Tools of the Trade

SONIC STUDIO AFC24 The AFC24 ($4,395) transcoding package from Sonic Studio ( offers rapid sample rate conversion for large amounts


The AFC24 ($4,395) transcoding package from Sonic Studio ( offers rapid sample rate conversion for large amounts of audio. The Windows software handles up to 24 channels of fully adjustable SRC and bidirectional PCM-to-DSD and DSD-to-PCM interchange. Supported formats include WAV, AIFF, AIFF-C and BWF, with PCM sample rate conversion from 44.1 kHz up to 2.8224 MHz as batches or single files. For SACD authoring, a Compression Ratio Estimator feature measures DST lossless compression-encoding gains. AFC24 also multiplexes, de-multiplexes and remodulates DSD data and creates DSDIFF EM or Edit Master files. Nine distinct delta sigma modulators are available, including the Trellis E algorithm with adjustable path length for the highest fidelity at the smallest file size.

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Ghost Acoustics' (dist. by Sonic Distribution, acoustic absorption panels feature a layered design of highly compressed glass fiber and layers of micro-thin flexible aluminum, offering broadband absorption said to be well-suited for the problematic low-frequency area. Absorptive layers are housed in an aluminum/steel inner frame that is wall-mounted via a detachable, damped metal frame, which provides airspace behind the unit. The series includes five products in charcoal or light gray (including the corner trap shown); all are Class-A fire-retardant.

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The latest flight of Thermionic Culture's ( Earlybird is the 2.2 ($4,604), a 2-channel tube mic/line preamp featuring an optional sidekick called the Pullet ($1,514). This add-on unit is a 2-channel passive boost/cut EQ with six midrange and three HF bands. As a passive device, it needs 40 dB of make-up gain boosting at the back end, which the Earlybird 2.2 provides via a second set of switchable line inputs. When not used as a Pullet booster, the Earlybird 2.2 functions as two mic pre's with variable input impedance and onboard, switchable active EQ across the low, mid- and high bands; separate output trims; polarity switches; and dual VU meters.


The Vortex Surround Designer from Immersive Media Research ( generates psychoacoustic cues that create a surround panning effect from mono and stereo sound files. It uses pitch, reverb and amplitude variations to create Doppler shifts that are created/edited in a graphic-authoring window and arranged with a visual reference to the file being processed. Once the sound file is processed, the output is saved to a new multichannel sound file. The associated panning breakpoints and DSP envelopes are saved to separate files, so all spatialization instructions can be edited or re-used, leaving the original sound file unchanged. Other features include channel-balance test routines for speaker setup, waveform-based GUI, path/file looping and I/O mapping for interapplication processing. It's compatible with AIFF, WAV and SDII file formats.

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Cedar's ( DNS 2000 dialog noise suppressor is now compatible with Pro Tools for PCs and Intel Macs. Customers who purchased the hardware unit after June 8, 2007, have a completely generic processor, which means it can connect to a PC on one day and to a Mac on the next, as needed. The unit also integrates with all of Digidesign's control surfaces, such as the D-Command and ICON systems, on PC or Mac platforms. The Remote-Control Software (RCS) can support and control up to 128 DNS 2000 hardware units for those really big jobs. The latest RCS and firmware downloads are available from Cedar's Website.

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The Medley ($1,799) from Disc Makers ( not only makes CDs and DVDs, but also features on-disc printing and integrates with iTunes and the Windows Media Player. The 9.5×19×17-inch (H×W×D) unit fits in tight spaces, and offers a 50-disc capacity, independently mounted disc-transport robotics, built-in CMYK 4,800 dpi inkjet printer and one dual-layer-capable 18x DVD/48x CD drive. Medley connects to any Windows PC via USB 2, and includes cables, graphics software and a one-year warranty

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This instantiate-and-forget limiter ($39.95) from Starplugs ( boasts no distortion, no pumping, no ducking, no delay and an easy-set GUI that eschews the usual settings associated with other hardware or software limiters. The company claims this VST plug “listens” to your track and assesses the best possible limiting solution for the situation. Features include 1-sample reaction time, audio-related attack/release/hold times, a stereo link button, and separate output level and gain-reduction meters.

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Midnight guitar-shredders and recordists will want to check out RiffWorks Standard ($169) from Sonoma WireWorks ( It offers a feature-rich interface that automatically creates tracks and offers loop recording in 24 layers with seven effects, including wah, multiband compression, distortion, modulation, delay, reverb and EQ. The user can mix to WAV or Ogg Vorbis formats and then podcast the tracks using the integrated RiffCaster. Optional is RiffLink, an online collaboration tool that features instant track streaming to other users and an online chat client. RiffWorks Standard supports Windows XP ASIO and Mac OS Core Audio interfaces.

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The PreSonus ( Monitor Station Remote ($229.95) connects to the company's FireStudio via standard Cat-5 Ethernet cable and offers surround sound/stereo speaker management, input switching and a talkback system with built-in mic. It also has two separately adjustable headphone outs and mute/dim/mono switches, and integrates with the FireStudio's Control Console routing/mixing software for greater control of track routing, mixing and I/O switching.

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These three new capsules ($799 each) from Neumann ( expand on the company's Solution-D KM D miniature microphone system. The additions include the KK 131 free-field equalized omni, KK 143 wide-cardioid and the KK 145 cardioid with highpass. The KM D miniature mics have a 3-pin XLR connector to transmit a bidirectional signal conforming to the AES-42 standard. This signal carries the balanced digital mic output signal, phantom power and a remote-control data stream that also has a signal to sync the mic with a master clock. The mic and capsules come in classic nickel and black Nextel finish. All standard sampling frequencies are supported, from 44.1 to 192 kHz.

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Offering features optimized for ribbon and/or dynamic mics, the single-channel P-SOLO ($745) ribbon preamp from TRUE Systems ( uses the same balanced, transformerless circuitry used in the company's Precision 8 and P2 analog preamps. P-SOLO is built using military-grade, hand-matched components, and features a highpass filter, dual analog outputs, hi-Z instrument input and four-level metering. Designed for ribbon and dynamic mics, it has no phantom power and offers high input impedance and extra gain.

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The SpaceArray ($399 each) acoustical diffuser from Auralex Acoustics (, designed by Russ Berger, offers hemispherical acoustical diffusion in a wood finish. The Class-B, fire-rated product passed testing in accordance with ASTM E84, a standard test for surface-burning characteristics of building materials, and acoustical testing in accordance with ISO 17497-1, a standard test for sound-scattering coefficients. Each paulownia wood panel measures 24×24 inches.

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The 1-in, 2-out Xtragood Mic Splitter ($199, mono version; $299, stereo version) is a simple but often-needed problem-solver from Cable Techniques ( The sturdy, all-metal box offers a loop-thru with secondary, isolated output and ground lift. The compact 4.5×2.5×1.5-inch box contains a shielded transformer and Neutrik gold-pin XLR connectors.

HOW AUDIO TRAINING is a subscription-based Website with training on both music/audio software and topics such as musical instruments, hardware and music business. Currently, it includes Digidesign Pro Tools, Sony Sound Forge, Finale, Apple GarageBand and MOTU Digital Performer; Ableton Live 5, Apple Logic Pro/Soundtrack Pro, Cakewalk SONAR 5, Propellerhead Reason, Steinberg Cubase SX3, Audacity Mixcraft, BIAS Peak Pro, Sony ACID Pro 6 and Adobe Audition are coming soon. Users can subscribe for a 30-day, all-access trial for $19.99; $199 buys one year of access to all current and future content. Lesson DVDs can also be purchased online.