STEALTHY SAMPLING STUDIO
THE PITCH Groove box, keyboard-based sampler, and loop workstation fused into a small but mighty package.
THE BIG DEAL Same improved mini-keys as MicroKorg XL synth. Fourteen-voice polyphony. Key Gate lets you assign consecutive samples from the same source to consecutive keys. Pattern sequencer with 64,000-note memory. Recessed buttons and slots meant to hold iPod-like devices.
WE THINK Not since we first struck a key on an Ensoniq Mirage and heard James Brown go “Hah!” has sampling been so realtime and fun.
$750 list/approx. $500 street, korg.com
MOTU DIGITAL PERFORMER 7
GUITAR GOODIES AND MUCH MORE
GUITAR GOODIES Custom ’59 models classic Fender and Marshall amps. Live Room G uses physical modeling for superior speaker cabinet emulations with extensive virtual mic placement.
MUCH MORE Floating channel strip window. EQ and dynamics now inline in each mixer strip. Can now view VRacks next to tracks in mixer. More in-your-face marker handling. Notation handles lyrics and transposable chord symbols. Vastly improved sample rate conversion. Wave64 file support. Sidechain support for AU instruments. $795 list/approx. $500 street; $195 upgrade from previous version, motu.com
TAKE A STAND
THE PITCH Two tiers. One column. No hassle.
THE BIG DEAL V-shaped base stays out of the way of sustain and control pedals. Both tiers are fully adjustable for height, angle, and depth, which goes up to 16.1".
WE THINK Check it out if you want an affordable and slick way to position two keyboards in a nice, tight cascade.
$295 list/approx. $150 street, quiklok.com
KENTON MERGE-4 AND LNDR
MIDI WORKHORSE WONDERS
THE PITCH Merge-4 (shown) funnels four MIDI inputs into two outputs. LNDR is a pair of boxes that sends MIDI up to 500 meters!
THE BIG DEAL Both products capture all note, controller, sys-ex, and MIDI clock data. LNDR uses a standard Cat-5 Ethernet cable to achieve its long-distance MIDI magic of up to half a kilometer.
WE THINK For the stuff you just can’t do over USB, nobody makes more functional or rugged boxes than Kenton. $TBA, kentonuk.com
WAVES VOCAL RIDER
INVISIBLE ASSISTANT ENGINEER
THE PITCH “Rides the fader” of your vocal track in relation to the rest of the mix.
THE BIG DEAL Because it’s not a compressor, it adds no pumping or coloration to your track. Because you’re not drawing volume automation by hand, you save tons of time. You can tweak the automation it writes after the fact, of course.
WE THINK We saw it work, and it really is like having an assistant engineer with one finger on the vocal fader — pretty uncanny. $TBA, waves.com
UNITY AUDIO THE ROCK
A PRESENT WITH A RIBBON ON TOP
THE PITCH Unity went back to the original designer of the folded ribbon tweeter and built a superior studio monitor around it.
THE BIG DEAL Tweeter provides stunning detail and a wide sweet spot. Baltic birch cabinet and Corian baffle (yes, the kitchen counter material) kills resonances and helps get bass down to 40Hz. True 100W amp designed by high-end audio guy Tim DeParavincini.
WE THINK Unity wasn’t the first speaker to popularize the folded ribbon, but the Rock sounds so good for so little money that it just might boot the one that did out of the Garden of Eden. $1,099.50 list/$999.50 street (each), unityaudio.co.uk
MORE ABLE, LESS TON
THE PITCH Super-compact and affordable controller for Ableton Live.
THE BIG DEAL Less than ten inches square. Buttons can trigger clips or scenes, or work as virtual faders by sliding your finger up and down a column. Surface can split between triggering and fader mode. Works with Automap for ganging with more Launchpads or other Novation controllers.
WE THINK If cost and/or size kept you away from the cool Akai APC40, your prayers have been answered. $249.95 list/approx. $200 street, novationmusic.com
DIGIDESIGN ELEVEN RACK
DSP-POWERED AMP MODELING
THE PITCH Amp, cabinet, and stompbox models from the Eleven plug-in, improved, cast in hardware, and powered by their own DSP chips.
THE BIG DEAL Guitarists hate latency, so this has none. Works as a standalone effects box or as an interface for Pro Tools LE 8, which is included. Lets you dial in your own amp and effects chain without hitting your computer’s CPU. Stereo line ins and XLR mic in as well as hi-Z guitar in. Can function as a re-amping box.
WE THINK If you need killer guitar tracks, this producer’s darling of a box could be your primary Pro Tools interface. Serious effect and tone junkies may lament the lack of parallel chains, though. $1,295 list/approx. $999 street, digidesign.com