AF’s Weblog

July 23, 2012

Ultrasone Pro 2900 Review

Filed under: Headphones — Tags: , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 10:34 am

To read other conclusions by our editors see:  Ultrasone Pro 2900 Review

The Ultrasone Pro 550 didn’t convince us when we compared headphones under $150. But the brand is famous for its high-class headphones. So what about the Pro 2900, the flagship in the Ultrasone product range?

Los Teignos’ Conclusion

Ultrasone Pro 2900Ultrasone certainly brought some fresh air to the market of pro-audio headphones with original products that are very appealing compared with the standard tools from Beyer, AKG or Sennheiser. In fact, the sound signature of this Pro 2900 will surprise many users with its extreme low-end and sharp high-end. But you’ll quickly come to understand that these features are real advantages because this pair of headphones emphasizes exactly the information that is inhibited by the other headphones. I’m not sure of whether these are the ideal headphones if you’re looking for absolute sound neutrality, however they are already a reference.

Advantages:

  • Reproduction of very high frequencies
  • Reproduction of very low frequencies
  • Accessories and packaging
  • A strong personality without competitors
  • Technology reducing electromagnetic radiation

Drawbacks:

  • Commitment to a sound signature that won’t be every user’s taste
  • Ear-cup cushions tend to unscrew too easily

To read other conclusions by our editors see:  Ultrasone Pro 2900 Review

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August 4, 2011

Tech Gear Roulette

Filed under: Hardware, Software — Tags: , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 8:50 am

Live by these 7 rules if you want your budget to survive technological changes.

I met Billy Bumluck at a video store in the early 80s. We were both proud owners of new VCRs; he was browsing in the Beta section, I was looking at VHS. “You use VHS?” he asked. When I nodded, he said “Too bad, man. Beta is the only way to go — better picture, more reliable, and it has Sony behind it. Your VHS machine will be a doorstop next year, so enjoy it while you can!”

We talked a bit more, and I found out he was a guitarist and technology fan, so we kept in touch. A couple years later, I got a call. “Hey, you gotta check out this new Amiga computer! It has separate chips for graphics and audio, does sampling better than a Fairlight, and has some great games.” So I went over to his house, and sure enough, it ran circles around the Macs, Ataris, and PCs of its day. “No more Beta mistakes for me,” said Billy. “This baby’s made by Commodore, and considering they’ve sold 6 million Commodore-64s, I don’t think they’ll be going out of business any time soon.”

Well, after the Amiga died, Billy had enough. “Okay,” he said, “I’m getting a Mac. There’s a fantastic program called Vision, it’ll wipe the floor with your Master Tracks Pro. It will be the perfect complement to my Sequential Circuits and Oberheim synthesizers.” And for a while, it looked like Billy made the right choice, especially when Opcode added hard disk recording to MIDI sequencing. “Craig, nothing’s going to stop those Opcode guys. No one else is doing hard disk recording and MIDI, I’d buy stock in them if I could.”

 

Then Opcode was sucked into the BHDC (Black Hole of Dead Companies). Billy was pretty shaken this time, and had heard stories of Apple going through problems. So about a year ago, he decided to switch to a PC. “There’s a billion of ?em out there. This is one standard that won’t die on me.” I told him Apple wasn’t going anywhere, but he was adamant. “Nope, no more obsolete stuff for me, and no more little companies. I’m going out right now and getting Logic Windows!”

 

Billy never was the same after Emagic dropped Windows support. Last I heard, after his savings evaporated with the collap

se of Enron and Worldcom, he went to a back-to-nature commune in Montana, with no electricity or television. Oh yes, and with an acoustic guitar to replace his Yamaha G10 MIDI guitar.

There’s a little of the Billy Bumluck magic in all of us. My Commodore CDTV sits alongside some other ill-chosen relics of technology past, each one representing a costly mistake. But they seemed like such good ideas at the time…

 

With technology changing on a seemingly daily basis, you don’t just buy gear any more — you have to be a soothsayer. How can you protect yourself? How can you stay ahead of technology and bankruptcy court? Here’s the scoop.

 

Rule #1: You will Make Mistakes

Resign yourself to it. If huge companies can make mistakes after spending zillions of dollars on focus groups and product research, so can you. Maybe you got sucked in by the ads, maybe you just got taken by something that didn’t pan out. The object is to minimize these mistakes so they don’t devastate your checking account.

 

Some people end up with Purchasing Paralysis, where they won’t buy anything out of fear that something better is coming around the corner. Well, something is, so get used to it. The secret to avoid getting burned is not to lose money on an investment.

 

For example, suppose you bought an original, 16-bit Alesis ADAT for $4,000. As you sit mousing around with your shiny new DAW, that might have seemed like a mistake. But if you did projects on it that earned you $10,000, it was a wise investment indeed — you more than doubled your money (better than what you’d get from a bank, for sure).

 

Always consider return on investment (ROI). I was debating whether or not to buy a Minidisc when it first came out, because they were pretty expensive back then, and the survival of the format was in question. But I did, and wrote enough articles about MD and how to use it that I made money on the deal. MD could disappear tomorrow, and my buying it would not have been a mistake.

So the question is not “Am I buying something that will become obsolete?” because you know that you are. The correct question is “Can I amortize the value of this investment before it becomes obsolete?” If buying something will make you more money than not buying it, get out the checkbook. Simple as that.

Let’s take a look at the other rules to follow…

Rule #7: The best way to cope with technology is to put it in its place

I have a hammer that’s 20 years old. I’m sure that since then, the metals used in them have been improved, the handles have become easier to grip, and the weight is now distributed more ergonomically. But you know what? It drives nails just fine.

 

My main hardware synthesizer is 16 years old. My DAT deck is a TASCAM DA-30 (the original one). Then again, I have some fantastic soft synths, and two flat screen monitors. The point is, I don’t let technology rule me (“You have to buy a better DAT, you must go surround”). I rule technology: I pick and choose those things that are going to help my music.

 

I also either jump in as an early adopter, pay the premium price, and milk something for all it’s worth, or get in on the tail end of a technology when it’s proven, reliable, and inexpensive. I bought one of the first Panasonic DA7 digital mixers, and now you can buy them on blowout at a fraction of what I paid. Do I mind? Not at all: I’ve gotten so much use out of it, and made so much off of projects done with it, that not buying it would have been a major mistake.

 

I’ll leave you with this: when it comes to technology, you’re the boss. Fulfilling your needs is all that should matter. Good luck making the right choices!

To read the full article see: Tech Gear Roulette

February 17, 2010

Spectrasonics Trilogy is Dead: Long Live Trilian!

Spectrasonics Trilian Software Review

Spectrasonics has been living a love story with bass guitars for sixteen years. A long time before Omnisphere, Stylus and the famous Distorted Reality, one of the first products developed by Eric Persing and his team was Bass Legends – a sample bank CD dedicated to three of the most renown bass players on earth: Marcus Miller, John Patitucci and Abraham Laboriel.

When it comes to virtual bass, the manufacturer struck a decisive blow in 2002 with Trilogy. Based on the UVI Engine from Ultimate Sound Bank (the same audio engine used on Plugsound and MOTU’s MachFive) and an enormous sample bank (for those days: 3 GB), Trilogy quickly became the market’s reference in its category. The reasons for its success were the careful and accurate sampling and the huge sound it provided – Spectrasonics’ hallmark – but, above all, a versatility competitors couldn’t keep up with. Modern, vintage, acoustic, electric, or synth bass sounds combined with finger, pick and slap playing techniques: it had just about everything, including a wonderful double bass. There were people who preferred the sound character of the Quantum Leap Hardcore Bass (vintage to distorted sharp sounds adequate for rock, industrial and big beat music) or Scarbee’s detailed and plastic bass sound, yet there was no choice but to accept that no competitor could offer such versatility/quality ratio as Trilogy did. However useful to program convincing bass parts (thanks to the True Staccato programs that provide hold notes for the four lowest octaves and staccato notes for the four higher octaves in the same patch), Trilogy wasn’t perfect: some criticized its lack of character while others didn’t like the “oversized” sound of the instruments, which was stunning for solo parts but too big for a full mix…

When compared to the latest Scarbee or Pettinhouse products, it’s obvious that Trilogy cannot conceal its age, from a technical point of view. That’s why we are very happy to welcome Trilian.

Big Mama

Spectrasonics Trilian

The good news is Trilian’s sound bank includes more than 21,000 samples, which is about ten times as much as its predecessor. Apart form all the samples included in Trilogy, which guarantee full compatibility with your previous projects, you also get a plethora of new instruments for a total of 1,290 patches! It has every possible electric bass, from Fender to Music Man, Yamaha, Epiphone, Lakland, and Fodera; the synth bass category increased to 333 sounds taken from the best synthesizers of the last 50 years: Novation Bass Station, Yamaha CS-80, Cwejman Modular, Moog Minimoog, Little Phatty, Voyager & Taurus, Korg MS-20, Oberheim, ARP 2600, Roland Juno 60/106, Waldorf Pulse, DSI Mopho & Tetra, Roland TB-303, SH-101, Metasonix KV-100 Assblaster, SE-1, Omega, ATC-1, etc. And that’s it? Not quite! Spectrasonics also added a Chapman stick plus all instruments included in its good old Bass Legends, as well as – we kept the best for last – two new double basses that got special attention from the manufacturer with up to twelve velocity layers, 6x round robin and an absolutely jaw-dropping sound.

Now let’s take a closer look…

Conclusion

Based on our previous experience with Omnisphere and Trilogy, Trilian is indeed the killer tool we were expecting. Besides the absolutely perfect sample material and its huge editing and processing possibilities, Trilian’s main assets are its amazing versatility and affordable price. True, Native instruments offers Scarbee basses for €89 each providing the same quality as Spectrasonics. But you only get one bass model recorded either via a DI box or an amp. With Trilian you get numerous bass models recorded via a DI box and an amp, a comprehensive bass synth library, a Chapman stick, a double bass, a fretless bass, etc. This software has no direct competitor on the market. Period.

The fact that Trilian works perfectly with Stylus RMX and Omnisphere makes it a must-have for certain musicians. As a former Trilogy user – and lover – I can honestly say that the quality of both programs cannot be compared (Trilogy is eight years older…).

The only con Trilian has are its very high system requirements. You can always lower the quality of the patches or use the the freeze function of your host sequencer if your system is not powerful enough, but it’s still a bit perplexing to see a bass take up so much system resources…

Nonetheless, Mr Persing and his team stroke a decisive blow once again and it will be very difficult to try to compete with them considering the price of the product…

Advantages:

  • Very comprehensive bass library
  • DI box and amp sound
  • All articulations that were missing in Trilogy to create authentic bass parts (hammers, slides, etc.)
  • Round Robin function
  • Overall sound quality
  • Editing and processing possibilities
  • Integration in Omnisphere and Stylus
  • Wonderful double bass
  • Chapman stick – a rarity
  • Affordable price

Disadvantages:

  • Too complex for people looking for a simple bass sound
  • (Too) high system requirements
  • HTML user’s manual without any information on how to program the software

To read the full detailed article see: Trilian Review

January 12, 2010

Winter NAMM 2010

Filed under: NAMM 2010 — Tags: , , , — audiofanzine @ 12:00 pm

The holiday season is over and the dark days of winter are cramping your style?  In Anaheim the party is just getting started.  Like every winter, and it wouldn’t be winter without it, NAMM comes crashing in with the latest in musical instruments, audio gear, lighting equipment, recording hardware etc. etc.  It’s a beautiful thing, both in timing and location, and like every year we are perched on the edge of our seats with anticipation- what magics will be unveiled at NAMM this year?  Which manufacturer will stun all others?  Stay tuned to find out.

During and after NAMM we will post key photos/videos right here.  In addition for complete coverage visit our exclusive NAMM 2010 page:  Winter NAMM 2010

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