2014 Most Innovative Product AwardsSelected by the Readers of Mix magazine
Welcome to the NewBay Media Pro Audio Group’s (Mix, Pro Sound
News, Pro Audio Review) first annual, year-end Innovative Product
Awards, as we salute a few of the breakthrough technologies of the
past year, broken down into six convenient categories.
Products were submitted by the manufacturers in September,
and NewBay Media readers voted online for the winners. Take a
look at the following innovators, then please let us know what you
Manley CORE Reference Channel Strip
The CORE analog channel strip comprises a mic preamplifier, compressor, equalizer, and limiter. The compressor section offers Manley’s ELOP technology. The compressor is placed before the mic preamp and uses a 3:1 ratio, with continuously variable Attack, Release, and Threshold controls, and a Silent Bypass switch. The CORE also has a fast-attack FET brickwall limiter with continuously variable Threshold and Release controls. The unit’s equalizer gives you low and high Baxandall shelves (80 Hz and 12 kHz) with ± 12dB range, and a sweep-able midrange bell EQ, 100 to 1k Hz, or 1 to 10k Hz with ± 10dB range.
Solid State Logic XL-Desk
Solid State Logic’s XL-Desk is designed for tracking and mixing engineers who require an analog console within a DAW centric studio, but don’t want or need the integrated DAW control and analog level automation found in other SSL console products. XL-Desk is a 24 into 8 analog console with more than 40 inputs of SSL SuperAnalogue summing, an inbuilt 18-slot 500 Series format rack (with an SSL Stereo Bus Compressor pre-loaded), eight SSL VHD mic pre’s on board, four stereo Mix Buses, a fully featured monitoring and talkback section (with an SSL Listen Mic Compressor) and an array of connectivity and routing options.
PreSonus StudioLive RM Series
Based on the StudioLive AI-series engine and controlled with UC Surface software for Mac, Windows and iOS, the StudioLive RM16AI and RM32AI 32x16x3 rack-mount Active Integration digital mixers are scalable, compact, and 100-percent recallable. PreSonus’ new UC Surface control software runs on Mac and Windows computers, as well as iPad, and works for live and studio mixing. The 3U rack-mount RM16AI provides 16 locking XLR inputs with recallable XMAX Class-A preamps, eight XLR line outs, and three main outs (left, right, and mono/center); 32 internal channels and 25 buses; a 52x34 FireWire 800 recording interface; 96 kHz operation; and extensive signal processing.
Neve Genesys Black
The Neve Genesys Black, hand-built in the company’s UK factory, is a digitally controlled analog recording console with eight channels of 1073 mic/line preamps; 16-channel DAW/tape monitoring; hands-on DAW control for Pro Tools, Nuendo and more; eight channels of Neve digitally controlled analog 4-band EQ; eight channels of Neve digitally controlled analog VCA dynamics; and channel AD/DA conversion via MADI, AES and FireWire formats. A central touchscreen, eight auxiliary buses, eight group buses, two main outputs, four effects returns, comprehensive metering, 5.1 monitoring, two cue mixes, talkback services and an integrated footprint with internal power supply provides all the power you need.
INTERFACE WITH PROCESSING
Aphex USB Rack Chassis
The USB 500 Rack combines a 500 Series rack and a USB 2 audio interface into one product. Use your favorite mic preamps as inputs directly to your DAW or use your favorite analog compressors and EQs as hardware inserts in your DAW, all while monitoring though the USB 500 Rack, which includes Mono and Dim functions along with two high performance, independent headphone amplifiers. Modules can be chained in the analog domain for channel strip operation or linked for stereo compression. The USB 500 Rack also provides balanced XLR connections for use as a standard analog 500 Series rack.
The DDL-500 is a single-wide module for 500 Series lunchboxes. It features 10 seconds of pristine delay at a 192 kHz sample rate and a unique design that strictly limits the amount of digital circuitry to the bare minimum. Soft saturation clipping, lowpass filter, feedback, insert loop, relay bypass, and +20 dB boost are all analog. 500 Series is, by and large, analog and the DDL-500 is “as analog as possible.” The DDL-500’s digital circuitry is kept to a minimum—just the chips necessary for delay. All of the other sound-shaping features are implemented in the analog domain.
Softube Console 1 DAW Interface
Softube Console 1 is a tightly integrated hardware/software system that can be used with any major DAW to deliver the analog sound of Softube’s plug-ins in combination with using physical knobs and buttons. Inserting the Console 1 plug-in on any or all mixer channels of a DAW routes the sound from the DAW into the Console 1 mixer and back; users then press a track selector button on the Console 1 hardware and start adjusting the knobs. Each function on the channel strip has a corresponding knob or button on the hardware. The Console 1 package includes Softube’s model of the Solid State Logic SL 4000 E analog console.
Antelope Audio Zen Studio
Antelope Audio’s Zen Studio is a professional, portable audio interface with best in class analog and digital connectivity. The 12 world-class mic pre’s, Antelope’s signature clocking, the onboard DSP effects with multiple monitor mixers and the proprietary low-latency USB connectivity make Zen a world-class mobile recording system that can fit easily inside a backpack or gear bag. Zen Studio is designed to meet the needs of the modern day producer or engineer on-the-go, as well as location sound engineers, sound designers, independent bands and musicians in search of greater sound quality and flexibility.
The Apogee Ensemble is the first Thunderbolt 2 audio interface to offer superior sound quality, the lowest latency performance and the most comprehensive studio functionality all in one box. Ensemble includes eight Advanced Stepped Gain mic preamps, monitor controller functionality including talkback, front panel guitar I/O, two headphone outputs and digital connectivity for a total of 30x34 I/O. Blending acclaimed innovations, groundbreaking new features and an effortless user interface, Ensemble empowers you to capture inspiration when creative lightning strikes. Launched in 2007, the first Ensemble re-defined the possibilities of the personal studio interface, setting new standards of quality, simplicity and value.
The 1248 audio interface is the flagship product in a new generation of audio interfaces equipped with AVB technology, along with the industry’s first low-cost ($295) five-port AVB switch. These products are now mainstreaming AVB Ethernet in broad segments of the pro audio market, with their affordable price tag, compelling and complementary I/O configurations, very high quality analog performance, extensive 48-channel mixing, DSP effects, universal computer connectivity through Thunderbolt and USB 2, wireless control over Wi-Fi, scalable expansion possibilities, and high-performance AVB audio networking features. In short, the 1248, and MOTU’s other new AVB interfaces, deliver on the promise of AVB-driven networked audio for everyday audio workflows.
iZotope’s award-winning RX is the industry standard for audio repair and enhancement, fixing common audio problems like noises, distortions, and inconsistent recordings. Post-production professionals, audio engineers, and video editors alike use RX to transform previously unusable audio into pristine material. RX’s suite of automatic, intelligent modules reduce manual tasks in your audio production workflow, freeing you up to focus on creative experimentation. And for professionals who need to quickly deliver quality results, RX 4 Advanced offers even more specialized post-production tools. RX 4 is the result of iZotope’s collaboration with working professionals to identify new ways of improving workflows and enhancing sound.
Universal Audio UAD-2 Satellite Thunderbolt DSP Accelerators
UAD-2 Satellite Thunderbolt DSP Accelerators are a sleek, powerful way for Thunderbolt-equipped Mac users to “supercharge” their systems and run larger mixes filled with rich, DSP-intensive plug-ins. These desktop-friendly units provide full access to UAD Powered Plug-Ins, including exclusive titles from Studer, Ampex, Lexicon, Neve, Manley, SSL, and more. Available in QUAD or OCTO models with a choice of four or eight SHARC processors, UAD-2 Satellite Thunderbolt DSP Accelerators can also be integrated alongside UAD-2 PCIe cards and Thunderbolt-enabled Apollo interfaces, including Apollo Twin, Apollo, and Apollo 16. UAD-2 Satellite Thunderbolt DSP Accelerators are available in Core, Custom, and Ultimate software packages.
The PMC QB1 Active is a large-scale, ultra-high-resolution main studio monitor with analog and digital (up to 192kHz) inputs. Ideal for either soffit-mounted or free-standing use, each QB1-A incorporates the latest generation of PMC’s driver designs, 4825W of Class-D amplification, Advanced Transmission Line (ATL) bass-loading technology, DSP control, and a quartet of 10-inch carbon fibre/Nomex piston bass drivers to create a single reference monitor that has the transparency, resolution, dynamic range, frequency response, forensic sense of detail, and wide, consistent imaging demanded by the international audio elite. Its cutting edge DSP technology delivers ultra precise EQ, Driver optimization and non-invasive driver protection.
Elite Acoustics Sunburst
The Elite Acoustics Sunburst is a studio monitor speaker that can also be used as a mixer/P.A. system or portable hi-fi Bluetooth-enabled sound reinforcement. Designed and assembled in the U.S., the Sunburst Gear M3BR8 is a professional high-fidelity reference monitor speaker system that is compact and portable. The bi-amplified design features a 5 and ¼-inch speaker paired with a 1-inch tweeter to provide maximum sound clarity. With three channel inputs, the Sunburst Gear M3BR8 speakers have inputs for a variety of instrument and microphone combinations as well as an aux input for jamming along with your MP3 player.
IsoAcoustics Modular Aluminum Isolation Stands
IsoAcoustics Modular Aluminum Isolation Stands can be custom-configured to meet the needs of studio engineers and producers, sound designers, acousticians, musicians and sound contractors for both small and large scale situations, including recording and production facilities, performance stages, nightclubs, theaters, concert halls and many other venues. The Modular Stands markedly enhance sound clarity and performance of studio monitors, subwoofers, sound reinforcement loudspeakers, and guitar, bass and other musical instrument amplifiers in both large and small scale venues, using the company’s patented isolation technology that allows the speakers or subwoofers to float in free space, resulting in authentic, clear, uncolored sound.
AEA N22 Ribbon Microphone
Featuring the same Big Ribbon technology that has earned AEA its reputation, the N22 offers an incredible sound in close-mic applications like acoustic and electric guitars, piano, vocals, and drums. With phantom-powered JFET electronics and a custom German transformer that provides an additional 12dB of output, the N22 achieves optimal performance with a wide range of preamps including USB or FireWire audio interfaces in home studio setups. The highly protected pure aluminum ribbon allows for using the N22 in live sound applications and vocal recording without the need for an additional pop filter.
Audio-Technica AT5045 Microphone
The AT5045 is the latest addition to Audio-Technica’s flagship 50 Series of premier studio microphones. This hand-assembled and individually inspected cardioid condenser features large-diaphragm characteristics and fast transient response that make it an ideal instrument microphone. The AT5045 offers the performance of a large-diaphragm, side-address condenser in a convenient, stick-type body. Despite the space limitations imposed by its capsule, the AT5045 boasts Audio-Technica’s largest single diaphragm—a two-micron-thick, vapor-deposited gold rectangular diaphragm. The microphone’s circuitry has been honed to the essentials to optimize performance, resulting in exceptionally low noise, high SPL capability (149dB SPL max) and a dynamic range of 141 dB.
DPA d:screet Necklace Microphone
The new d:screet Omnidirectional Miniature Necklace Microphone addresses an industry need for a mic that can be mounted and removed quickly several times by untrained talent without a sound expert nearby. Especially useful for instances when mounting and consistent audio output are the primary requirements, the d:screet Necklace Mic is ideal for situations requiring quick costume changes. Featuring DPA’s legendary d:screet 4061 Omnidirectional Miniature Capsule in a soft rubber necklace, the d:screet Necklace Mic offers fast, repeatable, “do-it-yourself” mounting and is designed specifically for use by non-technicians. It is available in black, white and brown and in lengths of either 18.3 or 20.9 inches.
Radial J48 Drect Box
Using only 48V phantom power, the Radial J48 is an active direct box that produces an exceptionally linear response that extends from 20Hz up to well above 40kHz. Low distortion of all types is achieved via a unique digital switching power supply that raises the internal operating rail voltage for added headroom and improved signal handling. The results are truly amazing. The J48 delivers an ideal even-order harmonic cascade and a sonic performance that outperforms DIs costing several hundreds more. And like all Radial products, the J48 is both feature-rich for studio and made tough to handle the road.
Shure GLXD16 Wireless System
New from Shure, the GLXD16 Wireless System provides guitar players with a durable, cost-effective wireless solution that delivers exceptionally clear digital audio with seamless operation. The system features the GLXD6 Guitar Pedal Receiver with an integrated tuner, and an ergonomic bodypack transmitter with a lithium-ion rechargeable battery. Built with a durable metal construction, the system’s GLXD6 Guitar Pedal Receiver features a built-in chromatic instrument tuner with both strobe and needle tuning views. A first-ever for Shure, the GLXD6 Guitar Pedal Receiver is the perfect solution for guitarists as it mounts onto any pedal board.