Here's a roundup of some of the products I saw at the annual AES show that piqued my interest. Digidesign unveiled the Beta version of Pro Tools 8. Earlier this year, I sent my contacts at the company a wish-list of features. Since then, I've had a number of conversations with them and gained some insight into what could or couldn't be implemented. Number one on my list was automatic delay compensation with unlimited amounts of delay (to reason) in all versions of PT-unfortunately not in PT 8 due to design constraints in the Digidesign Audio Engine. One item from my list that is functioning in the new Beta is support for more audio tracks. LE and M Powered versions will max out at 48 mono or stereo tracks out of the box and 64-128 tracks depending on which toolkit options you add. Another wish come true is multi-lane track editing. Tracks can now be displayed as one lane per playlist, so comping (compositing) multiple takes into a master playlist (or multiple masters) is now much easier to do. Plus, Digidesign really got comping right. Contrarily, Apple Logic's quick-swipe comping ("borrowed" from SONAR) is too limited in practice, and Cubase/Nuendo's multi-lane editing also has problems (as explained in this issue's review of Nuendo.) Also, PT 8 has a brand-new look that's no longer rife with grey, circa-1988, beveled buttons, and the GUI better supports often-used workflows. Informative videos and an overview of new features are at ••• I'm super-psyched to try out the new MADI Xtreme PCIe cards from SSL. SSL were showing the cards alongside their MADI-equipped XLogic interfaces and converters (Tape Op #58). As many of you know, I use an RME HDSPe MADI card (#63) for 64 channels of I/O. SSL's MADI Xtreme 128 supports 128 channels from a single PCIe card! ••• Auralex is committed to being the first green acoustic treatment company. Eco-Tech sound absorption panels utilize 100%-recycled polyester manufactured without harmful CFCs, and they exhibit performance on-par with traditional fiberglass. Even their bog-standard StudioFoam is now made with soy-based hybrids and therefore less petroleum. ••• Cakewalk V-Studio is an integrated hardware/software music production environment utilizing purpose-built Roland hardware and SONAR 8 software. Although I was privy to a 15-minute private demo at the AES show, I am planning an actual hands-on at Cakewalk's Boston headquarters, so expect more in a future issue. ••• The updated Universal Audio LA-610 MKII has a number of enhancements, including larger meter, true compressor bypass, and a higher-quality output. I have many friends and colleagues who love the original LA-610 and consider it their desert-island recording channel. ••• The Tube E recording channel from Blackmer Sound, headed by the two sons of David E. Blackmer (of dbx fame), takes a unique approach to adding character to a mic'ed signal. ••• Radial Engineering always impress me with their seemingly simple, "no duh" products that are extremely well executed. They were showing an on-wall, fold-out, virtual vocal booth that can work as a multi-surface absorber, reflector, or diffuser. Other products on demo included a flat-shippable (IKEA-style) compact "computer condo" with active ventilation for silencing your rig, an acoustic guitar preamp/mixer under the Forest Audio brand-name, and 500-series modules of popular Radial devices. ••• The coolest thing I saw at AES? Neutrik convertCON male/female-convertible XLR connector in action. Utterly nonpareil. I can see it solving many problems, but I can also imagine plenty of blown mics and damaged gear from all the mis-wiring that will ensue due to this instantly- convertible XLR connector. Check out for a Flash animation. -AH

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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