Sound On Sound UK March 2021

Sound On Sound is the world's best recording technology magazine, packed full of in-depth, independent product tests, including music software, studio hardware, keyboards and live sound (PA) gear. Every issue also includes SOS's unique step-by-step tutorial and technique columns on all the leading DAW programs, as well as insightful interviews with leading producers, engineers and musicians.

United Kingdom
Sound On Sound Ltd
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2 min
for the love of mic

“I find microphones fascinating. The very idea that something as ephemeral as a musical performance can be captured and stored still fills me with wonder.” I find microphones fascinating. The very idea that something as ephemeral as a musical performance can be captured and stored still fills me with wonder. The engineering that goes into building these tiny precision devices is amazing. And the satisfaction to be gained from solving the 3D geometry puzzles associated with mic placement is hard to beat. In short, I love microphones and I don’t care who knows it! If your own love affair with microphones is still in the early stages, though, the choice on offer can be bewildering. Should you buy a capacitor microphone, or will a cheaper dynamic model meet your needs? If you…

3 min
mackie cr3-x active monitors

While I wouldn’t normally suggest using small multimedia monitors as the sole basis of a studio monitoring system, they do have their uses, including secondary playback for those using more upscale monitoring, or as a quick ‘speaker check’ for those who work primarily on headphones. They can also suit those making music on a more casual basis, who might also need something through which to play their computer audio when playing games, or streaming material with audio content. Mackie’s take on the idea is the CR-X series, which comes in a choice of four sizes: the CR3-X, CR4-X, CR5-X and CR8-X, sporting three-, four-, five- and eight-inch woofers, respectively. The three-inch model reviewed here is remarkably compact and easy to set up, so could come in very handy for when you’re…

3 min
dj swivel bde distortion plug-in

B DE, or Big Distortion Engine for long, is the second plug-in from producer and engineer Jordan Swift. Better known as DJ Swivel, Jordan is not one of those celebrity mixers who slaps his name onto anything going so, as with his previous offering The Sauce, BDE has been developed by his own team to his own specifications. The GUI looks clean and simple, but packs in quite a few more controls than is apparent at first sight. Like Heavyocity’s Punish, it’s based around a central ‘magic eye’ control that grows redder and angrier as you crank it up. In this case, the central control governs the Drive of the selected saturation algorithm. There are six of these, with names ranging from Cherry Bomb to Nuke to reflect the level of…

1 min
hd instruments zonematrix $80

PROS • Intuitive user interface and ease of use.• Ideal for consolidating libraries that provide different articulations only as individual instruments, eliminating the need for multiple tracks.• Think along the lines of Omnisphere, but with virtually limitless potential for raw material. CONS • Being restricted to only eight Scenes makes it more suitable for studio use than live.• Only works with Kontakt full version 5.8.1 and upwards. SUMMARY Well designed and easy to use, ZoneMatrix transforms Kontakt into a unified multi-instrument able to layer instruments, assign splits and velocity switch between layers; it can also accommodate other hardware and virtual instruments when used within a DAW.…

5 min
hd instruments zonematrix kontakt performance tool

Back in those hedonistic pre-pandemic days when people used to play live, keyboard players increasingly turned to managing multi-instrument rigs with software — MainStage being the tool of choice for Mac users, or Camelot for PC, Mac and iOS. Any combination of instruments can be addressed simultaneously or separately via key splits, layers, velocity switching and various other means of control, using only a small number of physical keyboards, or even just a single one. With a single gesture the entire soundset and configuration is changed; an entire gig’s worth of complex setups can be chained together and stepped through with a single command. Whether or not this concept was the inspiration for ZoneMatrix, independent developer Hagai Davidoff realised that such an approach could be developed to run inside the…

1 min
beyond kontakt

ZoneMatrix offers the added bonus of not being restricted to Kontakt instruments: any virtual or hardware instrument can be included in the fun if Kontakt is running within a DAW. To do this, Kontakt must be able to resend incoming note and CC data to the outside world; this is enabled in Kontakt’s Engine Options settings. So if, for example, you want to assign a virtual synth to Zone 5 on MIDI channel 5, you add a new, empty instrument to the Kontakt rack and set it to receive on channel 5. It makes no sound, but still sends incoming data out on that channel. Now set your virtual synth to receive on channel 5, enable MIDI Echo (or arm record in Cubase and other DAWs) on the synth track…