Byline: Markkus Rovito



In the cutthroat world of turntables, innovation continues to be key. In the case of Gemini’s PDT-6000 ($499.95) turntable, a key is also the innovation. This professional deck includes a key-control fader that lets the DJ determine the key of the song without changing its pitch. This fader sits next to the pitch-adjustment fader, which enacts a pitch range of [+ or -]4, [+ or -]8, [+ or -]16 or [+ or -]35 percent. Dedicated buttons select the pitch range, and a Master Tempo control is also present. This direct-drive turntable with Quartz Lock is big on digital convenience, offering a digital LCD that displays the bpm value of the PDT-6000’s fully automatic bpm counter and the pitch value. A digital output adds to the phono and line-level analog outputs. A high-torque motor reaches 33? rpm from a stopped position in a half-second and starts with 3 kg of torque per centimeter. The PDT-6000 operates at 33, 45 or 78 rpm and offers reverse play. The S-shape tonearm has an arm-height adjustment range of 0 to 6 mm. Gemini; e-mail; Web



MOTU has created an audio interface that is just as useful onstage as it is in the studio, with or without a computer. The 828mkII ($799.95) provides 20 inputs and 22 outputs with 24-bit, 96kHz quality in a 1U rackmount chassis and connects it all to a computer via a FireWire cable. It also can act as a stand-alone mixer and allows access to all of its settings from the front-panel backlit LCD. Audio connections break down to 10 analog recording and playback channels, eight channels of ADAT digital I/O and stereo S/PDIF. The unit has separate stereo main outputs and a front-panel headphone out. MIDI I/O also supplies 16 channels of MIDI to a computer via FireWire. Simply add more 828mkII or MOTU 896 FireWire interfaces to expand the system. Also included are preamplified sends on the two analog mic/guitar/instrument inputs, so users can insert outboard processing to the signal path and use any input as a return. Compatibility is another strong point, with Mac OS 9, OS X, 10.2 and Windows 2000/ME/XP supported. Any software using WDM, ASIO, CoreAudio or Sound Manager drivers can also be used. The 828mkII also includes AudioDesk software for Macintosh; a workstation with 24-bit recording and editing; and 32-bit mixing, processing and mastering. MOTU; e-mail; Web



If you’ve ever woken up with a stiff back after a night of hauling a coffin full of DJ gear to a gig, you may be interested in a more lightweight alternative. With PCDJ’s 7-pound, rackmountable DAC-2 ($373; $499 with PCDJ Red software) interface, all you need to add is a laptop full of MP3s to get the party started. With the look and feel of a dual-CD mixer, the DAC-2 lets a DJ mix MP3s without the need for a keyboard and mouse. It’s made to work expressly with PCDJ Blue, PCDJ Red and PCDJ FX software. Also, it’s plug-and-play with Windows 98/2000/ME/XP computers with a USB connection. An easy-to-learn interface features separate displays and jog wheels for players A and B. Some additional highlights of the DAC-2 include one-button beat matching, perfectly synched loop creation, on-the-fly cue points, reverse play, true instant start and lockable pitch for both players. PCDJ; e-mail; Web



Seeking to appease Pro Tools LE users who want a FireWire rackmount interface, Digidesign introduces the Digi 002 Rack ($1,295), a 2U rackmount audio/MIDI interface. The Digi 002R sends all audio, MIDI and Pro Tools data into the computer through a single FireWire cable. FireWire connectivity makes the Digi 002R more practical for laptop computers and enables a Pro Tools studio to be more portable than ever before. With 24-bit, 96kHz resolution, the 002R includes 18 total audio I/O channels, including eight analog, eight ADAT optical and two S/PDIF. In addition, three MIDI ports provide 16 MIDI In channels and 32 MIDI Out. The analog inputs include four with XLR connectors and mic preamps. Pro Tools LE 6.0 software for Mac OS X comes with the 002R and includes DigiRack plug-ins. Digidesign has announced that Windows XP compatibility will be a part of the Pro Tools LE 6.1 update. Digidesign; e-mail; Web



If you’ve studied biology, you’ve heard of hybrid vigor. Hardware/software hybrids can also lend a powerful hand when you’re dropping science in the studio. Roland’s VariOS ($1,495) synthesizer is a flexible system that uses V-Producer software to create sounds while all of the audio processing takes place in a 1U box connected via USB, relieving the computer of the strain of software-only synths. VariOS also offers independent control of a sound’s pitch, time and formant based on Roland’s VariPhrase technology. The module also serves as a stand-alone preset synth without a computer connection. Major updates to the VariOS system make it compatible with Mac OS X; allow the loading of Sound Designer II files; and add two new software instruments that emulate the classic, hard-to-find Roland Jupiter-8 polysynth and TB-303 monosynth. The VariOS-8’s software GUI gives you the same look as the Jupiter-8, with its trademark sliders and light-up buttons. Like the Jupiter-8, the VariOS-8 has two oscillators with the choice of several analog waveforms, a suboscillator, serial lowpass and highpass filters, envelope generators, LFOs, velocity sensitivity and an arpeggiator. New features for the 21st-century version include waveform sync, effects and detailed editing screens. Roland; Web



Even a classic can get a little long in the tooth – the sawtooth, that is. That’s why Clavia has updated its classic Nord Lead 2 analog-modeling synth to the Nord Lead 2x ($1,499) by adding 24-bit, 96kHz fidelity, extra polyphony and extra memory. The four-part multitimbral Nord Lead 2x now has 20 voices of polyphony – up from 16 – for thicker pads and layered sounds. Greatly increased memory means more user and factory settings. Four banks of 99 user programs combine with 100 user performances and 40 percussion kits. Also present are six banks of 99 factory preset sounds and 300 factory performances. Nothing has changed regarding the Nord Lead 2’s reputed sound and programming abilities. With the Nord Lead 2x, users can program any parameter controlled by a knob to respond to keyboard velocity or assign it to the mod wheel for instant morphing. In addition, the Nord Lead 2x can read all imported Nord Lead 2 patches. Clavia; e-mail; Web



Cycling ’74 wants to put you in the Mode. Already known for its huge Pluggo collection of plug-ins, the company steps up its plug-in development with Mode 1.0 ($295). This package includes five virtual-instrument and effect plug-ins designed by CreativeSynth Development for VST, RTAS and MAS formats and specifically for Mac OS X. Mode 1.0 comprises three instruments and two effects. Poly, inspired by vintage DCO analog/digital hybrid synths, is a polyphonic synth with a polyphonic arpeggiator. Conversely, Mono is an easy-to-shape monophonic synth. Its characteristic sound melds analog traits such as filter effects with the control and clarity of an FM synth engine. Employing analog drum modeling, FM synthesis and sample playback, the Bang drum module provides a single voice capable of emulating many percussion sounds. On the effects tip, Spin is a rhythm-effects processor for subtly coloring a sound or utterly destroying it. Want more delay? The intricate morphings of Wash stem from six recirculating delay lines, all fully controllable to range from basic multitap delays to extended textures of evolving feedback. Cycling ’74; e-mail; Web

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