This Fall’s AES Convention was moved from the Cliffhold Meeting Hall to New York City. What a pain in the neck to travel.  It took us what felt like 1,000,000 Grimnals to arrive and even longer to park the Transport Ship.


Have you ever tried to park a Transport Ship in midtown NYC? Traffic police are relentless, and there are only a few lots with spaces large enough to hold the craft.  Anyway the trip was worth it because we saw tons of great gear, some of which we’ve already laid down credits for.  Here are a few of the highlights…


We’re In Orbit


It’s rare that I get excited by hardware (other than Ion Drive) but one look at the new microphone stands from Triad-Orbit™ changed that.  Bearing almost no resemblance to the mic stands we use in the Cabaret on Coruscant, Triad-Orbit has redesigned just about every aspect of the beast.


Each leg of the base has four ratcheted positions enabling you to change the tilt of the stand and lock it into place.  To reset the leg’s position you tap a small foot pad on the base and it returns to the original position.


The Orbital Booms utilize a stainless steel ball swivel mechanism for a range of motion over 360 x 220 degrees, and you can tighten them down with a finger.  The booms incorporate IO Quick-Change Couplers for rapid swapping. 


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The same couplers are used to exchange mic clips and booms so you can freely change a straight stand into a boom stand in seconds.  These things are sexier than Darth Talon. Prices start at $179


Cymatic Audio displayed their Live Recorder LR 16 stand-alone desktop/portable multitrack recorder.   


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The Live Recorder LR 16 uses the existing analog inserts of a mixing console for direct routing of to 16 audio tracks, records audio to a thumb drive or hard drive at sample rates up to 48 kHz, and is Core Audio compliant. $599


The Emperor’s New Microphones


The Emperor was shopping for a new microphone for his StarPodCasts and we saw many possibilities.  From AEA came the N22 NUVO, an active ribbon mic designed to bridge the gap between vintage and modern ribbon mics.


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The N22 is phantom powered, using JFET electronics and a custom German-made transformer to optimize performance with a wide range of preamps including the USB or FireWire audio interfaces popular in home studio setups. $999


Though not a new product per sé (we’ve used it on Jablim for years) the Coles 4030L is now available in the United States.


Utilizing the same ribbon assembly as the established Coles 4040 and 4050 models, the 4030L is intended for studio use and features a response that is very flat from 50 to 20,000 Hz.  The 4030L is suited for critical recording applications and its figure-8 pickup pattern remains consistent both vertically and horizontally across the frequency range. $1,099


Neumann showed off their latest, the TLM107 multipattern condenser microphone.


The TLM107 is the first Neumann microphone to employ electronic switching for the pattern, pad and high-pass filter adjustments.


A new capsule inspired by that of Neumann’s D-01 is capable of producing five patterns: cardioid, omnidirectional, and figure-8, plus the intermediate wide-cardioid and hypercardioid patterns. The TLM 107 is recommended for use with vocals, percussion and stringed instruments, and features a grill designed for reducing the effects of popping sounds.


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Self-noise is a very low 10 dB-A and the TLM107 can withstand a maximum SPL of 141 without the pad switched on (153 dB with pad). $1699


A relative newcomer to the Audio Empire is Ronin Applied Sciences.


The company is reported to have made weapons for the Onderonian military, and showed two hefty mics both of which employ outboard power supplies and definitely look like they can hurt you.


Details on their Thunderbird microphone are tougher to find than Quella but we believe that it is a tube condenser microphone with a proprietary power supply.  That came as no surprise but what did surprise us was the fact that their Dove microphone also uses it’s own power supply. It’s a surprise because the Dove is a solid-state condenser that does not reply upon traditional phantom power.


Freed from the constraints of 48-volt phantom power technology, the Dove’s high current circuit (40mA) enables the mic to drive any load or length of cable, at any capacitance with no change in sound quality.


The elimination of DC via active servos allows direct coupling between the circuit and output transformer (no output coupling capacitor) and the dual-rail circuitry (+18/-18 volts) and separate 60-volt supply the result in lower distortion, and high headroom. Price $TBA


Live performers will be interested to hear about the Shure KSM9HS handheld vocal mic, a close relative of the Shure KSM9.


The ‘9HS can be switched between hypercardioid or subcardioid patterns using a toggle hidden underneath the headgrill.


The internally shock-mounted capsule features a low-mass Mylar™ diaphragm and the internal amplification circuitry is Class A/transformerless for increased headroom and low noise.  For those of you who failed the Emperor’s seminar on microphone transducer design, the subcardioid pattern falls between omni and cardioid and is forgiving when used with performers who move around the mic a lot. I can’t wait to try this one on Shirley. $699


Zoom uncloaked their H6 Handy Recorder, a handheld unit that records up to six tracks simultaneously onto to SD, SDHC or SDXC memory cards.


The H6 can record WAV files up to 24-bit/96kHz as well as a variety of MP3 formats. It includes detachable XY and MS mic pair ‘heads’ which can be swapped for optional shotgun or XLR/TRS attachments.


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Each track has its own record arm button so recording is as simple as arming the track and pressing the record button (duh). No menus required except the one from the Galatina. $399


Sonnox showed us a demo of the Codec Toolbox, an affordable plug-in for encoding music for the web.


Released as a partnership with Fraunhofer, the Toolbox consists of two applications. The Toolbox Plug-In allows you to audition a mix in real-time through various codecs (mp3, AAC and iTunes) so you won’t have to mix, encode, listen and then make adjustments to ensure that your mixes sound good when converted to various formats.


A batch encode feature allows simplified processing of multiple files simultaneously and the ‘Clip Safe’ feature compensates for any “overs,” keeping your mix free from clipping.  Toolbox Manager is for encoding and adding metadata such as track names and artwork. The Toolbox can also decode mp3 or AAC files to WAV or AIF file formats(!) $49


I Only Have Eyeballs For You


One item we saw warmed our hearts because it reminded us of the Death Star bathed in UV light: The Kaotica Eyeball is an acoustic isolation sphere roughly eight inches in diameter into which is placed a vocal microphone.  It isolates the microphone from the surrounding acoustics and provides a pop filter on the front to reduce plosives without coloring the sound of the mic.


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The brains behind the Eyeball are that the acoustics of the environment are isolated from the microphone, so regardless of where you are recording the vocal sound will remain consistent.  And since the Eyeball is almost weightless  — much like a Death Star in orbit — you can take it anywhere. $199


Next month we’ll take a look at more of the Stars from Fall AES.


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