115th 2003 NYC AES Show Report


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Wow! It was estimated that over 12,000 people were at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City during the first two days of this year's 115th 2003 AES Show. Over the course of four very busy show days I saw so much great gear it was hard to narrow my list down to these outstanding new products.

Focusrite - The Liquid Channel
One of the most talked about new processors was Focusrite's The Liquid Channel. Even though there wasn't an actual working unit to play with, The Liquid Channel promises to make owning and patching together different mic pre-amps and compressors a thing of the past. The Liquid Channel is a two-rack space recording channel strip that uses a unique hardware design and Sintefex's patented Dynamic Convolution technology. Dynamic Convolution applies a unique level-dependant impulse response to every sample of audio coming into the unit for an exact re-synthesis of the 'sound' of the 40 mic pre-amp and 40 compressor replicas included.

Focusrite measured and developed a database of impulse response characteristics of every worthwhile mic pre and compressor—both classic vintage as well as popular newer units. Unlike modeling, Liquid Channel uses hardware to complete the process by adding the effects of the physical interaction (mic load impedance, transformer etc.) with the microphone. The unit also has a new three-band digital equalizer based on the Focusrite ISA 110 analog stalwart that can be chained before or after the compressor. It includes 99 user memories for storing your "tweaks" using the front panel shaft encoders, 192kHz internal processing, a 192kHz ADC/DAC, adjustable 2nd order distortion, downloadable replicas and remote control using the USB port. The Liquid Channel will sell for $3,495 MSRP. There is much more at: www.ffliquid.com.

Great River - EQ-1NV & EQ-2NV
Both the EQ-1NV (single channel and 1/2 rack space) and EQ-2NV (dual channel and one rack space) equalizers use Class-A discrete single-ended amplifiers with a topology similar to the Neve 1081 and 1083 modules. Both models are designed to work with the NV series microphone pre-amp's patch loop and come with internal 110/220 VAC low-noise power supplies and balanced inputs and outputs. You also get a very wide input operating range (+8 dBm to –20 dBm) making them equally at home in all pro or semi-pro studios. This extra range also allows for interesting overloading effects if you desire. The equalizer is a four-band type with three different Q settings for the hi-mid and low-mid sections and a hardwired bypass for each section. Also unlike the old Neve modules, both the hi and low bands have both peaking and shelving choices and the high pass filter is a 3rd order type. For me, a great find at the AES show, and there is much more at: http://www.greatriverelectronics.com/.

Neumann - TLM 127
If you're like me and go for the cardioid only Neumann TLM 103 condenser mic then you'll love the TLM 127 since it uses a double membrane capsule based on the K 103 capsule. Double membrane because the TLM 127 has five switchable directional polar patterns: cardioid, hypercardioid, wide-angle cardioid, omni-directional, and figure-of-eight—all selectable by remote control via a standard XLR mic cable. There is the same low self-noise performance as the 103 at 7 dB(A) and a maximum SPL of 140 dB. The TLM 127 is phantom powered, has a switchable 150 Hz low cut filter, a switchable -14 dB attenuator pad, 20 Hz to 20 kHz response and a rated load impedance of 1000 ohms. The TLM 127 ships with the EA1 elastic suspension mount and wooden box. More at: www.neumannusa.com/

SSL - XLogic
Solid State Logic has four new XLogic processor units based on the XL 9000 K Series console. All major sections of an SSL board, shown at the top of the picture are the one rack space XLogic SuperAnalogue Mic Amps. These are designed to work standalone or remotely with the remote unit (second from the top) or from any especially equipped 9000 K console using motorized gain knobs. Third from the top is the XLogic Channel that includes a front panel XLR mic jack, 1/4-inch instrument jack and all the features of the 9000 K console input module. I like that there's the G Series AND E Series "Twin-Curve" four-band parametric EQ, Twin-Curve Dynamics, variable output level and switchable metering, and optional 96kHz A/D converter.

The last one-space unit is the stereo XLogic G Series Stereo Compressor. This is the very same compressor in the center section of the G Series console complete with Autofade, side-chain access and a clean and clear sound. The two-space unit at the bottom of the stack is the XLogic Multichannel Compressor with the circular Max display that shows which channel(s) is driving the compressor action. Actually a dual stereo compressor, the Multi will allow different compression settings for the surrounds or use it as separate four-channel or two, stereo compressors. Prices range from $1,500 to $7,000 for the XLogic Multichannel compressor. More info at: www.solid-state-logic.com/

Waves - Diamond Bundle
The tireless gang at Waves is always up for hard work creating some of the best software processors around. Their latest is the Diamond bundle with 35 signal processing tools made up of the Platinum, Transform, and Restoration Bundles. I gravitated towards the Transform bundle with Sound Shifter, Doubler, TransX, and Morphoder plug-ins, all operating at sample rates up to 96 kHz. I liked TransX for changing the transient nature of instruments in a way you can't do with EQ and/or compressor. An edgy bass guitar can be made to sound rounder but not duller like when just rolling off top with an equalizer. Conversely, you can add "stick" to any dumpy and dark sounding over-compressed snare drum in seconds.

The Doubler plug-in is a great way to thicken up vocal tracks—it sounds like your singer is the best double-tracker in the world. You can control how "wide" the pitch center of the double track produced is as well as how "tight" (rhythmically) it is to the original. Morphoder is a very comprehensive vocoder plug-in that lets you use any track for either the modulation source or as the modulated track (carrier). Use a guitar part for the carrier and any vocal track as the modulator. With lots of parameters to get it just right, Morphoder is much more stable and adjustable than any hardware vocoder ever was. All cool beans! More at: www.waves.com/

StudioPanel - Acoustic Solution
Well-known engineer/producer Keith Olsen was very kind to take me through StudioPanel's "Engineered Acoustic Solution In A Box." When you’ve mixed in so many bad-sounding, thrown together "control rooms" as I have, you’ve gotta appreciate that StudioPlanel offers a no-brainer way to get any room in good acoustic shape at a relatively low cost. There is now no excuse (because of expensive professional architectural acoustic design, consultation and treatment) not to have a truer sounding studio workspace. Sold through retailers, StudioPanel starts with a questionnaire you fill out about the space you'd like to treat from an acoustic standpoint.

Based on this data and optional additional needs, one of three kits is shipped directly to you with complete step-by-step instructions, installation templates, test and setup CD/CD-ROM, and all the absorbing and diffusion panels and mounting clip system you'll need to fix your room. You also get a mid-bass absorber, CloudPanel floating ceiling panels and a spring-loaded Pistonic bass trap. All acoustic components are covered in FR701 Guilford fabrics and come in six standard colors or (at additional cost) 42 custom colors. Prices for these do-it-yourself kits range from $2,649 for 150 to 175 sq. ft rooms to $4,300 for rooms up to 350 sq. ft. More at: www.msr-inc.com/studiopanel.html

Neutrik - Two Connectors
Neutrik showed off two new connectors I thought great for both live sound and the recording studio. The new three-pole XLR (both female and male) feature an integrated LC filter to take care of RF (radio frequency) and LF noise that can cause noise in audio systems required to work well in close proximity to high-level radio transmission sources (broadcast, police, cell towers etc.). There is a 360-degree shield on the female connector with a collar of compression-fit finger stock. This RF filter is transparent to audio signals.

Neutrik's other new product is the STX Series of Speakon connector. These four pole units have metal housings and are specifically designed for very harsh and wet environments. The STX will carry 50 amps (40 amps RMS continuous) audio signals, has only three pieces and is easy to assemble with screw or solder terminals. Temperature range is –30C to +80C. The weatherproof gasket meets IP 54 protection class and mates with all currently available four-pole Speakon products. More at: www.neutrikusa.com/

Daking - FET Compressor II
Daking's new FET Compressor II certainly caused a rush at his booth mainly for it's forward sound and very flexible operation. The unit, an updated version of the renowned Daking FET Compressor, features an internal switch for using the gain makeup pot for console applications or for bypass in a line level rig application. The FET II uses all discrete transistor circuitry, transformer-balanced inputs/outputs and Class-A amplifiers. Attack times can be set from 64 to 250 milliseconds while the unit's customized Neve 33609 Auto, A-D Compex Auto, and Fairchild 670 #5 and #6 release settings are faithful to their vintage namesakes. From clean, clear and unobtrusive to more aggressive and rugged sounding, this unit does it all and anywhere in between. More at: www.daking.com/

Eventide - H8000 Processor
More is more and the H8000 is an eight-channel processor based on the Orville unit. There are eight channels of AES/EBU, ADAT and stereo S/PDIF digital I/O all 24-bit. stereo analog I/O is rated at >110 dB signal-to-noise and I definitely like the search engine feature for sorting through the over 1,000 presets included! You get everything the Orville has including Ultrashifter, a formant-corrected pitch changer that's optimized for voice and comes with automatic pitch correction. The H8000 comes ready to work with VSIG, a PC graphical editor/development tool. There will much more about this unit soon at: www.eventide.com/.

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