Tools of the Trade

CRANESONG EGRET Cranesong's ( Egret is an 8-channel D/A converter with a stereo mixer. Each channel has level, cue send, solo, mute

Cranesong's ( Egret is an 8-channel D/A converter with a stereo mixer. Each channel has level, cue send, solo, mute and pan controls. The master section has a level control, a master cue send control and headphone out. Each channel has a TRS insert and direct balanced outputs. The DACs support up to 192k and have defeatable sample rate converters on each channel for input jitter reduction, and the converters can be used independently — even at different sample rates.

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The latest version of Propellerhead Software's ( Reason promises to take users from studio to stage and offers new features including a new browser and an improved soundbank providing a wide palette of multisampled instruments and Combi patches. Reason 3 is now conversant with most control surfaces and also includes a Mastering Suite, offering EQ and dynamics, and the Combinator, which allows users to build elaborate chains of Reason devices that can be saved as a Combi patch.

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Nuendo and Pyramix users will be interested in the Euphonix ( System 5-MC “Intelligent Application Controller.” The MC gives users high-speed control of EuCon-aware applications and other PC applications via keystroke commands programmed into the MC's LCD SmartSwitches. MC includes a 7.1 monitor section, twin trackballs, standard full-size keyboard, eight programmable knobs, four full-throw touch-sensitive moving faders (or optional twin joy sticks) and 56 programmable LCD SmartSwitches together with a small touchscreen. The console can be fitted with 16 to 48 faders and starts at $75,000.

Designed to provide compact, affordable storage for both audio and video, the new bonsaiDrive from Rosendahl (dist. by Sennheiser,, $2,225) can simultaneously handle 4:2:2 PAL or NTSC video signals and 10 audio channels, while allowing users to specify their own choice of standard IDE drive to neatly slot into the unit. Audio I/O is configured as an analog stereo pair and a 48kHz/24-bit 8-channel digital stream (ADAT format), while video is handled in either composite, S-video or component formats and is processed via lossless 2:1 compression.

The R92 from AEA (, $895) is a mic that shares the same 2-inch ribbon as the company's popular — and more expensive — R84, but has decreased proximity effect to avoid the LF build-up that can occur when ribbon mics are placed close to loud guitar cabinets.

Marquette Audio Labs' (, $2,199) AM16 is a 2-channel rack version of the original 1960s AM16 mic preamp, known for its musical, open top end. Now the AM16 is back with the same discrete transistor circuit and custom transformers modeled after the originals. New features include (-0/6/12/18/24dB) input pad, 48V phantom, polarity reverse, output fader, internal power supply and newly designed FET DI inputs.

M-Audio's (, $199) Audiophile 192 I/O box raises the bar on features while keeping a low price. This PCI 2.2 digital audio interface operates at up to 24-bit/192 kHz and has analog and digital I/O and a 1×1 MIDI interface. Analog I/O is provided on balanced TRS jacks; the S/PDIF co-ax digital ports handle 2-channel PCM with SCMS copy-protection control and pass-through of surround-encoded AC-3 and DTS pass-through. The Mac/PC unit includes drivers for ASIO, WDM, GSIF-2 and Core Audio — compliant applications.

Going back to the '80s isn't bad when you're re-creating the sounds of the coveted Ursa Major Space Station. Princeton Digital's (, $499) Tony Agnello worked with SST-282 original designer Chris Moore to port the Space Station to Pro Tools|HD (Version 6 or later), creating a plug-in that is true to the original. The software offers multitap delay-based echo, ambience and reverb, and works at sample rates up to 96 kHz.

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Finally proving size doesn't matter, the 4×5.5-inch, 10-ounce Edirol (, $550) R-1 is a mobile, 24-bit/44.1kHz recorder storing stereo audio directly to Compact Flash. The R-1 runs on two AA batteries and has two electret mics and external line/mic inputs. Its 24-bit effects include mic simulation, noise reduction, hum cut, 10-band EQ, reverb, center cancel and more. There's also a metronome, tuner, headphone jack, S/PDIF optical out and features such as half-speed playback and A-B repeat to loop one section of an audio file. A USB 2 port transfers files to your computer.

This major step up for MOTU's ( Digital Performer promises hundreds of new features such as Beat Detection Engine, automated tempo analysis, plug-in latency compensation and the MasterWorks EQ plug-in. A new Consolidated window lets users work entirely in a single configurable window. Pro Tools TDM operation has been enhanced with support for RTAS and Audio Suite plug-ins, full RTAS and TDM plug-in automation, sample-accurate latency compensation for plug-ins, virtual instrument track support, stereo sends, send automation, automatic voice allocation, QuickPunch support and more. Price: $795; registered users can upgrade for $149 or $349 from a competing product.

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B-format junkies can now manipulate their Soundfield ( mic data from directly within Pro Tools (Mac/PC). The $1,062 Surround Zone plug-in combines the hardware features of Soundfield's SP451 surround processor and offers a choice of three separate 5.1 arrays, individual 6.1 and 7.1 arrays, independently variable width of the front and rear pairs, phase-coherent LFE and individual level controls with mute/solo. The interface has extensive bargraph metering and provides additional control over the sound such as rotate, tilt and zoom.

Exclusively for Universal Audio's (, $199) UAD-1 card, this powerful plug offers features available only in the DSP world. This single-band, look-ahead, brick wall limiter achieves 100-percent attack within a 1.5ms look-ahead window. Attack and release curves are optimized for mastering; other features include intelligent auto-release and contour mode switching, with the latter tailoring the attack shape to subtly control “presentation.” Precision Limiter also features simultaneous RMS/peak metering and adjustable peak hold.

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Dynaudio's ( new subs come in two earth-thumping flavors for your AIR system. The $3,595 AIR Base 12 puts 500 watts into a 12-inch woofer; the $4,995 AIR Base 24 features 700W of amplification in twin 12-inch drivers. The subs adhere to the established AIR feature set, including networking, advanced bass management, extensive calibration, preset handling and the ability to control parameters via a PC or hardware remote.

This multichannel short-length PCI soundcard from Digigram (, $4,000) features one stereo input and six stereo outputs in balanced analog and AES/EBU formats. Features include 24-bit/192kHz converters, a comprehensive set of drivers (Digigram, WDM DirectSound, Wave, ASIO), hardware sample rate converters, a 66MHz/64-bit PCI interface and enhanced onboard DSP.

The all-new Cubase SX3 (, $799) offers a bevy of new features including Audio Warp, a real-time time-stretching and pitch-shifting tool; ACID file support; new tools for loop-based composing; and an in-place editing system for editing MIDI data directly within the project window. The GUI has new user-definable workspaces — all easily switchable via key commands. The DSP-saving Freeze function introduced in Cubase SX2 has been extended to include audio tracks and insert effects, and is now faster and more effective.

Weighing in more like a gorilla than a monkey, the 700MB Drum Werks Volume V from Beta Monkey (, $25) has acoustic drum loops in 12 groove genres, with 1,040 license-free drum loops and drum/cymbal samples, 738 loops (including beats, fills, cymbal patterns and one-shots) and 196 multivelocity drum and cymbal samples. All files are sonically matched from the same recording session.

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Open Labs (, $13,995) has a solution for users wanting to tap into 64-bit processing power without upgrading their I/O. The OMX64 Extreme offers AMD processing and comes standard with 4 GB of RAM (upgradeable to 16 GB), a PCI Legacy and four PCI-X slots. In addition, more than 1,000 sounds and effects are bundled with the OMX64 Extreme for use out of the box. The computer works with Nuendo, Cubase or any other Windows-based recording software.

Offering a kinder, gentler compression, the Kjaerhus Audio GPP-1 is an internal processing, soft-limiter, peak compressor plug-in. Kjaerhus boasts that the 64-bit GPP-1 can compress troublesome peaks, soften the sound and bring out instruments that would have been buried in the final mix. The VST plug offers five different release types designed for different material and taste, and program-dependent envelope times for increased loudness and minimum pumping. The $69 GPP-1 supports up to 192kHz rates and is available directly from

Cambridge Version 2 from Cedar ( boasts disk-to-disk and disk-to-world file processing capabilities. The new features allow users to analyze and process selected parts of, or whole, .WAV and .AIFF files, rendering the results back to hard disk in a fraction of the time needed to process audio in real time. The new 64-bit dynamics processors offer a compressor, an upward expander, a downward expander and limiter, all offering up to eight channels of processing, making it ideal for all multichannel and surround requirements. The file processor is free to existing users, while the CAM11 limiter is $1,725 and the CAM12 dynamics is $4,975.

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This variable-pattern, large-diaphragm mic from Brauner ( offers switchable omni/cardioid/figure-8 polar patterns. Specs include 8dBA self-noise, 142dB max SPL and a 20-22k Hz response. Its capsule is based on the Brauner VM1, and the $2,500 Phantom-V includes SMV shock-mount, aluminum case and cable.

All E-mu digital audio systems and Emulator X desktop sampling systems now ship with E-mu's Power FX hardware-accelerated VST effects software. Current owners can get a free download at www.emu.comPrinceton Digital's Reverb 2016 plug-in is now offered as a VST-compliant reverb plug-in for Windows hosts. The plug-in operates at up to 96 kHz/24-bit and is $200. Visit…Now bundled with Cakewalk's Sonar Producer 4 and Sonar Studio 4, a trial version of Minnetonka's discWelder DVD-Audio authoring program will burn up to five DVD-A discs before a license from is purchased…3D Audio is offering a limited re-release of its Mic-CD at the original 88.2/24-bit sampling rate, the rate at which the original sessions were recorded. Get it directly from…Need to make a low-fi version of a track that simulates vinyl? iZotope ( now offers its free Vinyl plug-in for Mac OS X in Pro Tools, VST, MAS and AudioUnits formats…Brauner has a free DVD (from that tells the company's inside story and features Dirk Brauner talking about his mic design philosophy…Version 1.30, a major upgrade for Tascam's ( FW-1884 audio/MIDI interface and control surface, lets the unit send commands to soft synths, plug-ins and sequencers via its FireWire interface…Marathon's ( $699 12U computer rack enclosure is deep enough for Apple's Xserve, yet allows two G5s to stand upright.

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The steel unit features internal cross-bracing, dual top-mounted fans, removable side panels, removable bottom panels for cable management and four casters…Maxtor's ( 250GB ($239) and 300GB ($279) hard drives feature a 16MB buffer and 7,200 rpm performance. These Serial ATA (SATA) drives include SATA cable and MaxBlast install software…The CinemaSounds 5.1 music library has 24 compositions specifically for use in film trailers, TV promos and games. Composed by Linda Martinez and Gabriel Shadid, the music is available on stereo CDs and discrete 5.1 elements on DVD-Rs. Audition it at