Sonic Core XITE-1 DSP system
The old CreamWare Scope DSP platform has been given new life… yet again. Things had been suspiciously quiet since Sonic Core acquired CreamWare’s assets early last year, and many long-time users were worried the end was near. It turns out the team was simply hard at work. The company will unveil powerful new Scope hardware and significantly upgraded software at the 2008 Frankfurt Musikmesse (March 12-15).

The big news is the € 2698 ($4200) Scope XITE-1 DSP hardware system. It’s based on Analog Devices SHARC DSP chips, offering 10x more processing power than their previous high-end Scope Professional card. The new hardware is housed in a 19 inch 1U rack case that interfaces to your Mac or Windows box via a PCI-Express (desktop) or ExpressCard (notebook) interface.

The front of the surprisingly compact XITE-1 unit includes two mic inputs with switchable phantom power, a pair of Hi-Z instrument inputs and a 1/4-inch headphone jack. The back panel offers two channels of balanced XLR analog I/O, AES/EBU, 2 x ADAT I/O, Wordclock I/O, and MIDI In/Out/Thru.

The XITE-1 software pack contains 13 virtual instruments including emulations of the Roland Juno 106, Sequential Prophet 5 and Moog Minimoog along with over 50 effects, three samplers and a suite of mastering tools.

Sonic Core Platform 5 software
Current Scope users will be thrilled to hear that the new Sonic Core Platform 5 software finally supports Windows Vista and Mac OS X in addition to Windows XP. It will be available in May as a €198 ($310) upgrade, although most Scope 4.5 users will qualify for a free update. Details are still scarce, but screenshots show a few new devices and an appealing black and white color scheme.

So why should you consider a DSP hardware platform in 2008? The main advantage of the Scope system is that it offloads softsynth and digital effects processing onto dedicated hardware. This gives extremely low latency and glitch-free playback, even when running demanding softsynths and audio effects. Blocks of DSP horsepower are allocated to each instrument or effect, meaning that you won’t unexpectedly run out of CPU cycles on your host PC. Of course, it’s still possible to run your favorite VST plugins on the same PC in parallel and mix everything in Scope.

Another good reason to give the Scope platform a second look is the vast library of Scope modules, including a versatile modular synth and dozens of other great instruments such as John Bowen’s fantastically deep Solaris soft synth and many other world-class plugs.

The Scope XITE-1 box and Sonic Core Platform 5 software are scheduled for release in May 2008. It looks like it’s going to be a wild ride!

Sonic Core Scope: The Next Generation