TC Electronic Konnekt 24D

TC Electronic Konnekt 24DThe Konnekt 24D by TC Electronics is a small FireWire recording interface that fits nicely in a compact space.  The device has 14 inputs and outputs plus much more.  The ADC/DACs on the analog I/O are 24-bit, 192 kHz, so it’s got some power here.  You can use either the included AC adapter or a FireWire bus to run the Konnekt 24D, and it’s compatible with both Macs and Windows, plus the apps support Core Audio, ASIO, and WDM drivers.  The device also includes TC’s NEAR software, which helps control routing, DSP, setup, and the various mix functions plus lets you control up to four Konnekts at once by networking them together.

So what kind of ports will you find here?  You’ve got two mic/DI/line inputs, two extra line inputs, a MIDI I/O, a ADAT Lightpipe IO, a S/PDIF co-ax I/O, four analog outputs, and a headphone amp.  Eight of the 14 inputs are from the two Lightpipe ports, giving you a lot of versatility.  The device also has a control room level control and an onboard DSP.  You can place the DSP inline during recordings or as a channel in whichever host application you’re using. Continue reading »

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API 527

API 527The API 527 is an API VCA based compressor that is based on the look and feel of the 225L and the 2500 stereo bus compressor.  It does have several new features, however, but if you’ve used one of API’s other compressors, you won’t have much of a learning curve.  Even if you’ve never picked up one of their products, you’ll find that the API 527 is fairly easy to learn and use.

The API 527 features a soft/hard switch to adjust for over-easy compressor, which gives you everything from a natural sound to a sharp type sound.  The threshold control lets you set your initial operating setting to anything from +10 dBu to -20 dBu.  Then there’s the feed forward and feed back gain reduction controls.  This gives you a very flexible compression while still giving you options for classic compression options.  There’s also an output fader control that lets you adjust as you go without any major gain changes.

As with many of API’s devices, you’ll find the thrust function included in the API 527.  This function applies a high pass filter to your sound before the RMS detector circuit to keep the punchy bottom end intact.  The device also features an attack and a release control that are fully adjustable.  You can set release to everything from .3 seconds to a full 3 seconds, while the attack ranges from a millisecond to 25 milliseconds.

The API 527 is a great compressor/limiter for many needs.  While it does build upon earlier models, it has enough new features and upgrades to make it worth buying.  The API 527 retails for $895.

For more info be sure to check out the Api website: http://www.apiaudio.com/527.html

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The API 527 takes it's place alongside the family of API VCA based compressors, the 225L and the 2500 Stereo Bus Compressor. Anyone familiar with those units will immediately be at home with the 527.

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Future Sonics Atrio Personal Monitors

Future Sonics Atrio Personal MonitorsFuture Sonics has created a number of in-ear monitors, all of which are top quality.  The Atrio Series of universal-fit personal monitors uses Future Sonic’s own MG5PRO audio driver technology to create an accurate, balanced sound that is great for mixing or just listing to music.  The Atrio Series includes a number of different models such as the M5.  Each includes different options.  The M5, for example, features several different sizes of EarFills silicon sleeves and ComfortFit foam so the buds are guaranteed to stay in your ears.  This makes the Atrio Series a good in-between step between low quality, standard earpieces and the more expensive custom-molded ones.  You can experiment with the two types of sleeves and pick the one that feels the most comfortable.  Changing them out and replacing them is quite easy.  Just slide them up around the earpieces and then plug the connector into the receiver.

As far as weight goes, the earpieces are really light and fit very nicely in your ears.  The beltpack they plug into is, likewise, fairly light and sturdy.  The Atrio Series has a one-meter cable on the earpieces, which should be long enough for most anything.  You don’t have to cram the earpieces into your ears to get a good, effective seal, either.

The Atrio Series drivers have a 20 to 20k Hz response that is quite musical—there’s no flat response with these monitors.  The bass is very full and rich, while the high frequencies are full of details.  These personal monitors hand it all, and they provide enough volume that you don’t need to be cranking up your headphone amp.  The M5 version of the Atrio Series retails for $199.

For more information you can visit the FutureSonic website: http://www.futuresonics.com/

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Vir2 Instruments Acoustic Legends HD

Vir2 Instruments Acoustic Legends HDBig Fish Audio is a large company known for a lot of great products, and to keep up that high quality, they’ve created a division specifically to work on high quality plug-ins.  This division, called Vir2 Instruments, is the force behind the Acoustic Legends HD plug-in.  It features a large selection of instruments that were all sampled at 24-bit/96kHz, and as you would expect, they all sound outstanding.  The Acoustic Legends HD library is almost 19 GB in size, so expect to have many, many different options here.  In addition to standard acoustic guitars and such, you’ll find instruments like the mandolin and the ukulele, which you might not expect.  There’s nothing too innovative, but that’s OK.  There’s enough content in the library to keep you busy for a long time, and you’re sure to find at least one instrument sampling that fits your project.

The plug-in is laid out in a very easy to use way.  It features your standard options of alternate down, upstroke variations, key-switching, chord changes, and the like.  You can add percussive body effects and mutes.  There are also a number of different steel and nylon string sounds that haven’t been assigned to chords, so you’re free to play with them.  The library also includes fret noise that has been randomly blended into each sound, which is a nice realistic touch.

In addition to all of these instrument samplings, you’ll also find an extra folder full of different effects.  These are all done in a fairly standard way, so don’t expect anything outstanding or different here.  In fact, that’s pretty much how the Acoustic Legends plug-in is overall: nothing new or fancy, but a large, excellent sounding collection of acoustic sounds.  It’s great if that’s what you need, but the price tag may seem a bit high.  The plug-in retails for $250.

For more information you can check out the Vir2 website: http://www.vir2.com/

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Beyerdynamic M59 Review

Beyerdynamic M59 ReviewThe Beyerdynamic M59 is a dynamic hypercardioid microphone that produces a nice, rugged sound.  The mic has a large diaphragm and low mass, plus it uses enhanced field magnet technology to hold up to wear and tear.  It’s good choice for both studio work and interviews out of the studio.  The Macrolon element and the Hypercardioid polar patter combine to provide very fast response and high sensitivity, plus they guarantee you’ll get very accurate sound reproduction from the M59.

The M59 is a good choice for out of studio work because it uses a Multistage blast filter.  This filter helps reduce wind and popping noise.  The durable construction and the non-reflective Nextel finish help the mic withstand all the rigors of outdoor use.  A shock-mount isolation system helps reduce handheld and stand noise, plus an optional WS 59 large cell windscreen is available for on-air and voice-over work.

As far as tech specs go, the M59 has a frequency response of between 50 and 16,000 Hz.  Its side attenuation is greater than 25 decibels at 120 degrees. It has a nominal impedance of 280 ohms.  The mic comes in an aluminum case and has a 3-pin XLR connector.  The total diameter is 50.5 mm at the head, and the M59 is 205 mm long overall.  It weighs just a little over eight ounces.

Overall, this is a good mic to use for multiple types of recording.  The Beyerdynamic M59 retails for around $358.

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The M 59 by Beyerdynamic is a rugged, vocal quality dynamic microphone employing enhanced field magnet technology designed to withstand the demands of in studio or on location ENG/EFP speech and interview applications. The microphone's low mass, large diaphragm element and hypercardioid polar pattern offers fast transient response, high output, high sensitivity, and accurate reproduction while also providing excellent off axis rejection. The M 59 incorporates a sophisticated internal shock mount isolation system designed to reduce stand, boom, or handheld noise and vibration. Its durable construction and non glare finish will provide consistent protection against the rigors of on air and on location ENG/EFP production applications. The M 59 also incorporates an internal multistage blast filter designed to reduce undesirable wind or pop noise. The optional WS 59 large cell wind screen (sold separately) is recommended for on air, voice over and other close talking applications. Due to its high gain before feedback, the M 59 is ideal for lecterns, choirs, or music groups. The M 59 can be used on a stand, boom, gooseneck, or as a handheld microphone. Since 1924 Beyerdynamic has remained a German family owned company committed to continuous research and innovative developments for the audio market. All over the world, Beyerdynamic is known for the use of the latest technologies and a high quality standard. All Beyerdynamic products are made in Germany.

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Blue Microphones Woodpecker Active Ribbon Mic

Blue Microphones Woodpecker Active Ribbon MicBlue Microphones makes a number of good, solid active ribbon mics that are very colorful.  You won’t find boring, black mics with standard names here.  The Woodpecker, for example, appears to be made of paneled wood.   It’s Blue’s first active ribbon mic, but just because they haven’t made one before doesn’t mean it’s full of first edition problems.  This mic is high quality and quite useful.  It’s features a figure eight pattern and comes with a solid brass shockmount.  The mic weighs 1.6 pounds, so it’s pretty light, and it’s also sturdy enough to take a bit of a beating.

The Woodpecker is capable of recording a very even tone, and especially well suited for acoustic guitars.  While a ribbon mic generally doesn’t have the best high end recording, the Woodpecker is more open at the higher end than you’d expect.  Used with male vocals, the mic really doesn’t need much preamp gain at all to capture a really clear tone.  In fact, it beats out larger, dynamic mics in some cases.  It can provide more low end, a lower midrange, and more when used during live recording sessions.

Blue Microphones might have never made an active ribbon before, but you’d be hard to tell it from the high quality of the Woodpecker.  It renders everything with a clear tone and personality, and there’s no impedance mismatches to deal with.  It works well with low and high end preamps, and the output is amazing.  You get all of this for $1,299, a great price for a great mic.

For more info be sure to check out: http://www.bluemic.com/woodpecker/ Continue reading »

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Glyph GT 062 RAID Disk Drive

Glyph GT 062 RAID Disk DriveNeed a backup hard drive system?  The GT 062 RAID by Glyph is a half-rackspace desktop hard drive system that uses two Seagate SATA drives available in 500 GB, 1 TB, 1.5 TB, or 2 TB.  They run at 7,200 rpm and use an Oxford 924 chipset.  These drives are very fast and use a built-in Native Command Queuing algorithm to increase their efficiency.  The rack is made from steel and uses an internal power supply and incredibly quiet fan.  It features a USB 2 port, a FW 400 port, and two FireWire 800 ports.  A plastic travel case with cables for all three ports, AC power, and the Glyph Manager software are included.

The GT 062 can actually hold up to four drive modes at once and can transfer data at a rate of 80 MB per second.  If you happen to have a DAW that does not support a RAID, the GM software can configure the firmware so that it appears as a collection of hard drives.  This tricks the DAW into thinking you simply have many hard drives connected instead of a RAID.

In Spanning mode, the data is written out to each disc sequentially: when disc 1 is full, it moves on to the second.  Then there’s RAID 0 mode, which is the fastest.  Here, both drives are read and written to concurrently.  In RAID 1 mode, the mirroring mode, data is written redundantly to both drives.  It’s slower, but it provides you with two backups, and one drive takes over if the other fails.

If you need a great RAID setup to back up all of your data—especially in RAID 1 mode—then the GT 062 drive is perfect for you.  It’s fast, reliable, and accurate.  The 500 GB model retails for $452, the 1 TB for $665, and the 1.5 TB for $1,092.  If you really need space, go for the $1,425 2 TB discs.

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Aphex Headpod 454

Aphex Headpod 454The Aphex Headpod 454 is a high output personal headphone amp that features one input and four output ports.  It’s a very versatile device that can be used when recording on location, playing live, and when working on computer-based production and mixing.  It is mainly touted as a high output device, and its output vs. impedance chart shows that each of the four headphone outs can handle up to 8 ohms maximum and 600 ohms minimum.

The 454 has five simple to use controls.  There’s a master volume knob that lets you change the output volume of all four outputs at once, or adjust each of the four outputs individually using that output’s individual volume control.  The input/outputs are metal TRS jacks.  The back panel contains a switch to select between balanced TRS input or single, unbalanced input as desired.  The 454 is powered by a 12 volt wall plug.

When in use, you’ll find that the 454s are certainly very powerful, and their higher impedance will work much better with some sounds than other, similar products.  When turned down you, the headphones reveal several subtle shifts in tones that other headphones don’t.

There aren’t many downsides to the device.  It’s not rackmountable—the 454 is designed as a tabletop unit only.  The Headpod costs $249.  However, its sturdy construction, clean tones, and the great amount of detail and gain the 454 produces make it worth your time and money. Continue reading »

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Overloud Breverb Plug-In

Overloud Breverb Plug-InThe Breverb reverb plug-in by Italian developer Overloud is a great synthesized reverb plug-in that is quite affordable.  It actually replicates some of the same sounds and features that you’d get in a package much more expensive.  You’ll find four different master algorithms in this plug-in: inverse, plate, hall, and room.  Each one creates a separate environment and has a number of different settings for you to play with.  Breverb is available for both Macs and PCs in VST, Audio Units, and RTAS formats.

Many reverb synthesizers use up a lot of CPU resources, meaning you have to have a high powered machine to really get a lot out of them.  Breverb, however, uses minimal system resources so you’re free to run multiple programs at once without seeing much in the way of slow down.  It’s also laid out very effectively.  The GUI is simple and clean, making it easy to see reverb paths, controls, and the master EQ.

Breverb has five master control tabs, including a General tab and one for each of the four algorithms.  General offers six different parameters for synthesized reverbs and nine reverb options.  The options on the General tab change depending on which of the preset algorithms you’re using.  You can switch the Breverb GUI into advanced mode if you like, hiding and showing different controls and windows.  All of your presets are saved, and you can create multiple preset saves if you like.

The easy to use GUI and multiple algorithms make Breverb a very useful tool, and the fact that the sound it produces is outstanding make it an invaluable one.  It does everything a much more expensive plug-in would do for only $499. Continue reading »

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Native Instruments Kore 2

Native Instruments Kore 2When Native Instruments first introduced their Kore hardware/software integration plug-in, it represented a huge step forward, but it did have a few issues that needed to be worked out.  Thankfully, Native Instruments addresses all of those issues with Kore 2, which represents a significant renovation to Kore.  The program still allows you to manage your huge sound library, especially if you use a lot of software synths.

Right out of the box, you’ll see the USB-connectable controller box.  This handy little piece of hardware has eight rotating enobs, eight buttons, footswitch inputs, and more.  The software that accompanies it runs in either stand-alone mode or as a plug-in for DX/RTAS, or VST.  It has a nice router/mixer layout that allows you to easily apply effects, layer instruments, and build your different setups.  If you like the original Kore controller, you can use that with the new software package.  It includes an audio interface, which Kore 2 does not.  Another change from the first Kore is that you do not have to have the Kore 2 controller connected to your computer when using the software (with the exception of installation).

The software package includes many of Native Instruments greatest plug-ins and programs.  It includes Massive, Reaktor, FM8, Massive, and different effects processors.  There are 31 different built-in effects like chorus, reverb, delays, and rotary speaker simulators.  You can create a number of different presets and save them to your library.

There are a few areas that Kore 2 could improve on.  There are some areas of the GUI, such as the inserts and channels pane, that could be a bit larger.  The software manual is quite hefty and somewhat confusing, although the software is easy enough to understand that you may not need the book.  Kore 2 is a great solution for anyone who uses a lot of plug-ins and needs to handle complex sounds and large libraries.  At $559.99, it’s a good deal.

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