Tools of the Trade

MERCURY M72S PREAMP Based on the classic, modified Telefunken/Siemens V72s modules used in the legendary REDD.37 recording desk at Abbey Road Studios

Based on the classic, modified Telefunken/Siemens V72s modules used in the legendary REDD.37 recording desk at Abbey Road Studios is the dual-channel M72s from Mercury Audio (, $3,500). Housed in a two-rackspace chassis, the M72s features mic and ¼-inch DI inputs, a choice of -16 or -28dB pads (to accommodate line-level inputs), polarity and phantom switches, 28-58dB variable gain controls, transformer balanced I/Os, EF86 tubes and hand construction throughout.

The incredibly small Mac mini G4 from Apple (, $499) is ideal for portable music production, especially when paired with the new GarageBand 2. The software (included in the new iLife bundle) features multitrack recording, musical notation display, the ability to import MIDI files, timing and tuning correction, and the capability to save your own recordings as Apple Loops. Also new for GarageBand is Jam Pack 4: Symphonic Orchestra ($99), featuring everything from woodwinds, brass, percussion and strings.

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Dadio Monitor from Glyph ( is a peer-to-peer collaborative audio system that allows musicians to create their own individual monitor mixes using a network of single-rackspace units connected by standard Ethernet cables. Mic and line inputs carry each musician's signals to other Dadios, where they can be mixed locally. Front panel controls include an LCD screen and connectors for headphones, while the back of the unit offers line outs and an insert for patching external processors across the mix or an input channel. Each Dadio's mixing controls include gain, pan, mute and polarity reverse. The unit is upgradable via software download.

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A mixed bag of Pultec emulations, FullTec from URS ( offers boost/cut across five bands from 20-20k Hz. The outer bands mimic Pultec EQP-1's LF/HF shelving with simultaneous boost and cut, while the mid bands re-create the midrange boost and attenuation of the Pultec MEQ-5. The five bands overlap for a wide range of subtle and powerful changes. The plug-in is compatible with Windows XP, Pro Tools 6.7 and Panther OS 10.3.5, and offers TDM support for Pro Tools|HD Accel, Pro Tools|HD and Pro Tools 24|MIX systems at up to 192 kHz. Prices: TDM, $499.99; Native, $249.99.

Not your average keyboard controller, the Ozonic from M-Audio (, $599) includes FireWire audio and MIDI interfaces within the full-featured MIDI controller. The 4×4 analog audio interface operates at up to 24-bit/96 kHz, and includes a XLR mic input with phantom power, ¼-inch instrument input and stereo ¼-inch TRS line inputs. Outputs are provided on two pairs of ¼-inch jacks (TRS and TS) with volume sliders and a headphone output. The controller is a 37-note, velocity-sensitive, synth-action keyboard with three zones and assignable after-touch.

The latest in Steinberg's (, $249) Virtual Series puts the phrasing and sounds of pro electric bass players at your fingertips. Virtual Bassist utilizes a large array of samples covering 25 styles, including rock, pop, reggae, metal and hip hop. To keep it real, the virtual instrument uses GrooveMatch to accurately marry the bass line to any existing drum groove. Virtual Bassist will work within any VST, DXi, AudioUnits or ReWire host application.

This 8-channel, single-rackspace mixer from Studio Projects (dist. by PMI Audio,, $799) offers eight mic preamps, a stereo bus, headphone output and balanced outputs for each channel. Front panel controls include phantom power, phase reverse, mic/line switch, input gain, level, pan and solo, with LEDs for visual monitoring of selections. Up to four SP-828s can be cascaded together using the Expansion Port, offering 32-channel operation in just four rackspaces.

Stretching the limits of how much you can fit into a $99 price point, ART ( has introduced the MicroPRE analog/digital audio interface. Analog inputs are phono/line-level — switchable and optical TOSLINK I/O; S/PDIF inputs are standard. The front panel features gain control, highpass filter, signal/clip LED and a headphone jack, and the unit can be powered externally or via USB. MicroPRE will work with the USB audio device drivers built into Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP or Macs with native USB support OS 9.1 (or greater) or OS X.

New from SPL (, $35,900), this slick and svelte mastering console is a rackmount version of the company's MMC1. The unit offers inputs and returns for stereo and multichannel inputs, input trim in 0.5dB detents, a switchable insert and the optional Master Bay and remote (an 8×8 automated patchbay). Additionally, the MMC2 features an eight-tiered high-end master fader, two 8-channel and four dual-channel global recording outputs, speaker management, and monitoring of two stereo and two surround speaker sets.

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Sonic Studio's (, $500) first OS X native application, SS•DDP, is a utility for manipulation, validation and regeneration of CD metadata. The software offers the well-known power of Sonic's full PQ code functionality for Red Book and the streamlined NGC user interface. For assurance of flawless replication, SS•DDP validates and corrects incoming DDP file sets on-the-fly, creating a fully compliant disk image.

Octiv (, $995) has released a full-featured, multiband dynamics processor for 5.1 music production. Octirama works on the Pro Tools TDM platform and offers 4- or 5-band dynamics processing, five in-band peak limiters, band mixing, a final peak limiter and bass management. More than 40 simultaneous meters provide detailed information on gain reduction, downward expansion and output levels.

The new audio restoration bundle from Creamware (, $999) is based around the osirisXP plug-in for the SCOPE platform. It includes a De-Crackler, De-Noiser, De-Clicker and PSY-Q psychoacoustic processor. The package also includes SCOPE home, a PCI audio board featuring low-latency operation, flexible routing, effects and support for a wide range of drivers. For those wanting to slice-and-dice audio, the package also includes the tripleLE audio editor, a light edition of Creamware's tripleDAT workstation. The software offers the user an intuitive interface that can take a project from inception through finished CD.

Native Instruments' Absynth 3 (, $339) has been massively upgraded and now offers multichannel support ranging from 3.1 up to 7.1, with dedicated surround panning sections in each oscillator channel. The instrument also features new oscillator functions, additional integrated effects and a live input function that can process up to three external stereo signals at once, routing each into a separate oscillator channel for individual treatment. There is also flexible MIDI parameter control and an updated user interface.

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Chock full of great new features, the newest version of Digidesign's ( Pro Tools boasts track color-coding, expanded track creation options and new click and tempo options including the ability to increase/decrease tempo in various logarithmic curves. Also new is an Undo History window, MIDI Step Input, support for RTAS instruments on TDM aux inputs and the ability to slide tracks by either samples or ticks. The update is free for current Pro Tools 6.4 owners or for $175 for users with earlier versions.

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The new DX-2 CD/DVD publisher from Microboards ( boasts professionally labeled discs in larger quantities than in the past for a lower cost per disc. DX-2 ships with two 52x CD or two 16x DVD (32x CD) recorders, SureThing label editing software and PrassiTech Zulu 2 recording and automation software, giving users access to many advanced publishing features. Other features include 4800 dpi printing, FireWire 800 interface card for true 16x DVD recording, unlimited batch queuing, 100-disc input/output capacity and a one-year warranty. CD version, $3,495; DVD version, $3,695.

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The newest scaled-down version of Cubase SX3, Cubase SL3 from Steinberg ( offers many new features including the Workspace concept, allowing layouts to be created for each step in the production process. Also included are the ability to color-code tracks and an extended Freeze function in which VST instruments and audio tracks with their insert effects can be “frozen” to save DSP. SL3 offers import of ACID files, which can be time-stretched and pitch-shifted in real time. The Pre-Record feature records up to 10 minutes of audio in the background even if Record wasn't engaged. Prices: $399 (new) or a $99 upgrade from SL2.

Disproving the adage that if it sounds too good to be true, it is, Unrelated Inventions' ( Audiotools V. 5 is just $25. The Windows-based software for audio recording, manipulation and conversion records any format that can be fed into a soundcard, direct-to-disk, including MIDI files or streamed audio from the Internet. Also included is the ability to merge files and file conversion (MP3, .WAV, AudioUnits, WMA). The software supports CD writing and DirectX plug-ins.

Terratec's (, $559) new computer audio interface for Mac or PC can be a straight PCI card or retrofitted to operate as a FireWire interface. The unit offers eight analog I/Os operating at up to 96 kHz/24-bit — all on rear panel, balanced ¼-inch TRS jacks. The 88 also features two MIDI ports, gain control, clipping/signal LEDs, two mic inputs with phantom power, world clock I/O and a 12-foot cable connecting the card to the interface.

Bringing a new level of synthesis to TC Electronic's (, $249) PowerCore platform, Access Unlimited license is now available as an upgrade for the Virus|PowerCore Base license. The new license allows the instrument to be instanced on all PowerCore DSPs simultaneously. The software is based on the Virus hardware synth and offers three main oscillators, two filters, three LFOs and two envelopes. A single PowerCore allows for 64 voices of polyphony and 16-part multitimbrality.

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Roland ( is shipping the new CM-30 Cube Monitor, offering 30 watts of power through a 6.5-inch, coaxial two-way speaker with stereo preamp…With the shipping of Sonik Synth 2, IK Multimedia ( announces the launch of a new Website for the product, www.soniksynth.comMOTU has announced that a free software update of Digital Performer, V. 4.51, is now available for download at to all registered DP 4.5 users…Primera ( is now shipping both PC and Mac software for its Bravo II Disc Publisher at no additional cost…Open Labs ( has upgraded all of its products in its NeKo and OMX lines of Windows XP — based keyboard workstations to include a combo DVD reader/CD-rewritable (CD-RW) drive…BIAS ( has released Soundsoap 2 for Mac OS X and Windows XP…Manifold Labs' Plugzilla ( now comes bundled with the VST version of Princeton Digital's 2016 Stereo Room reverb…iZotope's Ozone, Trash, Spectron and Vinyl plug-ins are now available for Mac OS X. The plugs are available in Pro Tools, VST, MAS and AudioUnits formats from www.izotope.comM-Audio's Fast Track USB ($129) is a 2×2 mobile, USB-powered, 24-bit/48kHz audio interface with I/O provided on a single XLR mic input (no phantom) and a ¼-inch input that can be switched between instrument and line-levels. Outputs are dual RCAs and a ⅛-inch headphone jack. It ships with GT Player Express software. Visit www.m-audio.comKjaerhus, which must mean “free stuff” in Danish, has released another gratis plug-in called Auto-Filter. The analog-modeled, four-pole filter offers resonance control, making it very adept at effects such as auto-wah-wah and filter sweeps, as well as a fixed filter for equalizing purposes. The filter is selectable between lowpass, highpass, bandpass and band-reject (notch). Visit