Tools of the Trade

New audio production tools-software and hardware for the audio production professional


Drawmer's ( 2-channel DF330 Universal Noise Filter combines three different single-ended processes to reduce HF noise, LF rumble and broadband background noise. A unique, frequency-controlled lowpass filter opens and closes bandwidth to the highest frequency of input audio and tracks regardless of fade ins/outs or program dynamics. A downward expander section reduces up to 40 dB of broadband noise during momentary silences in the program. Expander attack times are self-setting; release times are variable. The DF330's custom rumble filter is centered at 50 Hz with an 18dB/octave slope. I/Os are both XLR balanced and ¼-inch unbalanced. Price: $1,099.


Akai ( unveils five VST plug-ins: Decca Buddy creates up to nine multipart vocal harmonies, selectable via various preset scales, user scales or MIDI. Other features include a Formant function and randomizer. Pitch Right corrects pitch in real time, with controls for ratio, smoothing and calibrate (to set the reference pitch); 13 factory preset scales, two user scales and MIDI scales are available. The Rotator plug-in (shown) models a rotary speaker cabinet by generating standard rotation speed values of the original physical cabinet, with control of ±25% detuning, distortion and virtual mic placement. The Quad Comp 4-band compressor/expander has linear-phase FIR filters that create the four bands without phase-shift distortion. The DC Vocoder divides the input signal into 50 frequency bands for individual processing; each level can be precisely adjusted. A 6-voice synth, modulator and formant function are built-in.


Vintage Keys Pro, from E-mu Systems (, is a single-rackspace sound module packed with new samples of classic keyboard sounds from the '60s, '70s and '80s, ranging from analog and FM synthesizers to electric pianos and organs, including E-mu's acclaimed B3 module. Features include 32 MIDI channels, 128-voice polyphony, six analog outs and a stereo S/PDIF out. It ships this month; retail is $795.


Known for media manufacturing, Disc Makers ( moves into the hardware realm with its new Elite Series of CD and DVD duplicators. The Elite1, available in CD or DVD models, serves as a full-service disc duplication and printing system. With a 125-disc input and onboard 1,200 dpi, full-color inkjet printer, the Elite1 can duplicate and print at least 12 CD-Rs or two DVD-Rs per hour. The Elite1 is $3,990, or $4,790 with DVD-R. The ElitePro1 has all of Elite1's features and adds a built-in, Intel-based PC for turnkey duplication. The ElitePro1 retails for $4,790, or $5,790 with DVD-R. All Elite systems feature Padus DiscJuggler recording software, and can be field-upgraded to include a second drive for additional duplicating capacity.


TC Electronic's ( new Reverb 6000 platform offers 24-bit reverb algorithms in every format from mono to 6.1. Reverb 6000 (included in Version 3.0 software for the System 6000) provides several new formats for multichannel film/music mixing and offers the first commercially available 6-main-channel room simulator. Processing modes include 6-channel, 5-channel, matrixed surround, stereo, mono and 300 film/video post presets created by film and music pros. Also featured are multiformat delay/boundary effects, a de-esser, an Intersample Peak Limiter, EMT 250 simulation, 16 mono reverbs, and a back catalog of classic TC reverbs from previous M5000, M3000 and System 6000 systems at their highest resolution. Registered System 6000 users can upgrade free of charge.


Enhancements to Sony's ( DMX-R100 digital console include new DMSK-R100AE auto-mation editor software, which provides virtually unlimited title and snapshot data storage, as well as offline operations such as cut/paste of channel setup and automation data. A DMBK-R109 MADI interface expands the maximum digital I/O from 32 to 72. In larger applications, the MADI board can cascade two mixers together, allowing, for example, a system to monitor a 48-track recording with 48 mics using 16 channels of reverb return — all in 5.1. Also new are a remote I/O system comprising a MADI-based I/O rack and a remote-controlled mic preamp system. A new control panel can remotely control the preamp gain. The I/O rack can be located locally or 100 yards away via fiber optic, and can even be shared between two consoles in different control rooms.


Mackie announces the arrival of Baby HUI (Human User Interface), the first HUI-compatible, touch-sensitive control surface priced under $800. Baby HUI supports the HUI/MIDI-mapping protocol, allowing it to work right out-of-the-box with any HUI-supported PC or Mac DAW. Baby HUI features eight channel strips, each with 60mm, touch-sensitive, motorized faders; Mute and Solo buttons; signal LED; and a multifunction rotary-encoder handling pan, send level, channel select and record/automation arming. Baby HUI also provides Display and Undo buttons and tape-style transport controls. HUI-supported DAWs include Mackie Soundscape 32 and Mixtreme, Digidesign Pro Tools and Digi 001, MOTU Digital Performer and Steinberg Nuendo/Cubase SX. Retail: $799.


Based on Waldorf's famed synthesis technology, the Waldorf D-Coder synth-vocoder plug-in is now accessible to TC Works PowerCore users from any VST- or MAS-compatible sequencer. Using an integrated synth as a tone generator, D-Coder goes beyond classic Vocoder concepts — no external carrier signal is required. The D-Coder features a hi-res analysis and vocoder section, plus a 3-band, sweep-mid EQ and chorus. Its synth section has a classic two-oscillator model with the standard waveforms and ring modulation, a filter section with different filter types and resonance, LFO, glide and simple envelopes. Distributed by TC Works, Waldorf D-Coder is $249. Check out MP3 examples at


M-Audio ( announces the TAMPA microphone/instrument preamp/compressor. The product is based on M-Audio's Temporal Harmonic Alignment technology, a revolutionary process that corrects overtones' phase alignment to achieve the perceived warmth of tubes at solid-state prices. TAMPA also includes a high-performance, dual-optical-servo compressor/limiter, and uses true VU meters to display output and compression gain. TAMPA also incorporates S/PDIF and AES/EBU digital outputs (24-bit at up to 96 kHz), a variable-impedance input selector and Class-A electronics throughout. Frequency response is 20-40 kHz (±0.25 dB), and maximum analog output is +30 dBu at soft clip.


Primera Technology Inc. ( offers the Bravo Disc Publisher, priced under $2,000 and designed for hands-free, automated production of up to 25 CDs or DVDs per job. After recording, discs are transported to the integrated full-color printer with up to 2,400 dpi resolution. Bravo attaches to any PC running Windows Me/2000/XP via FireWire (IEEE1394) or USB. Veritas recording software is included, along with SureThing™ CD Labeler First-Edition easy-to-use labeling software. The Bravo CD Publisher with a 40x CD-R recorder is priced at $1,995. The Bravo DVD Publisher with a Pioneer DVD-R/CD-R recorder is priced at $2,495. The DVD-R unit records DVD-Rs at 2x and CD-Rs at 8x.


Thirty years after launching the original, Bob Moog has redesigned the legendary Minimoog from the ground up. The result is a monophonic, MIDI-capable synth with a velocity-sensitive keyboard, a 3-D touchpad controller that registers pressure and position, extensive patching facilities and many new panel features. The signal path begins with three wide-range, voltage-controlled oscillators, one noise source and one audio preamp for external audio signals. The sound modifiers are a dual-mode filter module, with a dual-Moog lowpass mode and a highpass/lowpass mode, and one stereo VCA. Modulation sources are two ADSR envelope generators and one multi-waveform LFO. Control devices include a 44-key keyboard with velocity/after-pressure outputs, pitch bend and mod wheels, the 3-D touch surface and many control/pedal input jacks. Nonvolatile memory stores 100 front panel programs. The Signature Edition is priced at $3,495.


Soundfield's ( SPS422B mic offers four operational modes: mono, M/S, stereo and B-Format. Retaining all of the SPS422 model's features and sound quality, the SPS422B adds B-Format direct outputs to enable expansion into 5.1 and future multichannel formats. The two-piece SPS422B system consists of a multicapsule mic and a one-rackspace preamp/processor that controls the system and provides all required mic preamps. When used with Soundfield's SP451 processor (to extract 5.1 from B-Format), the system can deliver “zero phase error” 5.1.


Gold Line ( debuts new Windows software for its TEF20 acoustical analysis system. Previously available only in DOS format, the MLS Windows upgrade lets TEF20 users obtain an impulse-response measurement containing the entire audio frequency range over the measured time range. Impulse data is stored as a .WAV file for easy export to other applications, and all MLS post processing is available for any other .WAV file. Display options from a single-impulse response include: impulse, doublet, intensity, energy time curve, log-squared impulse from time-domain magnitude, phase, group delay, Heyser spiral, Nyquist from frequency domain and 3-D waterfall. Time-domain data can be further processed to obtain reverb time (RT60) and noise criteria (NC) curves, as well as speech intelligibility indicators, %ALcons and STI/RaSTI. Price for new users is $450; the DOS MLS to Windows MLS upgrade is $250.


The Summit Audio ( 2BA-221 Microphone and Line Module is a high-quality tube mic preamp that includes a swept highpass filter, multiple simultaneous tube and solid-state outputs, insert jack, polarity switch and internal power supply. Featuring continuously variable mic impedance (100-10k ohms) and a separately controlled hi-Z/line and mic input for individual mix control, the 2BA-221 can be linked in multiples to perform as a mixing device. Outputs are XLR and ¼-inch. Price is $695, with a three-year warranty.


Roland ( offers the PM-1 Personal Monitor System, a two-way speaker system containing its own 60-watt amplifier and four inputs, including an XLR microphone input. Designed to monitor electronic percussion instruments, the wedge monitor-like PM-1 can support a drum stand for Roland electronic percussion products like the SPD-20 Total Percussion Pad and HPD-15 HandSonic.


Steinberg's ( PLEX is a VST Instrument featuring restructuring synthesis. PLEX divides the original sound into four discrete components: lower/higher spectrums, filter characteristics and amplitude envelope, and offers independent access to these characteristics of the four components. For example, a new sound can be created by allocating a trombone's lower component, a sitar's upper component and a gong's filter component. More than 300 presets from well-known sound designers are included, as are 97 pre-analyzed sound sources of acoustic, synthetic and filter characteristics. All parameters are accessible via MIDI. Retail: $249.99.


The new M25C phono cartridge from Shure ( is a fundamental mix/spin needle capable of delivering high output, solid bass and transparent midrange performance. Well-suited for virtually any DJ application, the M25C tracks with a force of 1.5 to 3 grams and uses the same Type-I cantilever technology as in Shure's M35S and M35X cartridges. Featuring flat frequency response from 20-20,000 Hz and a standard ½-inch tone-arm mount, the M25C is supplied with an extra set of four headshell wires, a stylus cleaning brush, user's guide, all mounting hardware and a stylus guard, and is covered by a full one-year warranty. An optional needle for wide-groove and 78 rpm recordings is available. Price is $39.


Sonic Studio Version 1.8 (which debuted last month) is the first product from Sonic Studio (, which formed earlier this year to develop and market the Sonic Studio HD line of workstations. Enhancements in Sonic Studio HD 1.8 include improved editing functionality, contextual menus, improved lock-to-timecode, and a new user guide and documentation. Other improvements include Gain Overlay enhancements, Lock/UnLock Gain Node commands and Contextual menu support. Save Reversed, Paste to In Point, Navigate to Next/Previous EDL Commands, PQ Marks Lock Status Display, Edit With Audio Support for Desk Events, Gain Overlay and SRPs, Transport Panel/MC Sync, Export EDL as .AIFF, SRP Export/Import and Multiple Zoom to Previous/Next View functions have also been added.


BSS Audio ( has introduced two new matrix switchers capable of routing multiple video and audio sources to several zones, all controlled within a Soundweb system. Such systems are typically found in bars and restaurants, corporate boardrooms and themed attractions. The SW9016 Video/Audio Matrix Switcher features eight broadcast-quality composite BNC video inputs, which can accept CBVS or S-Video signals of NTSC or PAL standard. These can be matrixed to four output zones (again on BNC connectors). Alongside the video inputs, 16 balanced audio inputs can be matrixed to eight balanced audio outputs, independent of the video matrix. The SW9016 Video/Audio Matrix Switcher fully integrates with Soundweb Designer's presets and connects directly to the serial port of a Soundweb device. A supplied PC application allows a user to store up to eight presets per video-output zone, which can be controlled from a PC or another control device through the unit's RS-232 port.