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Steinberg announce new AI hardware

With a little help from Yamaha
At Musikmesse, Steinberg were showing three new hardware products — two interfaces and a desktop DAW controller — that are designed to provide ‘Advanced Integration’ (AI) specifically with Cubase, their own DAW software package. All three products have been co-developed and manufactured by Yamaha, Steinberg’s parent company.

The two new interfaces, the MR816X and the MR816CSX, are 1U rackmountable devices that connect to the host computer via Firewire. Cleverly, like many new audio interfaces coming on to the market, they have on-board DSP, and these run Yamaha’s acclaimed REV-X reverb algorithms and the Sweet Spot Morphing Channel Strip plug-in, the latter only available in the CSX derivation.

DSP-powered plug-ins show up as VST3 objetcs, which can be inserted into channels inside Cubase, but they can also be applied to the input channels using a bundled software mixer called MR Editor.

Both interfaces have 18 simultaneous inputs and outputs: eight analogue inputs and outputs, an eight-channel ADAT bus, and stereo S/PDIF in and out. All the analogue inputs have mic preamps and front-panel gain controls, so you can set the levels of all the analogue input channels (unlike some competing products).

What’s more, the first two analogue inputs have insert points, so you can apply processing from external hardware without having to route signals through the interface’s A-D and D-A converters. Another useful feature is the inclusion of a word clock input and output, enabling connection to professional synchronisation equipment.

The third new product is the CC121, a desktop controller that, again, is designed especially for use with Cubase. It communicates with the connected computer using USB, and ‘talks’ directly with Cubase, requiring no parameter assignment. There’s even a ‘Cubase Ready’ LED that indicates when hardware and software are sync’ed.

The CC121 has a single motorised fader, situated among hardware versions of the other controls that you find on a Cubase channel strip, such as mute and solo buttons, and a pan control. The central section has a bank of 12 knobs dedicated to controlling the bandwidth (Q), frequency (F) and gain (G) of Cubase’s built-in EQ. There’s also an eight-button transport section that includes loop, fast-forward and rewind controls.

The right-hand side of the device has what’s called the AI Knob, an endless rotary encoder that can be used to edit any effect, instrument or channel parameter inside Cubase; just point the mouse cursor at the parameter you want to edit, and the AI Knob takes over.

The announcement of the new gear, according to Steinberg, marks “an exciting step towards the long-term objective of providing uniquely integrated hardware and software products”.

We’ll keep you updated with any further developments.

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