Tools of the Trade

IK MULTIMEDIA SAMPLETANK VERSION 2.5 The latest version of IK Multimedia's ( SampleTank ($499) offers a bevy of new features, including


The latest version of IK Multimedia's ( SampleTank ($499) offers a bevy of new features, including five insert effects, five master insert effects, a new reverb derived from Classik Studio Reverb, 200 Combi patches based on the SampleTank XL sound set, and the ability to read any “Powered by SampleTank” instruments, such as Sonik Synth 2, Miroslav Philharmonik and the upcoming SampleMoog, SampleTron and StudioPhonik. Other features include global volume/pan, master loop sync and selectable portamento curves. The software supports Mac OS X (Universal Binary) and Windows Vista, and comes with more than 1,800 sounds and more than 6.5 GB of samples. Version 2.5 is a free update for all registered SampleTank 2 L and XL users.

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Pearl (dist. by Independent Audio, www.independent has released a new rectangular capsule mic, this time with dual, back-to-back membranes and outputs. The $3,196 ELM-A feeds the twin outputs via a 5-pin XLR connector with both outputs delivering independent cardioid signals, one from each membrane for back-to-back output or 180-degree stereo. The rectangular capsule has more than twice the surface area of large-diameter round capsules, which provides excellent signal-to-noise ratio while avoiding high levels of in-band resonance. In addition, the mic's small width lets users tune out unwanted reflections due to the narrow side-to-side pickup pattern.

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This all-digital solution for surround decoding from SoundField ( improves upon the company's previous analog decoder's performance with enhanced sound quality and greater channel separation. The DSF-3 ($4,995) decodes SoundField mic or B-format signals to digital 5.1 surround or stereo audio (or both simultaneously) at any sample rate. Features include five-segment LED input level meters, separate signal-present and clip LEDs, and output level controls for each of the six channels in the 5.1 signal. In addition, switches are provided for selecting the virtual pickup pattern, localization and orientation of the mic without physically handling it.


The new, affordable Sidechain Compressor and Sidechain Gate plugs ($84 each) from db audioware ( feature new compression and gating algorithms, claiming authentic analog sound with low distortion. Other features include EQ and Shape controls for fine-tuning dynamic response and character, compressor auto-gain with brickwall limiter for extreme compression settings, dual-metering and Sidechain Listen mode. The plugs come in VST and Audio Units format for Mac OS X (Universal Binary), and VST format for Windows.


Perfect for the high-end field recordist who wants a power-efficient solution with no compromises, the PD606 ($7,995) from Fostex ( offers eight tracks of recording with two virtual tracks on full-size DVD-RAM discs, plus dual-drive recording, support for 6+2 poly files, and a digital mixer and router with a stereo bus. It also features HD drive access through USB 2, high-resolution LED meters, tri-level sync and more. For long days on location, DC power options include NiCad and IDX Endura cell technologies.

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ATC SCM16A monitors

This new console-top monitor from ATC (dist. by Las Vegas Pro Audio, www.las boasts improved off-axis frequency response through the use of Constrained Layer Damping (CLD) on the bass driver. The innovation uses two lightweight driver cones that sandwich a constrained damping layer. When the cone flexes, CLD shears adjacent cone sections, causing unwanted vibration energy to dissipate as frictional heat rather than acoustic distortion. In addition to the 6-inch CLD mid/bass driver, the SCM16A ($3,995/pair) has a 1-inch, neodymium, soft-dome tweeter, upgraded onboard (200- and 50-watt) bi-amplification, and user-adjustable input sensitivity and bass boost.

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Version 4.8 software for the UAD family of DSP cards and powered plug-ins includes 14-day, fully functional demos of the new Precision Maximizer and Precision De-Esser plug-ins. The Precision Maximizer promises to inject loudness, punch and perceptible energy into a mix without destroying its dynamics, while the Precision De-Esser is a dynamic sibilance remover. The Maximizer features an easy-to-use interface, offering controls for loudness, harmonic content and sonic control supporting a wide range of program material. The de-esser has bandpass or traditional highpass de-essing, split mode for minimizing unwanted artifacts, and dual-speed time constant and wide frequency range. Registered UAD customers can purchase full authorizations of the Precision Maximzer plug-in for $199 and the Precision De-Esser for $99 at

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Retro (, the company that makes the Sta-Level tube compressor, announces the 176 ($TBA) tube compressor, said to have the largest feature set in any variable-mu design. Functions include precision knob scales for easy recall, continuously variable attack/release, four ratios (2:1, 4:1, 8:1, 12:1) and a wide-range sidechain highpass filter. The unit also offers -20 dB of gain reduction, a greater-than-76dB signal-to-noise ratio, flat frequency response (within 0.5 dB) from 20 to 20k Hz and harmonic distortion that's less than 1%. It comes in a handsome and decidedly Soviet-looking gray, enameled steel enclosure that can be strapped in stereo (or more), with a limited lifetime warranty.

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The AD10 ($1,480) A/D converter from Lavry Engineering (www.lavryengineer has a proprietary Digital Alias-Free Emulation™ mode conversion that lets engineers choose between Clear, Tube or Transformer input characteristics. The half-rack unit features operation up to 96 kHz, internal or external clocking, greater than 117dB dynamic range (unweighted), less than 0.0009% THD+N, and external word clock or AES sync for 32 to 100kHz operation. Its I/O connections comprise 24-bit AES/S/PDIF and optical outputs, +4dBu XLR and -10dBV TRS analog inputs, and 14-segment digital meters with peak hold.

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This twin mic pre from Audient ( offers a front end with some unique features. The Mico ($1,100) includes digital converters and one channel of the HMX harmonic-sculpting technology from the Audient Black Pre, along with variphase control, which lets users precisely alter phase alignment (or perform creative misalignment) of the two signal paths. It also has 40/80/120Hz highpass filters, phase inversion, switchable 48V phantom power, -10dB pad and 66 dB of gain. The DAC operates at up to 192kHz/24-bit on AES/EBU, S/PDIF coaxial and optical outputs. To keep all of your digital ducks in a row, Mico has a BNC word clock input and switchable word clock termination.


Until now, taking expensive ribbon mics on the road has always been a scary proposition. Royer ( has released rugged, road-ready versions of its SF-24 phantom-powered stereo ribbon microphone, the R-121 ribbon microphone and the R-122 active ribbon microphone. These mics are road-worthy thanks to more robust ribbons: On the SF-24, the thickness of the two ribbons has been increased from 1.8 microns to 2.5 microns, while on the R-121 Live and R-122 Live models ribbon thickness has been increased from 2.5 microns to 4 microns. Live Series microphones are identified with an “L” on the top of the mic and are priced the same as the studio versions.

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This single-rackspace mic/line mixer from Avlex ( supports eight mic/line channels, each with gain and tone pots. I/O comes on XLR and TRS mic/line inputs, along with two channels of RCA unbalanced line ins and TRS balanced mic/line inputs. The MX8 ($240) has eight channels of DIP switch-selectable phantom power, pre-fader output and an aux/bus input so that two MX8s can be cascaded for 16 channels or more. The unit promises THD at less than 0.003%, a 106dB signal-to-noise ratio and a frequency response ranging from 16 to 22k Hz (-3 dB).

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This new stereo mic from MXL (www.mxl features dual 22mm capsules with gold-sputtered diaphragms aligned in a 90° X/Y configuration. The V67Q ($299.95) features a green body with a gold head grille designed to protect the sensitive capsules from wind noise, plosives and other popping-type sounds. It ships with a protective pouch, mic clip and a 5-pin cable that breaks out to two standard XLRs.

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This new DSP processing powerhouse from Metric Halo ( comes with all-new Mobile I/O units or as a user-installable upgrade. The 2d Card offers 5.5x the available processing power of the original Metric Halo + DSP implementation and includes a SIMD engine that doubles the power for certain operations such as mixing. The card also offers ADAT implementation, including optical S/PDIF support (independently switchable on both input and output) and asynchronous SRC for the optical S/PDIF input. For those who favor a D.I.Y. approach, the upgrade cost for 2882 and 2882+DSP units is $400; it's $500 for ULN-2 and ULN-2+DSP (including a new rear panel and ADAT I/O ports). For the fainthearted, the company offers factory-install options.


Designed for and equipped with the new Kontakt 2 sample player, this new collection of pianos recorded in surround from The Badroom (dist. by EastWest,; $119) offers more than 6,000 24-bit samples modeled in 13 velocity zones. Sampled pianos include a Steinway D, BÖsendorfer 290 and a 75-year-old Blüthner. The collection (offered in Audio Units, VST, RTAS and stand-alone formats) offers adjustable hammer, pedal, damper and string noises; sympathetic string resonance with overtones; and sostenuto and re-damper pedal functions. The GUI offers detailed, editing plus one-knob control of tone color, dynamics, and adjustable stereo width and position. For those wanting to toy with the sound even more, a Warp section has four FX machines for drastic sound design and a Pad Machine for generating spheric and atmospheric synth pads.

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SPL's ( Transient Designer ($549), formerly available only as a standard rack unit from SPL, is now also offered as a Tonelux ( VRack module. The vertical unit has variable controls for attack, sustain and output with buttons for linking more than one unit and on/off. Just like the original, Transient Designer can shorten or lengthen the attack and sustain of all kinds of percussive signals — such as the bass drum, snares and toms — or sustain or dampen the reverb time of a choir or alter the sustain of an acoustic guitar track.