Tag Archives: DAW

Free music packages for your studio DAW.

For anyone just getting into making music the is an often bewildering choice of sequencers out there offering an astounding array of features that a few decades ago would have been unimaginable to anyone but those working in the largest pro studios.

The problem now is that even for the more experienced musician making the choice of which DAW you want to focus on is often tough, so for the beginner just wanting to start out and who perhaps doesn’t yet understand what they need it becomes even more difficult.

The most popular options always seem to be the most expensive, and to some extent that shouldn’t be a surprise. Pro studios require great support and those costly packages have levels of support that some of the cheaper options might not have the resources to match. Of course anyone starting out and who has their heart set on going into a pro studio situation might find themselves wanting to learn with the more popular packages, but the fact is that the are a wide selection of extremely cheap alternative and even many that are free, which have a strong user base able to help you learn and are often just as well featured as many of the commercial alternatives.

The alternatives below are all free. Some are cut down editions of larger more costly packages and others are free and fully maintained packages built and looked after by a dedicated user base. Either way if your not quite ready to spend a large amount of money on your sequencer but still want to experiment, then you could certainly do far worse than checking out one of these packages.

ProTools First

ProTool First : http://www.avid.com/pro-tools-first

Starting with the well known names and ProTools first is a fairly recent entry from one of the longest standing DAW software teams. The was a time where ProTools was almost ubiquitous in studios around the world, although those days are now long behind us as market has fractured over the years largely due to the rise of home recording.

So firstly the key restrictions:

16 Audio Tracks
16 Instrument Tracks
4 Hardware Inputs
Restricted to Plugins Purchased from the Protools Shop
Saves restricted to the cloud with a 3 project limit.

As a self contained studio package for those wishing to get to grips with Protools before perhaps diving head first into buying the full package this works well; although given the inability to freely use third party plugins (at least not easily due to the “shop only” restrictions) this isn’t really suited for those wishing to experiment with sound design or working fully in the box. This base package however does make quite a bit of sense for the small band style projects as with 16 channels of audio you have enough here to multitrack your guitars, drums and vocals and wide enough selection of native effects to get the job done.

Of course the focus here is on bringing you into the world of Protools, with the ability to carry your home projects over to the full version when the time to upgrade comes. In doing so they look to have picked a rounded set of features that could well do the job for anyone wanting to record their band for the first time.

Compare the ProTools range features here.

Studio One Prime

Studio One Prime : http://www.presonus.com/press/press-releases/Studio-One-3-Prime

Having only been on the market since the late 00’s Studio One is still a relatively new comer to the DAW-wars but one that gained a lot of interest from the very first announcement. With a number of developers coming from the Steinberg camp the pedigree of the team behind Studio One is without dispute. Whilst still viewed as bit of an upstart Studio One has found favor with long established professionals and eager new comers alike. The free version referred too as Studio One Prime sets out to be an introduction to the world of Studio One in much the same fashion as ProTools First is for ProTools.

The restrictions here are far more subtle in nature, but the are certainly a few notable ones. Track count is unlimited but once again external VST’s are walled off and inaccessible in the base package. It includes 9 native effects and a virtual instrument in the shape of the Presence XT sampler which makes for a good jumping off point, but once again like ProTools First a lot of users may find this quite restrictive and anyone wishing to leverage third party tools for sound design will be disappointed.

Other restrictions may not prove all that noticeable for new users finding their feet. Features like video importing and additional audio exporting functions will be low on the list for new users, although might become more relevant later on. The same goes for more advanced features like additional channel editor functions and macro controls or the extended FX chains on offer in the more fully featured editions.

Once again the VST restrictions here might be a little off putting for a lot of people and again perhaps mean that Studio One Prime might prove more suitable for those recording small band projects rather than in the box sound designers.

Compare the Studio One versions here.

Tracktion 5

Tracktion 5 : https://www.tracktion.com/products/t5-daw

Tracktion whilst perhaps not as widely known as some of the other more established sequencers, its fast approaching its 15th birthday. and over that time it’s gone through a number of revisions with Tracktion 7 being the current commercial release. 

In order to continue to attract new users Tracktion maintains an older free version of its flagship client which is free to all of which the current version is Tracktion 5.

With unlimited audio and instrument tracks, the support for all VST’s without having to access their marketplace the are few key drawbacks here. Notable missing features include various warp modes when working with audio, and various grouping and extended functionality options, most if not all are missing from other basic and even payable options from many sequencer brands so really this is pretty fully featured and certainly worth checking out.

Compare the Tracktion Versions here.LMMS

LMMS : https://lmms.io/

The fully open source LMMS is well featured, comes with all the functionality you would expect from a studio ready DAW but built and maintained by an enthusiastic community.

Offering a channel count only limited by you CPU, full VST support with an included bridge to allow the use of older plugins, as well as a healthy collection of freeware synths and effects included with it.

The one downside of LMMS is it’s lack of recording capability inside the software. It’s great for those working fully in the box, but in order to bring audio in you’d need to record it into an audio editor first (like the excellent freeware Audacity) and then export it over to LMMS for use in your project.

Whilst that is going to be off putting to anyone working with capturing large amounts of audio, making all your music in the system and importing the odd snippet here and there isn’t going to prove all that troublesome, especially given all the other functionally on offer here it could potentially make it a strong fit for anyone not convinced of the other offerings here.

Honorable mention

Reaper DAW

Reaper : www.reaper.fm

Often a common inclusion in these types of lists, Reaper itself isn’t quite free, so it gets a special mention down here for its features to price ratio.

You should however consider taking advantage of the fully featured trail and if you like it the $60 full cost of the software (for home users) it is an absolute steal for a package this well featured. The audio engine alone is amongst the best performers out there, giving great low latency audio handling with extremely efficient code capable of eak’ing out one of the highest trackcounts we’ve seen when placed head to head with even the most expensive of DAW packages.

Sharing more in design and concept with sequencers like Cubase and ProTools, rather than the newer generation Ableton and Bitwig this might seem to have a steep learning curve when compared with some of its contemporaries, its ability to skin and configure it will let you fine tune it to your workflow if your able to take the time to learn it fully.

Fully featured from the outset with no notable restrictions in place, the are a lot of budget editions of all the key sequencers, but we don’t think you’ll find a more comprehensive package anywhere else at anywhere close to this price point.

If however you feel like your ready to step up to one of the larger packages?

See our selection @ Scan.

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.

2016 CPU DPC Test Results
2016 CPU DPC Test Results

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.

Scan 3XS Audio Workstations

Scan 3XS Audio Laptops

Scan Ready To Ship Audio Workstations

FL Studio 12 Gets A Full Release

After being in beta for a number of months now, Fruity Loops 12 goes gold. With a host of updates to the engine, new features and being a free upgrade to owners of previous editions thanks to their free lifetime upgrade scheme.

 

Notable new features

  • Updated Editions with more value – FL Studio Fruity edition gains Automation Clips. Producer edition gains Sytrus & Maximus. Signature Bundle gains Harmless, Newtone, Gross Beat and Pitcher. Existing owners also get these great additions.
  • Vectorial UI – FL Studio is now 100% vectorial allowing it to be used on 4, 5 or even 8K monitors with pin-sharp fidelity.
  • Mixer – Completely redesigned mixer, dynamically resizable with 6 layout styles plus 3-user configurable docking panels (left, centre and right) for track management. Multi-fader selection and adjustment. Improved mixer track grouping. Multi-touch support. 10 FX slots per track. Many new multi-track routing automated options. Enhanced grouping and submix functions. The dedicated ‘Send’ channels have been replaced with general purpose send tracks and added to the overall track-pool.
  • Updated plugins3xOSC, Edison, Formula Controller, Peak Controller, Keyboard Controller gain vectorial UIs. Envelope Controller (8 articulators, Mod X/Y envelopes & vectorial UI), Send (can now send to any mixer track & vectorial UI), Hardcore (new tube distortion effect & convolution based cabinet simulation), Patcher (Plugins open outside patcher. Auto patcherizing of existing plugins & multi-touch support). Fruity Convolver new impulse library by Soundiron. Finally, the Channel Settings are now integrated into the Wrapper. ZGameEditor Visualizer – Loads all popular video formats and gains 4K+ rendering.
  • Piano roll – Time markers added for labelling and looping purposes. Auto-zoom can now be switched off in the General Settings. Stamp tool replaces chord tool and allows users to click in chords from a selector. Macro to find overlapping notes.
  • Playlist – Drop multiple stems or Audio Clips on the Playlist from any Windows file browser.
  • Browser – Improved layout with user configurable category tabs (name and icon). The default categories include Files, Plugins and Current Project providing key content at a glance. Improved file management with Right-click delete options for most content.
  • Multi-touch support – Multi-touch has been extended to Mixer functions, Channel settings and Control Surface. Swap between Windows Multi-touch and FL Studio Multi-touch modes.
  • Improved 32 & 64 Bit VST plugin support – The wrapper has been redesigned to improve stability and compatibility. The FL Studio Plugin scan tool now allows unlimited VST search locations and quick favoriting.

FL Studio @ Scan

SSL Sigma – Analogue Summing Rack

Analogue summing has become a de-rigour process of high end audio production, with the likes of the SPL Neos console leading the charge. SSL have taken this concept with Sigma and are the first to have designed a thoroughly modern take on it

The concept for the uninitiated goes like this….

For optimum digital to analogue conversion at maximum bit rate, the outgoing signal should leave the interface as close to 0db as possible. Every 6db (approximatly) quieter than zero the signal is, it loses a “bit”, so if your pad sound peaks at -24db, then you actually lose 4 bits of audio data!.

There is also a large movement that prefers the way that audio sounds when mixed in the analogue domain, instead of being digitally combined by exporting inside the sequencer. Many engineers prefer this method, citing more “Warmth”, “Space” and “Depth” to the mixes. Now obviously, this wont make much difference (in fact, it would undoubtedly be negative) with a £100 soundcard, but this can be the icing on the cake to the likes of high-end RME,  Lavry,  Apogee or Lynx conversion owners.

Now, where you sit on the whole summing debate is up to you, but where SSL have hit the jackpot with Sigma, is integrating digital level controls from the sequencer of the analogue channels from your sequencer. This “best of both worlds” approach, coupled with a legendary analogue signal chain produces an extremely forward thinking way of utilising modern studio workflow with classic analogue sound.

sigma-large

We are proud to unveil Sigma, the remote controlled analogue mix engine, at Musikmesse 2013 (Hall 5.1, Stand B.73). Designed for the DAW user that seeks the legendary big sound of an SSL console while retaining the convenience of working in the box, Sigma is a unique analogue mix engine in a 2U rack unit, that is remote controlled using MIDI via Ethernet using a DAW or an iDevice compatible software interface. Using proprietary MDAC control technology first featured in our Duality and AWS studio consoles, Sigma’s 100% analogue summing engine can be driven by automation data created within your DAW of choice. Sigma features 16 flexible input channels which can be individually switched between being mono or stereo for up to 32 channels at mixdown. There is accurate front panel LED metering for all channels. There are two stereo mix busses with dedicated outputs for convenient printing of stems back to the DAW and individual stereo insert points to facilitate implementation of parallel compression. Each input channel also features an individual direct output. Mix Bus B can also be injected into Mix Bus A for final mixdown.

An Artist and Studio monitoring section provides a Monitor and Headphone output. The Main monitor output has Main and Alternative connections to accommodate 2 sets of monitors. A comprehensive switching matrix enables selection of your monitor source. A large front panel rotary control uses a push-select mechanism to determine whether it adjusts Mix A, Mix B, Main Monitor or Headphone levels. There is also a Talkback input with adjustable Dim level. Control and switching of a wide range of functions including; monitor level and source, inserts, talkback, sum B>A and mono check, can all be achieved using any standard MIDI hardware control surface. A MIDI learn feature makes setup simple and easy. A pair of user assignable dual action push/hold buttons on the front panel or a foot-switch can also be assigned to the same collection of switching functions. Sigma uses MIDI over Ethernet for control and to connect to a cross platform software interface which provides additional control and setup capability. The software interface enables Sigma to be remote controlled using an iDevice.

Sigma is due to ship in August 2013.
£2799 + VAT

 

 

 

Sigma @ SSL

SSL @ Scan

Novation Launchpad S – Brighter, Faster, Universal

Novation Launchpad S: It’s Bigger, It’s Brighter, and it’s getting us excited!!!!!

Hear Ye! All you Fleet-fingered Ableton Live users, a new King cometh etc.

Yep, it’s here…….

Novation Launchpad S

The no.1 Live controller: now brighter, faster and universal

Launchpad S is an update to the best-selling grid controller for Ableton Live: the Novation Launchpad. The 64 tri-colour pads can launch loops and clips, trigger drums and samples, and also control effects, volumes, mutes, solos and more. Launchpad S can do all this but has vastly brighter LEDs, a significantly faster refresh rate and is now plug and play with other software such as FL Studio. It also now works with iPad!

lp2For those of you not familiar with the original Launchpad, it was about the most comprehensive way of manipulating Ableton Live’s particular way of working.

It was especially designed for launching loops/clips and triggering effects as well as getting full mixer control including volume, effects sends, pan, mute, solo and track arm. The grid can also trigger drums and one-shot samples. A second user mode allows users to freely assign pads to control other software parameters.

 

So what’s new!!!!

KEY FEATURES

64-button music software controller Launch loops/clips, trigger drums and samples, and control effects and volumes.

Brighter, faster and works with more software Launchpad S is an update to the best selling original Launchpad.

Comes with Ableton Live Launchpad Edition Feature-packed version of Ableton Live lets you create music straight out of the box.

Plug and play with FL Studio and other software Now including custom software control overlays in the box.

Now supports iPad Launchpad S connects to iPad® with the Apple Camera Connection Kit — no drivers required!

New #1 iPad music app Trigger loops and remix on the fly with just a Launchpad S and your iPad

Create and perform anywhere Launchpad S is bus powered, even from an iPad, so you don’t need to connect it to mains power!

Launchpad S comes with the Launchpad Edition of Ableton Live, so you can start making music straight away. It also comes with custom overlays for using other grid-based music software such as FL Studio.

 

PLUS:

Novation has developed a Launchpad iPad app that enables loop triggering and effects from your iPad, independent of Ableton Live. Launchpad S can be connected to, and powered by, an iPad using a standard Camera Connection Kit. The app features a 1GB sample pack of brand new hand-picked loops curated by Loopmasters, ranging from drum samples to artist packs across a variety of modern genres……

This superb little box of tricks will retail at £149.99 and should be available from the middle of April………

http://www.scan.co.uk/products/novation-launchpad-s-controller

http://uk.novationmusic.com/midi-controllers-digital-dj/launchpad

 

CUBASE 7 is Here!!!!!

CUBASE 7: I’m very excited.

 

So, it’s here!!

Forget Christmas, it’s the release of Steinberg’s Cubase 7, and I for one can’t wait.

What’s so exciting?

Well pretty much everything…..

Starting with the overhaul of the mixing page (which can incidentally now be full screen), with its extremely flexible channel layout, 12 dB boost and dedicated processing power per channel, what they’re calling an ‘exceptional’ feel to the controls and comprehensive online and offline automation tools, MixConsole has been built to provide uncompromising audio quality and routing flexibility from the outset, with plenty of pristine headroom and a fundamentally transparent sonic signature.

It also looks cool! The Channel strip seems intuitive and has some built in usefulness from the start with the strip divided into sections including a Noise Gate, EQ, Compression, Saturation and Limiting, all movable  to wherever you want them, and with an Inserts effects track at the very top to show where the signals being sent.

 

Next up, Chord track.

This is either going to be brilliant, or the biggest waste of time ever.

It’s basically an extension of the VariAudio function, which analyses your track for harmonic content,  and then presumably makes suggestions as to Harmony or alternative Bass lines etc. based on what it see’s.

Whether or not this is going to be of any use to the more advanced musician (and I presume Cubase users at this level to have some musical knowledge) remains to be seen, but it’s certainly a handy function if your own level of musical competence isn’t able to suggest ideas for itself……

On the ‘up’ side, Steinberg are claiming that the ability to create lead sheets for other musicians has never been easier.

Intelligent composing assistance:

Again, this is either going to be a superb aide to writers or, it’s going to result in thousands of homogenised chord sheets, all sounding like a Gershwin Rhapsody whilst travelling from a I to a IV chord.

In essence, they are claiming that you could enter a start chord and an end chord, and the composing assistant will offer you a myriad of chords for the middle. Whether this has any benefit to originality I have my doubts, but I look forward to a whole ruck of Harmonically sophisticated dub step tracks…….

 

 

 

 

Pure tuning:

Clever this.

Most composers know of the difficulty of pairing ‘fixed tuning’ instruments like guitars and pianos, with variable tuning instruments like trombones or violins.

‘Hermode’ tuning  allows you to….well, here’s what they say…

“Thanks to the Hermode tuning technology, the intonation of your synthesized notes are changed dynamically on the fly for utmost compatibility with well-tempered scales, while retaining a high degree of purity for third and fifth intervals “

We await with baited breath…………

 

VARI AUDIO 2:

This seems to be a superb update to an already ‘must-have’ technology.

Basically the engine works with the aforementioned ‘Chord Track’ to ensure all your harmonies are at the correct pitch. It will allow you to take a lead vocal and wrap harmony parts around it all day long, with varying levels of sophistication.

It will also provide the well known ‘AutoTune effect’, for those who like that sort of thing……  and, you’ll be able to edit multiple VariAudio parts across multiple tracks within one editor only!

 

CUBASE HUB:

Cubase sports the new Steinberg Hub loaded with tons of helpful information.

Alongside the enhanced Project Assistant you now find a list of regularly updated video tutorials and RSS feeds to keep you informed about important Cubase updates, support news or product releases.

 

So these are just a few of the advances ‘right out of the box’.

All in all, it looks like a very substantial re-working, of perhaps the most famous DAW on the market.

Its smoother and easier on the eye, and I look forward to ‘discovering’ things along the way, as always.     LN48346.

 

Steinberg Announce Cubase 7

Steinberg have announced their latest revision of the Cubase family in the shape of Cubase 7 and Cubase Artist 7 with a street date E.T.A of December 5, 2012

Highlights In Cubase 7

New Mix Console

The completely new MixConsole excels not only in terms of usability, look and feel, but also sounds better than anything before it! Featuring full-screen mode, total scalability and quick in-place access to the parameters most relevant to the task, MixConsole adjusts seamlessly to notebook screens and large-scale displays.

With its extremely flexible channel layout, 12 dB boost and dedicated processing power per channel, an exceptional feel to the controls and comprehensive online and offline automation tools, MixConsole provides uncompromising audio quality and routing flexibility from the outset, with plenty of pristine headroom and a fundamentally transparent sonic signature.

Cubase 7 Mixing console

Improved Workflows

Dedicated to our diehard users, Cubase 7 brings extraordinary workflow improvements to the table, delivering a genuine benefit to professionals working regularly with the mixer. Highlights include A/B comparison and global bypass for all audio effects, a plug-in search function as well as drag-and-drop support throughout.

Plus, dynamic sends and inserts provide a streamlined overview, whereas the professional meter bridge lets you keep track of your signals. Aiming on providing barrier-free accessibility to the blind and visually impaired, MixConsole is compatible with screen reader software and can be operated using only the computer keyboard.

Channel Central And The New Channel Strip

The brand-new channel strip in Cubase 7 offers that epic pro-console sound that lets you turn your songs into a hard-hitting, radio-ready production. Along with this the redesigned Channel Settings window gives you lightning quick access to all channel parameters, including input metering, routing assignments, the new channel strip with premier equalization and dynamics modules and essential aux as well as cue sends to create individual cue mixes. There’s no need for scrolling — the display follows you automatically wherever you are and updates each time you adjust controls on a different channel.

Cubase 7 Channels

New Song Writing Tools

The new global Chord Track allows for easy working with chords within your Project window and provides transform and harmonize functions throughout the application. Cubase detects the harmony structure of your song and feeds back all chord and scale information to both MIDI and audio tracks processed with VariAudio. All tracks engaged to follow will automatically reflect any harmonic adjustments made with the Chord Track! Advanced voicing options are used to transform existing parts in a harmonically correct and ear-pleasing way.

Alongside this thanks to the Hermode tuning technology, the intonation of your synthesized notes are changed dynamically on the fly for utmost compatibility with well-tempered scales, while retaining a high degree of purity for third and fifth intervals. Especially when combining non-fixed-intonation instruments, like brass and woodwind, and fixed-intonation instruments, such as guitars and piano, entire orchestral arrangements sound immediately clearer and more brilliant than before.

Global collaboration with VST Connect SE

Steinberg VST Connect SE allows musicians to connect directly to Cubase 7 users, giving you the freedom to collaborate and produce together, even when you’re not in the same studio, town or country. Talkback and chat functions as well as video and audio stream in real time give you limitless possibilities. Collaborate with your musical partners when they are not using Cubase, thanks to the included standalone version, which is available as a free download.

Bulletproof ASIO-Guard

The Steinberg Audio Engine has also been extended with the brand-new ASIO-Guard technology. Rely on our intelligent dropout-prevention algorithms and focus only on your sound — just like in the analog days. With this bulletproof technology our goal is to help Cubase users get the maximum performance out of their systems.

 The New Cubase Mix Console

More Musical Than Ever

Makin Your Life Easier

All this and we’ve only scratched the surface of the announced updates and improvements in the package so check out the link down below for all the rest of the info on this new version.

Cubase 7 – Whats New?

To see which version is right for you consult the Steinberg Comparison Chart

Copies of Cubase 7 will be landing with us around the start of December. Anyone purchasing a copy of Cubase 6.5 after 25th October will qualify for a free upgrade to Version 7 via the Steinberg Licensing center.

Steinberg Products At Scan

Ableton Live 8.4 Beta Enables 64 Bit support (At Last!)

Finally, Ableton come out with a 64 bit version, (Well, Almost… its still a beta) why not go and try it out for yourselves.

What They Say……….

 

We are pleased to announce the beta version of Live 8.4, featuring native 64-bit support. With 64-bit support, Sets in Live 8 can now accommodate much larger memory usage, and third-party plugins that support 64-bit. Registered Live 8, Suite 8, Live Intro or Live Lite 8 users can download the beta now.

Download the beta

The 64-bit version of Live works with PCs running Windows Vista/7/8 (64-bit) and with Intel-Macs running OS X 10.5 and up. The 64-bit version of Live 8 does not support Max for Live, video, or The Bridge. We are currently working with our partners to add support for these features.

Learn more about the benefits and limitations of 64-bit Live 8

The release version of Live 8.4 will be available later, as a free update for registered Live 8, Suite 8, Live Intro or Live Lite 8 users.

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

An Introduction to Music Sequencers

One of the key choices faced by eveyone when starting out making music is which sequencer software to learn in order to be able to produce your own recordings. As the heart of any modern studio the sequencer will allow you to record, edit and even master your music in your own preferred recording space and with the power and features available in even the most humble of software studios these days you can get astounding results, that even just a couple of decades ago were unthinkable by anyone working outside of a large studio environment. The problem with having to make the choice at this stage is that your most probably at your most unprepared for what is essentially a choice that will shape your work flow dynamic for years to come, so in this situation just how do you decide when its likely your not even sure what you need?

To keep things simple for this article we’ll break them down into a couple of groups and we’ll start with the traditional sequencers Cubase & Sonar. Both of these solutions have long heritages with Steinberg’s Cubase first appearing on the Atari ST in the late 80’s and Calkwalk’s Sonar appeared a few years prior to that under it’s original brand name of Cakewalk, meaning that both of these solutions are regarded as long established industry standards with Cubase being the popular choice in Europe and Sonar the leader in the USA market.

 

A Cubase arrangement page. A Cubase arrangement screen.

Designed initially as midi sequencing tools used to record and edit playback data controlling synths and other external hardware, it was with the advent of the Steinberg introducing the V.S.T (Virtual Studio Technology) standard in the mid 90’s which over time has become the dominate format over Cakewalks own DXi plugin standard (Sonar also supports VST) that we’ve seen sequencers grow from their humble beginnings to the all encompassing studio in box solutions we see now. When choosing between these two software packages you’ll see that most of the features found in either one will tend to be available in the other sooner or later. The has over the years been a history of them pushing each other on when developing new features and improvements which has resulted in great feature rich solutions being developers for users working with either client.

Over time we’ve seen these sequencers also introduce timeline based real time audio editing and manipulation which was previously was the greatest strength of the other classic recording software ProTools. Once again originally developed in the late 90’s but this time as a replacement for the classic multitrack tape recorders found in every recording studio up until this point Pro Tools was developed as a medium to allow loss less digital recording in an environment where the audio could be manipulated and processed without degradation associated with working analogue or even digital tape formats. ProTools was regarded as a game changer as it could speed up the mixing and mastering process and allow all sorts of editing tricks to be applied that were previously only be dreamed of by the average razorblade wielding tape based editors of old.

Cubase Audio Editing On The Timeline.

ProTools however in the early days by design was developed to only work with dedicated hardware solutions (audio interfaces) which whilst ensured a high quality audio recording environment also put this far outside the price range of the average home studio recordist. Over time however the platform has opened up with ProTools HD remaining at the highend we saw the introduction of the LE revision and with a wider range of features such as full VST support although still required special hardware (the MBox range) to support and run it. Recently we’ve seen this evolve into the ProTools 9 release which like its counterparts Cubase & Sonar will now run on any sound card and hardware configuration it joins them as a fully featured elder statesman of sequencers.

So that’s the old guard covered what about the newer solutions?

Over the last decade or so we’ve seen any number of newer software packages appear and whilst some are designed in the same fashion as the older sequencers with midi being a primary concern with the most notable being the superb Reaper client, we’ve seen a number of software houses approach the process with new ideas and tailor their software more towards those of us who work fully inside the box rather than make music with external hardware.

The one package that can probably lay claim to making the most impact on how we think about arranging and working with sequenced music in recent times is Ableton. Originally developed as a live performance tool that would give the ability to remix and edit loops and audio on the fly in the early days we saw ground breaking DJ sets where the artist would load up all of their self written tracks as component parts and perform by mixing and matching components of their music blended together allowing for a unique performance each and every time. As artists got use to doing this live and discovered just how quick and easy it was to work with they started to use it more and more as a studio tool rather than just a live performance instrument and the Ableton development team have picked up on this and continued to develop it into the one stop solution no matter if your working in the studio or performing out on the road.

 

Ableton Session ViewAbleton’s session view is a great alternative to the more traditional arrangement window setup.

Other notable packages include Sony Acid, FL Studio and Reason which all continue to go from strength to strength. Both FL Studio and Sony Acid started out as a loop based sequencers and have evolved to play host to a lot of the features of the larger more established packages and offer support for the popular plugin standards.  Reason on the other hand is a popular all in one package which restricts it’s users by not supporting VST/DXi and other none native formats but rather maintains its own synth and sampler selection as part of the package. Whilst this can be seen as a negative by users wishing to dip into the wider waters of plug ins, it does have the notable advantage of focusing the user and by keeping those choices more limited which can actually help speed up workflow as anyone who’s ever faced a screen full of synths wondering which would be most suitable tor the idea in their head will tell you. Perhaps because of this a number of artists have mentioned that they prefer to write within this environment as they find themselves being at their most productive working this way, although they may still find themselves having to transfer projects over to other software solutions to complete the tracks at mixdown stage if they want to take advantage of tools not available inside of Reason to mix or master the project.

Hopefully this brief rundown has given you a few ideas of where you wish to look and our only other advice would be to get hands on. All sequencers initially require a bit of time to get to grips with, but as you pick up the concepts your ability to get your ideas down as you want them will get quicker and quicker as you learn more and more. Obviously with so many options some of these will prove better for you than others so we highly recommend you trail each package that appeals to how you wish to work.

Thankfully the majority of software firms offer trails of their sequencers giving you a few weeks to spend time with each one before you decide upon that initial outlay, so you should take advantage of this and give each one that stands out a try in order to make sure you make the right choice along the road to making music for yourself.