HandBrake 1.0 Released



Handbrake IconHandBrake has been a handy tool for media creators for over a decade. The free, open-source application makes it easy to convert and encode media of almost any format. HandBrake recently crossed an important milestone in its development, having finally reached an official version 1.0.0 release:

After more than 13 years of development, the HandBrake Team is delighted to present HandBrake 1.0.0. Thank you to all of our many contributors over the years for making HandBrake what it is today.

Here are some features included in HandBrake 1.0.0:

– New online documentation at https://handbrake.fr/docs
– Completely overhauled the official presets
– New general use presets for broad compatibility
– New device presets, now more up-to-date for common devices
– New web presets
– New Matroska (MKV) presets, including VP9 video with Opus audio
– Official presets from HandBrake 0.10.x are still available under “Legacy”
– New JSON-based preset system including command line support
– New JSON-based API for interacting with libhb
– Improvements to audio/video sync engine to better handle difficult sources
– Many miscellaneous bug fixes and improvements
– VP9 video encoding via libvpx
– Intel QuickSync Video H.265/HEVC encoder
– Requires Intel Skylake or newer CPU
– Ultra HD / 4K color pass through (support for BT.2020)
– Additional standard frame rate selections in the graphical interfaces
– New Auto anamorphic mode maximizes storage resolution, replaces Strict anamorphic mode
– New Pad filter (command line only for now)
– New Decomb/Deinterlace filter settings and improved defaults
– Rotate filter now available in all graphical interfaces
– New NLMeans filter tunes Tape and Sprite for analog tape recordings and vintage video games, respectively
– Assembly optimizations NLMeans filter improve performance up to 10%
– Assembly optimizations in x264 encoder improve performance for faster presets by 5-10%
– x265 encoder quality improvements, especially when using tune grain
– High bit depth encoding support via external shared libraries (video pipeline is still 8-bit 4:2:0)
– x264 10-bit
– x265 10-bit and 12-bit

To learn more about HandBrake 1.0.0, click the link at the top of this article. HandBrake is available as a free download for macOS, Windows, and Linux, as a well as a command-line version of the application.


Accusonus Releasing ERA-N Denoising Plugin



ERA-N pluginNobody likes noisy audio tracks. They can be particularly problematic in spoken-word productions. And while it’s obvious that the best way to solve a noise problem is to cut it off at the source, that’s not always an option. Fortunately, there are a number of tools available to audio producers for reducing or (hopefully!) removing unwanted noise from recordings. But even with the variety of these denoising tools available today, there’s still plenty of room left for improvement.

And making a better denoiser is exactly what Accusonus is aiming for with its new “single knob” ERA-N audio plugin:

Enhance your voice-overs, repair your music recordings and restore your damaged audio files. ERA-N is a single-knob high-quality denoise plugin that just works. Based on accusonus’ multi-patented noise removal algorithms, ERA-N offers a quick and efficient workflow and allows you to rescue audio recordings that you would have previously considered unusable.

ERA-N will be available for digital audio workstations that use AU, VST, and AAX plugins, ERA-N is expected to go on sale at a special early-bird price of $39, with a final retail price of $59 after that. Check out this video for more information on the Accusonus ERA-N denoising plugin.


Line 6 To Release Helix Native Audio Plugin



Helix PluginLine 6 has been innovating the audio hardware and effects space for decades. The company made a big splash with the release of its latest flagship guitar effects processor, Helix, in 2015. And while the hardware version of Helix has proven to be very popular with musicians, Line 6 identified a need for Helix’s effects outside of an all-in-one piece of gear. That’s why Helix will soon be released as an audio plugin, with native versions available for most popular digital audio workstations:

Helix Native is a world-class guitar processor plug-in that accurately recreates the dynamic sound and feel of vintage tube amps, cabs, mics and effects with award-winning HX modeling. It allows guitarists and engineers to accurately recreate the dynamic sound and feel of vintage tube amps, cabs, mics, and effects in professional DAW environments and they can now bring those exact tones to the stage by simply transferring their plug-in presets to their Helix hardware.

And:

Seamless workflow and broad compatibility. The Helix Native plug-in features broad compatibility with your DAW of choice, offering powerful 64-bit performance on AAX, AU and VST3 platforms. It also tightly integrates with Helix hardware so you can take your presets from studio to the stage—and back again.

Pricing is not yet available for the Helix native plugin. Line 6 has marked the plugin’s status as “coming soon,” with no further release details.


Elektron Announced Digitakt Digital Drum Machine



Elektron announced Digitakt, an eight track digital drum machine and sampler. It has a compact size, a powerful digital sound engine, all new back-lit buttons, and super crisp OLED screen. These features make it a portable and focused instrument for producers and live musicians.

Drum machines are something of an Elektron speciality. Digitakt is compact, rugged, and to the point. It is a formidable drum machine with an astounding feature set and an exquisite digital sound engine. It includes a digital and highly flexible sound engine, sampling capability, a live-friendly sequencer, and the means to control external MIDI gear.

Digitakt highlights:

  • 8 internal audio tracks
  • 8 dedicated MIDI tracks
  • 1 x Multi-mode filter per audio track
  • 1 x Assignable LFO per track
  • Delay and Reverb send FX
  • Sampling capability
  • 64 MB sample memory
  • 1 GB + Drive storage
  • 2 x 1/4” input & 2 x 1/4” balanced output
  • 1 x High Speed USB 2.0 port
  • MIDI IN, OUT and THRU ports
  • Overbridge support

Soundelux USA Announces U99 Microphone



Soundelux USA has announced the U99 Microphone. It is made in the USA by David Bock and its components have been carefully auditioned and selected for the best sound and lowest noise, not to satisfy a spread sheet. The mic comes with its own proprietary N470 power supply, six pin XLR cable, and bottom thread shock mount.

Inspired by the “Sound of Tomorrow 67”, Soundelux USA announces the U99 multi-pattern tube microphone; a versatile, high-quality workhorse mic that rises to any task a studio can throw at it.

Featuring a k67 dual symmetrical backplate dual membrane capsule along the signature Soundelux USA “fat” switch featured on the U195 microphone and an innovative new high frequency “boost-flat-cut” switch, the U99 has enough proximity effect to sound full, but not so much that it sounds “boomy.” This makes it a natural on vocals, acoustics instruments, and drums thanks to an onboard pad switch. The added benefit of allowing the user to set the brightness and fullness characteristics of the mic via switches means unrivaled flexibility for the engineer, producer, or artist.

As all Soundelux USA mics, the U99 uses a “new old stock” tube and true linear high current power supply for fullest possible sound. The electronics circuit differs from the vintage 67 in its departure from non-removable frequency shaping components and the removal of gain controlling negative feedback. It also feature a larger output transformer to radically increase the low frequency headroom.

The Soundelux USA U99 Microphones carries a US MSRP of $2,599 and will be available in March 2017. Visit Soundelux at NAMM booth #6799A.


AVerMedia 4k Capture Card Evolves with NewTek NDI



AVerMedia has announced support for NewTek’s NDI, a software-driven live production IP workflow over Ethernet. In doing so, AVerMedia has become a member of the NewTek Developer Network. Joining the industry’s largest IP ecosystem with hundreds of NDI-ready commercial products and the rapidly expanding number of companies enabling IP-based customer workflows, AverMedia’s NDI-ready products allow them to be recognized and communicate with other NDI-readied applications and devices connected to the Ethernet network.

NewTek’s royalty free NDI technology allows video and audio sources to be shared bi-directionally across a network, eliminating the need for costly direct connections, expensive cable runs, and infrastructure upgrades while utilizing every IP video source on the network instantly.

Gone are the days of bandwidth and hardware restrictions for 4K video streaming. Coupling NDI with AVerMedia’s 4K PCle capture card, live 4K video can be accessed flawlessly over the network while the IP-based workflow simplifies the creation and distribution of high quality media production. The advantages of AVerMedia SDK incorporating NDI means network users accessing the 4K stream also gain AVerMedia 4K capture card’s video processing functionalities such as resolution scaling, de-interlacing, and color-space conversion.

AVerMedia is also supporting NDI version 2.0, the recently updated software development kit (SDK) from NewTek The NDI SDK is royalty free for any company looking to establish IP workflows within their organization, or in commercial products and applications they deliver.

Building on the widely adopted and ground-breaking NDI announced at IBC 2015, NewTek’s NDI version 2 adds higher performance, resolution independence, 16-bit per channel support for the highest precision color of any IP standard, 16 channels of floating point audio, improved cross subnet support, integrated fail-safe support, network-based re-routing support, and more.


Samson Announces QH4 4-Channel Headphone Amplifier



Samson, a leader in professional live and studio audio products, announced the QH4 4-Channel Headphone Amplifier. The QH4 is designed to distribute audio to up to four individual headphones, each with its own volume making it perfect for tracking multiple performers in a studio, podcast recording, or recreational music listening. The QH4 is also ideal for use with any studio or desktop workstation, as well as with laptops or smartphones when recording on the go.

Samson’s QH4 includes 1/4″ inputs to connect with a mixing console or studio interface, and a stereo 1/8” Aux In for playing music via a smartphone or MP3 player. Individual headphone outputs allow users to connect up to four sets of headphones, each with its own independent channel volume control, as well as a Master volume control for overall level adjustments. Also provided is a stereo 1/8” Aux Out for daisy chaining multiple QH4s together and a master Mute button for silencing all outputs.

Stereo channels may be combined using the QH4’s key feature, the Mono button, before audio is sent to headphones, allowing listeners to check for phase issues, mono compatibility or when monitoring tracks that are split left and right. The Mono button also allows you to take a split left and right feed from a stereo interview and send both tracks to each side of your headphones, ideal for quickly monitoring a split track podcast or recording.

The QH4 is available now for $69.99. Visit Samson at NAMM 2017 in Hall A booth #6900.


HOFA SYSTEM 1 Now Available for Presale



HOFA SYSTEM logoThe usefulness of modern digital audio workstations (DAWs) can be expanded greatly thru the use of plugins. Most DAWs come packed with more plugins than many audio producers are likely to ever use. Still, there’s a robust market of third-party developers creating many kinds of plugins, most of which are compatible with all of the major DAWs in use today.

HOFA is one such plugin developer. The company recently announced its SYSTEM 1 plugin is now available for presale. SYSTEM 1 isn’t necessarily an audio processor on its own. Instead, SYSTEM 1 makes it easy to combine different HOFA plugins together, so producers won’t have to rely on their DAWs’ method of selecting and ordering plugins within their projects:

After inserting a HOFA SYSTEM plugin, you just drag modules like EQs, compressors, reverbs etc. out of the browser into the free space – simple as that. The modules are automatically connected from left to right.
You can drag as many modules as you like and change the sequence anytime.

Along with being able to arrange plugin modules, SYSTEM 1 also has some customization options:

With the trimmer at the bottom right you’re able to change the size of the plugin. Under “settings”, you can also choose the fontsize and the size of the modules.

If you drop a module on top of or below another module, you immediately have multiband functionality at hand.

HOFA SYSTEM 1, which includes a total of 15 modules including AlgoVerb, is now available at the presale price of 49.99 euros. To learn more about HOFA SYSTEM 1, check out the company’s YouTube channel.


Take Control of Field Recordings with Zoom F-Control



Zoom F ControlZoom has been a leader in portable audio recording technology for over a decade. The company’s H series of recorders are particularly popular with podcasters and journalists. For remote productions that require more than what the H series can provide, Zoom has developed the F series, specifically the F8 and the F4. These devices provide a level of flexibility that can be extremely useful to those creating multitrack audio. Now, Zoom is taking its F series to a new level with the upcoming F-Control.

The name says it all when it comes to F-Control. This device isn’t a recorder itself. Instead, it’s a control surface that makes producing audio with either the F8 or the F4 much more fluid and dynamic. The F-Control provides a bank of sliders for controlling audio levels, along with other tactic controls that make it easier to handle the audio coming into an F series device:

F-Control works intuitively with the F8 and F4 to give you additional mastery over sound design and mixing, as well as broaden your creative possibilities. It connects to your F8 or F4 with a single USB cable, so you can keep your setup clutter-free and be ready to record in seconds.

F-Control makes recording and mixing easy with nine 60 mm faders (eight + Master) and hands-on input/output control for trim, pan, and track arming. Monitoring channel and output levels is simple with 12-segment LED meters, three user-programmable buttons, and a dedicated time code button.

To learn more about F-Control, click the link above. The device is currently available for preorder thru many online vendors, usually for $349.00.


Echo Pitch App Creates New Sonic Possibilities



Echo Pitch logoMusicians and audio producers are always looking for new ways to extend their sonic palettes. For years, creating new sound textures required racks full of hardware, or other effects processors that came in the forms of pedals or dedicated computer applications. But the mobile computing revolution that’s taken hold in recent years with the advent of smartphones and tablets has made it much easier to put powerful audio-processing applications in the palm of your hand. The latest example of this phenomenon comes courtesy of a new iOS app called Echo Pitch:

Echo Pitch pitch-shifting multi-delay for iPhone. Echo Pitch has 4 delays where each delayed signal can be pitched one octave up or down in 1/2 steps, and can function as a 4 voice harmonizer. Echo Pitch also has a built-in looper, amp simulator and reverb. Each of the four delays can be routed into the other for incredible, swirling, ambient washes and otherworldly sounds.

The developers of Echo Pitch recommend that the app be used on an iOS device with an external audio interface, such as the IK Multimedia iRig or Fender Slide. The app is available for download in the iOS App Store for $3.99.

This video provides a good demo of the Echo Pitch app.