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Big News from NAMM: Day One

Significant plugin announcements, nifty new interfaces and major software upgrades By Frank Moldstad

Anaheim Convention Center
As the first day of the NAMM 2006 Winter convention dawned in Anaheim, CA, audio product developers pulled the wraps off a number of exciting new hardware and software products for the home recording and professional markets.

Big news on day one included a major upgrade from Sony, which announced ACID Pro 6. Mac users were buzzing about Apogee’s new Ensemble interface, with native control from within Logic Pro 7 and other CoreAudio applications. Plugin developments included Digidesign’s announcement that it was acquiring the assets of plugin developer Trillium Lane Labs. And Universal Audio announced a licensing deal with AMS Neve to develop plugins based on Neve hardware.

In addition to product announcements, there was an undercurrent of saber rattling by major computer platform developers, spurred by Apple’s recent commitment to Intel processors and by Microsoft’s recent release of Windows x64.

With Apple’s entire lineup of Mac hardware migrating to Intel by the end of calendar 2006, software developers such as Steinberg Media Technologies, Ableton and Native Instruments issued statements that they would be ready for the switch. Native Instruments said all its future product releases will include "Universal" versions for the Intel-Mac platform, while retaining compatibility with existing Macs. Similarly, Steinberg announced that its latest version of the VST plug-in standard released at the NAMM already supports the Mac/Intel hardware platform, and that Steinberg’s future Mac products would support the new standard, including Cubase and Nuendo. Ableton announced that the Live 5.2 upgrade is coming soon, with native support for Intel-Macs. Live 5.2 will be in beta as soon as the new Intel Core Duo-equipped MacBook Pro is available and is expected to be released in February

Meanwhile, DAW developers Digidesign and Cakewalk were partying with the PC camp, co-hosting separate events Thursday night with Microsoft, Dell and Intel. Cakewalk recently released its flagship application SONAR 5 in both 64-bit and 32-bit versions. Digidesign was also partnering with Microsoft to present the Pro Tools 7 Software Training Room at NAMM (convention center Room B5963). Attendees will be able to take advantage of free, one-hour training sessions on how to get started using Pro Tools 7 software.

As noted, there were two major plugin announcements as the show got underway. The first fruit of Universal Audio’s licensing agreement with Neve will be based on the Neve 1073 Equalizer, with others to follow. The plugins will run on Universal Audio’s UAD-1 DSP Card and Powered Plug-Ins system. Universal Audio also announced that v4.2 software for the UAD-1 DSP Card & Powered Plug-Ins system soon would be available for download in Q1 2006. It will include a 14-day fully functional demo of the third in the Roland Classic FX series, the Roland RE-201 Space Echo.

Trillium Lane Labs' TL Space
And with Trillium Lane Labs, Digidesign brings the assets of one of the leading Pro Tools plugin developers in house. Among the Trillium Lane plugins are the TL Space convolution reverb and the TL EveryPhase phaser plug-in. All the currently shipping Trillium Lane Labs plug-ins are available for Pro Tools 7, and a TL Utilities bundle is shipping soon. In addition, there are two other new plugins developed by Trillium Lane coming in early 2006. These are TL Drum Rehab (a multi-sample sound replacement plug-in) and TL AutoPan.

Also for Pro Tools, Sony introduced a new Oxford “6 Pack” bundle, which includes its EQ, Dynamics, Inflator, Transient Modulator, Reverb and the recently introduced Limiter. Available for ProTools HD and LE systems, the bundle carries a suggested list price of $2,695 (HD) and $1,075 (LE).

Sony also bowed the latest version of ACID Pro 6 at NAMM, saying the new version includes major upgrades that transform ACID Pro 6 into a full-featured professional digital audio and MIDI workstation. It will include both multi-track recording and a MIDI sequencing environment. Scheduled for March availability, ACID Pro 6 will  retail for US $399.95.

New audio interfaces bowed from Symetrix and Focusrite, in addition to Apogee. Symetrix introduced the Lucid GENx192 Ultra Low Jitter Master Clock. It is capable of handling sampling frequencies up to 192kHz, and users can choose between internal reference and distribution functions. In distribution mode, an external sync source (AES or Word Clock) that is fed into the device appears at each of the GENx192's 14 sync outputs.

And Focusrite launched the new Saffire Pro 26i/o, the second interface in its  Saffire range. A  FireWire interface, the Saffire Pro 26i/o features Focusrite pre-amps, 24-bit/192kHz processing, and software control. Altogether, it has 52 channels of I/O (26 In, 26 Out) using its integrated software. Focusrite also announced the release of v2.0 software update for the Liquid Channel professional channel strip is available for download from the Focusrite web site.

Apogee Electronics said its goal with the new Ensemble interface is a complete integrated hardware and software audio production system for the Mac. Ensemble includes eight channels of 24-bit 192K AD/DA conversion, plus eight channels of ADAT I/O, two channels of S/PDIF coax and optical I/O, and FireWire connnectivity to and from the computer as standard equipment. Ensemble also includes four digitally controlled 75db mic preamps. Although it is designed for integration control with Logic Pro, Ensemble is compatible with any CoreAudio application. It comes with Apogee’s Maestro Software for control and routing outside of Logic Pro.

Apogee's Ensemble

Apogee also announced that it has standardized its Rosetta 800 line at 192K sample rates, and will be offering the Rosetta 800 at $2,995. Previously the Rosetta 800’s standard sampling rate was 96k.

That it’s for the early NAMM report on Day One, but rest assured there’s plenty more coming over the next four days, through NAMM’s conclusion on Sunday.

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Related Keywords:NAMM 2006, convention, audio product, Anaheim, home recording, ACID Pro 6, Digidesign, Ensemble, Mac, Universal Audio

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