Tools of the Trade

DIGIDESIGN COMMAND|8 Digidesign's ( compact Command|8 is a TDM/LE control surface featuring eight bankable channels with touch-sensitive
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Digidesign's ( compact Command|8 is a TDM/LE control surface featuring eight bankable channels with touch-sensitive motorized faders and eight automatable rotary encoders with LED rings. The unit also includes a 110-character backlit LCD, transport controls, a Focusrite-designed monitor section and a footswitch jack for QuickPunch/TrackPunch operation. The unit communicates with a PC/Mac via USB and includes an integrated 16-in/32-out MIDI interface. For video-heads, the C|8 works natively with Avid products' Automation Gain Tool and can be used with ProControl, Control|24 or Digi 002. Price: $1,295.


Robbie, a Class-A discrete tube mic/instrument preamp from Blue (, has a 10-100k Hz response, sports balanced in/outs and provides 68 dB of gain through its ECC88 tube gain stage. Mic input impedance is 5 k-ohms; the instrument input is 1 m-ohm. On the rear, the 7-pound unit offers switchable phantom power, a 20dB pad, polarity reverse switch and input for the external power supply. Price: $1,299.


WaveLab 5, the latest incarnation of Steinberg's ( Windows-based editing and mastering software, adds a complete set of DVD-Audio mastering and authoring tools. The DVD-A burning capabilities include video data, DVD-Audio extraction, conversion and archiving. Version 5 supports up to eight audio channels for surround recording, editing, processing and mastering. Also included is a “Smart” Video Thumbnail Track to edit audio for video, track-based insert effects, multichannel metering and support for Steinberg Surround Edition plug-ins. Price: $599.


Hill Acoustic Design ( debuts Acoustic Drywall, patent-pending, multilayered, interlocking wall panels said to replace the need for most types of acoustic treatment due to its ability to absorb low, mid- and high frequencies and diffuse mid/highs. Composed of fire-core gypsum, polymer glue and proprietary sound-isolation layers, and priced at $6 a square foot, the material has interlocking edges for an effective sound seal and has a higher STC rating than cinder-block walls or standard wallboard. The 4×8-foot sheets are scored/cut using standard methods and can be installed to create corner traps or nonparallel walls. The company also offers fabric-covered absorptive panels with custom graphics from your PC files.


With the release of Scope 4.0 software, CreamWare ( has replaced its line of Scope DSP cards with three new packages. Scope Home (formerly Luna) packs a three-DSP card with up to 72 I/Os and includes the Modular II synth and the STS-4000 sampler. Scope Project (formerly Pulsar II) is a six-DSP card with up to 20 I/Os (different I/O profiles available) and the Modular III synthesizer and either CreamWare's Mix 'n' Master Pack or Synth 'n' Sampler Pack. Scope Professional (formerly Scope /SP) carries 14 DSP chips and includes both the Mix 'n' Master Pack and the Synth 'n' Sampler Pack. Prices: Home, $425; Project, $995; and Professional, $1,995.


This upgraded software signal analyzer from Channel D ( is a scalable oscilloscope, ⅓-octave RTA and waveform/signal generator for Mac OS 9/X. Mac the Scope 4x is ASIO-compliant and supports up to 48 input and 48 output channels at any sample rate or word size. The RTA uses digitally synthesized true bandpass filters and will cover bands to as low as 2.5 Hz while providing nearly perfect amplitude accuracy. The software includes a switchable low-cut filter (18 Hz) and is capable of generating interactive, photo-realistic 3-D renderings. Price: $49 to $449.


Guitar Tracks Pro from Cakewalk ( sports a new user interface, support for up to 32 hardware I/Os (ASIO and WDM), 24-bit/96kHz support and a setup wizard to ensure optimal performance. GT Pro can record up to 32 tracks, offers automation of track parameters and effects (including DirectX and VST) and application of 32 simultaneous effects in real time nondestructively. GT offers audio loop-construction tools and full support for ACID-format files; an extensive library of ACID loops from Smart Loops is included. Bundled effects include AmpliTube LE and the FX multi-effects suite, including chorus/flange, compressor/gate, parametric EQ, phaser, reverb and tempo delay. Price: $209.


Sonic Studio's ( first cross-platform, software-only product, N-code, is a professional encoding tool to prepare audio files for secure download. N-code offers four compression bit rates from 48k to 256kbps, and is the first pro encoding tool to support Sony's ATRAC-3plus codec. Supported file formats include 44.1kHz PCM .AIFF and .WAV at 16/24/32-bit resolution. N-code supports Mac OS X and Windows XP, and is protected with a hardware key so that it can easily be moved between workstations. Price: $2,000.


The RT Player HiDSP from DSound ( is a VST/AudioUnits-host application that allows users to route any VSTi (AUi) or VST (AU) plug-in via 16 available matrix banks. Users can map any MIDI controller data to control all available parameters on the plug-in. Keyboard zone splitting, transpose and octave banking are also included, allowing a USB controller to trigger multiple instruments from one MIDI channel. There is multichannel support of up to 32 I/Os with flexible channel routing, and all 16 matrix banks can be saved as a single preset, facilitating easy resets between projects. PC (VST) and Mac OS X (VST/AU) are supported. Price: $229.


Making it easier to put noisy computers in the closet where they belong, Gefen ( offers three compact extension modules that connect computer devices at long distances. The new extenders allow stereo audio and PS/2 or RS-232-format devices to operate at up to 1,000 feet from the computer. Each extender runs on a 5-volt power supply and operates through small sender and receiver units that are connected via Cat-5 cable. Price: PS/2 Extender, $89; RS-232 Extender, $99; and Audio Extender, $99.


The first library from Meet Your Beat (, MYB Volume One features master reggae percussionist Larry McDonald. The collection of 50 loops and one-shots includes conga, shaker, tambourine, agogo blocks, afuche, Flexatone, cajon and more. MYB loops and sounds are royalty-free and available for preview/download exclusively at Sonomic ( Individual samples are $1.99 or via a monthly $29.99 subscription that allows 30 downloads.


New effects from Soundtoys ( include Crystalizer, a retro pitch processor/sonic manipulator, and Tremolator, a flexible tremolo device. Crystalizer allows up to two seconds of delay/slice time, selectable reverse/forward mode, up to three octaves of pitch change, built-in dynamics processor and MIDI/beat synched delays and slicing. Tremolator can create myriad standard guitar tremolo sounds, and also features a rhythm sequencer, LFO shape editor, envelope control over both rate and depth and more. The new plugs will run as a Pro Tools HTDM, RTAS and AudioSuite plug-in for Pro Tools|HD, LE and MIX systems. The new “toys” can be purchased in the UltraFX bundle with FilterFreak and PhaseMistress for $399 or individually for $149/each.


This new virtual instrument plug-in from IK Multimedia ( features a wide range of custom, vintage and top-of-the-line drums, percussion, guitars, bass, keyboards and horns. The plug also includes a virtual rack of outboard effects, including tube compressors, limiters, analog EQs, amp and cabinet simulators, plus reverbs, delays and more than 30 different virtual DSP effect boxes instantly inserted on every instrument's channel. Price: $399.


The new ultraportable 744T multitrack recorder from Sound Devices ( lets users record to internal hard drive and compact flash. The 744T has two balanced (XLR) mic/line inputs with switchable phantom power, two line-level — only inputs on TA3 connectors and can record at up to 24-bit/96 kHz. All inputs have adjustable highpass filters and peak limiters on channels 1/2. Additional I/O comes on two balanced analog outs and AES and S/PDIF ports. Other features include a FireWire port, headphone out with level control, native MP3 file encoding, internal 40GB hard drive, a CF removable media slot, LED peak indicators for each channel and ability to set meters to PPM, VU or both. Price: $4,250.

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Surround recording in Nuendo just got easier with the release of the new Surround Zone plug-in from SoundField (dist. by TransAmerica Audio, The PC/Mac plug-in combines the hardware features of the SP451 Surround Processor and MKV System and is designed to accept the B-Format information generated by any current SoundField mic model. Surround Zone provides a choice of three separate 5.1 arrays, individual 6.1 and 7.1 arrays, independently variable width on the front/rear pairs, phase-coherent LFE and individual level controls with mute and solo. Additionally, the software offers auditory acrobatics such as 360° horizontal rotation, adjustment of the mic's pickup angle (±45° vertically) and the ability to zoom in on sound sources. Surround Zone can output mono, stereo, M/S, 5.1, 6.1 or 7.1. Price: $1,162.50. The software is also bundled with SoundField's ST250 or 422B mics at a greatly reduced price.


The latest bundle from Native Instruments (, NI Komplete 2 contains 11 critically acclaimed software synthesizers, samplers and effects including Reaktor 4, Kontakt 1.5, Absynth 2, FM7, B4, Pro-53, Kompakt, Intakt, Battery, Vokator and NI-Spektral Delay. The bundle runs either in stand-alone mode or as plug-ins with pro host sequencers. Windows and Mac OS X are supported. Price: $1,149.


M-Audio's ( Studiophile DX4 monitors feature a 4-inch polypropylene woofer and 1-inch mylar tweeter powered by an 18-watt amp. The mag-shielded DX4s have both RCA and ¼-inch inputs and a mid-cut switch. The front panel carries a volume control and a ⅛-inch headphone jack that automatically mutes the speakers when headphones are inserted. Price: $199.95/pair.


TerraTec Producer's ( MIDI HUBBLE is an interface with two MIDI I/Os and an integrated three-way USB 1.1 HUB offering three additional ports. The USB ports can be powered at up to 500 mA with an optional power unit or power can be drawn via the USB interface from a PC or Mac. All input/outputs carry status LEDs, and an onboard over-current limiter protects the USB ports. Price: $99.


ADAM ( unveiled three new monitors at the recent Musikmesse show in Frankfurt. The ANF-10 ($700) is a passive monitor designed to please those looking for a replacement for the soon-extinct Yamaha NS-10M. Also announced was the ADAM APPLE ($1,450), a slick-looking, all-aluminum small monitor designed for close-field DAW applications. The Apple's 5-inch woofer and ART tweeter are juiced by two 50W amplifiers; inputs are XLR, ¼-inch combo and RCA unbalanced. Last, but certainly not least, is the P33a ($2,950) with P Series woofers and three 100W amplifiers.


Aviom's ( latest product is an expansion card for Yamaha digital mixers supporting the mini-YGDAI format. The new card fits into any available expansion slot in the rear of Yamaha's 01V96, DM1000, DM2000 and PM1D digital consoles, and distributes audio via Cat-5 cable to the company's new A-16II personal monitor mixing system. Audio can be assigned to card outputs directly from the Yamaha interface, and stereo operation can be achieved via channel-link DIP switches. Supported sample rates include 44.1 kHz to 48 kHz (±10%).


Aimed at the high end, BIAS ( SoundSoap Pro is a restoration plug-in for Mac OS X and Windows XP. The new plug includes four restoration tools, including multiband noise reduction, click and crackle removal, hum removal and a noise gate (shown). SoundSoap Pro's tool area features a global, real-time, color-coded spectrogram providing constant visual monitoring of spectral noise that may be in need of treatment. The spectrogram allows users to discern problem areas and make relevant tool adjustments while listening to — and watching — the results.