May 8, 2024

SOUND ON SOUND reviews the One25A

SOUND ON SOUND put Amphion’s first ever three‑way monitor design to the test.

We recommend you read the highly informative and detailed review on Amphion’s 3-way full range, DSP-free studio monitor. Reviewer Phil Ward from Sound on Sound Magazine summarises his findings as follows:“The Amphion One25A eschews DSP and relies on more traditional electro-acoustic design and engineering to create a truly outstanding high-end active monitor. It ranks among the very best.”To read the full review, please visit: https://amphion.fi/newsroom/media-publications/

May 3, 2024

Z-Tone: IK’s secret weapon for your guitar tone

The Z-Tone technology can be found in the Axe I/O range of interfaces, including the original Axe I/O, the Axe I/O Solo and the Axe I/O One, plus the Z-Tone Buffer Boost Preamp/DI pedal, and the Z-Tone DI. Yes, a DI box that has tone shaping for your guitar.

The Z-TONE™ circuit lets you dial in impedance from 1 MOhm (“sharp”) down to 2.2 kOhms (“bold”) that interacts with your pick-ups.

At the maximum impedance, you’ll find your sound tighter, sharper and more precise. Increase the load and the sound becomes more thick and bold.

You’ll quickly find yourself using this to give your guitars even more sonic character – with just a few minutes’ experimentation you can dial in a sound that fits the mix beautifully, as if it’s been EQ’d.

Pick your pickup:

PASSIVE: designed to accommodate everything from low-output vintage pickups to hotter modern humbuckers with ultra-low noise and extended frequency response.

ACTIVE: bypasses unnecessary gain stages when using active pick-ups, to keep your signal path as direct, transparent and clean as possible.

Choose your channel:

PURE: a completely transparent and ultra-accurate preamp circuit that won’t colour your sound in any way.

JFET: a Class A JFET input buffer for subtle harmonic enhancement, midrange focus and warmth. A slight midrange focus adds warmth, giving you more tonal options from the same instrument.

  • PURE and JFET input stages go instantly from modern to vintage tones
  • ACTIVE/PASSIVE pickup selector optimises the signal flow from the start

The Z-TONE Buffer Boost is the ideal first pedal in your guitar pedalboard chain. It buffers your guitar signal to drive pedals and amps with the best integrity and purity of tone. Z-TONE control will open a new palette of tones from your guitar or bass and the boost switch will add that edge for solos–with maximum level and minimum possible noise.

AXE I/O ONE front panel controls, showing the Z-Tone functionality, meter and input selector.

May 2, 2024

It’s all about the camera angle (and a few other things)

The DynaCaster microphones allow for obstruction-free camera angles by eliminating the need for an external shockmount & pop filter – they are smaller and more unobtrusive than other brands of broadcast-style microphones, so making videos will feature the person speaking rather than their audio equipment.

Another important factor in microphone choice is the matter of how close the microphone needs to be to pick up the speaker’s voice – the DCM8 features a boost button (for 30dB of Dynamite boost), based on the popular DM1 Dynamite in-line booster, to improve the pickup quality from further away, once again clearing the space in front of the speaker for better video opportunities. Plus the recessed EQ switches give you the ability to tailor the sound to suit anyone’s voice.

Immediate plosive protection against the most powerful of wind blasts thanks to an integrated 3-layer pop filter. Easily disassembled and sanitised, the DCM8 has quick-drying components that don’t soak up liquid. Experience a clean, germ-free studio environment and obstruction-free camera angles since there is no need for a bulky external shockmount or pop filter.

Finally, the cost factor – competitor’s microphones are more expensive, and most need an external booster, such as sE’s own DM1 Dynamite or DM2 TNT in-line preamplifiers, making them even more costly.

May 2, 2024

Rob Kinelski & Amphion

Rob Kinelski’s journey with Amphion speakers began in 2020, not long after mixing Billie Eilish’s debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, for which he won four GRAMMY Awards. Fast-forward a few years, Kinelski has not only added more awards to his name but also many more speakers to his newly completed Dolby Atmos studio. Kinelski’s collaborated with studio designer Blake Douglas installing an Amphion 7.1.4 system for his studio in Los Angeles. “We said, ‘Let’s do it!’ We had Dolby come out and tune it, so it’s properly set up,” he says. The immersive Amphion rig includes three Two18 speakers across the front, One18s for the surrounds, and One15s above powered by Amphion’s Amp400.12 multichannel amplifier. A BaseTwo25 bass system provides stereo low frequency extension while the FlexBase25 handles the LFE information.

Kinelski’s latest award was a 2024 GRAMMY for his work on Karol G’s Mañana Será Bonito, which won in the Best Música Urbana Album category. The album previously won a Latin GRAMMY for Album of the Year as well. He also mixed Billie Eilish’s contribution to the Barbie motion picture soundtrack, “What Was I Made For?” which won this year’s Grammy for Best Song — a songwriter’s award. The song, cowritten by Eilish and her brother Finneas O’Connell, not only won a Golden Globe earlier this year, but also the Oscar at the 96th Academy Awards on March 10th.

Kinelski recalls working at a studio in L.A. soon after Eilish’s first album was released when he was contacted by Amphion’s marketing manager Julian Hyvönen on social media. “I forget exactly what he said, but he messaged me on Instagram that he loved what I did on the album, and he would love to show me their speakers. They brought a pair of Two18s to my studio to demo and I said, ‘Well, the only way to know if I like them is to mix a song.’ They went into the lounge; we ordered some food and I did a mix. I sent it out and that first version was approved. So, I thought, ‘OK, this is cool!’”

After moving to a larger space Kinelski added the BaseTwo25 to his setup, having previously been working out of a bedroom at his home during the pandemic. “When I got into a bigger room, I wanted something to play for clients, so I needed a big loudspeaker system. The Two18 combined with the BaseTwo25 are loud enough to be my mains but they also sound good. It’s not like most mains, which are just hyped up. I think they look cool as well!”

More than just looking cool, he continues, “They’re like mastering speakers, with a lot of detail. They’re not forgiving; you hear everything. Lately I’ve been using them on low [volume], and that’s been great. Because it’s easy to feel it when it’s cranked, but when you’re at low volume, how does the bass sit with everything? Does it feel flubby? That has helped with getting the bass tight.”

When Kinelski and his mix assistant, Eli Heisler, took on their first Dolby Atmos mix, they were initially unsure of the approach to take, so they invited people over to offer their opinions. “I tried a couple different versions of that first song and then we decided to just mix it the way we liked it. And that version was approved,” Kinelski says.

Whenever possible he likes to mix the Atmos version if he has already done the original stereo release. “We’ve been doing some work with Emeline, who’s on Capitol, and we’ve been doing all the Atmos mixes for her. Another project is the Sabrina Carpenter Christmas EP; I mixed five stereo songs on the EP and we did the Atmos mixes for all six songs. I feel like we’ve got a system and it’s not going to take up too much time.”

Of the many Dolby Atmos projects he has mixed so far, Kinelski says, “I think the Sabrina Carpenter EP is my favorite. We really were tasteful. I’m finding lately that my favorite way to do it is to be conservative. Because when you go too aggressive, in my opinion, it just feels distracting. It’s kind of jarring and you don’t listen to the song. It’s still fun to put stuff in places but I’m trying to get people engaged in the music. I don’t want them to be engaged in the Atmos, I want them to be engaged with the song.”

Beyond the performance of Amphion speakers, Kinelski says, “I like those guys, because I feel like they’re my friends. I can call them for anything. They’re just so supportive and they love music. It feels good to be part of something like that.”

March 14, 2024

Tube warmth for your audio interface

If you’re a singer or instrumentalist working in a small project studio with a standard interface or USB mixer, and you are looking to enhance your instrument of choice, ART’s Tube MP Studio V3, with it’s in-built 12AX7a valve, could be just the right addition to give your sound that extra something.

The Studio V3 has a variety of presets utilising the warmth of the 12AX7a valve and some careful EQing, and these presets were created and fine-tuned by some of the industry’s top studio and live-sound engineers and allow instant access to a multitude of preamp settings designed for guitars (electric and acoustic), keyboards, bass guitars, drums, vocals and more.

As Paul White from Sound On Sound magazine said in his review: “I think the Tube MP Studio V3 would make a great companion for a digital desktop studio, where its high output drive capability and tonal versatility should help the user inject a little welcome character into the recorded sound.

https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/art-tube-mp-studio-v3

The Tube MP Studio V3 offers exceptional sound quality and superior performance to what’s typically found in “on-board” preamps found in today’s low-cost mixers, multi-track recorders and audio cards making it an ideal tone-shaping tool for any application.

The Tube MP range also includes the Tube MP/C, with a built-in opto-compressor/limiter, the USB Tube MP, which can function as a standalone interface, and the ‘original’ Tube MP, with +20dB gain switch, phantom power, phase reverse and output protection limiter (OPL).

March 4, 2024

A cost-effective way to record quality guitar at home

IK Multimedia’s Axe I/O One is a cost-effective solution for recording your axe at home! It works as a 24-bit/192 kHz audio interface, specifically designed to shape the tone of your guitar or bass, with the Z-Tone instrument input, allowing you to customise with an active or passive pickup sound, or change the input tone from tighter and sharper, to thicker and bolder, to record into your favourite DAW software.

IK have included AmpliTube 5 and ToneX software downloads for further processing and shaping of your sound, giving you a perfect platform for tracking your guitars over your band recordings.

The Axe I/O One features a microphone preamp with phantom power for recording vocals with your favourite condenser microphone, the instrument input with the Z-Tone processing mentioned above, balanced stereo outs for your active monitors (plus a headphone out for quiet recording), two pedal switch inputs for controlling volume, wah, and other software effects, and MIDI IN/OUT jacks for accessing your software with foot controllers or playing devices with MIDI DAW control.

There’s also an AMP Out for connecting your guitar amp, or for reamping your ‘dry’ recorded guitar tracks!

IK’s Axe I/O Oneeverything you need to record quality tracks at home (apart from a guitar and some talent)!

November 9, 2023

Looking for the Ideal Controller (with a FREE software bundle)?

Nektar’s LX+ Series controllers are easy to set up and integrate with your favourite DAW, with complete transport control and pre-mapped controls for any DAW native plugins. Inexpensive and comprehensive, they quickly become an essential part of your work flow.

The Panorama T-Series are a more advanced alternative for more in-depth control, with Nektarine hosting software and live performance capability (with MIDI out socket).

The GXP Series USB MIDI controller keyboards are designed for players: Experience 49, 61 or 88 semi-weighted keys, with velocity and aftertouch to deliver a nice, firm touch and great playability, plus instant access to performance controls including a real-time repeat engine, powerful Nektarine plugin patch management and Nektar DAW Integration.

And all of these controller series, plus the LX Mini, are even better value now, with a FREE Cherry Audio plugin bundle containing PS-20, Mercury-6, Octave Cat, DreamSynth DS-1 synths and Stardust 201 delay plugins

Nektar DAW Integration supports Bitwig Studio 8-Track (included with LX+ and Panorama T-series), so using Nektar products and Bitwig Studio 8-Track together is a fantastic combination: If you are just starting out, this is a great way to take your first steps in the world of digital music creation. And if you’re already familiar with using DAW software you’ll be amazed at what this combination has to offer!

DAW Integration Support
August 11, 2023

Unleash the Power of iOS

Your iPhone and iPad have access to some absolutely amazing synth apps, both FREE and paid, but playing and monitoring them is limited to touching the screen and plugging in headphones.

Apps from Moog, IK Multimedia, AudioKit, Igor Vasiliev, and many others, plus Apple’s GarageBand, Steinberg’s Cubasis LE and similar recording utilities, can be brought to life with the amazing iRig Keys I/O keyboards from IK Multimedia. With 25-key and 49-key options available, the iRig Keys I/O can be a backpack travel solution or a studio performer.

With the included stand and lightning cable, the iRig keys integrates your iOS music apps into a professional audio format, thanks to the built-in audio interface and stereo outputs. The USB cable provides connection to your computer. Recording vocals? There’s also a microphone preamp combo input with switchable 48V for phantom powering your favourite condenser microphone.

The included Syntronik Pro V on iPhone

To get you started right out of the box, the Keys I/O keyboards also include a collection of vocal, sample and instrument apps, plus Cubasis LE for iPhone/iPad, and a selection of plugins, plus Ableton Live Lite for Mac/PC.

The Keys I/O can be powered by batteries, USB or an optional PSU.

IKMT_IRIG-KEYIO25: RRP $479.99

IKMT_IRIG-KEYIO49: RRP $759.99

June 26, 2023

Mixdown Magazine’s Review: Nektar LX Mini

WORDS BY GREG LONG

Sound and Music | Price: $269.99

When I was approached to review the Nektar Impact LX Mini, I’m not going to lie, I was like, meh. Yet another backpack keyboard controller. At the risk of sounding cynical, I was thinking, “Let me guess, you can play drum pads, some transport controls, and the ability to launch clips in Ableton!” So, with some considerable surprise, I’m now looking to retire a couple of said keyboard controllers and embrace the new kid on the block. The question I’m sure you’re all asking is “why?” So, let’s dig deep and see what the Impact LX Mini offers.

Nektar is an American-based company with a unique go-to-market strategy. From their website, Nektar’s aim is to, “Bridge the gap between powerful music software and controller hardware”. Don’t expect a host of software instruments and plugins that often shift with similar products. In addition to the keyboard controller and a driver installer, the only other inclusion is an eight-channel version of Bitwig Studio. The Nektar Impact LX Mini is a class-compliant USB device but if you are looking to use it with Ableton Live, the driver is required for both Windows and Mac OS X. In my testing, I used an M1 Mac and Ableton Live Suite 11, but support is provided for all of the major DAW players. (I’m very interested to check out the Avid Pro Tools integration but at the time of writing, am yet to do so).

Set up is relatively simple and the documentation is clear and concise. I tried to jump straight in, but didn’t get far. You definitely need to reference and read through and follow through the documents. It’s pretty simple so don’t worry too much. A Max for Live device offers further control functionality, but this is only compatible with Ableton Suite 11 with Max for Live installed. For full compatibility, check the product site.

One strange and glaring omission in Ableton Live, and by extension Push, is dedicated fast forward and rewind buttons. For most uses this isn’t an issue, however, if you are editing a long looping section with more than one clip selected, you have to listen to the entire loop from start to finish, even if you’re just tweaking notes at the end of the loop. There’s no way of fast forwarding or rewinding without using the mouse to click into the interface and doing so will deselect the clips in the process. This may seem small, but it has been a constant frustration of many for a long time. This, paired with FFW and REW buttons, makes the unit very attractive. On the topic of looping, the Impact LX Mini allows you to set start and end points and turn looping mode on and off, all without needing to touch the mouse. 

All of this barely scratches the surface of the functionality of Nektar Impact LX Mini. There is so much more on offer. The actual keys have secondary functions that can be accessed by holding one of the Part Two buttons. Doing so can change MIDI channels, layer an octave on top, or below, shift octaves up and down. The price is a little over $250 so it offers excellent value and adds significant workflow improvements. So, if you are in the market for a pint-sized powerhouse, it’s well worth a look. 

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