From October 5-8, the Audio Engineering Society returned to Los Angeles for its 113th convention. With the economy in slow recovery, nobody knew exactly what to expect from the show. And with the dockworker lockout strangling U.S. ports, some companies’ shipments were stranded offshore, resulting in a lot of last-minute scurrying to put booths together.
Many attendees commented on the convention’s smaller size, but there was no shortage of exhibitors, with some 400 companies showing their wares. Many exhibitors simply downsized their booth space from past years, yielding one very packed, highly concentrated main exhibition hall. And, in step with the show’s "Science in the Service of Art" theme, the industry came out in force to check out the latest tools for creative audio expression. Here are a few that grabbed our attention.
More than two dozen new microphones debuted at AES, and nothing gets rid of the blues like a new addition to your mic locker.
The most talked about product at AES was Telefunken’s (www.telefunkenusa.com) reissue of the classic tube Ela-M 251 studio mic. Each $10,125 unit is meticulously hand-built in the U.S. to original German specs, with the same methods used to make the originals 40 years ago. Telefunken USA also offers replacement parts for all Ela-M and U47/48 mics, cables, power supplies and CK-12 capsules, and can restore most vintage Telefunkens.
Audio Engineering Associates (www.wesdooley.com) is known for its re-creations of classic RCA ribbon mics. Now, AEA debuts its own design, the R84, which features a large, yet ultrathin (0.00007-inch) ribbon element for fast transients and up to 165dB SPL handling. Retail is $999, with shockmount, cable and case.
Another take on a vintage mic is the AKG (www.akgusa.com) C 414B-ULS/SE Special Stereo Set, which has a nickel finish like the original 1976-1986 C 414EB, but pairs the classic CK12 capsules with modern UltraLinear Series electronics. The two-mic set with case, shockmounts, stereo bar and windscreens is $2,100.
Among the new tube mics at AES was SE Electronics’ (www.seelectronics.com) Z-5600, a nine-pattern condenser with a large 1.07-inch diaphragm. Retail is $649. ADK’s (www.adkmic.com) A48 is an all-new, multipattern vocal mic featuring a transverse-mounted 12AX7 tube and $999 pricing.
Tube or solid-state...Can’t decide? The DPA (www.dpamicrophones.com) 4041-ST is designed for vocals and acoustic instruments with large dynamics: Self-noise is typically 8 dBA. Its modular capsule can be unscrewed from the preamp, offering options of 48-volt or 130V powered, solid-state preamps and a 130V tube preamp. List is $3,270. Groove Tubes’ Model 1B (distributed by www.m-audio.com) is a reissue of its legendary Model 1A side-address true condenser, with a 1.10-inch diameter capsule and either tube or FET electronics.
In another twist, the Soundelux EFET47 (distributed by www.transaudiogroup.com) is designed for the same applications as a classic FET47 and FET87. A quality German-built capsule is mated to two different-sounding sets of internal electronics, with a switch to select between the two. Retail: $2,100.
RØDE Microphones’ (www.rodemic.com) parent company celebrated its 35th year in pro audio by launching the NT1-A Anniversary Model, with an ultralow, 5.5dB self-noise spec, 140dB SPL handling and a new nickel-plated body.
Three new KSM small-diaphragm condensers from Shure (www.shure.com) feature an extended frequency response. The KSM141 ($770/each or $1,540 in pairs) mechanically switches from cardioid to omni with a turn of a ring. Two cardioid-only models–the $575 KSM137 and the $305 KSM109–round out the series.
For years, Microtech Gefell (www.microtechgefell.de) has offered well-crafted German mics at affordable prices, but they’re now easier to buy with a new English-language Website and North American distribution by C-TEC (www.cabletek.ca).
AES had more than 20 new studio monitors. Our complete report on this year’s latest developments is in our December issue, but here are some last-minute additions that didn't make it into print: Mackie’s (www.mackie.com) HR626 is a 140-watt, powered monitor with dual 6.7-inch woofers flanking a 1-inch dome tweeter in a horizontal package for console-top or center-channel applications. The ADAM (www.adam-audio.com) A.R.T. Tower is a floor-standing, four-way system designed for mid/far-field monitoring with a 38 to 35k Hz bandwidth. Our fave monitor at AES was the Pelonis Signature Series from noted studio designer Chris Pelonis (www.pelonissound.com). This four-way active system combines a 15-inch Tannoy Churchill Dual-Concentric driver, a 15-inch subwoofer and TAD tweeter for 20 to 45k Hz response. Sweeeeet!
Pro Tools is graduating to OS X: Digidesign (www.digidesign.com) showed a preview of Pro Tools 6, which boasts a new user interface, enhanced databasing, mixing and MIDI extras among its top features. In addition to OS X optimization, the upgrade includes new DigiBase file-management technology, which lets users search and audition and import files directly into Pro Tools. Enhanced MIDI functionality in Pro Tools 6 includes support for OS X’s Core MIDI Services. MIDI Time Stamping (MTS) support provides sample-accurate MIDI with Pro Tools system-compatible software synths and samplers, and up to sub-millisecond-accurate timing with MIDI I/O and other MTS-capable interfaces. New Groove Quantize and Beat Detective features, plus increased mixing and machine control capabilities, are included.
Big news at SADiE (www.sadie.com): The new Series 5 workstation line embraces both PCM and DSD technology, and supports real-time DirectX plug-ins and standard Windows networking. This new software platform is currently available in four hardware options, with the flagship DSD serving as an 8-channel PCM/CD mastering editor in addition to its DSD functionality; further models are in development. A new version of SADiE’s operating software, Version 5, includes a completely redesigned user interface, although users who prefer the traditional SADiE look can select the "classic" interface. SADiE is also now distributing Weiss Engineering and Penguin Metering in the U.S. and South America.
Ever wish you had your own personal world-class orchestra? Distributed by Ilio (www.ilio.com), the Vienna Symphonic Library is an enormous sample library that features the complete range of the symphony orchestra, which, when completed, will feature 1.5 million tones and note sequences performed by musicians from Vienna’s professional orchestras and recorded at 24-bit/96kHz in custom-built recording environments to ensure minimal noise floor. The First Edition release–available for Giga-Studio 2.5 and Emagic EXS24–totals more than 61 Gigabytes (!) of samples.
Steinberg (www.steinberg.net) debuted Nuendo 2.0 that is optimized for surround: Every input, audio track, effect, group and output now offers up to 12 discrete channels. Nuendo also offers a new way to organize inputs and outputs, letting users customize multichannel I/O configurations and switch between them with a single keystroke. Several input and output buses can be utilized at the same time, and the architecture allows for recording in split or interleaved surround audio file formats. Other features in 2.0 include signal-routing improvements and networking enhancements, including VST Link and the ability to transfer tracks and events in a network over TCP/IP LAN. List is $1,499.
Ego Sys (www.esi-pro.com) showed the $1,999 M-fire MF9600, a rackmount stereo-mastering deck that uses DVD-R or DVD-RW media to store 120 minutes of 24-bit/96kHz audio. But the big news was MAXIO XD, a 24-bit/192kHz system that can handle 32 simultaneous I/Os. The $1,699 basic system includes a two-rackspace unit with 8-in/8-out XLR connectors and either a PCI interface for desktop systems or a card bus interface for laptop recording. The PCI version supports up to four cards on the same computer, enabling 128-channel recording. Both Windows XP and MAC OS X are supported.
TC Works (www.tcworks.de) introduced Assimilator, a $299 processing plug-in for Powercore that analyzes the EQ curve of a reference mix and applies that curve to target audio material. Processing is phase-linear and employs FFT (Fast Fourier Transform); heavy DSP is handled by Powercore (up to four instances of Assimilator can be run on one card), freeing up the host CPU for other processing.
CEDAR’s (www.cedaraudio.com) Cambridge noise reduction and restoration software is fully automated, scalable (up to eight channels) and can process 96kHz audio in real time. Algorithms include DNS, DeClickle (de-clicker/de-crackler), NR-4 (de-hisser), EQ, spectrum analyzer, deBuzz and deClip; users can also select from a wide range of I/O formats, channel, metering and dithering options.
Waves (www.waves.com) celebrated its tenth anniversary in style with a host of new plug-in products. The 360° Surround Toolkit is a set of surround production tools for Mac-based Pro Tools|HD and MIX systems. Also, Restoration is now available for HD, the Renaissance Collection is now bundled with the Digi 002, and Version 3.6 of the entire product line for TDM users is available.
At Universal Audio (www.uaudio.com), the exciting news was the announcement that Powered Plug-Ins, plus many plug-ins previously sold under the Kind of Loud name, are being ported over to TDM. And a new version of the UAD card, the UAD-8 I/O, features an ADAT optical interface that supports sample rates from 44.1 to 192 kHz. On the hardware side, UA debuted the 2192 dual AD/DA converter and the 6176 channel strip, which combines the 2-610 mic/instrument pre and the 1176LN compressor.
BIAS’ (www.bias-inc.com) Sound Soap cleans up your audio. By adjusting two knobs, users can easily remove unwanted noise from almost any media file type, including DV soundtracks, Flash and other Web tools, as well as all common audio formats. The software works on both Mac and Windows.
Trillium Lane Labs (www.tllabs.com) showed two cool new Pro Tools plug-ins. TL Metro is a metronome/click track with a variety of percussion samples; TL InTune is a software tuner with presets of 20 different guitar-tuning types. The plug-ins are $250/each, or $399 for the pair.
Sony (www.sonyproaudio.com) gave us a sneak peek at its powerful new Oxford dynamics plug-in for TDM and Powercore systems, but you’ll have to wait until NAMM to see the real deal.
If you missed the buzz on Plugzilla at AES, then you must have been under a rock. This new two-rackspace box from Eventide offshoot Manifold Labs (www.plugzilla.com) will run any VST plug-in, with hardware controls, without a computer. Although we only saw a prototype at the show, Plugzilla was already making deals with plug-in manufacturers, and Wave Arts has already signed on in support. Another Eventide relative, Princeton Digital (www.princetondigital.com) showed its first product, the Reverb 2016, which re-creates the algorithms of the legendary Eventide SP 2016.
The 960LS is a stereo version of the flagship 960L Multi-Channel Digital Effects System from Lexicon (www.lexicon.com). It includes a LARC2, one DSP card and eight channels of balanced analog I/O. Options include a second DSP card that more than doubles its processing power, an 8-channel AES/EBU digital I/O card, automation and additional 96kHz reverbs. The unit can be upgraded to full multichannel surround configurations.
Don’t forget analog! Ibis from Crane Song (www.cranesong.com) is a discrete, Class-A, 4-band stereo EQ with adjustable bandwidth and switch-selectable frequencies on musical centers. A Color function can be applied to the overall audio path or to an individual band. The ADL 670 Compressor from Anthony DeMaria Labs (www.anthonydemarialabs.com) reproduces the sound of the classic Fairchild 670 compressor in a hand-built unit that’s matched part-for-part with the original–the same switches, tubes and specs. Price? About $18,000.
Yamaha’s (www.yamaha.com) DM1000 is a smaller version of the DM2000, with 16 faders, 16 mic pre’s, two mini-YDGAI slots, plus four XLR "omni" inputs and 12 XLR "omni" outs. Available in early spring, along with a new 16-channel AES card, the DM1000 brings 48 channels of 96kHz digital functionality to a rackmountable form factor.
Top film composer/sound designer Frank Serafine has formed a partnership with Japan’s Tamura Corporation to design a suite of digital products for the film and video market. The first product is the Qolle (www.qolle.com) izm125, an 8-channel, DC-powered digital mixer featuring high-quality mic preamps, HPF and compression on each channel, 5.1 surround mixing, and a choice of analog or digital outputs (TDIF, FireWire or AES/EBU).
The John Oram-designed S100 from Trident Audio (www.tridentaudio.co.uk) is a compact, rackmountable, 8-channel mixer with 3-band EQ based on the classic Trident Series 80, five aux sends and three stereo output buses configurable as six mono outs for surround tracking. For a limited time, it’s offered at a bargain $1,995.
Steinberg (www.steinberg.net) raised eyebrows with the Euphonix console in its booth acting as the world’s biggest hardware controller for Nuendo, thanks to the Euphonix TransferStation, which translates R-1-formatted files to AES31 file format, retaining all edits, crossfades and vital time-stamped information within a multitrack session. Not so coincidentally, Euphonix and Steinberg announced a strategic relationship to develop integrated professional audio products for the music and audio post-production markets.
by Mark Frink
Cadac’s (www.cadac-sound.com) renowned quality comes down-market with the new compact S-Type live performance console. It’s available in three frame sizes, typically with eight, 16 or 24 input strips. The S-Type offers eight VCAs, eight groups and eight auxes (two of which are stereo), and frames can be linked for larger configurations.
DiGiCo’s D5 Live (www.digiconsoles.com) is the newest large-format digital desk and is available with 56 or 96 mic lines from stage and a 64- or 96-channel worksurface. The D5 Live, which spent last year on the road with Rod Stewart, incorporates many of the features and technology from Soundtracs’ digital recording and post-production desks, including an intuitive control surface with four touchscreen displays.
Hear Technologies’ Hear Back (www.heartechnologies.com) headphone mixer system uses CAT-5 cables to feed eight channels of program (stereo mix, plus six mono "more me" inputs) to pod-shaped personal mixers.
InnovaSon’s Compact (www.innovason.com) is now available as the Sy40 40-channel Digital Mixer, with eight stereo inputs and 12 stereo aux buses, making it practical for IEM chores and dual FOH/monitor applications. Owners of Compact 32 mixers can upgrade.
JBL (www.jblpro.com) debuted scaled-down versions of its 4889 VerTec line array. The mid-sized VT4888 is a dual-12, three-way design weighing 108 pounds, with a 2,000-watt LF section, 600W MF section and 150W HF section. The compact VT4887 is a dual-8, biamp, three-way design weighing 62 pounds. Its companion VT4881 compact sub employs a dual-coil 15, weighs 120 pounds and can be directly coupled to the 4887 in hanging or ground-stacked applications.
L’Acoustics’ (www.l-acoustics-us.com) new 112XT and 115XT co-ax floor monitors provide smooth performance in a low-profile design, plus a pole mount and fly track.
Klark Teknik’s DN 9340 Helix Digital Equalizer (www.klarkteknik.com) is a dual-channel EQ, each side offering a 31-band graphic with five filter types and up to a second of delay. EQs include 12 parametric and two dynamic "threshold-dependent" filters, plus four more user-configurable as high- or lowpass, shelf or notch. The 4-channel DN 9344 is a 1U slave unit. An auto-solo function calls selected outputs (or inputs) from Heritage and Legend consoles to appear in the master Helix.
QSC (www.qscaudio.com) added five two-way models employing composite construction to its ISIS line. Single 10-, 12- and 15-inch woofer models are intended to pair with QSC’s 215PCM powered subwoofer, and will run off of its extra pair of amp channels and processors. Also unveiled was the WideLine compact line array, designed to ground-stack on the sub.
Radian’s MicroFill (www.radianaudio.com) employs a 12-inch woofer and a 2-inch driver in a uniquely shaped, multi-angle design that includes versatile rigging hardware and a pole cup.
Shure’s (www.shure.com) SM86 live performance condenser mic offers a warm vocal sound and cardioid pickup pattern for handheld applications.
SLS (www.slsloudspeakers.com) unveiled its new RLA/2 compact line array. It’s only 28 inches wide, employs dual 8-inch, high-power cones, and the high-output PRD 1000 ribbon driver used in SLS’ larger products.
Mark Frink is Mix’s sound reinforcement editor.
Audio Technica’s (www.audiotechnica.com) AT8471 is an amazing mic mount with dual-swiveling gimbals that allow placement in any position. Slick!
JL Cooper’s (www.jlcooper.com) CS-32 MiniDesk control surface has 32 dedicated channel strips to tweak levels, mutes, solos, track-arming, etc., as well as jog/shuttle wheel, transport buttons and assignable rotaries for plug-in control–all in a notebook-sized worksurface. Shipping in January, the $499 unit works with Pro Tools, Nuendo, Cubase, Cakewalk, Logic Audio, Soundscape REd, Pyramix, MOTU DP and others.
Line 6 (www.line6.com) takes the POD to the next level: PODxt features modeling technology from Line 6’s Vetta line, with 32 amp models, 22 cab models, classic stompbox and studio effects, and a USB output. Expected street price: $399.
Go portable! Magma’s (www.magma.com) new CardBus-to-PCI expansion systems let you run PCI cards on a laptop. AES demos showed a Pro Tools|HD system on a G4 Powerbook, with a 4-slot CardBus-to-PCI Expansion System with two SCSI disk drives.
Fibredrive from Studio Network Solutions (www.studionetworksolutions.com) is a compact, affordable Fibre Channel drive enclosure that offers A/V SAN and A/V SAN PRO performance in a single-drive desktop enclosure.
Studio Technologies’ (www.studio-tech.com) Model 90 8x2 USB switcher allows multiple mic support for measurement systems like SIA Software’s SMAART Live.
MORE TO COME!
In this limited space, we could only spotlight a portion of the cool new toys we saw at AES, and we’ll present more of these in our regular new products columns over the next few issues. AES will return to Amsterdam from March 22-25, 2003; in the fall, it’s back to New York City from October 10-13, 2003, for the 115th AES Convention. Mark your calendars now!