All posts by Shawn Thorpe

About Shawn Thorpe

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

NextDrive Spectra Is the World’s Smallest 32-Bit DAC Headphone Amp



NextDrive SpectraWhen it comes to the audio production process, it’s easy to get obsessed with things like sound treatments, microphones, processors, mixers, and monitors. While those can all be important components of any session, one thing that’s easy to overlook is the headphone amp.

Audio producers have debated for decades about whether it’s a good idea to mix or master audio over headphones. And while it’d be great to always have a fully furnished mastering suite at your fingertips, for many modern producers, that just isn’t possible. And that’s where having a product like NextDrive’s Spectra 32-bit DAC headphone amp can really come in handy:

The combination of a DAC and amplifier, Spectra’s ESS 9018Q2C DAC chip is best-in-class, delivering an unprecedented dynamic range and ultra low distortion for a true high-end Hi-Fi experience. With ultra-low power consumption, Spectra is then ideal for great mobile listening. And with its studio-grade performance, it’s … perfect for your working sound-card for composing and mastering tracks on-the-go.

And:

Spectra is built to deliver not only portability, but performance. Integrating a DAC, headphone amplifier, and audio switch into one, the ESS 9018Q2C chip performs at a level of -110dB THD+N and +121dB DNR. With patented HyperStream Modulator, Revolver DEM, and patented jitter eliminator, it all adds up to better audio clarity, with improved noise reduction, fewer artifacts, and greater instrument separation.

NextDrive Spectra comes in USB Type A and Micro USB versions. It can be purchased directly from NextDrive for $149.


Rebates Available for Line 6 Wireless Guitar and Vocal Systems



Line 6 LogoPlaying live in front of a crowd can be a great experience. But one thing you definitely don’t want to worry about as a performing musician is your gear getting in the way of that next killer riff or vocal run. Modern players often work with a small army of accessories and effects to fine tune their sound. All of those extra devices come with attendant cables and cords which can get downright complex! That means eliminating even one cable from the mix can save a lot of hassle.

Wireless guitar/microphone systems have been around for decades. But musical-instrument manufacturer Line 6 has done a lot of work in recent years to improve the wireless experience for musicians. The company has designed six different wireless systems. Right now, Line 6 is offering rebates to anyone who purchases one of these systems:

  • Relay G90 Guitar Wireless System – $100 rebate
  • Relay G75 Guitar Wireless System – $100 rebate
  • Relay G70 Guitar Wireless System – $100 rebate
  • Relay G55 Guitar Wireless System – $50 rebate
  • Relay G50 Guitar Wireless System – $50 rebate
  • Relay G30 Guitar Wireless System – $50 rebate

This rebate offer from Line 6 is available only to customers with U.S. mailing addresses. Eligible products must be new, not used or refurbished, and must be purchased from authorized Line 6 dealers.

The rebate offer is active now and ends on July 31, 2017. Visit the Line 6 website for complete details.


SlingStudio Is a Multi-Camera Video Production System



Sling StudioMost video consumers have probably heard of products like the Slingbox, produced by Sling Media. Slingbox has multiple offerings that let people stream video from different sources, including broadcast TV, to almost anywhere in the world. Given its background in developing this consumer-focused technology, it’s only logical that Sling Media would step over the fence into the video-production side.

Sling Media’s first big foray into the production world comes with the recent launch of the SlingStudio:

SlingStudio is the industry’s first affordable, wireless, portable multi-camera production solution that lets users of all skill levels record, monitor and edit four HD video inputs from up to 10 connected cameras and smartphones. SlingStudio can output live video to streaming services like Facebook Live and YouTube, and simultaneously record to a USB hard drive, USB SSD or SD card for post-production.

Sling Media is clearly acknowledging the rise of live-streaming online video, and recognizing the needs of producers who’d like to take their video productions beyond simple, static, one-canera presentations. Not only can SlingStudio ingest multiple video sources like DSLR cameras, video cameras, smartphones, and personal computers, it can also send those multi-cam feeds to platforms like YouTube Live and Facebook Live while making a local recording of those video presentations.

SlingStudio Hub is the central piece to the SlingStudio system and it’s currently priced at $999. Additional accessories for SlingStudio can also be purchased that extend the device’s functionality.


Reimagine Your Digital Audio Samples with Accusonus Regroover



Regroover LogoAudio producers usually have a large library of digital samples. But how many times can you hear that same set of sampled drum or bass loops before they start getting stale? One way to breathe new life into those old samples is to manipulate them into something that sounds entirely different. That’s exactly what Accusonus is doing with its new Regroover software:

Create new sounds from old or simply adjust the volume of individual elements inside a loop. Regroover uses Artificial-Intelligence to extract layers from within your previously recorded beats and samples. Once Regroover analyzes the file, you are able to make your own drum kits and combine them with external sounds to make new beats, loops and your own unique Expansion Kits.

Regroover allows you to:

  • Unmix your loopes and create new beats and music
  • Play or program the sounds from inside your loops to produce new rhythms and grooves
  • Dial in volume, panning, and effects of individual layers of your mixed beats for better balance or more variety to your looped patterns
  • Extract strange and new sonic elements for experimental grooves and soundscapes

Regroover from Accusonus comes in two versions. Regroover Essential has all of the core features you’ll need to get creative with your samples, while Regroover Pro allows you to experiment with layers, effects, and more.

Regroover Essential retails for $99. Regroover Pro is priced at $149. Both can be purchased from the Accusonus Store.


Amped Studio Is a Digital Audio Workstation in the Cloud



Amped Studio logoIt’s easier than ever to work on complex audio projects from almost any location. But doing so may still require producers to have to haul around bulky accessories like hard drives, with all of their attendant parts and cables, in order to work in a remote location. At this point in history, we’ve grown accustomed to storing everything from spreadsheets to our personal photo libraries in the cloud. So why not also do the same thing with our audio projects?

That’s exactly what Amped Studio, a digital audio workstation released earlier this year by AmpTrack Technologies, is aiming to do:

Amped Studio is the first Hybrid Digital Audio Workstation that works in the cloud, giving you instant access to all the tools you need to make music like virtual instruments, effects and loops right from your web browser. You can also download Amped Studio to use as a native app that reads VSTs and can work online and off.

Amped Studio platform doesn’t lock you in on how and where you work and allows you to shift away from having to use a single computer. All your projects, instruments and effects are readiliy available for use anytime, anyplace.

Amped Studio has multiple tiers, beginning with a basic free version. If you’d like to try the DAW, you can learn how to get started as well as how to download the native versions of the application by reading the Amped Studio manual.


A Fully Loaded iMac Pro Could Cost More Than $17k



Apple logoApple has been under fire from professional-level users for some time. It’s been four years since the Cupertino-based tech giant refreshed its Mac Pro line, which may as well be a century in terms of modern computing. Many users have been wondering if Apple is abandoning the pro community for the more lucrative consumer smartphone/tablet market.

At last week’s Worldwide Developer Conference, most of Apple’s big announcements revolved around operating systems and other software updates. But there were a few hardware-related announcements, most notably, the upcoming iMac Pro. In some ways, the iMac Pro feels like a consolation prize for pro users. It’s overall a more up-to-date piece of hardware than the current Mac Pro tower. But it’s not the updated standalone upgradable CPU offering that most pro users are longing for.

Regardless of Apple’s intent in releasing a true pro-level iMac, the machine does have some decent specs at the base level. With a price tag of $4999, the iMac Pro is definitely not being aimed at typical college students or casual web surfers. And while that starting price tag might be worth it to some users, that is still the base model price. Which means it’s very likely it’ll be possible to spend much more on an iMac Pro.

Apple hasn’t released a price-based configurator yet for the iMac Pro. But one ZDNet writer decided to try and figure out just what a true tricked-out iMac Pro might cost. His conclusion: $17,324. That’s a pretty hefty price tag for a single computer. But it’d be an iMac Pro with all top-of-the line specs, which could be appealing to power users who need to do a lot of number crunching.

If you’d like to find out more about this theoretical maxed-out iMac, click the link in the paragraph above.

 


Podcaster Pro Crowdfunding Campaign Is Underway



We’ve written before about the Podcaster Pro, a self-contained audio production device being created by Small Batch Audio with the help of pioneering podcaster Adam Curry. When we last covered the Podcaster Pro, the device was still being ramped up for launch. Since then, the Podcaster Pro has been officially launched via an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign.

As a quick recap, the Podcaster Pro is a USB-based audio interface designed to make recording high-quality audio as easy as possible. Here are some of the device’s features:

  • 2 XLR mic inputs with 48v phantom power
  • 1 stereo Skype/VoIP USB input
  • 1 stereo computer/soundboard USB input
  • 1 stereo mix-minus for Skype/VoIP via USB
  • 1 stereo main via USB
  • 1 stereo main analog out
  • 2 headphone outputs with independent volume controls
  • 4 independent noise gates
  • 5 compressors/limiters
  • 2 A-class preamps
  • 5 independent EQs
  • 2 cough switches

Backers of the crowdfunding campaign can reserve a Podcaster Pro starting at the early-bird price of $497. Special Podcaster Pro bundles that include accessories like microphones and headphones are also available.

Special signature models of the Podcaster Pro that are etched with signatures from podcasting luminaries can be reserved thru the campaign. Signature models for Adam Curry, Todd Cochrane, Dan Benjamin, Brian Brushwood, and more are available.

The Podcaster Pro campaign has reached 16% of its $500,000 goal. The campaign has a month left before it expires.


iZotope Neutron Elements on Sale for a Limited Time



iZotope logoiZotope is a maker of world-class audio plugins. It’s worth jumping on any chance you might have to pick up new iZotope plugins, and this month, there’s a great opportunity to do just that.

iZotope’s suite of Neutron plugins is focused on producing better audio mixes:

Achieve unprecedented focus and clarity in your mixes with Neutron. This new mixing plug-in combines the latest innovations in analysis and metering with award-winning audio processing.

With powerful new features like Track Assistant and Masking Meter, Neutron helps you quickly reach an optimal starting point, clearly identify perceptual frequency collisions, and fully wield creative control over all your mix decisions.

iZotope offers three tiers of this plugin: Neutron Elements, Neutron, and Neutron Advanced. Neutron Elements is currently on sale for a limited time. Here are some features that can be found in Neutron Elements:

  • Channel-strip style workflow with over 200 professionally-designed presets
  • Instrument detection for guitar, bass, drums, and vocals/dialogue
  • Spectral shaping technology
  • Equalizer with static and dynamic modes
  • Compressor with clean modern or colorful vintage modes
  • Exciter with four blendable saturation types and three global modules to fine-tune saturation color
  • Transient shaper with three contour shapes and three global modes

iZotope Neutron Elements normally sells for $129 but is available now for $99 until June 30th.


Wirecast 7.7 Supports NDI Broadcasting



telestream-logoWirecast, the popular video production application produced by Telestream, added input support for Newtek’s NDI protocol in its previous update, version 7.6. Wirecast 7.7 is now on the street and the latest version of the program also allows Wirecast to send video signals over NDI. From a recent Telestream e-mail blast:

Last month we released the first support for NDI sources with Wirecast 7.6. This release made it possible for Wirecast to automatically detect and receive any video or audio that was broadcast via Newtek’s high-quality, low-latency NDI protocol.

Now, let’s go the other direction with Wirecast 7.7! We’ve just made it possible to broadcast your Wirecast program output across your Local Area Network, using Newtek’s NDI protocol.

Send your broadcast to other Wirecast systems on your network to share the workload, or pass your signal to other switchers, monitors, and NDI-enabled apps!

We’ve written a lot about Newtek’s NDI protocol here at Pro Gear Guru. NDI allows for the transfer of high-quality video over computer networks. Now that Wirecast is supporting both NDI input and output, any production machine running Wirecast will be able to ingest video from any other NDI-enabled device on its network, and also send that video to any other NDI-enabled device. This new addition will make Wirecast a very powerful tool for any production that requires multiple video sources.

Wirecast 7.7 is a free upgrade for anyone currently using a previous 7.x version of Wirecast.


iZotope’s Spire is a Multitrack Music Production App



Spire logoIt’s easier than ever to create multitrack music productions. Devices like portable recorders, smartphones, and tablets allow musicians to do everything from capture song ideas to produce full multitrack compositions almost anywhere.

It seems only logical that an established music-production software company like iZotope would take advantage of this modern portable recording landscape. And the company has done just that with the recent release of its multitrack music-production app, Spire.

iZotope’s Spire app allows users to record up to eight tracks with “professional polish.” Spire also allows users to edit tracks to tighten up productions and create seamless loops. Spire users can then mix those tracks by adjusting individual track volume and pan settings. Users can also choose between mono or stereo playback. And finally, multitrack creations made within Spire can be exported to other audio-production apps for enhanced processing, or they can be uploaded to external services for further sharing and storage options.

iZotope’s Spire app may sound impressive enough just based on its features alone. But the most remarkable thing about Spire might be its price, as Spire is completely free! No in-app purchases. No weird registration requirements. Just download the app, and get to work producing your next musical masterpiece.