The overall mood of the Winter 2003 NAMM Show saw everyone
I talked with reporting solid and brisk business during all
four days. What's new? Loads of great products but the biggest
news could be summed up in one word: CHEAP!
Nearly ever manufacturer unveiled new, lower prices for their
upgraded on newly introduced product lines… and that
was not just for the lower-end gear made or partially assembled
overseas. I've never seen so much great gear for such low
digits. Here are 10 worthwhile standouts.
If you reckon (like I do)
that analog mixing consoles are going the way of the
Dodo bird, you'll like Dangerous Music's new line of
2U hardware summing and monitor boxes for digital audio
The Dangerous 2-Bus is a 16-channel in and 2-channel out summing
unit that connects directly to your DAW I/O box with standard
+4dBu XLR cables. Instead of cramming your stereo mix down
your virtual mixer's stereo pipe, you can now send up to eight
analog stereo stems into the 2-Bus where they are combined.
This method allows you to run hotter digital fader levels
within your PC avoiding digital sound degradation and, at
the same time, gain headroom, spatial detail and clarity…attributes
offered by any good analog mixer.
Dangerous has a companion fader pack coming for this unit
so for now you only have a large master stereo buss fader
and mute and mono summing buttons for each of the stereo stems.
If this rig and concept intrigues you, then you would also
have to get the 2U Dangerous Monitor unit to cover that well
used but now missing analog console control center section
you just kicked out the door with your old board. This is
a switcher for monitoring both analog and digital stereo audio
sources in your studio. It handles three pairs of analog source
inputs and four digital stereo inputs.
A significant feature is that the same Troisi designed D/A
converter is used to monitor all digital sources. No more
converter sound differences when A/Bing your mix, CDs, DATs
etc! There are also L&R phase reverse, L&R mute, mono
check, dim, alternate speaker and –6dB VU offset buttons.
I didn't see a talkback button and mic but there are both
digital and analog meter feeds and a big stepped attenuator
volume control. The 2-Bus sells for $3,000, the Monitor is
$4,500 and the lesser-featured single rack space 2-Bus LT
is $1,499 MSRP. Check: www.dangerousmusic.com/.
TC Electronic Reverb 4000
You have to love TC Electronic
for putting all the stereo reverb patches from the high-end
TC System 6000 into a single rack space and lower priced
unit! As if that isn't enough, you can use a virtual version of
the familiar TC Icon interface on your PC or MAC with the
unit's USB port and included software.
A smart purchase for a facility that already has a 6000; the
4000 gets down to work in your 'Studio B' by adding the sounds
of the 6000 to pre-mixed stems etc. The Reverb 4000 also has
all the favorite presets from the M5000 as well as EMT 250
emulation and uses 24-bit and 44.1 to 96kHz sample rates and
processing. Like most TC gear, this unit is I/O-rich with
AES/EBU, ADAT, TOS-Link, S/PDIF, USB, Word Clock and MIDI
connections. No price yet but shipping in February so go to:
AKG K 271 and K 171 Closed-Back Headphones
AKG headphones are so accurate
and comfortable that I am starting to NOT care that
much anymore about what my client's near-field monitors
are… I just take my AKG phones along and I'm happy
to mix on them! Both the K 271 Studio (circumaural)
and K 171 (supraural) models have a 55-ohm impedance
and are closed-back for maximum sound isolation.
The technology behind the new XXL speakers with Varimotion
diaphragms is too deep to get into here but know that
the diaphragms are of a variable thickness: thin around
the perimeter to track low frequency excursion accurately
and thicker in the middle to avoid distortion while
truthfully portraying the mid and high frequencies.
The K 171 is $159 while the K 271 is $199 MSRP.Get the whole
scoop about these great looking and sounding headphones at:
Blue Microphones Ball
About the size of an official
Amateur Softball Association/USA softball, Blue Microphone's
Ball is a phantom-powered dynamic microphone. Phantom
powering is used to run an internal impedance converter/output
circuit so that the Ball presents a constant (and purely
resistive), 50-ohm impedance and actively balanced output
to the microphone preamp.
With this very low output impedance, any of a typical
dynamic mic's sonic differences (i.e. output level changes,
distortion, phase coherence and noise) caused by the
vicissitudes of different mic pre-amp input impedances
and cable runs are factored out. Said to produce "an exceptionally smooth and open sound
previously unheard of in a dynamic microphone," I look
forward to a hands-on review of this one soon. The Ball sells
for $279 MSRP and for more contact: www.bluemic.com/.
Audio-Technica AT3060 Tube Condenser
If a phantom-powered dynamic
mic surprised you, how about a tube condenser that
runs on +48volt phantom only. Besides not requiring
the bulky tube microphone power supply, the silver satin
finished AT3060 has an all-new, large-diameter diaphragm
cardioid condenser element with a precision-machined
and nickel-plated brass acoustic element baffle for
Each tube is hand-selected, aged and shock-mounted.
The large coupling transformer provides superior linearity
at low frequencies and all the warmth of classic tube
With the AT8458 shock mount, the AT3060 will be available
in Spring 2003 with an MSRP of $599. Visit: www.audio-technica.com/.
Princeton Digital Eventide Reverb2016
Whom else to reproduce the sound of the venerable Eventide
2016 reverb but Tony Agnello, the unit's original designer
and Princeton Digital's founder and Eventide Chief Technology
Officer. Built on a modern platform, the Reverb2016 is a recreation
of the original reverb algorithms Stereo Room, Room Reverb,
and High Density Plate. Besides the addition of one new algorithm
this unit, as compared to the original, has a menu-free interface
with dedicated parameter controls for real-time tweaking.
Other modern updates include 24-bit SPDIF digital I/O and
both XLR and 1/4-inch balanced connections. The Reverb2016
also includes MIDI in and out, software programmable footswitch,
as well as a direct input for guitars and other high-impedance
sources. The Reverb2016 will be available in February 2003
at $1,995 MSRP. Check: www.eventide.com.
Sony's Oxford Inflator Plug-In
The same quality and no
compromise design that went into the Oxford Equalizer
plug-in has also gone into the Inflator. Simply put,
the Inflator increase apparent loudness of your mix
without much loss of audio quality like some other loudness
enhancer plug-ins. Inflator is also great for single
instruments to enhance presence, softness and depth,
or on percussion and drum tracks to produce dynamic
presence, tightness and volume. Besides increasing loudness, there is the Curve control
that artistically adds warmth, character and dynamic excitement
that's similar to a near-overload condition in analog systems.
I could have this effect going while allowing percussive peaks
to pass through fairly unscathed. You can run Inflator in
either of two modes: direct and band split. Inflator sells
for $450 MSRP, available this Spring in versions for Pro Tools®
HD/TDM/Mix/RTAS and TC Works PowerCore software. Check www.sony.com.
Fostex PM0.5 2-Way Powered Speakers
The new 0.5s are modeled on
the company's larger PM-1. The 5-inch LF driver's cone
uses a mixture of cut and milled aromatic polyamide
fibers that are impregnated with resins to increase
rigidity and therefore optimize damping. The 3/4-inch
soft dome tweeter uses Fostex's UFLC technology (Poly
Urethane Film Laminated Cloth) making it both lightweight
and highly stable.
Both drivers are powered by matching amplifiers: 40-watts
RMS for the woofer and 30-watts RMS for the tweeter. The PM0.5
measures 7 1/8 H x 11 H x 10 1/4 D inches (w/heat sink) and
weighs 14.3 lbs. Specs include 105dB SPL at 1 meter across
the critical midrange while free-field response is 50Hz-20kHz
Performance is further tailored with cut-off filters: 40 Hz
for the woofer and 22kHz for the tweeter. This "bandwidth
limiting" safeguards the drivers from attempting to reproduce
frequencies outside of their good performance range. The PM0.5
sell for $349 MSRP per pair. Check www.fostex.com/.
SoundSoap is audio cleanup
and restoration software with the simplest interface
and operation I've seen. Besides many tools specifically
designed to remove buzz, hiss, crackles and hum, SoundSoap
has a one-button 'Learn Noise' function that samples
a short section of noise and then removes it without
much affect to the audio you want to keep.
You can also "tune" the noise reduction process
to meet more exacting requirements. SoundSoap runs on
MAC or PC as a standalone or as a plug-in in VST or
DirectX hosts. Video editing software such as Premiere,
Movie Maker, iMovie and Final Cut Pro also support SoundSoap.
SoundSoap sells for an introductory price of $99 MSRP. Go
For many people, the 01V96
will make hardware-based 96kHz audio production a reality
at a realistic price. Available in April 2003 at an
MSRP of $2,499, the 01V96 is the same exact size as
the original 01V. There are 40, 24-bit/96 kHz simultaneous
mixing channels and all stereo effects use 32-bit internal
Yamaha retained the original's I/O signal routing, control
surface design, and "feel" of the original including
the large display and analog-style operation. You get a gate/compressor;
four-band parametric EQ, delay and two pre/post EQ insert
points on all 32 inputs and up to four simultaneous built-in
effect processors (two at 96kHz). In addition to the 99 "scene"
memories of all console settings, the automation keeps track
of 17 precision 100-millimeter motorized channel faders and
all available inputs, outputs, effects, and channel inserts
assignments in the digital patchbay.
Complete with rack mounting bracketry, the 01V96 comes ready
to act as a front end for ProTools, Nuendo and other popular
computer-based recording software. Another very significant
upgrade is the built-in ADAT I/O that eliminates a dedicated
expansion card. The included Yamaha Studio Manager software
is compatible with both MAC and PC platforms. The 01V96 is
so new it is not yet at: www.yamaha.com/proaudio/new/.