All posts by Pete

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

 

 

Akai MPC on the Fly

Following on from yesterdays posts about the first two of three new units coming from AKAI we have the third and certainly most interesting piece… The AKAI MPC Fly.

Designed as a “on the fly” tool for your iPad, the MPC Akai Fly means you can take the classic MPC controllability with you in an easy to carry package.

 

The Akai Fly
The Akai Fly

 

MPC Akai Fly  Product Features
MPC Akai Fly Hardware

The first MPC designed specifically for iPad 2
Fitted compartment for iPad 2 provides fully integrated portable MPC solution
16 backlit genuine MPC pads with MPC Note Repeat & MPC Swing
Works seamlessly with the MPC App: sequence & sample editing, effects, EQ and more
Create beats on the go and transfer to a Mac or PC for further mastering
Double-hinged case sits upright, lies flat or closes for transport
Compatible with virtually any Core MIDI app
Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery
Charges iPad when plugged into wall power

MPC Akai Fly Technical Specifications
General

Pads: 16 velocity sensitive with aftertouch. backlit by velocity
UI Buttons: Ideal performance controls available, including:
Note Repeat
Transport Controls
Mute / Solo
Track Select
Erase
Timing Correct

Height: 1.2 inches (30.5mm)
Width: 9.7 inches (246mm)
Depth: 8.0 inches (203mm)
Weight: 2.02 pounds (0.92kg)
Power: Internal Li-ion battery, 6VDC/3A AC adaptor for charging MPC Fly and iPad2
MPC App works with iPad & iPad 2 (Hardware works with iPad 2 only)

The Akai Fly Homepage

Akai announces new MPC style midi controllers.

Ahead of NAMM this year Akai has decided to announce and show off 2 out of it 3 new MPC style midi controllers.  It should be interesting to see how a company that pretty much invented the all in one workstation sampling groove box concept can go up against the modern day solutions on offer such as Maschine.

Akai MPC Studio
The Akai MPC Studio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Akai MPC Studio Key Features:
  • Fuses iconic MPC production with the processing power of your computer
  • Compact design is less than 1” thin and fits easily into a laptop bag
  • MPC SOFTWARE for Mac & PC with 64-track sequencing capability
  • 16 backlit genuine MPC pads, legendary MPC workflow & MPC Swing
  • US B-powered with low-profile knobs and brushed aluminum body
  • Large LCD screen allows you to make tracks without having to look at your computer
  • Four touch-sensitive knobs provide enhanced MPC software control

 

Akai Renaissance
The Akai Renaissance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Akai Renaissance Key Features :

  • Fuses legendary MPC production with the processing power of your computer
  • Vintage Mode changes output sound character to MPC3000, MPC60 and more…
  • 16 backlit genuine MPC pads, 16 Q-Link controls, and adjustable backlit LCD screen
  • Classic MPC Note Repeat, MPC Swing and MPC transport controls
  • MPC SOFTWARE for Mac or PC with 64-track sequencing capability
  • Two XLR-1/4” combo inputs and dedicated turntable input
  • Four-channel US B 2.0 audio interface and two-port US B 2.0 hub built in
  • Up to eight pad banks—more than any other MPC ever
  • Two MIDI inputs and four MIDI outputs
  • Stereo 1/4” out, stereo assignable mix 1/4” out & S/PDIF I/O

 

http://www.akaipro.com/mpc

Serato announce new video features for Scratch Live and ITCH

One of the killer features for Serato has always been it’s Video-SL plug-in for vinyl emulation Software Scratch Live, which allows you to control video clips via the time coded vinal.  This March Serato Video will offer support for both Serato Scratch Live and Serato ITCH, giving DJs who own devices that support these clients like the Novation Twitch and the Numark NS6  more flexibility than ever.

The feature list for this version includes :

  • Add video clips to your Serato Scratch Live or Serato ITCH performance.
  • View loaded clips and output from your computer.
  • Manipulate playback with Serato control records, CDs or with your ITCH controller of choice.
  • Use built in transitions and effects including text and image effects.
  • Enrich your set with audio responsive effects, including bass zoom and splits, that are controlled by analyzing the music signal.
  • Preview and manage video files in both the ITCH and Scratch Live offline players.
  • Use Video Instant Doubles to play the same video and effects on a second deck.
  • Store effects within each video file for instant recall.
  • Setup different output configurations (Output Only, L/R prefader or all 3 outputs) for greater flexibility when video mixing externally.
  • Utilize 3rd party controllers with Serato Video’s MIDI control in Scratch Live.

If you already own Serato Video-SL then Serato Video will be a FREE upgrade for existing Video-SL customers.

Serato Video will be available to purchase in March 2012.

SandyBridge Extreme and Bulldozer DAWbench testing round up.

The second half of 2011 has seen some high profile CPU releases in the form of both the AMD Bulldozer series and the new highend Intel SandyBridge Extremes. Both platforms offer us Hexcore solutions with additional benefit of inclusion of the AVX extensions which whilst enjoying modest support already (Sonar’s inclusion of the extensions has been widely reported), looks like it could be important as more and more firms adopt and optimize with their software to support this functionality.

December 2012 System Dawbench Results
December 2012 System Dawbench Results

So a brief overview of our findings.

The AMD Bulldozer Dawbench results surprised us and not in a good way. Performance for this new generation of CPU has been lackluster at best and in a surprising result performance wasn’t much improved over the previous Phenom X6 series CPU and even fell behind it in some testing. The shared cache in the AMD Bulldozer design we suspect could be involved here bottle necking the CPU but either way it does seem that this CPU’s design isn’t ideal for audio usage.

The Intel Sandybridge Extremes however continue to push forward performance wise in the DAWBench testing and we see some great performance gains in the initial testing. At stock the isn’t much in it with a overclocked 2600k and this might still be the better option for a lot of users but the X79 boards do permit you to make use of a lot of extra memory slots (the board allow upto 8 memory sticks) if you pick up the right model which allows those working with film and TV scores to have access to upto 64GB’s of memory, so ideal for people running programs like VSL or large EW sound banks.

The initial testing of an overclocked Sandybridge Extreme 3930k does show some astounding gains when over clocked with 30% – 40% across the board, this could make these CPU’s reasonable value for money. Unfortunately our initial testings has been done on the B2 release CPU’s which are running a bit hot when pushed to this level of performance. Intel has announced a refined CPU revision (the C2) late January 2012, so we expect to be offering an over clocked edition offering this performance gains around the start of February all being well. Of course we shall publish updated results from our testing as and when it is carried out.

For further information on DAWBench and how we test please see this article.

All DAWBench Testing Results

DAWBench Homepage

 

Scan Pro Audio Day – 26/11/11

On the upcoming Saturday the 26th we have another of our ever popular Scan audio open days.

This time around alongside the opportunity of catching tutorials from our team we also have Andy from Steinberg giving us the low down on all the new kit from them including the CMC controller series. We also have Tom giving us the lowdown on his recent Youtube chart topper (with 2 million listens to date) rmx of the Modestep track “To the Stars” with Break the Noize, Dj Rasp will be giving some one on one’s about scratching technique and Simon Lyon will be giving more one on one time with Ableton.

A full line up for the day:

11.00am Ableton Live
Simon Lyon aka The Ruthless Producer introduces Ableton Live. During this session, Simon will take you on a tour of Abletons features and show how easy it is to build tracks from scratch
12.00pm Mixing
DJ Rasp shows off the tricks and skills needed to be a top DJ. Rasp will demonstrate some of the basic skills you need to scratch and mix your way to DJ Nirvana
1.00pm Steinberg demo
Andy from Steinberg with all things Steinberg and he shows off the new CMC controllers. Q&A session to follow.
2.00pm Studio Secrets
Tom from “The Autobots” shares some of his studio secrets behind his and fellow Scan endorsees “Break the Noize” remix of Modestep’s “To The Stars” that has received over 2,000,000 YouTube plays.
2.30pm Guitar Rig 5 session
Does Native Instruments Guitar Rig 5 spell the end for guitar amps in the studio? Steve Fairclough takes you on a tour of this awesome amp modelling software.
3.00pm Prize Draw !

Sign ups for the day can be found on the main Scan site here.

The Breedlove Difference

Each Atlas Series Instrument has been designed and engineered by Kim Breedlove. With a strong art background and refined design sense, Kim Breedlove acquired the tools, the training and a keen interest in building guitars, mandolins, banjos and other fine instruments in 1974. At a very young age he entered the elite level of producing legendary quality instruments and has dedicated his life to this masterful artistic endeavor.

Atlas guitars feature many of the design principles from Breedlove’s custom shop including Breedlove scalloped bracing, pinless bridge and JLD Bridge Truss System.

 

 

The body shapes are similar to the custom shop offerings for deep body styles with non cutaways and soft cutaways. The bridge, fingerboard and peghead overlay on each model are made from Indian Rosewood.

The playability has been changed to a slightly narrower nut width 1-11/16 in., but each has the same low string height for fast comfortable playing. D’Addario EXP11 light gauge coated strings are comfortable, last a long time and have a full sound.

Fishman Classic IV Pickups are on all cutaway models. These are easy to use, reliable and sound great. Each Atlas Series instrument has passed the strict quality assurance process in Bend, Oregon, USA. Breedlove has reached these amazing prices by creating a high quality system to produce these exact models and specifications.

The Breedlove Difference

The Breedlove tone is an outcome of the way they brace their tops. All of their guitars have tops voiced both before and after the braces are applied. They utilize a modern bridge truss device (patented by J.L.D. Guitar Research) that counterbalances the string tension on the top of the guitar. Does this mean Breedlove guitars lose the ability to vibrate well? Just the opposite. In the past, building a guitar top has required trade-offs between sturdiness for longevity, and lightness for resonance. Due to the increased structural integrity of the bridge truss, Breedlove is able to brace their tops for optimal vibration and sound quality. This creates what they call a relaxed top. You will also notice the back of their guitars vibrate more than other guitars. The result is a responsive guitar with rich bass, balanced mids, sweet highs, and a remarkable balance of sound when playing notes up the fingerboard.

A guitar where the strings pass over the nut and then angles sharply towards the tuner posts has added dampening, which causes loss in sustain. So Breedlove designed their peghead so the strings between the tuners and the nut are parallel to the rest of the string. Then they have the Breedlove Pinless Bridge. Why drill 6 holes through a part of the guitar that needs stability?

And so finally, all these little innovations and variations become the Breedlove difference. Do yourself a big favour and check one out today.

 

 

Breedlove guitars are available from our ProAudio shop.

Breedlove Hompage

Steinberg CMC Controllers

Last weekend whilst having a hunt round the BPM show at the NEC we came upon our friends at Steinberg and their wonderful little CMC series controllers. You can pick and choose from a number of cheap and cheerful units to make up your very own dream control panel. With that in mind and a view to populate his own x-mas wants list even further our Tom sat down with Andrew from Steinberg and had him take us through the options available.

Steinberg Homepage

Scan Audio Open Day 24/09/11

Many thanks to all those that made it down for our open day last Saturday making it a great success. The theatre area was set up and demos, training sessions and Q&A’s took place throughout the day with Ableton production and remixing sessions being popular and the showmanship of Dj Rasp entertaining all between the seminars themselves.

If you missed out this time watch the site for futher announcements as we have another being planned before the end of the year.

 

Dj Rasp
Dj Rasp - Record crate digging for the 21st century

 

Statelapse Q&A
Luke Statelapse and Tom Autobot dissect a Dubstep Remix.

 

Simon 1 on 1
Simon gives a 1 on 1 Ableton talk through.

NF26 System Build Log – Silent Computing Solution

 

Building A Silent PC Solution in the NoFan Set A40 Case

 

 

One of the main considerations for any audiocentric build has traditionally been the overall noise of the final system. If you get to design a studio from the ground up, you find yourself able to rack up or remove the computer hardware into a separate area away from your recording section of the studio. For a lot of users through especially those working in a small project studio environment this may not be viable and you may have to compramises in order to make the overall setup work. In this situation you may still need to have the ability to edit and record in the studio space where your setting up mic’s and instruments so the last thing you want to be able to hear in your final recordings is noise from the computer doing the processing work.

Whilst all of our systems are designed with this in mind and components are carefully chosen to ensure as little background noise is created as possible, what if we could go further than that? Ideally we want to be removing as many moving parts from inside a computer as we can to ensure you end up with the lowest noise footprint possible.

Enter the 3XS NF26 and the SET-A40 case.

NoFan are a new company setup by the original designers from Zalman, who have left to start up a new company developing unique designs and innovating in the world of PC silence. The SET-A40 bundle we base this build around includes a case, cooler and 400w PSU which are all designed to run passively with no fans for required for cooling and allowing use for CPUs rated at upto 95w TDP.

To sum up the design and idea behind the system I’ll add in here what the company themselves have to say about this product: ” Nofan’s bundle comprises their revolutionary CR-100A IcePipe Fanless Cooler, a fanless 400W power supply and a specialized convection case to accommodate the CPU cooler and any other components that are required to build the perfect silent computer, with zero dust build up.”

So without further ado let’s take a look at it.

NoFan Case Box
Ready To Be Unboxed.

 

 

 

 

Well it’s a case box. Indications on it that we should expect 0 db(a) of noise from the system and indications of the components inside. It’s at this stage that you’ll get the first indication of the crazy cooling system from the artwork on the side but more of this later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Case Front Shot
Unboxed case photo taken from the front.

 

 

 

 

Once we break it out of the box we get to take at look at the front panel. It has a couple of exposed 5.25 bays and a 3.5 for your card readers. The are the normal selection of ports and jacks on the front and all in all, so far, so ordinary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Case Side Open First look inside with the side panel removed

 

 

 

With the side panel off we see once more fairly typical case design but lurking in there are some out of the ordinary bits and pieces. First of all the large brown box taking up most of the free space is certainly in need of further examination…

 

 

 

 

 

NoFan Heatsink
As it says on the tin… the NoFan cooler from the top down.

Having opened the box the first thoughts through many peoples minds are pretty much “What is that?!!?!?”. In office we discussed the lot from hamster wheel right through to salad spinner. In actual fact this is the very heart of the machine.

I present to you the NoFan fanless cooler.

 

 

 

 

NoFan Heatink Cooler Base
The NoFan cooler underneath.

Based around a liquid pipe design it certainly is sizable but at the same time suprisingly light. Underneath we can see a nicely polished base with the company logo etched into it with a couple of heatpipes as well as the support arms designed to carry heat away from the heatsink base itself.

It’s certainly a nice tidy design and no sharp edges to it which will make builders use to the Zalman flower designs of old breathe a sigh of relief!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Asus board set up with the heatsink mounts.
The Asus board set up with the heatsink mounts.

 

So how does this monster heatsink attach to the motherboard? With surprising ease in fact and it’s clear a lot of thought has gone into this design. 4 mounting poles are attached via screw mounts into a special backplate and that is more or less that which for a heatsink of this size is once again quite surprising.

 

 

 

 

 

MountedMOBO
The Motherboard mounted inside the system.

 

 

 

 

 

A side on shot of the system with the motherboard mounted inside. You’ll notice at this point the rather odd mounting position of the psu. As this is also passive and generating heat NoFan have decided to mount it at the front rather than the rear to keep the heat evenly spread throughout the system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NoFan Heatsink Install
Installing the NoFan Heatsink

 

 

Once again the thought that has gone into this design becomes apparent when you attempt to mount the heatsink. Some designs can be very hard to mount but with this you can just drop the cooler into the case and then you line up the screw holes…

 

 

 

 

 

NoFan Heatsink Mounted
The NoFan heatsink Screwed into the case.

 

 

Screw in the thumbscrews and the job is pretty much done.

Quick easy and far less hassle than a lot of other designs.

 

 

 

The Finished System
The Finished System

And there you have it. The system is assembled and ready to be fired up for the first time.

 

 

 

 

 

So what do we think of it here in Scan? It’s a bit of a niche item but it does the job very well if it fits your requirements. Annoyingly some mechanical parts are still required to complete the build but you can work around these as well. We’ve set ours up with an SSD for the O.S. drive which will keep the performance up and the noise down but you’ll still need something to hold your project data and a larger mechanical is still the only real option. For our demonstration unit we set it up using a caddie that allows you to fit both a laptop hard drive and a slimline slot loading Dvd drive. The laptop harddrives are generally quiet solutions and by using the caddie it allows the drive to be swappable allowing for quick backups or the moving of projects between machines. Also by using a slot loading optical drive in this solution we get a reduced noise level as slot loaders tend to pinch the optical disk on both sides rather than a single sided spindle lift you see in tray designs so less rattle from your dvd’s.

On the all important performance side it work fantastically too. We initially tried it with a normal 95w 2600 CPU and ran it on Prime 95 for around 6 hours with the CPU running around the 85 degree mark. Whilst that is still within Intels limits we like to build our systems with a bit more overhead as studios as we all know tend to get a little bit toasty once all those lovely toys are turned on! So we broke out the 2600S low powered edition which uses around 30% less power than it’s bigger brother. We clocked up the CPU to around 3.3Ghz which is only just slightly slower than the 3.4Ghz rated 2600 regular and did the same Prime 95 test once more. This time we got an average of around 70 digress over the same time frame which is far below our own in house threshold and once you factor in that the machine will never be run in the real world at this sort of level for more than a few minutes at a time it promises a long and stable life for the machines usable duration… most impressive!

Whilst you can never fully remove every mechanical component from your build, by using these options you will minimize the noise levels of what’s left and the result will be an extremely quiet solution ideal for in studio usage.

This system is available on the Scan 3XS site on the audio system configurator : 3XS NF26 Silent P.C.

The NoFan Set A40 is also available as a barebones bundle : NoFan Set – A40

images/