Ultra Analog VA-1's installation and setup process uses a standard challenge and response registration system. Once you start to use it, the user interface is immediately familiar if you've ever used a Virtual Analog synthesizer. Everything is on one panel, there's no complex routing, and everything has very clearly labeled knobs. The manual also explains the functions well, should you need to reference something. The plugin is a little old at this point so the interface is actually a little too small for use on modern high resolution displays and that's definitely a concern for those with impaired vision. Read more on Audiofanzine
The ultimate MIDI controller probably has it all in one package: a keyboard with piano-sized keys an decent action, simple USB connection, a wealth of assignable knobs and sliders, and flexbility for use with many DAWs. Price is always a concern for the budget-conscious musician looking for such an instrument, hence it always make sense to get something that would cram all of those much-wanted features in an excellent, budget-friendly package. Here we are examining the Samson Graphite 49 and see if it is that holy grail of budget MIDI controllers.
The Samson Graphite 49 is a MIDI controller with 49-key keyboard with piano-sized keys and semi-weighted action. It can be connected to any Mac, PC, or MIDI-compatible mobile devices via USB and is entirely bus powered. It can also be used to control rack-mountable synthesizer modules and similar hardware through traditional MIDI connections (MIDI out and in ports) with power being supplied through a 9V power supply (sold separately). Other than the keyboard itself, the Samson Graphite 49 has pitch bend and modulation wheels, octave up/down and transposition buttons, four trigger pads, 9 sliders, 16 buttons, and 8 rotary knobs, all of which are assignable to any parameter that the user wishes to control. Standard transport control buttons are also available for control over various DAW functions such as record, stop, play, etc. Inspection of the back reveals an on/off power switch, USB port, sustain pedal input, AC adapter input, and MIDI in and out ports.
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Home studio, guitar & vocals
This soundcard has a sample rate of up to 192khz!!Read more on Audiofanzine
De-esser's are very common these days, it seems every audio company under the sun have their own version of a De-esser plugin. They all do pretty much the same thing - eliminate sibilant 'esss' and 'efff' sounds of vocal recordings that are normally found in the high frequencies (around 5khz to 11khz normally) and the volume and frequency of these sounds is very dependant on the vocalist, microphone used and their gender. So with all these de-esser plugins from different companies doing the same thing, you would imagine they would all sound the same too? Well not quite. Some do better than others at first off eliminating the sibilance itself, and then secondly the effect or colour they have on the audio itself when not de-essing - which is normally a slight loss (or a big loss) in presence in the vocal and sometimes a lisping effect if overdone. In my experience there is no such thing as a perfect De-esser plugin, but there are ones that come closer than others. Enter FabFilter's Pro-DS.
Used in Logic Pro 9 on a macbook with OSX 10.6.4 and 4GB of RAM, the pro-DS runs smoothly and fairly efficiently. The setup and configuration are straight forward as the installation and registration prompts are all there so that even the most computer illiterate of people can get started. FabFilter are always top class at providing helpful tips and pop-up menus to guide users through not only the installation but for the use of the plugin itself.Read more on Audiofanzine
Renoise is available for Windows, OS X, and Linux. Installation is a snap, with no dongles or online authentication license managers. After installation, configuration is straightforward--You setup your plugin folders, and ASIO/MIDI devices in the preferences menu and then you’re ready to go. It’s important to note that Renoise only allows you to have 2 folders designated for your plugins which can be a problem if you don’t have all of your plugins installed in only 2 folders.
Learning Renoise couldn’t be easier. Not only does the website have a fully documented wiki that covers every function, there’s also a free official tutorial video series that walks you through the creation of a song. Furthermore, the community has a heritage of sharing their song project files, which you can play back inside Renoise and see everything that was done to produce the song.Read more on Audiofanzine
Well here we are again, Finale. I don't know why I expected better of you because you never deliver. Too be honest I only even have this software so that I can still look at work I did in University, where Finale was the program we all had to use in class. I'm pretty sure most of the professors had been using it since version 1 and simply were too stubborn to change. Perhaps that's also a testament to how long it takes to work with this well enough to not feel like giving up anymore.
Occasionally I have a job where the client uses Finale and therefore I keep the updated version handy. I find myself generally spending more time online searching forums to figure out how the hell to do something simple than actually using the program. It's a really buggy program and I can't even count anymore how many times it has crashed on me.Read more on Audiofanzine
I received this reverb plug-in as part of a bundle when I started studying production at Berklee in 2007. I would say it's been a steady, although not usually first choice, part of my setup since then.
I would say it's a bit much for someone who isn't familiar with the complexities of reverb. Being one of those people myself, I prefer a more simple approach and don't recall ever doing much tweaking to any of the many controllable parameters in this plug-in. I appreciate the straight-forwardness of the visual representation of the changes you make to your verb, but I think active listening is a better way to go when it comes to reverb.
I can't personally imagine needing such a degree of control over my reverb settings but all-in-all it sounds really nice and has some great presets that I trust for a lot of my work.Read more on Audiofanzine
Among all the digital audio workstations (DAWs) that I have tried in my long years of exploring music technology, only one of them has proven useful for live performance and improvisation: the aptly named Ableton Live. Many musicians, composers, and producers from all over the world attest to Live’s flexibility and ease of use. Having seen the success of many users of Live, I decided to take the latest version, Ableton Live 9 Suite, for a spin and see for myself why many people love it. I have been using this software for a few months now, on and off, and so by no means that I proclaim myself to be an expert. In this piece, I will talk about some of Ableton Live 9 Suite’s unique features along with my insights and comments.Read more on Audiofanzine
In the scorewriter world, there are two software titles that go head-to-head to become the king of the hill. These two are Sibelius and Finale. In this piece, we’re going to take a look at Sibelius 7.5. I have been using Sibelius for many years now, starting with version 4, to work on my compositions, for arranging/orchestration, and for transcribing music for a variety of clients such as Steve Stine and guest guitar instructors for GuitarZoom. I find Sibelius 7.5 to be essential for my line of work, and therefore it is worth investigating.
Among all the scorewriters I have tried, Sibelius by far is the easiest and fastest to use. I have tried a bunch of software before such as Encore, Guitar Pro, and Finale, but I find Sibelius to be most efficient. The wizard that is available at the beginning can easily provide the general structure of the piece you are working on starting out with assigning the time signature, the key signature, instrumentation, tempo, title, the option to add a pick-up bar, paper size, staff spacing, and others. Once everything has been set through the document wizard, one can immediately begin to notate the piece by using the mouse, the computer keyboard, or a MIDI controller.
Rather than get confused by a plethora of buttons scattered along the sides of the screen, Sibelius groups various functions such as note rhythmic values, expression markings, and others in an item called the keypad. The keypad replicates the standard keyboard numeric keypad and so all that one needs to call up a particular expression symbol such as an accent mark is highlight the note in question and press the button on the numeric keypad corresponding to the desired function. Although it is possible to drop in notes after assigning a particular rhythmic value using the mouse, it is easier to input notes using the computer keyboard or a MIDI controller as if you are typing in a word processor. The magnetic layout function makes it very easy to align staves, lines, chord symbols, lyrics, and other elements to minimize the possibility of symbols and lines overlapping each other. Because of this and other automated processes, composers and music copyists get more time and focus to write down their ideas rather than dabble on the nitty gritty of formatting the appearance of the score.
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The 2i2 features 2 XLR-TRS combo inputs with independent volume knobs that have an LED ring around them to indicate levels. These inputs can be switched between line and instrument levels independently of each other. There’s a 48v button for microphones that require phantom power. There are 2 ¼” TS outputs on the back for your monitors. You can enable direct monitoring via a switch on the front and control the overall output of the audio interface via the monitor knob. There’s also a headphone output with an independent volume knob. The interface is bus-powered and connects to your computer from one USB port on the back. The one downside to the unit is that it doesn’t have a MIDI input/output which some audio interfaces in this price range do have.
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The unit is USB powered with one mini USB port. It features 16 velocity-sensitive pads and a single X-Y pad. It's very small, light, and portable. It's entirely plastic and a little flimsy. The pads themselves are significantly smaller than full-sized drum controller pads, but still big enough to be played without accidentally hitting multiple pads. Unfortunately, the quality of the pads is not as good as other pad controllers out there. The pads are a bit mushy with a bit of play before they'll trigger a sound. This means you have to hit the pad fairly hard to trigger a sound reliably, which makes playing lightly to get very low velocity notes very difficult if not impossible.
It's pretty easy to get started with, you simply plug it in and play. There are 4 lights used to represent 4 scenes which you switch between with the scene button. Each scene can be customized to send different midi values or behave differently with the Korg Kontrol Editor software. Each pad can also be customized to send up to 4 notes per pad. The software itself has a nice layout with everything on one page and you can easily change each pad to act as either a standard drum pad or as a toggle for things like clip launching in Ableton Live.
One interesting function is the touch scale which turns the X-Y pad into a midi ribbon controller sending notes determined by where you press on the pad. With the Gate Arpeggiator enabled, your notes will trigger in sync with your host. The velocity sensitive pads each have a note and scale written above them on the controller and when you hold down the Scale or Key button and press one of these pads, the XY pad will be quantized to that particular scale or key. The unit has most of the significant musical scales including Chromatic, Major, Minor, Pentatonics, Blues scale, and it also supports one user made scale that you can define in the Kontrol Software.
The NanoPad2 doesn't generate sounds itself but Korg does supply a very nice software bundle with the NanoPad which includes Korg M1LE, UVI Digital Synsations, EZ Drummer Lite, AAS Ultra Analog Sessions, Lounge Lizard Sessions, and Strum Sessions.
I haven't tried other pad controllers in this price range, but while the velocity sensitive pads aren't very good compared to more expensive products that feature drum pads like Native Instruments Maschine or Akai MPCs, the touch scale feature of the XY Pad makes the NanoPad2 worth purchasing. It's a pretty cheap unit at around $50 USD and the build quality certainly reflects that, but with the touch arpeggiator you get a pretty fun and inspiring way of creating leads and arpeggiated melodies. Read more on Audiofanzine
Installing Rapture is a snap with no extra license manager applications to install. That said, the interface can be a bit overwhelming to someone first loading it. There's a page for each oscillator and each envelope for those oscillators which means making your own patches will require lots of flipping back and forth between the oscillator and envelope pages until you're done tweaking. There are also lots of small text options on the interface for adjusting things like detune, velocity tracking, etc. It's not the most straight-forward interface, but the manual does describe all of the interface functions succinctly.Read more on Audiofanzine
I began to discover the magic of MIDI + rack efekty.Jak already have been written programming a bit more complicated (not all IT) but I understand the principle of the excess satisfied.
A price / performance of this device is really no competition.
Controlled only JMP-1, Rocktron Intellifex.
For beginners I recommend it.Read more on Audiofanzine
Steinberg is a company with a long history in the music market so I was interested in their products.
It's a very good interface, the preamps and converters are good. But if you buy this product it means you demand quality and you have surely a channel strip or an external preamp to have quality recordings.
I use it with W8.1 (which isn't the best for computer music, in my opinion) 16gb RAM, i7n 256ssd 1tb DDRead more on Audiofanzine
Hassle-free installation, you only need to let yourself be guided through the process. The code is on the bag. The software comes with a short quickstart guide. But I haven't read it, which says it all.
Well-designed product with some effects and plug-ins. With the VSTs and DXis available on the market, you have a first-class tool for the composer who likes to push himself to the limit. I recommend it! Especially given the price!!!Read more on Audiofanzine
This is definitely a piece of software that you have to read the manual to. It's a little clunky and most certainly isn't intuitive, demanding that you do your homework. Once you do though, there's little difficulty.Read more on Audiofanzine
I got Pro Tools 11 for free because I bought 10 when I was a student at LA Recording School. This was pretty sweet. I had it installed on my 2012 MacBook Pro with 4GB of Ram, and on the 5400 RPM 500 GB internal hard drive. I had no problems with the setup and it was in fact really fast. Now, this version does not upgrade or uninstall your previous Pro Tools version. I have 10 and 11 and they both have their independent icons and folders.
I had no issues installing or running it for the first time. I had my laptop optimized to run with Pro Tools 10 according to Avid suggestions, but I also installed 11 on another computer that hadn’t been optimized, and it presented no problems during or after setup.Read more on Audiofanzine
This is an excellent piece of hardware that would surely bring new sounds to your production. On one hand you have the massively acclaimed UA plugins, based mostly on their hardware counterpart and bringing one of the best emulations on the market. On the other, you have the actual interface that brings top class converters and vast array of input and output connectivity. It’s simply mind blowing the things you can do with it. Check out the video on YouTube where Fab Dupont explains how to connect the Apollo with the Dangerous Music D-Box.
The onboard DSP power gives you everything you’ll probably need for your session. Not so long ago, I ran a Pro Tools mixing session with 105 channels. I did not have a plugin on every single channel, but there were still a lot! It was refreshing to know that I could just put a plugin anywhere and the system would still run like nothing. I was running a 2013 Mac Mini with 16GB of Ram and Pro Tools 10.
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I was looking for something portable but functional. I'm mainly a guitar player so I didn't want to spend a fortune on a controller - so I was looking at the entry level market but still with enough features and functions that it was usable as a composition tool and controller.
The fully assignable knobs and 25 keys were the main technical features, and the knobs work really well. The keys are pretty average I guess, but it's definitely a step up from my laptop keyboard.
The other characteristic that motivated my choice was the size. It's very light and so is good for me as I am currently abroad. I was able to take it abroad with me and take it around so I can still work on music whilst away from home.
The unit connects to my laptop via USB and is also USB powered (so no extra power source required). The midi functionality works via the USB and the unit also functions as an audio interface, so that meant there was one less thing to bring (in theory).
The audio interface itself is not great. I find the sound distorts so I use a separate audio interface, which I already had (and was about three times the price of this unit). So that is something to bear in mind - if you're buying this and expecting to be able to monitor the sound via this unit you may want to think again. I still think for the price this is a good unit though.Read more on Audiofanzine
Camel Alchemy was fairly easy to install and setup. You need to set up an account with Camel and then download Alchemy plus all the presets and samples (5GB) - so it does take some time to install. Once it's installed and you're ready to go it's worth watching the tutorial videos as these are great, whether you're a novice or more experienced virtual synth user.
There are 3 levels to Alchemy - Browse, Simple, Advanced. Browse allows you to browse through the existing presets. Simple allows simple manipulation and control over the presets and Advanced allows you create, control and manipulate samples to your hearts content.
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Installation was nice and smooth, no problem at all.Read more on Audiofanzine
Daw for Windows,Linux and Mac.
They use jack as audio engine which works perfectly on Windows.
The basic version with no plugins supports the following per track :
Input assign, direct output assign, Insert assign
( all these for both software and hardware), 3 band eq, 8 bus sends, pan, fader and more.
Everything will be explaind perfectly in the manual or will be explained in video tutorials.
Very easy to handle with excellent audio quality due "analog algorithms"
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Pretty complete, cheap and plastic look like, lots of knobs, the keys are too soft.Read more on Audiofanzine
REAPER is a very small download and a quick installation. It could not be any easier to get on your computer and ready to use. The manual is lengthy, but with plenty of screenshots and diagrams explaining each of REAPER’s many features concisely. Getting your plugins and MIDI devices setup is pretty much the same as other software packages, so there’s no hassle there.
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Native Instruments has made sure that learning how to use Maschine is as easy as possible. The software and driver installation is the same as all other Native Instruments products, very standard fare. The manual has pictures and diagrams for each of Maschine’s functions and they’ve uploaded a wealth of videos walking you through using Maschine step-by-step.Read more on Audiofanzine
Installation of UltraChannel is straight-forward, however, you will need to have an iLok account and install their License Manager software to register your copy. It’s not the most intuitive process but once you’ve got it registered, you’re ready to start loading it in your DAW.
The user interface is extremely simple with no menu diving or pages. Every function has a labeled knob, button, or slider dedicated to it and each of these functions are clearly and concisely explained in the manual.Read more on Audiofanzine
It worked fine on Vista. It's good gear, especially for me as a novice. It's USB powered, offers lots of possibilities, but after I switched to windows 8.1 pro it's been catastrophic, the sound crackles and some software programs aren't detected.Read more on Audiofanzine
While there's been plenty of lunar references in the many reviews for the new Apollo Twin series that are all over the web these days, the notion of "all in or bust" particularly applies to this review. I turned my entire home studio upside down on the flip of a coin that a new Apollo setup would simplify and improve my workflow. See I had grown quite comfortable and familiar with my surroundings, my 2008 Mac Pro tower, the trusty old RME Fireface UC connected via USB, and my centrepiece channel strip, my old LA-610 from UA. The last of my old setup, the LA-610, was especially the hardest to give up. You only have to read my in-depth review here on Audiofanzine to understand that. But the bottom line was, the setup had become too comfortable, and I had accepted it's limitations for too long. Looking to rejuvenate my recording process, I threw it all out the window for one, small silver box....the Apollo Twin Duo.
This may have seemed like a crazy downgrade to some, but after assessing all of the Apollo's features and comparing them to my own studio’s capabilities, I quickly realised I was in fact making a huge upgrade, but with a much smaller footprint. Let me point out some advantages:
1) Are the Tubes done yet?....I do many things in my studio space, music obviously, but also sound design, film editing and graphic design. When a musical idea strikes or a music-related project presents itself, I often only have a narrow window of time to lay it down. Due to the sporadic nature of these projects, having to plan ahead to turn the LA-610 on an hour in advance to heat the tubes up was too much of a headache. Additionally, if my plans changed and I didn't end up being able to record, but had already pre-heated the tubes, I felt like it was such a waste of power and tube life. With the Apollo, I simply turn on the switch, load the exact same preamp module as a plugin in the designated preamp insert point and I'm ready to record. One cable, no wait. But does it sound as good…yes, and I’ll prove it later in the review!
2) Stability and Simplicity- When I started recording as a hobbyist before taking on professional projects, I came up through the ranks of sound cards like everyone else. First was the ol’ M-Audio Fast Track, then on to an Edirol FA-101 and ultimately I settled on an RME Fireface UC. By the time I got the RME, I was taking on professional projects and had a huge appreciation for driver stability and sound quality. But even then, the USB drivers always had quirks with Pro Tools 9 and every so often the RME would go MIA. There was also the minefield that is RME’s TotalMix software that I had to navigate on a regular basis. Configuring inputs and outputs with Pro Tools was always complicated and it was always a nightmare figuring out what sound was being routed where….with Apollo however, this is all automatic. The Console software, works just like a small analog board and it’s routing capabilities are very intuitive. Also, it’s I/O automatically configures itself with Pro Tools. Additionally, because it connects via Thunderbolt, it uses a PCIe driver, that not only blows the USB connection out of the water in terms of data transfer rate, but also in terms of stability. In the first month of regular abuse, the Apollo has yet to loose communication with Pro Tools.
3) Latency - The biggest draw to Thunderbolt is that it matches hardwired, PCIe speeds, meaning recording at lower buffer sizes is feasible with minimal latency. The argument that manufacturers like RME make in this regard, is that in Low-Latency mode, Pro Tools bypasses it’s own output and allows you to monitor solely through the DSP-powered mixer on your sound card, thus in real-time with zero latency regardless of your buffer size. This is true…unless you are using software instruments or guitar emulations. In that case, you will only hear the DI sound from your instrument and won’t be able to monitor with fully processed sound. Apollo makes low-latency recording incredibly easy as well as monitoring with plugins. Because Apollo automatically works with Low Latency mode, there is no configuring and muting tracks to achieve direct monitoring with PT: when you record-arm a track in PT it is simply only heard through Apollo. Because Apollo can load UAD plugins, you can place a preamp, a guitar amp emulation, and even a compressor in the signal path all in real time with no latency before the sound is even sent to PT…that is something no other sound card can do at the moment. You can also have additional Aux sends set up within the console app with reverb and delay plugins in real time to further improve your monitoring experience and ultimately your performance.
4) Hardware controls - The physical design of the Apollo Twin is also a huge upgrade over my old Fireface. Navigating monitoring levels was just too complicated for the Fireface’s tiny numeric display and I found myself constantly adjusting monitor levels with my mouse in the TotalMix window. The Apollo interacts more sensibly. It’s desktop design means it doesn’t have to be tucked away in the rack, but rather it can sit on my desk at arm’s reach. The ability to intuitively switch between monitoring on speakers or headphones is a huge improvement in my workflow. The ability to switch between preamps on the fly and adjust gain and other parameters is also a breeze. It’s no-fuss, no-manual-required operation.
5) One and done…I’ve probably used the words ‘simple’ or ‘plug and play’ in various forms quite a bit so far in this review. That’s because it’s the characteristic that has made the Apollo such an upgrade for me. One Thunderbolt cable and I’m done. I have all of my UAD instances loaded up in my channel strips in real-time, which means top quality processing with zero latency and no laborious patching of cables between physical outboard gear. Read more on Audiofanzine
I bought this card to use it with virtual instrument plug-ins of acoustic pianos, to have a better sound than with the headphone output of my latpop.
I also wanted MIDI to connect my digital piano to the soundcard.
I went for Motu due to their good reputation in terms of audio quality and I got the Audio-Express because I had no need of many audio inputs.
I use it with an Acer laptop running Windows 7 an I connect the card via Usb2.Read more on Audiofanzine
Cubase 7 is offering numerous features that will fit in your workflow right away. Many users will not expect the additions to the latest edition of Cubase because many DAWs aren’t really upgrading the main characteristics of the DAW, but only add a few updates just to release a new version. The Steinberg developers have done an amazing job and it is great to know more about the new features in Cubase 7. One of the most notable changes comes to the program’s mixer window. It is called MixConsole and you will notice the changes right away because they have changed it completely. The workflow will be a bit confusing at the beginning, but you will get used to it quickly. It offers an option to use it full screen and the channel linking is drastically improved. In the previous versions, it wasn’t easy to find the plugins you want to use, but that is not a problem anymore with the upgraded search engine of the Cubase 7. The control room is designed much better and it is more user-friendly than before. Also, they have re-designed the buttons and controls on the mixer, which gives you a new feeling while you are working on your new track.Read more on Audiofanzine