MOTU Announce The MicroBook II

MOTU this sping will be introducing the MicroBook II which promises to be an updated version of the original compact, studio-grade audio interface. The MOTU Microbook II turns your  Mac or PC into a personal 4 x 6 recording studio with professional I/O and monitor mixing.

MOTU Microbook II Hardware:

The MicroBook II is a highly portable unit and comes in a small, rugged cast metal case suitable for on-the-go recording & laptop-based DJ-ing as well as many other recording and playback activities.

The four inputs (mic, hi-Z guitar, and stereo balanced line in) can be recorded simultaneously. The mic preamp delivers neutral coloration and pristine sound, with 20 dB pad and 48V phantom power for condenser mics. The MicroBook II also includes balanced analog connectors and digitally controlled analog trim. Input trim is controlled separately from input mix volume, so that users never have to sacrifice sound quality for a balanced mix.

On the output side of things the MOTU MicroBook II provides six channels of computer output on eight physical outputs (four pairs) with balanced TRS quarter-inch main outs, stereo “mini” line out, S/PDIF digital out, and phones (on a stereo quarter-inch jack). The S/PDIF digital output always mirrors the main outs.

MOTU Microbook II Software:

Internal CueMix™ mixing and routing features let users program a different stereo mix for each output pair, consisting of any combination of live inputs and host audio tracks. Alternately, users can send the same mix to multiple outputs, or choose a separate output for the MicroBook’s built-in test tone generator or white and pink noise generator.

The driver provides an extra input and output pair for routing complete mixes back to the computer host, for scoping audio streams with the analysis tools in the included CueMix FX software, and for routing virtual instrument (or other host) output to the MicroBook II mixer.

On-board effects include modeled analog EQ and compression, which can be applied with near-zero latency (in the hardware) to live inputs.

At only 5.5 x 3.5 x 1.25 inches, the bus-powered MicroBook II has all the great features of the original model, plus hands-on volume control and USB 2.0 connectivity for low-latency performance.

The MOTU Microbook II
The MOTU Microbook II

MOTU MicroBook II feature highlights:

  • 4-input, 6-output bus-powered “plug-and-play” USB 2.0 audio interface for Mac and Windows.
  • 6 x 8 physical input/output channels.
  • 8-bus digital mixer to route and mix live inputs with computer tracks.
  • Pre-amp equipped mic input with Precision Digital Trim™ 48V phantom power, and 20 dB pad.
  • Hi-Z guitar input with Precision Digital Trim.
  • Stereo line level analog input (balanced TRS quarter-inch or stereo mini).
  • Stereo balanced TRS quarter-inch line level main outs.
  • Stereo eighth-inch “mini” line level out.
  • S/PDIF digital out (duplicates main out).
  • Headphones output on quarter-inch stereo jack with independent volume control.
  • Digitally controlled analog trim for all analog inputs.
  • Digital trim for all outputs.
  • Output volume digital rotary encoder. Push to cycle among three modes: main out, phones, or both.
  • Mic input digital rotary encoder for adjusting trim level, 48V and pad.
  • Dedicated 3- or 4-segment LED meters for all inputs and outputs.
  • CueMix™ FX no-latency mixing and monitoring with EQ and dynamics processing.
  • 7-band parametric EQ and compression.
  • Test tone and white/pink noise generator.
  • Support for recording and playback at 2x sample rates (88.2 and 96 kHz).
  • Advanced audio analysis software tools, including FFT display, spectrogram “waterfall” display, oscilloscope, X-Y plot, and phase torch.
  • Industry standard Mac and Windows audio drivers (Core Audio, Wave, and ASIO) for across-the-board compatibility.
  • Compatible with all current and recent generation Macs and PCs.
  • Includes AudioDesk DAW software, USB cable, and mic cable adapter.

MOTU Microbook II Availability:

The MicroBook should ship in the spring of 2012 and will be priced around £195

The MOTU Microbook II Homepage

Choosing A Custom PC For Music Production

The requirements of a PC for music production.

So you’ve decided to power your studio with a new PC for music production but where do you start with it? Why exactly would you choose to build your own music PC or order a custom system over a standard off the shelf solution?

To answer that we have to distil the requirements of what is required from a music PC system and we find that for most people the 3 key requirements are stability, performance and silence.

Stability is an obvious must for a production studio music PC. The is nothing worse than being in a recording session and watching a few hours of your bands performance or the last hours worth of sound design disappearing into the digital ether because of a system being overloaded and rebooting whilst being pushed a bit too hard.

Performance in the audio system field always comes down to “more is more” and more power under the hood of your production system will result in more plug ins, more audio channels and more options when you are recording and mixing your music in the studio.

This leaves us with the third requirement which is silence. If you’ve ever tried recording in a space which has a noisy music PC  nearby and it’s fans have been screaming away then it’ll no doubt make recording music a very tricky process as those sensitive mic’s tend to pick up this type of irritating background noise. Also when your mixing down you need to be fully focused on the mix, and having a low level background noise will clutter up the frequencies you perceive which in turn will make getting the levels right far harder than it needs to be.

The three all balance themselves out when trying to build the perfect recording and editing music PC and should be thought about carefully if your building yourself.

Overclocking and getting the most from your music PC.

With the last few generations of CPU’s overclocking has moved out of the enthusiasts market segment and become almost de rigueur for those wishing to get their moneys worth from any new production studio setup and whilst it’s hard to argue against this course of action when even Intel and AMD have started to use this as a feature when marketing their CPU’s, it is however important to consider the consequences and how it’ll trade off against the other two factors in our music PC production system trinity.

If we look at the benchmark’s we have produced here we see that over clocked performance can lead to 30% or more performance boosts on the current generation music PC setups over stock scores even at reasonably safe levels of pushing the audio production system. You tend to find that when overclocking you have a fair amount of headroom before you have to start raising the voltages from stock levels which is where the problems arise. Indeed you may even find that at stock speeds you may be able to drop the voltage levels the system uses whilst it’s running which can prove quite worth while.

Why is that?

Heat.

Heat is the result of increased performance and in turn it affects both stability and silence. Run more voltage through the setup and the music computer system runs hotter, although if you can run with less voltage you’ll find the reverse and less heat being generated. Most music computer system setups will tend to have a sweet spot where the CPU will run on still fairly close to stock voltages whilst still being nicely over clocked but should you attempt to push it even 1% past this sweet spot you’ll need a large jump in voltages to hold it steady, which will in turn cause more heat and either make your music PC very noisy as the fans ramp up or a loss in performance as it overheats and throttles the chips back.

Consider the whole system when choosing parts.

So stability and overclocking aside choosing a good selection of components in a audio production system can be a very wise move. We’ve all seen computer systems where corners have been cut and BSOD’s tend to occur and the PC platform can be a bit notorious for this but it can be avoided. Careful research of the components being used in a music PC system can ensure less headaches down the road and it’s never wise to cut corners in these regards.

In fact just as an example its the parts that people don’t tend to think about that can have the most impact and one of the most overlooked one’s can be the PSU which is pretty much the key to a good stable audio system having a long trouble free working life. PSU’s vary wildly in price even at the same overall performance levels and research is highly advised because that cheaper unit might be noisy, or worse it might not have stable voltages on the rail supplying your motherboard or sound card solution meaning at best they might hang randomly or at worse even burn out from fluctuations. Good motherboards and PSU’s will regulate the power well and have more protection built in but these will cost extra, although the first time you see a £30 PSU burn out half a PC from a power spike you suddenly realize that the £70 investment in a PSU unit that would have had an protection circuit or two to protect everything else wouldn’t have been such a bad idea after all.

So this takes us onto the silence part of the equation. This can be ignored to some degree if your lucky enough to have a isolation cupboard for the music system, or even able to position it in another room away from your recording and mixing setup.

This however can be a critical factor for those who are not so lucky although the good news is that with a bit of thought and planning you can put together a music PC system that isn’t going to ruin your working environment. Choosing a case with a good effective front to back air flow can help a lot and the are many quiet options available now with good solid construction and sound proofing as standard.

Choosing your fan selection well with a trade off between sound levels and air pressure being the foremost concern can mean the difference between whisper quiet and screaming annoyance so once again it’s very important to read up on your options before choosing a final audio system specification. You have to bare in mind at this point that overclocking add’s heat and heat will cause instability if left unchecked which can be a reasonable arguement not to overclock music PC’s that need to be simply fitted and relied on to work day in and day out. Faster fans solve this issue but cause more overall noise so getting the sweat spot between the 3 is the key to getting the most out of your new studio PC.

In fact if your building your own music production system then good research is the key and the are many great sites out there to guide you through the process of selecting, building and even trouble shooting your new studio PC. That said even if you go and purchase a custom audio PC solution it’s worth researching the parts going in the music system yourself so that your aware of any potential issues that may exist with the kit already in your recording studio setup.

We test and develop our solutions here with all this in mind, so wheather your looking to spec up and purchase a new audio production system or even build your own you can speak to us and we can advise you on the best solution for your requirements if your buying parts to self build or tailor a complete music system solution that is right for you.

IK Multimedia learn to Dj with iRig MIX

Another new product at NAMM this year from IK Multimedia see them adding a DJ solution to their popular iRig series. Called the iRig mix we  see a 2 channel dj style mixer solution that allows you to access your i device libary and mix it up with another connected device as well as enabling you to patch in a guitar or mic on a 3rd dedicated channel.

The IK Multimedia iRig MIX lays claim to being the first mobile mixer for iPhone, iPod touch or iPad devices. iRig MIX offers the same controls you would expect from a professional DJ mixer (crossfader, cues, EQ and volume controls, etc.) in an ultra-compact mobile mixer that can be used with a huge variety of iOS DJ mixing and other apps.

The IK Multimedia iRig MIX allows DJs to use a traditional setup with two devices (one plugged into each of the independent channels) OR a single iOS device. For the single iOS device setup, the output of the single device is split into dual-mono and sent to the individual channels. Additionally – for the first time on any DJ mixer – iRig MIX can be used for mixing any type of audio source including those coming from mp3 players, CD players, etc… with an iOS device using automatic tempo matching and beat syncing. This is accomplished with X-Sync, a feature that works in combination with the DJ Rig free app from IK Multimedia that is included with iRig MIX.

The ultra-compact size and low profile of the IK Multimedia iRig MIX allows it to be easily be carried in a regular iPad bag. Plus its low-voltage power supply (only 5VDC) lets it be powered not only by any regular mobile device charger, but also by suitable iOS battery pack or laptop USB port for maximum mobility to mix anywhere.

Ik Multimedia iRig MIX
Ik Multimedia iRig MIX

IK Multimedia iRig MIX Key Features:

  • 2 stereo inputs with gain, bass, treble and volume controls, independent cue on each channel with LED indication and channel cross-fader
  • Instrument/microphone/extra input with volume control can be processed by iOS apps (such as AmpliTube, VocaLive)
  • Stereo output with RCA connectors, master level and LED meters
  • High quality, pristine sound
  • Quality headphone output for master or cue monitoring with independent volume control
  • Input switch splits Input 1 into dual-mono for use with DJ mixing apps on a single iOS device
  • “X-Sync” mode allows auto-sync with any audio source using the included DJ Rig free app
  • Can also be powered with battery packs and mobile chargers
  • Includes 4 free apps: DJ Rig, AmpliTube, VocaLive, GrooveMaker
IK Multimedia iRig Mix with Guitar input
IK Multimedia iRig Mix - Not Just For Dj's!

 

The IK Multimedia iRig MIX Homepage

IK Multimedia – iRig Stomp

IK Multimedia iRig Stomp
IK Multimedia iRig Stomp

Also at NAMM this year but this time for the guitarists was the iRig stomp. Whilst many would have expected further pedal developents for this series of devices this stomp box style hardware controller for your iPad/iPhone device makes an interesting addition to the family. As you’d expect for a product from IK Multimedia iRig Stomp is based upon Amplitude and is in fact based around the well established Amplitude iRig edition.

The iRig STOMP lays claim to being the is the first stompbox guitar interface for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad allowing guitar and bass players to integrate their favorite iOS signal processing apps into their existing live pedalboard setup for enhanced tone shaping and effects processing.

IK Multimedia iRig Stomp Features:

  • Compact, durable yet lightweight, aluminum-cast enclosure integrates easily into any traditional pedalboard.
  • Can be used inline with other effects pedals, or directly connected to amplifiers or PA systems using regular 1/4″ guitar cables, with no need for adapters.
  • Allows precise adjustment of the signal for perfect guitar and bass levels with its large input gain knob.
  • Active battery-powered output circuit improves headroom, especially when used with high-gain amplifiers in the AmpliTube app, reducing feedback and crosstalk when recording.
  • The bypass switch allows engaging or bypassing the AmpliTube app chain of effects – like a traditional stompbox – for seamless integration into any existing rig.
  • The iRig Stomp has an ultra-compact form-factor can be easily carried on the road.
  • Features a 3.5mm/1/8″ jack for silent practicing with headphones.
  • Includes AmpliTube FREE app and can be used with any other guitar processing app that uses the iOS mini-jack
  • Has an ultra-small, compact profile that can be carried anywhere with ease.
  • The iRig Stomp is compatible with iPhone/iPod touch/iPad.

The IK Multimedia iRig Stomp Homepage

IK Multimedia iRig PRE – The universal microphone interface for iPhone/iPod touch/iPad

iRig PRE

NAMM this year saw IK Multimedia continued expanding it’s range of portable solutions by introducing  it’s new iRig PRE

The iRig PRE is a solution designed for connecting via its XLR socket any type of microphone  to any iPhone, iPod touch or iPad providing access to the widest range of recording applications. This makes the iRig PRE the first high-quality microphone preamp designed specifically for iOS devices that allows musicians to use their favorite high-quality stage or studio mics with their iOS device and it’s adjustable thumbwheel gain control allows the user to easily make precise level settings.

Like the rest of the iRig accessorie range, IK Multimedia iRig PRE is highly portable thanks to its pocket-sized form factor for recording anywhere and the onboard 9V battery will provide the necessary voltage for phantom-powered studio condenser microphones for at least for 15 hours of continuous use.

The iRig Pre’s  lightweight housing design sports a convenient cable for iOS device connection and also includes a Velcro strip slot for easy mounting on a mic stand or other stage locations, and for monitoring whilst recording the is a 3.5mm (1/8”) standard stereo headphone output.

IK Multimedia iRig PRE Key Features:

    • 40 cm (15.75”) TRRS cable to connect to any iOS device headset jack
    • XLR input connector for microphones
    • Gain control
    • +48 V phantom power
    • Headphone output
    • On/Off switch
    • Power/Phantom Power provided by 9V battery
    • Battery life is approximately 40 hours with dynamic microphones and 15 hours with phantom powered condenser studio microphones
    • Includes 2 free apps: iRig Recorder, an easy-to-use voice recording/editing app, and VocaLive, a multi-effects processing app for singers.
    • Compatible with iPhone/iPod touch/iPad.

The IK Multimedia iRig PRE Homepage

Bitwig Studio – Ableton remixed?

News this week has come in about Bitwig Studio’s multi-platform sequencer hitting it’s Beta phase and opening up it’s testing rosta to those who wish to apply.

On first impressions its looking like Ableton has been given a booster shot (as indeed it appears to have a number of Ex Ableton coders on it’s development team) but then thrown in a blender with DUNE’s colour pallet and a few tasty Cubase features such as per note automation.

Bitwig Studio Key Features at Launch:

  •     Multitrack recording – Record and produce your music in a super-fast, intuitive workflow where Bitwig Studio’s arranger is a perfect mix of editing power, ease of use and flexibility.
  •     Arranger clip launcher – A non-linear environment that lets you trigger clips in real-time which is perfect for sketching your songs more spontaneously.
  •     Mixer clip launcher – An alternative view of the clip launcher aligned with the mixer, optimized for live performance and DJing.
  •     Generic tracks – Tracks accept any kind of material meaning audio and notes can live on the same track so you can bounce note clips to audio in place.
  •     Clip automation – In addition to traditional track automation, automation can also be recorded and packaged inside clips, both on the clip launcher and the arranger.
  •     Per-note automation – Pitch variations can be applied to individual notes directly in the piano roll meaning you can also edit a note’s panning, timbre and volume curves.
  •     Simultaneous multitrack editing – Edit contents of multiple tracks together so you can see them all juxtaposed and isolate only the ones you want to edit.
  •     Multiple audio events per clip – An audio clip can contain multiple audio events where you can chop and edit audio files inside a clip non-destructively and loop it all as a package.
  •     Real-time time stretching – Bitwig Studio’s proprietary technology lets you match any audio material to the document tempo and get everything in sync.
  •     Device nesting – Devices can contain other devices, and the whole package can be saved as a preset and many of the instruments and effects use nesting in new and powerful ways.
  •     32/64 bit VST support – Use your beloved VST plug-ins. In case of a plug-in crash, a protective mechanism prevents the application from crashing and you from losing your work.
  •     Open multiple documents – This enables the easy exchange of musical material between documents where you can drag and drop, copy and paste back and forth.
  •     Metadata-based browser – Find your musical material quickly by adding tags allowing you to search by content type.

So everything you’d expect from a sequencer is there, and a few interesting features suggest that this is going to be a very polished product from launch. In todays sequencer marketplace through that is expected and you can’t help but feel that they are going to have to do something very special in order to tempt users to jump ship from their current sequencer of choice. A few features are being touted for a post launch addition to the package and these include:

  •     LAN multi-user jamming – Multiple users can jam on the same document, and everything can be captured in the document’s arrangement.
  •     Multi-user music production over the internet – Multiple users can compose music on the same document from different locations and Bitwig Studio keeps everything in sync.
  •     Native modular system – Create your own instruments and effects or modify existing ones then design their appearance and share them with the world.

Many software firms over the years have attempted to build client functionality allowing for multi user sessions that can be accessed by people where ever they may be with various degrees of success. In this interconnected world where you may have a Facebook/MySpace full of potential collaboration partners all over the world this feature done well could be the one to make a lot of people sit up and take notice. We look forward to seeing what functionality the Bitwig Sudio team integrate into the software as it approaches it’s eventual release.


If however you would like to get in on the Bitwig Studio beta the sign ups are now open.

Universal Audio Apollo – Thunderbolt Audio Interface With UAD-2 DSP

The Universal Audio Apollo is first to the plate with a thunderbolt interface, although it is an optional extra, they have managed not to make this just an audio interface, but actually combine it with UAD-2 Processing power which This really differentiates it from the likes of the RME UFX, which is pretty similally specced. The Universal Audio Apollo comes in Quad or Duo varieties, refering to the number of UAD-2 DSP processors onboard.It also comes with an “analog classics” (im quoting here, everyone knows analog should be spelt analouge)

UA ApolloThe Interface is not just about thunderbolt though, it also has two firewire 800 connectors for connection to PC’s and older Macs.

Universal Audio are really gunning for the high end market with this, the converters are specced to 118dbA, and it features 4 digitally controlled analouge Mic Preamps (anyone else think this might be the That! 1570 /1571 chip combination?), as well as eight analogue io, ADAT and a pair of sp-dif connectors.

No pricing info has been released yet, but i would at least expect the cost of a RME UFX plus a UAD-2 card.


Anyway, here’s the details.

 

Universal Audio Apollo Audio Interface

  • Sample rates up to 192 kHz at 24-bit word length
  • 18 x 24 simultaneous input/output channels:
    • Eight channels of analog-to-digital conversion via mic, line, or high-impedance inputs
  • 14 channels of digital-to-analog conversion via:
    • Eight mono line outputs
    • Stereo monitor outputs
    • Two stereo headphone outputs
  • 10 channels of digital I/O via:
    • Eight channels ADAT Optical I/O with S/MUX for high sample rates
    • Two channels coaxial S/PDIF I/O with sample rate conversion
    • Two FireWire 800 ports for daisy-chaining other FireWire devices
  • 32-bit and 64-bit device drivers

Microphone Preamplifiers

  • Four high-resolution, ultra-transparent, digitally-controlled analog mic preamps
  • Front panel and software control of all preamp parameters
  • Switchable low cut filter, 48V phantom power, 20 dB pad, polarity inversion, and stereo linking

Monitoring

  • Stereo monitor outputs (independent of eight line outputs)
  • Digitally-controlled analog monitor outputs maintains highest fidelity
  • Front panel control of monitor levels and muting
  • Two stereo headphone outputs with independent mix buses
  • Independent front panel analog volume controls for headphone outputs
  • Front panel pre-fader metering of monitor bus levels
  • S/PDIF outputs can be set to mirror the monitor outputs

Onboard UAD-2 Processing

  • The Universal Audio Apollo DUO and QUAD models featuring two or four SHARC processors
  • Realtime UAD Powered Plug-Ins processing on all of Apollo’s analog and digital inputs
  • Same features and functionality as other UAD-2 products when used with DAW
  • Can be combined with other UAD-2 devices for increased mixing DSP
  • Includes UAD Powered Plug-Ins “Analog Classics” bundle
  • Complete UAD-2 Powered Plug-Ins library is available online 24/7

Software

  • The Universal Audio Apollo Console application:
    • Enables Realtime UAD Powered Plug-Ins processing
    • DSP mixer for realtime monitoring and tracking
    • Remote control of all Apollo features and functionality
  • Console Recall plug-in:
    • Saves the Universal Audio Apollo configurations inside DAW sessions for easy recall
    • Enables control of all front panel parameters from within the DAW
    • VST, RTAS, and Audio Units plug-in formats
  • UAD Meter & Control Panel application:
    • Configures global UAD-2 and Powered Plug-Ins settings and monitors system usage

 

Specifications

System

  • I/O Complement
    • Microphone Inputs 4
    • High-Impedance Inputs 2
    • Analog Line Inputs 8
    • Analog Line Outputs 8
    • Analog Monitor Outputs 2 (1 stereo pair)
    • Headphone Outputs 2 stereo (independent mix buses)
    • ADAT Up to 8 channels via dual I/O ports with S/MUX
    • S/PDIF 1 stereo input, 1 stereo output
    • FireWire 800 (IEEE 1394b) Dual ports
    • Thunderbolt (via Option Card) Dual ports
    • Word Clock 1 input, 1 output
  • A/D – D/A Conversion
    • Supported Sample Rates (kHz) 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192
    • A/D Bits Per Sample 24
    • Simultaneous A/D conversion 8 channels
    • Simultaneous D/A conversion 14 channels
    • Analog Round-Trip Latency 1.1 milliseconds @ 96 kHz sample rate
    • Analog Round-Trip Latency with four serial UAD-2 plug-ins via Console application 1.1 milliseconds @ 96 kHz sample rate

Analog I/O

  • Microphone Inputs 1 – 4
    • Jack Type XLR Female
    • Phantom Power +48V, Switchable
    • Dynamic Range 118 dB
    • Signal-to-Noise Ratio 118 dB
    • Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise –110 dB
  • Hi–Z Inputs
    • Jack Type ¼” Male (Mono TS plug required)
    • Dynamic Range 117 dB
    • Signal-to-Noise Ratio 117 dB
    • Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise –103 dB
  • Line Inputs 1 – 4
    • Jack Type ¼”Male TRS Balanced
    • Dynamic Range 117 dB
    • Signal-to-Noise Ratio 117 dB
    • Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise –107 dB
  • Line Inputs 5 – 8
    • Jack Type ¼” Male TRS Balanced
    • Dynamic Range 117 dB
    • Signal-to-Noise Ratio 117 dB
    • Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise –107 d
  • Line Outputs 1 – 8
    • Jack Type ¼” Male TRS Balanced
    • Dynamic Range 118 dB
    • Frequency Response 20 Hz – 20 kHz, ±0.1 dB
    • Signal-to-Noise Ratio 118 dB
    • Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise –106 dB
  • Monitor Outputs 1 – 2
    • Jack Type ¼” Male TRS Balanced
    • Frequency Response 20 Hz – 20 kHz, ±0.1 dB
    • Dynamic Range 115 dB
    • Signal-to-Noise Ratio 114 dB
    • Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise –103 dB
  • Stereo Headphone Outputs 1 & 2
    • Jack Type ¼” Male TRS Stereo/Unbalanced
    • Frequency Response 20 Hz – 20 kHz, ±0.1 dB
    • Dynamic Range 113 dB
    • Signal-to-Noise Ratio 113 dB
    • Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise –101 dB

Digital I/O

  • S/PDIF
    • Jack Type Phono (RCA)
    • Format IEC958
  • ADAT
    • Jack Type Optical TOSLINK JIS F05
    • Format ADAT Digital “Lightpipe” with S/MUX
    • Channel Assignments @ 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz Port 1 = Channels 1 – 8, Port 2 = 1 – 8 (mirrored)
    • Channel Assignments @ 88.2 kHz, 96 kHz Port 1 = Channels 1 – 4, Port 2 = Channels 5 – 8
    • Channel Assignments @ 176.4 kHz, 192 kHz Port 1 = Channels 1 – 2, Port 2 = Channels 3 – 4
  • Word Clock
    • Jack Type BNC
    • Lock Range ±0.5% of any supported sample rate
    • Word Clock Input Termination 75 Ohms, switchable
  • Synchronization Sources
    • Internal, Word Clock, S/PDIF, ADAT

Electrical

  • Power Supplies External AC to DC Power Supply Brick, Internal DC to DC Power Supply
  • AC Connector Type IEC Male
  • AC Requirements 100V – 240V AC, 50 – 60 Hz
  • DC Connector Type XLR 4-Pin Locking Male (Neutrik P/N NC4MDM3-H)
  • DC Requirements 12 VDC, ±5%
  • Maximum Power Consumption 6.5 amperes

Mechanical

  • Dimensions
    • Width 19”
    • Height 1.75” (1U rack space)
    • Depth, Chassis Only 12.125”
    • Depth, Including Knob & Jack Protrusions 13.5”
    • Shipping Box (Width x Depth x Height) 24” x 17” x 8”
  • Weight
    • Shipping Weight (with box & accessories) 18 pounds
    • Weight (bare unit) 9.1 pounds

The Universal Audio Apollo Homepage

Numark @ NAMM with new DJ Kit

Also at NAMM are Numark showing off a number of attention getting items this year.

The Numark 4Trak

 

Numark 4TRAK
Numark 4TRAK

 

Numark 4TRAK Top Down
Numark 4TRAK Top Down

 

Numark 4TRAK Rear Shot
Numark 4TRAK Rear Shot

What They Say:

Four decks of software control, a four-channel mixer and total command over all effects: Meet the Numark 4TRAK, the ultimate controller for TRAKTOR DJ software. 4TRAK lays out a vast assembly of tactile controls in front of you, putting a playground of capability at your fingertips. Mix anything: The Numark 4TRAK’s built-in four-channel mixer allows you to bring turntables, microphones, MP3 players and more into the mix. Tweak everything: High-resolution platters, exclusive Strip Search needle-drop technology and an expansive 12-knob FX KOMMAND CONSOLE give you more precise control over TRAKTOR than ever before.

At the heart of the Numark 4TRAK is a premium-quality fully independent four-channel mixer that can be used with or without a computer, making 4TRAK one of the most versatile TRAKTOR controllers in the world. The Numark 4TRAK has a full range of input and outputs for connecting virtually any device: RCA inputs on each channel and four line-level inputs with two switchable to phono and two switchable to mic. Connect almost any external music source like turntables, CD players and microphones, and mix them in seamlessly with tracks from your software.

What we say:

A new flagship product from Numark and it’s a beast. Clearly designed to sit at the heart of your Dj’in setup this could become the controller for Traktor fans everywhere.

Features:

  • Four decks of software control with included TRAKTOR 2 4TRAK Edition software
  • 12-knob FX KOMMAND CONSOLE for complete control over effects & filters
  • Built-in four-channel DJ mixer that works with or without a computer
  • Four line inputs, two turntable inputs and two microphone inputs
  • Touch-sensitive illuminated platters with 3600 ticks of resolution per rotation
  • Built-in 24-bit audio interface with balanced XLR outputs
  • Solid metal construction
  • Maps seamlessly with TRAKTOR PRO 2 including sample triggers
  • Ultra-precise, low-latency high-speed MIDI
  • Strip Search with illuminated track-position indicator
  • Mouseless library navigation with view options

More info at the 4Trak hompage

The Numark 4Trak At Scan

The iDJ Pro iPad DJ Controller

 

The iPad Pro
The iPad Pro

 

What they Say:

Deck out your iPad for some serious mixing. iDJ Pro from Numark is a professional DJ controller that expands your iPad’s touch interface, seamlessly integrating with Algoriddim’s djay for iPad app to form a completely new DJ experience. iDJ Pro features a sleek, brushed aluminum casing and is equipped with all the professional controls you expect, plus some design features and capabilities that will inspire brand-new surges of creativity.

Combining the industry-leading design of Numark DJ controllers with the power of your iPad and Algoriddim’s djay app, The Numark iDJ Pro puts a 30-pin dock for iPad at the center of its traditional dual-platter setup, giving you access to your iPad’s touchscreen alongside an expanded layout of physical controls: touch-sensitive platters, large die-cast aluminum volume knobs, a dedicated music-library scroll knob, plus hot cues, looping, pitch and effect controls. Once your iPad is docked, a latching door provides total, seamless integration, giving you an intuitive, flexible and powerful DJ system.

What we say:

They are taking what so far has been a consumer level product and attempting to make it pro. It’ll be interesting to see if the feature set of the The Numark iDJ Pro chimes with the pro level performers out there, but it could certainly be another interesting product.

Features:

  • Works seamlessly with algoriddim
  • Complete dual-platter DJ system that seamlessly integrates your iPad
  • Fully incorporates iPad
  • Brushed aluminum casing with lighted controls
  • Capacitive touch-activated platters, plus Hot Cues, Loop & Effects controls
  • Large retro-styled die-cast aluminum volume knobs
  • AirPlay-compatible: send your mix to any AirPlay speakers
  • RCA inputs, 1/4
  • Dedicated music-library scroll knob

More info from the Numark iDJPro homepage


RME Fireface UCX

Ever imagined what would happen if you put a Fireface UFX, a Fireface 400, Fireface UC and a Babyface in a blender?
Well actually, that would make a hell of a lot of expensive unusable mess, however, if you combined the best features of all three units, then you’d come up with the RME Fireface UCX. Initally, it does look very similar to the Fireface 400, but as you look closer, the differences start to appear.

 

Dual USB / Firewire Interfaces
RME will not stray too far from the rather excellent job that they did getting both ports working on the UFX, so we could have expected a DAWBench LLP score of about 7.5 (out fo 10) on firewire (7.4 on usb), which has been the highest score for a non-pcie interface so far. I say could, because during the re-design of the converter circuits, they’ve managed to slash the latency of the stages to a quarter of that found on the UC and Fireface 400. I think i can go on record now and say that this, with the custom programmed USB and Firewire controller chip from the UFX and the amazingly low latency converter circuit, this DEFINATLY WILL outperform the UFX and take the title of Best External Low Latency Interface. I did hear a rumour that the two guys who write the driver software for RME are in fact two ultra-competitve German brothers, one of which does the Windows ones and one who does Mac. If this is true, then its probably the best ever application of sibling rivalry that i’ve ever heard.

 RME Fireface UCX Features:

Connectivity

  • 8 x Analog I/O
  • 2 x Mic/ Line Preamps, digitally controlled
  • 2 x Line / Instrument inputs, digitally controlled
  • 1 x SPDIF I/O coaxial
  • 1 x ADAT I/O (or 1 x SPDIF I/O optical)
  • 1 x Word Clock I/O
  • 2 x MIDI I/O (via breakout cable)
  • 1 x FireWire 400
  • 1 x USB 2.0 (USB 3 compatible)


2 Mic Preamps
The mic preamps have been upgraded to the ones from the Micstacy & UFX and there’s not a gain knob in sight, as they are now digitally controlled and monitored from the Totalmix FX software, which also controls the 48V phantom power for each channel. The Clip-Proof “Autoset” function automatically and intelligently (based on program material) turns down a hot recording without the use of a limiter and associated increase in noise floor that brings. The preamps also handle the two line level and two high impedence instrument inputs in the same way. Of course, this is RME, so you can actually turn the autoset fuction off if you desire.

Totalmix UCX

 

Sound Quality
So, the news is that the converter circuits have had a re-design and reveal that it looks like it’s had a tweak from the 113dBA Fireface 400, but just a smidgen off the 118dBA D to A’s of the UFX, coming in at a very respectable 114dBA.  with a THD+N score of -98db. RME also has kept it’s excellent Steadyclock with jitter reduction circuitry. It has also made the driver asyncronus over USB, so the interface is able to use the internal clock as master. The Wordclock output can also be used to sync up your other digital devices too.The unit works up to 192k sample rate (cue arguments over whether you should record at anything over 96k), although it does (as with all units) reduce the number of channels on the ADAT input, from 8 at 48k to just 2 at 192k.

 

Remote Monitor Control

RME Basic Remote

The RME Fireface UCX also comes bundled with a remote control that has more than a passing resemblence to a babyface (less money spent on mouldings = more money spent on circuit dev eh?). This provides volume control to the RME Fireface UCX as well as a couple of assignable buttons (talkback?)

You can also upgrade the remote to the Advanced remote control, that would add another six extra assignable buttons above the volume knob.

 

 

USB Class Compliancy

ok, move along, nothing to see here……. well, unless (like me) you’ve got an iPad.
Its been well known that for a while, iPad’s have been able to access class compliant USB audio devices by means of the Apple Camera Connector Kit.
This little converter dongle sticks into the charging port on the bottom of the pad and has a USB socket on the other side. We’ve had great fun sticking USB valve preamps, Microphones and Guitar leads into it, but what we’ve not yet seen is any multichannel options…. untill now.

The RME Fireface UCMusic Studio On IpadX can be quickly switched into CC mode with a quick turn of the front panel selection dial and then becomes a 8 channel interface for the iPad, (well, as long as you are running ios 5, which brought in the multichannel function)

Unfortunatly only a couple of programs can make use of the multiple inputs so far, notably “Multitrack DAW” and “Music Studio”, though you would think that a garageband update must be immenent. All programs that have a record audio function can make use of channels 1&2 on input and output.

The other nice little trick up their sleeves in the fact that you can set up a couple of totalmix FX presets on your computer beforehand that can be accessed in CC mode, such as putting compression and reverb on a vocal channel for recording and latency free monitoring.

 

 

 

Differences RME Fireface UCX to Fireface UC/400

RME Fireface UCX RME Fireface UC/400
DSP hardware effects yes
Support for RME Remotes yes
AD/DA Conversion New 2011 design
Low latency AD/DA Conversion yes
AutoSet for overload protection yes
Bus-powered operation Fireface 400

 

 

Differences RME Fireface UCX to RME Fireface UFX

RME Fireface UCX RME Fireface UFX
Inputs 18 30
Outputs 18 30
Analog I/Os 8 12
Advanced Parallel Conversion 4 x
AES/EBU I/O 1 x
SPDIF I/O 1 coaxial + 1 optical
(opt. = ADAT I/O)
1 optical
(2nd ADAT I/O)
ADAT I/O 1 x 2 x
Mic Preamps (digitally controlled) 2 x 4 x
Word Clock I/O (BNC) yes yes
Phones Outputs (dedicated) 1 x 2 x
High Resolution Color Display yes
MIDI I/O 2 x 2 x
Internal DSP hardware effects yes yes
AutoSet for Mic/Inst. Preamps 4 x 4 x
RME Remote Support yes yes
Direct USB Recording yes
Size 1/2 19 inch 19 inch
All TotalMix FX features at up to 192 kHz yes yes
SMUX (up to 192 kHz) yes yes
Complete Stand Alone Operation with Setup Recall yes yes
USB & FireWire support (X-Core) yes yes

 

Conclusion
It seems like RME have got an absolute cracker of an interface here, the low latency performance will set the mark for external interfaces and the class compliant mode will open the door to a whole new hoard of RME fans.

 

Manufacturers please take note…. This is how to make an interface


Please go over to RME and check out all the details as there’s far too much for me to cover here.

The first shipment of the RME Fireface UCX should be available from Scan in the next few weeks, Priced just under a grand.

UCX Webpage

RME Website

The Scan Computers RME Fireface UCX Product Page

Alesis @ NAMM with iPad tools and controllers aplenty.

The big thing for the last few years at NAMM has been the ever growing selection of iPad style portable recording tools, and this year proves no exception.

Leading the charge is Alesis with a selection of new products to keep you rocking out whereever you may find yourself.

 

For the Guitarist: The Alesis AmpDock

Alesis AmpDock
The Alesis AmpDock

What they say:

“The Alesis AmpDock harnesses the massive processing power of iPad, allowing you to unleash your ultimate guitar tone. Building upon the design and technology of the widely acclaimed Alesis iO Dock, the Alesis AmpDock is the world’s first device for guitarists that enables tonal shaping through iPad’s processor. The Alesis AmpDock fully encloses your iPad or iPad 2 in a rugged and portable device made especially for guitarists and bassists. Whether you’re in the studio or on the stage, the Alesis AmpDock helps you create “the sound in your head” with real controls and professional inputs and outputs that work with virtually any app, as well as your amp and pedal setup.

The Alesis AmpDock houses your iPad or iPad 2 in a durable enclosure that features a locking door to fully integrate your iPad and protect it on all sides. The Alesis AmpDock’s professional inputs and outputs include a 1/4″ high-impedance guitar input and an XLR-1/4″ combo input for connecting a microphone, a second guitar or another instrument. The Alesis AmpDock also includes 1/4″ outputs with Guitar/Mic and Ground Lift switches, so you can connect to your guitar amp or go straight into a PA. For use with software MIDI applications on your Mac or PC, the Alesis AmpDock also includes a USB MIDI port. A headphone output with volume control is also onboard, so you can practice and experiment with your apps at any time, day or night.

The Alesis AmpDock also comes with a rugged pedalboard controller, which enables you to control volume and other continuous controls, bypass, program changes, and other parameters. You can use the AmpDock with or without its pedalboard controller, and MIDI connections enable you to use the AmpDock with other pedal controllers and MIDI hardware.”

What we say:

An interesting entry into the portable amp sim market offering iPad based emulation with foot pedal controls. We’ve seen both pad based simulations and stomp pedal based solutions done before on the laptop but not integrated to this level so the Alesis AmpDock should certainly be an interesting prospect for the gig playing axe man.

The Alesis AmpDock Key Features:

  • The first professional guitar processor to use your iPad or iPad 2 for signal processing
  • Works with GarageBand, AmpliTube, JamUp, and virtually any audio or CoreMIDI app
  • Includes a rugged pedalboard controller with program, effect, bypass, volume and continuous controls
  • Guitar Input 1 and switchable Mic/Line/Guitar Input 2; professional outputs, and MIDI jacks
  • Kickstand allows for stable positioning on top of guitar amps
  • Hinged door completely encloses and secures your iPad
  • Mountable to a mic stand using the Alesis Module Mount (sold separately)
  • 1/4″ high-impedance guitar input and combo input for microphone, second guitar, or another instrument
  • 1/4″ outputs with Guitar/Line impedance switch
  • Stereo auxiliary outputs for connection to external effects
  • Two assignable endless knobs to control parameters in compatible apps
  • Analog Input 1, Input 2, Main, and Headphone volume controls
  • MIDI input and outputs and USB MIDI jack for use with other controllers and MIDI software or hardware

The Alesis AmpDock Hompage

For the Drummer: The Alesis DMDock

DM Dock Front
The DMDock

 

The DMDock Rear
The DMDock Rear

 

 

What they say:

The drum module you’ve always wanted.

The Alesis DMDock harnesses the power of your iPad to give you an unlimited selection of sounds, a massive touchscreen for hands-on visual control, and wireless connectivity. This first-of-its-kind drum module builds upon the widely acclaimed design of the Alesis iO Dock, harnessing the tremendous processing power of your iPad or iPad 2 to give you a fully integrated, stage-ready module with a wide array of professional trigger inputs and audio outputs.

What we say:

The Alesis DMDock offers a new perspective on an old concept which we think will appeal to a lot of drummers if the final product proves to be nice and responsive. Looking forward to getting our hands on this one!

The DMDock Key Features:

  • The only drum module for iPad and iPad 2
  • Works with virtually any app including GarageBand
  • 13 individual 1/4″ TRS trigger inputs for connecting drum and cymbal pads and other triggers
  • Works with dual-zone drum and cymbal pads, continuous hi-hats, three-zone rides, and multiple chokeable cymbals
  • Hinged door completely encloses and secures your iPad
  • Mounts to any stand or rack using the Alesis Module Mount (sold separately)
  • 1/4″ Headphone jack with volume control
  • 1/8″ Mix Input for mixing in external audio sources
  • Balanced 1/4″ stereo main outputs for connecting to an amp or PA
  • MIDI input and output for connecting to external MIDI hardware
  • USB MIDI port for use with MIDI software applications or your Mac or PC
  • Powers and charges iPad using universal wall power supply
  • Assignable footswitch input for program changes, start/stop sequences or metronome

More info from the Alesis DMDock Homepage

For the Synth Player: The Alesis Vortex Keytar

 

The Vortex Keytar
The Vortex Keytar

What they say:

It’s time to experience outrageous, unprecedented keytar performance with the Alesis Vortex Keytar. The Alesis Vortex Keytar eliminates the barrier between you and your audience by giving you the freedom to move around the stage and take the lead. With an extensive layout of touch-sensitive keys and velocity-sensitive pads on its pearlescent white body, and radical pitch and modulation controls on its neck, the Alesis Vortex Keytar empowers you to rule the stage.

The Alesis Vortex is the first keytar to include a MIDI-assignable accelerometer. Now, you can get out from behind your keyboard stand and be just as visual as guitarists and singers with an instrument that will respond to your motion. You’ll be able to create incredible volume swells, amazing pitch bends, vibratos, filter cutoffs and more by tilting the Alesis Vortex’s neck in the heat of the moment during live performances.

What we say:

That late 80’s icon is reborn with a twist. The accelerometer we reckon could be used for all sorts of midi abuse with a bit of tweaking and could end up being a lot of fun on stage.

The Alesis Vortex Keytar Key Features:

  • Dynamic, shoulder-worn performance keyboard with attention-grabbing looks
  • The first USB keytar controller—works with all of your software instruments & synths on Mac, PC, & iOS* devices
  • USB and traditional MIDI jacks for use with virtually any synth, sound module, or other MIDI hardware or software
  • Embedded, MIDI-assignable accelerometer for performance parameter control by tilting the neck
  • Thumb-controlled volume slider, sustain button and pitch-bend wheel on neck
  • Finger-controlled MIDI-assignable touchstrip, sustain, and octave-control buttons on neck
  • 37 velocity-sensitive keys with aftertouch for compact, yet complete melodic range
  • Eight velocity-sensitive drum pads/sample triggers enable you to create beats or trigger clips
  • Large transport & patch-select controls for instant access
  • Includes strap; standard guitar strap pegs are compatible with virtually any strap
  • Bus powered when USB-connected to Mac or PC; battery compartment for use with MIDI modules and iOS devices

The Alesis Vortex Keytar Homepage