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About Shawn Thorpe

Shawn is a freelance media technician and podcast consultant living in San Luis Obispo, CA. | Blog | Twitter

Sound Devices Releases New MixPre-3 and MixPre-6 Interfaces



Sound Devices Mix PreSound Devices made waves a few years ago with the release of its MixPre-D audio interface. The company is likely to gain attention once again with the recent announcement of its new MixPre-3 and MixPre-6 interfaces. Sound Devices designed these new MixPre units to be as robust, reliable, and easy to use as the original MixPre-D. But they’ve added some exciting new features and functions to these new MixPre offerings:

The MixPre Series feature Sound Devices’ innovative new Kashmir microphone preamps. These high-performance, ultra-low-noise, discrete, Class-A mic preamps were hand-crafted by Sound Devices. The mic preamps feature a -130dBV noise floor, analog limiters, and new 32-bit A-to-D converters to ensure high quality, stress-free, professional-grade audio recordings.

The MixPre-3 features 3 full-sized balanced XLR mic/line audio inputs, while the MixPre-6 features 4 balanced XLR/TRS combo jacks to connect microphones or line-level devices. Both have a 3.5 mm auxiliary input that can be used for plug-in power mics, 2-channel line-in audio, camera return, or timecode.

Sound Devices suggests that these new MixPre models could be used for a variety of applications, including podcasting, field recording, video production, interview recording, or backup recording in conjunction with a computer.

Both the MixPre 3 and MixPre 6 are currently available for pre-order from most audio equipment vendors. The MixPre 3 retails for $649.00 while the MixPre 6 retails for $899.00.


Sony Announces a9 Mirrorless DSLR Camera



Sony a9Digital camera technology has made some real strides in recent years. It used to be that, if you wanted a good photography camera, you’d buy a high-end DSLR. If you wanted a good video camera, you’d buy a high-end dedicated video camera. But a great convergence has been happening between photo and video-capture, with many modern DSLR cams gaining the ability to take high-definition video, as well as high-resolution images.

Sony is pushing that convergence to the next level with its upcoming a9 camera:

This mechanism-free camera can deliver a-class-above performance conventional mechanical SLRs have only sought. For example, this system realizes a totally blackout-free viewfinder while conventional systems can only try to reduce blackout time. A high-speed, vibration-free, silent Anti-Distortion shutter vastly extends the range of shooting situations while a mechanical system can only aim for lower vibration and quieter shutter release sound. α9 provides continuous tracking of moving subjects for foolproof AF/AE… α9 allows its viewfinder to show not only images of the subject… but also the final image of a shot. Now, thanks to a new image sensor that superbly manages all these roles…

A few highlights of the Sony a9:

  • Full-frame stacked CMOS sensor with integral memory
  • 24.2-megapixel full-frame image sensor
  • Enhanced BIONZ X image-processing engine
  • High-speed continuous shooting at up to 20fps
  • Non-mechanical electronic shutter eliminates blackout with typical SLR mirror action
  • Light directly reaches the image sensor without mechanical interruption
  • Electronic shutter speeds up to 1/32000 sec
  • Anti-distortion electronic shutter allows silent shooting
  • Vibration-free electronic shutter that can keep the camera stable, for razor-sharp images

The Sony a9 DSLR camera body is available now for pre-order with a retail price of $4498.00.


Moniker Guitars Offers New Step Headstock



Moniker StepTexas-based Moniker Guitars is like a dream-come-true for guitar enthusiasts. The company allows guitarists to custom design guitars online. Body shape, pickups, paint job, and more can be selected with the click of a button. Then, on-site artisans get to work, building those custom guitars by hand.

Moniker Guitars already offers plenty of options for players looking for a customized instrument. And the company recently expanded those offerings with the introduction of what it’s calling the Step headstock:

We’re excited to announce a new headstock shape… We’re calling it the “Step” due to the way the 3-D design steps down towards the bottom edge of the headstock.

The main color of the headstock will continue around the sides of the headstock and down the back of the neck. The “step” portion will have its own color which will continue as a binding stripe around the top edge of the headstock.

Moniker admits on its website that guitar players may have seen this design from other instrument manufacturers. But Moniker’s Step headstock is different from other brands because it offers the ability for designers to have two paint colors on the headstock, instead of just one:

…the fun part about our version is the ability to choose the two colors that make up the headstock. In the configurator, the primary color will be selected using the “Headstock” category. The step portion of the headstock can be customized under the “HS Step” category.

Moniker Guitars range in price, depending on individual customization requirements. Moniker’s online guitar building tool is free to use and available for everyone to try.


McDSP Plugins Now on Avid Marketplace with Special Intro Pricing



6050 Channel StripThere’s one ultimate truth of audio production: You can never have enough plugins. These special pieces of software allow digital audio workstations (DAWs) to reach new levels of creative potential. Most DAWs ship with a handful of built-in plugins to get things started. But there’s a healthy and vibrant community of developers designing all kinds of plugins to be used with modern DAWs.

That’s where McDSP comes in. The company’s founder recently announced that McDSP’s plugins are now available on the Avid Marketplace, giving ProTools users easy access to McDSP’s products:

McDSP has one of the largest collections of AAX plug-ins on the planet. Our products support both the AAX Native and AAX DSP formats (along with AU, VST, and VST3). All McDSP plug-ins use a 64-bit internal data path for maximum audio fidelity, have real-time control smoothing just like analog gear, can operate at signal levels above 0 dB for maximum dynamic range, and support dsp chip sharing for the HDX cards. We also support fancy control surfaces like the Pro Tools | S6 and VENUE | S6L.

Effects included in the McDSP collection:

  • EC-300 Echo Collection
  • AE600 Active EQ
  • ML8000 Mastering Limiter
  • 6050 Ultimate Channel Strip (EQs, compressors, saturators, specialized filters, gates and expanders)

McDSP plugins can be found on Avid’s plugin finder, which includes links for purchasing the plugins.


NASA Will Conduct First Ever Live 4K Video Stream From Space



NASA Logo4K video streaming is definitely here to stay. In fact, 4K streaming is becoming so commonplace, it’s even possible to now stream live 4K video from space. That’s exactly what NASA is going to do during the 2017 NAB show, happening later this month in Las Vegas. NAB recently announced via mass e-mail that the space-vid stream will occur during a panel called Reaching for the Stars: Connecting to the Future with NASA and Hollywood:

The panel is co-produced by NAB Show, NASA, and Amazon Web Services (AWS), and will explore how advanced imaging and cloud technologies are taking scientific research and filmmaking to the next level. The live feed from 250 miles above Earth will be encoded AWS Elemental encoding software on board the International Space Station (ISS) and on the ground at Johnson Space Center.

During the NAB Show Super Session, a live 4K stream will enable NASA astronaut Dr. Peggy Whitson on the ISS to converse with AWS Elemental CEO and Co-founder Sam Blackman, who will be at the LVCC. In conjunction with the live 4K streaming event, NASA astronaut Dr. Tracy Caldwell Dyson and NASA Imagery Experts Program Manager Rodney Grubbs will take part in an LVCC-based panel discussion featuring Hollywood and technology leaders…

This presentation should appeal to video-production professionals and space/science buffs alike. The presentation will take place on Wednesday, April 26th from 10:30AM-11:30AM at spaces N249-251 during the NAB Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The presentation will also be live-streamed in 4K (with downscaled versions available for non-4K devices) and made available on-demand after the presentation is over.


Line 6 Variax Shuriken Guitar Now Available



Line 6 ShurikenSince it first introduced the Variax guitar line over a decade ago, Line 6 has been working hard to improve the design and playability of what is often dubbed “the world’s first modeling guitar.” Line 6 took the Variax line to new heights with the JTV (James Tyler Variax) line that marked the first major upgrade to the Variax line. Now, Line 6 is taking Variax even further with the new Variax Shuriken guitar:

Featuring a longer scale length, advanced Variax HD technology and an assertive body shape, the Variax Shuriken guitar is the result of intense collaboration between Line 6, Yamaha Guitar Development, and guitarist Steve “Stevic” MacKay of Twelve Foot Ninja. Designed for heavier or more technical styles of music, Variax Shuriken delivers exceptional playability, clear and tight tone—plus the unrivaled versatility that Variax HD modeling provides.

If you like to perform with heavier strings and lower tunings, Variax Shuriken features a 27” scale length that delivers optimized playability and punchier, more-precise tones. The extended scale length also works in conjunction with Variax alternative tunings—so you can play in any tuning, regardless of the tension and feel of the strings. With Variax Shuriken, you can go far beyond the range of any standard 6, 7 or even 8 string guitar.

Variax Shuriken has all of the features of previous Variax guitars, with the ability to model a number of vintage electric guitars and acoustic stringed instruments. The increased scale length of Shuriken is new to the Variax line, and should be useful to players looking to get deeper, heavier tones. Variax Shuriken has Line 6’s Variax Digital Interface (VDI) built-in, so it works seamlessly with most VDI-equipped products.

Variax Shuriken is currently available for purchase from many musical-instrument vendors with a starting price of $1399.


Amid April Fools Hype, Line 6 Releases new Helix LT Processor



Helix LTCompanies considering the release of a new product might want to avoid doing so during the first week of April. There’s so much hype during this time of year surrounding April Fools Day jokes that companies shipping new products may have trouble rising above the din created by April Fools pranksters.

I’m a member of a Line 6 Helix-focused group on Facebook. Last Saturday (April 1), images started surfacing on that group of what we’d soon learn is the Line 6 Helix LT processor. The initial reaction by many was that, this must be an April Fools thing. But we learned a couple days later that the new LT is in fact a very real thing. Still, scrolling thru that thread on Facebook and watching the timeline start out with, “April Fools, LOLZ!” and then morph into speculation on potential features of the device, and finally melt into the realty of the situation was pretty amusing.

Line 6 is billing the new LT as a “streamlined” version of the original Helix. This is a marketing-speak way of saying it has fewer features than its predecessor. For example, the LT has no scribble strips above its switches. However, the device itself has the same DSP, amplifier/cabinet simulations, effects, and I/O as its big brother. In this case, you can probably read the LT in the name as “lite.”

Helix LT is available thru most music-equipment vendors for a retail price of $999. This is $500 less than the original Helix. Line 6 is clearly making a play for those who feel the first Helix was too costly of an investment. If you’ve been intrigued by what the Helix line has to offer, but you’ve been put off by the price, this new version may be the entry point you’ve been waiting for.


Line 6 Releases Helix Firmware 2.20



Line 6 LogoLine 6 is proving its commitment to its flagship Helix line of effects processing tools with the recent release of upgraded firmware for Helix hardware devices. Helix firmware 2.20 works with Helix Floor, Helix Rack, and the recently released Helix LT. According to an e-mail from Line 6, the new firmware includes these features:

…offers guitarists an additional suite of HX amp models, including new amps, cabinets and effects, with a special emphasis on models for bass players. The release will also feature a host of functional upgrades and a newly crafted set of impulse responses.
Included in the update are 6 amp models, 7 cabinet models, and 9 effect models. A total of 11 models are designed for bass players. Highlights in the release include models based on* the Pearce BC-1 bass preamp, a Darkglass® Electronics Microtubes® B7K Ultra bass preamp/overdrive/EQ pedal model, and Line 6 Badonk, an original Line 6 amp model inspired by the original high gain Big Bottom model.
Helix 2.20 also introduces the Line 6 Allure IR Pack, a free download of new speaker cabinet impulse responses created by Dan Boul of 65 Amps fame.
The e-mail also noted that the firmware update will allow owners of Line 6 Variax guitars to use the Helix as a bridge between a Variax and a host computer for connecting to Line 6 Workbench software. The firmware update is a free download for owners of all Helix hardware products.

iZotope RX Plugin Pack on Sale Now



iZotope logoiZotope makes some of the most versatile and useful audio production plugins available. The company offers its plugins in packages that range in price in order to make its products as accessible as possible. A few times a year, iZotope will sell some of its plugins at reduced prices. And one of those sales is on now.

The iZotope RX Plugin Pack is normally priced at $129. But for the next couple days, this bundle is being offered at 60% off, for a price of $49:

From hit records to Hollywood blockbusters, iZotope’s RX plug-ins have made it easy to quickly clean up audio from less-than-ideal recording scenarios. RX Plug-in Pack includes four essential audio reair plug-ins curated directly from iZotope’s award-winning RX software:

De-click Plug-in

Salvage great dialogue and vocal performances by removing the unintended clicks and other mouth noises that make their way through the pop screen. Treat continuous background clicks on old recordings and vinyl transfers.

De-hum Plug-in

Get rid of the electrical hum and line noise of ground loops and buzzes that can end up on multitrack recordings, and often only gets caught later in the process.

De-clip Plug-in

Salvage great performances by quickly reducing distortion on a vocal recording and cut down on the need for retakes. Repair digital and analog clipping artifacts to save single-take recordings—especially live shows, rehearsal recordings, and archival material.

Dialogue De-noise Plug-in

The zero-latency Dialogue De-noise real-time plug-in is the most powerful denoiser for working with any voice recordings: voiceover, podcast, sung vocals, and more.

These iZotope plugins are compatible with most modern versions of Windows and macOS. Available plugin formats include Native AAX 64 bit, RTAS 32 bit, Audiosuite DPM 32 bit, AU 32/64 bit, VST 2 32/64 bit, and VST 3. Check out iZotope’s “Master the Mix” store for special pricing on other iZotope products.


Waves DeBreath Plugin on Sale for a Limited Time



DeBreath PluginBreathing. It’s a necessary part of the biological process if you want to remain alive. And while the proper application of breathing can add depth and humanity to a recorded piece of singing or spoken-word audio, sometimes it can be a distraction to those who are listening. While it may be possible to simply edit out unwanted breath or breathing-related noises, if you’re working on a long project with a lot of problematic breath sounds, fixing the recording by hand could be a lengthy, tedious task. That’s where a handy audio plugins like DeBreath from Waves comes in:

Singers insist on breathing – even when it spoils a perfectly good take! With DeBreath, you can truly take their breath away. DeBreath uses a unique algorithm that automatically detects and separates a vocal take into two distinct tracks: only voice and only breath. Now you can control how much breath you want on your vocal track, and how you want it processed. You can even add room tone where breaths have been removed or reduced. And DeBreath isn’t just for singers; it’s also a great time-saver for voice overs and multimedia.

The DeBreath plugin is included with several high-priced bundles from Waves. The plugin is also available as a standalone purchase, normally priced at $99. But DeBreath is currently on sale for a limited time for just $39. Get more information on the plugin by clicking the link at the top of this post.