Digital recording, sampling and mixing software has revolutionised the recording industry in recent years. S&S takes a look at some of the best software packages available on the market today.
As sister company to Digidesign, M-Audio has quickly established itself as a leading player in the digital recording sector, leveraging its elder sibling's landmark Protools technology to carve it's own niche in this increasingly crowded sector.
Pro Tools M-Powered is a new version of Digidesign's award-winning Pro Tools software designed specifically to work with M-Audio hardware interfaces.
Pro Tools M-Powered software boasts a number of impressive technical features, including support for select M-Audio interfaces, such as Audiophile 192, Audiophile 2496, FireWire 410, FireWire 1814 and Ozonic.
It also ensures seamless transitional workflow between studio, stage and home recording facilities.
The software boasts fully integrated MIDI sequencing and easily accepts ReWire output streams directly from applications like Ableton Live for additional digital mixing and processing duties.
With up to 32 simultaneous tracks of 16- or 24-bit digital audio, and support for up to 96kHz sample rates, the company claims Pro Tools M-Powered 7 is an ideal companion for its range of interfaces and audio interface keyboards, regardless of whether a user is recording solo or entire bands.
An optional music production toolkit expands Pro Tools M-Powered 7 to up to 48 mono or stereo tracks, and adds more effects and instruments. A multi-track version of Beat Detective and a Pro Tools MP3 option is also available.
The software's unique Beat Detective LE automatic groove analysis and correction tool supports Digidesign's Command|8 control surface for hands-on mixing.
A huge selection of optional plug-ins and applications are also available from Digidesign, Digidesign development partners, and M-Audio works on Windows XP and Mac OS X systems.
Middle East distributors: Alpha Audio (Egypt); Romco Trading (Kuwait); Rag Time Music Technology (Lebanon); Halwani AV (KSA); MediaCast (UAE).
Ableton - Ableton Live 7
Ableton Live 7 has emerged as one of the most popular loop-based software music sequencers on the market.
The boxed version of Ableton Live 7 includes the company's Essential Instrument Collection 2; a multi-gigabyte library of meticulously sampled instruments providing a choice selection of acoustic and electric pianos, guitars, bass, drums, orchestral strings, brass, woodwinds and more.
Ableton Live 7 sees the renewal of the core of Live, with enhancements to the audio engine including 64-bit mix summing, new and improved devices with side-chaining capability, better MIDI timing and hardware integration.
Also included in Ableton Live 7 are key features including time signature changes, video export, multiple automation lanes and more.
Version 7 of the software marks the arrival of Ableton's new Drum Rack, which streamlines beat production via an easy drag-and-drop interface and offers native sliced audio and REX file support.
Key features of Live 7 include: multitrack recording up to 32-bit/192kHz; nondestructive editing with unlimited undo; powerful and creative MIDI sequencing of software and hardware instruments; real-time time-stretching and warping of AIFF, WAV, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC and MP3 files, for improvisation and instant remixing; and a comprehensive selection of built-in audio effects, including a host of creative delays, filters, distortions, studio compressors and EQs.
Effect Racks enable the creation and management of complex performance setups, drum kits and multi-effects, while the inclusion of a single-screen user interface enables simple, creativity-focused operation.
Middle East distributor: MediaCast (UAE).
Steinberg Media - Cubase 4
Designed for professional music production from the ground up, the latest version of Cubase, known as Cubase 4, features a brand-new VST3 plug-in set and four new software instruments.
Manufactured by Steinberg Media Technlogies, Cubase 4 combines impressive sound quality, intuitive handling and a range of highly advanced audio and MIDI tools for composition, recording, editing and mixing.
Cubase 4 comes with a brand-new VST3 plug-in set and four new integrated software instruments with more than 1,000 sounds.
SoundFrame features a powerful combination of track presets, instrument tracks, and a MediaBay database.
It is designed to enhance the sound quality of every instrument utilised - both software VSTi and hardware.
Cubase 4's mixer offers a flexible control room section and up to four independent studio mixes. Composers and musicians benefit from an enhanced score editor while the redesigned user interface speeds up workflow and boosts creativity to new levels.
Cubase 4.1 additionally offers significant features such as sidechaining for VST3 plug-ins, free routing, a global transpose track, music XML support and more.
Cubase's collection of software instruments include Halion One, which is a Yamaha MOTIF-powered sample-based instrument based on Steinberg's renowned HALion 3 that features more than 600 instruments/sounds and 58 drum kits.
It also includes eight real-time ‘quick control' parameters and an efficiency slider to provide control over CPU load.
Prologue is a virtual analogue synthesiser with hybrid analogue and digital waveforms that features three oscillators, a multi-mode variable resonance filter, four ADSR envelope generators, two LFOs and a powerful modulation matrix. On-board effects include distortion, delay, phaser, flanger, and chorus.
Spector is based on two extremely colourful and versatile spectrum filters (developed from the spectrum page of Steinberg's D'cota VSTi). Spector includes four envelope generators, two LFOs, powerful modulation matrix and on-board effects.
Mystic's synthesis is based on three parallel comb filters with feedback.
The extension includes four ADSR envelope generators, two LFOs, powerful modulation matrix and on-board effects (distortion, delay, phaser, flanger, chorus).
Middle East distributors: Rag Time, Music Technology (Lebanon); Halwani Audio (KSA); Media Cast (UAE).
Native Instruments - KONTAKT 3
Native Instruments debuted the latest version of its software sampler, KONTAKT 3, late last year, to rave reviews from the press.
The software application features a powerful high-resolution audio engine, comprehensive sound shaping capabilities, unique KSP script programming, and universal sample format compatibility.
The latest version boasts an expanded instrument library that includes 1000 ready-to-play apps as well as improved functionality.
The library consists of six themed collections titled 'Band', 'Orchestral', 'Synth', 'Urban Beats', 'Vintage' and 'World', which together add up to more than 33GB of high-quality source material.
Each software-based instrument includes a specialised 'Performance View' panel that puts all essential sound parameters at the user's fingertips for quick and convenient control.
Drum kits include their own programmable step sequencer, world instruments offer sophisticated tuning scale options, while synthesisers come with arpeggiators and detailed voicing controls.
The sound design capabilities of KONTAKT are further extended in version 3 through the addition of a new sample editor, which enables direct editing of waveforms for audio trimming, cutting and similar tasks directly within the software interface.
Handling of loops and musical phrases greatly benefits from an improved wave editor, which offers superior slice detection, a flexible beat grid feature and the option to export sliced loops as MIDI files via drag&drop at any time.
Additional features include a new instrument navigator and monitor tab, a modulation Quick-Jump feature, and an enhanced mapping editor that makes creating and editing tracks easier.
The user interface is further augmented with a new integrated help panel that provides explanations and hints for nearly all functions and controls, making it easier to fully leverage the software's improved functionality.
Other notable improvements include several new effect algorithms, additional supported sample formats, substantially faster loading times and much more.
Meanwhile, Native Instruments' KORE software integrates an extensive range of software instruments and effects into a single, unified interface.
Within a sequencer-based studio environment, Native Instruments claims KORE acts both as an audio host and a plug-in.
In its role as host, it unites all NI and third-party VST and AU instruments and effects into a single interface.
The software can then be loaded into a sequencer as a VST, AU or RTAS plug-in, providing a standard user interface, powerful database and instant, hands-on access to all instruments and effects.
The graphical layout of the control elements in the software interface replicates exactly the layout of the Native Instruments KORE hardware controller.
Key features of KORE include the revised digital interface; an integrated mixer with send, insert, group channels and 14 high-end effects; universal compatibility with third-party digital recording systems; and Mac and Windows XP compatibility.
Middle East distributors: MediaCast (UAE); PhoenixPro Computers (Iran); Rag Time Music Technology (Lebanon).