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Gadget Inspector: Mixer Match

imultimix8usb_angle_lg

[Photo: Alesis iMultimix 8 USB]Your

mix: Whatever you do with it, however you choose to represent, what comes out

of the speakers is your stamp, your sound and how you are identified.

 

Mixers

and controllers are everywhere, in every price range. Checking out everything

at the winter NAMM show in California would have required 24/7 for at least a week, but the

Gadget Inspector only had three days.

 

Here

are a few to get you started, whether you’re working from home, online or in

the clubs.

 

Stanton

set out to design the ultimate controller, not only one that kicks ass now, but

also one that will be adaptable for future software versions. Their SC System

DJ Controller is the Muhammad Ali of controllers—floats like a butterfly,

stings like a bee. If you’ve never been behind the deck, this gem will make you

want to start.  

 

Stanton’s

product specialist and resident DJ, B-Side, demoed the SC at NAMM all weekend,

not in that “I’m up here, you’re down there, watch and listen” way, but instead

by bringing folks up to the platform to go side-by-side with him and really

feel the mix and vibes. Un-effin’-believable!

 

Here’s

what B-Side told us about the SC System: “The majority of controllers on the

market are blank boards with no LED or feedback. They’re designed from a

producer’s standpoint, not a DJ’s standpoint. Only highly skilled or very

technical DJs have been successful with them, and therefore they haven’t had

full market adaptability. So we started with ergonomics, and current stereo and

analog controls, and incorporated the SoundPoint and FireWire capabilities

needed for running software.

 

“We

added more feedback and control than the standard unit. The SCS1M mix

controller has four channels in standard mixer layout, and we incorporated a

navigation section similar to a computer. You scroll with the dial and load the

track. When you’re ready to play, use the CD transport control on the deck with

a spinning platter. We went with a 10-inch design because that’s the space a DJ

needs to manipulate vinyl and the maximum space we could use without making it

too large.

 

“So,

everyone thinks this mixer is standard analog, but it’s a controller, and you

have to have the software to feed it back and use the controls and change the

setup. It’s Mac and PC friendly, uses FireWire in order to daisy-chain up to

four decks together with one mixer, and depending on your software, you may

have a virtual deck.”

 

Stanton

lists the SC System as “designed to fully empower laptop DJs and desktop

producers.”

 

Why

should you invest? B-Side recaps:

 

1)

Ergonomics and feedback. You get exact layout and control with analog on a

controller.

2)

No other unit gives as much feedback and control with encoders, faders and

setups. The navigation bank is built in and has a built-in soundcard. No

external card is needed. But you can use it in cooperation with another

soundcard.

3)

Our deck has 10-inch motorized platters that fully automate with the software,

motorized faders and velocity-sensitive pads.

 

The

SC System DJ Controller is available in April/May: deck $1199, mixer $799. Check out DJ B-Side at NAMM showcasing the SC System:

 

Lexicon

reaches out on three levels, to three budgets, with their $99 Alpha, $148

Lambda and $199 Omega desktop recording studios. Keeping it top-of-the-line

while keeping it affordable, you can’t go wrong with any of these systems.

 

All

three feature a compact I/O mixer, Steinberg Cubase LE4 software and Lexicon

reverbs. Front-panel controls let you adjust Direct/Playback mix and input

levels, toggle monitoring between stereo and mono, plug in an instrument

directly and monitor with headphones.

 

The

Alpha is Lexicon’s smallest model, but it still packs a lot of punch for the

money. It’s perfect for solo artists recording one track at a time, or for when

you’re at home laying down your demos. USB powered, you just plug it into your

computer.  

 

The

Lambda is a great headphone system and does not require a power supply. With

four inputs and two outputs, you can record two tracks at once. It also

features phantom power for condenser mics, MIDI In/Out, and is USB-powered

directly into your computer. 

 

When

it comes to critical mixing, the Omega rules. With eight inputs, you can record

up to four tracks at once. It offers phantom power for condenser mics, as well

as S/PDIF digital I/O along with standard TRS and XLR. AC adaptor included. Great stuff, and it’s all affordable.  

 

For

years, the rap and Hip-Hop hierarchy have trusted Akai to come out with some of

the best and most innovative products. Akai has ruled the market and remained

on the cutting edge with their ongoing research and development.

 

New

at NAMM was their MPC5000. Brace yourselves: this baby ain’t cheap. At $2499—it

even hurts to type those numbers!—it’s a bank breaker for most. But if you’ve

got the high-end home studio or your own offsite place (or, for the freeloadin’

fellas out there, a gainfully employed girlfriend who believes you when you

tell her you’re “gonna be the next Jay-Z, baby!”), with all the MPC5000 has to

offer, it merits mention. 

 

First

of all, it ships with an 80-gig hard drive with over 300 Virtual Analog synth

presets and 650MB of drum samples. It has 64-voice drum/phase samples with 64MB

memory expandable up to 192MB, pad and track muting and mixing, 12 Q-Link

controllers and turntable inputs with preamp.

 

Let’s

continue: A 20-voice, three-oscillator analog synth with arpeggiator, which Akai

tells us has never been done before. This is a very strong-sounding system with

eight tracks of streaming audio hard-disc recording, four FX busses with two FX

per bus for total of eight FX, master EQ and compressor, USB 2.0 port for

computer connectivity, an optional CD-R/DVD drive, continuous Sample Track for

perfect play sync at all times, two MIDI inputs and four MIDI outputs, and

we’ve only scratched the surface.

Check out the MPC5000 demo straight from the NAMM convention

 

From

Alesis comes something for everyone, and so much more.

Their

iMultimix 8 USB is a mixer and audio recording workstation with a universal

dock for your iPod. This all-in-one is perfect for home use, podcasts,

performances and studio recordings. It features guitar/line inputs, iPod

playback for immediate mixing, and the iTunes transfer feature moves recordings

to your computer and mixes to CD-quality stereo.

 

The

8 has four high-gain mic/line preamps with 48V phantom power, a built-in

limiter to avoid distortion, and three-band EQ per channel. You get a Voice

memo function, the ability to record WAV files, and it comes loaded with Cubase

LE and 100 onboard 28-bit digital effects: Reverb, Chorus, Flange and Delay.

 

All

the iPod controls are on the board—put your iPod in the dock and you don’t need

to touch it again. You get all of this for only $299. For $599, you can go with

the iMultimix 16 USB, which has all the feature of the iMultimix 8, but double

the mic input and stereo to 16-bit, and digital output for two simultaneous

tracks.

 

New

for 2008 from Alesis is the MultiPort, which allows you to record to your iPod

on your computer. With built-in level meters, headphone monitoring and

integrated iPod controls, simply insert your iPod, connect to your computer and

record. The MultiPort has headphone monitoring and playback capabilities while

recording. This one’s a steal at $199.

 

The

Alesis Master Control is a bit steeper at $799, but what a piece of gear: an

all-in-one audio interface, control surface and audio monitoring solution.

 

It

has nine 100mm motorized touch-sensitive faders and eight 360-degree virtual

knobs, a built-in talkback mic, LCD screen, removable templates for preset

overview, two mic line inputs with phantom power and channel inserts, eight

built-in analog inputs, six analog outputs, full MIDI I/O, dedicated transport

control, multifunctional jog wheel, assignable buttons, preview button, foot

switch, ADAT and MIDI in- and output, expandable audio inputs for up to 26

simultaneous inputs, FireWire and Cubase LE.

 

The

Master Control is compatible with most digital audio workstation software

products.

Here’s some footage of the Alesis crew at NAMM:

 

Yamaha’s

MG166cx mixing console, at $479, offers a remarkable package for such a

reasonable price, along with the quality that makes Yamaha a leader year after

year.

It has

16 input channels, six buses, 10 mics plus four stereo line inputs, eight

insert I/O, 48V phantom power switch, a three-band MIDI sweep, three-band EQ,

two Aux sends and one Effect send, one stereo aux return, a high-quality mic

preamp, six compressors, 60mm super smooth fader, SPX Digital multi-effect,

monitor mix and it’s rack mountable. This one’s ideal for recording your live

performances.

The MG166cx won the Top PA Mixer for 2008 at the NAMM Convention

 

If you’re a DJ, chances are you know, and maybe even own, Numark

gear. If you don’t, or if you’re looking to expand your tools, you’ll want to

look into their three new bundles: Total Computer DJ in a Box, Mobile Computer DJ in a

Box and Professional Computer DJ in a Box. (MAP:

$499.95, $699.95 and $899.95, respectively.)

All offer all-in-one solutions for DJs of any

level, are Mac and PC compatible, and come with cables and software for

immediate plug-and-play.

 

Total Computer DJ in a Box is ideal for DJs just

starting out. With CUE DJ software and the Total Control DJ tabletop software

controller, you’re 100 percent hands-on with your mixes. The bundle includes

Native Instruments’ Tracktor LE, along with Numark’s DJiO audio interface and

HF-125 DJ headphones.

 

Mobile Computer DJ in a Box features CUE DJ

software, JDiO audio interface, PHX DJ headphones, DMC2 professional rack-mount

DJ software controller, looping and cueing options, fader buttons with

automatic crossfade, key-lock and more.

 

Professional Computer DJ in a Box is Numark’s

complete DJ rig, transforming your laptop or desktop computer into a DJ

workstation. It includes CUE DJ software, PHX headphones, DMC2 controller, and

CM200 five-channel Pro DJ Mixer with USB audio interface for super-fast mixing

and recording into your computer.

Numark’s Professional Computer DJ in a Box demo at NAMM:

 

Next time: personal recorders and some way-cool

stuff we just have to turn you on to.

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