New Gear March 2010

YAMAHA CP50 SOME CP1 FOR EVERY 1 THE PITCH The most affordable sibling of the CP1 (see last month’s New Gear) doesn’t skimp on sound. THE BIG DEAL Retains the CP1’s Spectrum Component Modeling for six A-list acoustic and electric piano sounds, and adds 215 more sounds derived from the Motif XS: Clavs, organs, strings, synths, rhythm patterns, and more. Has VCM effects from Motif XS. WE THINK Given the next-level SCM piano sound you get for the price, plus all the other gig-ready sounds, this could be the killer app in the new CP family. $2,199 list/approx. $1,700 street, yamaha.com
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YAMAHA CP50

SOME CP1 FOR EVERY 1

THE PITCH The most affordable sibling of the CP1 (see last month’s New Gear) doesn’t skimp on sound.
THE BIG DEAL Retains the CP1’s Spectrum Component Modeling for six A-list acoustic and electric piano sounds, and adds 215 more sounds derived from the Motif XS: Clavs, organs, strings, synths, rhythm patterns, and more. Has VCM effects from Motif XS.
WE THINK Given the next-level SCM piano sound you get for the price, plus all the other gig-ready sounds, this could be the killer app in the new CP family. $2,199 list/approx. $1,700 street, yamaha.com

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RADIAL J+4

SIGNAL LEVEL DIPLOMAT

THE PITCH Unbalanced, consumer-level signal goes in the RCA jacks or the 1/8" stereo mini-jack. Balanced, pro line-level signal comes out the XLR jacks.
THE POINT Lets you plug your CD player, iPod, computer, or other consumer device into a pro mixer for P.A., post-production, or broadcast.
WE THINK Your mixer may have a “tape” input with RCA jacks, but this sounds way better. It also lets your signal take advantage of the EQ, aux sends, and other features of your mixer’s full channel strips. Plus, it has a ground lift and lowcut filter to kill buzz and rumble. $220 list/approx. $200 street, radialeng.com

PRO TOOLS INSTRUMENT EXPANSION PACK

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ALL THEIR SYNTHS BELONG TO YOU

THE PITCH Full versions of Digi’s high-end soft synths for Pro Tools in one box.
THE INSTRUMENTS Structure, a powerful soft sampler. Strike, a virtual drummer with uncanny human-feel functions. Velvet, a killer vintage electric piano plug-in. Transfuser, which is like MPC-meets- Reason. Hybrid, a virtual analog synth that goes beyond virtual analog.
WE THINK You can get into Pro Tools cheap these days, and a lot of great soft synths come with it. Add this pack, and you’ve got every sound you could want, in what’s still the dominant multitrack environment. $499 list, avid.com

IMAGE-LINE HARMLESS

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21st CENTURY SCHIZOID SYNTH

THE PITCH Uses additive synthesis to make sounds you’d normally reach for a virtual analog (subtractive) synth for.
THE BIG DEAL Instead of filtering, say, a sawtooth wave full of harmonics, you add up a bunch of waves that have been pre-filtered, giving you a lot more control over the sound.
WE THINK As avant-garde as it seems, Harmless is actually quite easy to use, and quickly gets sounds that would take longer to create with complex tools like Reaktor. Gotta love the price, too. $79 direct, image-line.com

CAKEWALK A-PRO SERIES

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CAKEWALK DOES CONTROLLERS

THE PITCH Made in partnership with Roland, the first MIDI keyboards to bear the Cakewalk brand feature Active Controller Technology (ACT).
THE BIG DEAL All sizes have same complement of knobs, faders, and buttons, and drum pads. Dedicated ACT button handshakes with included software to map these gizmos to your onscreen controls. Included software: Sonar 8.5LE, Rapture LE, Cakewalk Sound Center, and Studio Instruments Drums.
WE THINK If you’re a Sonar- or PC-centric user, these will certainly edge out the Edirol PCR series as the controllers of choice. A-300 Pro (32 keys): $299 list; A-500 Pro (49 keys): $349 list; A-800 Pro (61 keys): $399 list, cakewalk.com

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MUSE RESEARCH MUSEBOX

THIS MUSE WON’T SPEND ALL YOUR MONEY

THE PITCH The Receptor gets more affordable and flexible, thanks to a collaboration with Peavey.
THE BIG DEAL Hosts VST instruments and effects for live gigging. Mic and guitar inputs on front panel. OS lives on a 4GB solid-state drive (expandable to 8GB); 250GB laptop hard drive is optional for storing sample libraries. Comes with Peavey ReValver amp modeling software.
WE THINK If price and/or perceived tweakiness made you shy away from the Receptor for playing soft synths onstage, Muse heard you — check this out. $1,199 list/street TBD, museresearch.com

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SONIVOX EIGHTY-EIGHT

HIGH-END PIANO, LOW-END PRICE

THE PITCH Up to 16 velocity layers per note. Large and economy sizes for memory and CPU efficiency. Includes 35 piano/pad layers as well as 52 “straight” presets, plus 15 multiinstrument splits with adjustable split point.
THE FORMATS Mac or PC, VST, RTAS, AU (Mac only), and standalone. $199 list/approx. $150 street, sonivoxmi.com

KORG KAOSSILATOR PRO

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MORE KAOSS, MORE CONTROL

THE PITCH Massively upgraded new version of the alreadycool Kaossilator touchpad synth (reviewed May ’08).
THE BIG DEAL Up to four-bar looping. Overdubs external audio onto loops of internal synth and drums. New drum samples. Vocoder mode for external signals. Gate arpeggiator from Korg’s Electribe grooveboxes. MIDI out and USB for use as a MIDI controller.
WE THINK Once you picked up the original Kaossilator, you couldn’t put it down. That’s even more true here. Go ahead — we dare ya. $460 list, korg.com