z Gear Stories episode 42

Gear Stories 42 Moog Minitaur and UAD Apollo


Hey there friends and neighbors!  it’s time for Gear Stories again… If this is the first time you are getting this, I send this newsletter out eleven times a year, and I try to make them fun!   if you don’t want to get it, don’t get mad or get even… just get in touch and let me know.


A bit of old news that may need a reminder… I can still do a ridiculous $500 off the KIWI microphones!  We got a HUGE shipment at a discount and still have a few left… so don’t miss out on getting this amazing mic at a cost that it’s likely to never be available for again!  Take a look…  http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Kiwi/    Only while the supply lasts!


I need to skip the deconstructed song article this month, but it should be back soon.


And since it’s Valentines Day,  let me give you a bit of musician’s relationship advice…  (Most of us have heard the old joke, what do you call a musician who just broke up with his girlfriend?  …Homeless!  This goes hand in hand with that bit of wisdom.)   For Valentine’s day, it’s always a good idea to do something special for the one you love!  So buy them that piece of gear that you’ve been wanting for a long time!  Because the couch is a very comfortable place to sleep, and gear lasts a LONG time!  (longer than most relationships!)


And with that absolute  pearl behind us, lets dig into the Gear Stories!




Part One:  the Moog MiniTaur:   That unmistakable sound…  (note: this item does not posses the head of a bull!)


Many of you are old enough to remember and maybe even be fans of the band Rush!   In fact, I have a buddy who was dating Alex Lifeson’s sister in high School up in the Great White North when the band formed and he was at their first performance.   It was at a high School dance, and all they played was Led Zeppelin covers.  He said they were good, but you just can’t dance to that, and he was not too happy about that since he was really there for the girl!  (I cannot vouch for the veracity of this story, because my friend is known to spin a tall tale, but he is about the right age and grew up in the same town, so I choose to believe!)


But I digress… (WAY too far!)


One of the signature parts of the Rush Sound was Geddy Lee’s Moog Taurus Pedals.  It’s that unmistakable drone at the beginning to the song “Tom Sawyer,” and of course showed up all over in their music…   It is big and PHAT and analog, and cannot seem to be duplicated by digital means, no matter how they model!


A few years ago, Moog RE-released the Taurus pedals in a limited edition, which sold out so fast it would make your vinyl spin!  I happen to know of several customers of mine who were quite disappointed that they couldn’t hop on that band-wagon… but now there is hope!


Moog is releasing a new box called the “MiniTaur!”  It is not a mythical creature, but a desktop synthesizer module with both MIDI and Control Voltage inputs, that has the same basic circuitry of the original Taurus pedals… It is not perched upon a stick hovering over an organ pedal board like the original, but that makes it much easier to ship!


It’s monophonic and monaural (Meaning, it can just play one note at a time, and the output is not in stereo…  both unusual things in this day and age!)


One of the nice things is that this Taurus is not just for bass anymore!  Bass is what it was made for, but it can easily be used as a mono lead synth and yields some very cool sounds!  Also, like Moog is prone to do, they give you an audio input so you can run other audio through their classic Analog filter and create an incredibly wide palette of sounds!  Heck, with the right cable adaptors, you could probably play your iPod through it… but why would you want to?


Or course, there are those of you out there who will want to be purist about things and play them with a pedalboard rather than a keyboard!  Roland has come up with a pretty affordable solution to that in this organ like pedal keyboard controller…  http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/PK6pedals/


You could also control this from your D.A.W. software not only with MIDI, but using the MOTU Volta, ( http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Volta )  you could send control voltage from  a MIDI track, and create smooth control voltage out of your stair-stepped MIDI signal!  There are really SO MANY ways to use this… and every one sounds GREAT! (with the exception maybe, of the iPod.)


We have a few very cool videos on our web site about this little guy… Check them out!  http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Minitaur


All in all, as is, it’s a pretty affordable unit, but  if you pre-order before the next Gear Stories comes out in about a month, you can get it for forty dollars off, plus free shipping within the contiguous United States…!  And if you want to buy it as a package with the Roland pedals, or with Volta and the gear to make that work, I can do even better package deal prices!


The MiniTaur is beginning to trickle in, and there are a lot of pre-orders already, so if you are interested, you would be wise to reserve your place in line!  Call me!





Part two;  The UAD Apollo… a perfect couple of interfaces for Valentine’s Day!


With all the upheaval that has happened since AVID removed the interface restrictions on Pro Tools and then discontinued the HD format for HD Native and HDX formats, the whole industry has been spinning, and nobody seems too sure of what to buy for high end systems…  The dust is beginning to settle with people landing on either side of the fence, but the dreams of those out there that were hoping that there would be a MORE AFFORDABLE processor card PCI based solution have been dashed!


Where is the “Poor Man’s HD System?”


Well, Universal Audio has stepped up to the plate and surprised everybody!  ENTER THE APOLLO!


Of course, for a long time now, Universal Audio has been providing us with some of the best sounding plug in audio processing in existence, and they were all tied to their processing cards, the UAD cards, in all it’s various forms… but now, they have created a firewire interface based on those cards, with the ability to use the legendary UAD plug ins using the on-board processing in the interface.


The actual piece of hardware has four mic pre inputs, which can also be selected to be used as line inputs, of which there are eight.  There is also ADAT Lighpipe and SPDIF ins and outs, 8 analog line outputs and a dedicated stereo pair of line outs for monitors.  So it is actually configures pretty closely to the old AVID Digi 003 rack.   It even has BNC connectors for external clocking..


There is one more significant breakthrough to come…  The Apollo is the first interface that has been announced that it will have (but not yet) THUNDERBOLT compatibility!  There is a space in the back where a thunderbolt card can be installed when it is available.  It was only a matter of time, and I imagine in a year or two, there will be a passel of Thunderbolt interfaces.  As long as UA can deliver, they will be the first!  Of course Thunderbolt compatibility will take an already almost latency free interface, and make it even MORE latency free…   It’s getting close to the point where you have to sit and wait longer for the sound to come from your speaker cone to your ear than it takes to go through the computer!


What are the mic preamps like on these you ask?  Well… I must admit I’ve not heard them, but this IS Universal Audio we are talking about… Maker of some of the most sought after and legendary mic preamps in history!  If they are not incredible, I would be shocked!


There are two models… the Duo and the Quad…  The I/O configuration is the same, but the quad has twice the processing power.


Best yet, it will work with ANY of the DAW software that’s out there… Logic, Pro Tools, Cubase, Sonar, Ableton Live, Studio One, and yes… EVEN Pro Tools!


Here’s the link to both of them…  Check out the videos!    http://www.sweetwater.com/store/search.php?s=apollo


We should begin receiving these at the end of February, but they are pre-selling FAST so get in line and give your studio a real boost!


As always, if you have any questions about gear, I look forward to being of service.


Jon Gillespie, Sweetwater Sales Engineer


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260 432 8176 x 1352 (outside the U.S.)

260 432 1758 FAX

[email protected]


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