The USB MIDI keyboards I’ve tested so far were all spring-loaded and therefore quite light and indifferent to the touch. The Impact LX88+ is an 88-key semi-weighted MIDI keyboard/controller. Its keys are part spring-loaded, part weighted. You instantly feel the difference.
NUGEN Audio is well known for its broadcast audio plug-ins and applications. Recently, it released its first batch processor, Audio Management Batch Processor (AMB). This application processes multiple audio files simultaneously. It reports on loudness levels, auto-edits your audio files to make them comply with loudness standards, upmixes audio using the new Halo Upmix algorithm and optionally works with ProRes and MXF files (OP-1a and OP-Atom)
The EncorePro HW720 is Plantronics’ latest professional headset for phone calling via a softphone like Skype on your Mac. The EncorePro HW720 delivers a comfortable and efficient phone calling experience with Skype. The EncorePro HW720 is powered by Plantronics DA80 solution that fits both SOHO callers and call centres.
Audiophiles swear that cables can change your musical experience. They believe cables can make or break the sound coming from your expensive amplifier. People who know better argue that cables costing north of let’s say €200 won’t do you any good.
Myriad is an audio batch processor. It has been for some time, but version 4 has been totally redesigned. It has beautiful looks and processes files at blazing speeds. Myriad has a large number of processing actions you can combine and save into workflows. It will simultaneously export to multiple formats, sample rates and frequencies giving you advanced configuration options and dithering algorithms.
Ozone 7 is the latest version of the master mixing app by iZotope. It contains a whole slew of new modules and features. There are new vintage modules (tape, equaliser, compressor and limiter), a codec preview, new export formats and an upgraded maximiser with a new algorithm (IRC IV).
Some products are upgraded once a year, even if the improvements seem few. On the surface, that’s the case with iZotope’s RX 5 Audio Editor Advanced. If you dig a bit deeper, though, it becomes apparent the RX 5 upgrade is worth every penny. That’s not because the quality of the editing results has improved dramatically — I don’t believe that’s possible anymore. It’s due to new plug-ins and better integration with DAWs, including Avid’s ProTools.
How clean an output do USB ports really deliver? AudioQuest seems to think the output isn’t as clean as it should be. If you want to listen to music and enjoy a noiseless experience with a good soundstage, you’ll need to suppress electronic signals that aren’t music. The AudioQuest Jitterbug does precisely that. Perhaps you’re sceptical. I know I was. I knew my Apogee Duet iPad/Mac has dedicated circuitry to get rid of digital/electronic noise, so what would a €49 USB stick be able to improve on that?
Creating music for a movie or a soundscape is not a matter of buying a few samples and adding them to your sequence or timeline. Doing it right requires imagination and inspiration. Inspiration may come by experimenting with plugins in your music app or DAW. I had the privilege of trying out BIAS FX Desktop, a complete guitar effects modeller or processor that I tried in Logic Pro X. It’s the guitar effects system, but I discovered it can be even more.
Markers and regions allow you to divide a sound file into logical blocks, export into smaller chunks or prepare an audio file for event based editing. Learn how to move regions and create them by making a time selection. Learn how to export the regions list — not the regions themselves — to a text file, using a third party app.
In Sony’s Sound Forge Pro Mac 2.5, you can record high-resolution audio quite easily: just assign the hardware, meter the input signals, arm your tracks, and record high-resolution multichannel audio. Route your inputs, position the Record tool, click Record, and you’re off. But there’s more to it than this and it’s actually not that simple either. This instruction video explains it all.
When SpectraLayers Pro came out a few years ago, it was the advanced audio spectrum analyser/editor many audio engineers dreamt of. In practice, the application was slow and not always stable. Version 2 ran a bit faster, although not by much, but it gained features not found anywhere else such as layer casting and moulding. With the only just released SpectraLayers Pro 3 Sony hasn’t chosen for the easy road of adding bloat to the app. Instead, they’ve made several impressive improvements, speeding up the app considerably, giving it a better, far more user-friendly and customisable interface and the ability to process 24bit/192kHz files. There are a few new features as well, but the focus of version 3 lies with making SpectraLayers Pro a more efficient, pleasurable audio editing app.
Mixing and mastering audio for film, video or broadcast differs a bit from mastering for music. The media to master for will be different, as will the requirements of the industry. A UK developer, NUGEN Audio, creates professional audio tools for high-end music producers, post-production engineers and broadcasters. Among its partners we find Avid and Quantel. NUGEN Audio offers post-production mixing and mastering with a Post Pack that holds eight modules of which some can be used as stand-alone applications.
Audio Hijack Pro was Rogue Amoeba’s app for capturing sound from applications as well as input devices. It was powerful, scalable and flexible but not very user-friendly. Audio Hijack 3 changes all that. It’s every bit as powerful — if not more — than its predecessor, but also easier to use. In fact, the new building block paradigm used in Audio Hijack 3 will enable you to do more with your audio recordings because it’s incredibly simple to set up complex sessions. Also new in Audio Hijack 3 are templates, full-screen mode, presets, FLAC recording and more.
Iris 2 is a new and improved version of a virtual instrument, a sampler and a synthesizer in one. When iZotope released the first version of Iris, it was a tool with decent capabilities, but a bit limited with regards to flexibility. Iris 2 is exactly the opposite. There’s no limit on what you can do with this application.
Probably for the first time in history, a developer actually removes features from an application in response to user feedback. iZotope did just that with the Ozone 6 mastering solution. The result is a lean, mean mastering machine with looks to kill for and not one feature that gets in your way. Ozone 6 does come with a new module, though: a very effective dynamic equaliser. Ozone 6 can be used as a plug-in to your DAW or sound editor, or as a stand-alone mastering solution.
Amarra is an audiophile music player for the Mac. I tested the full Amarra player, which allows you to play FLAC as well as DSD music files. Sonic Studio also released Amarra sQ, an equaliser specifically developed to enhance streaming music such as iTunes Radio or Spotify streams.
I finally got around reviewing Logic Pro X for Post Magazine. It wouldn’t be proper to write a review on IT Enquirer when Post Magazine has gone through all the hassle of getting me a test license for the product. Instead, I’m listing three Youtube screencasts here. They’re no-frills introductions to the interface, movie import and processing and applying audio effects to a Final Cut Pro X project with the help of the XML import capabilities in Logic Pro X.
Cooperation between a software developer and a celebrity hardly ever results in something as powerful as iZotope’s BreakTweaker, a drum sculpting and beat sequencing machine. BreakTweaker is a virtual instrument for your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). It is the result of a cooperation between iZotope and world famous producer and technologist BT. There are two aspects to BreakTweaker: it’s immediately usable by end-users and designers will love the infinite ways to create unique rhythms. For example, if you create movies and want to add a rhythmic score to your picture quickly, you’ll buy the Expansions (there’s one for Cinematics) and play the samples you feel are fitting with the style and mood of the picture. If you want to create something unique, you’ll create a BreakTweaker sequence yourself. With both options, the possibilities are truly endless.
Sound Forge Pro Mac 2 responds nicely to what users most wanted: integration with SpectraLayers Pro 2.1 and FLAC support. Other new or improved features include an automatic trimming/cropping tool, a Volume plug-in, broadcast CALM-loudness compliant metering, event mode improvements and a new iZotope plug-in (Nectar Elements). Also brand new is the “Convrt” batch processing automation tool, which is a separate batch app.
If you’re shooting video with a dSLR, a small semi-pro cam or a consumer level video camera, chances are your sound is not as good as you’d hope. And even if you have provided for an external prosumer audio recorder like the Zoom H4n, the quality of your audio will depend on the quality of the device’s microphone pre-amps. Those of the affordable recorders are good, but not exceptional. But those of the Apogee Duet for iPad & Mac are, so why not using an Apogee Duet as an external audio recorder?