Science in the Service of Art: Product Hits of AES 2002

From October 5-8, the Audio Engineering Society returned to Los Angeles for its 113th convention. With the economy in slow recovery, nobody knew exactly what to expect from the show. And with the dockworker lockout strangling U.S. ports, some companies’ shipments were stranded offshore, resulting in a lot of last-minute scurrying to put booths together.
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From October 5-8, theAudio Engineering Society returned to Los Angeles for its 113thconvention. With the economy in slow recovery, nobody knew exactly whatto expect from the show. And with the dockworker lockout stranglingU.S. ports, some companies’ shipments were stranded offshore,resulting in a lot of last-minute scurrying to put booths together.

Many attendees commented on the convention’s smaller size, butthere was no shortage of exhibitors, with some 400 companies showingtheir wares. Many exhibitors simply downsized their booth space frompast years, yielding one very packed, highly concentrated mainexhibition hall. And, in step with the show’s "Science in theService of Art" theme, the industry came out in force to check out thelatest tools for creative audio expression. Here are a few that grabbedour attention.

Click here for Mark Frink's LiveSound report, and here for our special HitsYou Might Have Missed!

MICROPHONES!

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More than two dozen new microphones debuted at AES, and nothing getsrid of the blues like a new addition to your mic locker.
The most talked about product at AES was Telefunken’s (www.telefunkenusa.com) reissue of the classic tubeEla-M 251 studio mic. Each $10,125 unit is meticulously hand-built inthe U.S. to original German specs, with the same methods used to makethe originals 40 years ago. Telefunken USA also offers replacementparts for all Ela-M and U47/48 mics, cables, power supplies and CK-12capsules, and can restore most vintage Telefunkens.
Audio EngineeringAssociates (www.wesdooley.com) is known for its re-creations ofclassic RCA ribbon mics. Now, AEA debuts its own design, the R84, whichfeatures a large, yet ultrathin (0.00007-inch) ribbon element for fasttransients and up to 165dB SPL handling. Retail is $999, withshockmount, cable and case.
Another take on a vintage mic is the AKG (www.akgusa.com) C414B-ULS/SE Special Stereo Set, which has a nickel finish like theoriginal 1976-1986 C 414EB, but pairs the classic CK12 capsules withmodern UltraLinear Series electronics. The two-mic set with case,shockmounts, stereo bar and windscreens is $2,100.
Among the new tube mics at AES was SE Electronics’ (www.seelectronics.com) Z-5600, a nine-patterncondenser with a large 1.07-inch diaphragm. Retail is $649. ADK’s(www.adkmic.com)A48 is an all-new, multipattern vocal mic featuring atransverse-mounted 12AX7 tube and $999 pricing.
Tube or solid-state...Can’t decide? The DPA (www.dpamicrophones.com) 4041-ST is designed forvocals and acoustic instruments with large dynamics: Self-noise istypically 8 dBA. Its modular capsule can be unscrewed from the preamp,offering options of 48-volt or 130V powered, solid-state preamps and a130V tube preamp. List is $3,270. Groove Tubes’ Model 1B(distributed by www.m-audio.com) is a reissue of its legendary Model 1Aside-address true condenser, with a 1.10-inch diameter capsule andeither tube or FET electronics.
In another twist, the Soundelux EFET47 (distributed by www.transaudiogroup.com) is designed for the sameapplications as a classic FET47 and FET87. A quality German-builtcapsule is mated to two different-sounding sets of internalelectronics, with a switch to select between the two. Retail:$2,100.
RØDE Microphones’ (www.rodemic.com) parent company celebrated its 35thyear in pro audio by launching the NT1-A Anniversary Model, with anultralow, 5.5dB self-noise spec, 140dB SPL handling and a newnickel-plated body.
Three new KSM small-diaphragm condensers from Shure (www.shure.com) featurean extended frequency response. The KSM141 ($770/each or $1,540 inpairs) mechanically switches from cardioid to omni with a turn of aring. Two cardioid-only models–the $575 KSM137 and the $305KSM109–round out the series.
For years, Microtech Gefell (www.microtechgefell.de) has offered well-craftedGerman mics at affordable prices, but they’re now easier to buywith a new English-language Website and North American distribution byC-TEC (www.cabletek.ca).

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SPEAKING OUT...

AES had more than 20 new studio monitors. Our complete report onthis year’s latest developments is in our December issue, but hereare some last-minute additions that didn't make it into print:Mackie’s (www.mackie.com) HR626 is a 140-watt, poweredmonitor with dual 6.7-inch woofers flanking a 1-inch dome tweeter in ahorizontal package for console-top or center-channel applications. TheADAM (www.adam-audio.com) A.R.T. Tower is afloor-standing, four-way system designed for mid/far-field monitoringwith a 38 to 35k Hz bandwidth. Our fave monitor at AES was the PelonisSignature Series from noted studio designer Chris Pelonis (www.pelonissound.com). This four-way active systemcombines a 15-inch Tannoy Churchill Dual-Concentric driver, a 15-inchsubwoofer and TAD tweeter for 20 to 45k Hz response. Sweeeeet!

WORKSTATION NEWS

Pro Tools is graduating to OS X: Digidesign (www.digidesign.com) showed a preview of Pro Tools6, which boasts a new user interface, enhanced databasing, mixing andMIDI extras among its top features. In addition to OS X optimization,the upgrade includes new DigiBase file-management technology, whichlets users search and audition and import files directly into ProTools. Enhanced MIDI functionality in Pro Tools 6 includes support forOS X’s Core MIDI Services. MIDI Time Stamping (MTS) supportprovides sample-accurate MIDI with Pro Tools system-compatible softwaresynths and samplers, and up to sub-millisecond-accurate timing withMIDI I/O and other MTS-capable interfaces. New Groove Quantize and BeatDetective features, plus increased mixing and machine controlcapabilities, are included.
Big news atSADiE (www.sadie.com): The new Series 5 workstation lineembraces both PCM and DSD technology, and supports real-time DirectXplug-ins and standard Windows networking. This new software platform iscurrently available in four hardware options, with the flagship DSDserving as an 8-channel PCM/CD mastering editor in addition to its DSDfunctionality; further models are in development. A new version ofSADiE’s operating software, Version 5, includes a completelyredesigned user interface, although users who prefer the traditionalSADiE look can select the "classic" interface. SADiE is also nowdistributing Weiss Engineering and Penguin Metering in the U.S. andSouth America.
Ever wish you had your own personal world-class orchestra? Distributedby Ilio (www.ilio.com), the Vienna Symphonic Library is anenormous sample library that features the complete range of thesymphony orchestra, which, when completed, will feature 1.5 milliontones and note sequences performed by musicians from Vienna’sprofessional orchestras and recorded at 24-bit/96kHz in custom-builtrecording environments to ensure minimal noise floor. The First Editionrelease–available for Giga-Studio 2.5 and Emagic EXS24–totalsmore than 61 Gigabytes (!) of samples.
Steinberg (www.steinberg.net) debuted Nuendo 2.0 that isoptimized for surround: Every input, audio track, effect, group andoutput now offers up to 12 discrete channels. Nuendo also offers a newway to organize inputs and outputs, letting users customizemultichannel I/O configurations and switch between them with a singlekeystroke. Several input and output buses can be utilized at the sametime, and the architecture allows for recording in split or interleavedsurround audio file formats. Other features in 2.0 includesignal-routing improvements and networking enhancements, including VSTLink and the ability to transfer tracks and events in a network overTCP/IP LAN. List is $1,499.
Ego Sys(www.esi-pro.com)showed the $1,999 M-fire MF9600, a rackmount stereo-mastering deck thatuses DVD-R or DVD-RW media to store 120 minutes of 24-bit/96kHz audio.But the big news was MAXIO XD, a 24-bit/192kHz system that can handle32 simultaneous I/Os. The $1,699 basic system includes a two-rackspaceunit with 8-in/8-out XLR connectors and either a PCI interface fordesktop systems or a card bus interface for laptop recording. The PCIversion supports up to four cards on the same computer, enabling128-channel recording. Both Windows XP and MAC OS X are supported.

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PLUG-INS

TC Works (www.tcworks.de) introduced Assimilator, a $299processing plug-in for Powercore that analyzes the EQ curve of areference mix and applies that curve to target audio material.Processing is phase-linear and employs FFT (Fast Fourier Transform);heavy DSP is handled by Powercore (up to four instances of Assimilatorcan be run on one card), freeing up the host CPU for otherprocessing.
CEDAR’s (www.cedaraudio.com) Cambridge noise reduction andrestoration software is fully automated, scalable (up to eightchannels) and can process 96kHz audio in real time. Algorithms includeDNS, DeClickle (de-clicker/de-crackler), NR-4 (de-hisser), EQ, spectrumanalyzer, deBuzz and deClip; users can also select from a wide range ofI/O formats, channel, metering and dithering options.
Waves (www.waves.com) celebrated its tenth anniversary instyle with a host of new plug-in products. The 360° SurroundToolkit is a set of surround production tools for Mac-based ProTools|HD and MIX systems. Also, Restoration is now available for HD,the Renaissance Collection is now bundled with the Digi 002, andVersion 3.6 of the entire product line for TDM users isavailable.
At Universal Audio (www.uaudio.com), the exciting news was theannouncement that Powered Plug-Ins, plus many plug-ins previously soldunder the Kind of Loud name, are being ported over to TDM. And a newversion of the UAD card, the UAD-8 I/O, features an ADAT opticalinterface that supports sample rates from 44.1 to 192 kHz. On thehardware side, UA debuted the 2192 dual AD/DA converter and the 6176channel strip, which combines the 2-610 mic/instrument pre and the1176LN compressor.
BIAS’ (www.bias-inc.com) Sound Soap cleans up your audio.By adjusting two knobs, users can easily remove unwanted noise fromalmost any media file type, including DV soundtracks, Flash and otherWeb tools, as well as all common audio formats. The software works onboth Mac and Windows.
Trillium Lane Labs (www.tllabs.com) showed two cool new Pro Toolsplug-ins. TL Metro is a metronome/click track with a variety ofpercussion samples; TL InTune is a software tuner with presets of 20different guitar-tuning types. The plug-ins are $250/each, or $399 forthe pair.
Sony (www.sonyproaudio.com) gave us a sneak peek at itspowerful new Oxford dynamics plug-in for TDM and Powercore systems, butyou’ll have to wait until NAMM to see the real deal.

OUTBOARD TOYS

If you missed thebuzz on Plugzilla at AES, then you must have been under a rock. Thisnew two-rackspace box from Eventide offshoot Manifold Labs (www.plugzilla.com)will run any VST plug-in, with hardware controls, without a computer.Although we only saw a prototype at the show, Plugzilla was alreadymaking deals with plug-in manufacturers, and Wave Arts has alreadysigned on in support. Another Eventide relative, Princeton Digital (www.princetondigital.com) showed its first product,the Reverb 2016, which re-creates the algorithms of the legendaryEventide SP 2016.
The 960LS is a stereo version of the flagship 960L Multi-ChannelDigital Effects System from Lexicon (www.lexicon.com). It includes a LARC2, one DSP cardand eight channels of balanced analog I/O. Options include a second DSPcard that more than doubles its processing power, an 8-channel AES/EBUdigital I/O card, automation and additional 96kHz reverbs. The unit canbe upgraded to full multichannel surround configurations.
Don’t forget analog! Ibis from Crane Song (www.cranesong.com)is a discrete, Class-A, 4-band stereo EQ with adjustable bandwidth andswitch-selectable frequencies on musical centers. A Color function canbe applied to the overall audio path or to an individual band. The ADL670 Compressor from Anthony DeMaria Labs (www.anthonydemarialabs.com) reproduces the sound ofthe classic Fairchild 670 compressor in a hand-built unit that’smatched part-for-part with the original–the same switches, tubesand specs. Price? About $18,000.

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CONSOLES

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Yamaha’s (www.yamaha.com) DM1000 is a smaller version of theDM2000, with 16 faders, 16 mic pre’s, two mini-YDGAI slots, plusfour XLR "omni" inputs and 12 XLR "omni" outs. Available in earlyspring, along with a new 16-channel AES card, the DM1000 brings 48channels of 96kHz digital functionality to a rackmountable formfactor.

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Top film composer/sound designer Frank Serafine has formed apartnership with Japan’s Tamura Corporation to design a suite ofdigital products for the film and video market. The first product isthe Qolle (www.qolle.com) izm125, an 8-channel, DC-powereddigital mixer featuring high-quality mic preamps, HPF and compressionon each channel, 5.1 surround mixing, and a choice of analog or digitaloutputs (TDIF, FireWire or AES/EBU).
The John Oram-designed S100 from Trident Audio (www.tridentaudio.co.uk) is a compact,rackmountable, 8-channel mixer with 3-band EQ based on the classicTrident Series 80, five aux sends and three stereo output busesconfigurable as six mono outs for surround tracking. For a limitedtime, it’s offered at a bargain $1,995.
Steinberg (www.steinberg.net) raised eyebrows with theEuphonix console in its booth acting as the world’s biggesthardware controller for Nuendo, thanks to the Euphonix TransferStation,which translates R-1-formatted files to AES31 file format, retainingall edits, crossfades and vital time-stamped information within amultitrack session. Not so coincidentally, Euphonix and Steinbergannounced a strategic relationship to develop integrated professionalaudio products for the music and audio post-production markets.

Top LiveSound Picks from AES

by Mark Frink

Cadac’s (www.cadac-sound.com) renowned quality comesdown-market with the new compact S-Type live performance console.It’s available in three frame sizes, typically with eight, 16 or24 input strips. The S-Type offers eight VCAs, eight groups and eightauxes (two of which are stereo), and frames can be linked for largerconfigurations.

DiGiCo’sD5 Live (www.digiconsoles.com) is the newest large-formatdigital desk and is available with 56 or 96 mic lines from stage and a64- or 96-channel worksurface. The D5 Live, which spent last year onthe road with Rod Stewart, incorporates many of the features andtechnology from Soundtracs’ digital recording and post-productiondesks, including an intuitive control surface with four touchscreendisplays.

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Hear Technologies’ Hear Back (www.heartechnologies.com) headphone mixer systemuses CAT-5 cables to feed eight channels of program (stereo mix, plussix mono "more me" inputs) to pod-shaped personal mixers.

InnovaSon’s Compact (www.innovason.com) is now available as the Sy4040-channel Digital Mixer, with eight stereo inputs and 12 stereo auxbuses, making it practical for IEM chores and dual FOH/monitorapplications. Owners of Compact 32 mixers can upgrade.

JBL (www.jblpro.com) debuted scaled-down versions of its4889 VerTec line array. The mid-sized VT4888 is a dual-12, three-waydesign weighing 108 pounds, with a 2,000-watt LF section, 600W MFsection and 150W HF section. The compact VT4887 is a dual-8, biamp,three-way design weighing 62 pounds. Its companion VT4881 compact subemploys a dual-coil 15, weighs 120 pounds and can be directly coupledto the 4887 in hanging or ground-stacked applications.

L’Acoustics’ (www.l-acoustics-us.com) new 112XT and 115XT co-axfloor monitors provide smooth performance in a low-profile design, plusa pole mount and fly track.

Klark Teknik’s DN 9340 Helix Digital Equalizer (www.klarkteknik.com) is a dual-channel EQ, eachside offering a 31-band graphic with five filter types and up to asecond of delay. EQs include 12 parametric and two dynamic"threshold-dependent" filters, plus four more user-configurable ashigh- or lowpass, shelf or notch. The 4-channel DN 9344 is a 1U slaveunit. An auto-solo function calls selected outputs (or inputs) fromHeritage and Legend consoles to appear in the master Helix.

QSC (www.qscaudio.com) added five two-way modelsemploying composite construction to its ISIS line. Single 10-, 12- and15-inch woofer models are intended to pair with QSC’s 215PCMpowered subwoofer, and will run off of its extra pair of amp channelsand processors. Also unveiled was the WideLine compact line array,designed to ground-stack on the sub.

Radian’s MicroFill (www.radianaudio.com) employs a 12-inch woofer and a2-inch driver in a uniquely shaped, multi-angle design that includesversatile rigging hardware and a pole cup.

Shure’s (www.shure.com) SM86 live performance condenser micoffers a warm vocal sound and cardioid pickup pattern for handheldapplications.

SLS (www.slsloudspeakers.com) unveiled its new RLA/2compact line array. It’s only 28 inches wide, employs dual 8-inch,high-power cones, and the high-output PRD 1000 ribbon driver used inSLS’ larger products.

Mark Frink is Mix’s sound reinforcement editor.

Hits You Might HaveMissed…

Audio Technica’s (www.audiotechnica.com) AT8471 is an amazing micmount with dual-swiveling gimbals that allow placement in any position.Slick!

JL Cooper’s (www.jlcooper.com) CS-32 MiniDesk control surfacehas 32 dedicated channel strips to tweak levels, mutes, solos,track-arming, etc., as well as jog/shuttle wheel, transport buttons andassignable rotaries for plug-in control–all in a notebook-sizedworksurface. Shipping in January, the $499 unit works with Pro Tools,Nuendo, Cubase, Cakewalk, Logic Audio, Soundscape REd, Pyramix, MOTU DPand others.

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Line 6 (www.line6.com) takes the POD to the next level:PODxt features modeling technology from Line 6’s Vetta line, with32 amp models, 22 cab models, classic stompbox and studio effects, anda USB output. Expected street price: $399.

Go portable! Magma’s (www.magma.com) new CardBus-to-PCI expansion systemslet you run PCI cards on a laptop. AES demos showed a Pro Tools|HDsystem on a G4 Powerbook, with a 4-slot CardBus-to-PCI Expansion Systemwith two SCSI disk drives.

Fibredrive from Studio Network Solutions (www.studionetworksolutions.com) is a compact,affordable Fibre Channel drive enclosure that offers A/V SAN and A/VSAN PRO performance in a single-drive desktop enclosure.

Studio Technologies’ (www.studio-tech.com) Model 90 8x2 USB switcherallows multiple mic support for measurement systems like SIASoftware’s SMAART Live.

MORE TO COME!

In this limited space, we could only spotlight a portion of the coolnew toys we saw at AES, and we’ll present more of these in ourregular new products columns over the next few issues. AES will returnto Amsterdam from March 22-25, 2003; in the fall, it’s back to NewYork City from October 10-13, 2003, for the 115th AES Convention. Markyour calendars now!