Intel Broadwell-E – The New Audio System CPU Of Choice?

In our first benchmark update of the year, we take a look at the Broadwell-E range, taking over as the new flagship Intel CPU range. Intel’s Enthusiast range has always proven to be a popular choice for audio systems, based around a more established and ultimately stable server chipset, whilst still letting you get away with the overclocking benefits founds on the mid-range solutions, making this range very popular in studios up and down the country.

The previous round of benchmarks can be found here and whilst handy to have to hand, you’ll notice that results that appear on the older chart when compared with newer results obtained found on our 2016 results chart show a marked improvement when the same chips are compared side by side.

A number of things have lead to this and can be explained by the various changes enacted since our last round up. Windows 10 is now the testing platform of choice, offering a marginal improvement over the older Windows 7 build, this along with new drivers and firmware for our Native Instruments KA6 which remains our testing tool of choice as well as a newly updated DAWBench suite, designed to allow us to be able to test these new chips as the first round of testing exceeded the older version of the test!

If you do wish to compare with the scores on the older chart, we’re seeing a roughly additional 20 tracks when comparing like for like chips across both set of results, so it’s possible that if you have a chip that is on the old chart and not the new, then you may be able to establish a rough comparison by simply adding 20 tracks on top of the old chip result to give you a very rough estimate to allow some degree of comparison.

Leaving behind the old results and in order to establish a level playing field, I’ve set out to retest some of the older chips under the new conditions in order to ensure these results are fair and to allow for easier comparison, so without any more delay, let’s check out those results.

Broadwell E DAWBench Results
Click to expand image

As normal we’ll dive into this from the bottom upwards. At the low end of the testing round up we see the current i5 flagship, the 4 core 6600K both at stock and overclocked. A modest chip and certainly where we’d suggest the absolute lowest point of entry is when considering an audio setup. Offering enough power for multi-tracking and editing, and whilst we wouldn’t suggest that it would be the ideal solution for anyone working fully in the box as this CPU would be likely to be easily maxed out by high performance synths, the is certainly enough power here to achieve basic studio recording and editing tasks whilst not breaking the bank.

Next up are the mid-range i7’s and the 6700T is first up, offering 4 cores and 8 threads this is the low power i7 option this time around and sits as you would expect between the i5 6600K and the full power 6700K. It’s performance isn’t going to set the world on fire, but it’s certainly hitting performance levels that we would have expected from a mid-range class leading 2600K a few years back, but with a far lower power usage profile. This is a chip that certainly has its place and we expect it to be well received in our passive silent specs and other small form factor systems.
The other 6700 variant we have here is the all singing, all dancing 6700K which is the current consumer flagship offering a unlocked and overclockable 4 core / 8 thread configuration. Popular in home recording setups and certainly a reasonable all-rounder its price to performance makes it a great fit for anyone looking to edit, process and mix audio, whilst not relying upon extremely CPU intensive plugins and other tools.

But what if you are? What if Diva and Serum and their ilk are your tools of choice, and CPU’s are regularly chewed up and spat out for breakfast?

Well then, the enthusiast range is the choice for you. Popular for just this reason, the chart outlines the amount of extra overhead these CPU’s can offer you above and beyond the performance found in the mid-range.

The 5820K and 5960X scores you see are the previous generations 6 core and 8 core flagship solutions respectively and certainly the ones to beat by our new entries.

The 6800K is another 6 core CPU along with the 6850K which isn’t shown here which directly replaces the last generation 5930K. As with the last generation, the key difference between the 6800K and 6850K other than the few hundred more MHz which don’t really offer much of an improvement as far as benchmarks go, is the additional PCIe lanes on offer with the more expensive chip. For roughly 50% more over the 28 lane 6800K edition, the 6850K offers up a total of PCIe lanes making it ideal for systems running multiple graphics cards, which may require up to 16 lanes each. For audio systems that only have a single graphics card however, the 28 lane chip will be more than adequate for most users and is certainly one place you can afford to cut corners an save money in the event that you’re not working with multiple graphics cards. All this as well as the keen price when considered against the performance found in the 6700K below it, perhaps makes the 6800K the best bang per buck option at this time.

The 6900K is a 8 core / 16 thread direct replacement for the last generation flagship 5960X chip and offers a sizable performance increase over the older CPU for roughly the same price. Not ground breaking but certainly an improvement for any outlay if you were considering the options around this price point.

Topping off the chart is the new high-end flagship 6950X which offers previously unseen levels of performance from the enthusiast class CPU’s and certainly offers reasonable performance for your money when compared against the dual Xeon setups that compete with it. With a £1400 UK street price at the time of writing it may appear to offer poor value when put up against the £500 cheaper 6900K, the is little else to touch this CPU for its price if you find yourself in need of the performance it is capable of offering.

Looking to the future the next high-end refresh will be Skylake-E although that isn’t due to be with us until sometime around the middle of 2017. KabyLake around the same time next year in the midrange promises some interesting features, namely X-point and the advances it’ll bring for storage which may even appear (we hope!) in the Skylake-E chipset around the same time. Either way you look at it, Broadwell-E is looking to be the high performance option of choice for the rest of 2016 and we’re sure will find itself powering many new studio systems over the coming year.

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The Scan Pro Audio Show

The Scan Pro Audio Show: Preview episode

Scan Titles
 

Many of you will remember our Pro Audio Webcasts which ran until the back end of last year. For those of you that didn’t manage to catch one, many of them are still archived on our Scan Pro Audio channel.

https://www.youtube.com/user/ScanProAudioTV

Well, this year we launch the new look, Scan Pro Audio show, in which we build on the webcast idea, to produce a full blown magazine type TV show featuring, news, items of interest and demonstrations from the world of Pro Audio.

Last week we aired the very first “Preview” episode, featuring Luke Edwards from Korg talking us through the new Korg Minilogue Synth and an item featuring Ben from TMS ( The UK’s most prolific Hit Producers ) talking us through how they use the Universal Audio Apollo console application and break down in detail the vocal monitoring effect chain that they use when recording acts such as Little Mix, Professor Green, Emeli Sande, One Direction, Jess Glynne, The Vamps & Rita Ora

You can catch the show here…

https://www.scan.co.uk/shops/proaudio-show

and you should also remember each show features the “codeword”, where viewers can email in for some exclusive offers of the week.

Focusrite Launches The new Red4Pre Flagship Interface

Focusrite have announced their new flagship Red 4Pre, a 58-in, 64-out audio interface that offers a whole wealth of connectivity making it ideal to sit at the center of any high-end studio, or indeed many larger scale applications including many live audio scenarios.

Key headline features include four newly-developed, digitally controlled ‘Red Evolution’ pre-amps offering a clean 63dB of ultra clean gain and high-headroom instrument inputs all routed through the newly developed high-performance conversion system, that in itself offers 121dB of dynamic range to work with.

FRed204Pre20Lifestyle20120HR
 

Software control allows recall of settings and stereo linking, plus configuration of HPF, polarity invert and individual phantom power. The pre-amps include Focusrite’s unique ‘Air’ effect, recreating in the analogue domain the sound of the transformer-based mic pre-amps in the classic ISA range — suitable for bringing out the breathy quality of a vocal or adding presence to an acoustic guitar. Red 4Pre also includes high-headroom instrument inputs, instantly accessible from the front panel.

The Red 4Pre’s new high-performance conversion system features ‘parallel path summing’, where two matched converters are run in parallel to increase the signal to noise ratio. They operate at up to 24-bit, 192 kHz sampling — ideal for high-resolution audio — with a dynamic range of 118dB(A-D)/121dB (D-A). The Red 4Pre delivers ≤0.0009% THD+Noise and a stated frequency response flat from 20Hz to 35kHz ±0.25 dB or better.

FRed204Pre20Lifestyle20220HR
 

Rounding off the package the are dual Thunderbolt 2 ports to connect to any DAW while allowing daisy-chaining of drives and displays. Dual DigiLink ports connect the Red 4Pre directly to any Pro Tools | HD system and in addition the Red 4Pre features built-in Dante network audio connectivity: use the dual Ethernet ports to connect any Dante-compatible product such as units from Focusrite’s own RedNet range, adding up to 64 channels via audio over Ethernet.

The Focusrite Red4Pre should be shipping around the end of March 2016.

The Red 4Pre @ Scan

Focusrite Products @ Scan

The Arturia MatrixBrute

Arturias latest synth is another stunner to look at if your a synth programmer and more than lives up to its name. With so many options, its going to be hard to know where to start, but we bet anyone with a passing interest in sound design is going to love getting their hands on one of these.

The MatrixBrute features a 100% analog signal path generated by its three oscillator + sub oscillator style design. It features a Steiner-Parker filter along with its ladder filter setup, which are capable of being arranges in series or parallel configurations. Routing is handled by a 16×16 modulation matrix that allows you to assign any of the 16 modulation sources to any of the 16 modulation destinations, offering a staggering amount of control over your patches, the sort of which you’d rarely see outside a full modular setup.

Those patches can also be saved for later use, so whilst the MaxtrixBrute might not qualify as a modular function wise at least you get the best of both worlds with control more in depth than most other synths, whilst still maintaining the ability to instantly recall a patch when your performing.

Speaking of performing, it has a 49 note controller keyboard with a full compliment of additional sequencer and arpeggiator controls. A USB connection allows you to connect it to the editor and patch libraian software for easy managment, its also fully MIDI controllable and impressively it includes 12 CV inputs and 12 CV outs for connection and control of any modular gear you wish to connect up alongside it.

This really is an amazing looking synth, one we’re sure will end up on many a wishlist this year.

Main Features

Analog Matrix Synthesizer

256 Preset memory locations

2 Analog Exponential VCO’s:

Saw + UltraSaw, Square +Pulse width, Triangle + Metalizer, Sub

1 Analog Linear VCO/LFO

Saw, Square, Triangle, Sine waveforms; LFO time divisions; Key track

VCO 2>1 Hard Sync

Audio Mod:
VCO1>2 ; VCO1 < VCO3> VCO2 ; VCF 1 < VCO3> VCF 2 ; VCF1 < Noise> VCF2
 

Noise Generator:
White ; Pink ; Red ; Blue noise types

5 input Audio Mixer with Filter routing

Steiner Parker filter with 12+24 db per octave modes ; Drive ; Brute factor; Low Pass, High Pass, Band Pass, Notch

Ladder filter with 12+24 db per octave modes ; Drive ; Brute factor; Low Pass, High Pass, Band Pass

2 LFO’s
Sine, Tri, Square, Ramp, Saw, Random, S&H

3 Envelope Generators

2 Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release

1 Delay, Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release

External Audio In

16×16 Matrix modulation panel

64 step sequencer

STEP enable, Slide, Accent, Modulation

Save and recall sequence patterns on the fly

Analog Effects

Stereo delay, Delay, Flanger, Chorus, Analog Reverberator

Arpeggiator

12 CV / Gate Inputs/Outputs

Audio Input, Line or Instrument level

Stereo audio output

MIDI and USB I/O

Pedal inputs for Expression and Sustain

Arturia MatrixBrute @ Scan

All Arturia Hardware @ Scan

Artura MatrixBrute Homepage

Aston Halo Reflection Filter

Aston Halo 

In the decade or so since the the first reflection filter was released, they have become common place not only with home enthusiasts, but also with pro studios and producers who turn to them as a convenient way of recording in a single room with vocalists, to facilitate a more natural form of recording whilst songwriting. 

Fresh from the critically acclaimed release of their Microphone range, Aston unleash the mother (if your mother is rather large, as its 40% larger than the current industry leading competitor) of all mic reflection filters, its ridged design almost doubles the surface area and help to redirect any waves that do exist in the reflector away from bouncing back into the microphone. The spherical design increases the angles that the filter protects from reflected sound when recording, instead of working solely on the horizontal axis, as almost all the competition does. 

Aston claim that all these factors produce a much linear frequency response than conventional filters and these guys should know, as the Aston management spent years working with SE Electronics in the UK, so are very familiar with the performance of the competition and have really gone back to basics to radically re-engineer the reflection filter concept. 

The filter is due to start shipping in early 2016 at a UK RRP of £199. 

Aston Halo available at Scan Pro Audio here

View the entire Aston range at Scan here

front back
Back & Front View
 

Universal Audio – Live NAMM Webcasts with Special Guests

Universal Audio are once again webcasting their producer seminars from the Namm show this week over in Anaheim, with special guest sessions from Christian “Leggy” Langdon (The Pierces, Ed Sheeran), Mick Guzauski (Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams), Derek Ali (Kendrick Lamar, Top Dawg Ent), Vance Powell (Jack White, Chris Stapleton) and UA stalwart Fab Dupont (Jennifer Lopez, Mark Ronson).

Sessions start at 3PM (11PM GMT) Thursday and 1PM (9PM GMT ) at the weekend.

Welcome to UA's NAMM 2016 Landing Page

Session times are as follows.

Fab Dupont
Daily 4.30pm PST  (GMT-8) 

Tracking and Mixing with Next-Generation Apollos (Daily)
Watch producer/engineer Fab demonstrate the next evolution of the Apollo interface and how it can expand your studio and your sound. Featuring the Dede track, “Sun Kissed Lover.”
 
Christian “Leggy” Langdon - Live Tracking with Apollo Twin 
Daily 3.30 / 5.00pm PST
Showcase Apollo Twin and the latest UAD plug-ins.
Featuring the Jasmine Ash track, “Talking.”
 

Mick Guzauski – Recording with Apollo
Thursday 3pm, Friday & Saturday 1pm
Showcase Track with Big Data.
 

Welcome to UA's NAMM 2016 Landing Page

Derek Ali Mixing with Apollo and UAD
Friday & Saturday 3pm
Showcase Track with Kendrick Lamar.
 

Vance Powell Mixing with Apollo and UAD
Sunday 1pm & 3pm
Showcase Track with Chris Stapleton.

Follow this link for the livestream 

Discover The Universal Audio Apollo Range @ Scan

 

Waldorf KB37 Keyboard, NW1, MOD1, DVCA1, CMP1 Modules

KB37 complete side

With the now well established Eurorack standard continuing to prove ever popular amongst synth enthusiasts, we’ve seen a number of new units appearing at NAMM in possibly what could be the year of the Eurorack format.

Waldorf who are ever at the forefront when it comes to synths have decided to put a new spin on things by introducing the KB37 chasis. This unit is based around a high quality Fatar TB9 keyboard, which can host a total 100 HP worth of modules (around 4 in total) in its angled front panel.

KB37 complete

What this means, is that Walforf is come up with a design based around a great keybed, allowing you to build your own synth using the modules of your choice. The base keyboard itself provides extremely flexible control for any of those mounted modules thanks to its high-resolution, temperature-stable 16-bit CV interface and the additional MIDI control offers fully programmable MIDI channels and velocity curves, making the kb37 the perfect partner both in the studio and for taking your modules out on stage.

KB37 rear

Alongside the base KB37 keyboard, Waldorf has a number of new modules to tempt you even futher.

NW1

The NW1 is based on an advanced wavetable engine, which historically has always been a strong point for Waldorf, so we’d expect good things here. This is backed up by the fact that the NW1 uses the classic wavetable banks from the Microwave & Wave synths of yesteryear. Not only that but the NW1 also lets you easily create your own wavetables right from the front panel via time domain multiple foldover analysis. All you need to do is connect any sound source to the NW1 to transfer audio into a wavetable, or you can even use the integrated speech synthesizer to translate typed text into wavetables!

NW1front

MOD1

The MOD1 unit gives you three different modulation sources in one module make the MOD1 the control center of your modular patch. From simple envelopes and LFOs to complex looped multi-stage curves, the MOD1 delivers rich and endless modulation options, from gently undulating LFOs to ultra-precise hard cuts, you get it all based on innovative analogue circuits for a truly musical touch.

mod1 straight 687

DVCA1

Built around two VCAs with a wide range of options including the most important one: the ability to musically colour the signal. Starting in dry mode, you get high-precision analogue amplification. But then when you turn the Colour knob, you add a warmer and more colourful timbre to the signal based on a finely-crafted state variable filtering circuit. Additionally positive gain control makes the dvca1 a true “amplifier,” and flexible link modes let you create modulated panning.

dvca straight new exp 701

CMP1

A true high-end analogue compressor not only adds punch to your signal, but it also can be modulated in intriguing and unconventional ways including side-chaining with a adjustable balance control that will open up a huge set of modular possibilities.

cmp1 straight 685

Kompaktklavier

The Kompaktklavier otherwise known as the Zarenbourg Module, offers the sound engine of the Zarenbourg Piano in a rack unit. Just like its larger cousin, three different sound generators deliver uncompromising quality where physical modeling recreates the classic E-Piano sounds with staggering authenticity. The direct streaming sample playback engine with 4 GB of sample memory provides a selection of fantastic grand, upright and electric pianos. The third sound generation system is a 6-operator FM synthesizer, perfect for classic DX pianos and a variety of other trademark FM sounds.

Along with the sound generation capabilites it also provides a huge selection of high-quality effects, such as
Reverb, Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Echo, Auto Wah, Equalizer and Overdrive, as well as many effect combinations. Each sound can be freely combined with an effect / effects combination and stored in the internal memory. New sounds and effects can also be added via the integrated SD Card slot.

It’s an interesting setup that makes your module collection a little bit more portable than before. If you have the need to take them on stage with you, the KB37 should certainly be seen as an option.

Waldorf @ Scan

Waldorf KB37 Homepage

Korg NanoKeys & NanoKontrol Studio Announced

Korgs Nano range are well established and its quite likely that anyone with a passing interest in making music, has had a hands on with one of the range over the years.
 

Announced at NAMM are the new NanoKONTROL studio and NanoKEY Studio which take the older features and expand on them, quite noticeably with the inclusion of Bluetooth to allow easy hook up with portable devices like phones and tablets.

 
korgnanokontrolstudio

Including 8 buttons and 8 knobs along with a touch sensitive pad inherited from the Kaoss series, this 25 note controller offers plenty of hands on options.

korgnanokontrol
 

The nanoKONTROL Studio provides transport keys and a mixer section, giving you stress-free control of your DAW or DJ software. It is battery operated and can connect wirelessly with your iPhone/iPad or Mac/Windows. It’s a light-weight, compact mobile MIDI controller that lets you create music more intuitively than ever.
 

The nano Studio series also comes with a bundle of powerful mobile and desktop music software that includes iPad / iPhone apps, a special edition of KORG Gadget, and the KORG Legacy Collection M1 Le which includes a plug-in version of the classic KORG M1 instrument. If you have the nanoKEY Studio, there is no need to buy any additional software.
 

Both controllers should be available before the end of Q1 this year.

Korg Products @ Scan

Korg NanoKONTROL @ Scan

Korg NanoKEY Studio @ Scan

The Denon MCX8000 Dj Controller

Denon ahead of NAMM this year have announced the MCX8000 DJ controller.

Whilst it isn’t the first time that we’ve seen all in one (laptop not required) controllers, and certainly Pioneer already has a few well established options here, the MC8000 comes in at a great price point and knowing Denon gear it should be a solid controller.

denonmcx8000
 

Key Features
• Serato DVS Upgrade ready
• Metal construction
• Includes revolutionary Denon DJ Engine standalone technology with integrated Serato Cue point support
• 2 USB inputs for Engine playback in standalone mode
• Includes 4-deck Serato DJ software
• 2 high-definition displays show Engine and Serato DJ operation
• Professional 4-channel digital mixer with 2 microphone inputs and Dual XLR outputs
• 3 built-in instant pre/post fader effects for Engine playback and line inputs
• Velocity-sensitive performance pads for cues, rolls, slicer and samples
• Stage LinQ network connection to control lighting and video
 

Essentially a full mixer and MP3 playback system that only needs USBs drives to run, as well as a fully featured Serato controller.

Shipping Q2 this year with a RRP of £899, we’d expect it to street a bit below that, and for the features on offer, this is certainly an exciting solution that we look forward to getting hands on with when we can.

Denon Controllers @ Scan

More Info On The Denon MCX8000

Intel launches the Skylake chipset and we DAWbench it in the studio.

Intel’s latest chipset has recently launched and the Z170 series or Skylake as it is informally known, is a refinement of the earlier Broadwell range launched last year. The Broadwells were most notable for bringing 14nm processors to the market, althrough these CPUs tended to be lower powered solutions and so didn’t register all that much on the enthusiasts radar

Of couse the is nothing wrong with lower powered solutions and the lower heat is always great especially if you want a low noise system to work with, but the for those who also required large amounts of performance the Broadwells were simply not all that attractive, with many of us who were simply looking for the very best performance at a given price point, choosing to stick with the Haswell platform from the generation before, as it simply offered up the best bang per buck solution.

So with that in mind, we’ll take a look at overall performance using the trusty DAWBench test and see how it all stands, along with consideration being given to both upgrades and new machine senarios.

We’ve discussed DAWBench a number of times over the years with the last time being our start of year round up. As this is a quick test to see how the new chips hold up, if you’re not already up to speed, may I suggest checking out the last time we visited this and it should give you a quick grounding before we dive in.

You can find that testing round here.

Fully caught up?

Ok. Then lets begin.

Give the image below a click and you can see our test results.

August 1015 DPC Chart

So this time around we’re testing 2 CPU’s with those being the i5 6600K and the i7 6700K. This time we’ve benched them in two different states where the lower clock speed is CPU at stock clocks with the turbo locked on at 100% of the advertised turbo clock speed and the second test shows the CPU in question being overclocked up to 4.4GHz setting that we supply our systems at.

When the overclock option is selected it should allow us to see what sort of difference the overclocking process can make, which in turn shouldl also help measure us measure the new chips against some of the older CPU scores where we’ve also worked with similar overclock figure. Also be aware we keep our overclocks on workstations rather minimal choosing to get the best out of chip, rather than push it to its limits.

This means that we don’t ramp up the voltages and generate the heat that comes with higher overclocks often seen on the gaming systems, which also have fast fans and noisey cooling in order to compensate, which of course would be completely unacceptable in a recording studio environment.

Starting with the i5, well it pretty much returned the performance levels matching the older 4790K chip, with a small performance boost showing up at the very tightest buffer settings, which admittedly is always a very welcome bonus. As a new replacement for the older chip, well it keeps the value the same whilst giving you access to the other benefits of the platform, so as a new build these should all prove most welcome additions, although as an upgrade from an older i5 it’s going to be harder to justify.

Of course if you are looking to upgrade in the midrange then the i7 option will possibly make more sense anyhow and this is where it gets a bit more interesting. The good news here is that we see both a slight power saving over the older 4790K with roughly 10% more performance increase clock for clock over that older 4790K, which was best performance crown around the midrange until the launch of these new chips.

As I’ve already touched upon briefly, Skylakes main selling point has been the other features it introduces to the mainstream. The boards we’ve seen are offering more M.2 slots which in themselves offer transfer speeds in excess of 4 times those speeds seen on current SSD’s. Some boards are also offering the ability to hybrid RAID them PCIe based add in cards too, meaning that if your tempted then this platform will offer up some truely amazing data transfer speeds that could transform your time in the studio if you work with large sample libaries and templates like some VSL users.

Additionally USB 3.1 and USB type C are now native to the Z170 chipset and this standard is only going to to grow over coming years, so early adoptors, this is your platform. It’s also the first time we’ve seen DDR4 in a mainstream setup and for those working with video editing on the side, the extra bandwidth will prove beneficial to some extent. AVX 2 instruction improvements to CPU’s may also prove beneficial to multimedia applications in the future, although these tend to impact CAD & Video software mostly, some plug in manufacturers or even DAW coders may eventually chose to leverage these instruction set improvements in the future.

All this as far as building a new machine is concerned is great as any improvement for your money is always going to be a good thing. For those looking to upgrade older machines however, the small incremental improvements mean that anyone who currently owns a CPU from Ivybridge upwards is going to be hard pressed to get a justifiable upgrade by going for a more modern equivalent although the are certainly some improvements are there if your hand is forced into a new setup due to aging hardware reaching the end of its lifecycle.

For those users with more recent machines however that do require an upgrade path, the X99 platform offers a very attractive upgrade option right now, offering a solid bang per buck for those needing more performance from their system. Also worth noting is that with the extra cost caused by the Z170 platform moving to DDR4 and indeed DDR4’s ever decreasing price points, the enthusiasts X99 setups are now starting to reach price points less than a hundred pounds more than the mid-range brethren.

This all means that the X99 may offer many users more value for money overall long term and should certainly be considered by anyone considering a new studio solution at this time, if they are looking to get the longest lifespan they can from a new machine setup.

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