Tools of the Trade

RYCOTE S-SERIES WINDSHIELD SYSTEM Field recordists will love this lightweight suspension and windshield system from Rycote (dist. by Redding Audio,
Publish date:
Updated on


Field recordists will love this lightweight suspension and windshield system from Rycote (dist. by Redding Audio, The S-Series system (starting at $349) allows the user to adjust and reposition a microphone quickly via a one-piece web suspension made entirely of durable, flexible, lightweight plastic that will fit all microphone diameters from 19 to 25 mm. A “pinch release” allows the user to change the position of the suspension, while the windshield features a twist-lock system that attaches it to the chassis ring for quick, easy release. An integrated acoustic fur covering features <30dB wind-noise suppression. All units include an XLR cable with Neutrik NC3 (XLR-style) connectors with gold-finish pins and a pistol-grip handle.

Image placeholder title


This all-in-one digital problem-solver from TC Electronic ( is a digital patchbay, format converter and FireWire audio interface offering integration possibilities across other external TC effects units. The Digital Konnekt x32 ($1,745) features eight channels of AES/EBU, eight channels of S/PDIF and Toslink, eight channels of ADAT (up to 96kHz SMUX) and word clock I/O. Any input format can be converted into either of the other formats and aligned to any sample rate from 44.1 to 192 kHz. Digital Konnekt x32 allows sample rate conversion on up to four separate stereo inputs at once. In addition, its included Integrator plug-in makes other TC hardware processor effects units act like standard VST/Audio Units plug-ins from within a DAW. The Integrator plug-in controls routing, levels and latency compensation of external effects processing equipment attached to Digital Konnekt x32.

Image placeholder title


This single-rackspace sample rate converter from Sonifex (dist. by Independent Audio,; $1,150) supports rates up to 192 kHz, has two independent sample rate converter circuits using a common clock source, and offers two optional video synchronizing boards that can be synched to either an analog video signal or SDI digital video signal (HD or SD). Output formats include AES/EBU, S/PDIF and Toslink optical. The sample rate of the outputs can be set by an internal clock or from various external synchronizer sources. A special X-Lock mode allows the unit to function as a full bi-directional sample rate converter that can be inserted between two digital devices running at different rates, ensuring that the two devices remain locked. The box can also be controlled remotely via the RS-232 port.

Image placeholder title


The Pulsar II ($199) small-capsule condenser microphone from M-Audio ( replaces the company's original Pulsar and features a ¾-inch-diameter, 6-micron Mylar evaporated-gold diaphragm that promises to deliver 2dB SPL over the model's predecessor. It also features a -10dB switchable pad and 12dB/octave highpass filter. It offers max SPL of 144 dB at 0.5% THD (with pad engaged) and equivalent noise of 16 dBA. It is available individually or in matched sets, and ships with a wooden box, windscreen, mic clip and manual.


Promising accurate digital rendering of classic API analog console hardware, the Waves ( API Collection ($2,000, TDM; $1,000, native) features four processors: the 550A 3-band equalizer, 550B 4-band EQ, the 560 graphic equalizer and the 2500 stereo compressor. The 550A features the familiar dual-concentric rotary knobs offering 12 dB of boost/cut across five frequencies per band. The 550B offers four bands with seven selectable frequencies per band, while the 560 graphic EQ features 10 separately addressable bands on sliders, each offering 12 dB of boost/cut. The 2500 compressor features separate threshold, attack, ratio and release controls with a second fine adjustment for release set in milliseconds. There are also separate knee, tone and detector controls, and a rotary switch allows the user to select the degree of stereo linking from 100% to independent.


This versatile studio acoustic solution from Auralex ( comes in several combinations that start at $179. The 2-inch Studiofoam® SmartPak™ totals 48 square feet with 12 wedge- or pyramid-shaped 2×2-foot panels per pack. The 4-inch Studiofoam SmartPak totals 24 square feet with six 2×2-foot panels packaged together, and the LENRD SmartPak includes four bass traps. All SmartPaks are available in charcoal, purple and burgundy. Alternate colors and alternate sizes, such as 1- and 3-inch products, are available via special order in standard packaging.

Image placeholder title


Blue Sky's EXO ($399, active desktop speaker system comprises two 3-inch, two-way satellite speakers that are 35 watts and 8×5×5 inches (H×W×D), with 1-inch tweeters, a separate 8-inch subwoofer that is 90W and 13.8×12×13 (H×W×D), and a desktop remote control and connection hub. The sub carries the amplifiers and bass-management circuitry for the system, while the hub allows the user to input and monitor an assortment of peripherals simultaneously via XLR/TRS, RCA and 3.5mm mini-jack inputs. The hub allows separate volume control of the sub and main speaker set, and has a 3.5mm mini-jack headphone output.

Image placeholder title


The Pininfarina design has the Fabrik SimpleDrive (; 80 GB, $99; 1 TB, $450) looking more like a race car than a hard drive, but this head-turner is more than just stylish. The 7,200 rpm FireWire/USB 2 desktop drives offer an oval drive capacity meter on the top that surrounds the one-click backup button. The button engages the included One-Click™ backup software, ensuring an easy solution for busy engineers who are looking to keep their data safe. The drive also comes with 2 GB of storage at the site to store, access, organize and share personal or professional content online.

Image placeholder title


This mastering plug-in from Kjaerhus ( uses an oversampled peak-detecting algorithm designed for excellent high-frequency performance with no overshoot or clipping in the final D/A conversion. The MPL-1 ($98, VST/Audio Units/Windows; $118, Mac OS X VST/RTAS/Audio Units) uses a new stereo-linking technique that allows peaks to be limited individually on each channel while longer-lasting overall gain reductions are linked. This means that peaks in one channel will not produce artifacts in the other channel, while the average program compression remains the same overall. A Program-Dependent Release (PDR) function minimizes pumping effect and increases loudness. The MPL-1 offers TPDF dithering for 8, 16 and 24-bit output resolution. Four stereo meters show the peak input and output levels, as well as compression and RMS output.

Image placeholder title


The battery-powered E531/BCS ($49) M/S stereo field microphone from Avlex ( features a cardioid polar pattern for its mid-section and a figure-8 polar pattern for the side. The mic offers control over the stereo image during mixdown and is powered by a single 1.5V AA battery that is capable of providing upward of 200 hours of use. It also provides an on/off switch to help users maintain the battery when the unit is not in service. The E531/BCS comes with a microphone stand clip that supports ⅜-inch and ⅝-inch threads, plus a foam windscreen.

Image placeholder title


This lightweight and affordable mic boom pole from Lightwave Audio Systems ( uses a patented triple-cam locking system, allowing for a minimal 15 degrees of twist to lock/unlock, facilitating cleaning and reducing the likelihood of jamming. As an option, the G5 News Pole ($299, without cable; $385, with cable) is available with an internal coiled cable using Neutrik NC3 (XLR-style) connectors with gold-finished pins. The collapsed length is 2 feet/2 inches, while the extended length is 8 feet/2 inches. The tube comprises five carbon-fiber sections and weighs only 20.5 ounces with the coil.

Image placeholder title


These three new FX mixers from Soundcraft ( offer a variety of pro features, as well as 32 Lexicon 24-bit digital effects using the same AudioDNA® processor found in many Lexicon and DigiTech outboard products. The Soundcraft FX16ii ($1,079), which descends from the Spirit FX16, offers 26 inputs, 16 direct outputs, four stereo returns and rotating connector pod, allowing cables to be connected conveniently behind the rack to save space. The EFX ($539) is the smallest console in the Soundcraft multipurpose range and is available in 8- and 12-channel versions. It features the GB30 mic preamp, one aux send and one FX send on each channel. The MFX (starting at $749) offers two group buses, two aux sends, one FX send on each channel and two stereo input channels, all offered in three frame sizes: eight, 12 and 20 inputs.


These two plug-ins for Universal Audio's ( UAD DSP system model legacy hardware from Neve and Teletronix. The Neve 88RS plug-in channel ($299, Audio Units/VST/RTAS) offers EQ and dynamics from Neve's flagship analog console, including 4-band parametric EQ with high- and low-shelf filters, and a limiter/compressor/gate/expander dynamics section. The LA3A compressor ($149, Audio Units/VST/RTAS) features gain and peak-reduction controls, plus a limit/compress switch, and is modeled from a “golden” vintage unit in the company's collection of hardware.

Image placeholder title


The Harmony Engine ($349) native plug-in from Antares ( is a real-time, vocal-modeling harmony generator featuring four independent formant-corrected harmony voices, a variety of harmony-generating modes, humanization features and a real-time preset system for harmony and vocal type. The plug features Antares Throat Modeling technology that processes each harmony voice through a physical model of the human vocal tract. Other features include fixed or scale intervals, chord by MIDI, and spread and register controls that let users quickly set the pitch range and harmony style of their vocal arrangement. Harmony Engine is available for RTAS (Mac OS X and PC), VST (Mac OS X and PC) and Audio Units (Mac OS X).

Image placeholder title


The Evolution 912 S ($375) boundary microphone from Sennheiser (www.sennheiser has a frequency response of 20-20k Hz and offers a maximum SPL of 134 dB (at 1 kHz). The pre-polarized condenser offers a half-cardioid pickup pattern and is acoustically optimized for speech applications. An internal DIP switch bank allows the e 912 S' frequency response curve to match the response of the e 912, or may alternatively be switched to select low cut, low and high boost (factory preset), or low boost. In addition, the mic may be switched on or off using the integrated programmable membrane switch. A second internal DIP switch bank provides additional feature selection, including on/off (factory preset), push-to-talk button (PTT), cough button (PTM) or permanently switched on (ON).

Image placeholder title


The new Deva 5.8 ($12,500) hard disk audio recorder from Zaxcom ( features eight integrated hardware faders, 10 tracks, an internal DVD-RAM drive and a Flash media slot. For a complete solution in the field, the unit integrates with the Deva Mix-12 control surface, which handles location mix and record functions, eliminating the need for an external mixing console. It is capable of recording 10 tacks directly to the compact Flash memory card, which is mounted on the control panel for quick and easy transfer of material.