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The 5.1 monitoring system on offer in this month's competition comprises four Tannoy Reveal monitors, one Reveal X centre channel monitor and one 5.1 Sub15 active subwoofer, and is worth £1160.
Prize kindly donated by Tannoy +44 (0)1236 420199. www.tannoy.com
Modelling Guitar Amp & Guitar
This is a BONUS online article not available in the printed magazine
The Vetta II amp range embodies the most sophisticated implementation of Line 6's guitar amp modelling technology to date. It delivers more amp models than the original Vetta, offers more user control of the sounds, and it also features an optional digital interface for use with the Variax Digital Modelling Guitar.
Second opinion by former Be Bop Deluxe guitarist Bill Nelson.
Loop-based Sequencer (Mac/PC)
As a creative, stable and above all fun way of combining audio loops in real time, Ableton's Live has proved an ideal counterpart to Rewire-compatible applications such as Cubase. With version 4 offering a wealth of new features, including MIDI sequencing, could Live now replace traditional sequencers altogether?
No, we haven't got that the wrong way around... it really is a CV-to-MIDI converter. But why would you want such a thing? Read on...
The new baby in Behringer's Truth monitor range offers great value for money and sleek good looks, but how good do they sound?
Computer specifications have changed radically in the three years since Carillon launched their first music PCs, but the company's signature metal rackmount case and attention to detail still sets them apart. Their powerful Core 4 machine offers support for three monitors, plus a huge 400GB RAID 0 hard drive array for audio data.
Plug-in Suite (Mac OS X)
If you are looking for effects and instruments to give your mixes a sideways slant, Cycling '74 might have just the thing...
Firewire Audio & MIDI Interface (PC/Mac)
Edirol's first foray into Firewire audio is a compact 10-in, 10-out device with microphone preamps, S/PDIF and MIDI.
USB MIDI Controller Keyboard & Audio Interface
There has been fierce competition over the past couple of years to create the ultimate portable MIDI controller for use with laptops. Edirol's PCR1 is one of the lightest and thinnest yet seen. Is it what we have all been waiting for?
Emu have already taken the market by storm with their range of affordable, high-performance soundcards, and their new stereo PCI card offers impressive features and audio specifications at a budget price.
Reviews/appraisals of the latest sample CDs:
PCP-80 Electric Grand 5* MULTI-FORMAT;
Solo Strings 5* GIGASTUDIO+EXS24 MKII;
Tool Shed Percussion 5* AUDIO+ACID/REX;
Woodwind Collection Expanded Edition 4* GIGASTUDIO
Extending the modelling approach they pioneered with the original Variax electric, Line 6 have now taken a shot at reproducing the sounds of different miked acoustic guitars. Almost completely immune to feedback, the Variax Acoustic will clearly be a hit in some live applications, but does it sound good enough to record?
Mic Preamp & A-D Converter
This stylish new eight-channel preamp and converter offers front-panel instrument inputs and M&S stereo decoding.
(Mac/PC) Guitar Amp Modelling Software & Foot Controller
The market for software that emulates guitar amplifiers is pretty crowded these days, but Native Instruments have found a new angle with a modular program that comes with a dedicated hardware controller and interface.
Controller Keyboard, Audio Interface & Synth
After releasing their Remote 25 MIDI controller keyboard, Novation released the Remote Audio 25, rapidly following it with the Remote Audio 25 Xtreme. Now, the X-Station has replaced both of these. Can we disentangle it from its convoluted beginnings?
This innovative rectangular-capsule design aims to combine the desirable attributes of small- and large-diaphragm sounds.
These acoustic panels not only offer sonic improvements over simple acoustic-foam treatments, but are also very easy to install.
Roland's original Fantom workstation wasn't really much competition for Korg's Triton, so it was no shock to see it revamped last year as the hugely improved Fantom S. But surprisingly, Roland have done it again. What's new this time around?
Surround Recording System
This system can record in mono, stereo, or any current or future surround format — using just one mic.
This new Ivory-series preamp and compressor combines the ease of presets with the flexibility of manual operation.
Sampled Tonewheel Organ Plug-in (Mac/PC)
Sampled tonewheel organ sounds have been around for many years, but more recently we have seen the arrival of modelled virtual tonewheel organs. Can a sample-based Hammond emulation still cut it?
Classic Console EQ Plug-ins (Pro Tools)
For all those Pro Tools users who pine for the sound of analogue EQ, URS have recreated the equalisers from three classic mixing desks.
Multi-channel Convolution VST Reverb Plug-in (PC)
Surround-capable reverbs don't usually come with a price tag of £100. However, nobody seems to have told Voxengo. So just how good is their Pristine Space PC VST plug-in?
Live Drum Triggering
When the epic, studio-created drum sounds of the 1980s had to be translated to a stage setting, sample triggering from drum kits came to the fore &mdash and our man Gavin Harrison began his personal quest for the ultimate setup...
People + Opinion
Readers' Tracks evaluated
Hear the tracks while you read constructive comments from MPG (Music Producers Guild) members who assess the latest batch of SOS readers' submitted recordings.
Replies to more of your emails, letters and faxes.
DAWs Of Future Past
Frank Zappa produced a vast amount of recorded material during his career, often pushing both his musicians and the technology of the day to extremes. The task of editing, mixing and archiving these recordings is being undertaken by his son Dweezil, with the help of some cutting-edge computing hardware.
The Synthesizer Performer
As a member of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, a composer for film and TV and a performer in his own right, Jan Hammer helped to define the role of the synthesizer player in rock and jazz.
Recent years have seen a revival in back-to-basics recording techniques, but few engineers or producers have taken things as far as Jim Sutherland did with Edinburgh folk-pop band Aberfeldy...
Editor In Chief Paul White evaluates how best to define your music, and whether it is of commercial merit or not.
Online music: are we missing an opportunity to make audio distribution a better deal for musicians?
Artist: The Sex Pistols; Producer: Chris Thomas; Engineer: Bill Price
When punk rock broke in 1976, the Sex Pistols caused panic in establishment Britain — and more than a few raised eyebrows in Wessex Studios, where Chris Thomas and Bill Price recorded the band's milestone EMI debut album.
Analysis of Readers Recordings
Think your own music is good? Listen to these tracks from SOS readers and see if you agree with the good Doctor's prognosis...
We explore an advanced technique for creating "instant" tracks using Propellerhead's Reason software.
Layering hardware sound modules to create new sounds is a simple matter, but things are not nearly as easy when you are working with virtual instruments in Logic. Here are a few useful workarounds.
Steinberg Cubase Tips & Techniques
Cubase SX's MIDI Device Manager provides a way of choosing patches and banks on your external MIDI hardware by name rather than by number. We look at how to create your own MIDI Patch Name Scripts to make this possible.
Buying a music computer from a specialist builder is an increasingly popular option for the PC musician. We rounded up some of the leading names in music PCs to find out exactly what they offer.
Intel's latest chipsets are finding their way into new PCs — but do they offer any advantages to the computer musician?
New Cinema displays, a new operating system upgrade, and a new iPod revision — all in this month's Apple Notes column.
Pro gear vs. Project Studio gear
Recording chamber music in Birmingham's Symphony Hall is not something you get to do every day, so SOS decided to make the most of the occasion by using two completely different setups, one based on professional equipment (manned by Hugh Robjohns) and one on project studio gear (operated by Paul White). The results were interesting...
Digital Performer Notes
This month we're feeling bouncy, as we explain how to use DP's facilities to mix down Projects into stereo files for CD burning, MP3 conversion or mastering processes.
TV Composer David Lowe
This month, we help television composer Dave Lowe transform a cavernous-sounding spare bedroom into a usable home studio.
Digidesign (Avid) Pro Tools Tips & Techniques
Digidesign's SampleCell products once had a huge army of users, many of whom still have well-loved sample libraries stranded in this format. We look at the options available to continue using these sample patches in Pro Tools.
We bring you yet more Sonar stratagems, including further adventures in envelope copying, some handy track tricks, and advice on using Arturia's Storm with Sonar.
Paul Sanders of Consolidated Independent
In the age of iTunes, if you want to sell your music, you have to be able to get it on-line. But to do this, you need to understand a ton of Internet technology. Does this man have the answer?
Getting Your Music Heard
Find out what you need to do — and avoid doing — if you want your demo to stand out from the crowd.
When using a compressor and an EQ as insert effects on something like a snare drum, is it better to use compression followed by EQ or EQ first then compression?
SOS Forum Post
I am told that it is possible to remove the vocals from a CD track by reversing the phase of one of the stereo channels. Is this correct and, if so, how does it work? Also, is the reverse possible — can you remove the rest of the track to just leave the vocals?
SOS Forum Post
I often see reviews for mic preamps and channel strips in SOS and I'm wondering if I need one. I currently plug a condenser mic into a small mixer, which provides phantom power, which then feeds into my M Audio Delta soundcard. It seems to work reasonably well, though I normally have to crank the level up a bit to get a decent input. But am I missing something? Is there a good reason to pay money for a box that seems to do something I am already able to do?
SOS Forum Post
I am having serious earthing problems which are making it difficult for me to record a clean guitar sound with my Boss GT6 effects and Roland GR20 guitar synth. There is a bad earth buzz that only stops when I am touching the guitar with both hands. As you can imagine, this is frustrating because every time I change a chord or lift my finger for a split second there is an audible click. All my leads are good, and I dont have this problem with any of my other equipment — just the guitar stuff. The Line 6 Pod Pro has the same problem, which increases and decreases when I move around the room. Even if I do find a spot where the buzzing stops for a bit, the slightest thing will set it off again. The problem is there regardless of whether the units are connected to the mixer or not, and the power supplies are completely separated from any of the other equipment — they have their own dedicated, regulated plugboard going into its own dedicated mains outlet. Could it be a problem with my domestic mains supply? Any advice would be greatly appreciated, especially if there would be a cheap way of fixing it.
I bought some CDs of new sound banks for my Korg Wavestation off eBay recently, only to find that most of them are in System Exclusive (SysEx) format rather than MIDI files. I have loaded sounds into my synths from MIDI files before using Cubase, but I don't know how to do it with a SysEx file. Can you help?
SOS Forum Post
I love banging away on my thighs and knees, and I feel that I make some of my most interesting drum patterns in this way. However, I have never felt I could get the same level from using MIDI drum pads, or bashing away at my MIDI keyboard. How could I build a controller with a pair of panels that are velocity-sensitive to sit atop my thighs? Preferably these would be as thin as possible to maintain the feeling of my playing style. Any ideas?
I noticed a quiet high-pitched whine coming from my Tannoy Reveal Active monitors, which are plugged into my Spirit Folio F14 mixer. Eventually I found that the whine stops when I press the button on my Edirol DA2496 soundcard to select an external word clock. I get the whine even if the Edirol card is not plugged into the mixer, but not if the monitors are not plugged into the mixer. I currently have unbalanced cables from the mixer to my monitors. I have to use the internal word clock. When any music is playing, it easily drowns out the whine, but I would rather get to the source of the problem and sort it out.
SOS Forum Post
I am concerned about my hearing getting damaged — more at live gigs than in the studio — and I'm wondering how I'd go about getting my hearing checked. Also, is there anything I can do to reduce the risk of damaging my hearing if I'm attending or playing at loud gigs regularly?
SOS Forum Post
I am part of dance music production team. We do get club and radio play, and, in the case of the latter, as far as I am aware this will often mean mono playback. So I am always careful when mixing down a track that the track sounds similar in mono to the stereo mix. I have compared our mixes with others in our genre and, as you'd expect, our mixes sound better than some and not as good as others, but even in the ones which I regard as better than ours, there seems to be something which separates the great mixes from the good ones: the really good ones sound big in stereo and in mono. I have been comparing two such records, and both sound massive in the studio compared with our mixes but when you press the mono button, on one it disappears, and when you press it on the other it does not change one bit! How do they do it?
SOS Forum Post