First Annual Innovative Product Awards

NewBay Media Pro Audio Group's Innovative Product Award winners are comprised of manufacturer-submitted pro audio products, voted on by the readerships of Mix, Pro Audio Review and Pro Sound News. Read on for why the following products should matter to savvy pro audio types in 2015!—Strother Bullins, Editor of Pro Audio Review
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NewBay Media Pro Audio Group's Innovative Product Award winners are comprised of manufacturer-submitted pro audio products, voted on by the readerships of Mix, Pro Audio Review and Pro Sound News. Read on for why the following products should matter to savvy pro audio types in 2015!

—Strother Bullins, Editor of Pro Audio Review

CONSOLES/CHANNEL STRIPS

Manley Core Reference Channel Strip
To PAR Contributor Rob Tavaglione’s ears, Manley’s new channel strip—featuring preamp, compressor, EQ and ELOP limiter—differs from the iconic VoxBox “in its EQ sections with significant operational and tonal differences. Even if the Core doesn't capture that Pultec-ish passive euphonic “smile” (top and bottom peak only, mid dip only), these Baxandall filters are actually more flexible (boost or cut), though lacking mid-band Q control.”

SSL XL-Desk
Finally, say many SSL fans: a truly simple and affordable SSL tracking/mixing desk with no DAW provisions. The XL-Desk is a 40-input, 24-channel, 8 buss SuperAnalogue mixer with eight VHD preamps on board plus the legendary SSL Stereo Bus compressor, Listen Mic Compressor and more. The big surprise is an 18-slot 500 Series rack built-in.

PreSonus StudioLive RM Series
PreSonus’s StudioLive RM Series is the popular AI-Series digital console gone “UI-less”—just add touch screen. The StudioLive RM Series is the 3U rack-mount RM16AI with 16 Class-A preamps, eight XLR line outs, FireWire 800 connectivity for recording purposes, and comprehensive I/O. Its UC Surface control software is Mac, Windows and iOS-ready.

Neve Genesys Black Console
Genesys Black merges Neve appeal with digital control features. An analog console, the British-built Genesys Black features eight legendary 1073 preamps, 16 monitor channels, eight channels of EQ and compression, built-in converters via MADI, AES and FireWire, plus touchscreen control of all desk parameters, DAW functionality and more.

INTERFACE WITH PROCESSING

Aphex USB 500 Rack
Filling a hole in the 500 Series marketplace, the four-slot USB 500 Rack chassis features a handy monitoring section with dual headphone amps, flexible routing options and—most importantly—USB2 connectivity. As such, 500 Series fans can plug directly into their DAWs of choice, making this Aphex innovation a great option for on-the-go audio pros.

Eventide DDL-500 Analog Delay
The DDL-500 provides beautiful, notably “analog” delay for 500 Series end users. Its lowpass filter, feedback, insert loop, relay bypass and saturation parameters are all analog. Eventide manages to bring the best of its digital expertise to market in this largely analog, single-space module for the hottest-selling hardware segment in all of pro audio.

Softube Console 1 DAW Interface
In his full PAR review, PAR Senior Contributor Russ Long notes that the Console 1 “is not a DAW Controller. Instead, the surface is an integrated hardware/software mixer that provides control over Softube’s full-featured mixer Channel Strip plug-in based on the SSL SL 4000 E console.” Its channel strip is available in VST, VST3, AU and AAX plug-in formats. Apparently, many Mix and PAR readers/end users agree with Russ: It “provides a creative, intuitive workflow that feels analog, sounds amazing and is amazingly affordable.”

INTERFACES

Antelope Audio Zen Studio USB
Antelope’s 1U USB interface offers 12 preamps, clocking features, built-in DSP effects,and more. Marketed as a “grab and go” interface, Zen Studio comes complete with a handle, rugged and attractive build quality, and sleek, user-friendly ergonomics.

Apogee Ensemble 30x34 Thunderbolt Audio Interface

Apogee’s latest Ensemble is a 30x34 feature-packed I/O boasting Thunderbolt 2 connectivity. The big story is its 1.1ms round trip latency performance, coupled with eight preamps, monitor controller with talkback and innovative front-panel guitar I/O features.

MOTU 1248 Thunderbolt Audio Interface

MOTU’s flagship Thunderbolt audio interface, the 1248, offers 8 x 12 balanced TRS analog I/O, four mic inputs with digitally-controlled preamps, two front-panel hi-Z guitar inputs, two independent headphone outs and stereo RCA S/PDIF digital I/O. Most notably, it is equipped with ESS Sabre32 Ultra converters, DSPs and a single AVB Ethernet network port. Analog I/O latency has round-trip performance of 32 samples (0.66 ms) at 48 kHz. Each unit provides metering for all inputs and outputs on a large, backlit 324x24 pixel LCD.

SOFTWARE/PROCESSING SYSTEM


iZotope RX4 and RX4 Advanced Audio Enhancement and Repair Toolkit
Starting at $349 (RX4), iZotope RX4 and RX4 Advanced suites have become quite popular amongst modern recordists for noise and distortion repair tasks via intuitive, largely automated processes. RX4’s Advanced package provides even more world-class repair tools for a still-affordable $1,199.

Universal Audio UAD-2 Satellite Thunderbolt DSP Accelerator
Further enabling audio engineers to work within DSP-heavy productions, UA’s UAD-2 Satellite Satellite Thunderbolt DSP Accelerator line provides full access to UAD Powered Plug-Ins and its exclusive plug-in brands via QUAD and OCTO models with four and eight SHARC processors, respectively. These DSP Accelerators can also be integrated alongside Apollo Twin, Apollo, and Apollo 16; PAR’s Russ Long calls the Apollo line “Truly one of the most versatile pieces of equipment available today.”

LOUDSPEAKERS/SYSTEM CONTROL/STANDS

PMC QB1-A Reference Monitors
Built to fill soffit-style main studio monitor applications, this truly world-class powered speaker features analog and digital (up to 192 kHz) inputs, DSP control, the latest PMC drivers and 4,825 W of Class D amplification. Clearly the QB1-A is for discriminating tastes: Hollywood’s Capitol Studios has installed two pairs, updating both its Studio A and Studio B facilities.

Elite Acoustics Sunburst Gear M3BR8 Monitor

A true jack-of-all-trades powered speaker product, the very portable M3BR8 by pro audio newcomer Sunburst Gear offers a uniquely broad range of applications based on its comprehensive feature set. Featuring a bi-amped, two-way compact design, the M3BR8 offers three channel inputs and accepts XLR, quarter-inch and eighth-inch TRS and Bluetooth signal input. It’s well at home in the project studio, small music venues or anywhere musicians and audio types provide audio entertainment. 

IsoAcoustics Aperta Isolation Stands

IsoAcoustics has introduced Aperta, a sculpted aluminum-comprised acoustic isolation tool for medium-sized studio monitors. Aperta stands feature an integrated tilt adjustment that enables the user to dial-in the optimum tilt angle, with fine gradation markings provided to ensure precision angle adjustments. With an overall size of 6.1”(w) x 7.5”(d), the Aperta stands are intended for monitors and speakers weighing up to 35 lbs.

MICROPHONES/WIRELESS/ACCESSORIES

AEA N22 Ribbon Microphone
AEA’s N22 phantom-powered ribbon microphone is part of the company’s NUVO Series of ribbon mics and was designed for the singer/songwriter, confirms the company. Reportedly ideal for close-up miking “without the boominess or pop-filters that other microphones create,” the N22 is marked by an emphasized upper-midrange that is “intended to make instruments cut through in a busy mix and to bring out critical sound characteristics of voices and string instruments.”

Audio-Technica AT5045 Condenser Microphone
A-T’s 5000 Series is now a proper series, with the AT5045 joining the award-winning AT5040 as its thin yet most certainly large-diaphragm side-address condenser sibling. Hand-built and meticulously inspected, the AT5045 features Audio-Technica’s largest single diaphragm available—a two-micron-thick, vapor-deposited gold rectangular design. Features include exceptionally low noise, high SPL capability (149dB SPL max) and a dynamic range of 141 dB.

DPA d:screet Necklace Microphone
From $650 street, the d:screet Necklace features DPA’s awesome 4061 omnidirectional miniature capsule, handling up to 154 dB SPL before clipping, embedded in a pliable rubber necklace-length cord (18.3 or 20.9 inches in length), available in black, white and brown. It attaches much like a necklace, with an “insert and turn” clasp, and is bolstered by magnetic components: one try and you’ve figured it out. It’s ready for essentially any pro-grade wireless system with a bevy of purchasable adapters; an XLR adapter is even available for wired use.

Radial J48 Direct Box
The Radial J48 is a phantom-powered active direct box with a notably linear response, a 20Hz-40kHz frequency range, low distortion, high headroom and a rugged, road-ready design. Radial holds a large percentage of the DI/analog I/O market, and the J48 is good evidence why.

Shure GLXD16 Guitar Wireless System
Shure’s super-cool guitar-optimized wireless package features the GLXD6 Guitar Pedal Receiver with an integrated tuner plus a bodypack transmitter with lithium-ion rechargeable battery. Built in a rugged metal chassis, the pedal offers a built-in chromatic instrument tuner with both strobe and needle tuning views.