Intech Studio Grid MIDI Controllers

Grid is a set of portable, modular MIDI controllers from Hungarian company Intech Studio (see Figure 1). There are four controllers currently available with plans to expand the offerings in the future. The PO16 is a 4 × 4 grid of 16 potentiometers. The BU16 module features a 4 × 4 grid of tactile buttons, which can be set to toggle or momentary action. The EN16A is a 4 × 4 grid of 16 push-button encoders. The PBF4 controller is a mixing module with four 30-mm faders, four potentiometers, and four buttons.

Each of the GRID controllers measure 106.6 × 106.6 × 32 mm and weigh 250 g. They have an aluminum front panel with programmable RGB LEDs for all controls. Each module has a USB-C connector for power and data. They also have magnetic connectors on all four sides of the module that are used to connect them together. Any of the controllers can be used as the main module, connecting to the computer through the USB-C connector. The other controllers can then be connected to this main module using the magnetic connectors. Up to ten modules can be connected together. Users can rearrange the modules however they like, connecting new modules to the right, left, above, or below existing ones. They can remove and relocate modules during use, without the need to restart the software. This allows users to build up a controller system that reflects their workflow.

There are two mapping modes available. In relative mode, each module's mappings are based on the module's position relative to the main module that is connected to the host computer. This allows a module to be reused for different functions within a project, with different mappings used depending on whether it is connected to the left or right of the main controller, for example. There are four global banks of mappings available in relative mode and the user can switch between these using a button on the side of the modules. Each bank is color coded differently. In absolute mode, the customized mappings created by the user for LED colors, note on/off, control change messages, etc., will always be the same, irrespective of the order in which it is connected to the main, or other, controllers.

GRID does not require drivers and it is compatible with Windows, macOS, and Linux, and with all major digital audio workstations (DAWs). USB human interface device keyboard emulation is supported so the controllers can also be programmed to trigger macros and keyboard shortcuts. An editor application is being developed to allow the user to customize the MIDI mapping, value editing, and LED configuration. The controllers come with a 1-m USB 2.0 Type-C to Type-C cable.

The PO16, BU16, and EN16A modules are listed for US$ 99 and the EN16 module for US$ 219. Contact: Intech Studio Kft., 6640 Csongrád, Tanya 40, Hungary; e-mail; Web

Lumatone Isomorphic Keyboard Controller

The Lumatone is a keyboard with 280 velocity-sensitive hexagonal shaped keys in an anodized aluminum case (see Figure 2). The keys are arranged in an isomorphic layout to facilitate new ways of playing note combinations that would not be possible on traditional keyboards. Mapping options also allow for microtonal and polychromatic music.

The Lumatone keys use torsion springs with counterbalanced keycaps. They are velocity-sensitive and have polyphonic aftertouch, which allows up to 15 keys to be played simultaneously. The MIDI note number, channel, and LED color can be individually programmed for each key using a software applications. The keys can also be used to transmit MIDI continuous controller values. There are ten preset buttons with LED indicators on the keyboard to recall tunings and mappings. There keyboard also has weighted pitch and modulation wheels.

The Lumatone has MIDI 5-pin DIN input, output, and thru connectors. There is also a USB type-B connector for transmitting MIDI over USB and additional USB type-A and RJ-45 ports for systems and diagnostics use.

A Windows- and Macintosh-compatible software application is used to customize settings on the Lumatone. The user can save up to ten mappings to the preset buttons on the keyboard. There is a choice of note on/off mode or continuous controller mode for each key. The MIDI note and channel values can be set for individual keys. Users can assign colors to each key from a preset color palette or they can use a custom color picker. There are also a set of global parameters than can be set from the software, including turning on and off the polyphonic aftertouch, specifying the velocity sensitivity curve, the continuous controller sensitivity curve, and the expression pedal sensitivity. There are a number of standard preset mappings included with the Lumatone so that the user can play it straight away. A third-party application, the Universal Tuning Editor from H-Pi Instruments, can be used to design advanced tunings for the keyboard.

The Lumatone is powered by DC power. It comes with a removable kickstand. The keyboard measures 36.2 × 13.98 × 1.81 in and weighs 23.8 lb. The keys themselves are 0.83 × 0.94 in in size, with 0.95 in spacing between them.

The Lumatone is listed for US$ 3,999. Contact: Lumatone; Web

Figure 1

The modular Grid MIDI controllers from Intech Studio.

Figure 1

The modular Grid MIDI controllers from Intech Studio.

Embodme Erae Touch MIDI Controller

The Erae Touch (see Figure 3) is a new 16-in Polyphonic MIDI control surface for composition, mixing and live performance that supports MIDI Polyphonic Expression (MPE). It is designed to allow for a range of expressive multidimensional gestures, giving the user control over multiple parameters for each note and innovative layout of MIDI controls.

The controller uses more than 1,000 force sensitive resistors to detect the strike velocity, z-axis pressure, x-axis, y-axis, and release velocity. The devices uses five embedded processors to input the sensor data with a latency of less than 1 ms. It also has an array of 1,000 RGB LEDs.

The LEDs and the MIDI mappings of the controller can be customized via the Erae Lab software application. A drag-and-drop interface in the software allows the user to implement keyboards or isomorphic layouts, sliders, buttons, faders, an xyz pad, a sequencer, and arpeggiator on the interface of the hardware controller. The size and color of these control elements can be adjusted. MIDI control changes, channel routings, and velocity curves can also be edited using this application. The device itself can store up to 32 different layouts so that the user can switch between playing a keyboard to mixing with faders, for example. The software application has the capacity to store an infinite number of such layouts. There are a number of control buttons along the right-hand side of the top panel for scale type/control change mapping, scale up, scale down, select layout/standby, and alternate layout.

The Erae Touch has a 1/4-in MIDI TRS jack and a USB-C port. A MIDI TRS to DIN adapter and a USB-C to USB-A cable are included with purchase. The controller uses an external DC 12-V power supply.

It has a molded silicone rubber body with an aluminum back panel. It measures 16 × 9.6 × 0.6 in and weighs 2.5 kg. The Erae Lab software is compatible with macOS, Window 10, and Linux. The device is compatible with a Roland connecting plate and it has X4 M5 screw-threads integrated into the back plate. Audio Damage's CONTINUA, a virtual analog morphing polysynth also comes free with purchase.

The Erae Touch is listed for US$ 690. Contact: Embodme, 8 rue Hermel, 75018 Paris, France; e-mail; Web

Figure 2

The 280-key Lumatone isomorphic keyboard.

Figure 2

The 280-key Lumatone isomorphic keyboard.

Apogee Symphony Desktop Audio Interface

Apogee's Symphony Desktop is a 10 × 14 desktop USB audio interface. It features the sound quality of the company's larger rackmount Symphony I/O Mk II audio interface, along with vintage microphone emulation, hardware digital signal processing (DSP), and a touch screen interface.

The rear panel of the interface has two combination microphone/line inputs and two optical Toslink ports for ADAT and S/PDIF input/output. There is a field-effect transistor (FET) instrument input on the front panel. The microphone preamplifiers use Apogee's Advanced Stepped Gain architecture to provide up to 75 dB of gain, with ultra-low noise and distortion on both loud and very quiet sound sources. There are variable impedance settings on the microphone and instrument inputs. Switchable 48-V phantom power, a soft limiter, and polarity invert functions are also available. The equivalent input noise level (EIN) of the preamplifiers is 129 dB, unweighted.

The A-D converters have a dual-sum configuration and feature ultra-low distortion, a high-slew rate, and differential analog operational amplifiers. They provide a dynamic range of 123 dB (A-weighted), frequency response of 10 Hz to 20 kHz (±0.2 dB), and total harmonic distortion with noise (THD + N) of -13 dB.

The interface uses the Apogee Alloy Mic Preamp (AMP) emulation to create the warmth and tone of analog preamplifiers. The emulation technology has analog processing and DSP modeling phases, with the input impedance, transient profile, and distortion characteristics implemented in analog circuitry before being refined in DSP. Emulations of a British Solid State Class A console sound and a 1950s American tube microphone are included.

Apogee FX plug-ins can run on the hardware DSP of the interface or as native plug-ins within the user's DAW. The user can record plugins directly from the hardware DSP to their DAW, with zero-latency recording and monitoring. All plug-in settings can be controlled from the DAW, if required. The Symphony ECS Channel Strip, which features equalizer, compression, and saturation controls, and is tuned by Bob Clearmountain, is also included.

The top panel of the Symphony Desktop features a touchscreen and a large control knob. The main window shows meters for all inputs and outputs, sample rate, and connection status. There are five input/output buttons at the bottom of the screen and these show the analog inputs and outputs. The button that is currently assigned to the large control knob is circled in orange.

Figure 3

The Erae Touch polyphonic MIDI controller.

Figure 3

The Erae Touch polyphonic MIDI controller.

In addition, there are two further screens available for the analog inputs and outputs: overview and settings. The overview screen for the inputs gives the user access to input gain, a digital meter, impedance, pad, output level of the microphone preamplifier, and gain link. In the settings screen, they can change the analog reference level, select the preamplifier emulation, enable the Apogee FX Rack, link the input gain of the inputs, and switch on phantom power, the soft limiter, or polarity invert. The overview screen for the outputs has controls for setting the level, the source meter, mute, dim, and sum to mono. The corresponding settings screen allows the user to choose the signal source (software playback, direct mixers, or hardware inputs), the output format, and output level.

There are two balanced 1/4-in outputs on the rear panel of the interface. The D-A converters use new technology that provides ultra-low distortion, and a high-current, fully balanced output driver. They have a dynamic range of 128 dB (A-weighted) and THD + N of -114 dB. The two headphone outputs are independent and can be routed individually. Both use dual-sum ESS D-A converters. The front panel headphone output has a 1/4-in connector and is for use with all headphone types. The rear panel headphone output has a 1/8-in connector and is designed for use with high-efficiency headphones. The maximum output levels on the headphone outputs are 520 mW into 30 Ohms and 90 mW into 600 Ohms. The rear panel also has a USB 2.0 connectivity on a Type-C connector. The interface is compatible with macOS 10.12 or later, Windows 10, and iOS 13 on iPad Pro. It comes with a 12-V DC power supply.

An FX Complete edition of the interface is also available. It comes with a range of plug-ins: Pultec EQP-1A, Pultec MEQ-5, ModEQ 6, ModComp, and Opto-3A.

The Symphony Desktop is listed for US$ 1299 and the FX Complete edition for US$ 1,399. Contact: Apogee Electronics Corp., 1715 Berkeley St., Santa Monica, California 90404, USA; Web

ESI UGM192 USB Audio Interface

ESI's UGM192 is a compact portable USB audio interface for guitar and microphone (see Figure 4). The interface is capable of sampling rates up to 192 kHz at 24-bit depth. It has a Hi-Z instrument input with 1/4-in TRS connector and a microphone input on 1/4-in TRS connector on the front panel for easy access. Switchable 48-V phantom power is available. There is a line/headphone output on 1/4-in TRS connector on the rear panel for playback and direct latency free monitoring. The interface has a dynamic range of 114 dB.

The front panel of the interface has buttons for monitor (switches between mono and stereo output), microphone gain, and phantom power, and LED indicators for mono, stereo, gain, and power.

The interface supports USB 3.1 and connects to a computer using a USB-C connector. A cable is included with purchase. The device can be USB-powered and a separate micro USB port can be used for that. The interface is class-compliant and compatible with macOS 10.9 and higher using CoreAudio. There is an EWDM driver available for Windows versions 7 to 10 for ASIO 2.0, MME, WDM, and DirectSound.

The interface measures 87 × 67 mm. It comes with a software bundle that includes Audified's inTone 2 ESI Edition and Stanton's Deckadance LE v2.

The UGM192 interface is listed for approximately US$ 140. Contact: ESI Audiotechnik GmbH, Mollenbachstrasse 14, D-71229 Leonberg, Germany; e-mail; Web
Figure 4

The UGM192 portable USB audio interface from ESI.

Figure 4

The UGM192 portable USB audio interface from ESI.

Black Lion Audio Revolution 2 × 2 Audio Interface

Chicago company Black Lion Audio are known for their modifications of high-end audio gear. In recent years, they have branched out into producing their own designs, including for microphone preamplifiers and compressors. The Revolution 2 × 2 is their first audio interface. It is designed to be a high-end portable two-channel USB-C, bus-powered interface.

The Revolution 2 × 2 uses Vishay, Nichicon, and Wima capacitors; PG-i technology based on the company's power conditioners; and Macro MMC clocking. The analog inputs and outputs are decoupled and balanced to reduce noise. Power is decoupled across the preamplifiers, converters, internal power, and clock. The internal gain-staging is optimized for a low signal-to-noise ratio. The interface supports sampling rates up to 192 kHz at 24-bit depth.

The front panel has two high-headroom combination ports for microphone, instruments, and line inputs. Switchable 48-V phantom power is available for the microphone preamplifiers. There are individual gain controls for each input, and LEDs for channel input, instrument input, and phantom power engaged. There is a large knob for output gain-stage and an eight-segment VU meter in the center for real-time monitoring. The front panel also has a 1/4-in headphone output with dedicated volume control, and a knob for mixing between input and playback for real-time monitoring. On the back panel of the interface are two decoupled main analog outputs, a SPDIF input/output with embedded clock signal, and the USB-C port, through which the interface can be powered.

The gain range on all inputs is 55 dB and the frequency response is 20 Hz to 20 kHz (±0.25 dB). Total harmonic distortion with noise is 0.00098 percent (at 12 dB gain) for microphone inputs, 0.0022 percent (minimum gain) for the line input, and 0.00114 percent (at 0 dBu) for the instrument inputs. The dynamic range available is 116 dB, 126 dB, and 103 dB (A-weighted). The maximum output level on the line outputs is 12 dBu and 9.3 dBu on the headphone output.

The interface comes with the Revolution Software Suite, which includes PreSonus's Studio One Artist; Izotope Elements Suite for repairing, mixing and mastering; BrainWorx BX Digital equalizer plug-in; and the Lindell 6X500 preamplifier plug-in.

The Revolution 2 × 2 interface is listed for US$ 399. Contact: Black Lion Audio, 1801 W Belle Plaine Ave, Suite 105, Chicago, Ilinois 60613, USA; e-mail; Web

Antelope Audio Zen Go Synergy Core Audio Interface

Antelope Audio's Audio Zen Go Synergy Core is a bus-powered desktop interface that features technologies from the company's premium devices, including their Synergy Core analog-modeled effects. The interface has up to four inputs and eight outputs. It can record, mix, and play back sample rates up to 192 kHz at 24-bit depth and its A-D/D-A converters give up to 127 dB of headroom. The interface uses discrete console-grade preamplifiers, 64-bit Acoustically Focused Clocking technology, and is optimized for low latency recording, high-resolution playback.

The rear panel of the interface has two combination XLR jack ports with switchable inputs between console-grade microphone preamplifiers, line level input, and Hi-Z instrument inputs. Independent 48-V phantom power and 65 dB gain are available on each of the microphone inputs. The user activates the phantom power and selects the input mode for the two input ports through a software application. There is also a SPDIF input/output here, as well as stereo analog outputs on RCA and TRS jacks. The interface has a USB-C port for connection to computer. The device can be bus-powered through this port from a computer but there is also a second USB port, which allows the interface to be powered by a separate USB power adapter or power bank. There are two 1/4-in stereo headphone outputs on the front edge panel.

The top panel of the interface features a large rotary controller, which is used to control gain, volume, and to navigate menus. A gain button is used to cycle through the analog inputs. Pressing and holding it allows the user to enter the control menu and browse sub menus using the rotary controller. Here, the user can access clock source, sample rate, monitor trim, screen brightness, and power the device off. A HP/MON button is used to access controls for the volume of the headphone and monitor outputs. The top panel also has a 1.44-in IPS screen, which shows the gain metering for up to three inputs and outputs, the sample rate, and the current clock source, which can be internal, SPDIF, or USB.

The interface also includes 37 Synergy Core effects analog-modeled compressors, equalizers, microphone preamplifiers, guitar amplifiers and cabinets, and the company's AuraVerb. These are real-time effects, with processing powered by DSP and FPGA chips on the interface, rather than using the host computer's central processing unit (CPU).

A software application, Control Panel, is used to set up routing, gain adjustments, effects processing, mixing, and metering. It can be used to save session files and snapshots of settings. The interface measures 198 × 117 × 57.5 mm and weighs 700 g.

The Audio Zen Go Synergy Core is listed for US$ 499. Contact: Antelope Audio; Web

PreSonus ATOM SQ Controller

Figure 5

The Presonus ATOM SQ MIDI controller.

Figure 5

The Presonus ATOM SQ MIDI controller.

The ATOM SQ controller from PreSonus is a USB-powered MIDI pad controller with 32 velocity- and pressure-sensitive RGB-lit pads that are organized into an intuitive layout for keyboard players (see Figure 5). The controller also features 16 assignable buttons, eight endless rotary encoders, an LCD screen, a multifunction touch strip, transport controls, and 16-beat sequencing and drum pattern editing. It is optimized for use with the PreSonus's Studio One software for music production and with Ableton Live for production and live performance, but can be used with most music production software on Macintosh and Windows platforms.

The LCD screen of the controller displays context-sensitive details and dynamic buttons can be used to change the function of the screen. The scale of the keyboard can be altered and notes constrained to the scale. There is also a built-in arpeggiator. The transport controls include a click track toggle and zoom functions.

The controller has four modes of operation: Studio One native, Ableton Live native, MCU/HUI, and standard MIDI control. It is deeply integrated with the Pattern Editor in Studio One. Patterns can be created, their length changed, new variations created, steps selected and edited individually, and events copied, pasted, duplicated or deleted, directly from the controller. The user can also choose instruments and effects, change presets, create new tracks, activate the metronome, set looping points, navigate the timeline, directly edit MIDI events, and has access to transport controls. Studio One Artist is included with the controller. It has two loop libraries with custom-designed kits for Studio One's Impact XT. Third-party Virtual Studio Technology (VST) and AU plug-in effects and virtual instruments can be used with the application.

When used with Ableton Live, the controller can navigate the timeline, open or close windows, select devices and edit their parameters, navigate clips and scenes, launch or stop clips and scenes, control the crossfader with the ATOM SQ touch strip, have access to transport controls, and control the volume, panning, and send levels of each track. Ableton Live Lite is included with purchase.

The ATOM SQ controller offers the user a high level of configuration and customization. MCU, HUI, and MIDI modes are available for controlling DAWs and virtual instruments. Instrument parameters can be mapped to hardware controls, with rotary encoders, for example, used to control filter cut-offs or drum tuning. The controller is compatible with macOS 10.13 or higher and Windows 10. An Intel Core i3 or better processor and 8 GB of RAM is recommended. The installation requires 20 GB of hard-drive space and a 1366 × 768 monitor. Studio One 5+ is needed for native Studio One integration. The controller weighs 2 lb and measures 0.98 × 6.8 × 14.25 in.

The ATOM SQ is listed for US$ 324.95. Contact: PreSonus Audio Electronics, Inc., 18011 Grand Bay Court, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70809, USA; Web

Solid State Logic UF8 DAW Controller

SSL's UF8 is an expandable eight-channel DAW controller that is designed to make it easy to navigate through large sessions. It has an intuitive layout of controls and high-resolution displays for visual feedback (see Figure 6). The controller has eight channel strips, each of which has a 100-mm motorized fader; solo, cut, and select buttons; an endless rotary encoder or V-Pot; a color LCD TFT screen; and a soft key to access the V-Pot parameters. The V-Pot technology is taken from the company's AWS and Duality consoles. They are used on the controller to control pan position, send levels, and plug-in parameters. The high-resolution color displays can show level, pan, and routing, for each track.

The UF8 can control up to three different DAWs at the same time. Layer keys for switching between DAWs are located to the left of the channel strips. There are also three user-assignable Quick keys here that can be mapped to any commands, keys for accessing plug-in inserts, and dedicated automation keys for control of DAW automation.

Figure 6

SSL's UF8 DAW controller.

Figure 6

SSL's UF8 DAW controller.

To the right of the channel strips are a set of soft keys that determine the operating mode of the soft keys at the top of each channel strip. There are five user banks of these keys available. A Pan key assigns the Pan controls of the DAW to the V-pots. A Fine key activates a fine mode of control for the V-Pot and doubles as a Shift key. Three selection mode keys control the behavior of the select keys on the channel strip.

The controller has a large, notched rotary encoder with four modes of operation. In Standard mode, pushing the encoder moves the DAW through tracks one at a time. Below the encoder are keys for Nav, Nudge, and Focus. In Navigation mode, the encoder is used to move the playhead cursor along the timeline. Nudge mode is only supported by Pro Tools and it advances the audio region by a specific Nudge value. In Focus mode, the encoder emulates scrolling with a mouse wheel and can be used to set plug-in parameter values. The controller also has a set of navigation arrow keys.

The rear panel of the controller contains all of the connection ports. There is a USB-C port for communicating with the computer and DAW. Up to four controllers can be joined together to create a 32-channel controller. They can be connected using a USB-A Thru-port so that only one of the controllers needs to be connected to the computer or a USB hub. There are also two 1/4-in foot switch jack ports and a DC connector for the power supply.

The UF8 can be used with all major DAWs but templates for workflows have already been created for Ableton Live, Steinberg Cubase and Nuendo, Pro Tools, Logic Pro X, and Studio One. A software application, SSL 360, is used to configure the controller for use with a DAW, to customize the user keys, to save and load profiles, and to manage firmware updates. The software is compatible with macOS 10.13 and higher, and with 64-bit versions of Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. At least 8 GB RAM and an Intel 3rd Gen Core i5, or comparable processor, running at 2.4 GHz, is recommended. SSL Native Plug-in Bundle, with Vocalstrip 2 and Drumstrip plug-ins, is also included with purchase.

The controller measures 17 × 10.5 × 2.4 in and weighs 6.4 lbs. It has an all metal enclosure with a brushed, anodized top plate. Two adjustable stands that provide six angles of elevation are included with purchase, and a separate rackmount kit (19 in) is also available.

The UF8 is listed for US$ 1,599.99. Contact: SSL UK, 25 Spring Hill Road, Begbroke, Oxford, OX5 1RU, UK; e-mail; or SSL USA, 19801 Nordhoff Place, Unit 108, Chatsworth, California 91311, USA; e-mail; Web

Sound Devices CL-16 Control Surface for Recorders

Sound Devices's CL-16 is a 32-channel control surface for their 8-series recorders (see Figure 7). The top panel of the device features 16 faders with 16 rotary trim controls. Above these are a further 32 rotary controls for equalization, pan, gains on channels 17–32, bus gains, and output gains. A large color LCD screen that is readable in sunlight is attached to the body of the control surface and it can fold down for easy transport. The screen displays metering, parameter values, modes, transport, timecode, and metadata. The physical controls on the channel strips are aligned with the meters, names, and values on the LCD screen.

Figure 7

The CL-16 control surface for Sound Devices 8-series recorders.

Figure 7

The CL-16 control surface for Sound Devices 8-series recorders.

To the right of the channel strips is a control section with soft-touch buttons. At the top of this control section, is a large stop and a backlit red record button. Below this are five mode buttons to select metering for the LCD screen and the function of the top-level rotary controls. There are six buttons for editing metadata and five user-assignable buttons, with the mapped functions displayed on the LCD screen. There are also dedicated Returns buttons for monitoring returns in headphones and Com Send buttons for activating and configuring the slate microphone. A meter button returns the LCD screen to the default home view. A Menu button can be used with a channel's trim pot to mute the channel, or to mute buses and outputs.

The rear panel of the CL-16 has a USB-B port for connecting the control surface to the audio recorder. An additional five-port USB hub is also built in, with two USB-C and three USB-A ports for connecting other USB devices. The device is not USB-bus powered but uses 12-V DC power. The power port is a 4-pin XLR male input. The control surface also has a footswitch input and a 10-pin connector for remote control. There are 1/4-in and 1/8-in headphone jacks on the front edge panel. The control surface measures 3.15 × 17.13 × 12.96 in with the LCD screen folded down and weighs 10 lb 6 oz.

The CL-16 is listed for US$ 5,495. Contact: Sound Devices, LLC, P.O. Box 576, E7556 State Road 23 and 33, Reedsburg, Wisconsin 53959, USA; e-mail; Web

Saramonic SR-Q2 Handheld Audio Recorder

The SR-Q2 from Saramonic is a portable, handheld audio recorder with stereo condenser microphones arranged in an x-y configuration (see Figure 8). The recorder features 24-bit A-D and D-A conversion, at 128 times oversampling, and 32-bit signal processing. Audio is recorded to WAV file format at sampling rates up to 96 kHz and 16-bit sampling depth. These are stored to a MicroSD card. An 8-GB card is included with purchase but the recorder is compatible with cards up to 128 GB in capacity.

Figure 8

The Saramonic SR-Q2 handheld audio recorder.

Figure 8

The Saramonic SR-Q2 handheld audio recorder.

The recorder has a backlit LCD screen and LED indicators for record ready, signal peak, and USB connection. It has a built-in limiter and low-cut filter. There are 3.5-mm microphone and line-level input ports for use with external equipment and microphones, and two 3.5-mm outputs for use with headphones and external devices such as cameras. The recorder also has a built-in speaker and volume buttons are provided for headphones and the built-in speaker.

The SR-Q2 connects to a computer through a USB-C port. A gold-plated USB-C to USB-A cable is included with purchase. The recorder can be powered through USB, or, alternatively, using two AA batteries. The batteries give an operating time of 19 hours when used at lower sampling rates and 13.5 hours when used at the highest sampling rate of 96 kHz.

The recorder measures 2.4 × 6.6 × 1.2 in and weighs 4.1 oz. It has built-in 1/4-20 tripod thread, and comes with two windscreens (one for high wind and the other for explosive sounds), a travel case, and a hand strap.

An SR-Q2M model is also available. This pack includes the company's RC-X remote control for the recorder, along with a lavalier microphone, cable, microphone clip, and foam windscreen.

The SR-Q2 recorder is listed for US$ 99 and the SR-Q2M pack for US$ 129. Contact: Saramonic; e-mail; Web

Korg SoundLink MW-2408 and MW-1608 Mixers

Korg's SoundlLink MW-2408 and MW-1608 are hybrid analog/digital mixers designed with Greg Mackie and Peter Watts (of Trident Audio and Mackie Designs). They combine analog controls for live mixing with high-quality digital connectivity and effects. The main top panel is like a traditional analog mixer, with an LCD screen and digital controls section on the right (see Figure 9). The only difference between the mixers is the number of channels: 24 or 16, respectively.

Figure 9

Korg's SoundLink MW-1608 mixer.

Figure 9

Korg's SoundLink MW-1608 mixer.

On the rear panel of the mixers are eight monophonic analog inputs on balanced female XLR and eight line inputs on 1/4-in TRS jacks. The smaller MW-1608 mixer has a further four stereo XLR and 1/4-in jack inputs and the larger MW-2408 model has eight stereo input channels on XLR and TRS jack. The high-headroom HiVolt microphone preamplifiers have an equivalent input noise of -128 dBu. There is a switch for 48-V phantom power on the rear panel. There is also footswitch input for triggering effects and a talkback microphone input. The gain control range on the microphone inputs is +10 to +60 dB, and online inputs range is -10 to +40 dB. There is a three-band equalizer with sweepable mid-frequency available on the mono inputs and a fixed frequency four-band equalizer on the stereo channels. A high-pass filter and single knob studio-grade compressor are included on all microphone channels.

The rear panel also has a USB input/output on a USB-B port for connecting to a computer. It supports sample rates of 44.1 and 44 kHz at 16- and 24-bit depth. The input signals from this port are sent to the last stereo input channel, 15/16 or 23/24, depending on the mixer. The output signal sent to the USB port is a duplicate of that sent to the main output jacks.

The main outputs are on 1/4-in and XLR ports, and there is a stereo monitor out, eight 1/4-in group or sub-bus outputs, four XLR Aux outputs, and two 1/4-in outputs for musician monitor mixes. A headphone monitoring section with dedicated knobs is provided for use with monitor mixes for two musicians. A single knob can boost the mix into a musician's individual track. On the very top right of the upper panel is a 1/8-in input for MP3 players and other devices, and a 1/4-in headphone jack.

The frequency response of the main output is 20 Hz to 20 kHz, the total harmonic distortion is 0.004 percent, and the signal to noise ratio is -70 dBu. The maximum output level is +26 dBu and the headphone output power is 100 mW.

The mixers allow the user to mute groups. Up to four groups with different combinations of channels can be created. There is a digital multiband equalizer, digital compressor, digital limiter, digital noise gate, spectrum analyzer (24-channel with peak hold). The multiband equalizer has 31 bands and nine selectable frequencies. The equalizer, limiter, compressor, and noise gate can be assigned individually to the main left/right and the Aux1 and Aux2 channels. The mixers also have a 24-band spectrum analyzer, an automatic feedback control system, and a break system that mutes all bus routes of the input section.

Sixteen Korg 32-bit digital effects are included with the mixers, along with four tone generators for use with the spectrum analyzer. These include hall reverbs, small room reverbs, vocal reverbs, mid-sized stage reverbs, plate reverb, two delays, a tape echo, and a delay modeled on the Korg SDD-3000 digital delay. Up to ten effects can be used simultaneously. Their parameters can be edited, saved, and recalled, and the effects can be activated using a footswitch.

The mixers can save settings for channel mutes, effects, mute groups, break settings, dynamics, and the graphic equalizer. iZotope's RX Elements software suite for repairing audio and balancing mixes is included with the purchase. The smaller MW-1608 mixer measures 396 × 187 × 530 mm and weighs 8 kg. The larger MW-2408 measures 480 × 187 × 530 mm and weighs 9.3 kg. This mixer can be rack mounted by removing the side panels and using a dedicated mixer bracket for a 19-in rack.

The MW-1608 and MW-2408 mixers are listed for US$ 1,800 and US$ 2,100. Contact: Korg USA, 316 South Service Road, Melville, New York 11747, USA; e-mail; Web

Mackie Onyx Analog Mixers with Multitrack USB

Mackie's latest addition to their Onyx series are a set of analog mixers with USB connectivity for multitrack recording to a DAW, and a built-in SD card for directly recording a stereo mix (see Figure 10). The Onyx8, Onyx12, Onyx16, and Onyx24 allow the user to record up to eight, twelve, sixteen, and twenty-four tracks simultaneously.

Figure 10

The Mackie Onyx16 analog mixer with multitrack recording.

Figure 10

The Mackie Onyx16 analog mixer with multitrack recording.

The microphone preamplifiers used in the mixers offer up to +60 dB of gain and 48-V phantom power is available on all microphone channels. The mixers have four, eight, twelve, and eighteen microphone inputs, respectively, along with stereo line inputs. There are Hi-Z switches on the first two channels for guitar and bass input and a 100-Hz low-cut filter on all microphone channels. They have auxiliary/monitor outputs with dedicated send controls for each channel, control room outputs, and main outputs on both TRS jack and XLR ports. The top panel of the mixers features a headphone output with separate level control, a stereo 1/8-in input, and a footswitch input. Audio can be streamed over Bluetooth to the mixers and routed to the auxiliary sends and the main mix. The user can record multitrack audio over USB, with sample rates up to 96 kHz at 24-bit depth supported. Four channels can be also streamed back to the mixer from a DAW.

The top panel controls of the mixers feature 60-mm faders, 12-segment stereo meters, PFL/AFL channel solo, and backlit mute and solo buttons. A three-band Perkins equalizer with sweepable mid-range is included and is designed to deliver a classic British 1960s/1970s sound. There is an on/off bypass switch for the equalizer on all channels. The mixers have a set of built-in effects with dedicated equalizer and adjustable parameters, including reverb, delay, chorus. Six user presets are available for effects.

There is also a color display with a single knob interface for control of effects and management of the SD card. The SD card slot with transport controls is located just below the display screen on the top panel.

The mixers have a steel chassis and range in size and weight from 11 × 10.5 x 45 in and 7 lb for the smallest (Onyx8), to 25.2 × 14 × 5.4 in and 21.5 lb for the largest (Onyx24). A rackmount kit can be purchased for the Onyx12 and Onyx16. Purchase of the mixers includes a software bundle with Pro Tools | First, Mackie's Musician Collection of 23 plug-ins for Pro Tools, Waveform OEM, and the DAW Essentials Collection of 16 effects plug-ins for use with any DAW.

The Onyx8, Onyx12, Onyx16, and Onyx24 are listed for US$ 699.99, US$ 749.99, US$ 899.99, and US$ 1,124.99. Contact: Mackie; Web

Roland Wireless MIDI System

Roland has released a wireless MIDI system that allows the user to connect a MIDI controller or other hardware to a computer without the need for cables. The system can send MIDI note data as well as MIDI sync for things like tempo, effects, and loops.

The main component of Roland's wireless MIDI system is the WM-1 adapter (see Figure 11), a short cable with male 5-pin MIDI DIN connectors on each side. This cable is plugged directly into the MIDI input and MIDI output ports of the user's MIDI device. It is powered by a single AAA battery, which gives an operating life of around 60 hours. The transmissions range is up to 10 m, line-of-sight.

Figure 11

Roland's WM-1 wireless MIDI adapter.

Figure 11

Roland's WM-1 wireless MIDI adapter.

The WM-1 has a built-in transmitter that can send MIDI data in one of two ways. In standard mode, the device uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connectivity and has a latency of 7.5 to 15 ms. In Fast mode, it uses a proprietary wireless format, which reduces the latency to 3 ms. iOS devices and Macintosh computers can receive the wireless BLE data directly but when using the lower latency mode or a Windows machine, a receiver unit, the WM-1D, is required. This is a MIDI USB dongle that receives the MIDI data from the WM-1 transmitter cable. The receiver is powered by the computer via USB. Up to four MIDI devices can be connected with Standard mode and two when using the Fast mode.

The WM-1 is listed for US$ 69.99 and the WM-1D receiver dongle for US$ 79.99. Contact: Roland Corporation U.S., 5100 S. Eastern Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90040-2938, USA; Web

Behringer Flow 8 Digital Mixer

The Flow 8 from Behringer is a digital mixer with eight inputs, two effects processors, a USB audio interface, and wireless remote control over Bluetooth from phones and tablets. It measures 9 × 6.8 × 1.9 in and weighs 3.11 lb. The audio inputs and outputs are all located on the top panel for easy access. There are two microphone inputs on XLR jacks, with Midas preamplifiers and 48-V phantom power. There are also an additional pair of combination microphone/line inputs and two pairs of balanced stereo line inputs, each of which has a Hi-Z instrument option. An EZ-gain function can be used to automatically set the optimal gain for the inputs based on an analysis of the audio signal. The main outputs are on gold-plated balanced XLR ports, with balanced monitor outputs on 1/4-in TRS jacks. There is a single headphone output.

The mixer has six 60-mm channel faders. All channels have a four-band equalizer and compressor, two effects sends, and two monitor sends. There are mute and tap tempo buttons, effects controls, and a foot switch input for controlling presets, mute, and tap tempo.

The monitor and main buses have a nine-band equalizer and limiter. There are two effects engines with a range of reverb, delay, and modulation effects, and 16 presets each. The built-in USB audio interface supports sample rate up to 48 kHz at 24-bit resolution. It allows for up to ten recording tracks and two playback channels.

The Flow 8 also has a built-in Bluetooth receiver that can be used to stream audio. A Flow 8 app allows the user to control the mixer remotely from Android or iOS devices. This includes adjusting the mix, dynamics and equalizer. Presets can be saved to the app or the hardware for recall. There are fifteen preset slots available on the mixer itself but the app can store an unlimited number of presets.

An adapter for attaching the mixer to a microphone stand is available as a separate purchase.

The Flow 8 is listed for US$ 289.99. Contact: Behringer, 18912 North Creek Parkway #200, Bothell, Washington 98011, USA; Web

Peavey Aureus 28 Digital Mixer

Peavey are well known for their amplifiers and analog mixers, but the Aureus 28 is their first digital mixer. The 28-channel mixer features a 10-in multitouch display and a dock for using a tablet as a second screen. It has 59 separate controls so that all functions can be easily found without having to navigate menus.

The mixer has 16 combination microphone/line inputs, Bluetooth input, and USB input. There are ten outputs on XLR jacks, two RCA outputs, an AES/EBU output, an Ethernet port for networked systems, and a headphone output. Eight auxiliary sends are available. It has nine 100-mm motorized faders, 14 rotary encoders, and 45 backlit buttons.

The mixer has a five-band fully parametric equalizer, and two effects engines with 23 effects. Presets include channels, the equalizer, gate, compressor, and scenes. Up to ten devices can connect to the mixer over Wi-Fi for remote control through a HTML5 compatible browser, allowing individual musicians to control their own mix and digital effects.

The Aureus 28 is listed for US$ 1,499.99. Contact: Peavey Electronics Corporation, 5022 Hartley Peavey Drive, Meridian, Mississippi 39305, USA; Web

Waves StudioRack Plug-In Chainer

Waves's StudioRack is a plug-in chainer that allows the user to create chains of up to eight plug-ins from a single DAW insert. Its parallel processing racks can split audio into parallel mono, stereo, and mid-side racks at any point in the processing chain. Multiband split racks can be set up to allow any Waves plug-in to be turned into a multiband processor with control over the crossover points.

Parameters from different plug-ins can be combined in a chain into macro controls, with eight possible per chain, creating custom plug-ins. Chains and routing can be saved and opened in any DAW, for easy collaboration. More than 170 presets for plug-in chains are included and there is a plug-in search feature.

StudioRack is compatible with Waves's SoundGrid Studio, which allows plug-in processing to be carried out on a SoundGrid server. StudioRack is available for macOS 10.13.6 to 10.15.4 and Windows 10, in VST, VST3, AU, AAX Native, and AudioSuite formats. It requires Intel Core i5, i7, i9, or Xeon CPU; 16 GB RAM; and 8 GB of hard drive space. Screen resolution of 1280 × 1024 or 1600 × 1024 is recommended.

StudioRack is a free download. Contact: Waves Inc., 2800 Merchant Drive, Knoxville, Tennessee 37912, USA; Web

Hit'n'Mix Infinity

Infinity is a software tool for repairing, remixing, and redesigning audio files. It incorporates polyphonic source separation to break audio down into notes, harmonics, frequency, phase, and amplitude. The user can then edit audio as notes, harmonics, and unpitched sound.

For remixing and music production tasks, Infinity has a set of Audioshop tools for modifying notes. These allow the user to replace an instrument or sound, and repitch and clone notes, both in audio and MIDI. There is a feature for automatically detecting the key, along with tools to change the key, mode, and chords, to transpose, time-stretch, adjust panning, quantize pitch, change tempo, and copy and paste. The user can separate, alter, and re-create vocal, instrument, or effects tracks. MIDI files can be imported and exported from the software.

In terms of repair, there are tools for removing breath sounds from vocal or other tracks, for fixing wrong notes, and adjusting timing. Automated scripts can be applied to pitch, level, and panning. For sound design purposes, speech can be edited, and background or foreground noise removed or enhanced. On a Macintosh computer, videos can be imported in MP4, M4V, and MOV formats and sound synchronized with it. Video can be exported in MP4 and MOV formats.

A RipScripts tool allows the user to write effects and interactive tools that can act on bars, notes, harmonics, frequency, amplitude, and stereo panning. Infinity has a built-in RipScripts editor that uses Python and features pop-up descriptions of functions, auto-completion, and templates. A number of scripts are included with the software, including Audioshop and Note Editor, a Chord Creator, Noise Removal, Infinity Scale (applies Shepard tone scale illusion to notes), and Wow & Flutter.

An Infinity plug-in is included for use with Pro Tools. It allows audio to be sent to Infinity for processing and updated in place. A Direct Offline Processing plug-in is being developed for Cubase and Nuendo. Infinity can be set as the external sample editor in Ableton Live, FL Studio, Logic Pro X, ACID Pro, Reaper, Digital Performer, and Mixcraft.

The software is compatible with macOS 10.10 or higher and Windows 7, 8, or 10. A 6+ Core Hyper-Threading processor and 12 GB of RAM is recommended.

Infinity is listed for approximately US$ 395. An education discount is available. Contact: Hit'n'Mix Ltd., Unit 6, Cresswell Park, Blackheath Village, London SE3 9RD, UK; Web

Mordatt Pianoteq 7

Mordatt's Pianoteq is a virtual instrument that uses physical modeling to simulate the characteristics of a piano. The software is compatible with Windows, macOS, Linux, and some ARM-based devices such as the Raspberry Pi. It can be used as a VST, AAX, AU plug-in, or in standalone mode. Because it uses physical modeling, rather than being a sample library, it is less than 50 MB in size. The sound of each instrument is constructed using models of hammers, strings, duplex scale, pedals, and cabinets, and takes into account how the pianist strikes the keys. Pianoteq is available in three editions: Stage, Standard, and PRO. Stage is a budget-level edition, the Standard edition gives the user access to more controls, and PRO has the most advanced feature set, including support for sample rates up to 192 kHz.

Instrument packs are available for acoustic pianos, electric instruments, chromatic percussion, harpsichords, and harps instruments. The virtual pianos include Steinway, Steingraeber, Bechstein, Blüthner, Grotrian, and Petrof instruments. The grand pianos have an extended key range of 105 keys. Four instrument packs are included with purchase of the full PRO edition of the software. A set of free historical keyboards and bells are also available to users and include a clavichord, cimbalon, harpsichords, historical pianofortes and grand pianos, tubular bells, church bells, and carillions.

The latest version of the software instrument, Pianoteq 7, includes many new features and updates. A new morphing feature, which occurs at the physical modeling level, can be used to produce completely new and fantastical acoustic instruments, with examples of a XyloHarp and GlockenTines given. There is a new layering feature, which allows the user to mix several instruments so that one instrument could be played in the low range, another in the high range, and both layered together in the middle range. The volume and attack envelope can be edited for each note. The physical model itself has been updated in this new edition to include string vibrations in any direction. The developer indicates that this produces more complex tones with longer sustains, especially in the bass range. A new Model D Concert Grand from the New York Steinway Hall has been added to the acoustic pianos.

The virtual instrument includes continuous velocity from pianissimo to fortissimo, with progressive variation of the timbre. The user can adjust unison width, octave stretching, hammer hardness, soundboard, string length, sympathetic resonance, and duplex scale resonance. Microtuning is supported and files can be imported in Scala format. Polyphonic aftertouch is also supported. Mechanical noises can be adjusted, including both sampled and modeled noises. There is a built-in graphic equalizer and graphic curve for key velocity, note-off, and pedal. Ten types of pedal are available: Sustain, Soft, Harmonic, Sostenuto, Super Sostenuto, Rattle, Buff Stop, Celeste, Pinch Harmonic, Glissando. The condition of the instrument can be adjusted from mint to worn and the lid position can be varied. A mallet bounce feature can be used for note repetition. There is a convolution reverb and a set of effects: Tremolo, Wah, Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Fuzz, Delay, Amp, Compressor, and Mini-eq. The user has a choice of five adjustable microphone positions and multichannel audio is supported, with up to five channels possible.

The instrument is compatible with macOS 10.7, Windows 7 or later, and Linux (x86 and ARM).

The Stage, Standard, and PRO editions of Pianoteq 7 are listed for US$ 149, US$ 299, and US$ 449. A Studio Bundle with all of the company's instrument packs is listed for US$ 970. Contact: Modartt, 9 avenue de l'Europe, Bât. B18, 31520 Ramonville Saint Agne, France; Web

Ableton Live 11

Ableton Live is a DAW for Windows and macOS that is designed for live performance as well as for recording, mixing, and mastering (see Figure 12). It comes in three editions: Intro, Standard, and Suite. Live uses Clips, which can be audio samples or MIDI sequences. These can be triggered in live performance or played back in a predetermined order. The user interface has two views: Arrangement View and Session View. Arrangement View is a horizontal timeline of audio tracks and MIDI sequences, similar to that used in most DAWs. Session View is unique to Live (see Figure 12). It is a nonlinear grid representation of Clips, each of which can be a single sample or a whole song in length. Clips can be dragged and dropped into the interface and each has its own mixing section with controls for volume, panning, mute, solo, arm tracks for recording, and sends. Multiple Clips can be played together, with selected clips looped, and all Clips are automatically launched in synch with each other. The Clips can be arranged into scenes to be triggered during live performance.

Figure 12

The Session View from Ableton Live 11.

Figure 12

The Session View from Ableton Live 11.

The full version of Ableton Live 11 Suite allows for an unlimited number of audio and MID tracks. It offers 256 audio input and output channels, and 12 send and return tracks. It also has 17 instruments, 59 audio effects, 15 MIDI effects, and comes with more than 5,000 sounds up to 70+ GB in size. Live has built in instruments but can also use third-party VST instruments and external hardware. Mapping for keyboards and controller and included. The software also incorporates Max for Live, a version of Cycling ‘74's visual programming software that allows the user to create customized instruments and effects.

Among the new features in Live 11 is a comping feature that organizes and saves multiple takes of a performance so that the best elements of each take can be combined into a single track. Two or more tracks can now be linked and edited simultaneously. This new version of the software supports MPE, which allows MPE controllers and devices to control multiple parameters of notes in real time to create expressive music performances. A Tempo Following function means that Live can adjust its tempo based on the incoming audio. Macros can be saved for recall and Racks can have up to 16 Macros. There is a randomize feature for changing the state of the Macros and this can be mapped to MIDI controls. Live 11 can now introduce variations in notes and velocity to subtly change patterns over time, with the user defining the range for the probability of change. Follow Actions allow the user to chain together clips that trigger each other. Some new functions have been introduced and Follow Actions can now be enabled and disabled globally, linked to the length of clips, and can move to specific clips.

A range of new instruments have been created with Spitfire Audio, including Upright Piano, Brass, and Quartet String Quartet. There are also three new collections of instruments, clips, and samples with a common sonic theme: Voice Box, Mood Reel, and Drone Lab.

A set of new devices has been added to the software. Hybrid Reverb is a new combination convolution and algorithmic reverb. It can be used to create fantastical physical spaces that are not possible in reality or for real-time sound design. The user can control and modulate the tail of the reverb and choose to execute it in series or parallel with the convolution part of the reverb. Spectral Resonator splits the audio signal up into partials, which can be then stretched and shifted. It has a MIDI sidechain input, which allows the resonator to be played like an instrument. Spectral Time breaks the audio signal up into partials and applies a frequency-based delay to them. This creates frequency shifts, reverb-like effects, and metallic sounding echoes. It has a Freeze function that allows it to capture and hold a segment of audio to create stuttering, glitch-like effects. PitchLoop89 is a Max for Live pitch shifting device based on the Publison DHM 89 effects processor. It can be used to create glitch-like effects, digital shimmers, and fantastical vibratos. There are six new instrument and effects created with Dillon Bastan, which are inspired by nature and physical processes: Vector FM, Vector Grain, Vector Delay, Emit, Tree Tone, and Bouncy Notes.

A 90-day free demonstration version of Live 11 is available for download. The software requires Windows 10 or macOS 10.13 or later, with Intel Core i5 or AMD multicore processor, 8 GB RAM, and 8 GB disk space for basic installation but 76 GB is recommended for use of the accompanying sound library.

Ableton Live 11 Suite is listed for US$ 749. Upgrade discounts are available for current Live users. Contact: Ableton, Schönhauser Allee 6-7, 10119 Berlin, Germany; or Ableton Inc., 36 W. Colorado Blvd. Suite 300, Pasadena, California 91105, USA; Web

Steinberg Immerse with VST AmbiDecoder

Steinberg's Immerse with VST AmbiDecoder uses AI to create personalized head-related transfer functions (HRTFs) for immersive headphone monitoring of Ambisonics audio in Cubase Pro and Nuendo. It is intended for use with music, virtual and augmented reality, gaming, and 360-degree video. The earlier VST AmbiDecoder plug-in could be used to decode Ambisonics audio for monitoring in Cubase and Nuendo. Until now, it used a set of standard HRTFs. This new version, Immerse with VST AmbiDecoder, creates personalized HRTFs designed specifically for the individual.

During installation of the software, the user will be prompted to take a photo of their right ear with a smartphone. The software then uses machine learning algorithms to analyze the unique shape and contours of the user's right ear. A personalized HRTF is created that is specific to the user's exact physical and listening characteristics. This HRTF is then used within the VST AmbiDecoder plug-in to create a personalized immersive monitoring experience.

The software is compatible with Windows 10 and macOS 10.13 and higher. A 14-day trial version of software, without restrictions, is available to download from the product Web site.

Immerse with VST AmbiDecoder is listed for US$ 189.99. Contact: Steinberg Media Technologies, Beim Strohhause 31, 20097 Hamburg, Germany; Web

Genelec Aural ID

Genelec's Aural ID is a software application that models the user's head and torso to create personalized HRTFs for stereo, surround, and immersive audio monitoring. The user first uploads a 360-degree video of their head and shoulders taken with a smart phone. This video is analyzed and a detailed three-dimensional model is built from it and a personalized HRTF created.

The software saves the HRTF in SOFA (Spatially Oriented Format for Acoustics) file format. This contains HRIR (head related impulse response) data for both ears in 836 different orientations. Sample rates of 44.1, 48, and 96 kHz are supported. The personalized HRTF can be used with DAW software that supports the SOFA file format. These include the SPARTA/COMPASS binaural plug-in collection, Noise Makers’ AMBI HEAD renderer for DAWs, SSA plug-ins, the Harpex-X plug-in, SOFA for MAX, Steam Audio game engine, the S3A Binaural Synthesis Toolkit, IRCAM's Panoramix, and VLC's Media Player.

Aural ID is listed for approximately US$ 600. Contact: Genelec, Olvitie 5 FIN-74100, Iisalmi, Finland, e-mail; Web

Tierra Audio Flavours Inline Microphone Preamplifiers

Spanish company Tierra Audio has released a set of portable inline microphone preamplifiers that are designed to add gain, texture, and color, to vocal and instrument recordings and performance. They can be used with microphones that provide a low power output signal, with long cable runs, or to add color to dynamic or passive ribbon microphones. The preamplifiers require 48-V phantom power to operate but that power is not transmitted to the microphone itself. This means they can also be used with condenser microphones and active ribbon microphones, if the microphones have a separate external power source.

There are seven models of amplifier: Truffle, Cocoa, Mint, Chilli, Vanilla, Pepper and Salt. Each measures 28 × 54 × 44 mm and weighs 460 g. They have a female balanced XLR input connector and a male balanced output. The audio signal passes through the analog electronic circuits of the preamplifiers and is output as a boosted microphone signal. Each device gives a different gain boost level, frequency filter, and level of harmonic distortion. The transformer amplifies the signal and colors it through harmonics, saturation, amplification, and noise. Five of the preamplifiers use Lundahl or Carnhill input transformers.

Salt is the most neutral sounding of the set. It boosts the gain by up to +39 dB but doesn't add color or distortion. Pepper offers a gain boost of +33 dB, moderate compression on the frequency filter, soft harmonic distortion on the peak of signals, and is useful for live performance, recording percussion instruments, and guitars. Vanilla creates a creamy, warm sound that can be useful for recording choirs and string instruments. It has +28 dB of gain boost, mid-range frequency filter, harmonic distortion on odd harmonics, with a slow response to transients. It uses a Lundahl input transformer. Chilli is designed to create a crisp, sharp sound with hard compression of peaks. It offers a +51 dB gain boost, no frequency filter, harmonic distortion on even harmonics, and has a Lundahl input transformer. Mint provides a fresh, bright sound. It has a +33 dB gain boost, a frequency filter that gives less bass and more treble, a fast response to transients with soft, even harmonic distortion, and a Lundahl input transformer. The Cocoa model is designed to create a thick, dense sound with reduced treble. It can boost gain by up to +45 dB, the frequency filter gives less treble and more middle frequencies, and it has a slow response to transients. This preamplifier has a Carnhill input transformer. Finally, Truffle is designed to create a highly saturated sound with noticeable distortion. It offers +32 dB gain, a frequency filter that results in less treble, germanium diodes that provide a lot of harmonic distortion, and a Lundahl transformer.

The Flavours preamplifiers are listed for US$ 249 each, with Cocoa listed for US$ 279. Contact: Tierra Audio Calle Rufino Blanco 10, Bajo B, 28028, Madrid, Spain; e-mail; Web

Sandhill Audio 6019A Ribbon Microphone

Finnish company Sandhill Audio has created a new ribbon microphone using modern materials to deliver a class ribbon sound in a more durable form. The 6019A's resonant free rigid body is constructed from machined aluminum body and laser cut stainless steel screens. The ribbon is made from a nano composite material that is stronger than typical ribbons, allowing the microphone to be exposed to high sound pressure levels (SPLs) without causing distortion or damage to the ribbon. The ribbon also has a unique corrugated shape that reduces standing wave effects. The circuitry of the microphone is designed to prevent damping of the ribbon by the preamplifier.

The pressure gradient microphone has a figure-of-eight pattern. Its frequency response is 20 Hz to 15 kHz. It has a maximum SPL 154 dB, sensitivity of 3.5 mV/Pa, equivalent noise level of 22 dB (A-weighted), and output impedance of 105 Ohms. The microphone measures 60 × 47 mm and weighs 450 g. It comes with an adapter for a microphone stand and a birch plywood case. A shock mount and HPRC case, with a custom foam insert, are available as optional additional purchases.

The 6019A microphone is listed for A1,769. Contact: Sandhill Audio Oy, Ahonpääntie 181, 03850 Lohja, Finland; e-mail; Web

Icon Pro Audio Space Series Microphones

Icon Pro Audio has released two microphone in its new Space series, Cocoon and Martian. These large diaphragm condenser microphones are designed to provide a vintage sound using new innovative technology. The microphones are hand-built and use class-A electronics. They have an electrostatic Golden Drop transducer with an ultralight membrane made with pure 999 gold. This allows the diaphragm to move with precision, while decreasing coloration or distortion. The transducer is a pressure gradient type with a shock mounted capsule to prevent vibrations. Both microphones have a cardioid polar pattern.

The Cocoon has a 34-mm diaphragm (see Figure 13). It has a frequency response of 20 Hz to 20 kHz, sensitivity of 21 mV/Pa at 1 kHz, maximum SPL of 134 dB, a signal to noise ratio of 83.2 dB (A-weighted), and a dynamic range of 130 dB.

Figure 13

The large-diaphragm Cocoon microphone from Icon Pro Audio.

Figure 13

The large-diaphragm Cocoon microphone from Icon Pro Audio.

The Martian microphone has a slightly bigger diaphragm of 35 mm. Its frequency response is 20 Hz to 20 kHz. It offers sensitivity of 33 mV/Pa at 1 kHz, maximum SPL of 138 dB, signal to noise ratio of 85 dB (A-weighted), and a dynamic range of 123.5 dB.

Both microphones require external phantom power. They have metal bodies for durability. A suspension mount and aluminum transport case is included with purchase.

The Cocoon microphone is listed for US$ 499 and the Martian for US$ 699. Contact: ICON Global Home Office, Unit F, 15/F., Fu Cheung Centre, No. 5-7 Wong Chuk Yeung Street, Sha Tin, Fotan, N.T., Hong Kong; US Distributor Mixware LLC, 9790 Glenoaks Blvd, Ste 7, Sun Valley, California 91352, USA; e-mail; Web

Aston Microphones Element Active Moving Coil Microphone

The Element microphone from Aston Microphones was designed in conjunction with 4,000 of their customers who took part in blind listening tests throughout the design process of the microphone.

Element is a side address, cardioid pattern microphone. It has a 1.5-in Ridyon capsule in an internal 360-degree elastomer suspension system to protect it from shocks and vibrations. The large and light active moving coil diaphragm can handle SPL levels up to 132 dB. Aston Microphones says that the choice of diaphragm gives the microphone high sensitivity while maintaining the strong bass and rejection characteristics of a dynamic microphone, coupled with the natural open sound of a ribbon microphone. The contoured shape of the body and the slim capsule housing are designed to direct audio to the capsule with minimal diffraction. It has a frequency response of 20 Hz to 20 kHz. At the time of release, Aston reported that tests showed Element was the quietest studio microphone in the world with an EIN of 3.8 dBA.

The Element microphone requires 48-V phantom power and it has an Aston logo on the body that is backlit in purple when phantom power is engaged. It comes with a magnetic pop filter and a clip on shock mount. The microphone measures 6.4 × 2.28 in and weighs 0.6 lb.

The Element microphone is listed for US$ 199. Contact: Aston Microphones, 3 Hunting Gate, Hitchin SG4 0TJ, UK; e-mail; Web

United Studio Technologies UT FET47 Microphone

US company United Studio Technologies has released the UT FET47, a large-diaphragm FET condenser microphone. It is based on the classic K47 German capsule design, recreated by the company using a mix of new custom-designed components and vintage parts. It features a custom Cinemag transformer, a custom HZ-Series capsule designed by Eric Heiserman, vintage polystyrene capacitors, and new-old-stock FETs.

The microphone capsule has 34-mm brass, dual, matched backplates. It has a 6-micron, dual-diaphragm with 24-k gold sputtered Mylar. The large Cinemag transformer is constructed from a core that uses interleaved nickel and steel laminations and is wound to the same specifications as the original, to provide clean and quiet operation.

The microphone delivers a cardioid pattern. It features a -10 dB pad and a 75-Hz high pass filter. The frequency response is 20 Hz to 20 kHz. The SPL is 136 dB with less than 0.5 percent THD. The SPL rises to 145 dB with the pad. Output impedance is 200 Ohms and self noise is reported as less than 10 dB, without the pad and high pass filter. The microphone requires 48-V phantom power for operation.

The body of the microphone measures 8.2 × 2.7 × 2.4 in and it is made with nickel electroplated, solid milled brass. The connector is a 24-k gold plated XLR connector and the microphone comes with a stand swivel mount adapter.

The UT FET47 is listed for US$ 799. Contact: United Studio Technologies; e-mail; Web

Josephson C705 Studio Microphone

Josephson's C705 is a large-diaphragm studio condenser microphone with an extended high end and enhanced proximity effect. It features a 5-micron gold-metallized diaphragm and has a cardioid directional pattern. It has low output impedance, allowing it to work well with preamplifiers and input stages, a discrete FET cascode input circuit, and a balanced transformerless output circuit. The microphone prevents sibilance when recording vocals, and the distance and angle of the microphone can be used to add tonal color.

The C705 is constructed with hardened steel housing with an offset grill to reduce internal reflections. Its capsule is internally shock mounted. The frequency response of the microphone is 20 Hz to 20 kHz. Its sensitivity is 15 mV/Pa. It has an equivalent noise level of less than 16 dB (A-weighted) and a maximum SPL of 130 dB. It requires 48-V phantom power and uses a 3-pin XLR output connector. The microphone measures 63 × 261 mm and weighs 1.2 kg. It comes with a yoke mount for attaching it to microphone stands.

The C705 is listed for US$ 2,550. Contact: Josephson Engineering, 329A Ingalls St., Santa Cruz, California 95060, USA; Web

Sanken CUX-100K Microphone

The CUX-100K microphone (see Figure 14) is part of Sanken's Chromatic series of professional microphones, which are designed to have a transparent sound, wide frequency response, accurate off-axis response, minimal proximity effect, low noise, and a high SPL. This particular model is based on the company's earlier CO-100K microphone, which was an omnidirectional condenser microphone with a frequency response of 20 Hz to 100 kHz. This CUX-100K has the same frequency response but offers a choice of three different modes of use: cardioid far, cardioid near, and omnidirectional.

Figure 14

Sanken Microphone's CUX-100K multipattern microphone.

Figure 14

Sanken Microphone's CUX-100K multipattern microphone.

When used in Omni mode, the CUX-100K performs similarly to its predecessor, the CO-100K. It captures spatial and ambient sound best when positioned around 15 feet from the sound source. The full frequency response up to 100 kHz is available in this mode, ensuring a high level of clarity and depth.

The cardioid far mode is intended for use with closer recordings at around nine to twelve feet and captures a mix of the ambiance and the sound source itself. The frequency response from the rear is lower in this mode, to ensure that not too much of the ambient sound is recorded in smaller spaces. The cardioid near mode is recommended for recording close to sound sources, at a distance of less than three feet. The upper limit of the frequency response is reduced to 50 kHz in this mode.

The microphone can be used in x-y, ORTF, and Decca tree overhead configurations. It has sensitivity of -28 dB/Pa, 40 mV/Pa. The equivalent noise level is 17 dB SPL (A-weighted) for the cardioid modes and 22 dB SPL for the omnidirectional mode. The maximum SPL is 132 dB at 1 percent THD. The output impedance is 140 Ohms at 1 kHz. The microphone requires 48-V phantom power. It weighs 0.48 lb and measures 5.8 × 1.19 in. The microphone body has a matte black finish.

The CUX-100K is listed for US$ 3,400. Contact: Sanken Microphone Company, 2-8-8 Ogikubo, Suginami-ku, Tokyo 167-0051, Japan; or 8974 Kramerwood Place, Los Angeles, California 90034, USA; Web

Neumann V 402 Dual Channel Microphone Preamplifier

The V 402 is Neumann's first standalone microphone preamplifier (see Figure 15). It is a dual channel preamplifier with high-impedance instrument inputs and a headphone amplifier. It uses transformerless circuits that are designed to produce a transparent sound without adding coloration or artifacts.

Figure 15

Neumann's V 402 microphone preamplifier.

Figure 15

Neumann's V 402 microphone preamplifier.

The rear panel of the preamplifier has two lockable microphone inputs on XLR connectors and two male XLR outputs. The maximum output level is +26 dBu (1 kilohm load impedance). Ground lift and 48-V phantom power can both be switched on or off for the microphone inputs. The front panel has knobs for gain control on each channel, which can be adjusted between +20 dB and +60 dB (with the pad off). A switchable 20-dB pad allow the preamplifier to be used with sound sources up to 28 dBu without causing distortion.

There are two instrument inputs on 1/4-in jacks on the rear panel. These have a switchable high impedance stage for use with guitars and basses. The maximum input level on the Hi-Z inputs is +21 dBu. With the pad off, the gain can be adjusted between 0 dB and +40 dB. The preamplifier has a built-in 60-Hz, 12-dB per octave high-pass filter to remove pops and rumbles.

A studio-grade headphone preamplifier is included for latency-free monitoring during recording. The headphone connector is located on the front panel. The output can be switched between mono and stereo. There are separate volume controls for each channel and a master volume control. The front panel also has LED metering that shows 24 dBu to +24 dBu in 6-dBu steps, with peak indicators.

The unit is handmade in Germany. It measures 89 × 483 × 242 mm (2U 19-in rack enclosure) and weighs 6.2 kg. The preamplifier requires mains power supply.

The V 402 preamplifier is listed for US$ 2,899. Contact: Georg Neumann GmbH, Leipziger Str. 112, 10117 Berlin, Germany; Web

New Releases


Stereophonica: Sound and Space in Science, Technology, and the Arts
(hardcover, 2020, ISBN: 9780262044783, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England: The MIT Press,
Kerry L.
, editors:
Between the Tracks: Musicians on Selected Electronic Music
(softcover, 2020, ISBN: 9780262539302, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England: The MIT Press,
Balance: Duos, Trios, Combos
(3CD set, 2020, Gench, TD234 CDX3,
: Sonic Trails (CD, 2020, Audiospective Media, AMCD01,