Sound On Sound UK July 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
total immersion

“Immersive audio is for everyone — and everyone includes you and me.” When the record industry moved from mono to stereo in the ’50s and ’60s, it entered a golden age. Fans enjoyed a better listening experience, and the new LP format enabled artists to be more ambitious. Labels profited from massive growth, studios flourished and ‘rock star’ became a bona fide profession. However, when the industry tried to repeat the trick in the ’70s, audiences shunned quadrophonic audio. Attempts to popularise 5.1 surround as a music listening format in the early 2000s likewise met with limited success. So, as today’s music business falls over itself to hype ‘immersive audio’, a bit of scepticism is forgivable. Consumers weren’t willing to spend money then in order to hear bits of Pink Floyd coming…

5 min
soundgym ear training website

From exercise to enterprise, practically everything seems to be gamified these days. Human beings love playing games, and respond well to competition and points-based rankings. Consequently, incorporating game-like elements into other activities can keep us focused, make us more retentive and bring us back to them more often. Whether that’s a good thing depends on the activity, but the benefits for education are obvious. Gamification can make it attractive to spend time learning, then, but it also has the potential to make that time more productive. Practice is essential to learning new skills, but it’s increasingly recognised that the quality of our practice is more important than quantity. Mindless or thoughtless repetition has relatively little benefit, and can entrench bad habits. Practice is much more effective if it’s targeted, focused and…

9 min
rme hdspe aio-pro 30-channel pci-express card

While external audio interfaces dominate the market and are probably the mainstay of RME’s product lines, the company has a long tradition of manufacturing internal sound cards too. I’ve been using the multiformat AIO card for 10 years now, and it has served faultlessly over that time as the core interface for my studio computer, hooked up to a Crookwood mastering console. The AIO card was actually a development of the original ‘Hammerfall’ DSP 9632 card which was designed for the PCI computer slot format, and the AIO was produced to conform to the then-new PCI-Express format. Impressively, the HDSP 9632 is still available and still supported with up-to-date drivers, providing a multiformat audio interface with plentiful input and output connectivity: stereo-balanced analogue in and out, eight-channel ADAT light-pipe (configurable for…

6 min
roland jd-800 software synthesizer

“Ask your average graphic artist to draw you a picture of a synthesizer and most will come up with something like a JD-800,” wrote Julian Colbeck, beginning his follow-up review of Roland’s original JD-800 back in the April 1992 issue of Sound On Sound. He continued, “A sea of knobs and sliders and flashing lights, the JD is everyone’s common perception of this type of instrument.” However, in 1991 when the JD-800 was released, this lavish set of physical controls was far from the norm. The popular, so-called workstation keyboards of the late ’80s and early ’90s — like Roland’s D-50, Korg’s M1 and 01/W, and Yamaha’s SY85 — had dominated the market, embracing a less-is-more philosophy when it came to front-panel physical controls for programming an instrument. The JD-800 was…

1 min
wherefore art thou jd-990?

As is often the case, the JD-800 had a corresponding, rackmounted sibling: the JD-990. In essence, it’s a JD-800 in module form with none of the physical controls you’ll find on the keyboard version, although Roland did take the synthesizer concepts further. For example, instead of a patch being a single structure, as described in the main text, there are six types of structures offering different combinations of ring modulation and double filtering. It included 195 waveforms (87 more than on the JD-800), and an FM-like effect called Frequency Cross Modulation (FXM) can be applied to each waveform within a tone (or partial). Because of these enhancements and its more compact size, the JD-990 has become highly sought after in the current secondhand market and is regularly listed for around £1000…

3 min
softube empirical labs collection eq & dynamics plug-ins

Softube’s new Empirical Labs Complete Collection, which is a collaboration with Empirical Labs, aims to pack the sound and features of two of the latter’s classic hardware units into plug-ins. Mike-E Comp and Lil FrEQ are both emulations of their hardware namesakes. The Mike-E hardware is a channel strip comprising a mic preamp and a saturator/compressor based on the company’s famous Distressor, while the less well-known Lil FrEQ is, as its name suggests, largely an EQ but it also features a de-esser/ high-frequency limiter. Both plug-ins are available individually but are slightly cheaper if bought as a bundle, and they come in the usual Mac and Windows formats. Owners of Softube’s Console 1 can also buy the Empirical Labs Track Pak, which puts everything here into a convenient channel strip. The first…