Tools of the Trade

MOTU DIGITAL PERFORMER 6 Mark of the Unicorn's (MOTU, flagship audio sequencer software is now up to Version 6 and features a complete user


Mark of the Unicorn's (MOTU, flagship audio sequencer software is now up to Version 6 and features a complete user interface redesign, XML file interchange with Final Cut Pro, track comping, support for interleaved Broadcast WAV audio files, enhanced support for operation as a software front end for Pro Tools HD systems, pre-rendering of virtual instruments, better support for third-party Audio Units (AU) plug-ins and the ability to “bounce and burn” directly to an audio CD. Other features in DP6 ($795) include a vertically resizable track list, streamlined GUI with window tabs and a universal track selector that updates when switching to a different tab. Resident plug-in processors have also been upgraded to multimono use, and include the ProVerb convolution reverb and the MasterWorks Leveler.


Studios are having to come up with more surround A/V solutions for production than ever, and Violet Audio ( has heard the call. The ADP61 ($1,199) preamp/decoder allows for monitoring and decoding all signals from stereo to 6.1 surround audio. It offers XLR outs and an infrared remote control to quickly switch between multiple sources, such as CD and video players, DVD player/recorders or TV systems. Decoding is provided for digitally connected devices that are compatible with Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Surround EX, DTS, DTS ES, DTS ES Matrix, DTS 96/24, DTS Neo and more.


The Black Hole ($1,850) from JZ Mic ( is a compact and slim mic that comes with, as you might guess, a hole in the middle. The negative space incorporates a stand-holder system and shock-mount that give the mic the ability to swivel across its base. Rather than use a uniform coating of metal on the diaphragm, JZ uses a variably sputtered diaphragm comprising a specially mixed alloy. The mic offers three switchable polar patterns (omni, cardioid and figure-8), Class-A discrete amplifier circuit and two opposing electrostatic capsules.


This handheld field recorder from Tascam ( captures hours of program through integrated stereo mics to its 1GB SD card (included). A pair of mics, mounted on a variable mechanism, allows the DR-1 ($299) to record from any angle. Features include manual or auto-gain control and analog limiting, and a low-frequency cut-off to eliminate handling or wind noise. It records at up to 48k/24-bit to MP3 or WAV files, and runs on a rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery. The DR-1 speaks to the rest of the world and your computer via USB 2. Not only does it record on the go, it also features a built-in tuner, a vocal cancel function and an overdub feature for recording narration, singing or instruments over an existing track.


Minnetonka Audio Software (www.min has released Master Bundle for AudioTools™ AWE V. 1.3 ($295). The group of processors and problem-solvers is specifically designed and integrated for use in AWE, the company's batch-processing app formerly known as Batch Pro. Plug-ins include Minnetonka Audio's TimeStretch and PitchShift (powered by iZotope Radius), and iZotope's Mastering EQ, Mastering Limiter, Mastering Reverb and Multiband Compressor. AWE is an automated audio workflow engine for editing, format conversion, encoding, plug-in processing and other processing through external I/O devices. It has the ability to process thousands of files in a single job. Processing chains can be auditioned and saved as templates. Advanced job-management features include hot folders, a job queue that manages any number of sequential jobs, robust failure recovery and job logs.


Field recordists will love Sony's ( ECM-957PRO ($449.95) battery-powered stereo mic. It features M/S recording via two elements, one of which can be rotated to make the mic either front- or side-address and change the directivity from 90 to 120 degrees. The built-in M/S decoder and single AA battery operation ensures that this will be a popular item for recording on the go. Other features include a 50-18k Hz frequency response, max 115dB SPL handling, dynamic range exceeding 90 dB and an integrated 5-pin stereo XLR output connector.


Audio-Technica ( has released two new mic product bundles, the AT4040SP ($895) and AT4041SP ($795) Studio Microphone Packs. Both packages are optimized for live or studio use, and feature two mics from the company's 40 Series of condenser mics, along with mounting hardware, stand clamps, windscreens and protective wooden cases. The AT4040SP Studio Pack offers one AT4040 large-diaphragm, side-address cardioid condenser and one AT4041 cardioid condenser; the AT4041SP Studio Pack offers two AT4041 cardioid condensers.


Portable instrument recording is made easier with the CEntrance AxePort™ Pro ( USB direct box. The tiny unit offers 24-bit/96kHz performance and a USB interface for tracking guitar or bass to most DAWs on Windows XP/Vista and Mac OS X platforms. The unit features a rugged aluminum chassis and USB bus power drawn straight from the computer, negating the need for wall warts or batteries. AxePort Pro also features knobs for input and output level control, and is bundled with Guitar Combos amp-emulation software from Native Instruments, the CEntrance ASIO/GSIF universal driver cables and a carry pouch.


The Duende Mini ($995) is a new miniaturized version of SSL's ( Duende DSP and plug-in platform. The unit is expandable, yet occupies just ⅓-rackspace. The Duende Mini is loaded with a base set of plug-ins that can be expanded when the user purchases a code to unlock the other plugs inside ($399 upgrade). Duende is based on the powerful DSP technology behind SSL's C Series digital consoles. Mini ships with the SSL EQ and Dynamics Channel, featuring a 4-band EQ, two shelving sections and two parametric, variable lowpass and highpass filters, switchable EQ characteristics between E Series and G Series EQ, Over-Easy soft-ratio compression, variable process order routing, and dynamics sidechain processing with independent sidechains for compressor and expander/gate. Mini also ships with fully functional trial versions of the growing portfolio of plug-ins available for the Duende platform.


You can play like your favorite acoustic guitar god with Applied Acoustics' ( Strum Acoustic GS-1 ($229), an acoustic guitar software synthesizer based on the latest AAS physical-modeling technology. The collection features steel and nylon acoustic guitars, and includes elaborate voicing and strumming modules for the realistic reproduction of a guitarist's playing techniques. Chords played on the keyboard are automatically voiced for guitar, while strumming and picking actions are reproduced by an auto-strum function, special strumming keys or MIDI loops. EQ, multi-effect and reverb modules complete the package. Strum Acoustic GS-1 runs on both Mac OS X and Windows as a stand-alone application, as well as in host sequencers supporting VST, Audio Units and RTAS plug-in formats.


Sound-seekers worldwide will want to check the Website, which features a growing community of artists, many of whom are both contributors and users. Many top-notch artists provide instrument sets and construction kits for download, including Catalyst Audio, Kaskade, Def Jef, Peter DiStefano, Midihead, Heatseekers, Vienna Symphonic Library, Ilio, John “Skippy” Lehmkuhl and others. More than 150 SoundBlocks are available on Samplebase, and there is a free sample-synth player called Satellite that loads Samplebase SoundBlocks. The free version offers a basic set of features but can be upgraded to Satellite Pro ($149), which loads REX, WAV and ACID files, and includes a range of additional features.


You can join an exclusive club of 500 Universal Audio ( LA-610 owners who purchase the LA-610 Signature Edition ($2,399), offered as a limited-run version of the best-selling LA-610 channel strip. The Signature Edition features U.S.-made NOS tubes, CineMag transformers and a blackface cosmetic look complete with its own certificate of authenticity from Bill Putnam Jr. Features that make this unit unique are hand-picked audiophile components and custom cosmetics, along with mic pre/DI with gain and level controls, E, and authentic Teletronix LA-2A-style, T4 optocompressor.


Obtaining new sounds from notable film sound designers including Paul Virostek (Million Dollar Baby, Ali, Batman Begins) and Ric Viers (sound effects libraries for Apple, Adobe, Sonic Foundry, Hollywood Edge) is a snap at The site features more than 35,000 original (and legal) sounds and loops that can be downloaded for free to be used in any kind of film, video, music production or Website. The Website has attracted a unique community of professional and amateur music producers, sound designers and musicians that constantly upload new material.


PreSonus' ( new DigiMax D8 ($499) mic preamp features eight Class-A XMAX preamplifiers with trim control, eight direct analog outputs and ADAT optical I/O, offering 8-channel or dual-SMUX operation. The unit will convert at up to 24-bit resolution at 44.1/48/88.2/96kHz sampling rates, and features JetPLL jitter-reduction technology. Other features include direct outputs and inserts on every channel, and word clock I/O.


The new D 4 ($160) from AKG ( is optimized for use on drums, percussion, wind instruments and guitar amps. Built of rugged aluminum, the dynamic cardioid mic features AKG's Varimotion diaphragm technology, allowing the user to fine-tune the mic with no extra tuning resonators. Other features include custom-built capsule mounting, a spring-steel wire-mesh grille, an integrated stand adapter and a mounting bracket for attaching the mic to the rim of a drum. The mic will take a blistering 147 dB of SPL and offers a slight bump at 150 Hz and 3.5k Hz, rolling off at 100 Hz to be down -20 dB at 50 Hz.


Ocean Way Studios and Sonic Reality have released the Ocean Way Drums ( virtual instrument/plug-in. Released in two versions, Ocean Way Drums Gold Edition (48k/24-bit, $995) is 40 GB in size while Ocean Way Drums Platinum HD ($1,995) has both the Gold Edition discs and a high-resolution, 24-bit/96k version that is 80 GB in size and pre-installed on a 10,000 rpm hard drive. Both editions feature 19 drum kits recorded in Ocean Way's Studio B, and come as both a 40GB sample library for Native Instruments' Kontakt 3 and as a Kontakt Player plug-in for Mac and PC with support for RTAS, VST, AU and stand-alone — all in one package. The collection offers up to 13 discrete mono or stereo microphone levels per drum, and comes with 12 mix presets per kit made at Ocean Way by studio owner and Grammy-winning engineer Allen Sides and producer/engineer Steven Miller.