Tools of the Trade

NATIVE INSTRUMENTS VOKATOR Native Instruments' ( new Vokator plug-in bows to both the old and the new, mimicking a retro vocoder while
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Native Instruments' ( new Vokator plug-in bows toboth the old and the new, mimicking a retro vocoder while doubling asan advanced synth and granular sampler. Vokator boasts 1,024 frequencybands balanced by an integrated multiband compressor, and loads both.WAV and .AIFF file formats. It works in both Windows (98/2000/ME/XP)and Mac (OS 9.2/OS 10.2.2) formats, and supports VST, MAS, AU, DXi II,Core Audio, DirectSound, SoundManager and OMS. Price: $299.


Harrison ( unveils its new flagshipfilm console, the MPC3-D, which is available as a completely new unitor can be fitted into an existing MPC frame to minimize downtime. The3-D features many new upgrades, one of the most interesting being theintroduction of Harrison's own plug-ins, including a de-esser, cameranoise filter, bus limiter, leveled EQ and crossover EQ. Other upgradesinclude 16-wide panning per channel, full 40-bit signal processing,expanded dynamics, upgraded digital engine capable of up to 192koperation and much more.


Of interest to DAW owners looking to upgrade their AD/DA signal pathis Rosetta 800, Apogee Electronics' ( latest multichannelconverter. The unit has eight channels of 24-bit AD/DA conversionoperating at up to 96 kHz with a 192kHz option available. In addition,there are eight channels of AES and ADAT I/O, a unique channel selectorfor flexible signal routing and the company's acclaimed Soft Limit andUV22HR processing. An optional FireWire card offers OS X and Windows XPcompatibility.


Just like RealTraps' ( top-of-the-line wood panels, thenew, more affordable MiniTraps are designed to address acousticproblems in project studios. MiniTraps are 2×4 feet, 3¼inches thick and weigh only 15 pounds for easy mounting via simplehardware that does not leave permanent wall damage. The company offersfree advice on placing the portable Fiberglas traps and claims acombination of its products can achieve superb acoustic performance forunder $3,000 per room. Price: $199.95/each.


Offering a midprice solution to DAW control, Tascam's ( FW-1884 Audio/MIDI Interface provides eight 100mm movingfaders, one master fader and dedicated controls, as well as eightbalanced XLR analog mic/line inputs, phantom power and inserts on everychannel. Communicating at FireWire bandwidth, the FW uses 24-bit/96kHzADCs and DACs for full 96kHz operation on all analog I/O channels withcompatible DAW software. An FE-8 expander offers eight more 100mmfaders and dedicated control knobs to the FW mother unit. Price:FW-1884, $1,599; FE-8, $1,249.


3D Audio (, creator of mic and preampshoot-out CDs, releases its latest comparison CD. The DAW SUM Samplercompares 29 DAW and analog mixing platforms using identical sourcefiles and levels. A varied, prestigious group of testers, all listeningblindly, were sampled for the test using 24-bit, 48kHz stereo .WAVfiles. The test fell into two groups: one at unity gain and the otherwith fader volume changes on the individual channels and stereo masterfader. Price: $24.95, plus S&H.


Strictly for Mac OS X, Peak 4 from BIAS ( a new look and numerous upgrades. Peak 4 now supports Audio Unitplug-ins, multi-processor support, Red Book CD burning from within thePeak application, and a host of new DSP tools, including Squeez, ahigh-end, dynamic compressor/limiter VST plug-in. Other enhancementsinclude a dynamic envelope control added to the timecompression/expansion, add and mix functions, and allowing users tocontrol the effect of these processes over time. The new interfaceoffers expanded customization options and the ability to create a trulycustom work surface. Price: $499.


Steinberg's ( new USB Nuendo controller,Steinberg Input Device, offers 24 channels of direct access to the DAW,showing track names and current status of important parameters. Thesurface has 12 faders in two layers, 40 continuously variable encoderswith buttons, a fine-tune function, weighted jog dial, ASCII keyboard,50mm trackball and 380 backlit buttons. There's also a meter bridgewith 30 segment meters for 24 channels and eight master channels, 52LCDs and nearly 2,000 LEDs. Additional options to consider: anupholstered armrest and mahogany paneling.


Pro Tools LE users who want more features should check outDigidesign's ( DV Toolkit for Pro Tools LE. Itfeatures timecode-accurate editing, new file import/export capabilityand a bundle of new plug-ins, including the popular Synchro ArtsVocalign audio-alignment/lip-sync tool and Digi's DINR AudioSuite NoiseReduction plug-in. In addition, with the bundled DigiTranslator 2.0software, LE users can now import/export both AAF and OMF files. It's$995, with a limited-time introductory price of $795.


Symetrix intros Studio Matrix, its latest system under the AirTools( brand. Built on the SymetrixSymNet Audio Matrix technology, systems are configured by networking upto 15 redundant pairs of specialized, single-rackspace, DSP-drivendevices into a matrix. This allows maximum flexibility for hundreds ofinput and output signals to be brought into the systems and routed viamixers, selectors and/or crosspoint matrix/mixers up to 32×32(stereo). Interconnection between devices is facilitated by robust,low-latency audio bus technology that allows routing between any two(or more) points in the system, completely on demand.


Cycling '74 ( releases radiaL 1.0. Thisloop-based composition/performance tool for the Mac platform features aunique interface that is optimized for playing live. The program isbased on loop channels represented by circular displays, each with itsown performable multifilter and pitch shifting/time scaling. Thisversatile system can be controlled from a variety of sources (controlsurfaces, MIDI, keyboard or mouse) and is configurable for liveperformance, studio recording or sound design. radiaL featuresmultichannel audio I/O support and works with all major audio fileformats and I/O standards. As a bonus, radiaL includes VST plug-ineffects from the Pluggo collection and a tempo-synchronizedfilter/delay. Price is $249 packaged $239 download.


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Now available in the U.S., the Evolution ( UC-33 is a USB controller foruse with DAWs, MIDI sequencers and software. User-assignable controlsinclude 24 rotary knobs and nine faders, along with a transport controland LCD screen showing controller assignments. Its 33 presets offerinstant control of virtual instruments and host apps, ranging fromCubase SX to Propellerhead Reason to Native Instruments B4; the UC-33comes with custom overlay skins marked with parameters of popularprograms. The Class-compliant UC-33 doesn't require installing driverswith Windows XP or Mac OS X. Price: $329.95.


Minnetonka Audio Software ( announces a major upgradeto its SurCode Dolby Digital (AC-3) software encoder. Significant newfeatures include: Batch mode encoding, which allows groups of audiofiles to be AC-3-encoded easily, even unattended; timecode, whichallows the user to specify the encoded file starting timecode in thefile header; auto-naming and auto-destination, which allow the encoderto automatically name files and set destination folders for encoding(including Batch mode); command line encode, which allows othersoftware programs to control the encoder; built-in decoder, whichallows confidence playback of the encoded AC-3 files. SurCode DolbyDigital Version 2 remains at the previous MSRP of $995, with upgradesto registered users priced at just $99. Visit formore information.