AVID PRO TOOLS 9
Concept: Replaces Pro Tools LE—and by popular demand, works with any CoreAudio or ASIO interface.
Big deal: Previously extra-cost options like Music Production and DV Toolkits and DigiTranslator are now included. Automatic delay compensation and MP3 export now supported. EuCon makes for deep integration with Euphonix Artist control surfaces.
We think: You talked, Avid listened, and PT may well reclaim its crown as the DAW to beat. Plus, we’ve seen the EuCon thing work and it’s really slick.
List: $599 | LE crossgrade: $249 | M-Powered crossgrade: $349 | avid.com
Concept: More inputs than any USB audio interface in its class.
Big deal: Sixteen simultaneous ins: eight XLR mic pres and two line/guitar jacks on the front, four balanced line ins on the back, and stereo S/PDIF. Four balanced outs. MIDI. Goes to 24-bit/96kHz.
We think: Spend most of your money on keyboards that you’d now like to plug in all at once? Look no further.
List: $399.99 | Approx. street: $300 | tascam.com
NATIVE INSTRUMENTS GEORGE DUKE SOUL TREASURES
Concept: Kontakt Player instrument of funky riffs and phrases played by the keyboard legend.
Big deal: Duke recorded over 500 original licks exclusively for NI, using his personal grand piano, Rhodes, Wurly, and Clavinet. Includes versions recorded through tube preamps onto analog tape for even more vintage vibe.
We think: With all the celebrity sample libraries out there, it’s about time a musician of Duke’s immense talent and taste got one of his own.
List: $119 | Approx. street: $99 | native-instruments.com
Concept: Analog front end, audio interface, and control surface in a single studio nerve center.
Big deal: Two mic/line/guitar preamps identical to those on SSL’s Duality console, with balanced insert points. Motorized 100mm faders. HUI and MCU over Ethernet. Switches between three DAWs. Monitor control. Duende native plug-ins included.
We think: Add computer and software, and you have a high-end SSL recording studio on your desktop. We’d like to see a few more line ins for keyboards, though.
$4,995 (no list/street difference) | solid-state-logic.com
CAKEWALK SONAR X1 PRODUCER
Concept: The biggest revamp to the Windows DAW since Cakewalk Pro Audio became Sonar.
Big deal: Skylight configures mixer, arrange window, inspector, and media browser in an elegant single-window interface. MultiDock follows whatever you’re focused on. ProChannel provides SSL-style console EQ and bus compression, as well as tube saturation modeling.
We think: It’ll delight Sonar power users and convert more than a few haters. Check out our exclusive first look at keyboardmag.com/video.
List: $499 | Approx street: $400 | cakewalk.com
Concept: Faithful replica of the MS-20 patchable analog synth for the Apple iPad.
Big deal: Absolutely nails the MS-20 sound. Virtual patch cords. Includes six-part drum machine, mixer, and sequencer modeled on Korg’s SQ-10.
We think: It sounds so good, and is so much fun, that you might run out and buy an iPad just to have it.
$15.99 in the iTunes App Store | korg.com/ims20
MUSIC COMPUTING iKEY DOCK
Concept: Provides keys, controls, audio interfacing, and real estate for your music laptop of choice.
Big deal: Built around PreSonus audio interfaces. Custom GeoMIDI software for mapping the generous complement of onboard controls.
We think: We like the idea of a controller keyboard that’s also your laptop stand. Definitely products to watch.
61 keys: $1,499 direct | 88 keys: $1,799 direct | musiccomputing.com
BLUE MICS SPARK
Concept: Premium cardioid condenser mic at an entry-level price.
Big deal: Same capsule design as Blue’s far more expensive studio mics. Beautiful cosmetics and rugged construction. Comes with shock mount and pop filter.
We think: You have to hold one to appreciate the fit and finish, and there’s no bigger bang-forbuck for your first “good mic.”
Street: $199 | bluemic.com