Tech Reviews: New products (August 2021)

Tim Hallas
Sunday, August 1, 2021

MT's tech editor Tim Hallas reveals what's new this month.

Apogee Duet 3

Price: $599

The Duet 3 is the latest generation of the premium portable/tabletop interface from Apogee. The original version was launched in 2007 and was very popular with studios and engineers looking for a premium interface in a small form factor. The latest version maintains the 2-in/4-out connectivity and also includes 2x USB-C connectors (one for data and one for power if needed). The latest version features a scratch resistant glass top and is very attractive indeed.

The Duet 3 features onboard DSP, so takes some of the processor strain away from the main computer to allow for greater performance. At $599, this is not a cheap interface, but might be appropriate for school studios that want really high-end preamps and convertors.

Behringer Swing

Price: €99

Small controller keyboards are pretty common, and the latest entry to the market is the Swing from music equipment giant: Behringer. When the Swing was initially announced, it bore a striking resemblance to the KeyStep form Arturia, but the released version has been redesigned and the physical similarities are now less obvious. However, the functionality remains similar…

The Swing is a 32-key compact keyboard with transport controls and a built-in sequencer and arpeggiator. There are three knobs for controlling the different parameters for the arpeggiator and two touch strips for pitch bend and modulation. This controller integrates with all the major DAWs and comes well equipped for the price, so could be a great option for school computer suites.

Tape Echoes

Price: €99

Tape delay emulations are pretty common, and I've written about several here before. But the latest release from plugin manufacturer Softube includes some specific design features to enhance the nuances of a real tape delay. One of the key issues of tape delays is that, because they are physical, the tape can become worn, the heads can become dirty, and the motors can run at slightly the wrong speed. Tape Echoes can emulate all of these and more.

The plugin is also capable of pristine delays with that little bit of tape warmth, but where it really comes into its own is by adding some dirty, gritty, knackered old equipment vibes. These sounds have been used by everyone from Elvis to Radiohead, so could add real character to a student composition or rock band recording.

Ikea Symfonisk

Price: $199

I've never featured a product from Ikea in these pages before, but this one is definitely worthy of mention. Ikea has listed a picture frame speaker on their American website; the product is a partnership with Sonos, so the sound quality will be good. The speaker element is Wi-Fi controlled and will link happily with Apple Music and Spotify, and Ikea says that multiple speakers can be connected together to allow music to be played from multiple pictures.

Although Ikea states that the speakers come with interchangeable artwork, it isn't clear if you can install your own artwork into the frames. These could be really useful for instrumental teachers working at home in small rooms that don't have space for big speakers, in instrumental lessons, or for non-specialist classrooms – try a wireless speaker behind a poster or picture.