Tools of the Trade

ABLETON LIVE 4 In a major update to be announced at this month's NAMM show, Ableton ( unveils Live 4, which brings full MIDI and DAW functionality


In a major update to be announced at this month's NAMM show, Ableton ( unveils Live 4, which brings full MIDI and DAW functionality to this acclaimed live music performance recording/sequencing software. Among a wealth of other features, Live 4 adds a host of virtual instruments with its powerful onboard effects and adds full VSTi and AudioUnits support, while still catering to the improvisational and live users. The program is slated to ship this month and is priced at $499; upgrades from earlier versions of Live are $119 download or $149 box.


Designed to replace the 1029A, 1030A and 1031A, respectively, are Genelec's ( new 8030A, 8040A and 8050A monitors. This slick-looking aluminum Minimum Diffraction Enclosure (MDE) yields large internal volumes with outstanding mechanical strength. The 8030A ($595) has a 5-inch woofer and ¾-inch tweeter driven by dual 40-watt amps. The medium-sized 8040A ($1,150) combines a 6-inch LF driver, ¾-inch tweeter and 90W amps for each driver. The largest model, the $2,050 8050A, uses an 8-inch woofer and a 1-inch tweeter powered at 150 and 120 watts. The 8030A Triple Play system packages the 8030A and 7050A LSE sub combo for $1,999. The 8030 LSE PowerPak 5.1 system ($4,600) includes five 8030As and the 7060A LSE sub.


Nitro from PSP ( is a multimode filter plug-in offering filter types derived from analog models. In addition, it features a phaser, bit crusher/downsampler, waveshaper and interpolated delay blocks. Other features include four sound processing operators, flexible internal routing, two LFOs with advanced sync possibilities, advanced MIDI control and an envelope detector with Adaptive mode and ADSR generator. Supported formats include VST/DirectX for PC; VST and AudioUnits for Mac OS X; and RTAS for PC. Prices: $149 stand-alone or $299 bundled with Lexicon PSP 42 and PSP 84 plug-ins.


DTS ( unveils a suite of stand-alone Mac and PC audio encoders, capable of creating 96kHz and 6.1-channel discrete DTS soundtracks for DVD-A, DVD-V and 5.1 CD titles. New releases include a 48kHz/5.1 package and a 48kHz/5.1-channel, plus 96kHz/ES encoder. The 48kHz solution ($499) lets engineers create 5.1-channel soundtracks and includes 44.1kHz capability for encoding CDs. The 96kHz/ES package ($999) encompasses all of the capability of the 48kHz encoders but adds the ability to create 96kHz or 6.1-channel discrete extended surround DTS soundtracks. DTS has also developed the DTS X Encode facility encoder ($6,450) for Apple's Xserve RAID, which can handle up to 99 different mixing engineers on Mac or PC. It lets multiple users access and encode information via an Intranet or the Internet.


Providing a scalable high-end mastering solution, TC Electronic ( releases a four-engine mastering processor based on its System 6000. Priced from $7,995, Mastering 6000's license-based structure allows it to be updated with optional processing tools, such as reverbs and delays from Reverb 6000, Massenburg Design Works Hi-Res EQ, BackDrop noise reduction and UnWrap advanced stereo-to-5.1 conversion. New algorithms in Mastering 6000 include a 5-band stereo and M/S processor with linear phase split-filter topology, an updated brickwall limiter, custom ADC and DAC filters, 5.1 multiband compressor/expander, 5.1 limiter and 5.1/stereo monitor matrix. Multiple processors can be networked, creating a pool of processing power, and units are controllable with the TC Icon remote or its Mac/PC software equivalents.


Studio Network Solutions' ( globalSAN is an iSCSI-based system aimed at facilities wanting to upgrade networking performance without investing in a full-blown Fibre Channel SAN or point-to-point WAN connectivity. An IP-based storage networking standard protocol, iSCSI enables rapid transport of block-level I/O data over high-speed Ethernet. globalSAN works with both Windows and Mac OS X and is the first such product available to Mac users. Additionally, globalSAN supports up to 10Gigabit Ethernet and is Kerberos-ready for secret-key cryptography network authentication.


Tascam's ( CD-RW750 rackmount CD recorder/player features 24-bit digital AD/DA converters, CD-R and CD-RW support, unbalanced analog I/O, S/PDIF digital I/O (optical and co-ax) and CD TEXT. In addition, the $679 unit has skip-free RAM buffer playback and three to 30-second digital fade-in/out. It can also be used as a stand-alone A/D converter or sample rate converter without the need to place a blank disc in the tray.


The Neve-inspired, 2-channel mic pre from RTZ ( features transformer balanced XLR I/O on Lundahl and Sowter transformers, along with hi-Z instrument inputs and unbalanced line outputs. The preamp has up to 75 dB of gain in 5dB increments; its line output amplifier provides an additional 10 dB of gain. Transparent muting logic provides silent audio switching/routing. Other features include 48V phantom power, polarity reverse, DI source select, output termination select and LED input/output metering. Price: $1,534.


Based on physical-modeling technology, Tassman 4 from Applied Acoustics Systems (dist. by ILIO, is a modular instrument and sound design tool that lets users create their own instruments. Enhancements in Tassman 4 include an expanded library with updated sounds and presets, audio input processing, improved algorithms and a new performance mode to better organize sounds. Supported platforms include Windows 95, 98, ME, 2000, XP and Mac OS 10.2 and up. Price: $499. Tassman owners can upgrade for $99 or for free if purchased after January 2004.


The MADI bridge from RME ( is a MADI patchbay, router, distributor, signal buffer and input selector for up to 16 devices that can freely connect to each other via six coaxial (BNC) and two optical input/output pairs. All inputs are routed unaltered to the desired outputs no matter what their sample rate — whether they're 56 or 64 channels or include special invisible control commands, out-of-spec data rates or violations of the MADI protocol. Eight front panel alphanumeric displays show the current signal source for every output. Two buttons per channel allow quick switching of any source, and any output can be fed by any input and even multed across several outputs.


The Zero-X ( drum track manipulation tool proves that the beat goes on and tighter than ever. Featuring tools such as a slice processor, beat re-arranger, pattern controller processor, beat replacer, waveshaper and others, BeatQuantizer runs as a stand-alone program on a PC. It operates on a variety of file formats and can be used in tandem with any program that can produce compatible files. To make the process even smoother, there are time-stretching and crossfade tools to automatically mask the gaps and smooth the overlaps that result from the quantizing process. Supported file formats include .AIFF, .WAV, REX, REX-2, SF2 and ZGR. Export formats include LM4, REX, SF2, .WAV, ZEX, ZGR, MIDI SMF, MAP, TRK and FL Studio. Price: $250.

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Said to be a “more mellow” version of its ELUX 251, the Soundelux E250 (dist. by TransAmerica Audio Group, is optimized for close-in vocal recording. The cardioid-only mic is derived from the 251 except for a specially designed 1-inch diameter, 6-micron-thick gold-vapor deposited diaphragm and a different output tube and transformer. The E250 has a 20 to 18k Hz response, with a self-noise of only 9 dBA. The $3,000 mic comes in a wooden box and includes a power supply and custom shock-mount.


Contour's ( EZ-Reach offers an intuitive computer keyboard layout designed to reduce motions that cause repetitive strain injuries. EZ-Reach has large, light, responsive keys; oversized, centrally located Caps, Backspace and Enter keys; and a full-function numeric pad. Its small footprint fits on all keyboard trays with room for the mouse. The keyboard works equally well on Sun and Apple platforms due to its USB and PS/2 compatibility. Price: $109.95.


The USB-enabled X-Station 25 from Novation ( is an 8-voice polyphonic hardware synth, MIDI interface and controller that has two phantom-powered mic preamps, 24-bit converters and either USB or digital S/PDIF outputs. The ASIO-compliant unit also features two multi-effects processors and dedicated headphone and monitoring connections with separate controls. Price: $799.


SRS ( releases an all-digital hardware matrix encoder/decoder for professional studio production, mastering and broadcast environments. The new CSE-07D digital encoder ($3,500) and companion CSD-07D ($3,800) digital decoder are functionally identical to the analog versions. The CSE-07D encoder offers AES/EBU inputs and includes analog outputs. The units can encode/decode up to 6.1 channels of discrete digital program material (left, right, center, LFE, surround left, surround right and surround center) for transmission over any consumer stereo medium.


Now in its second edition, Production-Mixing-Mastering With Waves by Anthony Egizi is an intensive CD-based course designed to teach the user insider secrets for creating the best sounds in any field — music, film or broadcast — using Waves plug-ins. The $80 course includes the book, a 14-day trial of all Waves software and a seven-CD set of (Mac/PC) production files for use with Pro Tools, Logic Audio, Cubase, Nuendo and Sonar.


A major upgrade for the Audio Ease Altiverb convolution reverb, V4, includes tail lengths of 15 seconds or more, multichannel surround processing, ultralow latency, improved processor efficiency (G4 and G5), reverb tone control, automated switching of impulse responses and snapshot automation. V4 is available for Audio-Units and OS X versions of VST, HTDM, RTAS and MAS plug-ins, and costs $99. Visit Acoustics( is shipping its BM Series subs. The BM 10S ($1,595 MSRP) and BM 12S ($2,195) have 10- or 12-inch woofers and 200- or 250-watt amps...Propellerhead Software now includes the ElectroMechanical Refill loops collection with every Reason package. Registered Reason 2.5 users can download the collection free at ( is now shipping ReVibe ($999), a full-featured mono, stereo and surround reverb plug-in designed for Pro Tools|HD Accel systems. The new plug is 96kHz-capable and features nine new reverb algorithms combined with a wide range of room reflections...Digigram has released driver set v2.00g for its miXart 8 range of multichannel sound cards, which includes miXart 8, miXart 8 AES/EBU and miXart 8 CN. Drivers can be downloaded from shipping its new Nova cardioid condenser microphone. The mic has a 1.1-inch diameter diaphragm, 14dBA self-noise and a 20 to 18k Hz (±1dB) frequency response spec. Visit Makers ( cut prices on its Elite and ElitePro automated duplication systems. In addition to the $500 to $1,000 price reductions, Disc Makers includes DiscJuggler networking software (a $490 value) with its Elite3 and Elite4 units, letting multiple users on a network simultaneously send projects to an Elite duplicator, even from remote locations...MOTU ( releases MachFive, its universal cross-platform sampler software for Windows. The $399 sampler supports all major Windows plug-in formats including VST, DXi, RTAS and HTDM, in addition to Windows host applications, including Pro Tools, Sonar, Cubase SX and Nuendo...NoisePump Music from Firstcom is a unique offering of production music created by veteran UK producer Aaron Harry. NPM will provide styles from orchestral to electronica in a user-friendly layout including long-form titles, commercial-length edits and submix versions. All titles can be downloaded directly from CSi Master is an interactive CD-ROM providing more than four hours of advanced tips, techniques and interactive movie tutorials for Steinberg Nuendo software. The CD features advanced topics such as loop recording, track automation, latency and timing, the VST instrument rack, surround and more. Price: $49 from’s ( C+ Series offers the thinnest TS or TRS 1⁄4-plugs on the market for the highest packing density, which is 15.88 mm. The all-metal C+ plugs are available with nickel or gold-plated contacts and nickel, black or velour chrome housings.