NAB Report

by Jerry Vigil

Having never been to Las Vegas, I took it upon myself to venture into the casino of the Las Vegas Hilton upon my arrival early Sunday evening. For some very dangerous reason, they never gave last call. This understandably resulted in a late start Monday morning (or was that afternoon) to check out all the new toys for us production folks. Space won't allow a comprehensive report of the show, but here are a few highlights.

Digital, once again, was the buzzword in every direction. Otari was there with their DDR-10 (reviewed in last month's RAP) and announced the purchase of Digital Dynamic's ProDisk 464 digital hard-disk recording system. The deal was reportedly done that previous Friday. The ProDisk 464 basic system is a 4-track unit expandable to 64-tracks.

AKG's DSE-7000 was on hand and apparently was selling very well. We were told of at least one radio group that bought seven of them. (Ohhh, there are going to be some happy Production Directors!)

Alesis made their first showing at an NAB convention with some very attractive gear. Most outstanding was their ADAT Modular Digital Audio Recording System. This 8-track digital recorder uses standard SVHS tape as the recording medium, comes with analog and digital ins and outs, gives you forty minutes of full-bandwidth recording time per cartridge, and comes in at an eye-opening price of only $3,999. What's more, you can link up to sixteen of these babies together for a full blown 128-track digital recorder for less than $66,000! The unit is expected to be available late this year. The Alesis 3630 stereo compressor/limiter with noise gate also looked like a great buy at only $299.

Roland drew a nice crowd with their DM-80 4-track hard disk recording system. The DM-80 is expandable to 8-tracks and offers an optional digital mixing console and remote controller. The basic system provides eighteen minutes of recording time expandable to approximately ninety minutes. You get all the editing capabilities you would expect, and operation of the system appeared quite simple and straightforward. The price looks good at around $8,000 for an 8-track version, and this should be plenty of competition in the hard disk, multi-track arena.

360 Systems DigiCart digital cart machine was at the show and looks to have a good future. It's everything you would expect a cart machine to be and lots more. Hard-shell floppy disks replace the cart, and this cart machine performs edits! We'll save the details for an upcoming Test Drive.

Speaking of cart machines, Harris Allied displayed the Audiometrics CD10. This CD cartridge player features an Autolock feature to prevent accidental removal of CD's in play; a programmable End Of Message indicator to keep track of playing time and signal when a cut nears its end; and an advanced linear tracking system that reduces start time to less than 200 milliseconds.

It's no surprise that Eventide was on hand with something new and innovative. The VR240 Digital Audio-Logger is a DAT based logging recorder that packs over a full week of audio (180 hours) onto one tiny DAT tape. Up to eight channels of audio can be stored onto a single DAT. However, as you increase the number of channels, the recording time decreases.

Yamaha entered the DAT market with a preliminary version of their DTR2 DAT deck. The DTR2 comes with unbalanced and balanced ins and outs plus coaxial and optical digital I/O's. Of course you get all the standard features of most DAT machines plus a remote control.

Digital effects processors were everywhere. Yamaha was sporting their line. Lexicon had theirs. Alesis had theirs. Eventide had theirs. ART had theirs and introduced a modified version of the MultiVerb. The MultiVerb Alpha has some enhancements over the original and includes a "data knob" for much easier selection and editing of the programs. Other than the MultiVerb Alpha, we didn't spot any digital effects processors we haven't already told you about.

Several digital storage/retrieval systems vied for attention including the Arrakis DigiLink, a fully networkable recording, editing, storage, and playback system. ITC's DigiForm offers storage and retrieval as well as interfacing capabilities with satellite systems and most traffic and accounting software systems.

There was your usual collection of consoles everywhere from every maker. Analog reel-to-reel recorders from 2-track to 32-track were around every corner. Microphones here. Speakers systems there. Studer unveiled their new D740 CD Recorder. Otari showed their new DAT machine. Just when we thought we had seen it all, we found ourselves in... the North Hall. Fortunately, for our feet, most of the radio stuff was in one hall no larger than a small town.

Getting away from equipment, 27th Dimension, maker of production music and sound effects, grabbed our attention with what may well be the production library technology of the future. Rather than getting a CD of music tracks, you get a floppy disk with "MIDI files" that you plug into your own MIDI setup: synthesizer, sequencer, samplers, etc.. The basic premise is that you can have total control over the music track. If you don't like the tempo of the track, adjust it. If you think a flute would be a better lead instrument than the sax, change it. Want to add some MIDI data of your own? Go ahead! It's the next best thing to having the actual musicians in your studio! We'll try to get our hands on some of these "MIDI files" soon and tell you more.

Several production library companies were at the show as well as a few we've never heard of before, including Audio Action, TRF Production Music Libraries, and Musikos. We'll check out their wares and let you know what we find out. Signature Music Library unveiled "Inspirations," the first production library we've heard of created exclusively for religious media.

All in all, there's no better place to do your equipment shopping than an NAB convention. As Production Directors become more in control of what gear goes in their studios, it will become increasingly important for you to make it to at least one show every couple of years and definitely before you choose equipment for a new studio.

Oh... and how did NAB goers do at the Las Vegas casinos? It's baffling how the hotel owners can pay for all those elaborate casinos because everyone we asked said they were "about even."

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