This year’s 139th AES Convention at the Javits Center in New York brought with it some beautiful fall-like weather outside and a lot of gear, fun and friends inside. Here are a few of the goodies I took notice of while walking the exhibit floor.
Soundtoys Version 5
The gang over at Soundtoys always has a fun booth, and this time around, they were showing Version 5 software, which includes all 18 pieces in their collection. Aside from the classics, it features Primal Tap, Little AlterBoy, Radiator and more importantly, the new Effects Rack. With it, you can drag-and-drop your own Soundtoys custom effects chain and even lock them all to a master tempo. Talk about endless creative possibilities! It’s all in there.
Grace Design m108
This one really caught my eye (check it out as it’s pictured here). The m108 is eight channels of Grace pre-amplification in a sleek, black, single 1 RU chassis. It’s loaded with I/O as well, including two Hi Z inputs on the front, a headphone out, full high-contrast LED display, 192 kHz ADC outputs via S/PDIF, AES, ADAT, USB Class 2, RJ 45 Ethernet port, optional slot for Dante AoIP control, MIDI I/O, Word Clock out and plenty of gain (-8 to 74 dB). The Grace gang also noted that desktop software control will also be on its way. I’ll do a full review of this unit when it’s available, reportedly within the next few months.
Grace Design now brings 8 channels of pristine pre-amplification down to 1U and an amazingly affordable price. Eventide Anthology X
Eventide showed its Anthology X collection featuring 17 mixing, mastering and multi-effects plug-ins covering the company’s legendary 40-year history. It’s loaded with goodies such as the H949, Instant Phaser and Instant Flanger, Omnipressor, H3000 Factory and Band Delays, UltraReverb and much more. It will run on AAX Native, VST and AU formats.
iZotope Ozone 7
iZotope was showing the latest version of its mastering software, Ozone 7, which is broken out into Ozone 7 and Ozone 7 Advanced. Ozone runs as either a stand-alone app or in your DAW, and the Advanced version has four new “vintage” modules and 10 additional component plug-ins for direct access to the modules. Another nice feature is the ability to listen to what codecs do to your masters with the new Codec Preview feature.
Earthworks Product Line Updates
Earthworks was at the show celebrating its 20th year with an updated lineup, in which the QTC and Measurement Series mics are now 2 dB quieter (from 22 dB SPL to 20) and the SR20, SR30, SR40 and SR40V went from 22 dB SPL to 16 dB, running 6 dB quieter. Good news for those seeking that Earthworks quality with a lower noise level.
This is a cool, small batch, handmade, large-diaphragm tube condenser with gold-sputtered, hand-tuned one-inch diaphragm, swappable capsules (optional omni and figure 8) and a hefty weight. I have used this in the studio personally and it’s quite special. It was interesting to hear more about how these are made in Russia and understand the care and tolerances that go into producing each one.
Rich tries out the Line 6 Helix on the exhibit floor at AES. API 535LA
The 535LA is part of API’s classic 500 Series modules, a plug-and-play Line Amplifier modeled after the console-based 323 booster cards. It can both amplify and attenuate and features a polarity switch, -20 dB Input Pad, Calibrated Level Mode, variable Output Gain (6-45 dB) and three Output ratios. It features discrete 2510 and 2520 Op-Amps to deliver that classic API tone.
Audionamix ADX Trax Pro
This was an interesting product I stumbled across. ADX Trax Pro lets you raise or lower the level of a vocal or solo instrument in a mono or stereo mix, without the multitrack. Of course, I was skeptical of that claim—but sure enough, it works! It now also allows MIDI imported as a Pitch Guide and it has multiple bit depth and sample rate compatibility.
Shure MV88 and MV51
I was surprised to see a few cool new “little” products at the Shure booth. Their new line of MOTIV Digital Microphones and recording solutions are very cool and modern, yet retro in their simplicity. My two favorites were the MV88 Documenter, which is an iOS stereo digital mic, and the Performer MV51, which is a digital Large Diaphragm Condenser. The MV88 will plug right into the Lightning input of your iPad or iPhone and record into Shure’s cool Motiv app. The MV51 plugs into either the Lighting port or USB input of your device, and is a full cardioid 20 Hz - 20 kHz mic with its own headphone output. Very smart, indeed.
Line 6 Helix
I certainly didn’t expect to stumble across this at the AES Show, but boy, am I glad I did. Talk about a big step up from the old Pods! Line 6’s Helix is in a sharp-looking, sturdy, black metal chassis and features 45 amp, 30 cabinet, 16 mic and 70 effect emulations. There’s 12 Capacitive-Sensing foot switches, a full LCD display, up to four discrete stereo paths and up to three expression pedals, extensive AES/EBU, S/PDIF, Variax and analog I/O and ultra low noise algorithms. Most importantly, it sounds great; I was able to play it, getting a true sense that this is a powerful, modern tool. It’s a dream come true for a guy like me that needs a ton of sounds for my TV work, and I can’t wait to get my hands on one. It also is available in the Helix Rack form, too.
SoundRadix Drum Leveler
This I had heard about via word of mouth, so I walked on by to check it out. What a cool product! Drum Leveler is an easy-to-use drum leveling tool with transparent beat detection to find a target level (with dual threshold levels) on the drums; users can then either amplify or attenuate the sounds. Applied on a chosen dynamic and spectral range, it leaves the other elements untouched. It will work in mono, stereo, dual mono and M/S operation modes.
International Music Software Trade Association: A Cool Organization
The IMSTA was on hand, promoting an important big-picture, ethical message. They are trying to change the mindset of those who use pirated software through awareness and education. Remember, if people don’t pay for all this great software we use, those companies won’t make the products for us anymore.
Rich Tozzoli is an award-winning, Grammy-nominated producer, engineer and composer for programming such as FOX NFL, Pawn Stars, Duck Dynasty and Oprah & Deepak Chopra. richtozzoli.com