Entries in review (130)
Russ takes a look at the UAD RMX16 reverb plug-in - not any plug-in but created by AMS in association with Universal Audio.
Does it really sound like the 80s classic that featured on thousands of top hit singles and albums?
Russ gives a full show and tell on drums and guitars in this video review.
The new AIR Riser synth plug-in makes creating rises and drops in your music productions a cinch.
The AIR Riser Plug-in
The Riser has three editable sound generators – sweep, noise, and chord – letting the user manipulate the movement, timber, and tonality of the transition.
We were given a pre-release preview copy and so here is the exclusive review of The Riser the latest plug-in from AIR Music Tech, the makes of the much loved Velvet, Transfuser, Structure, Hybrid, Strike, Loom and Vacuum Pro, all part of the Pro Tools Instrument Expansion Pack or IEP.
In this extended video review Russ shows you how it works and gives you a demo of some of the presets within the new Riser plug-in from AIR.
Get A Pre-Release Demo Of The AIR Riser
For more information on how to get a pre-release demo of AIR Riser click here.
Updated on Monday, August 25, 2014 at 12:34PM by Mike Thornton
You may remember that back at the beginning of December last year we posted a story about helping to Kickstarter Project for a new low cost Ambisonics microphone from Brahma. We promised to review the microphone and I recently received a package from India with a Brahma mic to review.
The microphone comes in a padded zip up case and then when you open it you see a lovely wooden box with the brand name inset into the lid in brass letters, a nice touch.
Ambisonics Is not New
Ambisonics has been around for a long time and the most well known name in Ambisonics is The Soundfield. Many years ago I recorded a demo CD for AMS, then owners of the Soundfield brand. The final recording we made was a choir singing an African song whilst dancing around the mic. At that time (1991) there was only one place where you could play it back and experience the full Ambisonic experience with height and that was the demo room in the AMS factory in Burnley, not 20 minutes drive for me from Manchester.
It is only now with the introduction of immersive sound formats like Auro 3D and Dolby Atmos that we can experience the full 3D audio that is in the Ambisonics format and so I am looking forward to a resurgance of Ambisonics as one native format to record immersive sound in.
A or B Format
If you are looking for an enclosure to keep all your hard drives in then the ICYCube 4 bay may well be the one for you.
There’s a lot of discussion about Thunderbolt these days and often to the detriment of USB3, however in many cases when it comes to moving data, although the quoted specs of both formats may be different, in the real world there is often not a lot in it.
A second consideration is that the same drive with a Thunderbolt connection instead of USB3 is going to set you back a lot more. Add to this the cost of Thunderbolt cables and the idea of using USB3 is far more attractive than you may think.
With this is mind we tested the new ICYCube MB561U3S-4S 4 Bay USB 3.0 & eSATA External HDD Enclosure. It is a 4 bay enclosure that uses both USB3 and eSATA. It houses both 3.5” and 2.5” drives, which can be mixed in any way you wish.
Our test unit has 3 Seagate Barracuda 3TB 7200rpm drives and a Crucial 1TB SSD.
Russ takes a look at the Ample Sound Bass P virtual instrument. This instrument aims to offer the ultimate P Bass sampled instrument, but it also has a few other tricks up its sleeve.
Watch this video review to see what Russ thinks of this addition to the growing range of Ample Sound instruments.
Perhaps one of the hardest choices for anyone to make for their studio is the choice of monitoring speakers, especially if you are running a home studio. There are more and more stores appearing that offer rooms specially set up for comparing monitors, but in reality the only real way to audition monitors in in situ in the room you are going to listen to them in. The job is made even harder by the very fact that we get used to the sound of the monitors we already own and so introducing new monitors into the equation can be coloured by our existing preferences.
Monitors are also about taste and although many manufacturers will swear blind about their monitor having a flat response when you compare several pairs then you realise that either all of them are wrong, or most of them are wrong in that assertion.
My own opinion, as someone who grew up around Yamaha NS10s and Auratone 5cs, is that how flat the frequency response of a monitor is has very little to do with their suitability for their job. Thousands of hit records have been mixed on them and you would hardly call an NS10 a flat response. There’s an interesting paper on this here. Most of us simply get used to the sound of monitors and then trust a mastering engineer to make any corrections in the mastering process.
For me trying out monitors is like trying out new shoes, all of them feel weird at first, for the reasons outlined above, so you need a little time to get used to them before coming to any conclusions about them.
The Eve SC205 2-Way 5” Monitor
Rather than reinvent the wheel I’ll let Eve explain the monitor specification.
The SC205 uses our 5” SilverCone woofer for an extended bass response. This very stiff diaphragm is honeycomb structured and glass fibre coated. Like in other models, such as the smaller SC204, the SC205 is driven by a sophisticated magnet system that uses a 1” voice coil responsible for delivering a greater linear excursion. All in all, this produces a bigger dynamic range than you would naturally assume from a speaker of these proportions. The result is an unsurpassed audio transparency that, when coupled with our proprietary AMT tweeter and PWM amplifier, will surprise you with a very powerful and precise low end.
Our AMT (Air Motion Transformer) tweeter is our own proprietary technology that follows the rule of not using “off-the-shelf” components when looking for the best possible results. The preciseness and detail in the high frequency, along with the general tightness of the bass and mid-range frequencies, will make the SC205 equally adequate for use on the road or in studio.
With every EVE Audio speaker, you also get high resolution DSP electronics. One push knob operation and you will have access to accurate volume control and several different filter settings that will help you tailor your monitors to the way you work.And if you always avoid digital processing, we’ve got you covered. The DSP engine is supported with a high quality A/D converter (24bit/192kHz) from Burr-Brown, which delivers a pristine signal to the DSP section. And since the PWM amplifiers are directly connected to the DSP, no additional conversion is necessary. Please visit our DSP page to learn more about our DSP philosophy.
Recently I was in a bit of a predicament with a client doing a voice over project. The client’s voice was very quiet and soft and did not sound natural with my AKG C414 condenser microphone.
After playing around with preamp settings and microphone placement I came to the conclusion that the AKG just doesn’t suit the characteristics of their voice.
I tried another option, my Shure SM7B. It gave us the sound we were after. Sadly the SM7B has not got the most powerful output signal so I found myself having to crank the gain knob all the way up just to get a half decent level into Pro Tools. This caused noticeable hiss in the recording which was distracting to the ear as the script was hypnotherapy and we needed a clean sounding vocal. I wanted the clean hot signal from the AKG C414 and my client wanted the tone and sound of the SM7B… both microphones had their problems, I had to find a solution.
With some investigation, on the internet, I found a little inline box that plugs between any dynamic/ribbon microphone and preamp. The box is called the Cloudlifter CL-1 and boosts the output signal from such microphones.
Ease Of Use
The Cloudlifter CL-1 is a single channel box with XLR connectors on either side with four rubber feet under it and a handy little strap so that you can attach it to a boom stand. It’s that simple, setup in seconds. All you need to do is make sure you are sending phantom power from your preamp to it… this is how the magic happens.
First Test - Signal
I did a really easy test to hear the difference between the ‘Cloudlifter’ and ‘direct in’ with two identical Shure SM58 microphones and identical brand cables. I set input 1 as the ‘direct in’ with an SM58 and input 2 as the ‘Cloudlifter’, also with an SM58. Both gain knobs were set exactly the same, 1 o’clock. I lined both microphones up facing in a triangle towards my mouth and recorded myself saying “1 2 3 4” in different dynamics.
To quote the manufacturer…The Cloudlifter adds 25dB extra output from the microphone.
Second Test - Sound Quality
I wanted to hear if there was a difference in sound quality between the ‘Cloudlifter’ and ‘direct in’ signals. I normalized both the clips with AudioSuite and soloed between them. I almost fell off the back of my chair when hearing the results.
You can clearly see the hiss in the waveform between my ‘direct in’ speech that the microphone alone introduced. The ‘Cloudlifter’ had barely any hiss, no more than I would get from a condenser microphone.
Third Test - Build Quality
This was an accidental test, I knocked the Cloudlifter off the table onto the hard wood floor when testing it and it survived without a mark. I am not surprised as it is built very well, much like a high end electric guitar stomp box.
Fourth Test - Integrity Of The Results
To make sure the results I got were no fluke… or unfair due to a cable or microphone being faulty I swapped the microphones and cables around with exactly the same results being produced.
As I am sure you can tell I love this thing. I love simple little devices like this that help get audio sounding great before I record. Using a dynamic microphone was always my second choice for voice recording because of the low output signal / hiss characteristics I would get. The Cloudlifter addresses these problem and is a really affordable solution. This box is also available in dual channel.
Russ takes and look and listen to the latest addition to the Universal Audio UAD stable the British favourite Thermionic Culture Vulture.
He gives it a run on bass, guitar and vocals and shows the fun that can be had with this unique audio plug-in.
Software plug-ins are so good these days. Most of them are excellent value and in spite of all of my reluctance to admit it, the best sound every bit as good as hardware and if you buy a plug in, you have as many instantiations of that plug-in as your system will allow. However there are still areas where plug-ins still lose out to hardware. One of these is the intangibility of software. While a plug-in is convenient in terms of workflow and recall, if your plug-in manufacturer doesn’t support a new format, DAW version or OS you quickly realise just how intangible software really is.
My first thought when I came across the Blackstar ID:Core series of amplifiers was that here was hardware for less than most plug-ins cost. While not really a “grown up” guitar amp, was the Core suitable for use as a hardware equivalent of a plug-in? If so was it worth considering as an alternative to software amp modelling?
How does the ID series perform?
The product which drew my attention was the ID:Core 10. A tiny stereo 10 watt amp which offered USB connectivity and the possibility to reamp over USB. If it was possible to incorporate this amp into a Pro Tools workflow without too many compromises it might be a sensible alternative for some. The amp is small and light, power is provided by a good quality external PSU. This is a stereo amp (5w+5w) and frankly sounds far bigger than it has any right to with its dual 3” speakers. It won’t produce any real bass but looking for a genuinely big sound from such a small box is missing the point. It’s a convenient, fun amp with enough power to give a satisfying playing experience in a domestic setting and if its not enough there are 20 and 40 watt versions available. I think the point of this amp is best illustrated by the fact that although I have Pro Tools, some nice monitors and Eleven all ready to go, since I’ve had this little amp I’ve been playing the electric guitar far, far more than usual. This is similar to the way that although I have a weighted, 88 note keyboard controller, I hanker after a standalone digital piano with built in speakers as if I have to start up a computer to play, inevitably I end up using the computer, not the piano.
In this extended video review of e-Instruments Session Horns Pro James takes a look at the new Session Horns Pro from e-Instruments.
See and hear how you can get highly realistic brass tracks into your projects.