May 2004 In This Issue

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Competition

WIN Apple eMac computer recording system

Deadline: 2004-06-30

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.

Reviews

BIAS Peak 4

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.

Boss BR1600CD

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.

Emagic Logic Pro & Express

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?

Eventide Reverb 2016

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?

Gmedia ImpOSCar

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 Triton Extreme

Synth Workstation

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 K2661

Synth Workstation

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?

Latest Sample CDs

Sample Library

M Audio Firewire Audiophile

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.

Mackie HR626

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.

Presonus Eureka

Recording Channel

This smart new unit offers EQ and compression, plus a transformer-coupled Class-A preamp and an unusual Saturation control.

Preview: Korg Legacy Collection

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.)

Rode NT2000 & NT1A

Capacitor Microphones

These two new large-diaphragm mics from Rode improve on their previous technology, offering a classy sound with exceptionally low noise.

Tascam 2488

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.

Waves IR1

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.

Live Sound

Using Mics & DI Boxes On Stage

Live Sound

Find out how to mike up a typical live band — and also discover when it's best to Direct Inject instead.

People + Opinion

Business End

Readers' Recordings

More constructive comments from MPG (Music Producers Guild) members on SOS readers' submitted recordings.

Educate Your Ears

Leader

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?

Emulating Brian May's Guitar Amp Sound

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...

Graham Fellows (aka John Shuttleworth)

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.

Hardware design paradigms: why use them?

Sounding Off

When studios are increasingly dominated by software, why are we still hanging on to hardware design paradigms?

Matmos

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.

Todd Rundgren

Recording Liars

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.

Your Letters

Crosstalk

We respond to another batch of reader emails and letters.

Technique

Automatic Beat-slicing

Logic Notes

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.

CLASSIC TRACKS: 'What's Love Got To Do With It?'

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...

Consoles: taking control with Digital Performer

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.

Controlling Pro Tools

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...

Creative Synthesis With Delays

Synth Secrets

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.

Creative Synthesis With Yamaha XG

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!

Demo Doctor

Reader Recordings

Another batch of lucky SOS readers' demos wait nervously for the Doctor's prognosis. What is the verdict? Listen while you read on...

Hard Drive Size

Cutting Edge

Hard drives are getting bigger and that can only be good, right? Well, up to a point...

Loading REX Files... and more tips

Sonar Notes

Find out how to load REX files into Sonar, discover which digital audio editors work best with loops, and explore some useful envelope techniques.

OS X Kernel Panics

Apple Notes

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...

PC Systems: What Do You Get For Your Money?

PC Musician

Just what can you expect in a PC system costing £600? Or over £1500? We round up the likely specs and the possible pitfalls.

Questions & Answers

Solutions to Reader Problems

More valuable advice to help you solve common problems.

Studio SOS

Jiang Li

The SOS team apply themselves to the task of mixing Chinese traditional instruments with mainstream Western sounds at reader Jiang Li's home studio.

Super-quiet Power Supplies

PC Notes

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.

Using Plug-ins In A Surround Mix

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.

Sound Advice

Q. Are there different types of MP3?

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?

Q. How should I set my compressor for recording rock guitar?

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.

Q. Should I build a vocal booth?

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?

Q. What can I do to improve my stereo recording setup?

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?

Q. What should I look for in a PC laptop?

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?

Q. Where should I put my monitors?

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?

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