(reviewed by John Verity)

 

Street price in the UK at time of review £370.00

 

Sturdily built into a compact (514mm wide/ 340mm front to back) package powered by a small wall-wart type power supply the unit is impressive straight out of the box.

The ability to record 24 tracks at a useful range of bitrates to an SD card makes the unit's potential in the education sector obvious.

Well known in the world of portastudios, Tascam have vast experience in this area and have come up with a package which looks to be much simpler in layout than many predecessors. This making for an attractive proposition for the classroom and performance space, whilst still having a good range of facilities to appeal to more experienced recordists.

8 tracks can be recorded simultaneously, making the recording of full ensemble/band performances a possibility, with the ability to mix/sweeten the recordings at a later date, and add further tracks up to a total of 24 where required. There are 24 channel faders - 12 mono and 6 stereo faders plus the master fader in typical fashion, with a master control for monitor level at the far right of the front panel. There are 8 mic/line inputs on the rear of the unit accessed via XLR/Jack combi connectors with one input selectable to a high impedance jack input for guitar or bass.

The socket for the included PSU is located at the far left looking from behind the unit, close to the facility to security-lock the unit, however there doesn't appear to be the ability to secure the power lead into the socket which could be a problem - Students beware!

TRS jacks for monitor outputs, a pair of mono effects sends and the main stereo outputs (phono) are clearly labelled, and finally the SD card slot, micro USB and power switch are located in the raised section behind the display housing.

 

The front panel above each of the first eight channels houses the input trim, phantom power switching (arranged in 2 banks of four).

Finally these 8 channels have buttons for source, record arm and select. The selected channel has it's current settings displayed, and allows access to the eq, pan and effects section.

 

In use:

As indicated earlier in this piece, the uncomplicated layout makes it possible to concentrate on the creative aspects of recording. With this in mind it is important to stress that everything a learner is likely to need to produce technically competent recordings is right here in this unit. A choice of Reverb, Delay, and Chorus effects via effect send 1 plus assignable multi-effects including the control of dynamics make stand-alone use of the unit a viable option, though the ability to transfer raw recorded tracks to a favourite DAW using the SD card means learners are not limited to the effects contained in the unit.

Recordings made by this reviewer in the course of preparing this piece are technically sound and were made with the minimum of fuss.

There is much more to this unit than time has allowed me to explore, and I feel sure that it will be a valuable tool for many in the creation of technical and performance work. Composers will be able to prepare examples of their work to a high standard and collaborate where required, again with the minimum of fuss.

In terms of level, the Tascam DP-24SD is simple enough to operate for learners at lower levels, but has enough potential to be useful to the learner creating work at the highest level, to the standard expected.

The build quality is to the high standard to be expected from this manufacturer, with results to match. Highly recommended.

                                                                                                                                                                     

 

IZOTOPE OZONE 8 Update

(Reviewed by John Verity)

Ozone 8 Standard Education: £216.58

Ozone 8 Advanced Education: £433.98

 

Well developed mastering skills are essential for learners focusing on music technology at all levels, and Ozone software has been at the forefront of technology in this area for some considerable time.

Operationally, Ozone version 8 is very similar to its predecessor Ozone 7 and for this reason I have simply focussed on the newest elements available, and included my earlier Ozone 7 review below this update for reference...

Ozone 8 introduces us to Master Assistant, a plugin designed to intelligently assist with eq and dynamics settings to create a starting point for the piece being worked on.

The process is simple, giving the learner option to load presets or a reference track of their choice, then play back a short (preferably at its loudest point) section of their own project. Master Assistant will compare the two, and set up/ load recommended EQ & Dynamics modules to suit.

In the process of writing this review I utilised Master Assistant across a number of genre with mixed success. Whilst appropriate modules were generally loaded automatically I didn't always feel that settings were particularly successful, though with a little tweaking acceptable results were pretty much always reachable. Certainly Master Assistant can create useful starting points but could lead to problems for the inexperienced learner.

Soundcraft Signature 12MTK.      Street price around £375.00.

(Reviewed by John Verity)

Soundcraft, a well-established UK company known for their range of fully professional digital consoles has drawn from its past to create an old-school analogue mixer, but with up-to-date features.

Analogue mixers continue to be a useful – perhaps essential tool in the armoury of the music educator. Sessions covering signal flow, auxiliaries, equalization and routing can be much simplified by using a console of this type which clearly and effectively allows the tutor to demonstrate the facilities, skills and effect.

Toontrack Superior Drummer 2.0 - The New York Legacy Series Vol. 1  (Reviewed by John Verity)

What is it?

Superior Drummer 2.0 is a collection of multi-microphone drum samples designed for realism when sequencing drum tracks. Superior drummer works either as a stand-alone system, or as a virtual instrument/ plug-in inside your DAW of choice. For the purposes of this piece I used it inside Steinberg’s Cubase, and Harrison Mixbus with successful results in both packages.

Getting started... Installation is from the supplied DVD’s, though a check for updates is advisable once the programme is up and running correctly. Superior Drummer uses a library of samples, and during installation you are prompted to choose from a 4GB basic install to the full 20GB Sound Library. I wanted to get the best performance possible from the package so chose the 20GB version. Installation was quite time consuming so let’s hope it’s worth the wait!

JBL EON 600 Series powered loudspeakers (reviewed by John Verity).

The JBL EON 600 Series range includes the three models shown above - 10" (25cm) Two-Way, 12" (30cm) Two-Way & 15" (38cm) Two-Way, plus an 18" (45cm} Sub-woofer. All models are self-powered with 1000 watt class D amplifiers and feature wireless remote control.

Street prices start at £349.00 for the EON 612 (12" version)

BAND IN A BOX - Intelligent Music Accompaniment Software.

(reviewed by John Verity)

Most educators reading this will be familiar with the name, but this reviewer doubts that many will be aware of the advances made to the package in recent years. The program is vast, however the developers have managed to keep it relatively easy to use despite its size.

Simply type in the chords for a song using standard chord symbols, choose tempo and time signature together with a song style from a huge range of choices and BIAB will do the rest.


TASCAM DM BB-1000CD – typical price £499.00
(Reviewed by John Verity)

The BB-1000CD is built to record virtually anything anywhere with CD-quality and is able to play music or speech with many options. Thus, it is the ideal tool for any musician, music teacher, composer, choirmaster, school, or conference room. Portable recorders seem to get smaller these days, with pages of menu to go through and very few physical controls to get your hands on – until now, that is!   A welcome return to a familiar format for the classroom / rehearsal room, the BB-1000CD from Tascam brings things up-to-date with a welcome addition to its portable recording units.

Band Creator + Looper

(Reviewed by John Verity)

The TRIO+ is a simple-to-use guitar pedal that listens to the way you play and automatically generates bass and drum parts that match your song. Just plug your guitar into the TRIO+, press the Band foot-switch to teach the TRIO+ your chords and rhythm, then press the Band foot-switch again to start playing with your own personal band!

(Reviewed by John Verity)

Conceived by Harpist Gary Garritan when developing an electronic MIDI harp and finding the need for samples with a high standard of quality and expression. Gary went on to develop the very first independent sample libraries across a whole range of instruments.

The purchaser is provided with a serial number. Register the serial and a personalized key-card (a graphic that looks like a credit card) is generated.

There is no need to purchase a separate sample player, as the ARIA Player is included with the GPO 5 sample library - GPO 5 is authorized by simply dragging the key-card into the ARIA Player. Hey Presto!

TOONTRACK EZ KEYS GRAND PIANO £99.99 (typical street price)
(Reviewed by John Verity)

A digitally sampled Steinway Model D piano and MIDI sequencer plug-in together in a package designed to aid song-writing - equally at home in the teaching environment or recording studio.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Installation was quick and easy - completely trouble-free, which is not the case with too many software packages these days..! Install from the supplied disk or download from the Toontracks website, then on first launching the programme enter the required information into the authorisation screen. If your computer is connected to the internet simply follow the instructions, if not then copy the information into the host computer. This reviewer used the latter with no problems at all...

HOFA SYSTEM Plug-in modules. (reviewed by John Verity)

20 modules which can be combined or used separately.

Reverb, delay, EQ, compression, distortion, pitch, expander, gate, gain, pan, metering, pink noise, modulation, and more....

HOFA System provides most of what we have come to consider our essential plug-ins for day-to-day studio work, all at a current introductory price of €59.90.

(Reviewed by John Verity)

Downloaded, installed and registered painlessly via the Toontrack website, EZdrummer 2 was soon up and running in my DAW. For the purposes of this review I also auditioned the programme standalone, triggered by keyboard and a MIDI drum set.

Both approaches worked seamlessly, with both Cubase, and Harrison Mixbus recognizing the plug-in instantly.

The screen/GUI labelled ‘Drums’ shows the currently loaded kit – The five (5) complete kits and additional instrument choices included in EZdrummer 2 are divided over two separate sound libraries – one Modern setup and one Vintage set-up.

HK AUDIO L.U.C.A.S SMART active speaker system - approx. £800
(Reviewed by John Verity)
HK Audio from Germany manufacture a range of high quality systems using the latest technology to provide solutions across all areas of sound reinforcement, but I felt that their L.U.C.A.S systems could easily fit into music education for a variety of reasons.

All systems in this range use a compact sub-woofer with a pair of satellites - the sub-woofer also houses the power amplifiers so the heavy stuff remains on the floor