Gain Control Freak
The 2-channel NAIL Compressor ($TBA) from A Designs features a hybrid tube and solid-state design with all the compression controls you'd expect, plus a dual adjustable threshold. This lets users combine a hard and soft approach for some interesting and unique compression effects. The two-rackspace unit also features a wet/dry control for parallel compression and comes with custom-milled knobs and faceplate, switchable LED meters, adjustable sidechain filter and in/out switches for each channel.
Edition 8 Palladium
Edition 8 Palladium ($1,699) from Ultrasone is a luxurious closed-back headphone incorporating Ultrasone's latest S-Logic¼ Plus technology. To raise the bar, Ultrasone adorns the outer ear cups with palladium, which limits tarnishing and offers increased durability. The embossed, high-tech ceramic inlay ear cups are individually stamped with a serial number. Frequency range is 6 to 42k Hz at up to 96 dB, supplied by 40mm titanium-plated drivers. It ships with a leather carry bag and a 12-foot extension cable.
Portable Plug-In Player
Peavey (www.peavey.com) and Muse Research (www.muse research.com) teamed up to create MuseBox ($1,199 MSRP), which lets musicians and engineers (studio and live) take software-based synths, sounds and effects with them wherever they go. MuseBox's compact 2U half-rack design is portable, versatile and built for the road, made specifically to run software plug-ins at pro-quality 24-bit/48kHz. A CF card slot provides instant access to new software synths and effects. MuseBox comes standard with 1 GB of RAM (expandable to 2 GB) and is equipped with a fast-loading 4GB solid-state system disc module (expandable to 8 GB). An optional 250GB laptop hard drive offers added storage. MuseBox ships in spring 2010.
A New Classic
Mimicking mics of the past and using the same circuit design as the Telefunken ELA M 251E, Telefunken's new AR-51 ($1,995) uses a vintage NOS tube and features a globally sourced power supply and capsule. The AR-51's circuit board is designed for superior current handling, permitting the amplifier to have full access to the necessary power for handling low-frequency and transient information. The AR-51 employs the same European-manufactured output transformer found in every ELA M 251 E built since 1960.
Launched at NAMM and distributed by FDW, Prodigy Engineering (www.prodigy-eng.com) specializes in digitally controlled, high-performance analog products. Anima ($6,000 MSRP) is a rackmount 8-channel remote-control preamp. Taking control to the next step, Bella ($975) is a single-channel mic pre in the popular API 500 Series module format, but adds a front panel USB port for remote control. Both feature a minimalist design with relay-stepped gain control and I/O transformers, mil-spec parts and control integration with DAWs such as Logic and Pro Tools, and control surfaces like ICON.
Fireface UC Interface
Based on a newly developed RME Hammerfall core, the RME Fireface UC ($1,499) provides low latencies even with multiple audio channels, breaking performance restrictions of typical USB audio interfaces. The 36-channel (18 inputs/18 outputs) interface features two digitally controlled, balanced microphone inputs; eight analog I/Os; ADAT I/O; optical S/PDIF I/O; two MIDI inputs and outputs; and word clock. The UC operates at up to 192 kHz on all I/Os, and features the TotalMix 648-channel mixer with 42-bit internal resolution. Platform support includes Mac OS X, Windows XP, Vista and Vista 64 with full ASIO multiclient operation of WDM and ASIO 2.
D8 Studio Monitor
A new company founded by acclaimed speaker designer Keith Klawitter, KK Labs announces the D8 ($5,074/pair), a powered studio monitor that includes DSP/Ethernet control with either analog or 24-bit/48kHz AES/EBU digital audio input connections. The two-way design features an 8-inch LF driver and a 1-inch inverted-dome titanium tweeter. The D8's Acoustic Cabinet Control™ (ACC) design aligns and tunes the low frequencies for a linear sound with quick transient response.
AmpliTube 3 from IK Multimedia is a major upgrade of the platform that offers more than 160 pieces of gear, including 51 stomp boxes and effects, 31 amplifier/preamp/power sections, 46 speaker cabinet models, 15 high-end stage and studio mics, and 17 post-amp rack effects. A slick GUI upgrade allows the movement of processors and mic positions with a simple mouse drag and drop. The open architecture allows the user to add more packages as needed, including AmpliTube Fender and Ampeg SVX. Other improvements include 70 reworked models within the AmpliTube Metal and AmpliTube Jimi Hendrix package, a new collection of bass gear models and a new preset-management and keyword system for better organization and recall. Prices are $349.99 (new), $269.99 (crossgrade) and $199.95 (upgrade).
The SR40 ($1,295 single; $2,690 matched pair) from Earthworks (www.earthworks audio.com) boasts a near-perfect cardioid polar pattern, acoustic input rating of 145dB SPL and a 30-40k Hz frequency response. The SR40 also features extremely fast impulse response, short diaphragm settling time and a sturdy build fit for either studio or live use. The SR40 comes in a black finish, requires phantom power and has an optional screw-on windscreen.
Tascam DR-680 Recorder
The DR-680 ($TBA) multichannel recorder from Tascam can record up to eight tracks to solid-state SD card media at 96kHz/24-bit. Six mic inputs provide phantom power and 60 dB of gain while an additional simultaneous digital S/PDIF source can be added for full 8-track recording. Inputs can be monitored using a built-in mixer with level and pan controls for each channel via a built-in speaker or headphones. The DR-680 records stereo audio at 192kHz/24-bit and up to four channels of MP3 audio. Two recorders can be connected for up to 16-track recording on battery power.
Valved and Versatile
PDI-CTC Tube DI
Short for Palmer Direct Injection-Classic Tube Circuit, the Palmer (Micro ($22) plug-in promises filtering from creamy smooth to raw self-oscillating madness at a flick of the Peak knob. The built-in envelope follower offers more creative filter effects by letting the user modulate the filter cut-off frequency, depending on the amplitude of the incoming signal. Separate input and output gain controls simplify increasing or reducing the internal filter saturation by adjusting the level of the incoming signal before it hits the filter internals. Other features include fine-tuned knobs and controllers, interactive MIDI Learn, undo/redo and A/B switching.
Big Sound, Small Price
FabFilter’s Micro ($22) plug-in promises filtering from creamy smooth to raw self-oscillating madness at a flick of the Peak knob. The built-in envelope follower offers more creative filter effects by letting the user modulate the filter cut-off frequency, depending on the amplitude of the incoming signal. Separate input and output gain controls simplify increasing or reducing the internal filter saturation by adjusting the level of the incoming signal before it hits the filter internals. Other features include fine-tuned knobs and controllers, interactive MIDI Learn, undo/redo and A/B switching.
AWE 1.5 Software
Minnetonka Audio has upgraded its AudioTools AWE with a bevy of new features, including Snow Leopard compatibility. The engine features more than two dozen different signal and file-processing functions, including an Output Sets feature, which allows a single interleaved source file to be de-interleaved, processed through a complex DSP chain including VST plug-ins and then delivered as multiple output files in multiple formats simultaneously. Version 1.5 speeds surround sound jobs with improved multichannel I/O handling and support for upmixing plug-ins that generate multiple output files from stereo sources. The upgrade is free for existing users or $795 new.
The Rycote InVision USM ($119.95) microphone mount is based around the “U”-shaped lyre suspension used in the company's existing InVision range for smaller-barrel microphones. The InVision USM will fit any mic diameter that measures from 18 to 55 mm, including large-diaphragm models and those with flat-sided and tapered barrels. With no elastic or rubber parts, the unbreakable USM promises 12 dB more isolation than elasticized mounts. Another version designed specifically for Neumann TLM Series mics is available for the same price.