Andrulian's Blog – all things music: Musings, Understanding theory, Software tools, revIews, Commentary

Creating sounds | Making music | supporting fellow musicians | reflections in time

ZAOR Studio Furniture develops desk product line with workflow-focused Maestro series — January 27, 2019

ZAOR Studio Furniture develops desk product line with workflow-focused Maestro series

ORADEA, ROMANIA: studio furniture designer and manufacturer ZAOR Studio Furniture is proud to announce availability of its Maestro series — symbolising a new line of workflow-focused desk developments.

A Maestro is often defined as a distinguished conductor or performer of classical music — or, alternatively, a distinguished figure in any sphere. So, given that ZAOR Studio Furniture’s latest line of desk designs were developed in close collaboration with some of the best mastering/mixing professionals around, as well as manufacturers of some of the best mastering gear available anywhere, such as award-winning audio gear developer SPL, the Maestro moniker is, indeed, highly appropriate. As such, the new product line’s many features were carefully chosen to suit.

Starting with the larger Maestro 36, all aspects of its intended workflow were thoroughly analysed with new or improved solutions implemented for each as a direct result. Reality dictates that mastering Maestros will form its primary — though not necessarily exclusive — user base, so, since they will be applying final polishing touches to the sound of mixes or edits, listening experience enhancement lies at the heart of this thoroughbred design: an extra low profile prevents the desk from getting in the way of the all-important sound reproduction, aided by back-sited VMT absorption panels by self-styled Innovative Acoustics Solutions provider Vicoustic to minimise chaotic reflections and resonances, while the work surface itself is made from AERstop, an acoustic material that reduces reflections and deftly doubles as a mouse pad. Perfectly sized, an armrest aids smooth typing and reduces wrist stress.

Since Maestro 36 itself is effectively more ‘air’ than structure, sound is not boxed in — improving the listening experience from an acoustic standpoint; it also allows air to flow freely — keeping working temperatures at optimal operating levels. Additionally, a dual (audio/power) cable path separates signals from power leads, thereby keeping hum and other inductive noise to a minimum. Meanwhile, chrome bars with pre-fitted Velcro strips allow for fast and clean (re-)cabling.

As implied by name, Maestro 36 features 36 rack units, ultimately divided into three sections of 12U apiece, angled upwards at a gentle incline across the desk to accommodate all the tools essential to the job at hand. Here they are positioned within easy reach, realising focused workflow within a minimal footprint. Furthermore, an additional 18U of forward-facing rack space — split into three 6U sections — can be installed at floor level where visual contact is less important; installing only 12U of forward-facing rack space (split into the two 6U sections located to the left and right) as an alternative allows the user to stretch their legs in the space between them while working. Behind the angled rack units is a flat plane — lowered so as not to impede sound travel — that can comfortably carry computer screens at eye-level, near-field monitors — sited on optional isolators to avoid sound transmission through the desk itself, which would lead to smearing in the lower frequencies — for cross-checking mixes, and/or metering… nothing superfluous, nothing amiss, as ergonomics and acoustics are beautifully integrated to live together in perfect harmony. Mr McCartney might well approve; at any rate, his chosen mastering engineer would — with certainty!

Again, as implied by name, the smaller Maestro 24 tempts users with packing 24U of the most essential pieces of rack gear (in two sections of 12U angled at a gentle incline) across a desk design superficially similar to its Maestro 36 bigger brother to form a processing powerhouse suited to smaller spaces with all attributes present and correct — cue padded armrest, dual cable path, low profile, acoustic optimisation, and integrated mouse pad. Again, taking its innovative design cues from its Maestro 36 bigger brother, an additional 12U of forward-facing rack space — split into two 6U sections this time — can be installed at floor level.

Literally symbolising a new line of workflow-focused desk developments, then, the family Maestro members are constructed from MDF (Medium-Density Fibreboard) and hand-selected solid wood to cater for today’s production-savvy pro audio specialist. Simply put, they each encompass everything engineers, musicians, and producers always dreamed of owning. Of course, now that dream has become reality — realised as compact, great-looking, and affordable packages available to anyone. All are flat packed for easy transportation and assembled and disassembled easily, thanks to professional hardware.

Handily, the must-see Maestro series will be showcased by ZAOR Studio Furniture on Booth 17214 at The 2019 NAMM Show, January 24-27 in Anaheim, California. Come check them out!

Maestro 36 and Maestro 24 are available to order (in Cherry Black, Silver Black, or Black finishes), either directly through the Zaor Online Shop — including free shipping within the EU — or via ZAOR Studio Furniture’s growing global dealership network with respective RRPs of €2,999.00 EUR and €2,399.00 EUR, including tax.

For more in-depth information, please visit the dedicated Maestro 36 product webpage and the Maestro 24 product webpage.

Review of Single Rider album by Jenn Champion — January 20, 2019

Review of Single Rider album by Jenn Champion

This is a beautiful, engaging and absorbing album, a modern sound with an 80’s soulful vibe, piano tracks and a touch of country at times. There’s an edge of sadness but with hope, an optimistic outlook. 

I really like how the arrangements cleverly build tension or subtly change momentum. The vocals are superb, there’s a vulnerability and edge of sadness that you really connect with. 

O.M.G (I’m All Over It)

An 80’s soulful vibe, there’s a kind of staccato guitar lead line, drumming, bass and synth with both pad and effects. The vocals are beautiful, there’s an edge of sadness and vulnerability. 

Coming For You

Another song with an 80’s vibe, it’s a laid back groove with reflective qualities. The groove is provided by drumming and bass with lovely vocals again. A subtle change of momentum in the chorus. Synth riff adds an excellent element. 

You Knew

Synth effect and bassline to open, the ambience of the pad contrasts really well. The vocals are excellent again. There’s a soulful vibe with a building tension, the saxophone adds an excellent element. 

Holding On

An uptempo drumming pattern to open with subtle bass and I love the guitar riff. The vocals are superb again, a great vibe to the song with nice changes in feel and excellent layering / contrast of different elements.

The Move

A slow building tension to the opening given momentum by drumming. Superb edge of sadness to the vocals. Layering of guitar riff, percussion and synth chords build tension superbly. 

Never Giving In

Softly sung / spoken vocals accompanied by synth to open, the abrupt ending gives a great tension. There’s more defined momentum from bass and synth riff. The song builds and releases tension really well. 


Drumming pattern and filtered bass create a subtle groove given momentum by synth and bass. Excellent changes in feel and great contrast between uptempo and more ambient elements. 

Time to Regulate

A disco / funk vibe from drumming, percussion and synth. Vocals are superb again. A great vibe with changes in feel and an edge sadness tinged with optimism. 


Almost country feel to the opening with piano and strings, beautiful vocals again. It’s downtempo with a really optimistic feel.


An arrangement of piano and vocals creates a beautiful, reflective song with excellent changes in pace and building of tension. 

Going Nowhere

A dreamy ambience from piano and vocals, it’s another beautiful song building tension with superb layering of synth riffs and sparse percussion. 

No One (Piano Version)

Beautiful arrangement of piano and vocals, it’s a captivating song, a haunting beauty and really sad feel to the lyrics. 

Time to Regulate – Gold Brother remix

An excellent remix, a more stripped back feel compared to the original with chillstep elements. 

Review of Old Mountain by Good Good Blood on Fox Food Records — January 18, 2019

Review of Old Mountain by Good Good Blood on Fox Food Records

There’s a great vibe to this album, it’s an indie sound with a solid nostalgic feel with hints of folk and psychedelia. The arrangements are excellent giving space for each element. Old Mountain is a dreamy, floaty feeling album edged with a sadness. 

Old Mountain

An acapella track with great harmonies, it has a nostalgic type of feel and sets the scene for the album.

Bury Heads

Acoustic guitar chords to open, it has a warm, nostalgic feel with great vocal harmonies. It has a laid back feel with a subtle change in pace with the introduction of drumming and bass. 

Cannot Be Forever Yours

Tremelo strings to open, the snare adds a tension with a sparse piano melody. The octave bass adds momentum. The vocals have a dreamy type of quality with an edge of sadness. 

Seven Seconds

Psychedelic sounding guitar riff to open, picked riff adds a momentum. Vocals have a dreamy, ethereal quality. It’s a beautiful song. 

Glass Sky

Drum pattern to open with emerging synth / sound effects, female vocals this time with a similar dreamy, ethereal quality. 

Strymon shifts stereo multi-head delay focus to pedalboards with Volante Magnetic Echo Machine marvel — January 17, 2019

Strymon shifts stereo multi-head delay focus to pedalboards with Volante Magnetic Echo Machine marvel

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA, USA: literally following in the footsteps of its first foray into the Eurorack small-format modular market with its Magneto Four Head dTape Echo & Looper module, shipping soon after a successful showcase at The 2018 NAMM Show in Anaheim, CA, powerful processing effects developer Strymon is proud to announce its Volante Magnetic Echo Machine followup — focusing its innovative design on radically enhancing the sonic expressiveness of pedalboards as a stereo multi-head delay that also offers a looper and vintage spring reverb, with powerful sound-sculpting controls for limitless sonic possibilities.

As implied by the Magnetic Echo Machine legend boldly blazoned across an attractive, rugged, road-ready, yet functional front facia that should feel familiar to owners of Strymon’s similar-sized effect pedals such as the award-winning BigSky (multidimensional reverb) or TimeLine (multidimensional delay) — or, for that matter, its inspirational Magneto Four Head dTape Echo & Looper module with which it shares some controls and design DNA, Volante features magnetic drum, tape, and (reel-to-reel) studio echo as a stereo multi-head delay that also offers a looper and vintage reverb. Reality dictated that Strymon relentlessly studied and faithfully recreated every last magnetic delay system attribute to capture the nuance and complexity of classic tape and drum echo machines — from sought-after natural saturation and soft clipping of magnetic media when driven hard to hands-on, real-time controls for MECHANICS, WEAR, SPACING, and LOW CUT, Volante instantly adds tons of vibe to any user’s sound.

Situated at the center of Volante’s control surface are four delay playback heads with individual playback and feedback controls — each head’s playback level can be set for full volume, half volume, or off, and each head can be switched in or out of the feedback circuit. Creatively, users can even switch heads into the feedback circuit that are not activated for playback, putting the creation of complex rhythmic patterns, as well as reverb-like atmospheric textures, at anyone’s fingertips.

Fortunately for fearless users, Volante not only delivers the warm, luscious delay signals that magnetic tape machines are known for, it is also capable of a high degree of saturation — simply turn up the REC LEVEL knob to increase the gain of Volante’s analog class-A JFET input preamp circuit, sending a hot signal with analog warmth to the record head for facilitating any amount of saturation.

Some classic tape echo machines included small integrated spring reverb tanks tuned to limited bandwidth. Strymon skilfully captured this vintage vibe for Volante by creating a spring reverb with a gorgeous, gentle character that stands up to scrutiny on its own while also enhancing delayed signals.

Some vintage multi-head tape echo machines’ heads were not evenly spaced, which created interesting sonic interactions when multiple heads were set to repeat. Volante far from disappoints on that score; spacing is continuously variable for the entire travel of the SPACING knob, morphing between the available even, triplet, golden, and silver settings — the latter two ratios respectively realising dense, non-overlapping echoes and non-overlapping echoes biased toward the quarter note.

Needless to say, Volante also allows users to set the pan of each head individually for spacious, multi-head stereo delays. By default, all heads are panned center, with Volante still creating a pleasing psychoacoustic stereo image.

Imaging notwithstanding, Volante really sings when pushed to extremes! All the richly evolving, super-spacey sonic textures imaginable are available by turning up its REPEATS knob. Intuitive and responsive hands-on control for sculpting the feedback is also at hand.

Handily, Volante’s SPEED switch selects the speed of the recording media, allowing users to run any of its three magnetic echo machines at half, normal, or double speed; fidelity is higher at higher speeds, while lower speeds result in warmer repeats and more pronounced effects from mechanical and media irregularities introduced when turning up the MECHANICS knob.

By being designed from the ground up to radically enhance the sonic expressiveness of pedalboards, performance is clearly central to Volante’s raison d’être. Delayed psychedelic feedback sounds can be unleashed on command when working in Echo mode by pressing and holding the ON footswitch to activate Infinite Repeats; regardless of the current REPEATS setting, Volante will crank up echo regenerations for quick-building delay feedback — foot off of the switch results in Volante returning to the previous setting.

Speaking of performance, Volante can create dynamic loops that degrade and evolve. Change direction at the touch of a (reverse) footswitch. Press pause for a mechanical tape stop effect. Change the speed of the loop and simultaneously change the pitch in octave increments. Find an inspiring sound in Echo mode, and all echoes remain intact when engaging SOS (Sound On Sound). Once the loop has reached a perfect state of mutation, engage Infinite Repeats to stop further degradation, creating an infinite loop while disengaging the loop record head. While in Sound On Sound mode, pressing the ON footswitch results in the entire loop playing in reverse; users can continue recording new audio to layer with the reversed audio.

Armed with full MIDI control of every parameter, plus 300 preset locations, Volante is designed to be the center of sonic expressiveness for MIDI pedalboards. Put it this way: Volante transmits and receives MIDI over 5-pin DIN, USB, and even its EXP (expression) jack. Connecting an expression pedal opens up a whole new level of instantaneous, constant control; set as many knobs as desired for the heel and toe positions of the connected expression pedal and all settings simultaneously morph through the expression pedal’s full range. Remaining, briefly, outside of Volante itself, connecting Strymon’s simultaneously-announced MultiSwitch Plus accessory to Volante’s EXP jack adds additional footswitchable control; select between three presets, remote control of the SPEED switch, remote transport control, or further foot control while in Sound On Sound mode.

Continuing connectivity advancement, a dedicated INST (instrument)/LINE input level switch ensures that Volante can comfortably work with a variety of input sources — switch to INS when using a guitar level input, LINE when using Volante in the effects loop of a guitar amp or driving it with a hot output from a synth or mixer insert. Indeed, the LINE input is also perfect for using Volante as a send effect or insert effect in the studio.

Seriously flexible, then, the pedalboard sonic expressiveness-enhancing Volante really rewards experimentation, yielding rich, hypnotic, and often unpredictable results — albeit always highly musical. Making room for one (or more) in a pedalboard or studio setup surely sounds like a perfect plan!

Strymon is already accepting pre-orders for Volante via the Strymon Store to American Samoa, Canada, Puerto Rico, United States, and United States Minor Outlying Islands for $399.00 USD (plus tax and shipping) or through its growing global network of authorized dealers.

For more in-depth information, including informative video demonstrations, please visit the dedicated Volante webpage.