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First prize is a groovy ART Digital MPA mic preamp, which retails at £799, while four runners-up will each win an ART Headamp compact headphone amplifier.
Prizes kindly donated by Sonic 8. Tel: 08701 657 456. www.sonic8.com
Sample-based Drum Computer
These days primarily a mixer manufacturer, Allen & Heath have made many different kinds of gear in their time, but none is more obscure than 1985's Inpulse One. We unearth the facts about one of music technology's most forgotten rhythm computers.
If you need four analogue inputs and outputs, Audiotrak's 24-bit/96kHz-capable soundcard is about the most affordable option on the market.
Modelling Reverb Processor
Behringer's new digital effects box models the characteristics of well-known high-end and vintage reverberators.
This no-frills tube preamp provides a simple way to warm up your mic and line sources while recording.
DAW Assignable Control Surfaces
Although they started off as rugged, assignable control surfaces aimed mainly at Pro Tools, CM Labs' Motormix moving-fader and Dashboard button/jog/shuttle controllers can interface with most digital audio workstations. We put them through their paces.
Semi-modular Analogue Synth
Swedish company Cwejman have recognised that there is no way to build a cheap semi-modular analogue synth for mass-market sale these days (if there ever was). Enter the premium, but meticulously crafted S1 MkII...
This premium recording channel has a big Decca-pedigree sound which belies its unassuming 1U rackmount box.
Modular Spectral Effects Plug-in (Windows)
As well as more-or-less conventional vocoding and pitch-shifting, DelayDots' new VST plug-in offers effects so bizarre they almost defy description.
Reviews/appraisals of the latest sample CDs:
The Legend Of China 4* MULTI-FORMAT; Freaky Jazzy Funky 2 4* AUDIO+WAV+REX; Glass & Stones 5* GIGASTUDIO+EXS24 MKII; Opus 1 5* GIGASTUDIO+EXS24 MKII
Virtual Instrument/Hardware Controller
It's been an unreserved thumbs-up for Korg\'s bundle of software synths so far... but will the Legacy Polysix and Legacy Cell scale the same heights in the final instalment of our three-part definitive review?
KRK's new monitors use glass-fibre cone technology to offer a big sound for those on a budget.
Analogue Effects Pedals
Lovetone breathe new life into some old favourites. But can their all-analogue handmade pedals still compete with digital multi-effects and software plug-ins?
Firewire Recording Interface (Mac OS)
The latest addition to Metric Halo's Mobile I/O range is, like the existing MIO 2882, now available with a powerful DSP option for running audio processing plug-ins.
Multi-pattern Tube Microphone
This striking new vintage-style mic from Oktava not only gives a great rock vocal sound, but also offers the flexibility of multiple polar patterns.
More top Plug-ins tested
We test and report on another crop of highly insertable software Plug-ins:
PSP Nitro Formats: PC VST & Direct X; Mac OS X VST & Audio Units
Sony Oxford Inflator Formats: Mac OS X & PC RTAS, TDM & Powercore
Kjaerhus Audio Gold Series Formats: PC VST
Luxonix Ravity Formats: PC VST
Audio Damage Mayhem Formats: PC, Mac OS 9 & OS X VST
Mic Preamp & A-D Converter
Combi jack/XLR connectors and ADAT connectivity help set this smart eight-channel preamp apart from the crowd.
Loop-slicing Software (Windows & Mac OS X)
It's been a long wait, but the original slice-and-dice loop editing program has finally made it to Mac OS X. Is it still an essential tool a decade after its original launch?
This new mic offers three polar patterns and a surprisingly high-end sound for the money.
Dynamics Plug-in for Pro Tools & TC Powercore
Sony's Oxford digital mixers are out of many people's reach, but Pro Tools and Powercore users can now get their hands on the Oxford's sophisticated processing tools.
Mixing With Your Mind Book; The A/B CD Audio Comparisons CD
Mixing With Your Mind Book (author: Michael Stavrou)
The A/B CD Audio Comparisons CD
Plug-in Effects for Mac & PC
Looking to extend your sequencer's capabilities with some high-quality effects? Then you're exactly the sort of person Waves are trying to tempt with their most affordable plug-in bundle yet.
Kompakt-based Virtual Sound Module (Mac/PC)
These days, if your sample library is going to be a success, it seems you've got to release it with a virtual-instrument front-end. Analogue-synth fanatic and long-standing sample-library producer Ian Boddy does not disappoint with his latest creation...
Issue 1: FREE with August 2004 UK/EU edition
At 50 pages, some might call Sound On Sound LIVE a magazine in its own right, but it won't cost UK and European readers a penny; it's bundled FREE when you purchase the shrinkwrapped AUGUST 2004 magazine at your local newsagent (on sale around 15 July 2004).
People + Opinion
Reader's tracks commercially assessed
Listen to the music while you read constructive comments from MPG (Music Producers Guild) members on SOS readers' submitted recordings.
Replies to a few more of your letters, emails, and faxes.
Pop band Keane made the bold decision to record an album without using any guitars at all — and the result was the chart-topping Hopes And Fears. Andy Green describes his work as producer, engineer and programmer on this unique project.
For his third album with Shania Twain, reclusive production legend Mutt Lange introduced an ambitious concept: different mixes and instrumentation for different markets. And as engineer Bob Bullock found, even the 'country' version left Nashville and its conventions pretty far behind...
How do you see the producer's role in the studio? Singer/songwriter Seal has some fairly clear ideas on the subject...
Paul White gets annoyed at the tendency for Operating Systems to attempt to second-guess what you want to do... and inevitably get it wrong.
James Lavelle & Richard File
With help from their galaxy of high-profile collaborators, Unkle have embarked on an ambitious attempt to reinvent dance music.
Synth Programming Workshop
Although the Access Virus features one of the most knobby control surfaces amongst virtual analogue synths, there's a lot of programming flexibility available which isn't immediately obvious. We show you how to uncover the hidden possibilities?
How to achieve classy-sounding results
Many home recordists hope to perfect their productions by undertaking their own mastering on their studio computer. However, few seem to achieve the classy results they're after. So how much can you realistically achieve by going it alone, and what techniques will deliver the highest-quality results?
It has almost certainly happened to you at some time — a crash or a damaged or deleted file that takes days of music with it. If you don't want it to happen again, read on...
Even if you've cleaned out all references to old \nhardware from your Windows registry, it's a fair bet that it is not quite as spick and span as it could be. Housekeeping tasks and installations leave behind their own trail of junk, but fortunately it can be removed.
More reader recordings analysed
Think your own music is good? Listen to these tracks from SOS readers and see if you agree with the good Doctor's prognosis...
Digital Performer Notes
Your DP Project is safely completed and stored to hard drive, but you want to burn the whole thing to CD or post it on a web site. In the absence of an easy 'export mix' facility, what's the procedure to follow?
Apple finally announced faster Power Mac G5 models this month, along with a new wireless music technology for use with iTunes — plus the long-awaited opening of the iTunes Music Store in the UK.
Digidesign (Avid) Pro Tools Tips & Techniques
We feature a bumper crop of handy tips in this month's guide to all that's good in Pro Tools...
Producers: Michael Jackson, Bill Bottrell • Engineer: Bill Bottrell
The 18-month gestation period behind Michael Jackson's Dangerous album and its lead single 'Black Or White' saw '80s studio perfectionism taken to extremes — and despite their success, the experience helped to convince co-writer, engineer and co-producer Bill Bottrell that there had to be another way to make records!
A new Refill is reviewed and ways around some common Reason problems are offered.
Pete Keen and Nick Smith
Setting up your studio in a cube-shaped room isn't a very good idea, as Pete Keen and Nick Smith found out to their cost. So the SOS team set off to Kidderminster to help find some solutions to the inevitable acoustic problems.
Diagnostic Guidelines for Self-Starters
Why does software always crash irrecoverably when you are at your busiest? And why are technical support lines unable to help you when you need them most? We offer some advice on how to avoid phoning them in the first place...
Steinberg Cubase Tips & Techniques
It's just a jump to the left, and then a step to the right. With your hands on your hips, you bring your knees in tight. But it's the pelvic thrust that really drives you insane. Let's do the time-warp again?
Find out how to use the I/O plug-in within an Output Audio object, and also learn how Logic's improved plug-in delay compensation allows some powerful new mixing techniques.
Panther OS X
Mac OS 10.3 (Panther) has been with us a few months, and has been dissected and evaluated to destruction in the mainstream computer press — but just how useful are its new features for Mac-based musicians and engineers?
This month, fun things to make and do with the Pantheon reverb, plus how linking clips can make your life easier...
Is there a way of using an external hardware compressor with a Roland VS1880 multitracker for mix compression? I've tried taking the main outs from the VS through my desk, inserting the compressor across the desk inputs, then taking the desk outputs back into the VS1880. I kept signal levels relatively low, but still got a rather intrusive metallic rasp that could have been digital clipping or some kind of feedback. What should I do?
Can you explain to me how data reduction in audio files is achieved? I understand the general idea behind data-compressed formats like MP3, but I have never seen an explanation of the actual process. Secondly, how important is the data that is lost when audio is compressed?
I've read that the SACD format uses a 1-bit word length throughout. Why is this the case, and how does it yield higher audio quality than standard 16-bit CDs?
At the base of the inlay card to Michael Jackson's album Thriller, it claims that the album was recorded using the 'Acusonic Recording Process'. I am quite intrigued and wondered if you could explain exactly what this is?
I recently moved house and, having now set up my equipment in a new room, I seem to have lost all of the bass end. My monitors are set up as they should be and my setup worked and sounded fine at the last house, but now for some reason the bass is only prominent at a point just behind my head in my normal sitting position. The closer I get to my computer screen the less bass I get. Do you have any suggestions?