MOTU - Digital Performer 5 (Mac)

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DP5 to include six new instrument plug-ins, track folders, meter bridge and more

MOTU, Inc. unveiled Digital Performer 5, a major upgrade that includes six new virtual instrument plug-ins, track folders, a flexible Meter Bridge feature, new audio editing tools, a multitude of new film scoring features, new input monitoring modes, clip-based volume automation and many other feature additions and enhancements.

"This major upgrade has incredible new features for beginner and veteran users alike, including several firsts never before seen in audio workstation software," said Jim Cooper, Director of Marketing for MOTU.

Six new included virtual instruments

DP 5 includes six new, easy to use, CPU-efficient virtual instrument plug-ins.

BassLine is a one oscillator, two-waveform monophonic bass synth that lets users quickly dial up that perfect analog bass sound. With a streamlined design consisting of two waveforms (saw and square), one low-pass filter with cutoff and resonance, simple decay envelopes for the filter and amplifier and several additional classic analog synth features, BassLine is an easy and enjoyable instrument that delivers great analog bass sounds with just a few turns of its dials.

PolySynth is a polyphonic synth with a distinct look that harkens back to the classic Roland Juno 106. PolySynth is capable of a much wider variety of sounds than BassLine, thanks to its digital controlled oscillator (DCO), which can be adjusted with varying amounts of de-tune, triangle wave, sawtooth, rectangle (square) wave, sub-oscillator 1 & 2 and noise. The single LFO can modulate pitch (for vibrato), pulse width (for the square wave and sub-oscillators) or filter depth (for the classic "wah" effect , among others). The resonant low-pass filter is equipped with frequency and resonance controls, key tracking, velocity control and an ADSR envelope, which can also be applied as an overall envelope for each note. Chorus and distortion provide plenty of punch for the thickest of pads and searing lead lines.

Modulo significantly raises the subtractive synthesis stakes by providing two oscillators plus noise, 58 available digital waveforms for each oscillator (including sine, square, saw, rectangle, etc.), oscillator phase and symmetry modulation, two LFOs, a resonant multimode filter, three envelopes (for the amplifier, filter and general purpose modulation) and a 5x7 modulation matrix, which supplies five sources applied to up to seven possible destinations. With built-in bank and patch management features and dozens of clearly organized presets, Modulo provides users with accessible yet limitless possibilities for analog synth sounds.

Nanosynth allows users to drag and drop any sample (up to five seconds long) from anywhere in DP (or from the Mac OS X Finder) into its graphic sample display and then set a start time, end time, loop (if desired) and crossfade. A multimode filter, amplifier envelope, filter envelope and LFO provide all of the essential features needed for basic sampler programming. True to its name, Nanosynth is highly CPU-efficient and the user can open as many instances of it as they need during a project to play back an infinite variety of sampler sounds.

Model 12 is a twelve-part drum module. Hundreds of supplied drum sounds and dozens of drum kits can be quickly loaded into its twelve drum parts, which can be individually programmed with controls for pitch (formant corrected or conventional pitch shifting), time stretch, duration (decay or gate), volume & pan, two sends, and a resonant multimode filter with drive. Modulation of many of these controls is available by dragging controls in the virtual LCD display at the top of the window. Drum tracks are now easier to program than ever before.

Proton is the sixth and final instrument plug-in included with DP 5. Proton is a two-operator frequency modulation (FM) synthesizer that delivers classic, bright, shimmering and expressive FM synth sounds that serve as a perfect compliment to the rest of DP 5's new instrument lineup. The pioneering Yamaha DX7 delivered a wide range of sounds using only sine waves with six operators. Proton delivers an equally broad palette of sounds with a streamlined 2-op architecture driven by a simple wavetable knob, instead of the added overhead and complexity of additional operators. As such, Proton may be the most easily programmable FM synth ever created. A real-time display in the center of the window shows the user the spectral content or periodic waveform being generated by the current settings. Additional controls include an FM LFO, modulation pitch envelope, FM amount envelope and overall ADSR envelope.

Track folders
In all windows that display tracks, such as the Sequence Editor, users can now organize their lengthy track lists into folders and sub-folders, much like the list view in the Mac OS X Finder. To expand or collapse a folder, the user clicks the disclosure triangle. Several modifier keys are provided for expanding and collapsing all folders, either at the same level of hierarchy or further down the hierarchy via enclosed, nested folders. Users can employ Digital Performer's existing track color management features together with track folders to further color-code and organize their projects.

Meter Bridge
The Meter Bridge is a new window (and central pane in the Consolidated Window) that is dedicated to monitoring all signal paths in the Digital Performer mixing environment. With a single click, users can independently show or hide available hardware inputs, available hardware outputs, busses, bundles and tracks as desired. The Meter Bridge provides long-throw, scalable meters with extremely fast, smooth and accurate ballistics. The user can quickly toggle between two different layouts: the linear layout shows all meters side by side in one row that scrolls left and right. The wrap-around layout displays all meters in multiple rows that fit in the space available in the window for an instant bird's-eye view of all signal paths currently being viewed.

New Trim, Slip, Slide and Roll tools
The tool bar now contains four new audio editing tools: Trim, Slip, Slide and Roll. Trim lets users drag the edge of an audio region. This feature was available in earlier versions of DP , but now it can be explicitly invoked with the new tool in the tool bar. This allows users to trim audio regions more quickly by clicking somewhere inside the audio region, rather than having to find and drag the edge, which may be offscreen. The Slip tool allows users to move the waveform inside an audio clip earlier or later without affecting the left or right edge of the audio region. The Slide tool does the converse: it allows users to move the edges of the audio region earlier or later by the same amount in one drag operation while the audio inside the clip remains anchored to its current position in time. The Roll tool allows users to drag the border between two adjacent audio regions in one operation, "covering up" a portion of one region while "uncovering" the other.

Streamers, punches and flutters
Building on an already strong feature set designed for film and TV composers, DP 5 includes several major enhancements for music-for-picture workflows. Streamers, flutters and punches help composers, conductors and musicians to anticipate visual hits and, more generally, synchronize their music to what is happening on screen. DP 5 can now superimpose streamers, punches and flutters directly on a QuickTime movie playing in Digital Performer’s movie window. This allows film and TV composers to collaborate more efficiently with music editors and better prepare for and conduct live orchestra sound stage scoring sessions. By bringing these visual cues to the native desktop, without expensive and cumbersome additional hardware, DP 5 also paves the way for anyone to conduct small- to medium-scale scoring sessions in their personal and project studios. DP 5's ability to trigger these visual cues has also been expanded to support the CueLine ProCue 1m1 and ClickStreamMachine, two third-party devices commonly used in the industry for live orchestra sound stage scoring sessions.

Visual click
To complement DP 5's new visual cueing features, a visual click has been added. Users can choose the size and color of the visual click, which then flashes - in tempo - as a large circle on the QuickTime movie window or video screen. The visual click, together with the audio and MIDI click, can be programmed with unlimited flexibility with DP 5's new click programming features.

Click track programming
In past versions, Digital Performer's click feature was tied to meter change events in the conductor track. In DP 5, users can also insert click change events wherever they like in the conductor track, independent of meter changes. This allows users to quickly and easily program customized audio, MIDI and visual click tracks for a wide range of situations. Three types of click change events are provided: beat click, tacet click and pattern click. The beat click makes clicks on regular beats or beat sub-divisions, as specified by the user. The tacet click silences clicking until the next click change event (or meter). The pattern click allows users to program any imaginable click pattern they wish. The new Click Defaults feature allows the user to program any type of click pattern they wish for any meter within a specified tempo range. These default preferences can go far beyond the convention of clicking once per beat, thanks to DP 5's new click programming features. At any time, users can export the current click track as note events in a MIDI track for export via standard MIDI file to any other MIDI-compatible software.

Count-off enhancements
A count-off can be crucial for establishing tempo and timing for musicians. Several enhancements have been made to Digital Performer's count-off feature. First, the count-off can now be specified as a number of beats and measures, rather than just measures, allowing for any number of pickup beats to be included during count-off. In addition, the count-off now occurs at the tempo and meter at which playback (or recording) begins (rather than the tempo and meter leading up to that point). A custom click can be quickly and easily programmed for the countoff. For film scoring, the movie window now plays during the count-off, as does the main counter. Visual count-off options have been added, similar to the visual cueing features mentioned earlier, where the user can program streamers and punches during the countoff to visually cue the beginning of playback or recording.

Input monitoring modes
To monitor the live input of an audio track in previous versions of Digital Performer, users would need to record-enable the track. DP 5 provides a separate input monitoring button which allows users to monitor inputs, independently of the record-enable state. Among other things, this allows the user to create a single disk track for external instrument inputs, which can then be used to monitor the live input from the instrument and subsequently to bounce the live instrument part to disk. Four different monitoring modes can be chosen: Off, Input Only, Blend and Auto. These modes provide users with a variety of input monitoring behaviors, including several that will be familiar to users of conventional analog mixers as well as users of advanced large-format mixing consoles. For example, Blend mode allows users to hear both the live input and any existing material in a disk track at the same time during playback. Monitoring automatically switches to input only as soon as the user punches in to record.

Clip-based volume automation and gain
In addition to track-based automation data that can be used to control the overall volume of audio in a track, specific audio regions (soundbites) can now have their own non-destructive volume automation curve. By choosing the "Bite volume" layer for an audio track in the Sequence Editor, users can draw a volume curve "inside" a soundbite with the pencil tool (or other automation tools). The bite volume curve is now part of the soundbite and remains with it (and all instances of it) when moved, trimmed, copied or otherwise manipulated. Similarly, users can now assign a global amount of non-destructive boost or cut (in hundredths of a dB) to any soundbite.

The new MIDI Keys utility allows users to play MIDI data from their computer keyboard , without the need for a MIDI keyboard or other separate hardware controller. This can be useful for basic auditioning of instrument sounds, step recording and other basic MIDI entry tasks in situations where MIDI controller hardware is not available, such as on plane flights, during bus rides, in the back of the limousine, etc. The A-S-D-F row of keys represents the white keys on the keyboard , with buttons in the row above representing black keys. The bottom row (Z through forward slash) sets note-on velocity. The +/- buttons serve as octave up/down buttons. The number keys (1-9) provide pitch bend and mod wheel.

Audio voice allocation
In DP 5, voice allocation is handled automatically. Audio engine resources are efficiently and dynamically allocated to audio tracks as needed to play and record, as called upon by the user.

Waveform Editor enhancements
In DP 5's full-featured waveform editor, users can now lock playback in the waveform editor to DP 's main transports to use all of the familiar transport and selection features in the control panel, including DP 's playback wiper. Building on the advanced Beat Detection Engine and audio file tempo map features introduced in Version 4, DP 5 now allows users to directly edit the embedded tempo maps in audio files with a unique "rubber-banding" interface that allows the user to make adjustments to individual tempo events while the tempos before and after remain anchored. For example, users can simply grab a tempo event at the downbeat of a measure and drag it earlier or later to perfectly match the downbeat in the audio file. Edits can also snap to detected beats in the audio for quick and easy tempo map adjustments.

MIDI Device Setup
In recent versions of Digital Performer, MIDI device setup tasks have been conducted in the Mac OS X Audio MIDI Setup utility. In DP 5, they can also be conducted directly in the Bundles window under the new MIDI Devices tab, which allows users to create MIDI devices that represent their hardware and map them to the MIDI ins and outs on their MIDI interface.

Digital Performer 5 will ship in Q1, 2006 for a list price of $795. Existing registered DP users will be offered an upgrade path.