Fractal Audio, Sennheiser + more: our top five gear releases of the week

Catch up on everything that arrived in the gear world this week

Missed everything that's gone on in the gear world this week? Never fear - we've got you covered. This week, we're eyeing off a pretty impressive update to Fractal's Axe-FX rig, plus a new audio-visual tool from Sennheiser, fresh gear from Arturia and more. Let's go!

1. Fractal Audio Axe-FX III Mk. II

There was once a point in time where almost every other heavy act was using Axe-FX for their onstage signal processing. Nowadays, however, there's a whole multitude of amp and effect modelling systems on the market vying to replace Fractal's reign at the top, which makes the new release of Axe-FX III Mk. II all the more interesting.

 

One of the most notable additions to the company's latest Axe-FX III unit is a new IPS Display, providing superior viewing angles, vivid colouring and imprved contrast, as well as a new mode the adjust the colour and brightness of the front panel logo. There's also double the preset storage of its forebearer - the Axe-FX III Mk. II now boasts a whopping 1024 slots for preset rigs, as well as improved flash memory to make it all the more practical for any future updates. 

 

Elsewhere, you can expect to find all the killer UltraRes speaker cab sims, amp modelling technology and effects you'd expect from a Fractal Audio unit, with the company also confirming that all prior Axe-FX III presets will be compatible with the new upgrade. Head over to their website to find out more about the latest version today. 

 

2. Sennheiser MKE 200 Directional Camera Microphone

There's more content than ever being created these days, and unfortunately, it seems that premium audio quality is getting harder to come by in videos as a result. Thankfully, Sennheiser are out to change that for the better, with their new MKE 200 Directional Camera Microphone providing the ultimate solution for recording pristine audio and video in tandem. 

 

Utilising a super-cardioid capsule to provide focus and clarity while minimising background noise, the MKE 200 also features an inbuilt wind screen and shock mount, making it as suited for internal use as it is for capturing footage in the great outdoors. It's also bundled with 3.5mm, TRS and TRRS converter cables to make sure it's compatible with all kinds of camers and smartphones, and even operates without batteries to ensure you never miss a golden moment - no need for B Roll with this bad boy!

 

 

3. Arturia KeyStep 37 MIDI Controller / Sequencer

The Arturia KeyStep has been considered as the king of mini MIDI keyboards in recent years, with the compact keybed and amazing sequencer making it a hit with the modular and laptop producer community. The company now look to capitalise on its legacy even further with the new KeyStep 37 - an upgraded unit that looks certain to become an instant classic with producers. 

 

To the joy of many, the KeyStep 37 now features an inbuilt display to show tempo, chord and MIDI control data, as well as a new Chord function with 11 presets - perfect for all you Detroit techno nuts. There's also two new apreggiator modes - Walk and Pattern - which should help you create unique sounding bass lines and melodies that'd otherwise be impossible to play, while the sequencer remains largely the same as the original unit. It's also got five extra keys, so if size is a deal breaker, then yay for you!

 

 

4. iZotope RX 8 update

IZotope's acclaimed audio clean-up suite RX 8 has copped a major overhaul, updating and improving existing elements while adding a range of all-new processors to make it a vital tool for audio engineers. While there's different features depending on which suite you purchase, there's a number of notable updates that appear in all versions, with the most prominent being the ability to edit up to 32 audio files simultaneously, as well as an improved spectogram editor with horizontal scrolling. 

 

Elsewhere, the Standard and Advanced versions of RX 8 feature a new Loudness control, while a Spectral Recovery module is exclusive to the Advanced version, letting you restore frequencies above 4kHz and adding a Wow/Flutter processor to correct pitch variations inherent to tape or vinyl. There's a whole lot more included for some of the more niche packs - watch the video below for a fully comprehensive overview of everything that's new. 

 

 

 

5. Avid Pro Tools 2020.9 

Finally, Avid have sneakily given their Pro Tools suite a minor update, bringing it up to 2020.9. There's nothing groundbreaking in this update, but there are a few nice touches that some users will savour, such as Ableton Link support, canceling track record-enables, file conversion tools and more. Check out everything that's new here, and make sure to update your DAW today. 

 

 

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