Apple 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.
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 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.
It’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.
The only thing better than new audio production plugins is FREE new audio production plugins. Plugin Alliance currently has six free audio plugins posted on its website, available as free downloads. Here’s a rundown of these plugins:
- Brainworx bx_cleansweep V2: A plugin that provides hi-pass and lo-pass filtering in one place. From Plugin Alliance: “Brainworx Anti-Crush technology uses analog style filter curves that eliminate common digital sound problems like harshness and aliasing. This advanced filter design is taken from their pro mastering EQ, bx_digital V2. First order filters (6 dB per octave) guarantee an extremely musical-sounding filter set, and a unique joystick interface (taken from the bx_hybrid) gives you fast and intuitive control.”
- Brainworx bx_subfilter: This plugin helps to deal with low-end frequencies that may be troublesome within a mix. From Plugin Alliance: “Polishing your mix’s low end can be tricky. Bass DI tracks can sound mushy, and kick tracks can lose their ‘pop.’ Sometimes everything below 100Hz can become such an undifferentiated soup of noise that you just don’t know where to start! Start here: The bx_subfilter is just the ticket for adding clarity and definition to tracks that have troublesome low frequencies. There are lots of expensive and complicated EQ plugins out there, but when it comes to shaping your low end, the bx_subfilter is unique for its ease and simplicity. With just a few quick adjustments to its four-knob interface, you can breathe new life into those 808s that have been muddying your mix.”
- elysia niveau filter: Another plugin that helps with EQ. From Plugin Alliance: “The niveau filter provides two basic controls: EQ gain and EQ frequency. Together, they allow you to change the proportions between high and low frequencies on your tracks. The principle is similar to a pair of scales. The ‘EQ Freq’ knob sets the center frequency. The ‘EQ Gain’ knob controls the amount of EQ applied to your signal. When the EQ Gain knob is at 12 o’clock, there is no EQ applied. When you turn the EQ Gain knob to the right, you boost frequencies above the center frequency while simultaneously reducing frequencies below the center frequency. When you turn the EQ Gain to the left you boost frequencies below the center frequency while simultaneously reducing frequencies above the center frequency.”
- SPL Free Ranger: This plugin is also EQ-centric. From Plugin Alliance: “The Free Ranger is based upon the Full Ranger-EQ from SPL’s EQ Rangers series. It features four very useful bands: The 16 kHz center frequency band is great for adding very pleasant brilliance; the 1.8kHz center frequency band really brings out lead vocals and guitars or reduces harshness; the 150 Hz center frequency band adds warmth, making tracks fuller & fatter, while the 40 Hz center frequency band adds that sub thump or reduces rumble.”
- Brainworx bx_rockrack V3 Player: A guitar amp simulation plugin. From Plugin Alliance: “The bx_rockrack V3 Player is your ticket to getting stellar guitar tones for absolutely free! By including the same eight immaculate guitar amp simulations as the fully-featured bx_rockrack V3 implemented across 26 professionally designed presets, bx_rockrack V3 Player gives you access to some of the best tones Brainworx has to offer.”
- Brainworx bx_solo: A comprehensive soloing and muting plugin. From Plugin Alliance: “bx_solo contains a stepped M/S Stereo Width Control, so you can get a sense of how M/S technology can be used to expand the stereo width of tracks already recorded. Try it out on subgroups, FX returns, keyboards, or any stereo track that you’d like to spread out. A great pro trick is to use M/S processing on a rock guitar subgroup: just set the stereo width to 150% and the guitars will jump out of your speakers!”
These plugins are available for free from Plugin Alliance for anyone with a free Plugin Alliance account.
Despite the rise in solid state digital gear that’s been prominent in audio and music production over the last few decades, many musicians and audio engineers still long for the warm sound that only a real tube-based amplifier can provide. But most tube amps are large, heavy, bulky things that can be cumbersome to work with, especially in situations that may require a minimalist setup in terms of gear. That’s where the new Ai ProTube preamp/DI box from GMF Music comes in:
Geared towards the acoustic instrument market the Ai ProTube has a real “tube” that will make any acoustic instrument sound warm and inviting with no unwanted signal compression. This isn’t just a tube simulation circuit; it is the real thing with a 12AX7 tube circuit.
The GMF Ai ProTube is an acoustic preamplifier, direct box, and all around solution for connecting your acoustic instrument into a sound source. If you don’t have a built-in pickup on your guitar or other acoustic instrument, no problem we will include a handcrafted transducer pickup to your order.
A few of this device’s features:
- Can be used as a preamp for an acoustic instrument with a built-in pickup or external pickup
- Can be used as a DI box to connect to a PA system
- The Ai ProTube is a high quality acoustic amp without the power amp or speakers, making it easy to connect an instrument to a power amp or PA system
- Add external effects with the built-in effects loop
GMF Music is currently in the planning stages for launching the Ai ProTube thru Kickstarter. Sign up for updates or contact GMF Music directly here.
Last month, we covered the announcement of the new Podcaster Pro audio-production device being developed by Adam Curry’s Small Batch Audio. At the time, we mentioned that the product would be launched thru an online crowdfunding campaign. But, the date of the campaign was not yet known.
In an e-mail update sent today, Small Batch announced that the crowdfunding campaign will go live on Friday, May 26th:
We’ve locked in the kickoff date of our crowdfunding campaign for the Podcaster Pro to Friday May 26th 2017 and we’re very excited! I hope you are as well.
The e-mail also gave some information on how the Podcaster Pro will be priced during the campaign:
As the Indiegogo campaign starts the first people supporting the campaign will have an opportunity to lock in the $497 early bird level. After 48 hours the early bird level will be locked and a higher price level will be available.
The e-mail also notes that prospective buyers who are already on the Small Batch Audio mailing list will be able to put in special requests for the $497 early-bird price, even after early-bird pricing is no longer available. It’s unclear if that offer is only available to those already signed up for the list, or if it’ll be repeated for those who sign up for the list prior to the launch of the campaign on May 26th.
Sound 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.
Line 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 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:
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.
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.
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.