Pro Tools Goes To 11!

Pro Tools, Protools, 11, Avid, DAW

Am I the first to make this horrid joke? I don’t know, but Pro Tools now goes to 11, which means of course it’s more better.

All joking aside, this update might be a very necessary move on Avid’s part to stay on top of the DAW game. While fears have been circulating about Avid’s financial trouble, Pro Tools still remains the industry standard for audio production, though it might be losing it’s foothold. Although I still think Pro Tools is the best for recording and editing live music, I must admit I’ve come to appreciate some of the benefits of Logic and Ableton Live over the years. If Apple’s Final Cut software displaced Avid from it’s video world throne, the apparent lack of development on Logic Pro might allow Pro Tools to reign supreme for a while longer. Pro Tools 11 has a few very important new features that bring it up to par with its competitors.

So, what’s new this time? Well, everything really. Pro Tools 11 has a totally redesigned audio engine, promising loads more processing power. And who doesn’t want that?  Users who need MOAR POWER will be happy to know that the revamped Avid Audio Engine is now built on 64-bit architecture. All of this simply means you can run more plug-ins and virtual instruments, making Pro Tools a comparable composing environment to its adversaries.

Another amazing new feature is OFFLINE BOUNCING. Why we had to wait this long for something common to other DAWS is beyond me, but it has been a major point of contention, so it’s a very welcome addition.

Other improvements are new metering options and the ability to  playback HD video. These may not seem like a big deal, but it’s the little things that make all the difference you know.

Pro Tools 11 will be available sometime later this year at these price points:

  • Pro Tools 11 software (full version) – $699 USD
  • Pro Tools 10 to 11 upgrade – $299 USD
  • Pro Tools 9 to 11 upgrade – $399 USD
  • Pro Tools Express to Pro Tools 11 cross grade – $499 USD
  • Pro Tools HD 10 to 11 upgrade – $599 USD
  • Pro Tools HD 9 to 11 upgrade – $999 USD

Arturia SparkLE Shines

Arturia, SparkLE, drum machine

I’m a sucker for sparkly things, and the Arturia SparkLE is certainly no exception.

SparkLE is a sleek hardware/software hybrid drum-machine that is bound to light up your life (nyuk nyuk) in a few different ways. Spaceship-LIGHTshow aside, this little beatbox is LIGHT, weighing in at only 1 kg (2.2 lbs.). And of course, it will simply deLIGHT you. (End of horrible pun.)

You can build beats using the step sequencer buttons or pound them out in realtime on the pressure sensitive pads. Throw down a groove with the Looper and then introduce variation with the touch sensitive XY pad, which can control 8 filter modes (including the classic Oberheim SEM filter) and 7 different Slicer modes. Engage the TUNE mode and play a synth melody on SparkLE’s 16 keys, or simply add pitch to a percussion sound.

SparkLE, Arturia, hardware software hybrid drum machine

The SparkLE sound engine boasts a wide range of ever expanding sounds, with layering, Virtual Analog, and Physical Modeling for further tweaking. The software component offers a Mix view, effects, automation & editing capabilities, and can be used as a standalone program or AU/VST/VST3/RTAS plug-in (without the hardware connected). Alternately you can map the hardware to control your DAW via MIDI, or use the included templates for Ableton LIve and Reason.

All this functionality is built into a seriously compact (284mm x 171mm x 17 mm) and portable (comes with a travel case) package. SparkLE is a truly versatile tool for a musician on the go!

Arturia’s SparkLE is an obvious competitor to Native Instruments’ Maschine Mikro. In the race to get smaller and smaller, it wins; the Spark drum controller is thinner, takes up less desk space, and the price tag is lower ($299 vs. $399 for Maschine). Although Maschine might fair better with MPC drum pad enthusiasts, I must say I prefer Spark’s keyboard/’TR’ style layout. I’d love to get the two of them in a room for a real sonic shootout sometime.

The Synth You Want: KORG MS-20 Mini [Video]

With all the hooplah going on right now around NAMM, the synth on everyone’s lips seems to be the Korg MS-20 Mini. Who can resist its teeny tiny charms? Not me, that’s for sure.

Since vanishing from shelves, the MS-20 has gone through several new iterations: a plug-in, hardware controlled version, and most recently the iMS-20 iPad app (on a side note, if you can get your hands on the hardware controller, I’ve heard it CAN also be used with iMS-20 via an Apple USB camera-connection kit.)

Korg has now taken the much beloved MS20’s guts and stuffed them into a package that is only 86% of the original size. And with space at such a premium these days, this is a serious boon to the reboot of an already much sought after classic.

Korg, MS20, MS20 mini, Namm,

Even the patch cables have been miniaturized to 1/8″ mini plugs. The only thing Korg neglected to make smaller is the gooey analog sound, which remains true to the original’s sonic girth.

One modern twist is the addition of MIDI IN and USB jacks. You can use these to send MIDI or sequence the MS-20 mini from a computer or external device (such as an iPad running one of the countless alternative touch/sequencing apps out there perhaps?).

And possibly the most important reduction – the price! At $599 the MS-20 Mini won’t shrink your wallet as much as other analog synths out there. Release date is still to be confirmed, but the word on the street is April…

Check out official Korg MS-20 mini promo video and press release below:

Korg MS-20 mini official information

The classic MS-20 –resurrected in mini size!

An analog synthesizer that reproduces the original circuitry from 1978

Korg’s MS-20 monophonic synthesizer, first introduced in 1978, is still a coveted instrument to this day, thanks to its thick, robust sound, its powerful, iconic analog filter, and its versatile patching options. Over 300,000 people have enjoyed the distinct MS-20 sounds from the original, from Korg’s MS-20 plug-in synth, and the iMS-20 iPad app.

Today, the sounds of the MS-20 have been reborn as the MS-20 Mini. The same engineers who developed the original MS-20 have perfectly reproduced its circuitry and fitted it into a body that’s been shrunk to 86% of the original size, yet retains the distinctive look of the original that remains unfaded despite the passage of time.

The MS-20 mini will amaze you with its absolutely authentic analog synth sound.

Highlights:

  • Overseen by the engineers of the original MS-20; a complete replication of the original analog circuitry:
  • 2VCO / 2VCA / 2VCF / 2EG / 1LFO structure
  • Self-oscillating high-pass/low-pass filters with distinctive distortion
  • External signal processor (ESP)
  • Extremely flexible patching system
  • Faithful recreation of the MS20 at 86% of the size
  • MIDI IN and USB connector
  • Replicates every detail of the original, down to the package binding and the included manual

A complete replication of the original analog circuitry

The MS-20 mini painstakingly replicates the original MS-20. A development team led by the original engineers themselves worked to recreate the original circuitry, and when it was necessary to substitute a part, these engineers made the decisions based on careful listening, in order to reproduce the original sound faithfully.

In fact, the sound of the MS-20 mini has a somewhat bright and extreme quality to it because its sound is that of an original MS-20 in mint condition at the time it went on sale, before any of the components aged.

2VCO / 2VCF / 2VCA / 2EG / 1LFO structure

The MS-20 mini reproduces the distinctive synthesis of the MS-20; two oscillators with ring modulation, and envelope generators with hold and delay. The VCA maintains the basic design of the original, but it’s been modified to produce less noise than the original.

Self-oscillating high-pass/low-pass filters with distinctive distortion

One of the greatest characteristics of the MS-20 was its powerful filters, which provided resonance on both the high-pass and the low-pass. Maximizing the resonance would cause the filter to self-oscillate like an oscillator, producing a distinctive and dramatic tonal change that was acclaimed as inimitable, and was later used on the monotron and monotribe. The filter circuit was changed mid-way through the production lifecycle of the MS-20; the MS-20 mini uses the earlier filter, which was felt to be superior due to its more radical sound.

External signal processor (ESP) for processing an external signal

The ESP carries on the experimental spirit of MS-20; it allows you to use the pitch or volume of an external audio source to control the synthesizer. For example you can input an electric guitar and use the MS-20 mini as a guitar synthesizer, or input a mic and use it as a vocal synthesizer.

Extremely flexible patching system

The patching system provided to the right of the panel lets you create complex sounds by plugging-in cables to change the connections between the various units. The possibilities are limited only by the user’s imagination; different combinations of the modulation input/output and trigger, sample and hold, and noise generator can produce an incredible variety of sounds. By patching according to the MS-20 flow chart that’s printed on the panel, even the beginner can start taking advantage of these possibilities right away.

Faithful recreation of the MS20 at 86% of the size

MS-20’s design concept started by borrowing from the vertical layout found on larger and more expensive modular synths of its time, and then creating a more portable, inexpensive, and easier to use version.

To make it even more approachable, the MS-20 mini has been shrunk to 86% of the size of the original MS-20. In spite of its smaller size, meticulous care has been taken to accurately reproduce the knob design and the printing. The patch cables have been changed from 1/4″ phone plugs to mini-plugs, and the newly-designed keyboard is also 86% of the original size.

Replicates every detail of the original

Our effort to remain faithful to the original is not limited to the unit itself. Even the package that contains the unit replicates the original as far as possible. Also included are the original MS-20 owner’s manual and settings chart, explaining how to create sounds. Now you can experience the excitement of the MS20, just like it was during its original release in 1978.

MIDI IN connector and USB connector

The MS-20 mini provides a MIDI IN jack for receiving note messages, and a USB-MIDI connector that can transmit and receive note messages. You can even connect the MS20 mini to your computer and play it from a sequencer.