Tag Archives: Gear and Technology

BABY Audio Parallel Aggressor Plug-In—A Real-World Review

BABY Audio Parallel Aggressor Plug-In
BABY Audio Parallel Aggressor Plug-In

At first, I wanted to be sure I had the basics covered with premium plug-ins for all my requisite EQ, dynamics and time-based effect work. Now that those bases are covered, all I seem to desire anymore are quirky, non-traditional and lightning-fast workflow enhancers—plug-ins like the new Parallel Aggressor from BABY Audio.

Out of the Box

Parallel Aggressor (PA) is basically a saturation/distortion plug-in that accomplishes parallel processing with two different processors, Spank and Heat.

If Spank’s processing sounds familiar, there’s a good reason, as it’s actually the sound of the classic dbx 163 single-slider, super-budget compressor as digitally virtualized by BABY Audio’s I Heart NY parallel-compression plug-in. The 163 was my very first compressor, so many moons ago…. (sigh.)

If Heat’s processing sounds familiar, you’re likely a long-in-the-tooth veteran of the not-so-good-old analog days when we would print stereo audio to cassette or VHS tape for their “high fidelity,” only to find that it distorted in a surprisingly juicy manner when overdriven; this sound is digitally virtualized by the sound of BABY Audio’s Super VHS plug-in.

PA has a fader and solo button for dry signal, Spank and Heat as well as Auto Gain, and an output level control to achieve balance and enable wise comparisons. Both Spank and Heat each have an intensity control that decides their tone even more than the four Style button controls per processor.

The Spank side has an Extra Punch button (adds some attack), Extra Smack (brings up some high-mids), Sidechain Filter (filters out some bottom from the detector) and Mono. The Heat side offers Extra Hot (adds a little more distortion), Tone (adds some mids), HP Filter (filters some bottom off the actual signal, not the side chain) and LP Filter (which can take some nasty high-end off of buzzy distortion).

Spank’s 163-inspired response ranges from a nice, warm congealing and smoothing, to a bold grabby and chesty thing (characterized by that trademark 163 attack), all the way to a pumpy, growly super-squash that is best suited to parallel uses for sure. Heat ranges from a slight increase in detail edge and definition to a sizzly solid-state-ish buzz, all the way to an over-the-top, full-on distortion that is quite recognizable as the tape-slammed-all-to-hell variety.

The metering for process intensity presented as an orange ring around each control; the amounts of each process are the big hemispheres far left and right.

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In Session

There are a lot of different ways to use saturators in general and PA, with its dual-processors and abundant control, offers tons of flexibility beyond the norm, so pardon me if I only summarize operations. Suffice to say, you can go easy on both Spank and Heat intensity, and blend them in subtly for an increase in size, detail and apparent “quality” that is perfect for mixes without being at all self-evident. I used light Spank, with Extra Punch (optional) and Sidechain Filter mixed about -12 dB under my dry signal, and with very-light Heat (no filters) mixed at least -12 dB down if not more.

Sub-groups like drums and basses benefit from moderately aggressive use of both Spank and Heat, whereas guitars, keys and vocals require a little more restraint. I found myself typically using Extra Punch and Extra Smack for the aggression and bite, with Sidechain Filter and Mono both in to increase bottom-end response and avoid losing any thump. Extra Hot, Tone and HP Filter all helped increase detail and aggression on the Heat side, with the LP Filter proving essential at taking enough spiky aggression off to allow bolder usage. Guitars and vocals required the most sensitive touch, drums allow the most flexibility and the only question is which subgroups don’t get PA’d (don’t saturate everything in a mix, tempting though it may be).

Individual tracks allow the most fun with PA, especially the Heat side, which can be “too much” pretty easily. Vocals can take the Heat, as can guitar solos, gnarly bass monsters (of the stringed or synth variety), oversized synths and industrial-ized snares. It’s all great, addictive fun; just make sure to experiment with those Style buttons when listening to your tracks in the whole mix, not in solo. I liked just about all the options PA gave me when soloed, but the question is what works in the big picture.

The Final Mix

Parallel Aggressor offers plenty of versatility to avoid any “one trick pony” issues and still manages to be a “quick fix” with a limited number of powerful controls. There are a lot of effective plug-ins available today for saturation and distortion tasks, but few offer the convenient use of each, with a full complement of variables, in such a convenient package and full parallel mixing abilities on-board. At this price of $49, I can think of no other, actually.

BABY Audio • https://babyaud.io

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Avid Pro Tools 2020.11’s New Features – A Real-World Review

Avid Pro Tools 2020.11’s new Routing Folder feature.
Avid Pro Tools 2020.11’s new Routing Folder feature.

Having worked with Avid’s new Pro Tools 2020.11 and likewise new Carbon interface for some time now, I wanted to highlight a few fresh features that I’ve found useful in the daily workflow.

Routing Folder: This organizational tool lets you select tracks and route them into a neatly packaged folder which behaves like a traditional Aux channel on steroids. There are two approaches to this—you can create the Routing Folder then put tracks into it, or select tracks and create a Routing Folder directly from them. For me, the value of the Routing Folder is that you can process it like an Aux, but then collapse it with the click of a button. You still have access to Solo, Mute, Insert, Send and so on.

For organization, you can collapse the entire folder structure by clicking on the small folder Icon at the bottom of each Routing Folder; simply click it again to unfold it back. Also, when in the Edit window, you can place the insertion point anywhere in a Folder track and select Shift-F to toggle between closed or open.

If you already have an Aux track setup for such purposes, you can also just click on the Aux and select ‘Convert Aux to Routing Folder.’ You could also just create a ‘Basic Folder,’ which has the same functionality minus the ability to process or route. Folders can also be created within folders for additional sub processing.

By using these folder tools, it makes the session much more streamlined both visually and functionally.

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Convert Audio to MIDI: There’s only one word for this feature: Wow! With Pro Tools 2020.11, you can take audio tracks from your timeline and convert them into MIDI files. By selecting your audio clip and dragging it onto an Instrument Track, a Menu box appears with the ability to choose Automatic, Universal, Percussive, Percussive Pitched, Melodic, Polyphony Sustain or Polyphony Decay Conversion Types, and it offers you the option to Consolidate the Clip. You can also choose selections from the Clip List, by selecting the Copy Audio as MIDI dropdown menu option. From there, just drop the Audio Clip with its associated MIDI track to the Timeline. It’s that easy.

All of this is enabled through the authorization of Melodyne in your Pro Tools account. Pro Tools subscriptions and Software Update + Support Plans come with Melodyne 5 essential, which, aside from helping with the Convert Audio to MIDI, allows you to fix those questionable notes.

The first thing I did was take a recorded bass track and turn it into MIDI. From there, I tweaked a few note lengths (only had to do a few!) and assigned it to an Omnisphere stereo sub bass patch. The combination together was ridiculous. I then took a kick drum and turned it into MIDI, assigning that to an 808 kick in another piece of software. Imagine where we can go from here.

Dark Theme: For those who like the drama of the dark side, you can alter how the Mix and Edit windows look. By going to Preferences > Display > UI Theme, the dropdown menu lets you select between Classic or Dark. If you select Dark, Pro Tools will ask you to restart for the UI theme change to take effect. After restarting, you’ll notice a whole new world of color attitude. I like it just for a change of mindset, and I hope to see more adjustments available for it in future updates to allow for various gradients and more. It is cool, though, for the late evening sessions or when you want to lower the lights and have some attitude.

Avid • www.avid.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Solid State Logic Launches UF8 DAW Controller

Solid State Logic UF8 DAW Controller
Solid State Logic UF8 DAW Controller

Oxford, UK (February 5, 2021)—Solid State Logic has introduced its new UF8 Advanced Studio DAW controller, offering users remote access to faders, encoders and high-resolution color displays. It’s primarily intended for use in music creation, production and mixing, post production and webcasting.

The UF8 is expandable to a 32-channel control surface and offers integration for all major DAW platforms. SSL’s new 360° control software (both Mac and Windows-compatible) manages multi-controller configurations, customised user keys, and DAW switching across multiple layers, allowing for switching between numerous sessions.

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The unit offers 100 mm touch-sensitive faders; high-resolution colour displays; eight “endless” rotary encoders; creation and use of custom workflows via five banks of eight user keys and three quick keys, adding up to 43 assignable keys per UF8; an intelligent multi-purpose Channel encoder; mouse scroll emulation, providing control of any plug-in parameter you hover the mouse over; the ability to switch control between three simultaneously connected DAWs; the ability to chain up to four UF8s together for a total of 32 channels of control; and a pair of SSL plug-in: SSL Native Vocalstrip 2 and Drumstrip.

Andy Jackson, SSL studio product manager, noted “UF8 is an obvious next step in SSL’s development in ergonomically designed studio tools for todays’ mixers, producers and creators. The layout and build quality are all about our fixation with ‘human engineering’; creating products that keep you in the creative zone with high-speed access to every fader or control, without operator fatigue or discomfort.”

Solid State Logic • www.solidstatelogic.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Radial Updates Guitar/Amp Signal Switching Stations

Radial's JX42 guitar/amp signal managing switching station
Radial’s JX42 guitar/amp signal managing switching station

Canada (February 5, 2021)—Radial Engineering has updated two professional guitar/amp signal managing switching stations with the introduction of new models — the JX44 V2 and JX42 V2.

The JX44 V2 is a single rack space 4-Instrument, 4-Amp and EFX Signal Manager, while the JX42 V2 is a single rack space 4-Instrument, 2-Amp Switching Station. Both units are intended to provide signal changeovers in a guitar, bass, or keyboard rig without noise or popping when switching instruments. Both units enable simultaneous connection and activation of up to four instruments or wireless receivers, with all inactive inputs automatically feeding a buffered Tuner output.

The JX44 V2 also functions as a guitar, amp and EFX signal manager, handling effects routing requirements, providing connections for a local stereo EFX loop and the ability to assign and remotely control individual EFX channels to any amplifier for wet/dry/wet setups. The unit sports Class A signal buffers on the inputs, accessible on either the front or back panel.

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The JX44 V2 offers a direct output accessible via the back panel. Both units feature gold-contact connections and Jensen transformers on all outputs — two on the JX42 V2’s outputs and a total of seven on the JX44 V2 — including four on each output and one each on the JX44 V2’s SGI FX Loop Send and Receive, and the Direct Out. Additionally, the JX44 V2’s outputs feature ground lift and 180 polarity reverse switches.

Both units are MIDI controllable and feature remote control functionality via the optional Radial Engineering JR-5 remote footswitch. Additionally, the JX44 V2 offers A/B switching functionality via the Radial JR-2 dual remote footswitch. Both the JX44 V2 and JX44 V2 feature an Internal power supply that allows connectivity to standard IEC cables.

Radial Engineering • www.radialeng.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Monoprice Launches Stage Right Podcasting Bundle

Monoprice Stage Right Podcasting Bundle
Monoprice Stage Right Podcasting Bundle

Brea, CA (February 4, 2021) — Monoprice has launched an expanded podcasting/streaming bundle centered around its Stage Right microphone. Augmented with an accessories package, the bundle is intended for entry-level use.

The Stage Right Complete Podcasting and Streaming Bundle includes a USB condenser mic, a pair of headphones, a mic stand, and other accessories. The headphones can be plugged into the USB microphone’s headphone jack so users can monitor without the need for additional hardware.

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The headphone volume level can be adjusted independently of the microphone output level using the headphone volume knob on the mic.

The USB condenser microphone itself features a 16-bit/48 kHz sampling rate, and comes with a broadcast-style mic boom, pop filter, mic clip, mount bracket and windscreen.

Monoprice • https://www.monoprice.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Adorama Debuts H&A AC50 Studio Broadcast Microphone

H&A AC50 Studio Broadcast Microphone
H&A AC50 Studio Broadcast Microphone

New York, NY (February 4, 2021)—H&A has unveiled its new AC50 Studio Broadcast Microphone, primarily intended for use on podcasts, narration, or vocals.

The cardioid dynamic microphone features an internal pop filter, a low-cut filter switch, microphone clip, a standard mount adapter, and a molded ABS protective case lined with impact resistant foam for storage and transportation.

Using a cardioid pattern, the mic primarily sounds in front, eschewing off-axis noise, making it appropriate for podcasting or vocal performances. Inside the mic, along with the mesh shielding, the internal pop filter helps eliminate distortion and allows for instant control of plosives when talking close to the microphone.  The Low Cut Filter Switch allows users to reduce low frequencies by –10 dB in order to maintain an overall flat frequency response when needed. The microphone features a shielded all–aluminum construction and durable finish.

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Based around an XLR output connection, the mic doesn’t require phantom power and offers a 20 – 20,000 Hz wide frequency response.

Available exclusively at Adorama, the H&A AC50 Studio Broadcast Microphone is now available for $99.95.

Adorama • https://www.adorama.com/haac50.html

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Antelope Audio Unveils Zen Go Synergy Core Audio Interface

Antelope Audio Zen Go Synergy Core Audio Interface
Antelope Audio Zen Go Synergy Core Audio Interface

Santa Monica, CA (February 3, 2021)—Antelope Audio has launched its new Zen Go Synergy Core audio interface, marking the first time the company has released a product aimed at a more budget-conscious corner of the market, making it aimed for recordists, content creators, podcasting and more.

The bus-powered, portable (4 x 8 USB-C) audio interface sports a DSP-based desktop design powered by the same Synergy Core onboard effects processing platform found in the manufacturer’s top-tier audio interfaces.

The unit sports Antelope’s AD/DA converter technology, namesake Synergy Core onboard effects processing platform, and proprietary 64-bit AFCTM (Acoustically Focused Clocking) algorithm, supporting sample rates of up to 24-bit/192 kHz.

Antelope Audio Introduces Synergy Core FX Platform

As a plug and play interface, the Zen Go Synergy Core providers users with two ultra-linear discrete transistor-based preamps; two MIC-XLR and LINE / HiZ / 1/4” JACK connections; two independent (HP1 and HP2) headphone outputs with dedicated DAC (Digital-to-Analogue- Converter); stepped analogue rotary encoder for precise gain adjustment; alternative MONITOR line out on RCA connectors directly fed from the main DAC; S/PDIF digital I/O on RCA connectors for expansion; dedicated IPS (In-Plane Switching) display for signal monitoring; direct monitoring mixers for real-time hardware-based monitoring with onboard effects; advanced software control panel for macOS and Windows; and dedicated secondary USB- C connection for external power supply and reverse charging. Zen Go Synergy Core offers monitor output boasting a 127 dB DNR (dynamic range)

The unit has onboard 80-plus analog-modelled real-time effects, usable during live tracking or post-production. Also onboard are 37 emulations of specific analogue studio gear, which the company coyly states ranges from “a rare Austrian EQ through to legendary British solid-state processing with much in-between.”  Since they are hosted by the unit itself, latency is low during their use and a DAW’s CPU is not taxed.

Zen Go Synergy Core will be shipping in Q1 2021 at $499.00.

Antelope Audio • www.antelopeaudio.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Boss Launches WL-30XLR Wireless System

Boss WL-30XLR Wireless System
Boss WL-30XLR Wireless System

Los Angeles, CA (February 3, 2021)—While typically best known for its long-running range of guitar and bass effect pedals, Boss has introduced its new WL-30XLR Wireless System for XLR dynamic microphones.

The entry level system is intended to simplify the adoption of wireless mics for non-technical users such as singers, speakers, DJs, MCs, video producers and others.

The WL-30XLR system consists of a streamlined transmitter that connects to nearly any standard XLR dynamic mic, and a compact receiver that plugs into an XLR mic input on a mixer, stage amp, or other audio destination. The system’s processing reportedly provides ultra-low latency, plus strong line-of-sight transmission up to 230 feet/70 meters.

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The WL-30XLR’s receiver and transmitter each use a single AA alkaline battery, which provides up to 11 hours runtime to cover multiple gigs and rehearsals.

Wireless set up with the WL-30XLR is simple. First, the user presses a button on the receiver to automatically scan 14 channels and find the best one for their environment. Next, they confirm the setting on the transmitter, and they’re ready to go.

The Boss WL-30XLR Wireless System is available now for $299.99.

Boss • www.boss.info

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Shure Beta91A Condenser Boundary Microphone – A Real-World Review

Shure’s Beta91A Condenser Boundary Microphone
Shure’s Beta91A Condenser Boundary Microphone

The original Shure Beta91 was one of those rare mics that seemed to defy expectations at every turn. Born out of live touring engineers repurposing the table-top boundary mic SM91 as an inside kick mic, the Beta91’s popularity and user base spread from live stages to studios, not the other way around as typically happens. That thin proprietary cable with mini-XLR TA3F and TA4F female connectors that looked like it was sure to fail after a few uses actually held up admirably well over time. And at the most basic level, who would think you could get such solid, extended bottom-end out of a miniature diaphragm in a boundary mic?

I owned a pair of Beta91s (you’ve got to have two if you expect to record double-kick heavy metal properly) and one of them had its output jack fail, so I sent it in to Shure for repair. Sure enough, with the Beta91 discontinued and replaced by the Beta91A, they offered to replace my mic for flat fee of $120, half the cost of a new $239 91A. I took them up on it.

Upon receiving my new mic, I saw that Shure had updated the color to match the rest of the silver-grey Beta line (although they’re also available in black), but the mini-XLR connector for output and the in-line XLR-barrel preamp? Both are gone and replaced by a standard XLR jack—no more special cable required!

I set out to carefully compare the 91A’s performance to my remaining, thumpy, early-model Beta91, tracking a singular drum performance at 44.1 kHz. To do this, I miked my 22” Mapex maple kick drum with both the 91 and 91A mounted on a Remo kick-dampening pillow, amplified with a pair of Cranborne Camden 500 mic preamps (known for their linearity, reference response and unit-to-unit consistency), without any signal processing.

The new 91A had a hotter output, requiring about 10 dB less amp gain. Even though the mics sounded much more similar than different (similar dynamics, punch, noise floor; yes, they’re a bit noisy, as is typical for smaller diaphragms), there were pretty obvious differences in frequency response. The old 91 had a little more bump down low, with a usefully defined beater-click high-end attack, whereas the 91A was a little tighter in the low-end, with a more pronounced and a more balanced high-end beater snap.

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The newer 91A also has a small response curve switch on the bottom side (recessed and firm enough to avoid accidental switching) which attenuates 400 Hz by about -7 dB. Shure chose these parameters well, as they tend to mirror the way many engineers often EQ a 91 anyway. With this filter engaged, the 91A’s bottom-end response seemed fuller, any boxiness was gone and that click was prominent enough to satisfy the needs of any hard-rockin’ engineer—FOH, monitors, studio or otherwise.

If you’ve got any Beta 91s lying around in need of some TLC, allow me to recommend Shure’s replacement service. With judicious use of input gain and low-end shelving EQ, you can get any older 91s in your locker/case to match any new 91As you add to your collection. In the live music world, since the 91As have a cleaner and smoother top-end and also that mid-range contour switch, I believe you can get a bigger and bolder kick sound at FOH that will cut through a crowded rock/metal/extreme mix easier with less EQ.

In the studio, all of the 91A’s attributes hold up as well, and using a standard XLR cable takes very little getting used to. Try putting a Beta91A inside the kick with flipped-polarity and add your Beta 52 (or D112 or U47, etc.) to the outside on the resonant head and you’ll see why every drum recordist needs to add this affordable secret weapon to their kit.

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

TASCAM Updates DR-10L Digital Recorder

The TASCAM DR-10L Micro Linear PCM Recorder
The TASCAM DR-10L Micro Linear PCM Recorder

Santa Fe Springs, CA (January 27, 2021)—TASCAM has added several new features for its DR-10L Micro Linear PCM Recorder. The DR-10L now ships with these capabilities incorporated and older units previously purchased can be updated to add them as well.

Designed around a compact form factor and included lavalier microphone, the DR-10L has added MP3 recording at both 128kbps and 192kbps in addition to its support for 48kHz/24-bit BWF (Broadcast Wave Format), WAV format recording. Also, level meters are now active during both recording and playback. New controls such as Auto Gain, a Limiter, and its Low-Cut filter have been added as well.

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The low-profile unit is small and lightweight, weighing 51grams, and includes a built-in belt clip. A dedicated, screw-locked lavalier microphone is included with the recorder, offering  a sensitivity of -42 dBV/Pa, and 115dB SPL maximum input sound pressure. The unit can be powered by a single AAA battery for 10 hours or a lithium battery for 15 hours.

Among the functions onboard is a dual-recording function that allows users to set the recording level as high as possible while simultaneously recording a backup track at a lower level. The unit has five different gain levels in addition to the aforementioned automatic gain and limiter controls.

The DR-10L is bundled with a free full version of iZotope RX Elements.

TASCAM • www.tascam.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com