Pro Audio Review editor Strother Bullins walked the AES exhibitors floor to see all the latest gear, but also to eye the larger picture, picking out the tech trends afoot in the world of pro audio.
At Pro Audio Review, we've been keeping up with the proliferation of touchscreens in digital (or digitally-controlled) pro audio tools. Ironically, a vocal group of seasoned end users have largely balked at the idea of turning virtual knobs on glass, yet gear manufacturers continue to encourage the idea. In the end, it appears that convenience and innovation wins, as we now have some very interesting, forward-thinking TSPs to choose from for our daily audio work.
Alongside a plethora of iOS-based pro audio apps and following Slate Pro Audio's bleeding-edge introduction of the Raven Multi-touch Console series, other manufacturers are beginning to reach the second stage of tablet acceptance in pro audio: proprietary touch GUIs.
For example, PreSonus unveiled a proprietary touchscreen UI within its successful StudioLive console range: the StudioLive RM (Rack-Mount) Series of digital mixers. The RM31AI and RM16AI are 32 channel, 25-bus models featuring PreSonus' UC Surface control software for Mac, Windows and iPad with dedicated, rack-mounted I/O featuring loads of XLR I/O and other necessary connections. The company is marketing the RM as a live product, but mentions its use as a studio mixing solution, too.
Meanwhile Waves Audio addressed the higher-end of the spectrum with its SoundGrid Studio System, a platform featuring the touchscreen eMotion ST mixer, "which runs plugins in real time for recording, mixing, and low-latency monitoring while tracking or rehearsing," explains Waves promotional material.
Elsewhere, touchscreens and tablets—overwhelmingly Apple-manufactured ones—abounded at AES, hosting iOS DAWs, control software tools, and various other pro audio-associated apps.
More AoIP Products
Audio-over-IP products, such as Focusrite's RedNet Series, could be seen growing in number exponentially, bolstered by the AES's efforts in establishing the AES67 interoperability standard last September. Most popular is the Dante protocol, originally developed by Audinate, which is now found in literally hundreds of audio networking products.
Attractive proprietary AoIP options are available as well, for example, Waves Audio's aforementioned SoundGrid system with DiGiGrid I/O hardware.
More Small—And More Affordable—Premium Analog Mixers
Today, iconic manufacturers of large analog consoles such as AMS Neve, API, Harrison and Solid State Logic introduce truly tabletop-size mixers, clearly serving the independent audio professional.
Most recently, SSL unveiled its XL-Desk, featuring many of the most desirable bells and whistles in the Oxford, England manufacturer's stable: the built-in Stereo Bus Compressor, SuperAnalogue circuitry, eight Variable Harmonic Drive (VHD) preamplifiers, etc., plus surprising new features like an 18-slot 500 Series rack built-in for channel or mix bus use.