Sound On Sound UK May 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
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2 min
thinking ahead

Next time you’re buying studio hardware, try searching the manufacturer’s website using terms like ‘sustainability’. You might be surprised at the results. Some address environmental issues with impressive thoroughness; others ignore them completely. Operating a studio is a relatively low-impact activity, but building and equipping one is another matter. Conventional construction techniques make intensive use of materials like concrete, mineral wool and plasterboard. These are environmentally problematic and create structures that are not reusable. Moving a studio means tearing down all those internal walls, throwing everything in a skip and starting again. Kitting out your new palace likewise comes at a cost to the planet. Much gear is made in China, in factories that may not meet Western environmental standards. It’s then heavily packaged and loaded on to container ships, before planes,…

3 min
waves vocal bender pitch & formant processing plug-in

Whereas Waves’ OVox ( waves-ovox-0520), which is also a dedicated vocal effects plug-in, has a synth-meets-vocoder character, their new Vocal Bender is dedicated to pitch and formant manipulation. It allows the user to create familiar vocal effects quickly, using relatively few controls, and the treatments cover a lot of stylistic ground, from hip hop, pop and R&B to EDM and electronica. Vocal Bender is designed to add zero latency, to make it suitable for live use, and all the common Mac and Windows plug-in formats are supported. The GUI sports large Pitch and Formant controls, each with a ±1 octave range, plus a separate Flatten button for creating a hard-tuned, robotic vocal effect, locked to a user-specified musical note. A wet/dry Mix control can be automated to bring the effect in…

7 min
ebs stanley clarke signature acoustic instrument preamplifier

Although best known for their electric bass amps and effects pedals, Swedish manufacturers EBS also offer several products for acoustic bassists and guitarists. A case in point is their latest release, the Stanley Clarke Signature Acoustic Preamp, which I’ll refer to as SCS in this review. Introduced in late 2020, this was developed in collaboration with the legendary jazz electric and double bassist, whose name and signature it carries. Clarke’s double bass pickup of choice is a twin-element Underwood piezo bass pickup, a design that dates back to the 1970s and which needs to see a high input impedance. Over the years, Clarke has been an enthusiastic evangelist for EBS’s MicroBass II preamp/DI box, the first in the MicroBass series to feature a piezo-friendly 10MΩ impedance input. When the Microbass II…

5 min
minidsp shd power power amp & speaker correction system

Back in May 2018, we published a feature about choosing a power amplifier to use with passive monitors. With its very healthy 120W-per-channel output power, state-of-the-art distortion and noise specs, and compact dimensions, the miniDSP SHD Power appears to be well suited to the role. But this is rather more than ‘just’ an amplifier: it’s a Dirac Live room/ monitor acoustic optimisation host and generously featured audio streamer too. The audio streaming functions of the SHD Power are primarily aimed at consumer audio, so I’ll cover them in the ‘Streaming’ box, but the inclusion of Dirac Live processing makes the SHD Power a very interesting studio option. I wrote about the Studio edition of the Dirac Live software last year, and was impressed with its performance and abilities (see dirac-live-studio).…

1 min
shd app functions

In the main text I’ve described using the miniDSP SHD app in its role of launching Dirac Live and uploading room/monitor optimisation data to the SHD Power, however the app also enables numerous setup options to be configured. For example, you may have noticed from the screenshot that the SHD Power can be configured with four output channels on its AES3 XLR sockets. Two channels reflect the signal routed to the power amplifier outputs and two are ‘thru’ connections of the input. However, each output channel can be processed via a 10-band parametric EQ, high-pass or low-pass crossover filters, a fully configurable compressor and a delay function.…

6 min
leapwing audio al schmitt channel-strip plug-in for mac & windows

The latest addition to Leapwing Audio’s compact but high-quality range of processors is their first ‘signature’ plug-in, and the signature in question is that of recording and mixing legend Al Schmitt. Al may now be in his 90s but he remains very active and his credit list is second-to-none — so much so that it’s really not even worth me attempting to pick out any highlights here; if you’re unfamiliar with his work, you really should read up on his career! What is worth pointing out here is that Al Schmitt is renowned for an approach that starts with high-quality audio sources and a mixing style where the processing is deliberately kept subtle, simply enhancing already great recordings to make them the best they can be. For the plug-in Leapwing have…