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AES Has Strong Showing

Hard disk recording is the order of the day By Frank Moldstad
The aisles and booths of the 113th AES Convention were shoulder-to-shoulder with audio professionals from the post production, live sound, recording and related industries, marking a resurgence for the convention and showing new vitality in the business. The Los Angeles show, which ended Tuesday, followed last fall's below-normal attendance at the 111th AES convention, held in New York in the wake of reschedulings after the September 11 events.

The throngs came to L.A. for a strong seminar lineup and a firsthand look at products ranging from traditional large format mixing consoles, microphones and monitor speakers to an increasingly dominant array of digital gear, DAW recording software and plug-ins. Even some of the traditional fare isn't what it used to be -- these days microphones (Neumann) and monitor speakers (Dynaudio) can be digital. And although analog tape remains the sentimental favorite medium of many high-end recording engineers, there's no question that hard disk recording in one form or another is the order of the day.

Pro Tools 6.0 Edit window (click for larger view)
Digidesign kicked off Sunday's events with a 9 a.m. unveiling of Pro Tools version 6.0 for Mac OS X and version 5.3.3 for Windows XP. Both are scheduled to ship by the year's end, and Digidesign said that by spring it will have version parity on both the Mac and PC platforms. Euphonix, maker of high-end digital consoles for post production and broadcast use, announced an interesting deal with Steinberg, developer of the Nuendo media recording and editing software, in which Euphonix consoles such as the 5-M can be used to control Nuendo functions. Mackie introduced the Baby HUI control surface for tactile manipulation of software programs such as MOTU's Digital Performer, ProTools and Digi 001, Nuendo, and others. Universal Audio came out with four strong new products, including the UAD-8 I/O, an effects plug-in card with optical ins and outs, the outboard 6176 preamp/compressor, the 2192 Dual DA/AD Converter and TDM versions of its Powered Plug-Ins for Pro Tools.

And there are always one or two relatively unknown exhibitors hidden away in the far reaches of the AES show floor. One such exhibitor was Telefunken USA. It's a famous name in microphones, but production of the sought-after classic microphones was ceased in 1988. In 2000, entrepreneurs Toni Fishman (CEO) and Craig Allmendinger (President) got the rights to the Telefunken name, along with the original mic plans, and began building the mics again, starting with the Ela-M 147 and the Ela-M 251. No less an authority than Stephen Paul, esteemed for his modfications of Neumann U-87s and other high-end mics, was sending people to their booth, saying, "These guys are doing it right." (Paul is coming out with his own line of mics, distributed by PMI Audio Group, next year.)

Soundscape 32
Mackie's high-end Soundscape32 hard disk recording system also now supports the Baby HUI with its new Version 1.5, as well as support for the Mackie Control/Mackie Control Extender products. Also in the dedicated hard disk recorder vein, TASCAM announced the MX-OS 3.10 update for its MX-2424 recorder, and showed the integration of its SX-1 digital audio production environment with a new digital surround monitor controller, the DS-M7.1. Euphonix demonstrated Version 4.0 software for its R-1 multi-track digital recorder. And SADiE's new Version 5 offers enhanced real-time DirectX support so users can access third party software plug-in applications from companies such as Waves, TC Electronic, Antares, and others. Digidesign also announced a list of more than 20 companies having Pro Tools 6.0 plug-ins in development, including 20 plug-ins from WAVEs alone, and the Powered Plug-Ins series from Universal Audio being ported in TDM versions. Fostex showed its new D-2424 24-track digital recorder, a rackmountable 24/96 device that is available now.

Universal Audio's UAD-1 card
Workstation muscle is growing, thanks to a new generation of PCI plug-in processors such as Universal Audio's UAD-1 card and TC Electronics' PowerCore. Universal Audio's new UAD-8 I/O card ($1,295 list) features an ADAT optical interface that supports sample rates ranging from 44.1kHz to 192kHz and allows users to connect directly to any external device with an optical input. The UAD-8 I/O also comes with a stand-alone host application, so that users no longer need a third-party VST host application to run the plug-ins.

Universal Audio also previewed its upcoming Windows version 3.0 software release for the UAD-1, which supports the use of multiple UAD-1 cards in a single PC, and showed the new Mac version 2.3 with dual processor support. The company also introduced Cambridge, a new EQ plug-in for the UAD-1 that will be available for user purchase.

TC Electronics showed a number of new plug-ins for its PowerCore PCI card, including the Sony Oxford EQs (shipping now), DSound VL2, the Waldorf D-Coder and the MasterX3 with an algorithm based on the TC Finalizer (both shipping in June), TC Tools 3.0 for Pro Tools HD, TC Works Surround Verb for Nuendo and the Assimilator plug-in that lets you extract EQ curves from existing recordings and apply them to other tracks.

Nearly every DAW software developer had an update for its product at the show. Cakewalk demonstrated SONAR version 2.1, which is shipping this month and includes OMFI and Broadcast Wave (BWF) support, as well as support for Windows Media 9 Series audio export. It also supports Mackie Control surface hardware. Steinberg's new Nuendo version 2.0, available in December for Windows XP and Mac OS X, features multichannel architecture through the entire signal path. Every input, audio track, effect, group and output in Nuendo now offers up to 12 discrete channels, ready for full-scale 5.1, 7.1, or even 10.2 productions.

BIAS, which shipped the first recording/editing application for Mac OSX with Peak, showed an update for Peak, version 3.1. The upgrade is available as a free download and adds support for QuickTime 6, Dolby AAC, and OS X v10.2 (Jaguar). BIAS also showed a new product, SoundSoap, for removing unwanted hiss, background noise, room noise, rumble and 50 & 60Hz hum from audio tracks, which has a "Learn" feature for saving user presets.

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Related Keywords:AES, post production, live sound, recording, mixing consoles, microphones, monitor speakers, DAW, recording


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