My friend, pianist and EM contributor Marshall Otwell, recently reminded me of June’s EM Pro/File of New York bassist and electronic musician Lisle Ellis. That prompted me to grab his latest CD Sucker Punch Requiem, and it’s a great listen—clearly jazz but with lots of electronic treats.
Archive for July, 2009
This morning Apple surprised everyone by announcing major updates to Logic Studio and Final Cut Studio. None of the rumor sites had a clue the announcements were coming. Only a few development partners who were sworn to secrecy were in on it, so it appears that Apple did an especially good job of keeping their news under wraps this time around.
The new Logic Studio comprises Logic Pro 9, MainStage 2, Soundtrack Pro 3, and Compressor 3.5. Logic Pro 9 is all about enhanced workflow, new plug-ins, and new capabilities. Apple says it’s easier than ever to share setups and track content between projects. With a single command, you can now turn a selected audio region into a sampler instrument triggered by its own MIDI track. (I’ve wanted to do that for years.) Enhanced take folders let you edit take regions, color-code your takes, and punch in and out of takes without creating new lanes. With Logic Pro’s collection of Flex Time tools, you can nondestructively manipulate the timing and tempo of audio events in real time, using algorithms tailored to specific track types. Quickly quantize audio, apply varispeed, and slice drum tracks. You can even export selected audio tracks from one project to another with automatic tempo matching.
Two of Logic Pro’s new plug-ins, Amp Designer and Pedalboard, emulate real gear that includes 25 amps, 25 cabinets, 30 stompboxes, and more. One standout feature of Pedalboard is the ability to rearrange effects in any order you wish. More than 450 new impulse responses for Space Designer deliver warped effects for new audio-processing possibilities. Additional new features in Logic Pro 9 include Drum Replacer and the Voices Jam Pack, which previously was only available separately.
In MainStage 2, the new Playback plug-in plays backing tracks you can trigger while performing live. With the Loopback plug-in, you can build loop-based jams by endlessly layering your live performances. Now you can more easily record your performances and change multiple parameters with a single MIDI controller. MainStage 2 also offers full ReWire support.
One of the new features in Soundtrack Pro 3, Voice Level Match, takes the volume data from one audio clip and applies it to another to correct mismatched volume levels. An improved File Editor lets you make changes to specific audio events without affecting simultaneous audio in other frequency ranges. Advanced Time Stretch gives you three new algorithms for stretching and compressing audio.
For thousands of Logic Studio users and for me personally, this news is particularly exciting. I look forward to getting my hands on the update and putting it through its paces. Look for a review by Len Sasso in a future issue of EM.
Like most Apple software, Logic Studio is for Mac OS X only. It’s available now for $499, and upgrades are $199. For more information, point your browser to apple.com.
As major record labels become less relevant in the face of their own greed, where do independent recording artists turn for financial backing? Yesterday’s New York Times had a fascinating article on a new company that wants “to invest a few hundred thousand dollars in new and rising artists who are not signed to record deals.” (To read the article, you may need to register for free access.)
I’m stunned at the lack of news from Summer NAMM. I was planning to go (had my hotel reservations and everything), when I noticed that very few major manufacturers would be exhibiting. I also discovered that unless they lived in Nashville, most of my friends in the audio business would be sitting this one out, too. So I decided to join the teaming masses that weren’t going and canceled my reservations. This is only the second Summer NAMM I’ve missed in more than 20 years.
Did I make the right decision? As it turns out, I think I did. We’ve gotten very few press releases announcing new products at NAMM, especially products of interest to personal studio owners. I keep waiting for new product announcements in my email inbox that never come. Sure, there are plenty of new guitar straps and strings, and even a few new guitars and amps, but that stuff just doesn’t hold my interest, certainly not for three days, and not like new software and studio gear. My only regrets are that I won’t get to catch up with my friends who will be there, and I’m sure I’ll miss some wonderful musical performances. I expect the economy to be flourishing by this time next year (I sure hope so, anyway), and if Summer NAMM itself survives this year’s disappointing numbers, I’ll be back.
Update: A couple days after the show, NAMM announced that 12,697 people were registered to attend, a 26 percent drop from last summer. I wonder how many of those, like I did, registered but didn’t actually attend. A total of 383 companies exhibited, and 145 of those were new exhibitors.
I’m the kind of guy who’s always looking for bargains, and when I find them, I just can’t wait to tell my friends about them. From what I’ve seen so far, this is fast becoming the summer of savings for musicians and recordists. Today I spotted two such bargains, and the first one is just plain unbelievable.
PSPaudioware’s Nitro has long been one of my favorite multi-effects plug-ins. It excels at sophisticated filter and modulation effects. PSP Nitro normally sells for $149, but for the next month, you can get it for $10 from online retailer audioMIDI.com. That’s right, I said $10. If you want to know more about Nitro, you can read our October 2004 review.
If hardware is more to your liking, take a look at Yamaha’s KX61 Keyboard Studio Controller. It has assignable knobs and integrates well with software instruments and DAWs. It even comes with a software suite that includes VST instruments and a collection of samples. Its retail price is $499, but while they last, Musician’s Friend is blowing them out for just $169.99.
If you’ve had your eye on Submersible Music’s DrumCore but haven’t been quite ready to take the plunge, here’s a chance to get a free version of DrumCore 3 with enough content (1GB vs. 16GB for the full version) to make it a useful addition to your drum arsenal.
DrumCore Free includes the AU, VST and RTAS plug-in versions of DrumCorer 3 but not the standalone DrumCore Toolkit for importing your own loop libraries and drum kits. It does include the infamous Gabrielizer and LiveDrummer features along with audio drum loops, drum kits and MIDI drum loops to play the kits. Here’s a case when you get a good bit more than you pay for.
Native Instruments just announced a substantial discount on their Komplete 5 bundle of virtual instruments and effects. During the month of July you can buy it direct or from NI dealers for $399 [MSRP]. The bundle includes Absynth 4, Akoustik Piano, B4 II, Elektrik Piano, FM8, Guitar Rig 3, Kontakt 3, Massive, Pro-53 and Reaktor 5. You’ll find online reviews for many of them at emusician.com.