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This month's prize is a complete computer music system based around an Apple eMac. It includes an M Audio Firewire Audiophile external soundcard, and copies of Emagic's Logic Express 6 and Ableton's Live 3 software.
Prizes kindly donated by Absolute Music Solutions. Tel: +44 (0) 845 025 5555.
Stereo Editor: Mac OS X
With the move to version 4, BIAS's aptly-named Peak editing package leaves Mac OS9 behind, but offers a wealth of new features: built-in CD burning, a new user interface, Audio Units support, and processing tools including a real-time convolving reverb.
16-track Digital Multitracker
Boss\'s range of digital multitrackers is designed to allow musicians to make recordings with a minimum of technical knowledge. The BR1600 is the most sophisticated yet, providing 16-track recording along with amp modelling, vocal harmony generation, and built-in drum machine and loop sequencer.
Recording Software For Mac OS 9/OS X
The big news for Logic users is not the new features in Logic Pro and Express, but the new (and extremely competitive) pricing. So which of the two is the bundle for you?
Digital Reverb Processor
Eventide's classic SP2016 reverb unit has been recreated and enhanced by the original designer. But how does the sound match up to high-spec multi-effects units of today?
Virtual Instrument Plug-in: Mac & PC
Gmedia continue their quest to render the best of the world's keyboards in software form. But will it give OSCar fans a case of the grouches?
Korg have redefined the workstation synth many times, and each time it has become harder to see how they could better their previous achievements. The Triton Extreme is a bold new colour, but does the rest of it measure up?
Kurzweil's high-quality K-series workstations have always commanded a premium price tag in the UK, but it's been a while since the range's underlying technology has been updated. Is their latest offering still competitive in 2004?
Firewire Audio & MIDI Interface
Until recently, the benefits of the high-bandwidth IEEE 1394 interface were available only to musicians on a relatively generous budget, but now M Audio are making Firewire peripherals available at new low prices to PC and Mac users.
Active Studio Monitors
Mackie continue to expand their range of studio monitors by combining an innovative D'Appolito design with their existing passive radiator technology.
This smart new unit offers EQ and compression, plus a transformer-coupled Class-A preamp and an unusual Saturation control.
Virtual Instrument Suite/Hardware Controller
Korg's Legacy Collection recreates some of their best-loved keyboards in software form. It wasn't finished as we went to press at the end of March, but we managed to grab this sneak preview as the final touches were being applied...
(Full in-depth hands-on Review next month.)
These two new large-diaphragm mics from Rode improve on their previous technology, offering a classy sound with exceptionally low noise.
24-track Digital Portastudio
Tascam's new Digital Portastudio is the most affordable 24-track workstation on the market. In our exclusive hands-on review, we find out how easy it is to use, and whether its recording quality is as impressive as its track count.
Convolution Reverb Plug-In: Mac & PC
If you want reverb 'sampled' from real spaces, there are now quite a few options available. But Waves have managed to come up with something a little special — a convolving reverb that offers detailed control over the sound.
Find out how to mike up a typical live band — and also discover when it's best to Direct Inject instead.
People + Opinion
More constructive comments from MPG (Music Producers Guild) members on SOS readers' submitted recordings.
If you've never heard top-quality recording gear with your own ears, what reference do you have when assessing mid-price and budget gear?
TC Electronic's Stefan Moeller
For many years, German designer Stefan Moeller has been on a quest to perfectly emulate Brian May's guitar amp sound. Now, with TC's new TC Thirty plug-in for Powercore, he believes he's cracked it...
Making Engineering Funny
Comic actor, has been recording and editing his own radio series for years — and now he's putting his engineering skills centre stage.
When studios are increasingly dominated by software, why are we still hanging on to hardware design paradigms?
The Art Of Cut & Paste
With an emphasis on cut-and-paste sound collages and bizarre field recordings, San Franciscan duo Matmos have created some unique and often disturbing electronic music.
As a musician, engineer, producer and multimedia artist, Todd Rundgren has been a pioneering figure in rock music since the late 1960s. His first album of new material for 10 years was, like many of its groundbreaking predecessors, almost entirely played, produced and recorded by Rundgren alone.
We respond to another batch of reader emails and letters.
Although beat-slicing is something more immediately associated with programs like Propellerhead Recycle or Bitshift Audio Phatmatik Pro, Logic also has facilities to automatically chop up your loops.
Artist: Tina Turner; Producer: Terry Britten; Engineer: John Hudson
In 1984, a dose of British soul resurrected Tina Turner's flagging career in spectacular style. For engineer John Hudson, the recording of 'What's Love Got To Do With It?' also provided a memorable example of the 'less is more' principle in action...
Digital Performer Notes
If you've never investigated DP's Consoles feature, you may be missing out on interesting MIDI and Audio control possibilities. We explain, as well as introducing a couple of indispensable new utilities.
Digidesign (Avid) Pro Tools Tips & Techniques
You don't need a Pro Control to get some hands-on control of Pro Tools. You don't even need one of the 'supported' MIDI control surfaces: pretty much anything with knobs on will do. Read on...
Effects can play just as important a role in sound creation as the elements in a synth's signal path — provided you have access to their constituent parts. We take a closer look at effects synthesis using simple delays.
XG Masterclass: Part 2
Layering voices is one of the best ways to maximise the potential of your XG sound module, so here are a variety of ingenious ways you can use this technique — you can even turn your synth into a high-spec step sequencer!
Another batch of lucky SOS readers' demos wait nervously for the Doctor's prognosis. What is the verdict? Listen while you read on...
Hard drives are getting bigger and that can only be good, right? Well, up to a point...
Find out how to load REX files into Sonar, discover which digital audio editors work best with loops, and explore some useful envelope techniques.
If you're suffering from kernel panics, if no one else can help, and if you can find a log file, maybe you should hire (well, read, at least) this month's Apple Notes...
Just what can you expect in a PC system costing £600? Or over £1500? We round up the likely specs and the possible pitfalls.
Solutions to Reader Problems
More valuable advice to help you solve common problems.
The SOS team apply themselves to the task of mixing Chinese traditional instruments with mainstream Western sounds at reader Jiang Li's home studio.
We take a look at a new range of super-quiet power supplies, as well as explaining how to protect your data and settings in case of crashes.
Steinberg Cubase Tips & Techniques
Continuing our exploration of surround sound in Cubase SX 2, this month we turn to using stereo and multi-channel plug-ins in a surround mix.
I have downloaded various MP3s from the Internet. I also buy vinyl, which I record into Steinberg Wavelab and convert to MP3. The Wavelab MP3s sound different to the downloaded ones and are generally quieter. Are there different MP3 types and how can they differ sonically?
Can you give me some compressor tips to make heavy guitars sound more full and even? For example, I want single-note melodies to sound as full as chords or power chords. Also I want to give palm-muted power chords more pump or bite. I'm using the built-in dynamic processors on a Yamaha 03D mixer.
I've recently upgraded my recording system. Unfortunately the improvements in the signal chain have highlighted more and more the sound of the room I'm in. The other night I tried singing under a couple of futons with really good results. With a touch of reverb the vocal sits in the mix much better and the fans on the computer are no longer heard. Alas, I can't play the guitar under there, so I was thinking of building a small booth, say 3 x 5 x 7 feet, and hanging the futons on the walls to create a deader environment in which to track. Some degree of soundproofing is a bonus, but my main aim is a more neutral acoustic to take and treat with effects. Will I just be swapping one duff sound for another?
The Microtech Gefell M930's ORTF mounting bar allows precise mic placement. I record brass bands regularly using a stereo mic setup (X/Y or spaced pair). The people I record for are always happy with the results, but I feel I can do better. The sound still doesn't come close enough to a commercial brass band recording. My current setup consists of two AKG C1000s mics, a Behringer 1804 mixer and compressor, and a Sony Minidisc. I know that some parts of my setup are not state-of-the-art, but I'm sure the results can still be better. Which mic placement should give the best results? How can I find out if I'm suffering from phase problems? I only use very subtle compression to cut off some peaks. At normal levels the compressor doesn't have to work at all. What could I do to make the sound more bright? Would better preamps contribute to a better-sounding record?
I'm considering moving over from my current Mac setup to a PC laptop for mobile recording, using Nuendo 2 and either an RME Cardbus interface or one of MOTU's Firewire systems. However, with so many different manufacturers and models, I don't really know where to start. Can you point me in the right direction? Is a Centrino laptop the only sensible choice for this kind of application?
How much distance should there be between my monitors and should they face straight forward or be angled toward the listener? Also, as my monitors will be placed against a wall, should some acoustic foam be placed directly behind or between them?