Reviewed: iZotope VocalSynth 2 VST Plugin

Electric Factory | | Expect To Pay: $249

For those of you who have used iZotope plugins before, you will no doubt be aware of the wide range of effects they offer to cater for all range of needs in audio production and repair work. There is essentially a tool for just about every audio task in the iZotope range, and those of you looking for vocal effects are certainly not left wanting. With VocalSynth, many loyal users were converted to iZotope’s products and now that the latest update has been officially released, I am sure there is about to be a much wider user group for VocalSynth 2 with the range of effects it has on offer.

Let’s get this clear to start with: VocalSynth is a vocal effects unit. Yes, it is a vocoder, but it is so much more than that. It’s a noise gate, an auto-tune, a distortion unit, a chorus and a whole host of bizarre synth-styled effects for your voice. What it isn’t though, is an EQ, compressor and preamp as many people may be looking for in vocal processing. These are obvious choices for the start of your vocal signal chain and iZotope has other tools to take care of these processes, but VocalSynth 2 pretty much does the rest for you.

Hits and Misses


Very well priced for the range of effects

Excellent audio quality

Huge range of effects

It has auto-tune, and that’s got to be a hit in some people’s books




Reviewed: TC Electronic SpectraDrive Bass Preamp Pedal

Amber Technology | | RRP: $449

For an instrument with such limited impact on the length and breadth of the frequency spectrum, it never ceases to amaze me how much bass effects pedals hone in on the particulars of any given sound. I guess it stands to reason; essentially, the less you have to play with the more you have to focus on the toys in your toy box in order to have the same amount of fun as your more overstocked counterparts. In a way, the world of music would be a much less wild, muddy and confusing place if guitar players paid as much attention to the minutiae of tonality as bass players are forced to. If every six stringer’s first pedal was a ten-band EQ as opposed to a dirt box, imagine how much more creative they’d have to be to stand out in the throng. But I digress.

The preamp has been the ace in the hole for bass players the world over since fader jockeys started insisting on direct injection decades ago. When soundies started baulking, “You don’t need a mic in front of that 8x10 mate, we’ll just chuck you straight into front of house,” our low-frequency fiends ached for a way to satisfy their oft neglected sense of individuality. The answer is a simple stompbox that does what the front end of a criminally unattended amplifier would be doing were it allowed.

Hits and Misses


Clarity and simplicity where it is most necessary, with a healthy dollop of personality to taste




The eternal dilemma: mixer or audio interface?

Electronic Music Production

Something I see come up amongst beginners a lot is confusion over whether they need a mixer or audio interface. It’s an understandable point of confusion, particularly with lots of modern mixers now featuring USB connectivity, in turn providing similar functionality to audio interfaces. Unfortunately, the answer probably isn’t as clear cut as you might like as the ways in which people make music varies a hell-of-a-lot. To make this article as succinct and clear as possible, I’m going to focus on musicians who don’t intend to make music with a live band or record via a complex acoustic instrument setup. Let's talk strictly bedroom producers.

The biggest factor in the decision between the two is: do you want to make music - with electronic instruments - without involving your computer? Say you have a drum machine, a keyboard synth and a mic. You’re intending to write the craziest post-future-dub-folk track the world’s ever heard. But rather than doing so in front of a computer screen, you’d rather work near a window and ponder the existential crisis your neighbour’s dog is having while you write. To do this you’ll need to combine the outputs of the drum machine, synth and mic so you can listen back to it while you jam.


Sins, tragedies and going solo with Brendon Urie

First there were four sets of footprints in the sand, then three, then two, until there was just one. Brendon Urie has carried Panic! At The Disco since he was a teenager, from a band literally playing in the garage to an arena-filling solo project. He's acutely aware of the public perspective that he’s held some sort of fascist dictatorship over the moniker, picking off people one by one until a sole survivor remained. If there's anything Urie wants to make clear, though, it's this: He's not the enemy. He never was.

“I'm so grateful for every friendship I've ever made through people being in this band,” he says. “Imagine spending years of your life – years with someone, working together on something you're both so incredibly proud of and showing that to thousands of people a night. People you've known since college – since high school. A lot of people from that time in your life end up moving away, getting married, starting a new life. Just because they've done that, it doesn't mean you now want to fuck them over. It just means you grew apart. Shit, people do that every day.


Reports suggest Allans Billy Hyde owes thousands in unpaid wages

More Concerns For The Music Retailer

The financial woes of Allans Billy Hyde have taken an unfortunate turn following the news that employees are allegedly owed thousands of dollars in unpaid wages from the company.

As reported by Music Feeds, the music retailer is yet to issue formal notices of redundancy and pay wages to a number of employees affected by the recent closure of three stores. Australian Music Group (AMG), the owners of Allans Billy Hyde, allegedly promised to pay the owed amounts between February and March 2017; however, six employees across two stores told Music Feeds they’re still waiting on payment.



Led Zeppelin announces expanded ‘The Song Remains the Same’ reissue

Celebrating The Band's 50th Anniversary

Led Zeppelin is set to revisit a classic with the forthcoming reissue of 1976 concert film soundtrack The Song Remains the Same as a remastered box set.

The album was remastered with supervision from Jimmy Page and is the final record from the band’s impressive catalogue to be rereleased since the reissues began in 2014. The Song Remains the Same, originally recorded over three nights at Madison Square Garden in 1973, will see its reissue arrive on Blu-Ray, CD, and vinyl in addition to a release on digital platforms.  



Keeley Electronics releases Aria Compressor Drive pedal

A Two-For-One Effects Unit

Following its announcement at Winter NAMM earlier this year, the Aria Compressor Drive pedal from Keeley Electronics has been released by the boutique effects company.

The Aria is a compressor and overdrive pedal that offers Keeley’s most flexible overdrive to date. The compressor function uses clean blend and tone control ideal for humbuckers and single coils, while the Aria’s overdrive setting provides saturated drive and transparent boost for enhanced tone definition.




Reviewed: Nektar Pacer MIDI DAW Footswitch Controller

Sound & Music | | Expect To Pay: $399

Foot controllers are usually something that you associate with guitarists and to be honest, when I first had this unit land on my desk, I thought it was just another MIDI controller for an effects rig. Then I actually looked at the product and saw what was on offer. I am, of course, talking about the Nektar Pacer, a new foot controller that has been brought out by the innovators at Nektar, who originally delivered the Panorama keyboard that changed the way in which Reason users could interact with their software. With the Pacer, the team at Nektar has again changed the way in which musicians, producers and engineers can interact with their DAW of choice.

Of course, many guitarists will have used MIDI foot controllers over the years for controller effects and amp rigs, and it isn’t unusual today for most people working in a home recording setup to play guitar anyway. The two really go hand in – well, foot. With so many guitarists now recording and producing their own music, it makes sense to offer them a solution for interacting with their chosen software in a more tangible manner. After all, if you’re playing guitar, you don’t have a spare hand to operate the computer when recording by yourself, so this is the perfect solution.

Hits and Misses


Clever design

Solid build

It just works, and works well


I wish they had come up with it sooner


Mixdown's top 4 jobs in the music industry (this week)

June 20 - 26

Whether you're fresh out of uni, looking for a major career break or simply wanting extra money in between gigs, the music industry is a competitive place. To make things a little easier, here's our list of some of the best jobs going around the country.


Keen to work with the Hit107 team that hosted RNB Fridays Live? You’ll love this position at Southern Cross Austereo, one of Australia’s most innovative media companies. They’re looking for a Promotions Coordinator to join their team in Adelaide.


Skills Required:


Allen & Heath releases SQ-7 mixing console

The Family Of SQ Mixing Desks Just Got Bigger

World renowned English audio experts Allen & Heath have shared details of their all new flagship mixing console, the SQ-7.

Packed with intuitive features, this new 48 channel/36 bus digital mixer combines a vast functionality into a highly adaptable package. Built on Allen & Heath's newest generation 96kHz FPGA XCVI core, the console is capable of delivering high resolution audio with industry leading latency at under 0.7ms, even while handling a huge number of inputs and outputs. Featuring 32 mic preamps on board alongside eight stereo FX engines, this console will be perfectly suited to both live and studio settings.