FIVE Plug-and-Play USB Microphones
Home Studio Threesome
With Christmas just around the corner we thought it an opportune time to review some fun and effective home recording products. Not only small enough (or almost) to fit in your stocking, they’re affordable pressies – highly suitable for that special someone who’s a little music obsessed and always so hard to buy for. Santa’s elves were all flat out so we enlisted Jeremy Toy to fill in and review these three home studio products. As a talented multi-instrumentalist and producer with an impressive set of producing credits to his name, including Opensouls and She’s So Rad, we think you’ll agree he did a better job than those elves would have ...more
Apogee Duet 2 Audio Interface
Apogee’s Duet 2 is a dual input/four output music production audio interface that powers through USB 2. It’s designed to enable the production of high quality audio recording and playback in project or home studio recording environments. With an rrp of $899 it replaces the original ‘Duet’, (read Duet 1), enabling users to record high quality 24-bit, 96Khz audio into suitable audio applications on Apple computers ...more
MyMix Personal Monitoring System
The transition from a familiar sounding practice room to a stage with limited fold-back options can be a difficult one for bands. A good sound mix on stage can easily be the difference between an amazing or a mediocre performance.
Even with top-of-the-line equipment, a bank account-draining sound engineer and the perfect soundcheck, performers can be forced into using incomprehensible sign language to get ‘more cowbell’ or ‘less bass’, or simply a near-right monitor mix. This process can be distracting for audience members and at worst cringe-worthy to watch.
On another hand, certain venues may not cater for a full band line-up and provide only a iPod speaker quality set-up – leaving band members fretting over levels and arguing how the few available monitors should be placed onstage. ...more
Three Mid-sized Studio Monitors
So you’ve finally finished that album, tracked and then mixed and finally burned off a copy for the band. Then shock, horror! They came back to you with some complaints about how it doesn’t sound very good when they play it at home, or at their friend’s place, or much, much worse; in the record label’s office. Welcome to the world of mix translatability, my friends. ...more
Yamaha Tyros4 Workstation
The Tyros is Yamaha’s flagship arranger keyboard and is arguably the benchmark for all arranger keyboards. The first Tyros was introduced early this millennium and has been developed continuously since then with the latest version being the Tyros4. ...more
A Hatrick of Studio-friendly Headphones
Finding a good pair of headphones for use in the studio is a life’s work! They need to sound good, obviously, but there are all the practical considerations that need to be addressed also. For example, they need to be comfortable on the ears and the head, and if you’re sharing, does the talent want closedv back or open back for hearing comfort? To date, at Ellamy Studios, we have been using AKG K271s for the personal mix stations in the tracking room, and a combination of K271s, and Sennheiser HiFi headphones for the occasional mix check in the mix/control room. For day to day mix and tracking monitoring we use Barefoot MM27s.
To test these headphones I trialled them during a jazz session, with musicians using them with their personal mixers during tracking, and I also used them myself to remix an alt rock band that had recorded at Ellamy Studios a few weeks earlier. ...more
Four Choice Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphones
It is that time of the year again. Another class of degree students has started at SAE Institute, eager to immerse themselves in the recording industry.
And what the wrench is to the plumber and the hammer to the carpenter, is the microphone to the sound engineer. The better you know your tools the better your results. And there’s no better way to get to know what your tools can do for you than by comparing and reviewing them.
The four microphones on review here all share one characteristic – they are condensers; microphones that require power to run. They can be fairly fragile and complex affairs compared to their dynamic counterparts, however it is generally agreed that condensers capture a more accurate representation of the sound source, and thus are the pre-dominant type found in recording studios.
Recent years have seen increasing diversity in this area, with inexpensive microphones manufactured in China challenging much-loved, but more expensive stalwarts.
With four very diverse microphones to be reviewed, comparing them to each other would have been the proverbial apples and oranges thrown into the same bag. Consequently we rummaged through the microphone cabinets at SAE and at York Street Studios for the closest industry standard equivalents so that our own tests might provide a reference point to well-known and widely used microphones. We then set those microphones up next to each other and tested them on some of the instruments they were intended for. Here are the results. ...more
Shure’s PG42 and PG27 USB mics and X-2U XLR adapter.
USB mics became desirable when the first laptop recording generation came to realise that the built-in mic on their computers suffered from the incessant whir of cooling fans, hard drives and DVD writers. So taking the microphone out of the box seemed like a good idea. And it is. USB is quite suitable for high quality audio, so if you have a high quality mic attached, you are in business.
Lexicon I-Onix USB Recording Studio Interface
I have to say that seeing the ONIX for the first time was a bit of a surprise. You see, pro audio gear tends to have a very particular look and feel that makes it instantly distinguishable from its domestic audio counterparts. There is rawness to pro gear with an emphasis on functionality over form.
Input and output sockets that might otherwise find themselves hidden from view at the rear are prominently accessible at the front, often intermingled with other seemingly unrelated controls. Rack ears with unsightly pre-bored sockets allow you to bolt the device to another equally industrial-looking structure. Faceplates tend to be littered with multicoloured LEDs, knobs and other controls that are tightly packed together in an effort to conserve space.
Three Close-Proximity Speaker-Systems
Of the many different types of speakers (monitors) available in this issue I am looking at three designed for close-proximity listening applications. When used in these conditions such speaker systems need to effectively handle high sound pressure levels through small diaphragm speakers, in often confined spaces, whilst still outputting meaningful levels of bass. ...more
Focusrite Liquid Mix 16
Focusrite’s new Liquid Mix 16 is a collection of 40 compressor and 20 EQ plug-ins, with its own outboard digital signal processing and a hands-on control interface. The compressors and EQs are modeled from classic pieces of hardware, and using the bundle doesn’t tie up any of your computer’s native processing power. With an rrp of $890 the Liquid Mix 16 stacks up well against similarly priced competing products – such as the Waves Renaissance bundle or Universal Audio UAD-1e Express setup. ...more
Studio: FXpansion BFD2 Software
I've always been sceptical about acoustic drum samplers, in fact it took me a long time even to spark any interest in vsti's (Virtual Studio Technology Instruments), synths and midi in general. It was as if there was some sort of moral high ground to be achieved if one avoided such tools, but inevitably I began to see the beauty in them, the flexibility and the power, as well as the ability to trim large amounts off some project budgets and timeframes. ...more
Tascam Audio Interface
The year 1641 is one of those dates when nothing much happened. I know, I looked it up. Oh sure, a couple of small uprisings, someone invented something, and for us down here it was to be another year before someone from up there was to sail by New Zealand (er... again). And so it was that 1641 seemed destined for obscurity... until now. ...more
Lexicon Alpha Desktop Recording System
The Lexicon Alpha joins the growing contingent of audio interfaces with bundled software and plug-ins which seem to litter the market place. ...more
Digidesign 003 Factory Control Surface
The Digidesign 003 Factory is a control surface/digital audio/MIDI interface for Pro Tools. ...more
Presonus Firestudio Firewire Recording System
The pre-amps sound really quite good, full in frequency, phat and transparent with no discernable colouration on any of the sources I recorded. ...more
ONYX Satellite Portable Recording System
The choice of digital/audio interfaces and software packages for the musician/
engineer is now pretty diverse (to understate the matter completely). ...more
Mbox2 Mini Recorder
The Mbox 2 Mini is a peripheral USB device providing high quality audio inputs and outputs for your computer. ...more
Mackie ONYX, 24.4 Live Mixing Console
Progress is a great thing. There are all those innovators out there making stuff that makes our lives easier and, presumably, better - though that part can be questionable. ...more
Tascam US-144 Midi/Digital Audio Interface
After spending some time driving the new Tascam US-144 I have come to regard it as a kind of 4-wheel drive of MIDI/Audio interfaces. ...more
The Shure KSM27 is a fixed-cardioid, large-diaphragm studio condenser microphone that’s all-purpose and seems built to last. ...more
Native Instruments Kore
Every once in a while a new device is launched that has the potential to change the way we work, as musicians and producers. As a regular NZM contributor, I can think of nothing more exciting when it is me that gets to review, and more importantly, play it! ...more
JBL 4300 Powered Studio Monitors
The JBL4300 Series are powered studio monitor speakers that automatically perform an acoustic analysis of the room they're in, and optimise themselves accordingly! ...more
A Treat for Your Ears
There is nothing like that quiet period after Christmas and New Year’s eve. No traffic, few people and very little noise! Seems like the perfect time to take my new iPod for a spin and get the earlobes sweaty. I digress however as the real reason for this article is to have a look and listen to six pro-user priced headphones. ...more
Digidesign Mbox 2 with Pro Tools 7
What a summer it has been. The full house sign up at festivals all over the country and plenty of free gigs going down in the cities. ...more
Joe Meek One Q Channel Strip
For some years now there has been a change in the wind amongst studio owners. To be sure, there are lots of things for which you might use a recording mixing console. But do you actually need one? ...more
Superscope PSD300 CD Recording System
In the early '80s I bought a state-of-the-art Marantz Superscope cassette recorder. Not only could it record straight to cassette through a condenser mic with adjustable levels, you could also slow down or speed up the tempo of the song on your cassette.
Focusrite Liquid Channel
It takes a pretty special piece of studio gear to turn my crank these days, but when I was given the opportunity to trial the Liquid Channel I agreed without hesitation. I had read a little about it and all indications were that it is indeed something a bit special. Of course, lots of equipment promises to bring 'breakthrough technology' so the question to be answered was 'how will it stack up'? ...more
Cakewalk Sonar 4 Studio Edition
Many tools, studio environments, effects and virtual instruments are floating around out there, but I’m going to have a look at the Studio Edition of Cakewalk’s Sonar 4. ...more
Korg D32XD 32 Track Xtended Definition Digital Recorder
We live in exciting times. Recording and producing music has never been easier or more affordable. Over the last couple of years the prices of integrated digital recording studios have plummeted to around half of what they were. ...more
Roland SP-606 Sampling Workstation
This new workstation is a compact, stand alone unit, with an external sequencer sampling and new phrase generator/virtual groovebox P606 software all over and above it’s predecessor - the SP-505. ...more
Yamaha has been producing the SPX series of devices off and on for the better part of two decades. ...more
Tascam Digital Portastudio 2488
Having walked to NZ Musician's downtown headquarters to pick up the Tascam Digital Portastudio 2488, I was in for a surprise. ...more
Roland MV-8000 Production Studio
The Roland MV-8000 Production Studio combines sampler, drum machine and a hard disc recording function in a stand-alone desktop unit.
TC Helicon Voice Works: Harmony/Correction/Effects
TC Helicon is a fairly new company, formed in 2000 in a marriage between the highly successful TC Electronics and IVL Technologies Ltd. The purpose of this joint venture is to design products that specifically concentrate on enhancing the human voice for purposes of audio production for studio and stage. ...more
Moog Modular V Soft Synth
Ladies and gentlemen, Arturia in collaboration with Bob Moog himself, present the 'Moog Modular V'. Thanks to a little innovation called TAE this is guaranteed to make any other soft synth you own (or don't own) sound like your little sister's Casiotone. ...more
BBE Sonic Maximiser Plug-In
Many digital audio workstation (DAW) users face the ongoing concern of how to get the best possible sound out of their recordings, and for home studio buffs it is even more challenging trying to get best bang for your dollar. ...more
HHb's 'Circle' Active Nearfield Monitors
Back in the December/January 2003 issue of NZM, Auckland studio owner Rikki Morris reviewed eight pairs of ‘affordable’ active nearfield studio
monitors in two different price bands. ...more
Native Instruments: Traktor 2.0 DJ Studio
Having recently enjoyed Native Instrument's excellent VST software instruments – the B3 (a Hammond organ emulator) and Battery (a drum machine emulator not dissimilar to the legendary SP1200) – I was pretty excited by the idea of having a play with Traktor DJ Studio, thinking it would be another fine VST type of instrument.
An Overview Of Digidesign's Digi002
Pro Tools has now been with us for over a decade in various forms. And, ever since its advancement from the early 1990s 'Sound Tools' versions, Digidesign has worked hard to adapt this industry standard digital workstation to meet the needs of a wide cross-section of musicians and producers alike. ...more
Studio Monitor Madness
Eight ‘affordable’ active nearfield studio monitors, reviewed by Rikki Morris. ...more
Yamaha RS7000 Production Sequencer
The RS7000 Production Sequencer is Yamaha's new all-in-one solution for hardware-based sequencing and sampling. It combines the AWM2 tone generator, the RM1X sequencer engine, the real-time control capabilities of the SU7000 and the loop remix and slice functions of the A5000/4000 samplers. ...more
HHB MDP500 Portadisc
The MiniDisc format met with a fair amount of scepticism when it first hit the market in 1992. Using a disk smaller in size and capacity than a CD, the same amount of material is stored by means of the 'ATRAC' data compression system. ...more
Akai MPC4000 Professional MIDI Prouction Centre
In the past decade Akai Professional MPCs (MIDI Production Centres) have gathered quite a cult following. The ability of the MPC range to suit a number of different studio and live situations makes them popular tools for beginners and pros alike. ...more
Logic control for Emagic
The three big music software packages - ProTools, Cubase and Logic - are currently fighting for international dominance. Not that the lesser known programs don't rate, they're mostly brilliant too - but I'm talking the big guns here. ...more
T.C. Electronic M300 Dual Engine Processor
For some years BMW has been advertising its vehicles with the catchphrase 'The Ultimate Driving Machine'. Similarly, t.c. electronic has been promoting its products under the slogan 'Ultimate Sound Machines'. ...more
Roland VS-2480 Digital Studio Workstation
It seems that no matter how much recording gear the project studio owner has acquired, a cry can still be heard, "If only I had just that device, I would be able to...". ...more
Sounding Great for Under a Grand - Ten Low Cost Studio Condenser Mics Compared
Genuinely affordable studio condenser microphones are a comparatively recent phenomenon. A benchmark Neumann U87 still costs over $6000 and it has only been in the last few years that (mainly) Asian imitation has led to a wide selection of useable studio mics costing little more than a 29" telly. ...more