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901elmIFC.indd 1 11/21/2008 2:16:17 PM
www.behringer.com
Designed & Programmed ‘Em. Cad-ed Them. Boarded & Assembled Them. Tested Them.
German
Engineering.
British EQ.
Heavenly
Preamps.
The United
Contours of
BEHRINGER.
©
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New SX2442FX
New SX3242FX
Why overpay?
Our new 24 and 32-channel
EURODESK 4-bus mixers deliver the fea-
tures, durability — and above all sound
quality — you need…at a price that
won’t break the bank (hey, enough
of them are broken already).
Angelic XENYX mic preamps.
Dual banks of 99 studio-quality
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Even tasty extras like mono sub out
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whole story on our website or at your
nearest BEHRINGER dealer right now.
The new SX2442FX and SX3242FX.
Certain values in an otherwise unpre-
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Uli Behringer was
involved in every
detail of these
two new live/
studio mixers.
901elm3.indd 1 11/20/2008 8:56:19 AM
Pure Genius.
www.lexiconpro.com
You care intensely about your music. It’s more than a pastime –
it’s your passion. Brilliantly designed, the I·ONIX Desktop Recording
Series fits where it makes the most sense, between your keyboard
and monitor. Performance driven A/D - D/A converters ensure
pristine 24bit/96kHz audio, while high-stability, ultra-low noise
dbx
®
mic preamps provide for a superior recording. The full,
rich sound of the Pantheon

II VST/AU reverb plug-in completes
your mix. The I·ONIX series furthers Lexicon’s legacy of innovation.
No compromise performance – ergonomic brilliance. Pure genius.
Don’t sacrifice your desktop or your music.
901elm4.indd 1 12/5/2008 11:31:34 AM
The Leading Choice in Digital Audio Workstations
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The best audio quality in the industry
SONAR 8 is available through leading music retailers.
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More
New in version 8:
810elmIFC.indd 1 8/25/2008 10:44:40 AM
811elm85.indd 1 9/29/2008 9:36:30 AM
901elm7.indd 1 11/21/2008 8:30:40 AM
www.solid-state-logic.com
4000 E X-Rack modules. This is SSL.
Back in the ‘80s,
everything was
bigger.
The big record sound of the 4000 E console - now available as X-Rack modules.
25 years ago, ‘big’ was in. Big hair, big cars, mobile phones were the size of suitcases, even music came on 12" vinyl discs.
Back then, every major studio in the world was equipped with a colossal ‘4000 E’ SSL console - the hit making desk behind
hundreds of big records.
Now, the sonic signature of the 4000 E returns in a more affordable (and practical) form. Based on the topology of
the original console channel strip, the SL 611E, SSL engineers have crafted EQ and Dynamics modules for our X-Rack
and Mynx modular systems that truly capture the sound of this classic desk.
Visit www.solid-state-logic.com to find out more about SSL’s big-sounding 4000 E X-Rack modules.
Mynx
The Mynx chassis holds up
to two X-Rack modules,
offering the most
affordable way to bring
genuine SSL analogue
processing to your studio.
X-Rack
With space for up to eight
X-Rack modules and
including Total Recall,
X-Rack allows you to
build your perfect SSL
system for tracking, mixing
or summing.
901elm8.indd 1 11/24/2008 10:17:18 AM
9 01.09 | EMUSICIAN.COM |
>>
FEATURES
JANUARY 2009 VOL. 25, NO. 1
2009
EDITORS’
CHOICE AWARDS
Hats of to the fnest new
products and upgrades we
tested in the past year.
By the EM Staff
>>DEPARTMENTS
12 FIRST TAKE
14 FRONT PANEL
16 WHAT’S NEW
89 MARKETPLACE
92 CLASSIFIEDS
26
EM (ISSN 0884-4720) is published monthly by Penton Media, Inc., 9800 Metcalf Ave.,
Overland Park, KS 66212 (www.penton.com). T is is Volume 25, Issue 1, January 2009. One-
year (12 issues) subscription is $24. Canada is $30. All other international is $50. Prices subject
to change. Periodicals postage paid at Shawnee Mission, KS, and additional mailing offi ces.
Canadian GST #129597951. Canadian Post International Publications Mail Product (Canadian
Distribution) Sales Agreement No. 40612608. Canadian return address: Bleuchip International,
P.O. Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to EM, P.O. Box
15605, North Hollywood, CA 91615.
36
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48
CRASH AND BURN
Hard drives will fail. It’s a fact
of computing life. But don’t be
depressed—be prepared. We
provide you with preventive
maintenance tips and discuss how
drives work, why they fail, how to
anticipate problems, and what to do
when disaster strikes.
By Steve Oppenheimer
SPACE IS THE
PLACE, PART 2
Tis installment focuses on avoid-
ing practices that can clutter up
your mix, such as overcompres-
sion, excessive EQ, and overly
dense arrangements. We also cover
asymmetrical efects and the use of
panning to add motion.
By Myles Boisen
901ELM9.indd 9 12/3/08 1:43:50 PM
10 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
17
>>
COLUMNS
68 MOOG MUSIC Moog Guitar Paul Vo Collector Edition guitar with
built-in sustain
72 PEAVEY ELECTRONICS ReValver MkIII (Mac/Win) guitar amp modeler
76 YAMAHA Pocketrak 2G portable digital recorder
>> Akai MPD32 USB pad controller
>> Future Audio Workshop Circle
1.0.2 (Mac/Win) software synth
>> Novation Nocturn USB control
surface
>> Antares Audio Technologies
Avox 2 (Mac/Win) vocal-
processing software
>> Soniccouture Balinese Gamelan
(Mac/Win) sound library
>> Abbey Road Plug-ins Brilliance
Pack 1.05 (Mac/Win) signal-
processing software
>>
REVIEWS
72
PRO/FILE
CRUNCHING CODE
Ant Neely’s new CD features public-domain samples
and Morse code.
PRO/FILE
SOLITARY SOUND MAKER
Lindstrøm works best when working alone.
TECH PAGE
LET THERE BE LIGHT
Photonics might be the next big thing in computers.
MAKING TRACKS
SURROUND IN PRO TOOLS LE AND
M-POWERED
For mixing in surround, Neyrinck Mix 51 has you
covered.
SOUND DESIGN WORKSHOP
KLANGUMWANDLER REDUX
VirSyn Prism augments frequency shifting with
multi band processing.
SQUARE ONE
CATCH A WAVE
How to spot sonic problems quickly with a waveform
display.
INDUSTRY INSIDER
Q&A: RANDY CHERTKOW AND
JASON FEEHAN
Sites and strategies for promoting your act online.
IN SESSION
COMPRESSION IS LIKE SALT
Nathaniel Kunkel notes how mixing and cooking
require similar skills.
20
22
24
60
62
64
98
1
6
4
2
42
37
IZOTOPE RX (Mac/Win) audio-restoration software
KORG M3 Xpanded 2.0.0 synthesizer workstation
>>
VIDEO REVIEWS (
@ EMUSICIAN.COM
)
>>
QUICK PICKS
80
82
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901ELM9.indd 10 12/3/08 3:00:00 PM
PRO TOOLS 8
/n èlègantly rèoèsignèo, customizablè usèr intèríacè. Prano-nèw oèoicatèo
MlDl ano Scorè Eoitor winoows. Fivè all-nèw virtual instrumènts ano
oozèns oí aooitional èííècts plug-ins incluoèo. lntègratèo, íull Elastic
Timè ano Elastic Pitch manipulation. Strèamlinèo track comping worknows.
Up to 3x morè auoio tracks supportèo as stanoaro with Pro Tools LE
®
ano
Pro Tools M-Powèrèo¨. Nèw, morè aííoroablè surrouno mixing ano souno-
íor-picturè options. /no thè list goès on.
lntrooucing Pro Tools
®
8 soítwarè-thè most comprèhènsivè ano inspiring
souno crèation ano proouction ènvironmènt on thè planèt.
To lèarn how Pro Tools 8 will inspirè your crèativity, visit your
local Digioèsign rèsèllèr, or www.digidesign.comJprotooIs8.
© 2CC8 /vio Tèchnology, lnc. /ll rights rèsèrvèo. /vio, Digioèsign, Pro Tools, ano Pro Tools LE, ano Pro Tools M-Powèrèo arè èithèr traoèmarks or règistèrèo traoèmarks oí /vio Tèchnology, lnc. in thè Unitèo Statès
ano/or othèr countriès. /ll othèr traoèmarks containèo hèrèin arè thè propèrty oí thèir rèspèctivè ownèrs. Proouct íèaturès, spècincations, ano systèm rè¢uirèmènts arè sub|èct to changè without noticè.
 
12 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
>>Firsttake
It’s that time of year again, when
EM’s editors and authors sift
through 12 months of reviews,
roundups, and “What’s New” items to find the products that we think stand out from the crowd. Some, like
this year’s winner in the Microphone category (the Cascade Microphones Gomez Michael Joly Edition), give
you maximum bang for the buck, while others, like the winner for Most Innovative Product (the Moog Music
Moog Guitar Paul Vo Collector Edition), are chosen because they offer something unique and price isn’t a
consideration.
The Editors’ Choice Awards are not meant to imply that these are the only products released in the past
year that are worthy of your attention. In fact, in some categories we had a difficult time choosing a winner
because there were so many strong contenders. For example, the competition in the Field Recorder cat-
egory was fierce, with the Olympus LS-10 coming in as the runner-up. (Check out Senior Editor Geary Yelton’s
roundup “Studio in Your Pocket” in the June 2008 issue at emusician.com to read about the major players.)
In the Monitor Speaker category, the ADAM A5 and KRK Rokit 5 came in a close second and third, respec-
tively. As usual, the toughest battle was
in the Digital Audio Sequencer category,
which saw Ableton Live 7 narrowly edge
out the other top dogs—Cakewalk Sonar
8, Digidesign Pro Tools 7.4 LE, and MOTU
Digital Performer 6.
But beyond the myriad products we
did examine are the hundreds that we
didn’t because we lacked the space in print.
To cover more products in 2009, we are
launching video reviews on our Web site,
beginning with two reviews this month.
This new format will allow you to see and hear what products sound like—both the pros and the cons—so
you can make better-informed buying decisions. Executive Editor/Senior Media Producer Mike Levine starts
the series off by covering this year’s winner of the Signal-Processing Software (Individual) award, iZotope RX.
Overall, 2008 was a great year for both software and hardware products, and despite economic woes, all
indications point to a stronger year in 2009. In the former class, there continues to be an embarrassment of
riches in the world of freeware, shareware, and low-cost apps and plug-ins. Associate Editor Len Sasso keeps
a close eye on this field for his “Download of the Month” column, and he constantly surprises us with the
intriguing items he finds.
For hardware, the action remains in the world of analog gear, where so many boutique companies keep
the focus on sound and build-quality rather than low price points and mass-market appeal. The categories
showing the most exciting development trends are synthesizer modules (check out Plan B, Livewire, and the
Harvestman); dynamics processors, preamps, and EQ (particularly the companies supporting the 500-series
modular format); and stompboxes and effects (such as Diamond, Metasonix, and Devi Ever USA, among doz-
ens of other interesting companies). And with analog hardware products, you don’t have to futz with dongles
or worry about obsolescence due to system upgrades. Your purchase may very well last you a lifetime.
But EM is not here to sell you gear. Our reviews are only one part of our overall education strategy. Our
main objective is to help you grow as an artist or producer by offering practical, how-to articles on every
aspect of music production. And with major changes in the way recordings are marketed and sold, we will
continue to keep you abreast of the trends on the business side of music with our “Industry Insider” column,
as well as with feature articles such as Michael Cooper’s “Self-Control” (available in the April 2008 issue at
emusician.com), which explains how to set up and manage your own music-publishing company. There will
be many surprises coming in the new year, so stay tuned.
May you have a fun and creative 2009!
And the Winner Is . . .
Gino Robair
Editor
J
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®
EMUSICIAN.COM
A PENTON MEDIA PUBLICATION
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901ELM12.indd 12 12/4/08 1:04:18 PM
Neve England partnered exclusively with Universal Audio to bring the globally celebrated sound
of Neve hardware to the digital domain. Like tens of thousands of UAD users, they know that only
UA can model the subtle nuances of every component that create the incomparable sound of Neve.
Neve Powered Plug-Ins by Universal Audio: endorsed and authenticated by Neve England.
UAD Software v5.2 Now RTAS Compatible
TEC Winner
Neve Classic Console Bundle
The Sound of Neve on Pro Tools LE
©2008 Universal Audio, Inc. All rights reserved. Universal Audio, the Universal Audio logo, UAD-2, the UAD-2 logo, “Analog Ears, Digital Minds”, and “Powered Plug-Ins” are trademarks
or registered trademarks of Universal Audio, Inc. Neve is a registered trademark of AMS Neve Ltd. Pro Tools LE and RTAS are are trademarks or registered trademarks Avid Technology, Inc.
812elm27.indd 1 10/30/2008 9:00:13 AM
14 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09

Two weeks afer helping a musician buy her frst
synthesizer, I checked back and was shocked to
hear that she still hadn’t touched the pitch-bend
wheel. Are you getting all the expression you can
from the joystick, knobs, and wheels on your
gear? Even tiny movements can make a
big diference, because our brains quickly
tune out sounds that don’t change. Try
varying the panning of a percussive part
slightly—either directly with a knob, or with a
mod wheel mapped to an LFO. (Set the LFO to
a triangle or random shape, and then use the
wheel to move its level up and down.)
Sometimes the most ear-catching results
come from pitch-bending sounds you
wouldn’t normally think of as pitched.
I like to loop MIDI drum patterns and
then overdub both subtle and drastic
pitch-bends to create alien grooves (see Web
Clip 2). (For more about David Battino’s work,
visit batmosphere.com.)
>>
OPTION-CLICK By David Battino
S
traightliner (approximately $120) from Robin Schmidt’ s Music Engi-
neering Tools (rs-met.com) is a pure subtractive, virtual analog synthe-
sizer that, refreshingly, makes no attempt to emulate a hardware synth’s
control panel. All of its settings are graphical or numerical and are logically
organized on a single screen. A few minutes with the 6-page manual, and you’re
on your way. Beyond ease of use and a great sound, several things set this synth
apart.
Straightliner’s signal path starts with four oscillators into which you can load any
single-cycle mono or stereo waveform in FLAC or WAV format (the usual waveforms
are provided to get you started). T e whole signal path is stereo, so stereo waveforms
do add breadth. T e oscillators also support microtuning and import scales in the
Scala format. T e oscillators are mixed and fed into a multimode resonant
filter that offers the typical configurations along with allpass and shelving
filters, a morphing lowpass-to-bandpass-to-highpass filter, and a carefully
modeled emulation of the 4-pole Moog ladder filter. A handy TwoStages but-
ton instantly stacks two
of the chosen filter types
in series.
For control, you get
two breakpoint envelope
generators (EGs) that
loop and sync to tempo.
One EG is dedicated to
the output amp and the
other to filter cutof f.
Both offer variable Velocity and keyboard tracking. All modules have their own pre-
set load-and-save capability and come with a smattering of useful presets.
You also get a categorized library of full-synth presets. Straightliner is easy
on the CPU and excels at analog-modeled sounds (see Web Clip 1). Grab
the free, time-limited demo and give it a listen.
c
a
.

1
9
4
2
By Gino Robair
Electro-Voice
Model V-2
A simple but
rugged design
that could be
purchased in one
of five standard
impedance levels.
Music Engineering Tools’ Straightliner (Win) By Len Sasso
Classic Ribbon Mics, Part 2
Touch That Dial
Discover cool features on your keyboard or controller.
Download of the Month
RCA Varacoustic Microphone
MI-6203-D
T is mic offered three main polar
patterns (“pressure,” “unidirec-
tional,” and “velocity”) that were
selected with a continuously
variable slider.
Tannoy
Small and sturdy, this
English ribbon transducer
was designed for stage and
P.A. use.
1939
Pitch-bend joysticks facilitate expressive trills, and
pan knobs add spice. Just ask this MIDI-monitor monster.
1
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4
0
s
901ELM14.indd 14 11/25/08 11:15:39 AM
15 01.09 | EMUSICIAN.COM |

These albums encompass a diverse range of styles and composition
methods, from classic and avant-garde electronics to rock and blues.
1962
Bang & Olufsen BeoMic BM4
Outfitted with switchable
impedance, this Danish mic’s
industrial design inspired
the look of the modern
transducers by Royer Labs.
VARIOUS: IN CELEBRATION
OF THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF
ILLINOIS EXPERIMENTAL
MUSIC STUDIO (1958–2008)
(UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS)
This 4-disc set includes
historic works by Hiller,
Martirano, and Gaburo
as well as recent works
by Payne, Polansky, and
Scaletti, among many others.
M
A
R
K

G
R
I
S
W
O
L
D
M
.

P
A
T
R
I
C
K

M
c
G
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L
L
Steanes Ellipsoid
Touted as the world’s
smallest ribbon mic, this
Australian-made uni-
directional transducer
was designed to be
inexpensive and to keep
feedback to a minimum.
Shure Model 330
T is familiar mic,
designed for radio
and TV use, had
a supercardioid
pattern and a
3-position imped-
ance switch.
VARIOUS: THE MUSIC THAT
INFLUENCED LED ZEPPELIN
(EAGLE MEDIA) A documen-
tary DVD focusing on the
various forms of roots music
that stirred a generation of
British rockers.
THIS MONTH’S SOUNDTRACK
K
A
T
E

I
V
E
R
S
O
N
ESCAPE MECHANISM: (EMPHASIS ADDED)
(RECOMBINATIONS)
Sound and visual artist Jonathan Nelson
recycles postconsumer audio into a set of
fascinating social and political statements.
1948
1
9
5
6

EM Readers!
Next month we compare real guitar amps to virtual amp emulations. Can you tell
the difference between the two in a mix? Email us at [email protected],
and your responses will be posted online with the article.
T
A
L
K
B
A
C
K
JEAN-JACQUES PERREY AND DANA COUNTRYMAN:
DESTINATION SPACE (OGLIO) Take a step back in time with
the retro-modern synth stylings of French Moog-pop innovator
Perrey and analog-synth aficionado Countryman.
VARIOUS: RESONANCE:
STEEL PAN IN THE 21ST
CENTURY (QUIET
DESIGN) Twelve
com posers take turns
re mixing and process-
ing a single steel pan
recording to create a
very satisfying CD.
901ELM14.indd 15 11/25/08 11:18:09 AM
16 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
WHAT’SNEW
By Len Sasso
Digidesign (digidesign.com) has released Pro
Tools 8|HD (Mac/Win, $249.95), LE ($149.95), and
M-Powered ($149.95), which boast a redesigned user
interface, new effects and virtual instrument plug-
ins, scoring, improved MIDI editing, and enhanced
mixing capabilities. The new Elastic Pitch comple-
ments Elastic Time, letting you repair and manipu-
late the pitch of audio directly in the Edit window.
An improved comping work flow lets you quickly
piece together composite takes. Track lanes provide
instant access to multiple automation parameters.
According to the manufacturer, the program is eas-
ier to install, offers deeper controller integration,
supports larger track counts for LE and M-Powered
users, and lets HD users link up to five Pro Tools|HD
systems with the Satellite Link option.
piece together composite takes. Track lanes provide
instant access to multiple automation parameters.
According to the manufacturer, the program is eas-
ier to install, offers deeper controller integration,
supports larger track counts for LE and M-Powered
piece together composite takes. Track lanes provide
instant access to multiple automation parameters.
According to the manufacturer, the program is eas-
ier to install, offers deeper controller integration,
supports larger track counts for LE and M-Powered
piece together composite takes. Track lanes provide
instant access to multiple automation parameters.
According to the manufacturer, the program is eas-
ier to install, offers deeper controller integration,
supports larger track counts for LE and M-Powered
users, and lets HD users link up to five Pro Tools|HD
supports larger track counts for LE and M-Powered
users, and lets HD users link up to five Pro Tools|HD
supports larger track counts for LE and M-Powered
users, and lets HD users link up to five Pro Tools|HD
systems with the Satellite Link option. systems with the Satellite Link option.
The PRO 900 ($549) is the first headphone in Ultrasone’s (ultrasone
.com) PRO series. The series incorporates S-Logic Plus, the newest
advance in the company’s S-Logic Natural Surround System tech-
nology. Ultrasone claims that S-Logic Plus reduces sound pressure
by as much as 40 percent and achieves true spatial realism by direct-
ing the sound to the outer ear for reflection to the auditory canal—
it does not simulate spatial characteristics with DSP or delay. The
headphones feature 40 mm titanium-plated drivers and Mu-Metal
shielding for ultralow radiation. They come with a carrying case and
two detachable cables (straight and coiled) with gold-plated Neutrik
connectors and adapters.
ULTRASONE PRO
900 HEADPHONES
PH
O
N
E IT IN
DIGIDESIGN PRO TOOLS 8
EIGHT IS ENOUGH
901ELM16.indd 16 11/25/08 2:04:44 PM
01.09 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 17
Common Ground Publishing’s
T e Music of CSIRAC
T e Music of CSIRAC ($25)
from Common Ground Pub-
l i shi ng ( t hehumani t i es
. cgpubl i sher. com/product/
pub. 61/prod. 10) expl ores
Australian computer-music
research in the early 1950s, well before
the better-known pioneering work of Max
Mathews and his colleagues at Bell Labs in the
United States. T e book is as much mystery
as history because the music, made on the
CSIR Mk1 (aka CSIRAC) computer, was never
recorded and only anecdotally documented.
Author Paul Doornbusch manages to unearth
the story, recover many of the original music
programs, and painstakingly reproduce the
sounds. An accompanying CD includes a slide
show, a video interview with CSIRAC designer
Treaver Percey, and 16 reconstructed audio
examples.
MacAudioLab’s Ulti mate DP6 Learning
Series
Ultimate DP6 Learning Series (Mac, $79.95) from
MacAudioLab (macaudiolab
.com) is a new instructional
DVD covering all aspects of
MOTU Digital Performer 6.
T is follow-up to its series
of DP5 training videos offers
15 hours of new video, real-world projects to
follow along with, spotlighted features, and an
exploration of the MOTU sampler MachFive 2.0.
Topics include optimization and integration,
tracking and arranging, mixing and mastering,
film scoring, and plug-ins. T e videos offer
1,280 by 960 resolution and require Apple
QuickTime 7.
Focal Press’s From Demo to Delivery
From Demo to Del i very:
T e Process of Production
($31.95) is the first in the
new Mastering Music series
of books from Focal Press
( f oc al pr es s . c om) . T i s
title includes contributions from industry
professionals Bob Katz, Robert E. Runstein,
Roey Izhaki, and Jenny Bartlett, among
others. Aimed at up-and-coming musicians,
the book’s essays cover every stage of music
production: development of the composition,
recording, mixing and mastering, marketing,
and distribution. Each chapter includes links
to further information. Editor Russ Hepworth-
Sawyer has 12 years of experience as a sound
engineer and producer and is currently senior
lecturer of music production at Leeds College
of Music.
A
B
IT IN
TIM
E
SONY CREATIVE
SOFTWARE ACID PRO 7
Sony Creative Software (sonycreativesoftware.com) ups the ante in loop-
based music production with this upgrade of its flagship DAW. Noteworthy
enhancements in Acid Pro 7 (Win, $399 [MSRP]) include a new audio and
MIDI mixing console, input buses and real-time rendering, improved time-
stretching and pitch-shifting with Zplane élastique Pro, tempo curves, and
enhanced Beatmapping for tracks with tempo changes. You can freeze MIDI
tracks for improved CPU efficiency, and you can import and export in the
FLAC, AAC, AC-3 Studio, and MPEG-2 audio formats. Acid Pro 7 comes bun-
dled with more than $500 worth of software from outside developers.
THE ACID TEST
KORG MR-2000S
Korg (korg.com) expands its MR series of digital recorders with the rackmountable MR-2000S
($2,499 [MSRP]). This follow-up to the MR-1000 retains its 5.6 and 2.8 MHz, 1-bit DSD and 16- and
24-bit PCM recording options in a configuration aimed at studio recording, mastering, archiving,
and live-sound recording. The I/O is enhanced with balanced XLR jacks and unbalanced RCA jacks,
and there is 24-stage LED metering with a switchable reference level. You also get S/PDIF jacks for
PCM sources and word-clock jacks for synchronization. A new version of Korg’s AudioGate audio
file conversion software improves all of the previous conversion algorithms.
901ELM16.indd 17 11/25/08 2:06:04 PM
>>WHAT’SNEW
| EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09 18
Bitword’s WaveFront ReFill
Bitword’s (bitword.com) WaveFront ReFill ($149) for Propel-
ler head Reason 4 is a 4.5 GB collection of waveforms from
sound designer Marc Van Bork.
It includes multisampled instru-
ments for Reason’s NN-19 and
NN-XT samplers, ReDrum kits,
and Combinators mixing mul-
tiple instruments and effects.
Content ranges from analog
and digital waveforms to pads,
textures, and ambiences to
field recordings. T e over 2,000 included patches are just
to get you started; the library is set up to facilitate custom-
ization and experimentation.
Big Fish Audio’s Urban Contemporary Gospel
Urban Contemporary Gospel (Mac/Win, $99.95) from Big
Fish Audio (bigfishaudio.com) fills a neglected niche influ-
ential in many popular genres.
Its 34 gospel construction kits
offer instrumental loops, percus-
sion, and vocal phrases in a vari-
ety of keys with tempos ranging
from 55 to 140 bpm. Producer
Elvert Waltower Jr. has worked
with gospel greats such as Kirk
Franklin, Fred Hammond, and Ce
Ce Winans. T e 1.3 GB collection
of 746 24-bit, 44.1 kHz loops is provided on DVD in WAV
(Acid), REX (Stylus RMX), and Apple Loops formats.
Soniccouture’s Tremors
When you want to take your drums and percussion to
the dark side, Soniccouture (soniccouture.com) has just
the thing: Tremors: Dubstep Drums & Atmospheric Breaks
(Mac/Win, $79 download, $84 DVD). T is collection of 300
24-bit, 44.1 kHz drum loops comes in WAV, REX, and Apple
Loops formats. Its 63 grooves
range in tempo from 65 to
150 bpm and include kicks,
snares, percussion, hi-hats,
and effects. Each groove con-
tains mixes with and without
effects as well as a breakout
of each part, and the parts are
designed to mix and match
well between grooves.
Sound Advice
ESESSION
VIRTUAL GLASS 1.1
ESession (esession
.com) has upgraded
i t s wor l dwi de
music-networking
system with Virtual
Glass 1.1 real-time
collaboration soft-
ware (Mac, free
downl oad wi th
monthly subscrip-
tions from $19.99).
This RTAS, VST, and
AU plug-in for your
DAW simulates a
t ypical control -
room environment
with the engineer
on one side of the virtual glass partition and the musicians on the other.
Armed with your DAW, a USB or FireWire Web camera and mic for video
and audio communication, a high-speed Internet connection, and an eSes-
sion user account, you’re ready to collaborate with musicians anywhere in
the world. Virtual Glass offers latency compensation, ReWire synchroniza-
tion for linking two sessions, and automatic MP4 compression with after-
the-fact full-resolution transfer.
SPECTRASONICS
OMNISPHERE
Spectrasonics (spectrasonics.net) has launched
its new flagship virtual instrument, Omnisphere
(Mac/Win, $499 [MSRP]). The hybrid-synthesis
engine Steam is at the core of this AU, VST, and
RTAS plug-in. It features variable-waveshaping
DSP, granular synthesis, timbre shifting, FM,
polyphonic ring modulation, and high-resolution
streaming sample playback. Omnisphere’s core
library showcases years of sampling and patching
experiments, and the best of Spectrasonics’ classic line of sample libraries
is also provided. Extensive modulation options include Chaos Envelopes,
the Flex-Mod modulation-routing system, and advanced MIDI Learn and
automation. Progressive zooming lets you access essential features quickly
or burrow deep under the hood.
HEAR AND NO
W
STEAM POWERED
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901elm19.indd 1 11/24/2008 9:03:38 AM
20 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
Crunching Code
Ant Neely’s new CD features Morse code, public-domain samples, and more.
T at might seem a bit inauthentic
considering Neely’s British roots, but
rest assured he knows the terrain. For a
number of years, he called Los Angeles
home, writing music with his group sub-
thunk, which made waves on the KCRW
radio show Morning Becomes Eclectic
and attracted film and TV producers
from shows like Six Feet Under and
Las Vegas. After three albums, a tour,
and several more TV track placements,
Neely moved to London to begin work
on his first solo effort. All he needed
was a direction.
“Very early on, I had a groove that
I was messing about with,” he recalls,
“and I thought what would be perfect
for it was a 1950s educational song. I
had a look around the Web and lo and
behold, I found the Prelinger Archives
[archive.org/details/prelinger], which
hosts all these film and audio clips
that are in the public domain. I found a
whole coloring book full of ideas.”
He began his work on the album
(which can be downloaded for free
from antneely.com) by remixing the
2005 subthunk hit “Scratch,” which
he gave new life with a more beat-
heavy arrangement and low-end synth
bass line. Retitled
“Scratch Redux” (see
Web Clip 1), the song
was beefed up in Pro-
pellerhead Reason using ReDrum and
the program’s Scream Sound Destruction
Unit (the Damage section’s Tape func-
tion in particular) to subtly compress
the rhythm tracks. T e same effect is
applied to the bass line on “Lucky”—the
first of a suite of tracks on Not Fit, includ-
ing the 1941 swing-era throwback “What
T is Country Needs” and the hilarious
Post Offi ce send-up “Springfield,” that
feature voice-overs and samples from
the Prelinger Archives (see Web Clip 2).
T e collage approach smacks of late
’80s Coldcut, but what sets Neely apart
is that he also imports hefty amounts
of strings, brass, timpani, and other
orchestral elements from libraries he has
loaded in Tascam GigaSampler. Using an
M-Audio Axiom 61 keyboard to trigger
whatever he needs, he has access to vir-
tual concert halls full of musicians—as
well as the quick MIDI-editing capabili-
ties of his GigaStudio and Digidesign Pro
Tools setup—that only a few years ago
would have been unthinkable without
blowing a hole in his bank account.
T e payoff by far is the album’s title
track: a riot of John Barry–like orchestral
atmospherics that gradually morphs,
with the help of a Korg Kaoss Pad–bent
glockenspiel and the Morse code–based
rhythm that spells out not fit for human
consumption, into a slick drum ’n’ bass
theme reminiscent of a classic James
Bond film (see Web Clip 3). Neely
embraces the nostalgic reference and
hopes to explore the old school even
further from a gear perspective.
“I love the digital world,” he says,
“but I also love gear with knobs you
can twiddle. I guess a lot of people
just coming up now are purely digital,
so they wouldn’t have ever played with
tape, for instance. I wouldn’t go back
completely, but my ideal studio would
have those elements. It’s the forerunner
to what we’re doing now, and across the
board there’s a lot to learn from what
people have done before us.”
Home base: London, England
DAW of choice: Digidesign Pro
Tools|HD3 (running on Apple Mac
G5 Dual)
Key software: Tascam GigaStudio 3,
Propellerhead Reason 2.0
Web site: antneely.com
>>PRO/FILE
A
flm score, even when there’s no flm attached to it, usually pro-
vides insight into the working style of the composer who made it.
Technically speaking, Ant Neely’s Not Fit for Human Consumption
(Creative Commons, 2008) doesn’t fow in its entirety like a score, but there’s
plenty in its overall sound and unifying concept to suggest a wealth of imag-
ery, much of it from a time of innocence in American culture.
By Bill Murphy
ANT NEELY
B
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I
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N

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T
S
C
H
901ELM20.indd 20 11/25/08 12:40:02 PM
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812elm31.indd 1 10/27/2008 1:51:08 PM
22 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
Solitary Sound Maker
Lindstrøm works alone to produce his latest CD.
T e multifaceted musician, whose
full name is Hans-Peter Lindstrøm,
writes, records, and often mixes in his
own Feedelity Studio, a 2-room setup
that doubles as a record-label office
in downtown Oslo, Norway. “T ere’s no
control room,” he notes. “Everything’s
in the same brickwalled room with no
sound treatment, except that all four
walls are covered with 4,000 vinyl
records.”
Lindstrøm’s studio includes both
a computer running Steinberg Cubase
4 and a Tascam 58 8-track analog
re corder. “I usually record drums onto
tape, and sometimes bass, guitars,
and some keyboards,” he says. “When
using the Tascam, I play along with
the metronome in Cubase. T en after
I’ve recorded onto tape, I rewind the
machine and play it into Cubase. I don’t
use timecode or anything to sync the
tape. If the timing gets off, which might
happen when I record very long takes, I
just use cut and paste in Cubase.”
His studio is set up for easy access.
“I’ve placed all my equipment around
where I sit, so I can easily grab any
instru ment. Everything is con nected to
the mixer, so I don’t have to think about
cables,” Lindstrøm says.
T at “everything” includes a bunch
of favored keyboards, which he used to
shape the evocative soundscapes of
Where You Go I Go Too, on which he
broke the traditional album mold by
including only three
extralong but stun-
ning tracks (see Web
Clip 1). “I was bored
of making shorter tracks and needed to
do something completely different. I’ve
worked on long tracks before, but never
30 minutes!”
T e Memorymoog, Sequential
Circuits Prophet-5, Roland Juno-60,
and ARP Solina String Ensemble are
all part of his vintage-keyboard col-
lection. “Recently, after getting a lot of
hardware, I stopped using plug-ins and
virtual instruments,” he reports. “Grand
Ideas” (see Web Clip 2) on the new CD
features an especially striking glassy
patch from a Yamaha FS1R.
Other elements in his musical
arsenal range from Telecasters to con-
gas to bits of gear he’s picked up while
on tour, including a Korg Kaoss Pad. “I
use it on the Solina to get some move-
ment and hands-on control on the
static string sound; it sounds great,”
he enthuses.
During his travels, Lindstrøm
likes to record found sounds, which he
processes at a later date. “I recorded
trains in Kyoto, a beach in Rio, and my
vacuum cleaner, which sounds like an
old broken analog synth going crazy,”
he laughs.
His studio tracking process is
equally idiosyncratic. “I always write and
record at the same time. It might take
more time, because I have to rerecord
parts since I often come up with new
ideas, but I prefer working this way.”
Having his own studio is essen-
tial to Lindstrøm’s way of working. “I’ve
never, ever worked in a professional
studio,” he muses, “so I don’t have to
think about high studio prices, which I
don’t believe would benefit the creative
process. Being able to work here is the
number one reason that I’m able to
express myself musically.”
Home base: Oslo, Norway
Analog multitrack: Tascam 58
Sequencer used: Steinberg Cubase 4
Web site: feedelity.com
>>PRO/FILE
L
indstrøm, the Norwegian multi-instrumentalist, producer, DJ, and mix
master, has remixed for the likes of Franz Ferdinand, Roxy Music, and
LCD Soundsystem. Now he’s reaching for a wider audience for his own
music. His latest release, Where You Go I Go Too (Smalltown Supersound,
2008), is an electronica-based instrumental CD that’s the very defnition of
a solo project—carefully constructed by himself in his chosen atmosphere of
creative solitude.
By Kristi Kates
LINDSTRØM
K
I
M

H
I
O
R
T
H
O
Y
901ELM22.indd 22 11/25/08 12:42:14 PM
www.m-audio.com
© 2008 Avid Technology, Inc. All rights reserved. Product features, specifications, system requirements and availability are subject to change without notice. Use of enclosed software may be subject to a related license agreement.
Avid, M-Audio, the “>” logo and ProFire are either trademarks or registered trademarks of Avid Technology, Inc. in the U.S. and in other countries. All other trademarks contained herein are the property of their respective owners.
Compatible with
Pro Tools M-Powered 7.4
via downloadable update.
Check m-audio.com for details.
“The ProFire 2626’s functionality and versatility kinda scares me. As a studio owner who’s
spent a lot on pres, A/D converters, etc., units like this make me feel like I’ve wasted a lot
of money...this is definitely one of the best deals for small studio owners I’ve found yet.”
—EQ Magazine
In creating the ProFire 2626, our engineers pored over the details that add up to an exceptional recording experience.
The eight mic preamps feature award-winning Octane™ preamp technology designed for optimal headroom—resulting
in extremely low distortion through the entire gain range. The preamps have also been tweaked to offer a generous
75dB gain range and an extremely high signal-to-noise ratio, allowing you to accurately capture performances across a
tremendous dynamic range. Careful selection of components—including high-end converters with low band-pass ripple
and linear phase response—results in cohesive, detailed audio with a wide frequency response. Complete with low
THD+N and preamp circuitry that follows the shortest possible signal paths, ProFire 2626 remains uncolored and true
to any input source. We labored over these details so you can concentrate on what’s most important: making a great
recording. Read all the details at m-audio.com.
High-Defi nition 26-in/26-out FireWire Audio Interface
with Octane Preamp Technology
ProFire 2626
• 26 x 26 simultaneous analog/digital I/O
• 8 preamps with award-winning Octane technology
• user-assignable master volume knob
• flexible on-board DSP mixer for multiple unique cue mixes
• doubles as 8-channel mic pre/ 8-channel A/D-D/A converter
• up to 24-bit/192kHz for pristine high-definition audio
• critically acclaimed JetPLL jitter elimination technology
Many companies make audio interfaces.
Few make great ones.
901elm23.indd 1 11/24/2008 8:51:31 AM
24 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
>>Techpage
Let Tere Be Light
The future of computing may be optical. | By Scott Wilkinson
ost people mark the birth of modern elec-
tronics with the invention of the transis-
tor in 1947. Tis device single-handedly
overcame the limitations of vacuum tubes, especially
in terms of size, heat dissipation, and reliability, lead-
ing the way to supercomputers, personal computers,
and a vast assortment of electronic musical tools in
the last 60 years.
Today, electronic technology is starting to reach
the limits of its capabilities, and many labs are work-
ing on a new technology called photonics with the
potential to far exceed these limits. Whereas elec-
tronics is concerned with manipulating streams of
electrons, photonics deals with light, which consists
of a stream of photons.
Photonic computing offers many advantages
over its electronic counterpart. For one thing, light
can be switched on and off much faster than electric-
ity, allowing far higher digital data rates. In addition,
light is much more energy efficient and less prone to
pulse degradation, especially over long distances.
Finally, crosstalk is eliminated because there are no
electromagnetic fields arising from different current
paths to interact with each other.
However, these advantages do not come cheap.
Ironically, the lack of interaction between photons
means that the technology to manipulate them is
more sophisticated than its electronic equivalent.
And photonics is in its infancy, with critical break-
throughs appearing only in the last few years.
One vital field of research is the development
of nonlinear optical materials, which change their
optical properties depending on the light that enters
them. One of the most important nonlinear effects is
photorefraction, in which the intensity of the incom-
ing light changes the refractive index of the material.
Tis changes the angle at which the light is bent as it
passes through the material, suggesting the possibil-
ity of superfast, multistate optical switches.
Another critical area of development is holo-
graphic memory, which stores data as interference
patterns in a block of photosensitive material. A laser
beam is split into two identical beams, one of which
is modulated in a way that corresponds to the data
to be stored. When the two beams meet within the
storage material, the resulting interference pattern
is recorded. Tis process can be repeated at different
angles, yielding a data density up to tens of terabits
per cubic centimeter.
Ten there’s the interface that sends and receives
data between digital devices via optical networking.
IBM recently demonstrated the world’s fastest optical
transceiver, which can send and receive data at 160
gigabits per second, eight times faster than currently
available optical components. According to the com-
pany, this is fast enough to download a typical high-
definition, feature-length movie in 1 second instead
of the hours it takes today.
“Te explosion in the amount of data being trans-
ferred when downloading movies, TV shows, music,
and photos is creating demand for greater bandwidth
and higher speeds in connectivity,” says Dr. T. C. Chen,
vice president of science and technology for IBM
Research. “Greater use of optical communications is
needed to address this issue. We believe our optical
transceiver technology may provide the answer.”
Even better, the new transceiver measures only
3.25 mm by 5.25 mm (see Fig. 1), allowing it to be
incorporated into small devices. Te IBM research-
ers combined current CMOS technology with optical
components made of more-exotic materials, such
as indium phosphide and gallium arsenide. Tis
approach makes it easier to integrate optical com-
munication into existing electronic circuits. Such an
integrated approach may well lead to the first appli-
cations of photonics in the music industry, where
terabytes of storage and gigahertz of bandwidth
would not be wasted.
FIG. 1: IBM researchers have
developed the world’s fastest optical
transceiver, which can handle up
to 160 Gbps of data in a very small
package.
M
C
O
U
R
T
E
S
Y

I
B
M
901ELM24.indd 24 11/25/08 11:32:54 AM
901elm25.indd 1 12/3/2008 10:15:22 AM
26 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
C
H
U
C
K

D
A
H
M
E
R
O
p
en up
your m
ixes b
y avoid
ing
“sp
ace invad
ers.”
P
a
rt 2
P
l
a
c
e
,
S
p
a
c
e
By Myles Boisen
I
n part 1, I explored methods for enhancing clarity and space in mixes by thinking
conceptually in three dimensions: horizontal (lef to right), depth (foreground to
background, as governed by volume of individual elements), and vertical (fre quency).
I also addressed reverb and how it can be used to enhance space or overused to fll up too
much space. (Read part 1 in the December 2008 issue, available at emusician.com.)
In this installment, I’ll address additional methods to open up your mixes and cre-
ate truly 3-D results. I’ll show you how to avoid common problems such as overuse
of compression, overly dense arrangements, and misapplied equalization. Such “space
invaders” are problematic enough on their own, but when more than one is present in a
901ELM26.indd 26 12/2/08 4:03:27 PM
800.747.4546 exclusive distributors
See us at NAMM | Booth 6720
901elm27.indd 1 11/24/2008 10:22:02 AM
28 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
Space Is the Place, Part 2
mix, complex interactions can occur that may
smother and overwhelm what were once well-
recorded tracks.
Squeeze with Care
When used judiciously, compression is a pow-
erful tool for holding expressive tracks like
vocals and instrumental solos in one dy namic
place rather than letting their focus slide
between the foreground and background. But
as with reverb, too much of a good thing can
be harmful, and you can end up with an over-
compressed production that doesn’t breathe
dynamically.
Compression becomes a space eater par-
ticularly when it is overused on percussive
and low-end elements, especially electric and
acoustic bass. During consultations for remix-
ing (in the old-fashioned sense of the word)
and mastering, one of the things I most ofen
recommend is to remove or reduce compres-
sion on percussive and bass instruments.
In the depth dimension, percussive
sounds generally exhibit sharp transients
that are heard initially in the foreground or
midground and then fade rapidly into the
background. Functionally this kind of move-
ment is very important because it punctuates
sustained sounds and reinforces a feeling of
space and propulsion in the depth dimen-
sion. Overcompression dilutes attack and
punch, and obscures rhythmic relationships
by inverting the natural dynamics of a per-
cussive event (see the sidebar “Compression:
Don’t Overdo It”).
For instance, when low drums have a
noticeable decay or a dominant note (or both),
compression can intensify tonal components,
eating up space and adding muddiness in all
three dimensions. Increasing sustain in the low
range can create dissonance, beating, or com-
petition with bass instruments, especially when
combined with reverb.
Likewise, remember that bass—whether
acoustic or electric—fulflls a percussive and
timekeeping function in many musical styles.
Moderate compression helps keep the bass
present and consistent. But overcompressing
it sabotages its rhythmic role, boosts muddi-
ness and tonal competition, and can create a
variety of problems during mastering.
As with reverb, the origin of space-sucking
compression abuse is ofen a lack of familiar-
ity with parameter adjustments, or a blind
reliance on default settings. In particular, fail-
ing to alter a compressor’s attack time from a
default zero setting will make almost any kind
of track sound overcompressed and lacking in
transients.
Mixes that sound fat can ofen be revi-
talized by examining and increasing attack
times of compressed tracks to 10 ms or
more. Tis adjustment not only passes ini-
tial transients—which are vital to vocal intel-
ligibility and percussive attack—but
also lessens gain reduction generally
to restore depth and dynamics (see
Web Clips 1a and 1b).
Another way to breathe dynamic life and
space back into your productions is to utilize
stereo-mix-bus compression as an alterna-
tive to compressing many individual tracks.
To preserve spaciousness and dynamics, my
mixes use light compression on individual
tracks only where necessary (usually kick
drum and vocals, sometimes bass, guitar, or
instrumental solos), combined with moderate
stereo-bus compression. A third compression
level of digital peak limiting is added during
mastering. Te cumulative efect of three small
compression stages—rather than piling on the
compression all at once in mixing—works well
to preserve the liveliness and dynamic depth of
background and midground tracks.
To avoid adding coloration or extra noise,
I recommend using a sonically transparent,
high-quality hardware compressor or plug-in
for the demanding task of mix-bus compres-
sion. As a starting point, recommended param-
eter settings include a low ratio (2.5:1 to 4:1),
a slow attack (10 ms or more), a fast release
(200 ms or less, depending on tempo and musi-
cal style), and a sof knee. Set the threshold so
that maximum gain reduction is only 2 to 4 dB,
then adjust to taste from there. Adjust makeup
gain so that the highest peak gain levels reach
–2 dBfs or lower, to allow some headroom in
mastering (see Fig. 1).
The main point is that compression
causes problems when it limits or eliminates
the depth dimension, crowds out space in the
horizontal (imaging) dimension, inverts the
natural dynamics of percussion and bass, and
in creases low-end competition and mud. Too
much compression also puts all frequencies in
your face, forcing the ear to prematurely tune
out the subtleties of space and dimensionality
as listening fatigue takes over. Overreliance on
compression also increases the general noise
floor of your mix. Even at low levels, noise
obscures the ear’s perception of background
details that contribute so much to the unique
spatial qualities of a mix.
Quality, Not Quantity
A recording ofen sounds dense and lacking in
space simply because it is cluttered with
too many tracks. One of the big draw-
backs of the high track counts avail-
able in DAW recording is that it’s easy
to keep adding instruments. And seemingly,
come mix time, it becomes even more dif cult
to take anything away to make space.
One of the most extreme cases of over-
tracking I encountered was a song brought
to me with four similar bass tracks running
simultaneously! “Beefing up the chorus”
is another practice that, when taken to the
extreme of adding four or five keyboards
and guitars at once, can suddenly double the
apparent volume of a song, overwhelm any
subtlety, and diminish the potency of subse-
quent verses.
Whenever possible, I get clients to con-
sider the old adage “Less is more” in relation
to their arrangements. In 3-D mix–speak, this
FIG. 1: T is screen shot from the Sonnox Oxford
Dynamics plug-in shows a good starting-point setting for
a mix-bus compressor. To avoid squashing transients, the
slow attack is key.
901ELM26.indd 28 12/2/08 4:04:06 PM
812elm48.indd 1 10/10/2008 3:45:27 PM
30 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
Space Is the Place, Part 2
translates to stripping away unnecessary tracks
and then emphasizing depth and imaging
relationships to open up space and dynamics
within a wall of sound. Which tracks are going
to be most crucial for your music is really case
dependent and defes easy generalization. But
here are a few things to watch out for if you feel
your mixes have become an overstufed closet
in need of a sonic spring-cleaning.
Easy on the Icing
It’s one thing to have a lush, lavishly orches-
trated track as the centerpiece of your next CD
project, but it’s another thing entirely if every
song you’ve recorded has multiple keyboard
and guitar parts, strings, horns, five or six
background vocals, and enough percussion
instruments to start a school music program.
I call this condition “all icing, no cake.” When
this happens to you, it’s time to take a step
back and admit that you’ve become a track
addict.
One useful exercise for regaining perspec-
tive on track addiction is to strip things down
and keep your arrangements real. Tink for a
moment what your ideal real-world band would
be: perhaps a folky 2-guitar-and-percussion
unit, a conventional modern-rock band, or a
larger R&B combo with keyboards, horns, and
a couple of background singers.
With this real-world band in mind, go
back to your mixes and mute any tracks that
couldn’t be performed by the players you envi-
sion. Tis may be a big shock at frst, but give
yourself a chance to get used to this part of the
game. Next, devise an arbitrary rule that will
govern the number of tracks you allow your-
self to unmute and add back to your produc-
tion. Tis could be as basic as using only one
new instrument per song, and one doubling
track.
Revisit your levels and panning and then
give the song a listen to see if you can live with
this new austerity. (You’ll probably add a few
tracks back in that you just couldn’t live with-
out.) Hopefully this track trimming will clean
up your arrangements, improve vocal clarity,
and restore a sense of space simply by clearing
out the clutter.
Another part of a mix that’s ofen ripe for
trimming is doubled tracks. Doubling has its
place for vocals and chordal instruments, but
too much can easily backfre and turn a mix
from lush to impenetrable. As with the pre-
vious exercise, start by muting all tracks that
double other tracks. Doubling can mean a
duplicate performance, a similar instrument,
or an identical rhythmic feel on a different
instrument. Add doubles back into the mix
one by one, starting with the tracks that are
most essential.
As you do this, consider the content that
you are adding and how it fts into the three-
dimensional mixing space. Experiment with
foreground-to-background relationships and
depth by reducing the level of any doubling
tracks at least 3 dB below the existing track.
Explore the horizontal dimension by pan-
ning the double away from the existing track,
or change the frequency of the double to dif-
ferentiate it within the vertical dimension (or
do both). Ideally you will end up using less
doubling and reapplying these tracks in inter-
esting and subtle ways to enhance the mixing
space (see Web Clips 2a and 2b).
Another way to approach dense record-
ings is to build them up and break them
down by way of the arrangement. Varying the
dynamics can really help a song breathe. For
instance, after a dramatic bridge or chorus,
stripping a verse’s support down to one or two
rhythm instruments is a tried-and-true way to
reengage the listener. Beginning a song with
simplified orchestration is another conven-
tional way to build up to an impressive chorus,
while establishing a sense of space right from
the start.
From an EQ perspective, don’t underesti-
mate the spatial importance of treble in your
arrangement, especially when using sparse
instrumentation. Most instruments—even
bass and low brass—have some high-frequency
content. But, for example, arranging cello and
acoustic guitar behind a male voice may pro-
duce a dull or predominantly bottom-heavy
production that needs tambourine or hi-hat to
establish a feeling of air and help fll the vertical
dimension.
Reverb needs to be considered as an inter-
active arrangement element as well. Once you
have lightened your track load and banished
space invaders from the arrangement, double-
check to make sure that the amounts, lengths,
and character of your reverb choices are still
appropriate to the production. Bear in mind
that changes in doubling, panning, and com-
pression will also impact reverb perception.
And whenever possible, resist the urge to fll
up that newfound space with reverb.
All Things Being Equalized
Just as blazing sunlight can make it hard to see
visual details, and strong scents can overpower
subtle aromas, excessive EQ can mask percep-
tion of audio nuance. When frequency buildup
becomes extreme—particularly in the upper
midrange, where the ear is most sensitive—
subtle space-enhancing details in a mix are the
frst to fall victim to frequency masking and
hearing fatigue.
On numerous occasions, I have encoun-
tered mixes, especially rock recordings, where
it is obvious that the guitar is too bright in the
upper midrange around 1 to 3 kHz. Tis tim-
bre can make it hard to hear the “crack” of the
snare drum, which then ends up having to get
boosted as well. As a further consequence, you
might then feel you need to add a brighter edge
to the vocals.
As more additive EQ (boosts as opposed
to cuts) gets piled on, the final result is
ofen grating, tinny, or downright unlisten-
able at moderate volume. Such an excessive
buildup—in addition to hastening listen-
ing fatigue—may smear or obscure subtler
Too much doubling can
easily backfre and turn
a mix from lush to
impenetrable.
901ELM26.indd 30 12/2/08 4:04:27 PM
901elm31.indd 1 11/24/2008 9:59:01 AM
32 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
Space Is the Place, Part 2
aspects of a production. The interaction of
compression or reverb in this range further
compounds the problem.
Sometimes it is possible in mastering to
solve or at least sofen this type of masking
efect with a judicious frequency cut, or de-
essing tuned to the 2 kHz area. In the cases
where this approach actually works, the dif-
ference in space and openness in the mix is
immediately obvious. Occasionally the trans-
formation borders on the miraculous, causing
band members to wonder what kind of sophis-
ticated mastering black magic has been used
on their tracks.
Of course, a frequency cut to the most
active part of the midrange afects all instru-
ments to some degree and could cause pres-
ence problems for some tracks. Similar issues
can plague mixes where the low end or treble
has been pushed out of balance. In cases where
the mastering fx previously described doesn’t
do the trick, it’s time to go back and remix the
track, focusing more on subtractive rather than
additive EQ.
I’ll start with the low end. Once the mix
level of a basic track has been established, bass
boosting can be done with compression, as we
have already discussed, or with EQ. A common
practice that quickly eats up both space and
headroom is boosting with a low-shelving EQ,
which increases everything below the specifed
corner frequency. When applied indiscrimi-
nately, this practice typically raises the gain of
a track without signifcantly increasing usable
tone, and also boosts 60 Hz hum, ambient rum-
ble, and other muddying artifacts.
To enhance your mix’s spaciousness and
clarity, keep any low-end EQ boosting mod-
erate and targeted between 150 and 400 Hz
(see Fig. 2). This range is most effective to
add power and warmth to tonal and chordal
C
H
U
C
K

D
A
H
M
E
R
1 kht 10 kht 20 ht
1 kht 10 kht 20 ht
2 k 3 k 5 k 50 ht 100 ht 200 ht 500 ht
2 k 3 k 5 k 50 ht 100 ht 200 ht 500 ht
1.3-2.ë kht
Too uuch energy in this range
can be harsh and fatiguing.
ë40 ht-1.3 kht
ßoosting can increase ¨woodiness" of acoustic guitar or bass.
Subtractive E0 here can reduce uurkiness frou excessive roou tone.
180-250 ht
Moderate boosting can add low-end punch.
Too uuch will add uuddiness.
150-400 ht
ßoosting in this range can add power and waruth to
tonal and chordal instruuents, vocals, and druus.
320-ë40 ht
Subtractive E0 in this range can reduce honkiness or boxiness.
Subtle attenuation can uake a uix seeu less crowded.
4-5 kht
Moderate boosting here can add presence
without undue harshness or sibilance.

FIG. 2: Tis chart shows key frequency ranges for additive and subtractive EQ that affect various elements in your mix.
Overcompression dilutes
attack and punch,
and obscures rhythmic
relationships.
901ELM26.indd 32 12/2/08 4:04:52 PM
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812elm43.indd 1 10/30/2008 9:49:06 AM
instruments, including vocals. Te tone and
punch of drums can be improved in the same
manner. Combining this kind of EQ boost
with a careful, low-shelving cut is an excellent
way to clear up mud in a mix, enhance bass
tone in real-world playback environments, and
achieve hotter levels in mastering. In order to
make efective judgments about the low end
when mixing or tracking, it is also very impor-
tant to use a subwoofer.
In mastering I fnd that 320 to 450 Hz is
a region where I ofen use subtractive EQ to
attenuate the buildup of room tone and leak-
age on multiple-miked recordings, efectively
reducing murkiness. Improved clarity and
space usually results from decreasing the boxy-
sounding efects of standing waves in small or
acoustically fawed rooms (see Web Clips 3a
and 3b).
Subtle attenuation throughout the mid-
range is another easy way to alleviate a feeling
of crowding in a mix, and can make a track
seem lighter or airier. Of course, when taken
to extremes, subtractive EQ between 320 and
1,000 Hz risks the empty, hollow tone of the
smile curve.
As a rule, whenever you add gain to a track
with equalization, it is good practice to try to
use subtractive EQ to cut the gain of some
other frequencies. Make it your goal to keep the
level of a track roughly the same, while increas-
ing its desired tone as well as carving out more
room in the mixing space. In addition, don’t
be single-minded about highlighting one fre-
quency area to the detriment of overall timbral
balance.
Into the Pan
In part 1, I addressed stationary panning of
basic tracks. Now, here are a few advanced
tricks to bring attention to the 3-D mixing space
with creative panning and movement of sounds
within the horizontal panning dimension.
Panning reverb to the side opposite from
a dry track is a hip way to create vivid, dimen-
sional space and draw a listener into the mix.
Tis trick is one of my favorites to use on guitar
solos, percussion, efects, and vocal accents. It
is also possible to employ long, splashy reverbs
this way, because the reverb return will be
mono or narrow stereo and therefore will not
dominate the entire stereo spectrum.
Manual or automated panning is a good
way to energize the horizontal dimension in a
Space Is the Place, Part 2
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Compression: Don’t Overdo It
Loud is good, and most of us have to use some compression to keep our final mixes
competitive in this increasingly noisy world. But louder is not always better. Level-
headed mixing and mastering professionals, joined by other voices of sanity in the
music business, have been warning for years that the loudness war is simply a losing
battle. To illustrate that point, this year even hard-rock fans are blogging that the new
Metallica CD has suffered sonically from mixes that were brickwall limited before they
reached the mastering lab.
So what are the implications for compression in terms of space and 3-D mixing?
When a digital mix becomes squashed with compression, the foreground tracks can’t
get any louder once a high proportion of peaks have reached digital zero (0 dBfs). Te
background elements—vocal nuances, chordal decays, room sound, and so on—come to
the foreground, hence the phrase “in your face.” And this sounds exciting, for a little
while. But without some quiet dynamics, there is no longer any meaningful reference
for what loud is.
In 3-D terms, if there is no background, your mix becomes a flat plane with no depth
and no empty space in the horizontal (imaging) dimension. Similarly, spaciousness is
squeezed out and listening fatigue takes over as a result of overcompression crowding
the vertical (frequency) dimension.
901ELM26.indd 34 12/2/08 4:05:12 PM
mix. A Leslie cabinet or stereo Leslie simula-
tion can help introduce some lateral motion
into your recordings.
Another way to add space horizontally is to
employ asymmetrical efects. Start by duplicat-
ing the desired track(s), then pan the original
track to one side. Pan the copied track to the
opposite side and try out some efects (modu-
lated efects like fange, chorus, and tremolo
work great), distortion, or radical EQ or com-
pression on it.
Stereo keyboards, Leslie effects, stereo
acoustic guitars, and the like sound full and
can be relied on to add a lush sense of space to
sparse productions. But as great as most stereo
sources sound, adding too many can choke the
horizontal spectrum of a mix. For this reason,
I usually observe a limit of two stereo instru-
ments (not including drums) in a mix, and pan
these sources opposite each other with mini-
mal overlap. Generally, with the occasional
exception of synth pads and organ parts that
are mixed low, any additional stereo tracks in
the arrangement are panned in mono or very
narrow stereo.
Spaced Out
Conceptualizing the space between the speak-
ers as a three-dimensional realm—rather than
as a line between two points—opens up lim-
itless possibilities for the mixer’s craft. And
hopefully, thinking of mixes in terms of bal-
ance, symmetry, and space will help you get
over some typical production hurdles.
Te tips and methods described here are
certainly not intended to be hard-and-fast rules.
Nor does this information need to be embraced
totally or exclusively. Consider these 3-D mix-
ing concepts as a jumping-of point for your
own creativity—a way to make audio dimen-
sional, and to transform the mixing space into a
sonic sculpture or an artist’s canvas.
Myles Boisen (mylesboisen.com) consumes sig-
nifcant quantities of space and time at Guerrilla
Recording and the Headless Buddha Mastering
Lab in Oakland, California. Tanks to Jonathan
Segel, David Blatty, Kevin Cunningham and
the Goat Family, Freddi Price, Wink Paine, and
Rube Waddell.
Tips to Avoid
“Space Invaders”
• Avoid muddying your mix with
too much compression. Make sure that
all compressor attack times are at
least 10 ms. Combine judicious use of
track compression with mild mix-bus
compression.
• Keep arrangements relatively
sparse. Decide what a real-world band
would be for each song, and try not to
add extra parts beyond that.
• Avoid excessive doubling of
parts.
• Consider varying dynamics
through the song by breaking down and
building up the mix (through muting and
unmuting) as the song progresses.
• Try panning a reverb return to the
opposite side of the track it’s affecting.
• Consider adding motion to your mix
by automating pans and/or using rotating-
speaker effects on selected elements.
• Avoid clutter by limiting the amount
of wide stereo tracks in your mix to two.
Pan other stereo sources more tightly or
make them mono.
• Don’t overdo additive EQ. Try to
make an equal EQ cut to compensate for
level added by boosting.
Excessive EQ can
mask perception of
audio nuance.
901ELM26.indd 35 12/2/08 4:05:32 PM
36 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
Here’s to the 22 best new products
we tested in the past year.
901ELM36.indd 36 12/4/08 10:44:05 AM
37 01.09 | EMUSICIAN.COM |
T
o be eligible for an Editors’ Choice Award, products must have
shipped between September 15, 2007, and October 15, 2008,
when we began editing our January issue. We also considered
several products that shipped so close to the 2008 Editors’ Choice Awards
deadline that it was not possible for us to test them in time for that year’s
awards. If a product shipped too close to this year’s deadline for us to
properly evaluate it, we’ll make it eligible for next year’s awards. We give
awards to sofware upgrades only if they were major improvements over
the previous version.
All of the winning products have been feld-tested by EM’s editors and
a select group of authors. We also solicited opinions from the editors of our
sister publications Mix and Remix. Te fnal selections were made by EM
editors Gino Robair, Mike Levine, Len Sasso, and Geary Yelton, and for-
mer EM editor in chief Steve Oppenheimer edited the resulting article. All
award-winning products have been covered in EM reviews, or the review is
in progress and our tests are far enough along that we feel confdent about
our conclusions (see the online bonus material “Te Award
Winners in Review” and “Te Winning Manufacturers” at
emusician.com). Please join us as we applaud the winners
of the 17th annual EM Editors’ Choice Awards!
Audio-Editing Software
Adobe Audition 3.0 (Win, $349)
Adobe Audition gets more powerful and full featured with each upgrade,
and version 3’s new features make it a no-brainer for this year’s award.
Perhaps the biggest surprise is MIDI sequencing and support for VST
instrument plug-ins, which takes Audition one step further into the
world of digital audio workstations. Just click on a MIDI track to reveal a
Sequencer window where you can enter, edit, and route MIDI by channel
to up to 16 virtual instruments. Surround support with the new surround
encoder is another major addition.
Audition’s complement of signal processors has been expanded, add-
ing a convolution reverb, a mastering tool, tube-modeled compression,
analog-modeled delay, and guitar efects. IZotope’s Radius is included,
enabling time-stretching, and the new Top/Tail views make loop editing
a snap. Te sofware’s already excellent spectral-editing capabilities have
been further improved. You also get new noise-reduction and phase-
correction tools. For audio editing and basic MIDI sequencing, Audition
is an excellent choice for Windows users.
Audio Interface
Apogee Duet (Mac, $495)
Only a few years ago, Apogee released
the Mini-Me, which combined the
company’s sought-afer A/D convert-
ers with a pair of high-quality mic pre-
amps. However, its $1,500 price point may
have kept it out of many personal studios. Tat
certainly won’t be the case with the Duet, which
puts a pair of Apogee’s mic preamps and converters
Got gear? We do—a ton of it! For the past year, EM’s editors and authors
have worked hard to test and evaluate a large assortment of the new hard-
ware and software we believe to be most important to EM readers. Along
the way, we found lots of good stuff and a few disappointing items. We
also discovered a relatively small group of amazing products that deserve
special recognition, and to these superb devices and applications, we are
delighted to present our prized EM Editors’ Choice Awards.
2
0
0
9
E D I T O R S ’ C H O I C E
Awards
By the EM Staff
901ELM36.indd 37 12/4/08 10:44:39 AM
38 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
into a FireWire bus-powered audio interface for under $500.
A Mac-only product, the Duet’s clean look fits the Apple design
aesthetic, with one rotary encoder that covers everything thanks to the
in cluded Maestro confguration sofware. Te product does more than look
great next to a Mac: Maestro is built into the current versions of Logic Pro,
Soundtrack Pro, and GarageBand for easy access. (Apps that support Core
Audio are also compatible.) With two XLR mic/line inputs, a pair of unbal-
anced instrument-level inputs, and two unbalanced ¼-inch outputs, the
Duet is a cost-efective way to get the excellent Apogee sound, espe cially for
musicians on the go. Tat’s certainly something worth celebrating.
Auxiliary Software
Cycling ’74 Max 5 (Mac/Win, $250 [MSRP])
Te Auxiliary Sofware cate-
gory includes a diverse range
of apps, so it’s ftting that the
latest update of Max was the
winner. Max gives you the
tools to do just about any-
thing you can think of with
digital signals. With the lat-
est version, Cycling ’74 didn’t
add a ton of new features, but
it refined the user interface
and documentation. As a result, this powerful programming environ-
ment is less intimidating to newbies, while work fow is improved and the
inner workings are more transparent to experienced users.
For example, the new Patcher palette gives you a one-stop shop for
adding UI Objects to a project. Ticks and traditional musical-note values
have been added as timing increments. And the new Presentation mode
lets you easily design an interface to hide the internal workings of your
patch. Overall, the upgrade is a winner because it makes Max not only
more convenient for power users, but also so easy to use that mainstream
musicians should fnally be convinced to look deeper into an application
that they have considered (incorrectly) to be only for artists on the fringe.
“Well, if it’s good enough for Radiohead . . .”
Control Surface
Euphonix MC Control ($1,499)
Known for high-end digital consoles and control surfaces, Euphonix
made the intriguing decision to release two controllers priced for the
personal studio. One, the MC Control, easily took this year’s Control
Surface category, ofering four 100 mm touch-sensitive motorized faders;
a color touch screen surrounded by eight Velocity-sensitive knobs and a
dozen sof-key buttons; eight navigation buttons; and transport controls,
including a Jog/Shuttle wheel. Despite this wealth of controls, the MC
Control fts neatly on a desktop, even when mated with the Euphonix
MC Mix fader-and-knob bank.
Te MC Control uses Ethernet and the Euphonix EuCon protocol
to communicate with a Mac, resulting in higher resolution and greater
throughput than MIDI- or USB-based controllers. It ofers HUI emula-
tion and supports the Mackie Control protocol for non-EuCon-aware
applications. Whether it’s used to control tracks on a DAW, tweak vir-
tual instruments, or edit video, the MC Control’s elegant user interface is
powerful and fexible, outshining all contenders this year.
Digital Audio Sequencer
Ableton Live 7 (Mac/Win, $499)
It’s been three years since Live won an Editors’ Choice Award, and the
folks at Ableton have not been sitting idly by. While retaining its signature
live-performance-and-tracking duality, Live 7 brings major improve-
ments. Tracking takes a big step forward with multiple time signatures,
video export, and automation lanes for simultaneously editing several
automation envelopes. On the performance side, the new External
Instru ment and External Efects plug-ins let you integrate hardware
and ReWire devices, with all MIDI and audio routing managed from a
single track. Drum Racks let you quickly create complex, 128-pad drum
machines with their own foldout mixer and efects buses. And Live now
directly supports REX fles by automatically building you a Drum Rack
and matching MIDI trigger sequence from their slices.
Under-the-hood improvements include a 64-bit audio engine,
POW-r dithering, and sidechaining for the Gate, Auto Filter, and
new Compressor plug-ins. Premium content includes the Session
Drums multisampled drum library, a beefed-up Essential Instruments
Collection, and physical-modeled electric piano, analog synth, and
string instruments by Applied Acoustics Systems. With its extensive
library of instruments, efects, and audio clips, Live is a standout solu-
tion for stage and studio.
Download of the Year
u-he MFM2 (Mac/Win, $79)
Te winner of the Download of the Year award is chosen from the sof-
ware featured in our “Download of the Month” column. Tis year we
had a tough time choosing a winner, given such notable runners-up as
AlgoMusic’s (algomusic.net) Atomic, a creative step-sequencer plug-in
with built-in synth, and Glitch, a clever sequenced-efects processor
from Illformed (illformed.org). But when the dust settled, we chose
MFM2 (More Feedback Machine 2) from Urs Heckmann.
MFM2 provides four stereo delay lines and a four-by-four feedback
901ELM36.indd 38 12/4/08 10:45:01 AM
One voice, endless
possibilities.
Based on the award-winning Prophet ’08, Mopho is a compact, affordable,
great-sounding monophonic synthesizer with a 100% analog audio path.
Available now at Dave Smith instruments dealers worldwide.
For specs, audio and video demos, and more, visit davesmithinstruments.com.
Prophet ’08 tabletop/rack module Prophet ’08 keyboard
The Prophet ’08 keyboard has been honored with multiple awards, including:
Celebrating 30 years of
innovative synth design.
Visit us at NAMM in booth 6948
 
40 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
matrix that lets you route any output to any input. Each delay line has
its own multimode flter, and each pair of delays also has a multi-efects
processor. You can place the flter at various points in the signal path,
whereas the efects always come at the end. A 4-band modulation
matrix lets you route MFM2’s four LFOs, two multisegment envelope
generators, and MIDI continuous controller messages to most MFM2
parameters. Delay times as short as 1 ms make this plug-in ideal for
resonator efects. Tempo sync with longer delay times lets you cre-
ate long multitap sequences. Hundreds of presets get you started, but
tweaking is the fun part.
DSP Host
Universal Audio UAD-2 (Mac/Win, from $499)
Universal Audio has raised the ante for DSP host hardware with the
UAD-2. Te PCIe-2-compatible card features the Analog Devices SHARC
21369 chip and comes in single-, dual-, and quad-processor models,
respectively ofering 2.5, 5, and 10 times the speed of the original UAD-1
card. UAD-1 sessions can be used with the UAD-2, and you can mix
the cards in your system, using up to four of each with a single sofware
license. Current plug-in partners Neve, Roland, SPL, Valley People, and
Empirical Labs are actively porting their plug-ins to the new card, with
attractive cross-grade pricing, and new partners, including Harrison,
Moog, and Little Labs, will be joining forces with UA in the future.
Te UAD-2 supports AU and VST sofware hosts, and RTAS support
is in the works. It is Mac OS X Tiger/Leopard and Windows XP/Vista
compatible and features a new plug-in GUI with improved preset brows-
ing and card organization. Latency and DSP load are optimized and
more easily managed. New features, greater speed, and the convenience
of backward compatibility make the UAD-2 an obvious Editors’ Choice.
Effects Processor (Hardware)
Eventide ModFactor ($399)
Classic stompboxes like the
Cry Baby, Fuzz Face, Bi-
Phase, and Uni-Vibe are
practically guaranteed
to inspire creativ-
ity. Now you can
add the Even tide
ModFact or t o
your list of must-
have effects devices.
Borrowing presets from Eventide’s rack-
mount studio processors, the ModFactor combines
ten modulation efects ranging from chorus, fanger, and phaser to
vibrato, ring mod, and rotary-speaker simulation. Tis rugged black box
accommodates anything from guitar and bass to line-level sources like
keyboards and mixers through its ¼-inch stereo inputs and outputs.
With three footswitches and ten knobs, the ModFactor is not your
average stompbox. A single auxiliary input handles the three foot-
switches, and you can plug in an expression pedal for classic wah efects
and hands-of parameter control. MIDI and USB 2.0 ports let you use
any MIDI source to switch presets, change parameter values, adjust the
tempo, enable bypass, and more. Te ModFactor has two independent
LFOs, and it syncs to MIDI Clock. Te USB connection lets you update
frmware and back up settings to your computer. Te ModFactor is a
versatile studio processor that ofers clean sound and a wealth of modu-
lation efects. Try it out, and we bet you’ll be hooked.
Field Recorder
Sony PCM-D50 ($499)
Two years ago, we gave an Editors’ Choice Award
to Sony’s PCM-D1, a digital stereo recorder
remarkable for its portability and outstanding
quality. Late that year, we got our hands on the
PCM-D50, an even smaller machine possess-
ing nearly all the D1’s charms at a fraction
of the cost. It was love at first sight. The
PCM-D50 is a thing of beauty. Its specs
and feature set make it an ideal choice for
audio professionals. Tough compact, it
ofers an ample display, lots of buttons,
and four AA batteries and can record
24-bit, 96 kHz BWF fles for 12 hours
without running out of juice.
Te PCM-D50 comes loaded with 4 GB of onboard memory, and
you can expand it further with a Memory Stick. Like the D1, the D50
has top-mounted mics that swivel to accommodate XY and wide-angle
recording. It sets up quickly and ofers both analog and digital audio
I/O. You can speed up or slow down playback without changing pitch.
Dedicated buttons and an easy-to-navigate menu system let you defne
loop points, split fles, and automatically engage an unusually fexible
limiter. It can even begin recording 5 seconds before you press Record. In
a year when several pocket-size recorders hit the street, the Sony PCM-
D50 is at the top of the heap.
Guitar Amp/Effects-Modeling Software
Native Instruments Guitar Rig 3
(Mac/Win; Kontrol edition $499, software only $299)
Native Instruments Guitar Rig is a perennial leader in this very competi-
tive and ever-growing sofware category. Guitar Rig 3, which is both a
standalone program and a multiformat plug-in, ofers a wide range of
new features. Our reviewer, Babz, described the new version as “an all-
around guitarist’s toolbox.”
Version 3 adds four new amp models (emulating Orange, Bogner,
Hiwatt, and Fender Tweed amplifers) to its previous total of eight, giv-
ing you a wider range of tones. Six new efects include a ring modulator
and a tape echo that models the Roland Space Echo. Te user interface
has been redesigned, ofering improvements such as large views for live
work, reorganized preset menus, and automatic cabinet matching. Te
901ELM36.indd 40 12/4/08 10:45:55 AM
StudioDock

©2008 Samson. iPod not included with StudioDock. StudioDock requires iPod with dock connector. StudioDock is a registered trademark of Samson Technologies. iPod is a trademark of Apple Inc.
samsontech.com/studiodock
Samson’s New USB Monitors.
With StudioDock’s USB capability, you’ll hear incredibly clear digital
audio from your computer. And the onboard iPod dock let’s you sync,
charge and play your music.
StudioDock. The ultimate in convenience and performance.
StudioDock makes the perfect holiday gift for every musician on your list.
811elm71.indd 1 9/22/2008 3:50:49 PM
42 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
Rig Kontrol pedal—the hardware controller/audio interface that comes
with the Kontrol edition—has also been revamped. It sports a new look,
additional switches, and new audio converters. So whether you’re into
simple, straight-ahead rigs or complicated multiamp-and-efects setups
with complex custom routing, Guitar Rig 3—even more so than previous
versions—provides an all-in-one sofware solution.
Microphone
Cascade Microphones
Gomez Michael Joly Edition ($499)
Once again the mic category proved
to be quite a horse race, with a variety
of mics competing at a wide range of
prices. Tis year’s winner is a mod-
estly priced ribbon transducer that
ofers greater versatility than others
in its price class. Te Cascade Gomez
Michael Joly Edition received kudos
from re viewer Rudy Trubitt for its
well-rounded sound, relatively open
top end, and clarity in the lower
midrange. With a frequency response that is relatively fat up to about
5 kHz, recordings made with the Gomez respond well to high EQ boosts
without getting harsh.
With its asymmetrical grille basket, this distinctive-looking mic fea-
tures a symmetrical bidirectional pattern and includes a Lundahl LL2912
output transformer. It also comes with a shockmount and a foam-lined
metal case. However, it’s how good the mic sounded that got our atten-
tion. As ribbon mics continue to grow in popularity for recording elec-
tric and acoustic guitar, brass, woodwinds, and percussion, it’s ftting
that this year’s winner is an afordable ribbon with a sound that belies
its price.
MIDI/Instrument Controller
Yamaha Tenori-on ($1,199)
Whe n Te nor i - ons
began to trickle into the
United States, we were
lucky enough to get
our hands on one for a
little while. Tat was all
it took to convince us
that Yamaha was onto
something big—much
bigger than the Tenori-
on’s 8-inch-square magnesium frame flled with 256 pulsating white
LED buttons. Weighing about 1.5 pounds, the Tenori-on is multi-
faceted and one of a kind: a performance instrument with a recog-
nizable sound, combining sample playback with step sequencing; an
eye-catching source of kinetic light; and a unique MIDI controller for
hardware or sofware instruments.
Developed by Japanese media artist Toshio Iwai in collaboration
with Yamaha, the multitimbral Tenori-on lets you compose in as many
as 16 Layers, each containing 16 steps. You can instantly switch among
16 sequences and record your live performances as songs. In addition
to the familiar Score Mode, in which you manually specify pitches for
every step, you get several modes you’ve never seen before. You can
drag your fnger across the buttons to create shimmering, repeating note
patterns in Draw Mode, or select a note in Bounce Mode to make it
drop to the bottom of the grid and then bounce up and down until you
stop it. Whether you rely on the built-in speakers and battery power or
integrate the device into your stage or studio rig, the Tenori-on can fre
up your imagination and enable you to create music you’d never make
without it.
Monitor Speaker
Mackie MR5 ($149.95 each)
Tere are plenty of powered close-feld moni-
tors, but few ofer studio-level sound quality at
an entry-level price. Fortunately, Mackie cre-
ated the MR5 for musicians who are upgrad-
ing from home-stereo or multimedia speakers.
With a 5.25-inch woofer and 1-inch tweeter
(powered at 55W and 30W, respectively), the
MR5 provides the kind of unhyped balance you
need when mixing. Our reviewer, Mark Nelson,
enjoyed the monitor’s smooth, clear sound, as
well as its ample bass. Yet a pair of the monitors ft in a desktop studio.
Te MR5 also presents a nice mix of pro features, like balanced inputs
(XLR, ¼-inch), along with the entry-level unbalanced inputs (RCA,
¼-inch), not to mention switches for bass boost and high-frequency cut/
boost. Mackie added the pro-level features because it sees the MR5 as a
companion to its larger MR8 monitor in a surround setup. Either way, a pair
of MR5s should help you hear what you’ve been missing in your mixes.
Most Innovative Product
Moog Music Moog Guitar Paul Vo
Collector Edition ($5,895)
It’s rare that an instrument gets reinvented, but that’s what Moog Music has
done with its Moog Guitar. Although it’s from Moog, it’s not a synth or a
MIDI guitar. Rather, it’s a super-high-quality electric guitar with extended
expressive and sound-altering capabilities. Its most dramatic feature is its
901ELM36.indd 42 12/4/08 10:46:36 AM
Order now at 1.800.648.7450 or visit courseptr.com.
Course Technology PTR products are also available at Borders, Barnes and Noble, Guitar Center, and Amazon.com.
From interactive CD-ROMs on the latest music software offerings to comprehensive books on music production, recording, engineering, and
the music industry, Course Technology PTR has a solution for every musician.
Serious Resources
for Serious Musicians
Going Pro with Logic Pro 8
Jay Asher ■ $29.99
An expert level book that addresses the needs of the
professional Logic user. Topics covered include building
custom mixers, designing templates, organizing your
sound palette, mixing tips, mastering tips, and much
more.
The Music Tech Dictionary
Mitch Gallagher ■ $24.99
This is a perfect resource to keep handy near your
music gear so you can consult it when you’re hit with
an unfamiliar term. Provides nearly 2500 succinct yet
complete definitions.
Rocking Your Music Business
Simon Cann ■ $34.99
Teaches musicians how to make money from music sales,
live performances, licensing for film and television, and
merchandising. Also explains how to protect songwriting
rights and how to have professional relationships with
fellow musicians, booking agents, managers, and studio
owners.
Music Theory for Computer Musicians
Michael Hewitt ■ $34.99
Teaches DJs, gigging musicians, and electronic music
producers the music theory concepts they need to
become better musicians.
M-Audio Guide
for the Recording Guitarist
Chris Buono ■ $34.99
This book helps guitarists work with M-Audio hardware
and software so they can join the computer-recording
revolution.
Righting Wrongs in Writing Songs
Danny Cope ■ $29.99
This book gives both aspiring and seasoned songwriters
a powerful new approach to writing songs, focusing on
common obstacles in the songwriting process and pro-
viding techniques to help you overcome them.
New Comprehensive Software Guides from our Power! Series
901elm43.indd 1 11/21/2008 11:14:16 AM
44 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
infnite sustain capability, which expands the guitar into new performance
territory. Te Controlled Sustain setting allows up to two notes to sustain,
while the Full setting sustains all notes. Te Mute mode reduces sustain
for staccato articulations. Once you understand the guitar’s controls, you’ll
fnd yourself playing in ways you’ve never played before. Te guitar also
ofers built-in flter efects (controlled, along with other parameters, with
the included Control Pedal) and Graph Tech piezo bridge saddles to sup-
plement Moog’s proprietary pair of single-coil electric pickups. When you
want a conventional electric guitar, just turn of the added goodies.
Te instrument is frst-class all the way, with a gorgeous fame- or
quilted-maple top (you can choose from a range of colors), a swamp ash
or mahogany body, an ebony fngerboard, a Wilkinson tremolo system,
locking Sperzel tuners, a tweed hard-shell case, and more. Yes, it’s pricey,
but it’s a revolutionary new instrument and clearly a deserving winner.
Sample Player (Software)
Heavyocity Evolve (Mac/Win, $399)
Sonic Reality Ocean Way Drums Gold
(Mac/Win, $895)
Tese two groundbreaking products were so good that we decided to
declare a tie and award an Editors’ Choice to both. Tough diferent in
many ways, they have some interesting similarities: both are built on Native
Instruments’ Kontakt Player 2 platform, and both were the brainchild of a
pair of working pros who sensed a need in their respective markets.
Ocean Way Drums (OWD) was developed by producer-engineers
Steven Miller and Allen Sides, who frequently use high-quality drum
samples in their record-production work. The product, which was
brought to market in collaboration with sound developer Sonic Reality, is
an incredibly realistic-sounding 40 GB collection of multisampled drum
kits recorded by Miller and Sides at the renowned Ocean Way Studios
in Hollywood. (A Platinum version is also available, ofering 120 GB
of samples and its own hard drive, for $1,795.) OWD provides superb
sounds and unparalleled sonic control over the samples, allowing you
to choose from or mix the signal of a number of mics (including close,
overhead, and room) on each element. For those not into tweaking, a
selection of Sides’s mix presets can be accessed for each of the 19 kits.
Heavyocity Evolve was the creation of New York–based TV and
video-game producers Dave Fraser and Neil Goldberg. It’s designed for
composers and sound designers and is intended to streamline work fow
by ofering the kinds of textures that are most in demand for game and
TV production. You get a range of sounds, including drums and percus-
sion, rhythmic and tonal loops, strings, stings, basses, and sound efects.
You can call up individual sounds or work from one of 25 8-channel
Multi setups that cover a variety of specifc project types.
Signal-Processing Software (Bundle)
McDSP Emerald Pack 3.0 (Mac/Win; $2,599
TDM, $1,399 native)
McDSP has a well-earned reputation for producing quality signal-
processing plug-ins for the Digidesign Pro Tools platform. A 10-year
veteran of the DSP market, the company has built a legion of loyal users,
including many high-profle engineers and producers. Starting with its
classic FilterBank and CompressorBank products, and subsequently
adding a multiband compressor, a limiter, a convolution reverb, an
analog-tape emulator, a channel strip, and even a sofware synth, McDSP
has developed a 12-deep roster of plug-ins, all of which are more than
competitive in their respective categories.
Emerald Pack 3.0 gives you McDSP’s entire collection of plug-
ins (including its newest products, like the lo-fi-effects processor
FutzBox) and is available in either TDM or native configurations.
If you’re looking for a complete signal-processing solution, Emerald
Pack 3.0 is a stellar choice. For that, we bestow upon it an Editors’
Choice Award.
Signal-Processing Software (Individual)
iZotope RX (Mac/Win, $279)
Audio-restora-
tion software
is not generally
thought of as
sexy in the way
that sequencing
software or a
synth plug-in is.
It’s considered
more of a utili-
tarian tool that’s
necessary for
ridding recordings of hiss, hum, clicks, crackle, and broadband noise.
But with the introduction of RX, which is both a standalone application
and a suite of plug-ins for all major formats, iZotope has put the gee-whiz
factor into audio restoration.
RX is slickly designed, intuitive, and extremely effective. Its
Denoiser, Declicker, and Hum Removal modules are all above average.
Its Declipper tool can fx clipped waveforms, and its Spectral Repair
module is like nothing else in its price range. If you’ve got a fnger squeak
on a guitar track, a stray noise that’s intruding on a spoken or sung word,
or almost any sonic anomaly, Spectral Repair—which, like the Declipper,
uses interpolation technology—seems to always fnd a way to get rid of
the ofending noise or reduce it to an acceptable level. In addition, RX
ofers both waveform and spectral editing. Tis product is much more
than just a tool for fxing recordings transferred from vinyl. From music
production to video to Podcasting—any area where audio recording is
involved—it’s a must-have piece of sofware and was a hands-down win-
ner in this category.
Software Drums
FXpansion BFD2 2.0.5 (Mac/Win, $399)
FXpansion, winner of the 2005 Editors’ Choice Award for BFD, is back on
top this year with the long-anticipated and completely redesigned BFD2.
901ELM36.indd 44 12/4/08 10:46:52 AM
35 Arkay Drive, Suite 400
Hauppauge, NY 11788-3707
1•8 0 0•VI VA L D I
w w w. c l a r i o n i n s . c o m
809elm57.indd 1 7/24/2008 10:27:22 AM
46 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
Te new version starts with a fresh graphical user interface, adds a full-
featured mixer, and tops it of with a comprehensive drum-sequencing,
editing, and composition environment. You get 50 GB of sample content
consisting of ten drum kits that represent a range of vintage and modern
styles and manufacturers, along with a broad selection of extra snares
and cymbals. And FXpansion has managed to keep all this backward
compatible with older BFD content.
BFD2’s Kit page ofers 10-, 18-, and 32-piece drum kits. You can
fll the kit from scratch or customize one of the preset kits. You can
have as many as 96 Velocity layers per articulation, and each articula-
tion includes up to 3 stereo and 6 mono mic setups. Each mixer chan-
nel strip holds four insert efects and has four efects sends. Aux busing,
sidechaining, and submixing are all supported. Te Groove window is a
sophisticated drum sequencer in which you can create, import, and edit
MIDI grooves, and more than 5,000 patterns are provided. When you’ve
created a drum sequence, you can render a multichannel mix of discrete
WAV fles directly from BFD2. All of this is available standalone or as a
plug-in in your favorite host.
Sound Library
SoniVox Anatomy (Mac/Win, $219 [MSRP])
Just when you thought everything under the sun had been sampled—
orchestral instruments, vintage keyboards, ethnic ensembles, and burn-
ing pianos—SoniVox did something different and sampled human
sounds. If you’re wondering what’s unusual about that, then you’ve obvi-
ously never heard Anatomy, a unique sample library for Kontakt 2 and
3. Have you ever considered the groove potential of burps, farts, coughs,
and ululation? SoniVox sampled every one of those sounds, truncated
them, looped them, and mapped them to MIDI. Anatomy covers the
gamut from icky to ethereal, from comic to downright danceable.
Anatomy’s instruments are divided into two categories: Man and
Machine. Sounds categorized as Man are unprocessed, without any
obvious efects. Machine sounds, though human in origin, are heavily
processed and barely recognizable as humanoid. Alongside all the vocal
percussion and sampled vowels, you’ll fnd snoring, screaming, moan-
ing, and all manner of breathy mischief. If it’s a sound the human body
makes, you’ll fnd it in Anatomy. For examples, visit SoniVox’s Web site.
For sound design, soundtrack enhancement, or simply something com-
pletely diferent, we give it eight thumbs up.
Synthesizer (Hardware)
Dave Smith Instruments
Prophet ’08 ($1,999)
Dave Smith has been around the block a few times, and he keeps on con-
tributing. He conceived and helped give birth to MIDI, invented wave-
table synthesis, and developed the frst commercial sof synth. Beginning
in 1978, his company Sequential Circuits produced one of the most
desirable synths of all time, the Prophet-5. For years musicians were
clamoring for a new Prophet, and in 2008 Smith delivered. Te Prophet
’08 has all the features you’d hope for in a polyphonic synthesizer—eight
voices with two independent layers, a versatile lowpass flter, three enve-
lopes, four LFOs, complex modulation routing, an arpeggiator, and even
a 4-channel sequencer—at a price that can scarcely be believed. And
if you don’t need the 61-note keyboard, a tabletop/rackmount module
($1,499) is also available.
You want to talk about fat? Te Prophet ’08 is a true analog poly
synth, with a voltage-controlled flter (VCF), a voltage-controlled ampli-
fer (VCA), and digitally controlled analog oscillators (DCOs). Even with
an entirely analog signal path, the Prophet ’08 takes full advantage of
digital technology. It stores 256 top-notch factory programs, and you
can rewrite any of them. Here’s an example of its many useful touches:
you can apply its sequencer to control any parameter that’s available for
modulation. Powerful and fun, the Prophet ’08 gives us everything we
wanted a modern-day Prophet to be.
Synthesizer (Software)
Spectrasonics Omnisphere (Mac/Win,
$499 [MSRP])
How woul d you
describe your dream
synth? Lots of every-
thing and then some?
Te core of any syn-
thesizer is its pool of
raw sounds, whether
simple waveforms
or complex multi-
samples, and bigger
is usually better. If
you’re like us, you also want the sound-shaping potential of multimode
flters and multistage envelope generators. Sophisticated onboard efects
and a nice arpeggiator wouldn’t hurt, either. Trow in a large assortment
of well-designed patches and then organize them for quick recall, and you
have Omnisphere, the fagship sof-synth plug-in from Spectrasonics.
A mountain of advance publicity preceded Omnisphere’s September
release, and for once, the sofware completely lives up to the hype. Beyond
its remarkable assortment of dynamite patches and 42 GB of sample con-
tent, Omnisphere’s depth and ease of programming are unprecedented.
Each part in a multitimbral setup has two layers, and each layer ofers
real-time control paths and an impressive variety of synthesis tech-
niques, from sample playback and FM to granular and variable wave-
shaping. Omnisphere wraps all this power in a transparent user interface
that feels natural. Giving it an award was easy; leaving it long enough to
write about it was hard.
901ELM36.indd 46 12/4/08 10:47:16 AM
The best sounding, most powerful, most afordable
audio production solution just got better!
The Symphony System
Introducing the NEW Symphony 64 PCIe Card
Call a Sweetwater Sales Engineer today! 800.222.4700
www.sweetwater.com/symphony64
© 2008, 2009, Apogee Electronics Corp. All rights reserved. Apogee Electronics • Santa Monica, CA • Made in USA
Apple, Mac, and Logic Pro are registered trademarks of Apple Computer.
The Symphony System has revolutionized the digital audio workstation by ofering
amazing sound quality, unprecedented performance and incredible fexibility at an
unbeatable price. The Sales Engineers at Sweetwater are Symphony experts and can
help you compose the perfect system for your studio.







64 channels of I/O at 192kHz
Mac to Mac audio routing with SBus
Application to application audio routing with VBus
Near zero latency performance at 96kHz
Groundbreaking plug-in power with Apple’s Mac Pro
Optimized for Apple’s Logic Pro
Works with any Core Audio compatible application
812elm57.indd 1 10/28/2008 5:09:45 PM
48 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
C
r
a
s
h

a
n
d

B
u
r
n
By Steve Oppenheimer
Why hard drives fail and what to do about it.
FIG. 1: Basic parts of a typical hard drive include the case, platter, actuator arm, read/write
head, and spindle.
disk case
head
actuator aru
actuator axis
actuator
spindle
lüE connector
juuper block
power
connect
disk platter
W
hat is the most mission critical
and most fragile item in your
studio? Not your prized high-
end microphone—you could survive
with out that—and not the lead sing-
er’s ego. No, it’s your hard drive, and
losing it unexpectedly can be lethal to
any project. A drive failure can bring
your studio operations to a full stop—
unless you’re prepared.
So get ready for the inevitable. You’ll
need to know a bit about how hard
drives work, what makes them fail, how
to reduce their failure rate, and what
to do when they finally quit.
Under the Hood
Hard drives are sophisticated, precision machines, and their
designs have improved greatly over the years (see Fig. 1). I’ll
C
H
U
C
K

D
A
H
M
E
R
901ELM48.indd 48 12/3/08 1:32:02 PM
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50 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
touch on a few aspects of contemporary drive
architecture that will help you understand why
they sometimes fail and how to avert or deal
with the problem. (For more information, read
the Wikipedia article at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Hard_drive.)
A hard drive records data on from one to
fve fat disks called platters. Te platters, held
in place by a spindle, rotate at high speed and
are driven by a motor. Most platters are made of
glass or an aluminum alloy and are coated with
two parallel layers of a magnetic cobalt-based
alloy that are separated by a 3-atom-thick layer
of nonmagnetic ruthenium. Te two main lay-
ers are magnetized in opposite orientation,
reinforcing each other.
Te drive’s microscopic read/write heads—
foating nanometers above (but not touching)
the rotating platter’s surface—detect and alter
the magnetic pattern that stores the data. One
head, containing both the read and write ele-
ments, serves each platter surface. Te read/
write head is mounted on a light, rigid actuator
arm that moves the head to the correct posi-
tion above the platter. Te arm is moved by a
voice-coil actuator that, like a loudspeaker, uti-
lizes a coil and a magnetic feld. Te air close
to the platter moves at or close to the platter
speed and acts like a bearing, preventing the
head from touching the platter. Each platter’s
magnetic surface is logically divided into many
small regions, each of which stores a binary
unit of information.
A drive also contains a circuit board and
frmware to operate all these parts and to encode
and manage the data. Modern drives have an
onboard RAM cache that bufers between the
speedy computer and the slower hard disk. A
sealed case with a fltered vent hole (to equalize
air pressure) encloses the entire mechanism.
Tere’s much more to the internal workings of
a drive, but these parts most directly afect our
discussion.
Physical Failure
Hard drives can fail due to either physical
problems or logic problems. Although you
can’t prevent most failures, if you discover a
problem in time, you might be able to power
down and have a chance to salvage your data
(see the online bonus material “When
Disaster Strikes” at emusician.com).
Here are a few of the physical reasons
why drives fail:
Head crash. Head crashes are a common
cause of drive failure. Tey usually occur when
the actuator arm swings too close to the sur-
face of the platter and touches it, potentially
damaging the platter and the read/write heads.
In some cases, the arm just falls out of posi-
tion and the heads and platter remain intact;
in other cases, the platters collide or stick
together. Either way, you almost certainly can’t
fx this yourself.
Heat damage. Heat is another leading
cause of drive failure. Heat can burn out a cir-
cuit board and cause a platter to expand and
damage the magnetic surface, thus altering the
distance from the read/write heads to the plat-
ters. And that’s just for starters!
Motor failure. If the drive motor fails,
your drive either will spin at a degraded and
unpredictable speed or won’t spin at all. You
can’t prevent this, but you might hear the motor
speed waver in time to be able to power down
and try to minimize damage.
Other damaged components. A broken
read/write arm, scratched platters, and
bad drive bearings are deadly. All sorts
of things can cause them to occur:
impact damage, a head crash, heat,
dust inside the case, a defective part, and so on.
Baby your drives—don’t bounce them around,

FIG. 2: T is screen shot from Coriolis Systems iDefrag 1.6.4 for Macintosh shows parts of files scattered about.
T is is called fragmentation.
True disk optimization
is different from
defragmentation.
901ELM48.indd 50 12/3/08 1:32:48 PM
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812elm59.indd 1 10/28/2008 6:38:35 PM
52 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
pad them well if you transport them, and don’t
drop them.
Water or fre damage. Tese are obvious
drive killers. Enough said.
Logic Failure
Hard drives can also fail because of logic prob-
lems, including the following:
Bad drive sectors. Bad sectors are less of
a problem with modern drives than with older
ones, but when they appear, you should be
concerned. If the number of bad sectors has
increased even slightly since the previous time
you checked, it’s time to replace the drive.
Disk fragmentation. When you save or
modify a fle, the operating system looks for
sufcient free disk space to store the data. Te
same thing happens when the OS and applica-
tions overwrite old fles and write new ones
(this includes temporary fles and updaters). If
the OS can’t fnd enough contiguous space, it
has to break the fle into pieces—fragments—
that can ft in the available free blocks of space.
Over time, pieces of fles and applications are
increasingly scattered across the disk; this is
called fragmentation (see Fig. 2).
When you delete a fle, it isn’t erased; it is
deleted from the directory, allowing the com-
puter to gradually overwrite those blocks. Tis
can create fragments. And because large audio
and video fles require big blocks of free space,
they become fragmented far more quickly than
smaller fles.
The directory, stored on the disk, keeps
track of the fragments. When the computer
opens a file, the directory tells the drive to
fnd and reassemble the parts into a coherent
fle. Tis happens on the fy, constantly, at very
high speed. Te more fragmented a hard disk
becomes, the harder the drive has to work to
fnd the scattered pieces. Tis creates heat and
stresses fragile, precision parts. Eventually it can
cause the drive to fail. Terefore, defragmenting
is an important aspect of drive maintenance.
True disk optimization is different
from defragmentation. Optimization orga-
nizes related files and files that are com-
monly accessed together into logical groups
for faster access. For instance, applications
will launch faster if the fles they require are
located together, so the drive doesn’t have
to work hard to fnd them. Here I’m talking
about organizing the fles on the platters, not
within folders or directories on your desktop.
All of this takes place behind the scenes. (For
information on defragmenting and optimiz-
ing sofware, see the online bonus material
“Shattered!”)
Computer viruses. Viruses can wreak
havoc on a drive.
Corrupt firmware or bad RAM. Even
frmware can get screwed up over time. Te
RAM cache is usually SDRAM, and like any
memory, it can be damaged. You can’t do much
to prevent this problem from happening.
Warning Signs
If you see any of the following signs of imminent
drive failure, stop using the drive immediately:
Your computer takes a long time to boot
or hangs completely. Slow boots can be caused
by factors other than drive problems, such as
a corrupt operating system or having your OS
launch a lot of programs at startup. A some-
what sluggish boot disk might just need to be
defragmented. But a very long boot time or a
failure to boot generally indicates that a drive is
encountering read/write failures. Minimizing
the number of programs that automatically
launch at startup will enable you to more easily
notice slow boot times.
A disk utility reveals bad disk sectors.
Disk utility sofware might be able to fx the
bad sectors, but as noted earlier, if the prob-
lem reappears and increases, your drive is
dying.
Te drive is hot to the touch. All drives
get warm, but if a drive is noticeably hot, it is
working way too hard and is about to die.
Te “click of death.” Any odd sound made
by your drive—such as clicking, knocking,
whistling, or grinding—is a bad sign. A click-
ing sound (the so-called click of death) ofen
indicates a read/write error during a seek. Te
sound is usually due to a mechanical failure
that causes the head actuator to click as the
drive attempts to recalibrate. If the drive hasn’t
crashed, it’s about to.
Cyclic redundancy errors. Computers
have an error-checking procedure to validate
that a fle has been copied correctly. A cyclic
redundancy error indicates that the computer
cannot make an accurate copy. This could
indicate a bad disk sector or something worse:
damaged read/write heads, a bad RAM cache,
or dust that is damaging the platter.
Preventive Medicine
Because there is usually no cure for a crashed
drive, keeping your data safe is all about preven-
tion to the greatest extent possible and prepara-
tion for the inevitable. Here are some tips:
Save ofen and do backups faithfully. You
never know when your drive will fail, so take
no chances. Save open fles whenever you have
a moment. Back up at least daily or be prepared
to lose your work. (For more about backup, see
the online bonus material “Get Back” and the
feature “Better Safe Tan Sorry” in the May
2006 issue, available at emusician.com.)
Leave free space. As your drive flls up, the
OS will have a harder time fnding large contig-
uous blocks, so fragmentation is increased. In
addition, defragmentation sofware needs free
space to move fle fragments, and optimization
requires more free space.
Complete defragmentation with the
Windows XP Disk Defragmenter requires
that at least 15 percent of the drive be avail-
able, and that’s a good, if generous, guideline.
Some utility programs can defragment drives
with less free space, but it’s wiser not to push
your drive to the limit. You can check avail-
able space in Windows by right-clicking on
If you see any of these
signs, stop using the
drive immediately.
901ELM48.indd 52 12/3/08 1:33:03 PM
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810elm61.indd 1 8/25/2008 11:34:28 AM
54 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
a drive and choosing Properties. For Mac OS
X, use the Activity Monitor application (in the
Applications folder) and choose Disk Usage.
Keep cool. You know those pictures of
happy people using laptop computers in full
sun on a hot beach? Tey won’t be so happy
when their internal drives fry. Keep drives away
from heat sources and make sure that they’re
well ventilated. If needed, you can buy addi-
tional cooling fans (see Fig. 3). You can also
monitor the temperature of your hard drive
with SMART-savvy sofware (more on this in
a moment).
Feed clean power. Power surges, spikes,
and sags endanger your drive’s health, so use a
quality power conditioner that includes flter-
ing and surge/spike protection. I recommend
getting an uninterruptible power supply (UPS)
like those in the APC (apcc.com) Back-UPS LS
or RS series (see Fig. 4). A UPS gives you tem-
porary power in the event of a power failure,
and the Back-UPS LS and RS models feature
automatic voltage regulation (AVR), which
delivers 120 VAC regardless of the incom-
ing voltage. (For more, see the article “Power
Hitters” at home.comcast.net/~soppenheimer/
sound/articles/features/power_hitters.html.)
Give it a rest. Some pros recommend
keeping a hard drive running all the time
because powering up and down is more stress-
ful than continuous operation. Others say that
if you’re not using the drive, you should turn it
of to avoid wear and tear. I generally prefer to
leave my computer running when I’m home,
but I power down when I’m leaving for several
hours.
If you are going out for a few hours and
want to leave your computer running, you can
give your drives a chance to cool by letting
them sleep. Windows users can enable Hard
Disk Power Of under Power Management, or
they can just hibernate the computer, which
will power down the boot disk. Mac users can
select System Preferences Energy Saver, click
on Show Details, and then check Put Te Hard
Disk(s) To Sleep When Possible. If, having
returned from a short break, you try to access
your drive and get a spinning beach ball, make
sure that you unchecked the sleep option.
Let it be. Moving or tilting a hard drive
while powering up is dangerous to its health.
Perform regular maintenance. Make
preventive maintenance a part of your weekly
routine. Use disk utility sofware to detect and
fx a variety of disk problems, such as corrupt

FIG. 4: Te APC Back-UPS LS 700 is a quality
uninterruptible power supply with surge, spike, and
sag protection; automatic voltage regulation; and an
assortment of bells and whistles.

FIG. 3: A cooling fan such as
this twin-fan model can help prevent
thermal damage to your hard drive.
When you delete a
fle, it isn’t erased.
901ELM48.indd 54 12/3/08 1:33:50 PM
Saffi re PRO 40
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901elm55.indd 1 12/4/2008 11:20:56 AM
fle directories and bad sectors. Don’t wait until
your computer slows down and you suspect a
problem.
Mac OS X comes with Disk Utility (found
in the Applications folder), which enables you
to verify and repair the disk and the disk per-
missions (see Fig. 5). Windows XP includes
Chkdsk; to use it, choose Start Run and then
type chkdsk.exe. You can also use third-party
Mac and Windows disk utilities, which ofen
have more features (see the online bonus mate-
rial “Your Utility Belt”).
Get SMART. SMART (Self-Monitoring
Analysis and Reporting Technology) is built
into many modern hard drives. It moni-
tors more than 35 attributes of drive perfor-
mance, including temperature, calibration,
bad sectors, spin-up time, and the distance
between the heads and the platter(s). You
need SMART-savvy disk utility sofware (see

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FIG. 6: Utilities such as Ariolic Software ActiveSMART 2.51 can use SMART technology to report on the condition
of a hard drive. Here is a graph representing a drive’s temperature history.
FIG. 5: Apple’s Disk Utility comes free with Mac OS X and offers a number of important features, including
verification and repair of the disk and the disk permissions.
901ELM48.indd 56 12/3/08 1:34:12 PM
57 01.09 | EMUSICIAN.COM |
Fig. 6) to access this information.
Defragment. I discussed defragmentation
and optimization earlier, in the “Logic Failure”
section.
Mac OS X: ensure that the OS does its
maintenance routines. OS X automatically
performs certain background maintenance
tasks that can afect your boot drive. By default,
these tasks are scheduled to run between 3:15
and 5:30 a.m., and if your computer is shut
down or asleep, the maintenance can’t be done.
In that case, reschedule these tasks or run them
manually using a third-party program such as
Atomic Bird Macaroni 2.1.1 ($9.99; atomicbird
.com/macaroni) or Brian R. Hill’s MacJanitor
1.3 (free; personalpages.tds.net/~brian_hill/
macjanitor.html). You can also run the mainte-
nance tasks using the Terminal application.
Don’t record audio projects to your
boot disk. Because audio fles are large and
we edit them extensively, the drive where you
store them can become fragmented relatively
quickly. In addition, audio drives in studios
work long and hard. If you record to a drive
other than your boot drive, it will be easier to
mind your audio drive’s health, and your boot
drive will last longer.
Go on a RAID. If you have a professional
project studio and can aford the investment,
consider using a RAID 1 disk array for critical
audio fle storage. (For more on RAID, see the
online bonus material “Mirror, Mirror.”)
Tighten it up. If you have an internal drive
that’s acting a bit strange—say, it’s constantly
spinning—check to make sure that the drive is
fully seated, all contacts are clean, and all con-
nections are tight.
The Rest of the Story
Tere is much more to learn about hard-drive
failure and data safety, so be sure to read the
fve useful sidebars in the online bonus mate-
rial. Tis should give you enough information
to begin a drive-maintenance program and to
prepare for the evil day that you know is com-
ing. I suggest you start now. Remember, back
up first—because nothing in life is certain
except death and hard-drive failure.
Former EM editor in chief Steve Oppenheimer
bought another backup drive while writing this
story.
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58 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
MAKINGTRACKS
Surround in Pro Tools LE and M-Powered
5.1 and beyond with Neyrinck Mix 51. | By Brian Smithers
or those mixing in surround, the big-
gest shortcoming of Digidesign Pro
Tools LE and M-Powered is the lack of
surround support. Luckily, Neyrinck Mix 51
(neyrinck.com), an RTAS plug-in reviewed in
the June 2008 issue (available at emusician
.com), brings surround panning and mixing
to both. (Digidesign’s recently announced
Complete Production Toolkit adds surround
support to Pro Tools LE.) If you’re familiar with
Pro Tools|HD’s surround panner, you’ll feel
right at home with the plug-in. If you aren’t,
I’ll have you up and running in no time.
Setting up Mix 51 is a bit convoluted, but
everything works as expected (see “Step-by-
Step Instructions”). T e setup gives you one
5.1 main output and two quad effects returns.
T at lets you have separate returns for delay
and reverb. To create multiple surround sub-
groups or to mix to separate music, dialog, and
effects stems, use the plug-in’s three 5.1 main
outputs and three quad send outputs.
Spin Me Right Round
Insert an instance of Mix 51 Surround Panner
on each audio, aux, and instrument track
you want to pan in surround (see Fig. 1). For
most applications, you’ll simply grab the little
orange widget and drag it within the x-y grid.
Drag it all the way to any corner to hard-pan to
a specific channel, and Alt-click (Option-click
on a Mac) to hard-pan to the center channel.
T e Surround Panner plug-in directs the
signal to the surround outputs; no signal
passes through the assigned track outputs,
and their controls are irrelevant. However, if
you click on the Bypass button, the signal does
pass through the track outputs, allowing you
to create an independent stereo mix. Actually,
the name Bypass is inapt because the surround
panner also continues to operate normally.
Divergence is an often-misunderstood
parameter with varying definitions. In Pro
Tools, it controls the amount to which a signal
bleeds into adjacent channels. With all three
Diverge knobs set to 100, when you pan a sig-
nal to the center channel, none of the signal
comes out of any other speakers. (T e surround
panner’s meters will confirm this.) T at makes
the sound a point source at the center speaker,
giving it maximum isolation at that position.
F
Step 3: Create seven stereo aux inputs,
and assign their inputs from the sur-
round mixer. Name the aux tracks.
STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS
Step 1: Prepare your session by creating
three main stereo paths with SMPTE path
order: L/R, C/LFE, and Ls/Rs.
Step 2: Insert the Mix 51 Surround Mixer
plug-in on any track.
901ELM58.indd 58 11/25/08 12:44:50 PM
59 01.09 | EMUSICIAN.COM |
Lowering the front divergence lets the
signal bleed into the left and right channels,
spreading the sound wider across the front.
At zero, the signal comes equally from all
three front speakers. Lower the front-to-rear
(F/R) and rear divergences, and the signal
comes equally from all five main speakers. At
this point, the signal will be centered in the
room and will not drift relative to the listen-
ing position.
Notice how the outline of the surround
panner (blue square) narrows as you lower
each divergence control—divergence effec-
tively makes the room smaller. Imagine that
you are panning a sound from left to right to
follow onscreen movement. If your left and
right speakers are placed exactly at the left
and right edges of the screen, the motion
will track perfectly. If, however, your speakers
are placed beyond the edges, the sound will
travel farther left and right than the onscreen
action. By lowering front divergence, you can
narrow the reach of the front speakers to fit
the screen. As another example, try panning
a sound in a circle as you progressively lower
divergence, and you will hear the circle grow-
ing smaller.
Journey to the Center
Center percentage (set with the Center %
slider) is a bit simpler. It controls the amount
of signal coming from the center channel,
regardless of pan and divergence. T ink of
onscreen dialog with street noise
behind the actors. T e center-
panned dialog is isolated in the cen-
ter channel by setting center per-
centage on those tracks to 100. T e street
noise (passing cars, jackhammers, and so
forth) is panned between the left and right
channels, with center percentage set to 0,
so that even when it passes through the
center of the soundstage, it remains acous-
tically separate from the dialog. Use the
same technique to obtain some separation
between your lead vocal and center-panned
instruments.
T e one thing still missing is true multi-
channel effects. Inserting two identical plug-
ins (with the same settings) on the front
and rear effects returns will get you close. To
get true multichannel compression, bus the
tracks you want to compress together and
use that bus as the key input on stereo com-
pressors on the three auxes that make up the
5.1 subgroup. You’ll
need to bypass the
surround panner for
audio to get to the
bus. (See Web Clip 1
for an exam-
ple session
that demon-
strates this
technique.)
All of Mix 51’s
parameters are com-
patible with corre-
sponding parame-
ters in Pro Tools|HD’s
surround mixer. (T e
online bonus material at emusician.com
describes how to migrate your LE/M-Powered
surround mix to Pro Tools|HD.) Getting the
most out of Mix 51 is a bit laborious, but it’s
worth it to finally be able to mix in surround
in LE.
Brian Smithers is department chair of
workstations at Full Sail University and
the author of Mixing in Pro Tools: Skill
Pack (Cengage Learning, 2006).
Step 6: Insert matching
delay plug-ins on the
two Delay auxes and
matching reverb plug-
ins on the two Reverb
auxes.
FIG. 1: T e Mix
51 Surround Panner
plug-in’s controls
emulate those in
the Pro Tools|HD
surround panner.
Step 4: Assign the outputs of the
aux tracks to the main output
paths you created, and assign
them to main L/R and main Ls/Rs.
Step 5: Insert
a Mix 51 Sur-
round Panner
plug-in on all
audio, aux, and
instrument
tracks you
want to pan in
surround.
901ELM58.indd 59 11/25/08 12:45:06 PM
60 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
SOUNDDESIGNWORKSHOP
Klangumwandler Redux
Multiband frequency shifting with VirSyn Prism. | By Len Sasso
requency shifting, which linearly shifts the
entire frequency spectrum of a sound, has long
been used for turning pitched sounds into
inharmonic, bell-like timbres. T ese sounds, often
produced by the Bode Frequency Shifter (designed by
Harold Bode and marketed by Moog Music), feature
prominently in early electronic music.
Pitch-shifting, which is more common and usu-
ally involves granular or FFT processing, preserves
timbre by exponentially shifting the spectrum—in
effect, stretching the spectrum as it is shifted so that
the ratios between the spectral elements are pre-
served. For instance, if you start with two sine waves
an octave apart (say, 220 and 440 Hz) and frequency
shift them by 110 Hz, their ratio (330 to 550 Hz)
is no longer 1:2 (an octave). On the other hand, if
you pitch-shift them by 50 percent, they remain an
octave apart (330 and 660 Hz).
Color Separation
VirSyn Prism (Mac/Win, virsyn.com) takes a novel,
multiband approach to frequency shifting, first
breaking the signal into 27 frequency bands and
then letting you frequency shift each band indepen-
dently. T e results don’t measure up to high-quality
pitch-shifting, but that’s not the point—you can
create effects with Prism that you can’t create with
anything else. I’ll give three examples, using Prism
to add color to electric piano, drum, and bass clips
without mangling their timbre beyond recognition.
T e frequency spectrum area at the top right of
Prism’s control panel has three tabs: Level, Shift, and
LFO. T e Level tab works like a graphic equalizer, and
that’s a good place to start with an electric piano sound.
To add some bite, raise the bands between 1 and 5 kHz
by around 9 dB and lower the bands below 350 kHz by
about 3 dB. T at may be a little extreme with a full-wet
mix, but it’s fine at about 50 percent, which works bet-
ter for the frequency shifting and LFO in this case.
On the Shift tab, set all bands to maximum.
T at produces a phased pitch-shifting effect when
you manipulate the F-Shift knob with a 50 percent
mix and the Range knob set to 1 Semi (a ±1-semitone
range). On the LFO tab, set the lowest band around
4 Hz and click on the Flat button, and all bands will
be set to the same frequency. LFO
knob settings of around 25 per-
cent with a slight F-Shift produce
a nice phasing-vibrato effect (see
Web Clip 1).
Although Prism doesn’t have a built-in MIDI
Learn capability, many hosts let you map MIDI con-
tinuous controllers to the parameters that the plug-in
presents to the host for automation. With Prism you
can access all the front-panel knobs, and for the elec-
tric piano settings just described, I map the MIDI Mod
Wheel to the LFO knob and the MIDI Pitch Bend con-
troller to F-Shift.
Drum and Bass
Prism is a great tool for retuning one drum in a mixed
drum track. For instance, when the kick drum doesn’t
sit well with the bass or another track, use Prism to
shift the bottom two or three bands. At the same
time, you can use the Level tab to EQ the drums.
For kick drum pitch-shifting, set the affected bands
to maximum shift and use a full-wet mix, then use
the F-Shift knob to dial in the desired kick drum
pitch (see Web Clip 2). For tom tracks, try using the
Envelope and Release knobs to add a level-tracking
pitch-bend.
With acoustic bass, I like to boost the bands
between 750 and 1,100 Hz and then shift them
down by varying amounts within a 7-semitone
range (see Fig. 1). T at affects the bass harmonics
without altering the fundamental pitch. I map the
MIDI Mod Wheel to the Dry/Wet knob and map the
Pitch Bend controller to the Envelope knob. Mixes
that are between 25 and 50 percent, together with
small, positive envelope settings, produce a subtle
scat-singing effect over the bass line (see Web Clips
3 and 4).
Although these examples have emphasized
coloration rather than mutilation, Prism can easily
mangle your sounds beyond recognition. It’s a great
tool for creating sound effects, adding texture and
motion to pads and ambient tracks, and processing
speech. For instance, try processing a speech clip with
the lower and upper bands shifted in opposite direc-
tions (see Web Clip 5).
Len Sasso is an associate editor of EM. For an
earful, visit his Web site at swifkick.com.
FIG. 1: T is acoustic bass
setup shifts bands 750 through
1,100 Hz down by varying amounts
within a 7-semitone range.
901ELM60.indd 60 11/25/08 12:48:05 PM
“My #1 Country Hit
Started With a Phone Call to TAXI”
Elliott Park – TAXI Member
Photo: Elliott (left) with publisher, Michael Martin
I used to think that living in
Clyde, Texas (Population 3,345)
really limited my chances of ever
having success in the music
business. But all my friends and
family members live here, so I’ve
never wanted to move to
Nashville.
Although I love to write songs,
I felt isolated when it came to
getting them heard by anybody in
the music business. Then a friend
told me that TAXI would bring
real opportunities for my music
right to my front door.
I Used a 4-Track
I signed up and sent in songs
that I demoed with my digital
piano in my little home studio.
The A&R people at TAXI liked
my songs and began sending
them off to some pretty high-level
people in Nashville.
All the sudden, doors started
opening. With the connections I
made through TAXI, I began to
have meetings with some of
Country Music’s top executives,
and signed a staff writer deal with
a great publisher in Nashville.
Tim McGraw, Rascal
Flatts and Faith Hill
Put My Songs on Hold
Over the next three years, my
songs were considered by a
Who’s Who of Country Music,
but the “big cut” eluded me. I
learned to be patient and worked
even harder on my songwriting.
Then, my publisher hooked
me up with veteran songwriter,
Walt Aldridge. Together, we
wrote a song called, ‘I Loved
Her First,’ and finally, I hit pay
dirt!
#1 Hit on Two Charts!
The group ‘Heartland’ cut our
song and released it as a single.
It started out slowly, then gained
momentum, and eventually made
it all the way to the Number One
spot on the Billboard and R&R
Country charts.
Could that have happened
without TAXI? Probably not.
Although there were many
people that helped me once I
signed my publishing deal, it was
TAXI that made that all important
first connection for me. And I
didn’t have to leave my
hometown to do it.
Can TAXI do the Same
Thing for You?
If your music is competitive,
the answer is yes! And if it’s not
quite ready yet, TAXI’s A&R
people will help you with that
too. You’ll also get two FREE
tickets to TAXI’s world-class
convention with your
membership. Just one ticket for
some other conventions cost
twice as much as your TAXI
membership!
Make the phone call I did, and
see what TAXI can do for you –
no matter where you live.
The World’s Leading Independent A&R Company
1-800-458-2111
901elm61.indd 1 12/4/2008 8:52:14 AM
62
SQUAREONE
Catch a Wave
How to interpret the display in an audio editor. | By Jim Aikin
hen you look at a graphic waveform dis-
play, you’re seeing a frozen snapshot of a
sound. T ose squiggly shapes aren’t just
eye candy: if you understand them, they will help you
spot problems and make mixing decisions.
When you look at a waveform display, it’s like see-
ing the sound waves themselves. A display like the one
shown in Fig. 1 is a two-dimensional graph that shows
increments of time along the horizontal axis, or x-axis,
and the sound’s amplitude on the vertical axis, or y-axis.
In general, the greater the waveform’s amplitude, the
more space it will occupy on the vertical axis. If you zoom
in, a few milliseconds of audio data will fill the display
and you might not see the full height (amplitude) of the
waveform. If you zoom out, you’ll see less detail but will
get an overview of the entire waveform over many min-
utes. By viewing a whole song, for instance, you might
be able to see a level dip in one section that you might
not have noticed while listening. On the other hand, you
might barely see the waveform of a hi-hat sound—even
though the sound is plainly audible—but by zooming in,
you can clearly view it.
When the waveform is zoomed out, the software
doesn’t display all of the detail in the data. Instead, it
finds and displays the largest peaks. For faster opera-
tion, the peak profile of a wave file may be saved auto-
matically in a much smaller file on your hard drive.
T e small file can be loaded quickly each time the file
needs to be displayed.
Waveform Displays Rule
Waveform displays usually have a vertical ruler at the
left edge and a horizontal ruler across the top. If you
look closely at the vertical ruler, you’ll see that zero is
in the middle, not at the bottom. T is zero-crossing
is where the air pressure goes from negative (below
normal) to positive (above normal). T e waveform
should be vertically centered on the zero-crossing;
if the waveform is mostly above or below the zero
line, either your audio system has introduced a direct-
current (DC) offset or your audio software is producing
one. T is is a problem that you need to track down
and fix.
Most waveform editors let you display the rulers
in a variety of formats. You may be able to view the
number of seconds (absolute time), the number of
individual samples, or the metrical values (bars and
beats) on the horizontal ruler. Setting the horizon-
tal ruler to bars and beats can be very useful when
you need to edit the audio so that it will match the
tempo and phrasing of a song. T e vertical ruler may
show the amplitude in decibels (dB), as raw data
(the actual content of the sample words), or as a
percentage of the greatest amplitude the software
can handle.
Hitting the High Spots
Here are some simple problems you can identify by
looking at a waveform display:
Clipping. A waveform’s shape reflects the sound’s
frequency content. If a signal’s level is too “hot” for
any stage of the signal path to handle, then the peaks
(the parts of the signal where the amplitude is high-
est) are cut off—a form of distortion called clipping. In
a waveform display, you can easily recognize clipped
waveforms because they have flat tops. To eliminate
clipping, figure out which stage of the signal path is
overloaded and reduce the level at that stage, then
rerecord the sound.
Inadequate level. If the loudest peaks in the sig-
nal use only a fraction of the display’s vertical space,
the overall level is probably too low and you’re more
likely to hear noise that would be masked by a hotter
signal. Instead of rerecording the track, you might be
able to normalize the signal. Normalizing raises the
level of the highest peak to the maximum it can be
before clipping, and then raises the rest of the signal
by an equal amount.
A good audio-editor program will have many
other tools for editing the wave data. After using some
of the available commands, inspect the waveform
display to see the results as you listen to the edited
sound. You’ll quickly gain an understanding of what
you’re seeing in the display.
Jim Aikin plays music and writes about
music technology. You can visit him online at
musicwords.net.
FIG. 1: T is screen
shot shows a waveform
display in Steinberg
WaveLab. T e blue shapes
are the audio data. From
the sharp peaks and
rapid decays, experienced
computer musicians can
tell that this is a drum loop.
| EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
901ELM62.indd 62 11/25/08 11:22:19 AM
901elm63.indd 1 11/24/2008 10:07:27 AM
64 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
Over the course of their now 11-year career as mem-
bers of the Chicago rock band Beatnik Turtle, Chertkow
and Feehan have picked up countless tips and tricks
for using the Net to promote themselves. Tey’ve
put out 18 albums, written music for TV shows and
films, licensed a song to Disney, produced one song
a day for a year, and gigged extensively—all without
the backing of a label. Although their book and Web
site cover a range of tips for the DIY musician, in this
interview I focused on how to use the Web to promote
your music.
Do you have your own MySpace site?
Feehan: Absolutely. And we have our own Web site
as well.
Chertkow: We’ve never really loved MySpace,
so you’re never going to see our page looking really
fancy compared to some others.
What don’t you like about MySpace?
Chertkow: Competing with ads. But there are also
many reasons to be on MySpace that we actually
talk about in the book. Chief among them is that
it’s really easy for your fans to find music, because
the songs are always in the same place, over in the
upper right corner. You know exactly where to hit
the play button. But, of course, you only get a hand-
ful of songs.
So what is the most important online vehicle for
promoting a band or musical act?
Feehan: In our book we talk about the importance of
having your own Web site. Tere’s no such thing as
a local musician. If you’re on the Web, you’re global.
And that means that the most important thing you
have is your brand: your image and your music. So you
want to have a home base for that—and that is your
domain, that is your Web site. You can print up T-shirts
with “myspace.com/beatnikturtle” on them, but it’s a
heck of a lot better, and more effective, to have it be
“beatnikturtle.com.” A domain name says so much in
such a short way. It’s branding, constantly reinforcing
the name.
What about Facebook? Do you think a Facebook
page is also important for a musician to have, even
though it doesn’t have a music player?
Chertkow: It goes beyond Facebook. We have an
entire chapter on something we call “Web Presences.”
Facebook is just one place you should be. MySpace is
certainly one, but ReverbNation [reverbnation.com] is
E
mpowered by the Internet, independent musicians have more opportunities to build their careers
than ever before. But with so many tools, sites, services, and other Web-based music entities beck-
oning, it’s not easy to decide which are best for your career. To get an in-the-trenches look at Web-
based musical self-promotion, I turned to Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan (see Fig. 1), authors of the
new book Te Indie Band Survival Guide (St. Martin’s Press, 2008).
By Mike Levine
Q&A: Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan
Web promotion for independent musicians.
industryinsider
FIG. 1: Chertkow (left) and Feehan (right), who’ve spent the past 11 years in
the band Beatnik Turtle, have lots of advice on promoting your act on the Web.
C
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S
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D
S
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V
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,

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901ELM64.indd 64 12/4/08 10:27:59 AM
901elm65.indd 1 11/26/2008 10:33:51 AM
66 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
industryinsider
an excellent one, as is Eventful [eventful.com]—both
offer many free tools. Twitter [twitter.com] is highly
recommended as well to stay in touch with your fans.
You really should have a blog. You might want to think
about being on Virb [virb.com] and other online music-
hosting sites [all listed at indiebandsurvivalguide
.com]. Tey’re all free, and beyond the services they
provide, the other reason why you do it is that it helps
the SEO [search engine optimization] rankings of your
Web site.
As long as it’s free, all it takes is time.
Chertkow: Right. Again, what do musicians want? It
comes down to having fans. Any way you can get fans
that’s free, do it.
Feehan: Te key is definitely to build your pres-
ence on the Web and refer everybody back to your
home base, where you can give them whatever you
want to give them and send them the message you
want to send them.
Talk about other Web-based ways to develop your
fan base.
Feehan: Last.fm is a great example.
How does it work?
Chertkow: Last.fm is what’s called a social playlist.
Tey let you install a program that’s almost like an
automatic blog of everything that you listen to. But
it goes a step beyond that, because it’s looking at my
collection and it knows that I listen to, say, Tey Might
Be Giants, and then I listen to Beatnik Turtle, my band.
Eventually, [the program] gets to know that people
who listen to Tey Might Be Giants might also like
Beatnik Turtle. So you can go to Last.fm and search
on any band that you like, and it will play other bands
that are related based on the listening habits of mil-
lions of people. In this way, your own music can get
“found” by users of Last.fm.
You guys advocate giving away your songs online,
right?
Feehan: It depends on your goals, but yes. If anybody
is going to discover who your band is, what you’re all
about, the best way to actually get that picture is
through your music. And, therefore, it comes down to
both selling your recorded music and making it avail-
able at the same time.
So you have stuff for free, but people are buying your
stuff as well. Why do they pay if they don’t have to?
Feehan: I think it’s the emotional connection to the
band that generates the support. It’s the relationship
that they end up having with the band.
Chertkow: It’s also the fact that our music has
actually made it out there because it’s not locked up,
so we get more fans. We wouldn’t have nearly as many
if we didn’t give the songs away.
Feehan: Tey wouldn’t know about us. In the
past, first you had to impress a record label and you
had to impress certain businesspeople. Ten they let
you into the club. And then you had to get onto the
radio—and they had that locked up. And now, thanks
to the Web, you can get directly to your fans, wherever
they may be, through so many new-media channels.
It’s unbelievable.
Chertkow: And once you get fans—and remem-
ber, they can be all over the world now—you have more
of a chance to sell CDs, more music, T-shirts, or get
them to come out to gigs.
One of those new-media channels that you recom-
mend reaching out to is Podcasting.
Chertkow: It’s the new radio of the Internet.
How do you let Podcasters know that your music is
available for them to use?
Chertkow: Tere are two primary ways to do it. Te
easiest way is to use what’s called a Podsafe collective.
You can upload your music onto those [sites] to make it
easy for Podcasters to find—they often troll the collec-
tives looking for new music. And because Podcasters
are rather twitchy about copyright—everybody is
nowadays—they know that if they go to the collec-
tives, they won’t have any trouble. PodShow [music
.podshow.com] and PodsafeAudio [podsafeaudio.com]
are two examples of Podsafe collectives.
But Podcasters must get inundated by tons of
bands, right?
Chertkow: Not necessarily, and here’s why: in the
book we have a chapter that talks about lessons
we’ve learned as a band. And one of the things that
has worked for us is a lesson that we call standing
out, which means that you try and put your music
in a place that doesn’t have music. So while music
Podcasters are sometimes inundated, we’ve worked
with people who have Podcasts about all kinds of
other topics.
And they need music?
Chertkow: Tey do. It’s not like radio, where they
could just pick up any CD from their collection. Tey
need permission and are looking for music. For exam-
ple, one that has featured a lot of our music is the
Gigcast [gigcast.nightgig.com], a Podcast that covers
Web comics.
What keeps a Podcaster from using your music
without crediting you?
Feehan: Usually you offer your music under a license
that limits the Podcaster. By registering your music
at a Podsafe collective, you automatically give them
a license. You could also issue your music this way
on your own, under a Creative Commons license
[creativecommons.org]. When the Podcasters use this
music, they agree to attribute it to you and provide a
link to a band’s Web site or a link to iTunes. So there is
a legal mechanism to make sure that people play the
game correctly.
But do you think that people would want to do that
anyway?
Feehan: Absolutely. Attribution is the currency of
the Web.
Chertkow: Te entire Web is based on what they
sometimes call link love.
Feehan: Yeah, it’s cross-promotion. So if they
use somebody’s music and don’t link back to them,
it’s a big faux pas. Tey know that the entire reason
musicians are letting them use the music free is to
get new fans, so they nearly always link back to the
band. But we also suggest that you blog about it after
and link back to them, so your fans can find their
Podcast. After a while, we found that the Podcasters
will start asking you for music to play. Just think—
when was the last time a radio station asked you for
your music?
Mike Levine is EM’s executive editor, senior
media producer, and the host of the monthly
Podcast “EM Cast” (emusician.com/podcasts).
There’s no such thing as
a local musician.
901ELM64.indd 66 12/4/08 10:28:22 AM
901elm67.indd 1 11/25/2008 8:48:26 AM
68 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
Moog Music
Moog Guitar Paul Vo Collector Edition
A legendary synth company’s take on the guitar.
By Mike Levine
onsidering the company’s pedigree,
you shouldn’t be surprised to learn
that the Moog Guitar expands the
expressive palette of the electric guitar into new
territory. What’s most impressive about this
instrument is that it engenders creativity. You
sit down to play it, and you fnd yourself playing
things and getting sounds in totally new ways.
The instrument, designed by Paul Vo, is
imbued with many unique features, and its pro-
cessing is all analog. Its user-adjustable infnite
sustain is one of the highlights. Yes, infinite
sustain is not new (the Fernandes Sustainer,
for one, has ofered it for years), but the Moog
Guitar implements it with a great degree of user
control over both the nature of the sustain and
its harmonic content. Te guitar also features
a mute mode that reduces sustain to create a
staccato attack. To enhance the tonal palette,
you get a built-in 4-pole Moog lowpass ladder
filter, which can be triggered by right-hand
attack or with the included Control Pedal. Also
onboard are Graph Tech piezo bridge saddles
for acoustic-guitar-like tones. Te piezo output
can be blended with or taken separate from
the magnetic pickups’ signal. Te Moog Guitar
is not a synth guitar, but rather a guitar with
extended sonic and expressive capabilities.
According to Moog, in the short time since
the guitar’s release in September, it has already
been purchased by a number of high-profle
musicians, including Trent Reznor, Joe Walsh,
Lionel Loueke of Herbie Hancock’s band, James
Valentine of Maroon 5, Joe Don Rooney of
Rascal Flatts, and Lou Reed. So what makes the
Moog Guitar so special? I’ll start with a closer
look at its features.
Maple Candy
Te construction is frst-class all the way (see
Fig. 1). It’s a solidbody instrument made of
either mahogany or swamp ash (depending on
availability). It has a gorgeous top, either fame
or quilted maple, which is available in a range
of colors. Te guitar I reviewed had a golden
yellow quilted-maple top (Moog calls that fn-
ish Honey). Te 22-fret set neck features an
ebony fngerboard.
In conjunction with locking Sperzel tun-
ers, the Wilkinson bridge/tremolo system

guitar with built-in sustain,
mute, and filter effects $5,895
Moog Music
moogmusic.com
FEATURES
EASE OF USE
AUDIO QUALITY
VALUE
PROS: Inspirational to play. Innovative sustain,
mute, and filter effects. Excellent build quality.
Superior tremolo system and tuning machines.
CONS: Very pricey. Conventional guitar tone
unexceptional. Requires Moog’s proprietary
strings for optimal functionality.
>> In our reviews, prices are MAP or street unless
otherwise noted.
5
Amazing; as good as it gets with
current technology
4
Clearly above average; very desirable
3
Good; meets expectations
2
Somewhat disappointing but usable
1
Unacceptably flawed
GUIDE TO EM METERS
901ELM68.indd 68 11/25/08 11:37:44 AM
69 01.09 | EMUSICIAN.COM |
stays in tune remarkably well. A pair of pro-
prietary, single-coil Moog pickups provide the
electric guitar sound. Moog is very hush-hush
about the pickup design, saying on its Web
site that “we cannot divulge too much detail”
about them.
The Moog Guitar comes set up with
heavier-than-normal strings (.011, .018, .024,
.030, .044, .052). I normally play 10s, and the
guitar felt a bit stif at frst. However, bending
was comfortable enough, and I soon adjusted
to the guitar’s feel. According to Moog’s Jason
Daniello, the heavy strings produce a stronger
electromagnetic feld, which makes the guitar’s
sustain and mute features (which Moog terms
Vo Power in honor of the guitar’s designer)
function better. Daniello says that the guitar
will work with a .010 or even a .009 on top (the
recommended lower-string gauges are heav ier
than in conventional sets), but that the 11s are
optimal. Moog is selling its own strings for the
guitar, which contain a metallic composition
designed to optimize electromagnetic response.
Te company recommends using conventional
strings only in a pinch; the response, it says,
will be “weaker and less stable.”
The guitar electronics require power,
which comes through the 5-pin XLR cable
that also carries the audio from the guitar
and connects to the Control Pedal, which
has a metal bottom and a plastic body and
treadle. The pedal then plugs into the wall
with a line-lump transformer and has a high-
impedance output to go to an amp or DI. Te
pedal is also a key part of the extensive user
control of the guitar’s sustain and flter fea-
tures. A 9V battery, which powers the piezo
pickups, is located in a compartment in the
back of the guitar’s body. Te guitar comes in
a snazzy-looking tweed hard-shell case, which
has a substantial handle, gold hardware, and a
pocket for the Control Pedal.
Of Knobs and Switches
It took me several playing sessions until I felt
like I had a good grasp on the Moog Guitar’s
controls. I found the 6-page printed User’s
Guide to be well written and thorough. It was
invaluable to have at hand when I was learning
how to “work” the guitar.
Te lefmost (from the player’s perspective)
of the control hardware is a Master Volume
knob. Next to that is the Vo Power knob (see
Fig. 2), which governs the strength of the sus-
tain and mute features. Te Harmonic Balance
knob adjusts how much Vo Power goes to each
pickup, making it kind of like a tone knob for
the sustain and mute features. Turning this
knob changes the harmonic content of the
signal, resulting in higher or lower overtones
being produced. You can turn it while the note
sustains, changing its character as it goes along.
You can also control this same parameter with
the Control Pedal when the 3-way Filter Toggle
switch is set to Tone.
Te Filter Toggle is one of the key con-
trols on the guitar. When it’s set to Tone (posi-
tion 1), the guitar responds to its own tone
control knob (called the Tone/Filter knob), like
a conventional instrument. Position 2 turns on
the Articulated Filter, which gives you a more
intense flter efect the harder you hit the note.
When it’s used with the Mute mode, you can
get some really cool, sitarlike tones (see Web
Clip 1). When the guitar is in either of the two
flter modes, the Tone/Filter knob controls the
flter’s resonance.
Position 3 of the Filter Toggle is called the
Moog Filter. When it’s on, the flter responds
to the pedal, creating wahlike effects when
the pedal is moved around (see Web Clip 2),
FIG. 1: T e Moog Guitar is a boutique electric
guitar with built-in sustain, mute, and filter features.
901ELM68.indd 69 11/25/08 11:38:25 AM
70 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
moog guitar
or exaggerated tonal effects when it’s held
stationary near one of its extremes.
Te Mode Selector is a 3-way switch that
toggles between the Mute mode and the two
sustain modes: Controlled Sustain and Full
Sustain. In Controlled Sustain, only one or
two notes can sustain at a time; the sustain gets
muted for the rest. As its name implies, this
gives you more control, making it easier to play
single lines more cleanly, without too many
notes ringing over. Full Sustain, on the other
hand, could be described as more of a “pedal-
to-the-metal” efect. Every note sustains, which
makes for a more intense result. Together with
some distortion from your amp or modeler, the
sustain modes make it easy to get cool feedback
efects, too (see Web Clip 3).
Te Mute mode is engaged by putting the
Mode Selector into position 1. It essentially
chokes the string output, giving you a staccato
sound. As with the sustain, the degree of this
efect is controlled by the Vo Power knob.
Te other switch on the guitar is a 5-way
pickup selector. You can set it to piezo only,
bridge pickup, bridge and neck out of phase,
bridge and neck in phase, and neck. With the
pickup selector in any of the electric guitar
positions, the Piezo Blend knob lets you dial in
as much or as little of the piezo signal as you’d
like. With the pickup in the piezo position, the
Piezo Blend knob is inactive because the guitar
is outputting only piezo signal.
Te guitar also has a ¼-inch auxiliary out-
put that carries only the piezo signal. It can be
used either to feed a tuner or to send the piezo
signal to a separate amp (like an acoustic guitar
amp) or to a separate DAW track or P.A. input.
Te piezo signal is fully afected by the sustain
and mute efects, but not the flter efects.
Getting Mooged
Te variety of tones you can get from the Moog
Guitar is impressive. Even more so is the range of
playing techniques you can apply that would be
impossible on a conventional guitar. For instance,
when you’re in one of the sustain modes, you can
easily play melodies with your lef hand only, by
sliding your fngers around on the fretboard.
Meanwhile, you can use your right hand to tap
countermelodies, or, you can hit a chord and, as
it sustains, play melodies with your right hand
on top of it (see Web Clip 4). I was also able to
get some really unusual, singsongy sounds using
a slide and dialing in some distortion on my amp
modeler. Once you start bringing the flter into
it, the sonic variety is pretty extensive. (Te flter
can also be controlled by external CV control, by
plugging a Moogerfooger or other CV-equipped
device into the CV input on the Moog Guitar’s
Control Pedal.)
Te only aspect of the Moog Guitar’s sonic
palette that I didn’t fnd to be exceptional was
Te Filter Toggle switches
between filter effect modes.
Te Piezo Blend knob
allows you to dial in as much
piezo sound as you want.
Te 3-position Mode Selector switches
between mute and sustain effects.
Te Vo Power knob
governs the intensity of the
sustain and mute effects.
You can easily play melodies
with your left hand only.
FIG. 2: Te guitar’s knobs and switches allow most
functions to be controlled from onboard.
901ELM68.indd 70 11/25/08 11:39:05 AM
how it sounded as a conventional guitar, with
the effects bypassed. Both through an amp
and direct into an amp modeler in my DAW,
I found the pickup sound to be kind of mid-
rangy. In addition, the notes tended to sound
and feel a little plunky, without the normal
sustain I would expect. (According to Daniello,
the plunkiness was likely due to incorrect
setup, not the nature of the guitar.) My issues
with the conventional guitar tone are why I
gave the instrument a 4 instead of a 5 for Audio
Quality in the EM ratings. In defense of the
guitar’s tone, I recently heard Jake Cinninger of
the band Umphrey’s McGee playing the Moog
Guitar at Moogfest 2008, and it sounded awe-
some through his rig, both as a conventional
guitar and with the efects turned on.
On several occasions, I picked up RF inter-
ference when using the Moog Guitar. When I
mentioned this to Daniello, he told me that
Moog was aware of the issue and had solved it
with an updated version of the Control Pedal
that included a grounding switch. Te com-
pany subsequently sent me the new pedal,
which remedied the problem.
Six-String Mooger
Overall, I found the Moog Guitar to be an
inspirational instrument. It opened up exciting
new worlds of playing technique for me like no
guitar I’ve ever played. Especially when I used
external efects, like distortion, delay, and mod-
ulation, I found myself getting lost in the guitar
and playing and improvising for long stretches
without even realizing that time had passed. It
was kind of like discovering a whole new side
to my guitar skills.
Tat said, the Moog Guitar is quite expen-
sive and at this point in its development is a
luxury item that will be affordable only to
some. I hope that in the not-too-distant future,
Moog will release a lower-priced line, bring-
ing the Moog Guitar’s exciting combination of
sustain, mute, and flter efects to a wider range
of potential buyers. I can already tell that I’m
going to miss having this guitar around when I
have to return it afer this review is over. Tere’s
simply nothing else out there like it.
Mike Levine is EM’s executive editor and senior
media producer. He’s been playing guitar since
age ten.
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901ELM68.indd 71 12/2/08 2:33:10 PM
72 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
Peavey Electronics
ReValver MkIII (Mac/Win)
An amp and effects simulator you can tweak from the inside out.
By Orren Merton
n 2007 Peavey acquired Alien Connections,
the company that developed the guitar-
amp-and-ef fects-model i ng sof tware
ReValver, and released an updated version
soon afer. ReValver MkIII runs standalone or
as a VST or AU plug-in. Te standalone edi-
tion gives you a running tally of the current
rig’s CPU use—a feature that isn’t available in
the plug-in version.
Rack Stacking
Upon frst launch, ReValver greets you with a
rack containing only the Title module, a virtual
device that lets you load and save presets, adjust
the input and output levels, access the Options
window and user guide, and perform various
utility functions (see Fig. 1). Below that, a rect-
angle in the vacant rackspace invites you to add
modules by clicking on it.
Te command to add modules opens the
Module window, in which you can select from
dozens of virtual amps, speakers, efects, and so
on. Te window provides separate tabs for dif-
ferent module types and describes each module
with a paragraph taken from the manual (which
is extremely informative and well written—a
plus considering ReValver’s fexibility). When
at least one module is present, you can sum-
mon additional modules from a contextual
menu. New modules will appear in the rack
with the signal fowing from the Title module
down to the one in the lowest position.
You can add as few or as many modules
as you want, in any order, and rearrange them
by dragging-and-dropping or right-clicking on
them. Tere are no restrictions other than your
computer’s available processing power. Indeed,
ReValver takes fexibility and tweakability to
new extremes.
You can run ReValver in either of two qual-
ity modes. Real-time mode uses 32-bit process-
ing and is recommended for live performance.
Mixdown mode uses 64-bit processing and 4✕
oversampling. Peavey says that mixdown mode
consumes about fve times as many CPU cycles,
and my tests bore this out. On my 2.66 GHz
FIG. 1: ReValver MkIII
delivers models of popular Peavey
amplifiers, such as the high-gain
6505, as well as other hardware
amps, speakers, and effects.

guitar amp modeler $249.99
Peavey Electronics
peavey.com
FEATURES
EASE OF USE
QUALITY OF SOUNDS
VALUE
CONS: Many dull presets. Non-Peavey models a
mixed bag. Tweaking amp components is compli-
cated. T e 64-bit mode doesn’t work in real time.
Too many nested dialog boxes.
PROS: Amazingly flexible. Excellent high-gain
amps. Ability to load your own impulse responses.
Hosts VST plug-ins. T orough documentation.
I
901ELM72.indd 72 11/25/08 11:25:06 AM
bhproaudio.com
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420 Ninth Ave, New York, NY 10001
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When it comes to the B&H sales staf, knowledge and
experience are a given. We ofer unparalleled expertise and
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Visit our SuperStore in the heart of NYC, give us a call, or browse
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The Professional’s Source
810elm81.indd 1 8/25/2008 11:39:25 AM
74 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
REVALVER MKIII
quad-core Mac Pro with 5 GB of RAM and
Mac OS X 10.4, ReValver registered a 20 per-
cent hit on one bar of Apple Logic Pro 8.0.2’s
CPU meter in real-time mode, but pegged
one of the bars completely in mixdown mode.
Clearly, mixdown mode is just for freezing or
bouncing, but to my ear, it does sound slightly
smoother and more articulate than real-time
mode. To change modes, you frst select the
desired one in the Options window and then
quit and reload all instances of ReValver. If
you’re using multiple instances of the plug-in,
all of them operate in the same mode.
Tweaker’s Paradise
Te ability to customize ReValver MkIII’s sim-
ulations from the ground up is amazing. You
are presented with a preamp, power amp, and
complete amp-head module for each of the 15
amplifer simulations. You can mix and match
diferent preamp sections with diferent power-
amp sections at any point in the signal chain.
And that’s not all—you can tweak every aspect
of an amp’s design (see Fig. 2), and I do mean
every aspect. You can change tube characteris-
tics, EQ stacks, you name it (for details, see the
online bonus material at emusician.com).
Te speaker simulations are equally versa-
tile. ReValver comes with convolution samples
of dozens of classic speaker cabinets, and you
can load impulse responses for your favorite
cabinet. I have long enjoyed using my own cus-
tom Egnater oversize speaker cabinet in convo-
lution processors, so this was an especially wel-
come feature. ReValver’s Speaker Construction
Set module lets you specify individual cabinet
sizes; select the number, size, and type of speak-
ers; choose the microphone type and confgu-
ration; and equalize the result.
Effects and More
ReValver MkIII provides the usual selection of
distortion boxes, compressors, delays, reverbs,
and modulation efects. It also supplies tool
modules such as frequency analyzers, tuners,
signal splitters, and tone-shaping devices such
as the Leveler volume-adjusting module.
ReValver has two tuners: the Tuner mod-
ule ofers both VU and strobe views, and the
Simul-Tune module gives you six separate
strobe tuners (one per string) and tunes against
a user-selectable preset tone. I love good tun-
ers, and ReValver’s Tuner module ranks up
there with the best. Personally, I found looking
at Simul-Tune’s six mini tuners too confusing,
but that’s not to say everyone would.
Although ReValver’s onboard efects didn’t
blow me away, there are a few standouts. Te
Greener tube screamer is quite good, and
Wow-Wah is one of the most versatile wah sim-
ulations I’ve seen, with lots of parameters you
can tweak to fnd exactly the sound you want.
I also liked the fact that the C-Verb convolu-
tion reverb lets you load in your own impulse
responses in WAV format.
ReValver’s VST Host module can host any
VST plug-ins you have installed. You can use
this module to add your favorite efects from
other packages, and open their user interfaces
by clicking on the GUI button. Peavey’s Read
Me fle warns that some VST efects may crash
ReValver, but I loaded all sorts of VST plug-ins
and didn’t experience a crash (although loading
a VST instrument does kill the audio). Te VST
Host module vastly expands the sonic palette
available to ReValver—kudos to its developers
for including it.
X-Rated
As you might guess, ReValver’s simulations of
Peavey’s own amps are top-notch. Te heavy
channels on the Triple X, 6505, and JSX mod-
els sound open, alive, powerful, and huge (see
Web Clip 1). In fact, they’re some of the best
high-gain amps of any simulator I’ve heard.
Te clean and less distorted channels of these
amps are also modeled, of course, but the dis-
tortion channels are the real draw.
Te Classic 30 model sounds very open
and warm, and it responds well to playing
dynamics. To my ear, the ValveKing models
have a slightly notch-fltered digital sound at
higher gain settings. Ultimately, however, I was
most impressed with the models of Peavey’s
heavy amps.
Some of the non-Peavey amps don’t quite
capture the signature character of the amps
they model. Te Fox ACS-45 didn’t sound as
Vox-like to me as the Vox simulations of some
other modelers. Te ’62 BluesMaker sounded
appropriately midgain and dynamic, but not
much like the Marshall Bluesbreaker. The
Flathill model didn’t sound much like the Mesa
Boogie Dual Rectifer, either. And the Basic 100
didn’t have the dynamic response of the Peavey
models.
Le Petite, however, is a dynamic 3-channel
amp with a very cool feature that lets you
blend each of the three channels to taste. Tat
blend feature gives the amp a unique charac-
ter, and it was very playable. Te MatchBox
is a dynamic amp that was quite responsive
to picking and had a smooth, liquid feel even
when overdriven.
If you can live without the non-Peavey
amps, you should check out ReValver HP
(Mac/Win, $69.99). It includes all 6 Peavey
tube-amp models and more than 75 speaker
simulations, but it lacks the Module Tweak
functions.
Hot Valves
ReValver MkIII delivers an unmatched level
of flexibility and some of the best-modeled
high-gain amps I’ve ever heard. Its VST Host
module is unique among amp-simulation pro-
grams. ReValver is so tweakable, in fact, that
with enough knowledge and patience, I’d bet
even the simulations I wasn’t as fond of could
be adjusted to sound fantastic.
However, the way that ReValver continu-
ally opens dialog boxes in new windows can
get messy if you have a lot of windows already
open. What’s more, the presets don’t offer
enough variety, instead sticking too close to
traditional, blues, rock, and jazz staples. But
if you’re looking for a versatile amp simulator
with excellent high-gain Peavey amp models,
ReValver MkIII will not disappoint.
When Orren Merton isn’t writing and editing
music-technology books for Course Technology,
he simulates being a guitarist for Ember Afer
(emberafer.com).
FIG. 2: You can open the Module Tweak GUI
window for any amp and then revoice and reconfigure
each tube and tone stack.
901ELM72.indd 74 11/25/08 11:25:36 AM
901elm75.indd 1 12/4/2008 10:16:35 AM
76 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
Yamaha
Pocketrak 2G
The pocket recorder goes nano.
By Babz
f you’re in the market for a pocket-size digi-
tal recorder, then you have more choices
than ever. Even in such a crowded playing
feld, the Yamaha Pocketrak 2G ofers numer-
ous innovations that make it stand out. For
starters, it’s the tiniest pro audio recorder yet
(see Fig. 1). Although its small size does neces-
sitate a few compromises, Yamaha has done
an excellent job of packing maximum features
into minimal space.
Little Wonder
Te Pocketrak is roughly the size of the original
iPod nano, only half an inch thick and weigh-
ing just 1.7 ounces (including battery). I could
ft at least six Pocketraks in the space of my old
Edirol R-1, and several within the footprint
of any current recorder. Despite being signif-
cantly slimmer and lighter than the competi-
tion, however, it boasts several frsts and some
advanced features. It’s one of only a handful of
recorders to ofer a built-in speaker, in addi-
tion to a headphone out, for quick playback
monitoring in the feld. A slide-out, full-size
USB connector enables direct connection to a
computer, without the need for a cable. And the
built-in stereo microphone can be tilted up for
a better angle on a tabletop.
Te unit is powered by a single AAA bat-
tery and comes with a Sanyo Eneloop NiMH
rechargeable battery in the box. According to
Sanyo, the Eneloop does not sufer from the self-
discharge typical of rechargeables. Yamaha claims
it can power the Pocketrak for up to 19 hours of
continuous MP3 recording. The recorder will
also run with any standard AAA alkaline, mak-
ing backup power readily available should the
rechargeable ever die on you in the feld.
Also included in the box are a leather car-
rying case, a USB extension cable, earphones, a
stand adapter, a printed manual, and an installer
disc for Steinberg Cubase AI 4 (Mac/Win; see
Fig. 2). Te case has a way to attach the unit to a
tripod (or mic stand, with the included adapter)
through a threaded socket in the bottom. Te
USB cable provides a more secure connection to
certain USB ports than the slide-out connector.
Te bundled Cubase sofware adds outstanding
value if you don’t already have a DAW, ofering
a cross-platform, professional-quality solution
FIG. 1: T e Pocketrak 2G offers
advanced features such as an adjustable
mic, a built-in speaker, and a slide-out
USB connector—all within an ultraslim,
lightweight profile.

portable digital recorder $299
Yamaha
yamahasynth.com
FEATURES
EASE OF USE
AUDIO QUALITY
VALUE
CONS: Maximum recording quality is 16-bit,
44.1 kHz WAV. Line input can record only
128 Kbps MP3s. No real-time level monitoring.
No memory expansion.
PROS: Ultracompact size. Tilting mic, built-in
speaker, and direct computer connection.
Excellent audio quality with built-in mic.
901ELM76.indd 76 11/25/08 11:28:36 AM
812elm79.indd 1 10/31/2008 11:44:45 AM
78 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
pocketrak 2g
for editing and mastering your recordings (see
the online bonus material at emusician.com).
Pocket-Size Interface
Te Pocketrak’s user interface packs a lot of func-
tionality into minimal space, with most controls
doing double or triple duty. Nonetheless, one-
handed operation is easy if you press the buttons
with your thumb. Te menu interface feels much
like a cell phone’s, and essential items are easy to
access with minimal scrolling. Te menus fur-
nish access to many useful functions, such as
selectable recording format (16 to 160 Kbps MP3
and 16-bit WAV), Automatic Level Control, a
Stereo Wide efect, timer- and voice-activated
recording, playback EQ, and more.
However, I discovered a few limitations and
bothersome aspects of the Pocketrak’s operation
and interface. Some seem like reasonable compro-
mises due to its compact size, but others I found
harder to understand. A single stereo minijack is
your only port for both mic and line input. Tere
is no AC power option, but the Eneloop battery
is robust and can be recharged when you connect
the recorder to your computer. Te Pocketrak
does not use memory cards, but the 2 GB of
built-in fash memory provides up to 3 hours of
recording at highest resolution. Unfortunately,
16-bit, 44.1 kHz audio is the maximum resolu-
tion available. Tat’s sufcient for professional
quality, but 24-bit and higher sampling rates are
more or less standard fare nowadays.
Ha r de r t o
understand is that
you can make line-
level recordings only
as MP3s, making
the unit inadequate
for 2-track studio
mixdowns. Yamaha
says this limitation
is a result of digital
rights management
(DRM) concerns.
Anot her t hi ng
that bothered me:
although you can
set microphone lev-
els in standby mode,
once you actually
begin recording, the
meters disappear
from the display and you can’t adjust the levels.
Te operating system has a fle and folder
structure that’s somewhat complex. Mic record-
ings, line recordings, data fles, and music fles
from your computer’s MP3 library each have to go
in their own designated folder (A, B, C, D, L, M,
S, and so on), and fles must observe the folder’s
naming conventions. I assume part of this system
stems from the fact that Yamaha has designed
the unit to do double duty as a consumer music
player, and thus wanted to keep music fles sepa-
rate from your recordings (in the M folder). And
given its nano profle, it could make a perfect one-
stop pro recorder and MP3 player. Features such
as bass boost, preset EQs, a shufe mode, and the
ability to play DRM-protected WMA fles make it
a formidable iPod surrogate. And ultimately, once
you get used to it, the folder scheme is logical and
painless to live with.
Field Tests
I tested the Pocketrak in the studio and in a
number of live recording environments, with
the internal mic and with an Audio-Technica
AT825 (a high-end, industry-standard stereo
feld-recording microphone). I must admit that
I didn’t expect such impressive quality with the
built-in stereo mic, but the results were noth-
ing short of spectacular. For live recordings,
they sounded as good as what I obtained with
the AT825 (see Web Clips 1 and 2). Tis was
great news, as it meant I could expect excel-
lent results in the feld, without the need to lug
around an extra mic that is several times the
size and weight of the Pocketrak unit itself.
I was less impressed with the unit’s capa-
bilities with an external mic in the studio. On
my tests with acoustic guitars, the quiet of the
studio revealed an elevated noise foor with the
AT825. Te same mic on my Edirol R-1 was
much quieter.
Pick Your Pocket
Te Pocketrak 2G excels at professional-quality
recordings with pocket-size convenience.
Additional features allow it to double as an
MP3 player, fash drive, and more, which could
be perfect for an on-the-go student or reporter
who also wants to be able to record lectures,
music lessons, or interviews. What’s more, it
includes slow- and fast-speed playback to aid
in transcription (although that feature works
only with MP3 recordings, not WAV).
Given the Pocketrak’s price point, however,
I would prefer to see more focus on higher reso-
lution and professional needs than Swiss-Army-
knife, prosumer-gadget features. Still, the unit’s
ultracompact size, tilting mic, direct computer
connection, long-lasting battery, and bundled
DAW sofware make it a unique and compel-
ling alternative for the professional market. It’s
an ideal choice for high-quality stealth record-
ings, and it’s a super quick-idea scratch pad: you
can power on and begin recording your fashes
of inspiration in about 3 seconds. Overall, the
Pocketrak 2G is an excellent, nano-size, all-in-
one pro recorder and portable music player.
Babz is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, and
music-technology writer in New York City.
The Pocketrak does not
use memory cards.

FIG. 2: Included with the Pocketrak 2G are a leather carrying case, a USB extension cable,
a rechargeable AAA battery, earbuds, a stand adapter, a manual, and Cubase AI 4 software.
901ELM76.indd 78 11/25/08 11:28:53 AM
812elm81.indd 1 10/31/2008 11:51:36 AM
80 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
QUICKPICKS
AKAI
MPD32
By Marty Cutler
It would be a stretch for my capabilities
and my available studio space to use a
MIDI drum kit to sequence drum parts.
For that job, I like the fat, can’t-miss,
drum machine–style pads and solid
feel of Akai’s MPC-series instruments.
However, I also prefer the editing capa-
bilities of my sequencer software and the
luxury of using software instruments with
streaming, high-capacity sound libraries.
For those who share my rhythm-
programming preferences, Akai’s
MPD32 ($499 [MSRP]) could be
the perfect fit. It’s a full-fledged
controller with capabilities way beyond
simple drum-pad triggers.
BRICK-HOUSE BATTERY
T e MPD32 is built like a brick house and
occupies a modest footprint (12 inches
deep by 15 inches wide) on your desktop.
T e unit draws power from a USB port or
an optional 6V power supply. USB 1.0 pro-
vides 32 channels of MIDI communica-
tion, and you can use the controller’s MIDI
In and Out ports to address an additional
16 MIDI channels on external hardware.
At the heart of the MPD32 are its four
columns and rows of pressure-sensitive
trigger pads, which are large enough to
accommodate a couple of fingers on a
single pad for flams and rolls. T e pads
supply sufficient resistance to wring
dynamic beats from even the most
ham-fisted programmers; if you need
more give, just scale the pad’s Velocity
response to your own needs. You can edit
the MIDI Note Number each pad outputs
and select a port and channel for each.
T is was great for playing composite kits
built from software instruments and my
mothballed Roland TD-7 sound module.
When used with the Time Division
button engaged, the Note Repeat switch
delivers anything from simple quarter-
note hits to 32nd-triplet buzz rolls.
Varying pressure dynamically alters Vel-
ocities, avoiding static-sounding rolls.
With Time Division disengaged, the but-
tons can send discrete MIDI controller val-
ues or serve as track solos or mutes. T e
row of eight faders and the eight knobs
at the lower right default to conventional
volume and panning tasks, respectively,
but each is also assignable to the MIDI
message of your choice. T is means you
can use them to control software-
synth voice parameters, among
other tasks. Best of all, the array
of faders, buttons, and knobs has
three banks, easily accessed from the A, B,
and C buttons to the right of the trigger
pads. Four separate banks govern trigger
pad assignments.
Familiar transport buttons offer MIDI
Machine Control or System Real-Time
commands, but these can also send dis-
crete MIDI continuous controller mes-
sages. A solid rotary-control knob lets you
page through parameters and commands
or choose presets; you can confirm a
selection by pressing down on the knob.
Just below the rotary control are cursor
buttons to navigate through any of three
Mode menus (Preset, Edit, and Global). You
also get buttons to quantize all Velocities
to 127 or spread a single hit across the
pads, each with a different Velocity. T e
latter makes nailing Velocity-crossfade
instruments a breeze. All knobs, faders,
and buttons are solidly ensconced and
smooth in their response.
Finally, among other functions, the
bright blue LCD will clearly display every
editing parameter and every MIDI con-
troller and value you can send, including
Channel Pressure from the pads. I love
the little data indicator in the corner of
the display that updates values numeri-
cally and graphically.
CAVALCADE OF HITS
T ere were too many templates to test
fully, but one standout was a setup for
Spectrasonics Stylus RMX. RMX Multis
generally require dragging each part’s
MIDI files end to end into multiple host
tracks. With the MPD32 template, track
building was a real-time musical joy.
Each switch in the first bank started and
stopped a part, allowing me to build lay-
ers of percussion on a single track in a
quick, musical, and less abstract manner.
I’ve always regarded FXpansion Guru as a
sort of software MPC; pairing it with the
MPD32 was a thing of synergistic beauty.
T e MPD32 is not limited to drums and
percussion; I found useful templates
for Ableton Live and Steinberg Cubase,
soft-synth plug-ins from Spectrasonics,
and several sequencer and instrument-
specific Propellerhead Reason setups.
Akai packed more MIDI implementa-
tion and programming features into the
MPD32 than I can cover here. It even bun-
dles an editor-librarian and lite versions
of FXpansion BFD and Ableton Live to
start you off. Documentation is clear and
thorough and includes a printed quick-
start manual, a PDF operator’s guide, and a
Armed with
multiple banks of
pads, faders, knobs,
and switches tied to
comprehensive MIDI
implementation, the
Akai MPD32 is the
rhythm programmer’s
Swiss Army knife.
901ELM80.indd 80 12/4/08 10:17:33 AM
81 01.09 | EMUSICIAN.COM |
comprehensive list of presets with details
on installing and playing them (you can
download them from Akai’s site to learn
more). Solidly constructed, with versatil ity
and plenty of physical and musical heft,
Akai’s MPD32 should be a runaway hit.
Value (1 through 5): 5
Akai
akaipro.com
FUTURE AUDIO
WORKSHOP
Circle 1.0.2 (Mac/Win)
By Len Sasso
Circle ($199) is the first product from
the Irish collective of developers Future
Audio Workshop (FAW). It is an analog-
modeled synth that comes in standalone
and plug-in formats (VST, AU, and RTAS)
and boasts a variety of unusual features.
Two things make this synth special: it
sounds great, and it’s easy to program.
Audition it by listening to the Web clips
on the FAW Web site or downloading the
full-featured demo.
Circle ships with more than 500 fac-
tory presets and a detailed PDF manual.
It’s easy to figure out what’s going on
by examining a few presets and playing
around, using the manual as backup for
the more enigmatic settings. T e preset
browser and various ancillary panels are
accessed with tabs along the bottom of
the user interface. Presets are categorized
in the browser by 21 characteristics (Bass,
Pad, Moving, Static, 1970, FX Sounds, and
so on), and you can characterize your own
presets as you create them.
EYES LEFT
T e left side of Circle’s control panel is
devoted to sound sources: four oscillators,
a noise generator, and a feedback circuit.
T e feedback is taken from the end of the
signal path and passed through a short
delay line that you tune in semitones.
It produces resonator-style effects when
applied to simple waveforms and gravi-
tates toward distortion when applied to
more-complex sounds.
T e oscillators toggle between analog
and wavetable modes. In analog mode,
you get sine, sawtooth, and variable-width
pulse and triangle waveforms. In wave-
table mode, you choose two single-cycle
waveforms from a selection of 110 shapes,
and then use a slider to morph between the
two chosen shapes. All of Circle’s modula-
tion options can apply to that slider, giving
you a lot of sonic flexibility and motion.
A mixer at the top of the center column
of modules mixes the active sources (you
can turn any Circle module off to save CPU)
and feeds the mix to three sound modifiers
in series. T e top and bottom modifiers are
multi-effects emphasizing filtering and dis-
tortion. T e Mouth Filter is an interesting
example; an automatable slider morphs
through three vowel formants. T ose mod-
ifiers surround a resonant multimode filter
module that you configure as one filter or
as two filters in series or parallel.
T e signal path ends in a series of three
global multi-effects that can host the usual
suspects: phaser, reverb, echo (single, dou-
ble, ping-pong), chorus, and panner. T ey’re
nothing special, but they get the job done.
MOVING RIGHT ALONG
Circle’s modulation scheme is another
standout feature. Five control-
rate modulators line the right side
of the interface. You can configure
each modulator as an ADSR enve-
lope generator, an LFO, or a step sequencer.
T e modulators are color coded, and you
apply them by dragging a colored ball to
an input circle located below or next to
the knob or slider you want to modulate.
Once modulation is applied, clicking on
the input circle reveals a bipolar slider for
setting the modulation amount.
T e sound source modules also have
modulation outputs that you can use
for audio-rate modulation (think FM).
T e oscillators have a subaudio mode,
and that lets you use the unusual wave-
table waveforms as LFO shapes. User-
configurable curves tracking the MIDI
keyboard (2) and MIDI Velocity (1) round
out the modulation scheme.
You get a simple but robust MIDI con-
troller setup. Clicking on the MIDI Learn
button outlines each target. Click on a tar-
get, and then tweak a control on your MIDI
control surface to assign it to the target.
T e subpanel revealed by the Control tab
lets you set a range for each assignment.
You can assign the same MIDI controller
to multiple targets with different ranges.
In a nice touch, even the individual steps
of the step sequencers are available
as targets, letting you automate step
sequencing in real time. In addition to
MIDI modulation, Mac versions of Circle
support Open Sound Control (OSC).
RANDOMLY YOURS
Like most virtual instruments, Circle lets
you randomize its settings and tame the
results with separate amount settings
for sources, modifiers, modulators, and
master effects. You can also specify that
tuning (sources) and levels (others) not
be randomized.
Circle’s clearly designed user interface,
easy-to-use modulation scheme, and full-
featured MIDI implementation make it a
pleasure to work with. T is is one synth
that begs to be tweaked, and there’s not
much head-scratching involved. You’re
bound to find useful sounds among the
many presets for your synth leads,
basses, pads, and ambient effects,
but you won’t feel limited to the
presets (see Web Clip 1).
Value (1 through 5): 4
Future Audio Workshop
futureaudioworkshop.com
Sound sources
along the left are
mixed (top center)
and sent through
three multi- effects
for filtering and
distortion. Modulators
on the right are
assigned by dragging
color coded dots to
inputs near the
affected controls.
901ELM80.indd 81 12/4/08 10:19:01 AM
82 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
QUICKPICKS
NOVATION
Nocturn
By Rusty Cutchin
Novation Nocturn ($199.99 [MSRP]) is
a plug-in controller that lets you conve-
niently access most any effects or instru-
ment plug-in parameter with the turn of
a knob or push of a button. A compact
slimline control surface, the Nocturn
promises tactile control of parameters
that usually require a multitude of mouse
moves to tweak, and, for the most part,
the device delivers.
The hard aNd SofT
Te Nocturn hardware is a 9.4 5 5.4 5
1.1–inch bus-powered USB device whose
only connector is the USB port. It has
a staggered array of eight knobs across
the top panel, and each knob has an
associated push button. Tere’s a Speed
Dial (more on this in a bit) and a mas-
ter slider in the middle of the panel.
Eight more push buttons along the bot-
tom have fixed assignments, such as
selecting page-up or -down or toggling
between effects, instrument, and mixer,
depending on which functions you want
to control.
Te View button hides or shows the
onscreen window for Novation’s Automap
Universal software, which displays a like-
ness of the Nocturn’s top panel, along with
the data values you adjust with the knobs.
When you launch Automap, it finds your
plug-ins and maps their controls to the
Nocturn’s. Automap works with VST, AU,
and Digidesign’s TDM and RTAS plug-ins by
converting them to Automap-wrapped ver-
sions. An onscreen window lets you choose
which plug-ins you want to convert.
I used the 2.0 version of Automap for
this review (check novationmusic.com
for the latest release). Te software works
with Windows XP (SP2) or Vista 32/64
and Mac OS X 10.4 or later. Automap
requires at least a 1 GHz Pentium III or
Mac G4 with 256 MB of RAM.
NocTurNal
TraNSmiSSioNS
Both the Nocturn controller and the
Automap software have some nifty ele-
ments. Te controller knobs are touch
sensitive and are ringed with LEDs, and the
associated buttons are illuminated. Tat’s
a big help to those who tweak plug-ins in
dim light. Te unit’s central Speed Dial
knob is perhaps its strongest feature; point
your mouse to a control in your onscreen
plug-in, and the touch-sensitive Speed Dial
assumes control of that parameter.
Once you make your plug-ins Automap
ready, the software provides the real
magic. When you boot up your DAW and
launch an Automap-wrapped plug-in,
its window appears normal except for a
slim new control bar at the bottom. At
the same time, the Nocturn’s LEDs illumi-
nate and the plug-in’s controls appear in
the Automap window. Te unit also has
a Learn button, which lets you reassign
the controls or create your own controller
map. Hitting the page button accesses
the next group of controls.
A simple browser lets you review all
open plug-ins and then quickly switch to
controlling one of them. Automap Uni-
versal 2.0 supports standard MIDI pro-
tocol, and you can teach the Nocturn to
control a hardware MIDI device, nonau-
tomatable plug-ins, or your sequencer’s
mixer. Once a MIDI map is created, you
can save and recall it using the browser.
Te Nocturn can control multiple
functions of some DAWs, like Cubase,
right out of the box. It handled the AU
plug-ins in Digital Performer 5.0 (DP)
just as easily. VST plug-ins converted
with FXpansion’s VST to AU Adapter pro-
gram also worked fine.
To use the Nocturn’s knobs with DP’s
mixer, however, required a quick pro-
gramming session. Once the system was
set up for MIDI control, I could select
an individual DP fader onscreen and
touch a knob on the Nocturn to assign
it to the fader. Novation promises that
custom maps for applications like DP
will be available for download free from
Novation’s Web site.
Good combiNaTioN
Te Nocturn became a very handy tool once
I learned how to use it to navigate among
effects, instruments, and mixer channels
and figured out how to work with Automap
and the hardware simultaneously. At first,
the knobs didn’t appear to allow precise
control of parameters, making values
jump by several increments. But this was
in an inaudible range (hundredths of a
decibel), and I could achieve finer control
by turning off Encoder Acceleration in the
Settings menu.
On the whole, the Nocturn is a good
system for those who get tired of adjust-
ing multiple plug-in parameters with a
mouse. It was fast, sturdy, and bug-free
in my testing, and Novation offers excel-
lent support. Te Nocturn system is a
great way to take some control from the
computer and put it back in your hands.
Value (1 through 5): 4
Novation
novationmusic.com
ANTARES AUDIO
TECHNOLOGIES
avox 2 (mac/Win)
By Len Sasso
With the release of Avox 2 ($499),
Antares delivers the full force of its voice-
modeling technology for the same price
as the original Avox bundle. Te package
combines the five Avox plug-ins (Troat,
Duo, Choir, Punch, and Sybil) with
four new voice manglers (Articulator,
Mutator, Warm, and Aspire) and throws
Point your
mouse at a plug-in
knob or slider, and
the Nocturn Speed
Dial (top center)
assumes control.
901ELM80.indd 82 12/4/08 10:19:29 AM
83 01.09 | EMUSICIAN.COM |
in the vocal-modeling harmony genera-
tor Harmony Engine for good measure.
T is product is a bargain.
EM reviewed Avox and Harmony Engine
in the May 2006 and April 2008 issues,
respectively. Both reviews are available
online at emusician.com. I’ll begin with a
brief description of the original plug-ins,
then concentrate on the new ones.
BY THE THROAT
T e physical-modeled T roat is at the
heart of Avox 2, and it is what most dis-
tinguishes these applications from oth-
ers that do a similar job. T roat lets you
change the character of a solo singing or
speaking voice by modeling changes to
the shape of the vocal tract at five dif-
ferent locations, from the vocal cords to
the lips. It also lets you modify the wave-
form produced by the vocal cords and
the breathiness of the sound. Some part
of this physical-modeled process makes
its way into most of the other Avox 2
plug-ins. T roat modeling is intended
for clean, solo vocal parts, which you
might interpret as a challenge to
see what it will do to pads, sound
effects, and solo instruments (see
Web Clip 1).
Of the other Avox plug-ins, Duo is
a vocal-doubling plug-in with throat-
grabbing options; Choir multiplies vocal
parts with random pitch, time, and vibrato
manipulations; Punch combines fatten-
ing, distortion, compression, and limiting;
and Sybil is a de-esser. Harmony Engine
creates up to four harmony parts from a
clean, solo vocal and gives you some con-
trol over throat modeling for each voice. It
is the most complex of the Avox 2 plug-ins
and is best suited to solo vocals.
ARTICULATION
Articulator is a vocal-
formant and amplitude
modeler. It sounds a
lot like a vocoder, but it
uses formant analysis
and throat modeling
rather than the classic
band-mapped filtering
technique. T at gives you
a great deal of influence over the vocal
characteristics of the output; you’re not
restricted to the characteristics of the con-
trol signal (typically speech or singing).
Like a vocoder, Articulator requires
two audio inputs—one for a mono con-
trol signal and one for a stereo carrier
signal, which should be harmonically
rich and fairly continuous (gaps in the
carrier translate to gaps in the output).
A built-in noise generator can substi-
tute for the carrier, and it also serves to
accentuate sibilants. Because it requires
two audio inputs, the routing differs by
both host and plug-in format. But the
manual details most of the problems
you might encounter, and the process is
fairly straightforward in most DAWs.
Because you’re not dealing with band
mapping or the separation of voiced
and unvoiced parts of the control sig-
nal, Articulator’s setup is simpler than a
vocoder’s. You tweak level, throat, formant-
analysis, envelope-follower, and output-
mix settings to taste, and you’re done.
A 1-band parametric EQ at the output is
very helpful for enhancing intel-
ligibility. T e results are not quite
as intelligible as a high-quality
vocoder’s, but the creative poten-
tial is much greater (see Web Clip 2).
WARM AND ASPIRING
MUTATIONS
Mutator is the other new creative tool
in Avox 2. It offers four processes: pitch-
shifting, throat modeling, ring modula-
tion (called Mutation), and chop and
reverse (called Alienize). T e ring modu-
lator is unusual in that the pitch of the
modu lating signal tracks the pitch of the
incoming audio, which keeps the effect
uniform for clean, monophonic sources.
You can use Mutator’s effects sepa-
rately or together, and you can change the
wet/dry mix of all effects except Alienize
with the Mutant Mix knob. Automating
changes in the various controls lets you
mangle and mutate speech, singing, and
instrumental material in real time (see
Web Clip 3).
T e other new effects, Warm and
Aspire, add tube saturation and con-
trol aspiration (breathiness). As their
names imply, Warm’s Velvet tube model
produces a smooth and subtle effect,
whereas the Crunch model emulates an
overdriven tube amp (which is either
subtle or in your face, depending on the
input level and amount of drive). Aspire
is surprisingly effective at adding or
removing breathiness from a vocal.
T e four new effects are a welcome
addition to the Avox bundle. With T roat,
Articulator, and Mutator you can manage
or mismanage your vocals to taste. Duo,
Choir, and Harmony Engine all have a
place in creating background vocals. Sybil
and Aspire are handy when you need them,
and Punch and Warm do an excellent job
of beefing up any kind of material.
Value (1 through 5): 4
Antares Audio Technologies
antarestech.com
SONICCOUTURE
Balinese Gamelan
(Mac/Win)
By Peter Hamlin
A gamelan is a unique type of musi-
cal ensemble native to Indonesia. T e
instruments it contains include a variety
of tuned gongs in many different sizes,
metallophones (instruments with struck
metal bars, somewhat like a vibraphone
although much different in sound), and
drums. T e gamelan has long fascinated
Westerners (Claude Debussy famously
admired one at the Paris Exposition of
1889), and many Western composers,
Articulator lets
you apply Antares
voice- modeling
technology with
vocoder-like results.
901ELM80.indd 83 12/4/08 10:19:46 AM
#
1 28Years
challenged her to name tones for me—by ear.
I made her stand so she could not see the piano key-
board. I made sure other classmates could not help her.
I set up everything perfectly so I could expose her
Perfect Pitch claims as a ridiculous joke.
With silent apprehension, I selected a tone to play.
(She’ll never guess F

, I thought.)
I had barely touched the key.
“F

,” she said. I was astonished.
I played another tone.
“C,” she announced, not stopping to think.
Frantically, I played more tones, skipping here and
there all over the keyboard. But somehow she knew the
pitch each time. She was AMAZING.
“Sing an E

,” I demanded, determined to mess her
up. She sang a tone. I checked her on the keyboard—
and she was right on!
Now I started to boil.
I called out more tones,
trying hard to make
them increasingly
difficult. But each
note she sang
perfectly on pitch.
I was totally
boggled. “How in
the world do you
do it? ” I blurted.
“I don’t know,” she
sighed. And that was
all I could get out of her!
The dazzle of Perfect Pitch hit me like a ton of
bricks. I was dizzy with disbelief. Yet from then on, I
knew that Perfect Pitch was real.
“How in the world do you
do it?” I blurted. I was totally
boggled. (age 14, 9th grade)
��������������������������������������������
��������������������������������������������
I couldn’t figure it out . . .
“How does she DO it?” I kept asking myself. On the
other hand, why can’t everyone recognize and sing
tones by ear?
Then it dawned on me. People call themselves
musicians, yet they can’t tell a C from a C

? Or A major
from F major?! That’s as strange as a portrait painter
who can’t name the colors of paint on his palette. It all
seemed so odd and contradictory.
Humiliated and puzzled, I went home to work on
this problem. At age 14, this was a hard nut to crack.
You can be sure I tried it out for myself. With a little
sweet-talking, I got my three brothers and two sisters
to play piano tones for me—so I could try to name
them by ear. But it always turned into a messy guessing
game I just couldn’t win.
Day after day I tried to learn those freaking tones.
I would hammer a note over and over to make it stick
in my head. But hours later I would remember it a half
step flat. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t recog-
nize or remember any of the tones by ear. They all
sounded the same after awhile; how were you supposed
to know which was which—just by listening?
I would have done anything to have an ear like
Linda. But now I realized it was way beyond my reach.
So after weeks of work, I finally gave up.
Then it happened . . .
It was like a miracle . . . a twist of fate . . . like finding
the lost Holy Grail . . .
Once I stopped straining my ear, I started to listen
NATURALLY. Then the simple secret to Perfect Pitch
jumped right into my lap.
Curiously, I began to notice faint “colors” within the
tones. Not visual colors, but colors of pitch, colors of
My true story of Perfect Pitch
by David-Lucas Burge
I
T ALL STARTED when I was in ninth grade as a sort
of teenage rivalry . . .
I’d slave at the piano for five hours daily. Linda prac-
ticed far less. Yet somehow she always shined as the star
performer at our school. It was frustrating.
What does she have that I don’t? I’d wonder.
Linda’s best friend, Sheryl, bragged on and on to me,
adding more fuel to my fire.
“You could never be as good as Linda,” she would
taunt. “Linda’s got Perfect Pitch.”
“What’s Perfect Pitch?” I asked.
Sheryl gloated about Linda’s uncanny abilities: how
she could name exact notes and chords—all BY EAR;
how she could sing any tone—from memory alone;
how she could play songs—after just hearing them;
the list went on and on . . .
My heart sank. Her EAR is the secret to her success
I thought. How could I ever hope to compete with her?
But it bothered me. Did she really have Perfect Pitch?
How could she know notes and chords just by hearing
them? It seemed impossible.
Finally I couldn’t stand it anymore. So one day I
marched right up to Linda and asked her point-blank
if she had Perfect Pitch.
“Yes,” she nodded aloofly.
But Perfect Pitch was too good to believe. I rudely
pressed, “Can I test you sometime?”
“OK,” she replied.
Now she would eat her words . . .
My plot was ingeniously simple . . .
When Linda least suspected, I walked right up and
The #
1World Best-Selling Ear Training Method for 28Years
� Name any note or chord — by EAR! � Sing any desired pitch at will
� You’ll hear it for yourself — immediately. � Copy music straight off a CD � Play by ear — instead
of searching by hand � Identify keys of songs just by listening � Compose music in your head
� Perform with confidence � Enjoy richer music appreciation � Open a new door to your talents . . .
David-Lucas Burge
They laughed when
I said they could have
Perfect Pitch
. . . until I showed them the simple secret
——and they heard it for themselves!
S
a
v
e
$
5
0
28th Anniversary
Publisher’s Discount!
S
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0
901elm84-85.indd 2 12/3/2008 11:26:59 AM
40-Day Money Back Guarantee:
You will experience Perfect Pitch for
yourself——or you get a full refund!
�YES!Prove to me that I have
Perfect Pitch! Send me ALL 8 CDs + handbook. I’ll
listen to the first 5 CDs. I must notice immediate and
dramatic advancements in 1) my ear, 2) my perfor-
mance level, and 3) my enjoyment—or I’ll return the
course for a full prompt refund, no questions asked.
If I decide to continue my ear training, I’ll enjoy my
remaining 3 CDs with advanced lessons. My FREE
74-minute bonus CD on Relative Pitch is mine to keep
(a $15 gift)—even if I return my course for a refund.
I also get FREE: Perfect Pitch for Children (a $15 gift).
List price:
$
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$
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Your discount price: only
$
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$
10 for
Priority RUSH shipping
*
. You save
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Use your credit card or debit card
Choose a monthly Easy Pay Plan: more plans online
�10payments of $11.90 (+$1.95/month service charge)
� 4payments of $29.75 (+ $1.95/month service charge)
� 1payment of $119
(
no service charge)
_______________________________________________________
CARD NUMBER EXPIRATION DATE
�Enclosed is my personal check or money order payable
to PerfectPitch.comfor just $119 plus $10 shipping*.
*Outside USA/Canada: Shipping is $20 for Global Priority
Mail. Please submit money order in US funds.
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INSTRUMENT(S) YOU PLAY (please include VOICE if applicable)
Mail to: Or fax to: (641) 472-2700
PerfectPitch com/28years
VIP Code: EM-131 ($50 off/2 free CDs)
1200 E. Burlington Avenue, Fairfield, IA 52556

Oh, you must be wondering: whatever happened with
Linda? I’ll have to backtrack. . .
Flashback to my senior year of high school. I
was nearly 18. In these three-and-a-half years with
Perfect Pitch, my piano teacher insisted I had made ten
years of progress. And I had. But my youthful
ambition wasn’t satisfied. I needed one more
thing: to beat Linda. Now was my final chance.
The University of Delaware hosts a performing
music festival each
spring, complete with
judges and awards. To
my horror, they sched-
uled me that year as
the grand finale.
The fated day
arrived. Linda gave her
usual sterling perfor-
mance. She would be
tough to match, let
alone surpass. But my
turn finally came, and
I went for it.
Slinking to the
stage, I sat down and
played my heart out
with selections from
Beethoven, Chopin,
and Ravel. The
applause was over-
whelming.
Afterwards, I
scoured the bulletin
board for our grades.
Linda received an A.
This was no surprise.
Then I saw that
I had scored an A+.
Sweet victory was
music to my ears, mine
at last! —D.L.B.
Now it’s YOUR turn!
F
or 28 years now, musicians around the globe have
proven the simple methods that David-Lucas Burge
stumbled upon as a teenager (plus research at two lead-
ing universities—see www.PerfectPitch.com/research).
Now you can hear it for yourself! It’s easy and fun—
and guaranteed to work for YOU—regardless of your
instrument, your playing style, or your current ability.
Order your own Perfect Pitch
®
Ear Training
SuperCourse and listen to the first CD. We promise
you will immediately hear the Perfect Pitch colors that
David-Lucas starts you on—or return the course for a
full prompt refund (you’ve got our 28-year word on it).
You can even check out your progress at no risk. You
must notice immediate and dramatic advancements in
1) your ear, 2) your playing and singing, and 3) your
enjoyment of music, or return your course for a full
prompt refund, no questions asked.
Imagine the talents that Perfect Pitch can open up
in YOU to advance your playing, your singing, your own
creativity and confidence. Then again, how will you ever
know unless you listen for yourself? There’s no risk.
Order your course now and HEAR IT for YOURSELF!
sound. They had always been there. But this was the
first time I had ever really “let go”—and listened—to
discover these subtle differences.
Soon—to my own disbelief—I too could name the
tones by ear! It was simple. I could hear how F

sounds
one way, while B

has a totally different sound—sort of
like “hearing” red and blue!
The realization struck me: THIS IS PERFECT
PITCH! This is how Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart
could mentally hear
their masterpieces
—and know tones,
chords, and keys
—all by ear!
It was almost
childish—I felt sure
that anyone could
unlock their own
Perfect Pitch with
this simple secret of
“Color Hearing.”
Bursting with
excitement, I told my
best friend, Ann
(a flutist).
She laughed at me.
“You have to be born
with Perfect Pitch,”
she asserted. “You
can’t develop it.”
“You don’t under-
stand how Perfect
Pitch works,” I coun-
tered. I sat her down
and showed her how
to listen. Timidly, she
confessed that she
too could hear the
pitch colors. With
this jump start, Ann
soon realized she
also had gained Perfect Pitch.
We became instant celebrities. Classmates loved to
call out tones for us to magically sing from thin air.
They played chords for us to name by ear. They quizzed
us on what key a song was in.
Everyone was fascinated with our “supernatural”
powers, yet to Ann and me, it was just normal.
Way back then, I never dreamed I would later cause
such a stir in the academic world. But when I entered
college and started to explain my discoveries, professors
laughed at me.
“You must be born with Perfect Pitch,” they’d say.
“You can’t develop it!”
I would listen politely. Then I’d reveal the simple
secret—so they could hear it for themselves.
You’d be surprised how fast they changed their tune!
In college, my so-called “perfect ear” allowed me to
skip over two required music theory courses. Perfect
Pitch made everything easier—my ability to perform,
compose, arrange, transpose, improvise, and even
sight-read (because—without looking at the key-
board—you know you’re playing the correct tones).
And because my ears were open, music sounded
richer. I learned that music is truly a HEARING art.
HEAR IT FOR YOURSELF! Save
$
50 + get 2 Free Bonus CDs! A Limited Time Offer!
For 28 years, we’ve received letters
from musicians in 120 countries:
� “Wow! It really worked. I feel like a new musician. I am
very proud I could achieve something of this caliber.” J.M.,
percussion �“Someone played a D major chord and I recog-
nized it straight away. S.C., bass �“Thanks...I developed a full
Perfect Pitch in just two weeks! It just happened like a miracle.”
B.B., guitar/piano �“It is wonderful. I can truly hear the
differences in the color of the tones.” D.P., student �“I heard
the differences on the initial playing, which did in fact surprise
me. It is a breakthrough.” J.H., student �“It’s so simple it’s
ridiculous. M.P., guitar �“I’m able to play things I hear in my
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901elm84-85.indd 3 12/3/2008 11:27:15 AM
86 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
QUICKPICKS
performers, scholars, and listeners have
fallen in love with this great musical tra-
dition. T ere are now gamelan ensem-
bles around the world—probably more
than 100 in the United States alone.
Most of us will never own or even have
access to a gamelan, but Soniccouture
has created a sample library called
Balinese Gamelan ($499) that brings
a virtual gamelan into the home stu-
dio. T e 24 GB collection arrives on 3
DVDs and features superb recordings
of some 25 different gamelan instru-
ments sampled in 96 kHz, 24-bit ste-
reo. T e collection requires the Native
Instruments Kontakt 2 or 3 software
sampler (there is no standalone play-
back engine). T e recordings were made
on a type of gamelan called Gamelan
Samara Dana, and the particular instru-
ments sampled reside at LSO St. Luke’s
in London (the home of the London
Symphony Orchestra’s community and
music- education program).
After you install Balinese Gamelan
and launch Kontakt, the instruments will
be visible in Kontakt’s main file viewer.
Double-click on an instrument to load its
associated samples, and you’ll see a con-
trol panel that lets you adjust the level,
panning, envelope, and tuning. Additional
controls allow randomizing Velocity and
timing. T e Timing control offsets the
attack of each note by varying degrees
of randomness. T is
option, which is espe-
cially effective when
applied to pairs of
instruments playing
the same passage
together, replicates
the slight imperfec-
tions of a live perfor-
mance. T ere’s a script
to apply the tuning
system of the gamelan
to any other Kontakt
instrument, or, if you
want the gamelan to
conform to Western
tuning (for example, if
you’re using it as just
one track on an orchestral score), you can
use the Concert Pitch feature to retune
the instruments. T e excellent documen-
tation includes helpful descriptions and
beautiful pictures of each instrument.
A CLOSER LISTEN
T e gong samples are gorgeous and
are appropriately sensitive to touch—a
louder strike stimulates more harmonics,
which bloom beautifully after the
attack (see Web Clips 1 through 8
and the examples posted on the
developer’s Web site; the realism
is quite remarkable). T e two Kendang
drums include samples of left and right
hands with different kinds of strikes, as
well as hits with a wooden striker called
a pangul. (T e keyboard mapping makes
it easy to play in a left- and right-hand
fashion on the keyboard.) T ere are mul-
tisamples at different Velocities, so tone
changes realistically as you play with dif-
ferent pressure on the keyboard. If you
play repetitively at the same Velocity,
the program automatical ly cycles
through different samples to avoid an
artificial machine-gun effect. T e Kempli,
Bebende, and Kajar (small gongs used
as timekeepers) have been sampled for
both open and damped sounds: play-
ing the closed sample automatically
stops the corresponding open sample,
as would occur in actually playing the
instrument. Ceng Ceng and Gentorak
are, respec tively, a set of small cymbals
and something like a bell tree. T e Ceng
Ceng has open and damped options as
well as a short 2-stroke rhythm.
T ere are six different metallophones,
and all of them have a keyswitch (C1 and
C#1) to change between normal articula-
tion and damped. T ese instruments are
typically played in slightly detuned pairs,
which creates a characteristic shimmer-
ing effect. T e sample library includes that
option, although of course you can also
play each instrument alone. T e metal-
lophone samples are beautifully recorded
and very realistic in their response to dif-
ferent Velocities. T e test for me of a good
multisample is that you can almost lit-
erally see and feel the instrument being
struck in different locations, and that is
definitely the case here.
T e Pitched Kettle Gongs (called
Reyong and Trompong) contain an
especially effective release. In perfor-
mance, these instruments are damped
by lightly placing the mallet on the
nipple of the gong, and that sound
is sampled and played on release for
added realism.
In addition to all this, there are
two multi-instrument options.
T e Gamelan Multi Original loads
all the instruments in the ensemble
mapped to different MIDI channels. T e
Gamelan Multi Shifted is the same as
the Multi Original, only transposed down
35 cents (35 percent of a semitone) so
that it is closer to a Western concert D,
an option that might work for users who
are mixing the gamelan with “tempered”
instruments.
T is collection isn’t cheap, but it
seems to be priced in line with what
you’d expect for a high-quality sample
library. If you’ve always wished you could
have an actual gamelan in your home,
owning this beautifully recorded sample
library is the next best thing.
Value (1 through 5): 4
Soniccouture
soniccouture.com
T is screen
shows Balinese
Gamelan with
several instruments
loaded as it appears
within Kontakt. T e
keyboard at the
bottom displays the
keyboard mapping
for the Kantilan
Pair: red indicates
the keyswitches
(to switch between
normal and damped
articulation), and
blue indicates the
available notes of the
instrument.
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88 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
QUICKPICKS
ABBEY ROAD PLUG-INS
Brilliance Pack 1.05
(Mac/Win)
By Eli Crews
When it comes to recording studios, one
monolithic name towers over the past
40 years of record production: Abbey
Road. For decades, engineers near and
far have been searching for the holy grail
of the Abbey Road sound, as epitomized
in the records of the Beatles. T e new
Brilliance Pack plug-in suite ($499 TDM,
$249 RTAS/AU/VST) from the studio’s
tech department brings us mere mortals
one step closer.
PRESENT AND
ACCOUNTED FOR
T e Brilliance Pack consists of three plug-
ins, all of which replicate in software the
hardware boxes designed at Abbey Road
in the early ’60s. T e RS127 Brilliance
Control (or Presence Box) was a remark-
ably basic, passive treble control with
two knobs, one for up to 10 dB of boost
or cut in 2 dB steps, and one for selecting
one of three center frequencies (2.7 kHz,
3.5 kHz, or 10 kHz, chosen to comple-
ment the EQ on the REDD mixing con-
soles at Abbey Road). T e Presence Box
came in two flavors: the gray Rack model
or the green Box version. T e actual Rack
and Box RS127s have identical circuitry,
but when the plug-in engineers were ana-
lyzing the units, they discovered that a
certain transformer (utilized to interface
the RS127s with modern equipment) col-
ored the sound in a desirable way, so the
virtual RS127 Box has that transformer
coloration as part of its sound.
T e third plug-in in the Brilliance
Pack is the RS135, which is known to
many simply as the “8 kHz box.” It‘s even
more basic than the RS127, with only one
control for boosting 8 kHz up to 10 dB
in 2 dB steps. All
three plug-ins
are exact visual
replicas of the
ori gi nal s and
are reported to
be aural replicas
as well. Having
never used the
original boxes,
I’ll have to take
the manufacturer’s word on that one.
LOAD ’ER UP
After loading the authorization into
my iLok Smart Key (required to run the
suite), the first thing I noticed using the
Brilliance Pack in Digidesign Pro Tools LE
was that there are no AudioSuite versions
of the plug-ins, so non-real-time bounces
are out of the question. T is is a minor
drag for people with older or slower com-
puters who rely on AudioSuite processing
in order to be able to use a lot of effects.
With the plug-ins loaded up as inserts,
though, I immediately forgot such trifles.
I was instantly hooked on these plug-ins,
which all sound amazing and quite dif-
ferent from one another.
RS127. T e RS127 Rack sounds the
cleanest of the three. It was extraordi-
narily easy to achieve gentle presence
boosts on vocals, snare drums, or guitars,
and the results were pleasing to the ears.
I heard none of the undesirable phase-
shifting or harshness/honkiness that can
arise with lesser EQs boosting high-mid
or high-end frequencies. T e Box version
of the RS127 is quite a bit more aggres-
sive; when set to the same frequency
and boost amount as the RS127 Rack, the
signal gets a significant volume boost
comparatively and sounds a lot more
forward in the mix.
T is has become one of my favorite
vocal-presence boosts, especially when
set between 2 and 6 dB at 10 kHz. T is
boost can often cause clipping, and
because there is no gain control in these
plug-ins (an oversight, in my opinion,
despite the lack of a gain control on the
original units), I usually had to insert a
Trim plug-in before the RS plug-ins to
bring my signal down a few decibels.
Because these boxes have the ability to
cut as well, I successfully tamed some
harshly recorded guitars with the Box
plug-in by knocking 2 dB off at 3.5 kHz.
RS135. As stated earlier, the RS135
has a single control that boosts 8 kHz
in 2 dB steps. In actuality, because the
original box was passive, it attenuated all
frequencies except 8 kHz, which is some-
what apparent in the plug-in version,
because your signal doesn’t get a whole
lot louder even when boosted to the
extreme. However, because of the reso-
nant peak created, you still need a trim
control to prevent clipping when boost-
ing signals anywhere close to 0 dBfs.
T e sound of this plug-in is phenome-
nal. It can really make instruments poke
their head through, so to speak, without
seeming much louder. I’ve been using
it like crazy lately to get guitars, bass,
and backing vocals to assert themselves
without taking over the mix.
SHINING STARS
You might be wondering how plug-ins
that seemingly do so little can compete
with the myriad of plug-ins out there
that do so much. For my money, I’d much
rather have a simple EQ with one knob
that sounds fantastic than a mediocre EQ
with ten bands and oodles of parameters.
It’s refreshing to get back to the basics
of tonal control, and it doesn’t get much
more basic than the Brilliance Pack. It
certainly won’t serve as your utilitarian,
catch-all EQ tool, but it can augment
your existing EQs in a simple, elegant,
and extremely exciting way. And if one
band of EQ isn’t enough for you, stacking
them sounds great, too.
Value (1 through 5): 4
Abbey Road Plug-ins
abbeyroadplugins.com
T e Abbey Road
Plug-ins Brilliance
Pack plug-ins are
modeled on actual
hardware devices
used by numerous
artists, including the
Beatles. T e suite
contains the RS127
Rack (left), the RS127
Box (center), and the
RS135 (right).
901ELM80.indd 88 12/4/08 10:20:41 AM
89 01.09 | EMUSICIAN.COM |
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901elm94-95.indd 2 12/1/2008 9:16:36 AM
901elm94-95.indd 3 12/1/2008 9:19:32 AM
901elm96-97.indd 2 12/1/2008 10:16:09 AM
901elm96-97.indd 3 12/1/2008 10:16:27 AM
98 | EMUSICIAN.COM | 01.09
>>INsessIoN
Compression Is Like Salt
By Nathaniel Kunkel
The holiday season is in full swing, which
means it’s time to start cooking. I love to
cook, and I have the same passion for cook-
ing as I have for mixing. I’ve noticed that the
two passions have many correlations. But
I’m not alone in this finding.
Doug Sax once said to me that mixers
were like chefs. Some use lots of salt, some
use none, and many cover the vast ground
in between. Each of these practices can
result in fabulous food. But what if you are
used to eating food with no salt and all of
a sudden you eat something really salty?
Gross, right? It’s similar with audio. When
you are used to hearing recordings with
plenty of dynamics and you hear one that
is really compressed, it sounds broken. Unless, of course, it’s part of the sound you’re looking for—and it works.
Then you’re a genius.
It’s all context. Take blackened fish, for instance. The proper way to blacken a fish is to partially burn it, which is not a
normal thing. But in the context of the spice and the meat, it works like a charm. Much like tremendous distortion and/or
ridiculous compression—contrasted against other textures, these flavors can be very powerful.
Simple can also be powerful. A slice of fresh tomato, some fresh basil, and a pinch of good sea salt: very different,
simple ingredients, and a very good combination. Just like how a Wurlitzer organ, a jazz drum kit, and a thrilling vocal
performance can be as compelling as a big band.
Complex is also wonderful. Compare a fruit salad to an orchestra: the ingredients are so much greater than the sum
of their parts, offering limitless combinations and massive differences in the compositions as you move each element
around. On the other hand, one can clearly see that an 80-piece orchestra consisting only of Wurlitzers might not be
that appealing.
(I am still searching my soul for the musical equivalent of suspending fruit salad in Jell-O molds. I am sure it relates to
’80s reverbs, but the exact correlation eludes me.)
Perspective—and the loss of it—is much the same in cooking as it is in mixing. I can be cooking a pasta sauce for
hours and not be happy with it. My wife will breeze through the room, taste it, and add a pinch of one ingredient, and the
whole thing will be perfect. Ugh, that kills me. I do all the work, she is the genius.
Just like when your producer walks in to a mix you have been struggling with for hours and tells you to turn up the
vocal 1.5 dB and print it. Then he turns out to be completely right and the mix fixes itself right in front of your eyes.
We can get into a rut just as easily when we mix as when we cook, making the same three breakfasts, the same four
lunches, and the same ten dinners that we always make. It is so easy to do. The hungry part of you overpowers the artist,
and before you know it, you are a Top Ramen eating machine. It’s much like the mixers who never touch their outboard
gear, or the arrangers who always load the same keyboard sample and drum-loop library. When you are good at your gig,
you can get away with simply doing what you always do and never challenge yourself to go further.
But in my opinion, that makes for boring music and boring eating.
For me, the new frontier is phyllo dough. I have to figure out how to make that stuff rock without using butter. So far
it seems an impossible task. I’m going to try some desserts with it tonight—right after I finish this mix.
Nathaniel Kunkel (studiowithoutwalls.com) is a Grammy and Emmy Award–winning producer, engineer, and mixer
who has worked with Sting, James Taylor, B.B. King, Insane Clown Posse, Lyle Lovett, I-Nine, and comedian Robin
Williams.
901ELM98.indd 98 11/25/08 11:30:55 AM
901elmIBC.indd 1 11/24/2008 9:24:33 AM
901elmBC.indd 1 11/24/2008 2:47:00 PM

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