Audio equipment manufacturers ESI have announced three new products, adding to their current range that includes a number of audio interfaces and studio monitors, including the Near 08, which we reviewed in SOS
January 2008 (on-line here
The first of the new products is an 88-note controller keyboard, the first keyboard-based instrument for the company. Called the K On, it has hammer-action keys, as well as nine sliders and nine knobs for controlling the connected DAW. There are modulation and pitch-bend wheels, as well as transport controls and a numeric pad for editing controls inside the device. Interestingly, there are four expansion slots in the K On that can be equipped with third-party synth modules, such as the CME piano and the Waldorf Nano synth.
ESI say that the K On is sturdy enough to take on the road, thanks to its solid aluminium case. It connects to a computer-based DAW via a USB connection, from which it can be powered, but it can also connect to conventional MIDI equipment using five-pin DIN ports. It’s shipping now, complete with a version of Steinberg Cubase LE, costing an attractive £415. ESI are planning to launch their own expansion cards in the very near future.
The second new product from ESI is the ESU1808, which is a USB 2 audio interface due to retail at a cost of £345. It’s a 1U rackmountable device that can record using 18 simultanous inputs and play back from up to eight outputs, at up to 24-bit/96kHz. Interestingly, with the exception of a single stereo S/PDIF I/O, all the ESU1808’s audio connections are analogue, so you don’t require an additional device with A-D or D-A conversion to get the most from the interface.
The front panel is equipped with connections for a pair of phantom-powered microphone preamps, which occupy inputs 1+2, while two instrument-level signals can be plugged directly into quarter-inch jack sockets, which are also located on the 1808’s face. A further four line-level signals can be patched directly into the front, while the remaining eight analogue inputs have their sockets on the rear panel, along with those for the analogue outputs, and S/PDIF, USB and MIDI. Like the K On, the ESU1808 comes with Cubase LE, and is compatible with Macs and PCs.
The final new product from ESI is another interface, the DuaFire. It’s a two-input, four-output device that, as its name hints, uses the Firewire protocol to communicate with the connected Mac or PC. It’s got a single phantom-powered mic preamp, plus jack sockets for plugging instruments and line-level signals into the device. Interestingly, it’s also got a phono input, which enables the user to hook up a turntable to their rig.
The DuaFire can attain its power from the Firewire bus, or from an external DC power supply (not included), with a source-selection switch determining where the unit gets its power from. Its four outputs are all analogue, with a choice of jack and RCA sockets, and there’s also a front-panel stereo headphone output.
The DuaFire costs £170, and is shipping now.
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