Recording

Elektron Overbridge Update Release Pushed Back Again

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Universal Audio ships OX Amp Top Box, Thunderbolt 3 Option Card for Apollo announced

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Logic Pro X 10.4: New effects, and play and mix audio without a click

Apple’s free update to Logic adds a slew of new FX. But the banner feature is Smart Tempo: record without a click, and mix and match audio, automatically.

Playing to click tracks has been the bane of DAW and sequencer users since the beginning. The idea of Smart Tempo is, you record with a human feel, and automatic detection adjusts the tempo track to match. You can then either keep those tempo changes or sync up the result to a clock. Apple confirms this is the same automatic detection we first saw in their Music Memos app for iOS. There, it may have even been overkill; here, it seems more essential.

But this isn’t just for recording. The same feature applies to imported audio, as well, making this a remix and production tool. (Apple uses the term “mashups” – uh, does anyone do that any more? I’m … just sort of hoping not. Let’s say “remix.”)

This is similar to workflows in tools like Ableton Live or Propellerhead Reason which now provide tempo-independent audio functionality, but in Logic, you see it in a more conventional DAW context – and you can be the judge of how well the automatic detection works.

Now, as with a number of Apple features, you might have seen something like this a few years ago in Steinberg’s Cubase. (Both original Logic developer Emagic and Steinberg are headquarters in Hamburg, and Apple still hires in the northern German city, so you can do some math there, as well.) But Apple’s integration promises to be more elegant – let’s test both of them and see. (Apple didn’t provide an advance copy to reviewers.)

Apple did share one demo:

New FX

Also new in this release: more effects. These are at least in part the fruits of the acquisition of Camel Audio, whose Alchemy instrument has featured large in both Logic and GarageBand. Alchemy is probably the most popular modern product of Camel, but they made great effects here – and that team seem to have been busy.

10.4 adds Vintage EQ emulations – Graphic, Tube, and Console – which in turn emulate classics like the sought-after Pulteq EQ. (That Pulteq has seen recreations by Universal Audio, Waves, and Native Instruments, too.) These look nice enough, and you can mix and match for combined precision – something not generally possible with other emulations.

ChromaVerb is an algorithmic effect – that is, these nice colored dots are meant to show you lots of different delays across the audio spectrum. That also gives it some unique controls for adjusting sound. Photo courtesy Apple.

ChromaVerb complements the existing convolution-based Space Designer and its physical models of reverberation with algorithmic, digital-style emulation. There’s some nice color animation for additional feedback, with equalization options big and front-and-center, plus a novel “attack” parameter.

Phat FX is a multi-effect that’s obviously the successor to CamelPhat – so think warmth, distortion, punch, presence. I loved the original, so I’m curious what the new take sounds like.

Sequence multiple effects – or even other sequences – in this combined rhythmic sound processing tool, and a new take from Camel greats from the past.

There’s also a step-sequenced Step FX, which combines multiple synced rhythmic effects – and even other step-sequencers – in to a multi-effect. It’s very Camel, and looks terrific:

The Drummers and Drum Kit Designer range gets more useful as Apple adds brush styles and more content, along with a new Alchemy library and other sound content. There’s also expanded support for tagging and metadata. With Native Instruments pushing their platform hard, I’m curious to see whether Apple can reinvigorate third-party development for their once-proud EXS platform. But at least included content is strong – and of course you can always add via the third-party ecosystem (meaning NI and many others).

The big reason you’re unlikely to complain about this is, you’re not going to have to pay for it – continuing Apple’s free upgrades for Logic Pro X. So it’s US$199 to enter, and then a whole mess of free regular updates. On the other hand, I do hear Apple makes other stuff that they charge money for (cough).

Speaking of that, Apple are quick to tout enhanced performance on the new iMac Pro. But I suspect a lot of you are waiting now on the promised modular Mac Pro – that is, allowing you to mix and match a monitor or monitors of your choice and upgrade display and main machine separately, which is more flexible and presumably more economical than buying these slick all-in-ones. And the dominant machine for producers by far remains the MacBook Pro. No news to report on those fronts.

Ooh, look – big graphics justifying buying new pro Apple machines. Feels like old times. Courtesy Apple.

At least computation does continue to benefit performance, for those of you pushing the envelope with high track counts and the like.

Logic Pro X 10.4 is available now on the Mac App Store.

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myMix releases myMix II flexible monitoring device for musicians

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Simmons Advanced App for iOS delivers in-depth sampling and editing for SD2000

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Roland R-07 wants to be your next recorder – and your phone’s friend

Smartphones have already changed how we think about cameras. So what about recording? The newest handheld in Roland’s popular line has one answer to that.

The R-07 is a handheld recording gadget, in the tradition of Roland (and Edirol) recorders past. That already suggests it could be a good choice. This year’s model has various high-quality modes and stereo recording, including built-in stereo operation.

Now, that already can best the internal mono mics in your smartphone. Plus, add-on mics are kind of a pain – they require different connectors, may make you worry about battery life, and then require you to position your phone in the recording location. Plus, phones generally speaking lack tripod mounts (even if there are some solutions to that).

So the R-07’s innovation is to both respond to the sleek, small design of modern phones, and to couple with your iPhone or Android phone for added functionality.

This doesn’t look quite like any handheld recorder we’ve seen yet from Roland or anyone else. It’s incredibly tiny, with a sleek design that seems more consumer gadget and less chunky pro audio device. It still manages to include one-touch access to important features, plus USB connectivity, audio jacks, and a built-in stereo mic. But it does so in a pocket form factor.

Work with the R-07 and your smartphone (hey, trousers have two pockets for a reason?), and the device expands in power. First, there’s remote control functionality. You can stick the R-09 where you want it to go – especially important if you’re using that built-in mic – then record and play and manage recordings and set levels wirelessly, over Bluetooth. (They’ve even got a nifty Apple Watch app.)

The R-07 can also stream audio from the record to your phone, via Bluetooth. And refreshed technology can mean the fidelity of that is higher than you might expect. That’s thanks to new tech from chipset maker Qualcomm called aptX. Basically, it’s a higher-quality codec optimized for improving sound quality while simultaneously improving low-latency reliability. There’s a good writeup on Android Authority covering both aptX and aptX HD variants. (iPhones don’t support aptX natively, but some dongles do; I don’t know yet if the R-07 will be compatible with those.)

You can also use Bluetooth to monitor your R-07 with Bluetooth wireless headphones – and again, if those headphones support aptX, you’ll get higher-quality, lower-latency sound. (Now we’re beginning to see some added tax to living in the Apple ecosystem, since it seems Apple is going their own way with this.)

Apart from the phone features, the R-07 looks like a darned cute little pocket recorder – like one that would actually fit in your pocket. It also solves a really big problem that may be more important than wireless operation or how it works with your phone, and that’s that it has some features to prevent you accidentally recording at a volume that’s too high.

Each time you record, the R-07 actually makes not one but two recordings – one at full level, and one at a lower level. So when the full-level recording clips, you can go back to the lower-level recording that has more headroom – even just for the portion that clips. If you’d prefer this process to be automatic, something called Hybrid Limiting automatically splices in the lower-level bits you need. Neat. I’m curious to try this in practice.

(This is hardly a pro or consumer issue. For instance, I was once in a taxi racing to the Philadelphia airport and learned my taxi driver was frustrated with Zoom’s recorders because he kept clipping his recordings when he was playing drums with a heavy metal band. This is probably potentially relevant to half the world’s population. There you go. And obviously, pros and consumers have all screwed this up at one time or another.)

The R-07 can make two simultaneous recordings—one at full level and another at a lower level with increased headroom. If there’s unexpected clipping in the main recording, you can replace that section with a portion of the lower-level backup recording. Hybrid Limiting can even handle this automatically, so you get all the safety of limiting with none of the downsides.

Features:

Stereo WAV recording, up to 24-bit/96 kHz
MP3 recording, up to 320 kbps
Included stereo mics
One-touch access to scene setups (oh, lord, having done a lot of menu diving on Zoom devices, this is welcome)
microSD slot
USB connectivity, with USB class compatibility (so you can mount it on any computer, mobile device)
Jacks: headphone out, mic/line in (that’s a stereo minijack – it disables use of the mic, but it means you can use the R-07 for external line recordings, like from a mixer in a show)
Powered by two AA batteries or USB bus power
Black, white, or red, optional bags available

With the splashy marketing materials and a launch this week at the Consumer Electronic Show, it’s clear Roland hopes this recorder will reach out to a wide, wide audience. Hope we get to try one.

Watch the overview here:

More:

https://www.roland.com/us/products/r-07/specifications/

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