Claes Holmerup: Falcon - the music machine
(publisher's remark: Claes Holmerup is a musician and has been working with Atari computers since the first ST came to Sweden. He is somewhat of an oracle when it comes to the Falcon and sound fixes / sound possibilities. When audio questions arise on the Internet, it's very often that Claes is the one who posesses the real knowledge!)
It's always fun with reviews of new products and I had a review of a C-lab Falcon planned. However, the delivery date and the deadline for this article didn't match, so it's not a real review, but rather a small sum-up of what I already know and some general info.
One thing that should be known to most people by now, is that C-lab has a license agreement with Atari for manufacturing - and further development - of Falcon compatible computers.
Better sound circuitry
The first thing that's happened with the Falcon is that the sound circuitry has been improved. C-lab have made the CPU-clock modification at the factory (something that even Atari themselves did on the last machines they delivered). C-lab have also removed the - in professional situations - crazy bass-boost on the audio output, something that Atari never even thought about doing...
On C-lab's Falcons there aren't any foolish microphone in/headphone out (who would want it that way in the first place?), but rather normal line in/out, so you can connect the computer to an external mixer, like if it were an ordinary tape recorder (a thousand times cooler, though!).
According to figures that appear on the Internet and Usenet, these in/outputs have a signal/noise rate of about 80dB. This isn't quite CD-quality, but fully acceptable for normal people. If you want real CD/DAT quality on the recordings you can, like previously, use the external units that are available.
In a quick notice, I'd like to mention that the best choise for 8 separate outputs is called "Jam 8", which is a swedish product. Jam 8 has balanced outputs, suitable for professional use. The manufacturer, Line Audio Design, will soon remove the need for using a DAT and S/Pdif interface for the recording, by developing an A/D-converter as an add-on to the Jam 8 (if you aren't satisfied with the sound quality of the computer's built-in input).
C-lab have modified the SCSI-port of all MKII-machines, so that they're delivered with an internal 2.5" SCSI-harddisk (but of course they can use external SCSI too). Since Cubase Audio demands a SCSI-harddisk, this is a very smart move by C-lab - speaking of a portable HD-recording system!
C-lab have released a series, called Limited Edition, with very competitive prices. Those are sold by Mr Data in Malmo (where I work) and Stockholm, as well as by the ACC-dealers. The prices of the Limited Edition-machines are extremely tempting (see ads at other places in the supplement).
The only thing you need to buy extra for the Limited Edition-machines is a monitor (MKII with internal SCSI-HD and Cubase Audio is included), and then you're ready to go with 16 tracks of audio-recording with a great sound quality instantly. Try to compete with a PC- or Mac-based system - I guarantee it will fail!
Naturally, C-lab's Falcons work exactly as Atari's when it comes to other programs, if any of you ever doubted that...