Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


Tools of the Trade, May 2008

SOLID STATE LOGIC MATRIX Furthering SSL's ( reach into the affordable studio market, the Matrix ($25,995) 16-channel, 40-input


Furthering SSL’s ( reach into the affordable studio market, the Matrix ($25,995) 16-channel, 40-input mixing console with built-in signal router and digital workstation control has dual summing inputs, stereo digital I/O, dual stereo buses, four mono and one stereo aux sends, and additional returns. Other features include LED and VU meters; 16+1 bankable, motorized faders; and four-layer DAW control via Ethernet. Matrix offers an integrated, recallable, 32×16×16 analog routing matrix, Mac/PC software for platform-independent project management and routing control, and effects chains and routing setups to simplify patching outboard units through the router. Monitoring options include dual-monitor outputs, artist monitor output with independent EQ/source selection, three external monitor inputs with source summing and a front panel iJack input.


Fresh from NAB comes the new MSD100C ($2,690) meter from DK-Technologies (, designed to tackle the issue of the perceived loudness of audio signals. It incorporates an ITU-recommended algorithm, has selectable digital and analog stereo inputs, and displays left- and right-channel loudness, as well as the summed loudness. The MSD100C also delivers the information as a numeric readout and in a number of languages with different scales to suit different users. The meter uses the Loudness Units (LU) scale, covering a range from -18 dB to +9 dB. It also features an audio vector oscilloscope, phase-correlation meter displays, a full-color VGA display and external VGA output.


The A2D2 ($2,199) from Drawmer (dist. by TransAudio Group, is a stereo A/D converter offering simultaneous dual-stereo outputs at different selectable sample rates from 44.1 to 192 kHz. Features include 24-segment, peak-reading LED bar meters; dual-input configuration, allowing variable input level from -2 dBu to +28 dBu via front panel rotary controls; or 24-turn precision presets for a fully calibrated input. Each digital output has a selectable word length of 16 or 24 bits, with automatic dither generation. There is also an internal low-jitter clock generator, external clock input, three word clock outs and Burr Brown analog input stages.


The Atlas Pro Audio ( Juggernaut ($895) is an all-Class-A discrete, tranformer-coupled, modular, API 500 Series-compatible mic preamp. The unit promises a wide range of tonal choices and control through the use of switchable, custom-wound iron and nickel input transformers, a custom iron-core output transformer and variable impedance (300 to 10k ohms) on a 41-position, detented Alps potentiometer. A 10dB output pad allows for slight saturation of the transformer, offering another tone-bending option. Other features include an instrument DI, dual gain ranges, detented gain and impedance knobs for repeatability, manual mute and stereo matching between multiple Juggernauts. When switching between input transformers, an auto-mute function prevents loud pops or speaker damage.


Adding an affordable entry to its A Series speaker line, ADAM’s ( A5 ($699) powered monitors are smaller versions of its A7s, and can be used in stereo or to fill out a 5.1 system. The units are powered by dual 25-watt onboard amplifiers powering the folded-ribbon tweeter and 5-inch carbon-fiber and Rohacell® sandwich woofer. The front panel features twin ports that extend LF response to 55 Hz, power/gain controls and metal grilles. Inputs are RCA jacks and balanced XLRs, plus a Stereolink® that lets users control the overall system volume from any one speaker’s gain control. The matte-black speakers are available in “piano”-gloss black/white for $769. Also new is the Sub7 ($479, matte-black; $529, black/white gloss), a compact subwoofer that extends system response to 30 Hz. The Sub7 has multiple XLR and RCA inputs, and a wireless remote for adjusting volume and crossover frequency from the listening position.


The new Fast Track Ultra 8R ($629.95) USB 2 interface from M-Audio ( offers eight phantom-powered preamps, signal/peak LED indicators and a pull-out gain knob that activates a 20dB pad. All eight inputs can be switched between mic and line signals, and recorded at up to 96kHz/24-bit via the USB 2 output. Its MX Core DSP technology offers eight individual DSP cores, providing effects and a matrix for channel-routing options accessible via a Mac/PC control panel. In addition to the eight channels of analog I/O, the 8R has a stereo S/PDIF input, two dedicated analog inserts on the first two channels and two instrument inputs.


Promising to be the world’s first portable MADI solution for laptops, MADIface ($1,949) from RME ( comprises the HDSPe ExpressCard MADI and a small breakout box offering 64 channels in and out, embedded MIDI transmission and SteadyClock™ to extract the reference clock at the lowest jitter directly from the MADI signal. Also included is the DIGICheck software for Windows; Spectral Analyzer, a professional level meter for 2/8/64 channels; Vector Audio Scope; global record; and various other audio analysis tools. Systems supported include Windows 2000/XP/Vista/64 (full ASIO multi-client operation of WDM, GSIF 2 and ASIO 2) and Mac OS X Intel (Core Audio and Core MIDI).


Yamaha’s ( latest USB computer recording interfaces, the Audiogram 3 ($139.99) and 6 ($199.99), focus on simplicity, offering audio I/Os, software for recording and producing music, and a USB cable for connecting to a computer. Audiogram 6 features two XLR combo inputs with preamps (one with phantom power), one-knob compression, two stereo inputs, stereo and headphone outputs. Audiogram 3 has one phantom-powered combo input that is switchable for mics or instrument recording, a stereo input, and stereo and headphone outs. Both units ship with Cubase AI.


The Fat Bustard valve mixer from the UK’s Thermionic Culture ( has 12 inputs — four stereo pairs and four mono — all with mute switches. The output has a stereo-width control and low/high EQ with 0.5dB stepped boost controls and six stepped bass/treble cut controls. Four tubes (a pair of 5965 double-triodes) are used on the master bus — the first half as preamp/EQ, the rest handling gain makeup with the Attitude feedback control, which determines the amount of Total Harmonic Distortion (THD). The Attitude control yields a clean signal when turned down and adds gain and second-harmonic distortion when boosted. The other pair of valves is the larger 6SN7 double-triode connected in parallel providing a massive +30dBm headroom. Two aux inputs allow for future channel expansion with the optional Little Bustard 16-channel expander due later this year.


This latest VSTi plug-in for Windows XP and Vista from Starplugs ( features the new TransHarmonic Synthesis© algorithm and a newly developed THS Oscillator. The THS Synthesizer MK 1 ($149) morphs up to 8 million waveforms into each other in real time. Other features include a Quantum multimode filter, offering lowpass, bandpass and highpass filtering at 12 to 24 dB per octave; two modulation sequencers; a pan-step sequencer; two envelope generators with shape controller; a syncable delay; and three syncable low-frequency oscillators.


The latest incarnation of the R-09 handheld recorder from Edirol ( by Roland features an updated design with a pro-quality stereo mic, onboard preview speaker and a wireless remote. Users can record in WAV or MP3 formats, with resolution up to 24-bit/96kHz. Other features of the R-09HR include an LED screen, speed control, variable low-cut filter, limiter, A/B repeat, time/date stamping, power save and more. The R-09HR records to SD/SDHC media cards up to 32 GB, and includes Cakewalk’s Pyro Audio Creator LE software for simple audio editing functions. Slightly taller than its predecessor and featuring a new rubberized-grip body, the battery-powered R-09HR offers more than six hours of recording with Alkaline batteries and eight hours with NiMH rechargeables.


These instructional DVDs come from multi-Platinum-credited recording engineers, songwriters and producers, covering topics such as editing, mixing, pitch and more. Each set of lessons includes full Pro Tools sessions with indexed QuickTime movies, allowing the viewer to work alongside the engineer in the video. All screen grabs are captured at high definition and incorporate a keystroke viewer, letting users follow short-cut commands in real time. The videos are available as downloads or as boxed sets individually ($75), or as a complete set for $219.95 from


A powerful new upgrade for the Dolby ( Lake Controller software, Version 5 adds new networking, routing and control functionality, including Dante™ networking technology from Audinate. Each input source can be routed to any number of available outputs, with audio distribution to multiple physical outputs and output types. Input Auto-Select can assign up to four input sources to each mixer channel for input audio redundancy. Version 5 also includes the ability to configure the output cards for custom configuration of the I/O card slots. The Dante network enables reliable, sample-accurate, low-latency digital audio networking and distribution over Ethernet with no additional hardware required. Dante connects directly to PCs for multichannel recording, processing and playback.


Diverse new SoundBlocks ready for downloading at include a range of styles including “Street Soul:RnB Guitar” ($29), offering soulful chords, catchy hooks, smooth riffs and gritty street licks that sync to the host tempo from 65 to 108 bpm. “Santa Fe Jose” ($19) offers some Southwestern flavor, with drum, conga, bass, synth and stab loops. “World Percussion: Asia 1” ($29) comes with 150 unique samples of velocity-sensitive drum, cymbal, bell and effects sounds. The $29 “Rhythm Changes” jazz construction kit features multiple variations of piano, bass and drum that combine to create a complete arrangement.