Tools of the Trade

MOTU 8PRE INTERFACE Field recordists will want to check out the single-rackspace 8pre FireWire audio interface from MOTU (, $595). The unit

Field recordists will want to check out the single-rackspace 8pre FireWire audio interface from MOTU (, $595). The unit offers eight mic preamps with up to 96kHz/24-bit conversion, MIDI I/O, two 400Mb FireWire ports and dual ADAT optical I/Os. The ADAT output can feed eight channels at 44.1/48 kHz, or both can be used at 88.2/96 kHz to feed a recorder that supports SMUX. The back panel has eight TRS/XLR combo inputs that accept mic- or instrument-level signals. Each mic input features 60 dB of gain, switchable phantom power and -20dB pad. The front panel has five-step LEDs for each channel's input level and a headphone output with volume control. Additionally, the included CueMix Console software works as a 16×8 digital mixer and built-in SMPTE synchronizer/generator.

Add another color to your recordings with the EM-Gold preamp from A-Designs (, $859). Part of the 500 Series, this cousin to the EM-Red, EM-Blue and EM-Silver units combines the output transformer of the EM-Silver and the input transformer of the EM-Red. The vertical-mount unit offers 62 dB of gain, a ¼-inch hi-Z direct input, and switches for phantom power, -20dB pad and polarity. The EM-Gold can be quickly installed or swapped via twin thumbscrews.

Bringing Rane's live sound hardware to the virtual world, Serato's Rane Series TDM plug-ins (, $699 each) feature a 31-band graphic EQ, 10-band parametric EQ, a gate/expander and a compressor/limiter. The plugs are fully compatible with Digidesign's ICON and VENUE consoles inside Pro Tools 7. The graphic EQ uses Rane's Perfect Q technology to eliminate band interaction, forcing the user's response curve to precisely follow the slider positions on the screen. The 10 parametric EQ bands can be moved through the entire frequency range; all are switchable between high/low-shelf and bell filters, and are all independently bypassable. The dynamics plug-in offers a compressor, limiter, gate, ducker, expander and de-esser. Download a free demo from Serato's Website.

Perception is reality with AKG's Perception 400 multipattern, large-diaphragm condenser mic (, $599). Designed for studio and live use, the unit handles up to 145dB SPL and has a zinc/aluminum-alloy metal chassis and stainless-steel, dent-resistant grille to protect the capsules. The 400 features three switchable patterns (cardioid, omni and figure-8), switchable 10dB pad and bass roll-off (300 Hz at 12 dB/octave). The mic includes a shock-mount and case.

The words Daking and digital have never crossed paths until now. DakingPlus (, a joint venture between Geoff Daking and Dave Thibodeau, features a new line of digitally controlled, Class-A analog processors, aux bus modules and preamps from the mind of Daking. The entire product line is designed so that it can be scaled to configure a 96-in/24-out console or can function simply as a 2-channel analog I/O processing package. The first product out of the gate is the EQ500. The 4-band unit will be available to fit in various existing rack modules to facilitate integration into existing setups. I played with the EQ500 interface at AES, and it packs a lot of operability into an intuitive package.

SoundField ( has released a version of its B-format, multi-channel recording system that outputs signals digitally. Invented to overcome the problems associated with long cable runs at sporting events, the DSF-2 offers live decoding to stereo, stereo M/S and 4-channel B-format. The stereo signal can be output in analog or digital domains (48/96/192 kHz) via XLR or unbalanced BNC connectors, respectively, while the stereo M/S and B-format signals can only be output digitally. This signal can be transported over long distances and then decoded using SoundField's SP451 hardware processor or Surround Zone plug-in.

The latest release from Digidesign's ( Advanced Instrument Research (AIR) group is Strike ($299), an RTAS virtual instrument for Pro Tools HD, LE and Pro Tools M-Powered. The company's groove machine allows the user to achieve the near-impossible, real-life task of telling a drummer how to play. Users can adjust the virtual drummer's playing intensity, complexity, timing, groove, dynamics and more in real time. The instrument features five drum kits, each containing 12 drum sounds with 300 samples per instrument. There are 1,500 preset patterns, which can be customized and saved, or Strike can be used as a drum module by triggering it directly from Pro Tools. A built-in software mixer lets users add mic leakage and room sound, or alter sounds via a 3-band EQ or two included insert effects per channel.

Universal Audio ( has combined its talents with the co-founders of Euphonix to devise the first in a new line of products under the DCS (Desktop Console System) banner. The DCS Remote Preamp offers two mic pre/DIs, mid-side recording with decoded monitoring, a headphone amp with reverb and EQ, and a digitally controlled analog signal path. The two-piece unit can be placed close to the source and remotely operated from up to 300 feet away via Cat-5 cable.

Aimed at the high end, the Edition 9 headphones from Ultrasone (, $1,500) feature titanium-plated drivers, Ethiopian sheep-leather ear pads and headband pads, and they come in a metal attaché case. The cans incorporate Ultrasone's S-Logic, which boasts natural surround technology and reduced SPLs. They also reduce electromagnetic field radiation by up to 98%.

The stackable Konnekt 8 FireWire audio interface from TC Electronic (, $375) has two preamps, two hi-Z inputs, two aux line inputs, two balanced outs, stereo S/PDIF I/O and MIDI I/O. The unit can be used as a stand-alone mixer via the front panel light ring and encoder controls, and stacked units can be networked, allowing musicians to monitor each other in real time. Other features include two headphone outs (one with a speaker muting function) and low-latency drivers for Mac OS X (Intel-based Macs included), Windows XP, and applications supporting WDM, ASIO and Core Audio drivers.

Interfacing DB25 analog and AES/EBU digital connections to XLR? The single-rackspace Wireworks MMB8D ( is available in various gender combinations with analog- or digital-wired DB25 connectors, or with a 4-foot tail for in-rack direct connections. The system includes the MMB8D MiniStageBox and MMLD8D MiniLineBox, DB25 trunks and the MMBR rack adapter for the MMB8D and MMLD8D boxes. The units can be rackmounted, used as floor boxes or wall-mounted. The DB25 trunks can be made to order or purchased in 5/10/15/20/25-foot lengths featuring heavy-duty metal bodies with captive thumbscrews and gold contacts.

The latest I/O box from M-Audio (, $499) is capable of 32 channels of Lightpipe I/O, S/PDIF I/O and 2-channel analog output for a total of 34×36 channels at 44.1/48kHz sample rates. Users can also record 16 channels simultaneously in SMUX at 88.2- or 96kHz sample rates. Features include independent volume controls for the ¼-inch balanced outs and front panel headphone out, word clock out and MIDI I/O. The box interfaces with any Lightpipe-capable preamp, including M-Audio's Octane 6.

Eventide ( releases Version 5.2 software for the H8000FW processor. The upgrade adds more than 100 new programs, including many from noted sound designer Jay Rose…Cycling '74 ( releases Soundflower software upgrade V. 1.2, adding Intel-based Mac support for the free system extension that allows users to route audio between OS X Core Audio applications…Speaking of the new Macs, the URS ( Everything EQ Bundle is now supporting the new Intel-based computers across the Audio Units and VST versions. All URS Universal Binary versions will require a minimum of Mac OS 10.3.9…Steinberg's ( ASIO 2.2 SDK provides software engineers with a complete set of tools for creating ASIO-ready host applications and drivers for 64-bit versions of Microsoft's Windows operating system…Kjaerhus Audio ( is offering a free crossgrade from PC to Mac for its Golden Gate GAG-1 and MPL-1 Master Precision Limiter Pro Edition. In addition, the company just released Mac Intel — based compatible software for the GAG-1, V. 1.02…Sound Devices ( adds powerful new functions to the 7 Series recorders with the release of software V. 2. New features include real-time recording to external FireWire drives, programming and control of the CL-1 Remote Control and Keyboard Interface, faster FireWire transfer speeds, and file management and metadata additions…iZotope ( releases major updates for Ozone 3, Spectron and Trash software. The updates offer Universal Binary support for Intel-based Macs, support for 64-bit Windows applications, an improved authorization system, improved delay-compensation support with Delay Freeze function and the ability to change “Alt-Solo” bandwidth with the mouse wheel…Ableton Live 5 buyers can educate themselves via Ableton Live 101: Mastering Live (, a set of 159 separate tutorial videos showing how songs are constructed using Live. Live 6 users who purchase the videos are eligible for a free upgrade to Ableton Live 101: Mastering Live 6, currently in production…Synthogy ( releases a Universal Binary version of Ivory for Audio Units. The update is essential for all Intel-based Macs and is highly recommended for all users with Mac PowerPC processors running OS 10.4 or higher. The download and installation is also the first release of the Ivory stand-alone version for Mac and is free to all registered Ivory users…Now available, IK Multimedia's ( Mac-Intel versions of AmpliTube 1 Live and T-RackS 24 is a free update to users registered after April 1, 2006, and $49 for those who purchased after April 1, 2006.

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