digital Mixer

Several new products made their way into the TASCAM booth this year. One very exciting new product is the one-of-a-kind DA-302 Dual DAT recorder ($1999 list). With the ability to attach multiple units, DAT duplicating has never been easier, or of higher quality. On the feature lists include continuous recording from one deck to the other, both decks can record simultaneously (making a master and a backup at the same time!), and a selection of digital S/PDIF and AES/EBU connections make the DA-302 an incredible value! Also introduced was the new MM-RC Remote Control Unit ($2599 list) with its ability to control up to 100 MMR-8 or MMP-16 recorders/players at once. For those of you needing control of up to four DA-98s, 88s, or 38s, TASCAM unveiled the new RC-828 Remote Control Unit ($699 list). For the entry level multi-track recorder, the Porta 02 Ministudio ($199 list) allows 4-track cassette operation, two MIC/LINE inputs, and sporting a new blue housing! Several new MiniDisc recorders were on hand as well - the new MD-301 ($899 list) and the MD-501 ($1299).

Perhaps the best news in the TASCAM arsenal was the arrival of the TM-D8000 Digital Mixer ($9999 list). We've already told you about the few we have had in stock - but this new digital mixer is a must see (and hear!) With a slew of inputs, both analog and digital (a perfect match for any DA-98s, 88s, or 38s!), incredible dynamic effects processing, an easy to read 24 channel meter bridge, and an easy to use, highly ergonomic and functional layout - this is the console for today's digital recording artist!

Well, that just about wraps up this report from the Winter L.A. NAMM show. If you ever get a chance to talk to our service department - be sure to ask Bruce about his personal experiences at NAMM this winter! Stay tuned to our inSync Internet News Daily for more updates on these and other products as they become available. Retail prices may change as fluctuations in the national debt and weather patterns could have yet unknown effects. Contact your Sweetwater Sales Engineer for more updates and availability. And again - thanks to all of our great customers who took the time to visit us in L.A.

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