Tools of the Trade

ZAXCOM ZFR100 MINI RECORDER The Zaxcom ( ZFR100 ($995) can record up to eight track-hours of audio on a removable 2GB Flash memory card. 4/01/2007 8:00 AM Eastern

The Zaxcom ( ZFR100 ($995) can record up to eight track-hours of audio on a removable 2GB Flash memory card. The unit can be used as a backup or transcription recorder, and produces timecode-stamped BWF (Broadcast Wave Format) or ZTF (Zaxcom Transcription Format) files. It comes with a full-featured timecode reader/generator, weighs 4 ounces and can be powered for up to 20 hours with two AA batteries; an optional 8 to 16-volt DC power input is also available. Other extras include the TCR100 ($100) internal timecode receiver and the STA100 ($295) stereo adaptor.

Immunity from RF is a major feature of Benchmark's ( new 4-channel mic pre, which features XLR outs, a stereo mix bus and isolated stereo/mono solo bus. The PRE420 ($3,747) also boasts a THD+N spec of 0.00024% and the company's proprietary MirrorPan circuitry, which eliminates nonlinear distortion caused by potentiometer wiper current. Additional features include independently switchable phantom power, 40Hz switchable highpass filter, -20dB pad, four direct XLR outputs, two control room XLR outputs and two stereo XLR outputs. The unit offers Benchmark's signature high-current HPA2 headphone amp with switchable “mute control room” output option upon headphone insertion. An adjustable peak-warning indicator and variable intensity meter on each channel and mix bus facilitate level setting. Ribbon users will love that the unit offers up to 70 dB of gain.

This sleek-looking control room monitor controller from Audient (dist. by Vintage King, lets you listen to any of six digital and six analog stereo sources while controlling three sets of speakers, a subwoofer and headphones. The system, which features a remote that keeps the desktop clear of cable clutter, has a built-in talkback; mute, channel mute, mono, polarity and dim controls; and the ability to route any digital source to the dedicated digital output, minimizing patching for the DAW user. Centro ($2,200) also offers zero-latency monitoring for use with two stereo cue outs fed from dedicated record and foldback sources, or from the control room selection.

A handy addition to Lynx's ( Aurora 8 and Aurora 16 AD/DA converters, the LSlot FireWire interface allows the units to be interfaced and controlled via FireWire (Mac and PC). Offering up to 32 channels of I/O at 96 kHz or 16 channels at 192 kHz, the LT-FW ($595) supports ASIO and WDM for Windows and Core Audio for Mac OS X. When used with a host computer, parameters such as sample rate selection, sync-source selection, channel routing, latency and buffer size are enabled and controlled via the Lynx Aurora Remote-Control software. Multiple channel support of 5.1 and 7.1 surround playback formats is also possible, and daisy-chaining of multiple units is in the works for a firmware update.

Building on the framework of the Euphonix ( System 5 Series, the new Fusion HD mixing system features DSP processing channels and DAW control. The included EuCon Hybrid function allows the console surface to control its own DSP channels, as well as channels from multiple external DAWs at the same time. The console works with EuCon-compatible workstations such as Nuendo, Logic Pro and Pyramix, or systems that adhere to the HUI or Mackie Control Protocol (such as Pro Tools, Final Cut Pro and Digital Performer). The Fusion HD offers extensive surround mixing capability, a router, machine control and monitor control. The base unit, starting at $150,000, comes with 80 channels and a 512×512 router, and can be maxed out to 200 channels with a 1,344×1,344 router. Options include Euphonix converters and preamps.

The Neve ( Portico 5014 stereo field editor ($1,795) goes beyond traditional dedicated stereo analog processors with its Width circuit, which splits the stereo signal into a sum-and-difference network, allowing the width, depth, insert and EQ controls to be used, while the Depth control adjusts the spatial positioning of elements in the soundfield. When the width is set to “wide,” the level of difference material is boosted, altering the signal affected by the depth, insert and EQ. When rotated to “mono,” the stereo field is reduced, bringing up coherent mono info in the mix. Other features include a difference channel insert and a difference channel semi-parametric EQ with frequencies ranging from 120 Hz to 2.4 kHz, and two selectable Qs that affect only material panned out of center.

This new 16-band peak-limiter plug-in is powered by Waves' ( patented PLMixer Peak-Limiting Mixer technology and offers the Paragraphic interface with the familiar Threshold, Output Ceiling and Release controls. In addition, it offers frequency, Q and filter-type controls; a built-in linear-phase equalizer; linear-phase filtering; Automatic Release Control (ARC) across the band-split spectrum and Increased Digital Resolution (IDR) with double-precision bit re-quantization; and ninth-order noise shaping. The plug-in is available only as part of Waves' new Mercury bundle. Prices: $12,500, TDM; and $7,500, native.

Designed to be used with the recently launched XLogic Alpha-Link audio converter, SSL's ( Mixpander ($1,595) is a 64-channel PCI audio interface for PCs that ships with a stand-alone software-based mixer. Each Mixpander PCI card provides 64 channels of I/O with up to four cards possible in a single computer. Each Alpha-Link rack I/O unit offers 24 channels of analog A/D input and D/A output, and up to 64 channels of digital I/O. Up to two Alpha Link I/Os can be connected to a single Mixpander. The onboard PCI card offers DSP for the included Audio Toolbox plug-in pack, featuring a 4-band parametric EQ, filter, dynamics, chorus/flange, M/S decoder and dither. It can also work with special-release versions of plug-ins from Acuma Labs, Aphex, Arboretum, CEDAR Audio, Dolby Laboratories, Drawmer, Solid State Logic, Sonic Timeworks, Algorithmix, Synchro Arts, Spinaudio, TC Electronic and Wave Mechanics.

Made for the desktop producer/engineer, the new MV-8800 from Roland (, $2,699) offers synthesis, bass modeling, sampling, recording, mixing and mastering. It can be operated with/without a VGA monitor and mouse, and offers a 24-channel stereo mixer, effects processor, parametric EQ, enhancer, expander, multiband compressor, mastering limiter and soft-clip algorithm with output dithering. A pre-installed sound library loads up to 128 instruments or drum kits at once, and features a special collection of 16 vintage drum machines; also included are acoustic and electric pianos, strings, guitars, horns, synth basses and other instruments. The unit also boasts pitch and time control, an array of Roland SRV reverbs, Boss pedals and the RE-201 Space Echo.

This “vocal booth in a box” from RealTraps (, $299.99) creates a controlled environment for recording voice in acoustically nasty spaces. A hinged pair of 2×2-foot absorbing panels is fully adjustable in a V shape and mounts directly to a boom mic stand, or can be placed directly on a table or other flat surface. In addition to handling vocal duties, the “booth” is big enough to act as a small gobo to isolate a guitar amp, kick drum or other small instrument while tracking.

The Monster (, $129.95) rackmount PowerCenter promises clean power and protection for studio gear. The 900 offers Monster Clean Power Stage 1 filtering, Dual-Mode Plus protection and an audible alarm when power exceeds safe levels. The unit features eight switched outlets; two switched front panel outlets; surge protection rated at 1,850 joules; and heavy-duty and extra-long, high-current, 8-foot Monster PowerLine 100 cable — all in a single-rackspace unit that weighs only 3.9 pounds.

Prism's ( MMA-4XR ($4,275) is a 2-channel mic preamp developed by engineer/producer Leif Mases, whose client roster includes ABBA, Led Zeppelin, Jeff Beck and Black Sabbath, and who developed the Maselec 9001 retrofit EQ for SSL 4000 consoles. The unit offers stepped gain control from 9 dB to +69 dB in 3dB steps, switchable phantom power, polarity-reverse switch, mute, PPM bar graph meter on each channel and balanced XLR I/Os. Living up to the Master Series legacy, the unit's phantom-power circuit provides an unusually high level of current output, while the frequency response extends to more than 200 kHz and output headroom extends up to +28 dBu.

Expanding the sonic possibilities of its software instrument plugs, Applied Acoustics Systems' ( Sound Bank Series is a set of add-on presets and sounds covering various genres and themes. First out is Analog Essentials ($39) for the Ultra Analog VA-1 synthesizer. This collection of 148 presets is a companion set of sounds designed to complement the Ultra Analog factory library. Offering a great selection of high-quality sounds and a large selection of arpeggios, basses, pads, percussion, sound effects and various synth sounds, the bank is meant to provide inspiration for composers, home recordists and closet producers.

The Peavey ( MSDI (Microphone Simulated Direct Interface, $149) is targeted for studio or live use. It connects to an amplifier rig between the amp head, feeding the output thru to the cabinet, as well as providing a balanced XLR output that can be recorded or sent to front of house. The unit features passive amp modeling, a Tone switch, high cut, high boost and output level control. The box can also work at line-level with no speaker connected for use at a preamp's output or effect send.

Adding to its list of plug-ins ported to Pro Tools, RepairFilter from Cube-Tec (, $1,950; volume discounts available) promises to surgically remove steady-state tones and other disturbances while minimizing the effect on the unrelated audio program. The interface features eight tracking notch filters with three operating modes: Auto, Edit and Cursor. In Auto mode, each notch filter searches for a steady-state tone and automatically sets its center frequencies and bandwidth. In Cursor mode, the operator can click on the spectrogram frequency axis to set the filters' center frequency; in Edit mode, exact center frequencies can be manually entered using numeric entry.

Making its debut at NAB, the Side Winder-6 ($750) terminated mic snake/encoder from Holophone ( connects to any Holophone mics, allowing the user to record surround audio to any 2-track recorder. Using the same encoder in the company's H4 SuperMINI camera-mountable surround microphone, the Side Winder-6 includes 3-foot Monster cable that terminates in six Neutrik 6-pin XLR connectors and a virtual surround headphone output with gain control for on-location monitoring of surround sound. The matrix-encoded surround output created by the module can be transmitted, shared and processed via any surround infrastructure.

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