Tools of the Trade

A DESIGNS MP-1A/MP-2A MIC PREAMP This audio chameleon from A Designs (dist. by TransAudio Group, gives the user the ability to

This audio chameleon from A Designs (dist. by TransAudio Group, gives the user the ability to alter the preamp's tone and comes in either single- or dual-channel versions. The all-tube unit offers 60 dB of gain, -20dB pad, balanced XLR I/O, polarity switch, old-school VU meter, phantom power and ¼-inch instrument input. The tone switching comes via dual two-position switches (per channel) that can be set in any of four positions, offering an expanded and versatile sonic palette. Prices: MP-1A, $1,500 (single-channel); and MP-2A, $1,975 (dual-channel).

SSL's ( XLogic E Signature Channel ($3,885) features the classic preamps/dynamics/EQ sound of its early '80s E Series console. One of its two preamps has the same Jensen transformer as the first E Series channel strips; the second uses an electronically balanced design with SSL's unique Variable Harmonic Drive circuitry that lets users blend second- or third-harmonic distortion into the signal path. The dynamics section faithfully reproduces the E Series sound while adding a defeatable over-easy curve in favor of a linear release. Additionally, the original Listen Mic compressor is presented as an option in the signal path. The EQ defaults to the original Brown Knob circuit found in early E consoles, with two parametric mid-bands and two shelving outer bands. High- and lowpass filter sections feature 12dB/octave slopes.

The A08 ($149) from SM Pro Audio ( uses your DAW's under-utilized Lightpipe connection to expand your input options. This compact unit has eight ¼-inch unbalanced inputs on the front and a single ADAT Lightpipe output on the back. The A08 also offers word clock I/O, switchable internal or external sync, and 44.1- or 48kHz sample rates.

Pearl, the company from Sweden that specializes in rectangular capsule microphones, has released the Pearl 0M 16 ($550), a traditional circular capsule mic distributed by Independent Audio ( The medium-sized, front-address omni condenser mic has a transformerless design, and is mostly flat but with a 3dB boost from 5 to 12 kHz, targeting it largely for instrument and ensemble recording.

Three years ago, the Vienna Symphonic Library (dist. by Ilio, redefined the art of sample libraries. Now, Vienna Instruments, VSL's new virtual instrument (in stand-alone and VST and AudioUnits plug-in formats for Windows XP and Mac OS X) blends easy-to-use software with a vast array of samples. In a single preset, the sofware automatically summons from hundreds of articulations as the notes are played. The Symphonic Cube has 10 sample-based instruments — all of the Pro Edition and Horizon Series — offering some 800,000 samples (550 GB) with trills, arpeggios, performance nuances, harmonics and more. Each collection (solo and ensemble strings, harps, woodwinds, brass and percussion) is priced from $200 to $550, with special upgrade pricing to existing VSL customers.

This tiny, 2-channel mobile digital recorder from M-Audio ( records at up to 96k/24-bit to either Compact Flash or microdrives. About the size and weight of a deck of cards, this recorder offers phantom-powered mic preamps, balanced TRS line inputs, S/PDIF input and a stereo headphone out. MicroTrack ($499.95) records up to 100 minutes of uncompressed audio at 44.1/16-bit or 1,500 minutes of stereo speech-quality MP3 audio at 96 kbps on a 1GB Compact Flash card. The unit's lithium-ion batteries provide approximately eight hours on a single charge or about three hours with phantom power engaged. The battery recharges via a computer's USB port or an included AC power supply. When coupled to a computer via USB, it shows up on the desktop as a drive where files can be easily ported in/out of the unit.

Proving the theory that the world has run out of new product names, the Nicerizer 16 ($2,995) from Phoenix Audio (dist. by Independent Audio, is a 16×2 summing box using discrete Class-A circuitry. The dual-rackspace unit has XLR balanced I/Os and features panning and a +8dB boost for each channel. Users can monitor the stereo out or eight stereo pairs via a nine-position rotary control. Other features include a headphone out with dedicated volume control and L/R balance control, 11-segment stereo LED meter, main output level control and a variable stereo width control that can be A/B'd via a hard bypass switch.

IK Multimedia's ( suite of four reverbs features both Easy and Advanced modes coupled with more than 100 editing parameters. Basic algorithms include hall, room, ambience and inverse. Features include a customizable 8×8 modulation matrix per unit, parameter morphing, four assignable macros per unit, adjustable input and output reverb width, two internal LFOs, two internal envelope generators and full automation of all parameters. Supported platforms include Windows XP and Mac OS X including VST, RTAS, AudioUnits and DX; TDM is under development. Price: $399.

Billed as “the ultimate broadcaster's headset,” the HFI-700 HSD ($750) combines Ultrasone's ( S-Logic technology with DPA's 4088 (cardioid) or 4066 (omni) headmount condenser mics. S-Logic's low distortion and enhanced stereo image let users listen at reduced SPLs, eliminating fatigue and protecting our valuable factory-installed transducers (aka ears). Known for its ability to handle high SPLs, the DPA 4088 is ubiquitous in broadcast. It attaches to the headphones using an articulating mount and can disconnect for stable positioning and quick field changes. A 6-foot cable terminates to a fan out with a ¼-inch stereo headphone plug and an XLR for the mic.

Old and new are exquisitely married in the Reso Pre 273 ($1,995) from AXI ( The slick-looking, 2-channel remote-controlled microphone preamp is built using a vintage 1073 analog circuit design, and because it can be controlled via MIDI, it can act as a front end for a DAW or live use (also directly from the Pro Tools channel strip). The front panel has large rotary gain knobs and buttons with LEDs for switching in/out a -10dB pad, phantom power, mute and polarity. A gain range from 20 to 80 dB is offered in 13 gain steps.

Nady's ( RSM-2 ribbon mic now has four new cousins: the RSM-1/3/4/5. All models have internally shock-mounted, low-tension aluminum ribbon engines, but ribbons of different lengths and thickness give each mic its own personality. All share the characteristic ribbon figure-8 pattern, high-SPL handling and fast transient response. The RSM-4 ($399.95) is intended for miking instruments and guitar cabinets; the RSM-3 ($359.95) for ambient sound and choral miking; and — when compact mics are required — the RSM-1 ($199.95) for all-around applications and the RSM-5 ($379.95) for instrument miking.

Middle Atlantic ( now offers a new brand of music and studio accessories, including the Split Screen Pop Filter ($45). The device uses two independent screens separated by an airspace. Vocalist sounds are initially diffused by the first screen, dispersed by the open space between the two screens and diffused once again by the second screen, effectively removing plosives. To avoid creating resonant frequencies between the two screens, the unit is engineered without parallel surfaces within the pop filter hoop.

This new studio bundle from Audio-Technica ( features the AT2020 and the newly released AT2021 mic. The AT2020 is a side-address cardioid featuring a 20-20k Hz response, a 124dB dynamic range and the ability to handle 144dB SPL. The AT2021 is a front-address, small-capsule mic targeted at instrument recording with a frequency response of 30-20k Hz, 126dB dynamic range and the ability to handle 145dB SPL. Price: $249.

Bad breath used to call for a mint, but now as part of its new Vocal Bundle, Waves ( has a more creative solution. The bundle offers DeBreath, a unique breath-removing software; Tune, a new tuning tool; and the existing Renaissance Channel, Renaissance DeEsser and Doubler processors (all native). DeBreath automatically removes, reduces or enhances breath sounds in a vocal track by detecting breath segments and separating them using a template-matching algorithm. The separated breaths can then be processed independently if desired. Tune evaluates pitch correction possibilities according to user-defined criteria. Available parameters include reference pitch, root note, key, scale type and singer's range. In addition, natural vibrato is identified and can be increased/reduced, or synthetic vibrato can be added if desired. Prices: Tune, $600; DeBreath, $350; and Vocal Bundle, $1,000.

Those intelligent designers at Beta Monkey Music ( have their scopes trained on some funky new products. Now available are eight new REX2 versions of existing discs and an all-new two-CD set of BMM's slickest grooves to date. Rock Hard Funk ($39.99) has grooves and beats said to be “way beyond the standard two and four.” This 1,000-plus loop set features the work of accomplished funk and rock drummers churning out various tempos and feels. Also included are matching multi-velocity drum samples from the same maple DW kit used in loop recording and a matching set of cymbal samples.

Sonic Studio's ( products are now more affordable with the release of PreMaster CD ($795), a simplified version of its SonicStudio•DDP professional premastering application. Sonic's editing and sequencing routines — including the Smart Fade Tool — ease the premastering process. For final replication, PreMaster CD uses DDP (Disc Description Protocol), the same format as Sonic's pro products. These CD-DA — formatted recordable CDs are created in the background to avoid tying up the CPU. In addition, output to Roxio's Jam image file format provides another common method for project interchange. The application can open .WAV, .AIFF, Broadcast .WAV and SD2 files.

Available in multiple colors, Gepco's ( X-Band cables offer extra-flexible, wide frequency response interconnection for studio or stage use. Cabling the pairs with a tight and precise twist, a video-grade foam dielectric and a dense 95% copper-braid shield offer exceptional RF/EMI noise rejection. Finely stranded, OFC conductors maximize conductivity and protect against corrosion, and Gepco's G-Flex outer compound is both flexible and durable.

Summit ( has come out with a single-channel, 4-band parametric EQ with iron-based circuitry. Housed in Summit's familiar half-rack chassis, the FeQ-50 ($995) has six switch-selectable frequencies on each band and ±14 dB of sweepable gain. Low and high bands offer peak or shelf selection; the two middle bands have wide/narrow switches. The fully passive highpass filter has a knee at 80 Hz with a 6dB/octave roll-off. I/O for both the solid-state and tube signal paths is provided on +4dB balanced XLRs and ¼-inch unbalanced inputs (-10 dB) on a Neutrik combo jack, and all outputs can be used simultaneously. The FeQ-50 has an internal high-voltage power supply and a three-year warranty.

In what Wizoo ( promises is a refinement of IR room modeling, the W5 Reverb ($449) includes full 5.1 surround sound source models from 25 world-class recording and performance venues worldwide. Combining its HDIR (High-Definition Impulse Response) room modeling and A.I.R. algorithmic reverb technology into one package lets users separately choose between the two, applying one to early reflections and the other to reverb tail. Reverb types include ambience, basement, booth, cathedral, cathedral dome, chamber large, chamber, church concrete, church wood, concert hall, dance club, drum booth, drum room, forest site, opera, orchestral hall, philharmonic hall, swimming pool and more. A built-in graphic envelope control simplifies further sculpting these spaces. Users have control of such parameters as tail delay, room size, ambience, density and color.

Celemony Software ( releases Melodyne Version 3 for Mac and PC. Melodyne3 is no longer limited to the editing of melodies, but can handle homophonic and polyphonic textures. Other upgrades include fully automatic analysis of the audio material, powerful macros for the correction of intonation and timing errors and numerous improvements in the user interface…In related news, Digidesign ( will be bundling Melodyne Essential free-of-charge with Pro Tools software…Eventide ( has released a version of its H8000FW, a FireWire-enabled version of the H8000 processor. Current users can upgrade to add FireWire functionality. Customers who purchased an H8000 or H8000A after October 7, 2005, are eligible for a free FireWire upgrade…Princeton Digital ( has released a VST version of its Plate 2016 reverb plug-in. The plug supports 44.1/48/96kHz rates and uses challenge/response copy protection. The plug-in will run in demo mode for 10 days or 500 launches…HHB's (dist. by Sennheiser, PortaDrive system now includes a 71W/hour NPL7 lithium-ion rechargeable battery, replacing the original 52W/hour NPL50, boosting PortaDrive's continuous operation from two to three hours. An 80GB hard drive is also now part of the system…Cedar Cambridge ( V. 2.5 is now available as a free upgrade and includes two new restoration modules and numerous upgrades to the core system. New features include improvements to the pre/post operations, multiple levels of undo/redo, and advancements of Event Manager and Automation systems… Metric Halo's ( V. 2.2 update of its Mobile I/O Console and driver software for Mac OS X provides increased performance across all Mobile I/O hardware models. Users of the Mobile I/O 2882, 2882+DSP, ULN-2 and ULN-2+DSP can now take advantage of the free update with Mac OS 10.3.9 through 10.4.2…Edirol ( now offers fully supported V. 1 drivers for Windows x64, allowing users to fully utilize their 64-bit hardware…The LT-ADAT upgrade from Lynx Studio Technology ( lets Lynx Aurora converters add up to 16 channels of ADAT Lightpipe I/O. This a full-function ADAT interface that provides two ADAT Lightpipe inputs and outputs when installed in an Aurora 8 or Aurora 16.