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Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » apps


Playdate is an indie game handheld with a crank from Teenage Engineering, Panic

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 23 May 2019 9:08 pm

Playdate is a Game Boy-ish gaming handheld with a hand crank on it, wired for delivering indie and experimental games weekly. And it comes from an unlikely collaboration: Mac/iOS developer Panic with synth maker Teenage Engineering.

Yes, that svelte retro industrial look and unmistakable hand crank are the influence of prolific Swedish game house Teenage Engineering. And TE have already demonstrated their love of cranks on their synths, the OP-1 and OP-Z.

This isn’t a Teenage Engineering product, though – and here’s the even more surprising part. The handheld hardware comes from Panic, the long-time Mac and iOS developer. I’ve been a Panic owner over the years, having used their FTP and Web dev products early on in CDM’s life, as did a couple of my designers, and even messing around with Mac icons obsessively back in the day.

But now Panic are doing games – the spooky Wyoming mystery Firewatch, which has earned them some real street cred, and an upcoming thing with a goose.

The really interesting twist here is that the “Playdate” title is a reference to games that appear weekly. And this is where I might imagine this whole thing dovetailing with music. I mean, first, music and indie games naturally go hand in hand, and from the very start of CDM, the game community have been into strange music stuff.

The obvious crossover at some point would be some unusual music games and without question some kind of music creation tool – like nanoloop or LittleGPTracker. nanoloop got its own handheld iteration recently – see below – but this would be a natural hardware platform too.

Even barring that, though, I imagine some dovetailing audiences for this. And it does look cute.

Specs:
400×240 (that’s way more resolution than the original Game Boy), black and white screen
No backlight (okay, so kind of a pain for handheld chip music performance)
Built-in speaker (a little one)
D-pad, A and B switches
USB-C connector
… and it looks like there is a headphone jack

Not sure what the buttons on top and next to the display do – power and lock, maybe?

Involved game designers are tantalizing, too – and have some interesting music connections:

Keita Takahashi (Katamari Damacy)

Zach Gage (SpellTower, Ridiculous Fishing)

Bennett Foddy (QWOP, Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy, and – music lead again, he was the bassist in Cut Copy, remember them?)

Shaun Inman (also a game composer, as well as a designer of Retro Game Crunch, The Last Rocket, Flip’s Escape, etc.)

This takes me back to that one time I hosted a one-button game exhibition at GDC (the game developer conference) with Kokoromi, the Montreal game collective. That has accessibility implications, too, including for music. (Flashback to their game showcase at the same time.) So there is crossover here, I mean – and intersecting interests between composers and game designers, too.

US$149 will buy you the console and a 12 game subscription. Coming early 2020.

Music connections or no, it looks like a toy we’ll want to have.

https://play.date/

EDGE, the print mag, has an exclusive – with an excerpt of that feature online:

https://play.date/edge/

Thanks to Oliver Chesler for the tip.

Obvious marketing campaign, though only for Panic wanting to market to Americans of my age or so…

The post Playdate is an indie game handheld with a crank from Teenage Engineering, Panic appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Turn your iPad or iPhone into a scriptable MIDI tool with Mozaic

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 20 May 2019 6:07 pm

Its creator describes it as a “workshop in a plug-in.” Mozaic lets you turn your iOS device into a MIDI filter/controller that does whatever you want – a toolkit for making your own MIDI gadgets.

Oh yeah and it’s just US$6.99, which is absurd but awesome.

The beauty of this, of course, is that you can have whatever tools you want without having to wait for someone else to make them for you. Developer Bram Bos has been an innovator in music software for years – he created one of the first drum machines, among some ground-breaking (and sometimes weird) plug-ins, and now is one of the more accomplished iOS developers. So you can vouch for the quality of this one. It might move my iPad Pro back into must-have territory.

Bram writes to CDM that he thought this kind of DIY plug-in could let you make what you need:

“I noticed there is a lot of demand for MIDI filters and plugins (such as Rozeta) in the mobile music world,” he says,”especially with the rising popularity of DAW-less, modular plugin-based jamming and music making. Much of this demand is highly specific and difficult to satisfy with general purpose apps. So I decided to make it easier for people to create such plugins themselves.”

You get ready-to-use LFOs, graphic interface layouts, musical scales, random generators, and “a very easy-to-learn, easy-to-read script language.” And yeah, don’t be afraid, first-time programmers, Bram says: “I’ve designed the language from the ground up to be as accessible and readable as possible.”

To get you started, you’ll find example scripts and modular-style filters, and a big preset collection – with more coming, in response to your requests, Bram tells us. There’s a programming manual, meant both to get beginners going in as friendly a way as possible, and to give more advanced scripters and in-depth guide. And you get plenty of real-world examples.

There are some things you can do with your iOS gadget that you can’t do with most MIDI gadgets, too – like map your tilt sensors to MIDI.

This is an AUv3-compatible plug-in so you can use it in hosts like AUM, ApeMatrix, Cubasis, Nanostudio 2, Audiobus 3, and the like.

Full description/specs:

Mozaic runs inside your favorite AU MIDI host, and gives you practical building blocks such as LFOs, pre-fab GUI layouts, musical scales, AUv3 support (with AU Parameters, transport events, tempo syncing, etc.), random generators and a super-simple yet powerful script language. Mozaic even offers quick access to your device’s Tilt Sensors for expressive interaction concepts!

The Mozaic Script language is designed from the ground up to be the easiest and most flexible MIDI language on iOS. A language by creatives, for creatives. You’ll only need to write a few lines of script to achieve impressive things – or to create that uber-specific thing that was missing from your MIDI setup.

Check out the Programming Manual on Ruismaker.com to learn about the script language and to get inspiration for awesome scripts of your own.

Mozaic comes with a sizable collection of tutorials and pre-made scripts which you can use out of the box, or which can be a starting point for your own plugin adventures.

Features in a nutshell:

– Easy to learn Mozaic Script language: easy to learn, easy to read
– Sample-accurate-everything: the tightest MIDI timing possible
– Built-in script editor with code-completion, syntax hints, etc.
– 5 immediately usable GUI layouts, with knobs, sliders, pads, etc.
– In-depth, helpful programming manual available on Ruismaker.com
– Easy access to LFOs, scales, MIDI I/O, AU parameters, timers
– AUv3; so you’ll get multi-instance, state-saving, tempo sync and resource efficiency out of the box

Mozaic opens up the world of creative MIDI plugins to anyone willing to put in a few hours and a hot beverage or two.

Practical notes:
– Mozaic requires a plugin host with support for AUv3 MIDI plugins (AUM, ApeMatrix, Cubasis, Auria, Audiobus 3, etc.)
– The standalone mode of Mozaic lets you edit, test and export projects, but for MIDI connections you need to run it inside an AUv3 MIDI host
– MIDI is not sound; Mozaic on its own does not make noise… so bring your own synths, drum machines and other instruments!
– AUv3 MIDI requires iOS11 or higher

With some other MIDI controllers looking long in the tooth, and Liine’s Lemur also getting up in years, I wonder if this might not be the foundation for a universal controller/utility for music. So, yeah, I’d love to see some more touch-savvy widgets, OSC, and even Android support if this catches on. Now go forth, readers, and help it catch on!

Mozaic on the iTunes App Store

http://ruismaker.com/

The post Turn your iPad or iPhone into a scriptable MIDI tool with Mozaic appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

No, Beatport’s subscription will not kill music – here’s how it really works

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Labels,Scene | Fri 17 May 2019 7:18 pm

Pioneer and Beatport this week announced new streaming offerings for DJs. And then lots of people kind of freaked out. Let’s see what’s actually going on, if any of it is useful to DJs and music lovers, and what we should or shouldn’t worry about.

Artists, labels, and DJs are understandably on edge about digital music subscriptions – and thoughtless DJing. Independent music makers tend not to see any useful revenue or fan acquisition from streaming. So the fear is that a move to the kinds of pricing on Spotify, Amazon, and Apple services would be devastating.

And, well – that’s totally right, you obviously should be afraid of those things if you’re making music. Forget even getting rich – if big services take over, just getting heard could become an expensive endeavor, a trend we’ve already begun to see.

So I talked to Beatport to get some clarity on what they’re doing. We’re fortunate now that the person doing artist and label relations for Beatport is Heiko Hoffmann, who has an enormous resume in the trenches of the German electronic underground, including some 17 years under his belt as editor of Groove, which has had about as much a reputation as any German-language rag when it comes to credibility.

TL:DR

The skinny:

Beatport LINK: fifteen bucks a month, but aimed at beginners – 128k only. Use it for previews if you’re a serious Beatport user, recommend it to your friends bugging you about how they should start DJing, and otherwise don’t worry about it.

Beatport CLOUD: five bucks a month, gives you sync for your Beatport collection. Included in the other stuff here and – saves you losing your Beatport purchases and gives you previews. 128k only. Will work with Rekordbox in the fall, but you’ll want to pay extra for extra features (or stick with your existing download approach).

Beatport LINK PRO: the real news – but it’s not here yet. Works with Rekordbox, costs 40-60 bucks, but isn’t entirely unlimited. Won’t destroy music (uh, not saying something else won’t, but this won’t). The first sign of real streaming DJs – but the companies catering to serious DJs aren’t going to give away the farm the way Apple and Spotify have. In fact, if there’s any problem here, it’s that no one will buy this – but that’s Beatport’s problem, not yours (as it should be).

WeDJ streaming is for beginners, not Pioneer pros

This first point is probably the most important. Beatport (and SoundCloud) have each created a subscription offering that works exclusively with Pioneer’s WeDJ mobile DJ tool. That is, neither of these works with Rekordbox – not yet.

Just in case there’s any doubt, Pioneer has literally made the dominant product image photo some people DJing in their kitchen. So there you go: Rekordbox and and CDJ and TORAIZ equals nightclub, WeDJ equals countertop next to a pan of fajitas.

So yeah, SoundCloud streaming is now in a DJ app. And Beatport is offering its catalog of tracks for US$14.99 a month for the beta, which is a pretty phenomenally low price – and one that would rightfully scare labels and artists.

But it’s important this is in WeDJ as far as DJing. Pioneer aren’t planning on endangering their business ecosystem in Rekordbox, higher-end controllers, and standalone hardware like the CDJ. They’re trying to attract the beginners in the hopes that some of those people will expand the high end market down the road.

By the same token, it’d be incredibly short-sighted if Beatport were to give up on customers paying a hundred bucks a month or so on downloads just to chase growth. Instead, Beatport will split its offerings into a consumer/beginner product (LINK for WeDJ) and two products for serious DJs (LINK Pro and Beatport CLOUD).

And there’s reason to believe that what disrupts the consumer/beginner side might not make ripples when it comes to pros – as we’ve been there already. Spotify is in Algoriddim’s djay. It’s actually a really solid product. But the djay user base doesn’t impact what people use in the clubs, where the CDJ (or sometimes Serato or TRAKTOR) reign supreme. So if streaming in DJ software were going to crash the download market, you could argue it would have happened already.

That’s still a precarious situation, so let’s break down the different Beatport options, both to see how they’ll impact music makers’ business – and whether they’re something you might want to use yourself.

Ce n’est pas un CDJ.

Beatport LINK – the beginner one

First, that consumer service – yeah, it’s fifteen bucks a month and includes the Beatport catalog. But it’s quality-limited and works only in the WeDJ app (and with the fairly toy-like new DDJ-200 controller, which I’ll look at separately).

Who’s it for? “The Beginner DJs that are just starting out will have millions of tracks to practice and play with,” says Heiko. “Previously, a lot of this market would have been lost to piracy. The bit rate is 128kbs AAC and is not meant for public performance.”

But us serious Beatport users might want to mess around with it, too – it’s a place you can audition new tracks for a fairly low monthly fee. “It’s like having a record shop in your home,” says Heiko.

Just don’t think Beatport are making this their new subscription offering. If you think fifteen bucks a month for everything Beatport is a terrible business idea, don’t worry – Beatport agree. “This is the first of our Beatport LINK products,” says Heiko. “This is not a ‘Spotify for dance music.’ It’s a streaming service for DJs and makes Beatport’s extensive electronic music catalog available to stream audio into the WeDJ app.” And yeah, Spotify want more money for that, which is good – because you want more money charged for that as a producer or label. But before we get to that, let’s talk about the locker, the other thing available now:

WeDJ – a mobile gateway drug for DJs, or so Pioneer hopes. (NI and Algoriddim did it first; let’s see who does it better.)

Beatport CLOUD – the locker/sync one

Okay, so streaming may be destroying music but … you’ve probably still sometimes wanted to have access to digital downloads you’ve bought without having to worry about hard drive management or drive and laptop failures. And there’s the “locker” concept.

Some folks will remember that Beatport bought the major “locker” service for digital music – when it acquired Pulselocker. [link to our friends at DJ TechTools]

Beatport CLOUD is the sync/locker making a comeback, with €/$ 4.99 a month fee and no obligation or contract. It’s also included free in LINK – so for me, for instance, since I hate promos and like to dig for my own music even as press and DJ, I’m seriously thinking of the fifteen bucks to get full streaming previews, mixing in WeDJ, and CLOUD.

There are some other features here, too:

Re-download anything, unlimited. I heard from a friend – let’s call him Pietro Kerning – that maybe a stupid amount of music he’d (uh, or “she’d”) bought on Beatport was now scattered across a random assortment of hard drives. I would never do such a thing, because I organize everything immaculately in all aspects of my life in a manner becoming a true professional, but now this “friend” will easily be able to grab music anywhere in the event of that last-minute DJ gig.

By the same token you can:

Filter all your existing music in a cloud library. Not that I need to, perfectly organized individual, but you slobs need this, of course.

Needle-drop full previews. Hear 120 seconds from anywhere in a track – for better informed purchases. (Frankly, this makes me calmer as a label owner, even – I would totally rather you hear more of our music.)

There should be some obvious bad news here – this only works with Beatport purchased music. You can’t upload music the way some sync/locker services have worked in the past. But I think given the current legal landscape, if you want that, set up your own backup server.

What I like about this, at least, is that this store isn’t losing stuff you’ve bought from them. I think other download sites should consider something similar. (Bandcamp does a nice job in this respect – and of course it’s the store I use the most when not using Beatport.)

The new Beatport cloud.

Beatport LINK Pro – what’s coming

There are very few cases where someone says, “hey, good news – this will be expensive.” But music right now is a special case. And it’s good news that Beatport is launching a more expensive service.

For labels and artists, it means a serious chance to stay alive. (I mean, even for a label doing a tiny amount of download sales, this can mean that little bit of cash to pay the mastering engineer and the person who did the design for the cover, or to host a showcase in your local club.)

For serious users using that service, it means a higher quality way of getting music than other subscription services – and that you support the people who make the music you love, so they keep using it.

Or, at least, that’s the hope.

What Beatport is offering at the “pro” tiers does more and costs more. Just like Pioneer doesn’t want you to stop buying CDJs just because they have a cheap controller and app, Beatport doesn’t want you to stop spending money for music just because they have a subscription for that controller and app. Heiko explains:

With the upcoming Pioneer rekordbox integration, Beatport will roll out two new plans – Beatport LINK Pro and Beatport LINK Pro+ – with an offline locker and 256kbps AAC audio quality (which is equivalent to 320kbps MP3, but you’re the expert here). This will be club ready, but will be aimed at DJs who take their laptops to clubs, for now. They will cost €39,99/month and €59,99/month depending on how many tracks you can put in the offline locker (50 and 100 respectively).

You’ll get streaming inside Rekordbox with the basic LINK, too – but only at 128k. So it’ll work for previewing and trying out mixes, but the idea is you’ll still pay more for higher quality. (And of course that also still means paying more to work with CDJs, which is also a big deal.)

And yeah, Beatport agree with me. “We think streaming for professional DJ use should be priced higher,” says Heiko. “And we also need to be sure that this is not biting into the indie labels and artists (and therefore also Beatport’s own) revenues,” he says.

What Heiko doesn’t say is that this could increase spending, but I think it actually could. Looking at my own purchase habits and talking to others, a lot of times you look back and spend $100 for a big gig, but then lapse a few months. A subscription fee might actually encourage you to spend more and keep your catalog up to date gig to gig.

It’s also fair to hope this could be good for under-the-radar labels and artists even relative to the status quo. If serious DJs are locked into subscription plans, they might well take a chance on lesser known labels and artists since they’re already paying. I don’t want to be overly optimistic, though – a lot of this will be down to how Beatport handles its editorial offerings and UX on the site as this subscription grows. That means it’s good someone like Heiko is handling relations, though, as I expect he’ll be hearing from us.

Really, one very plausible scenario is that streaming DJing doesn’t catch on initially because it’s more expensive – and people in the DJ world may stick to downloads. A lot of that in turn depends on things like how 5G rolls out worldwide (which right now involves a major battle between the US government and Chinese hardware vendor Huawei, among other things), plus how Pioneer deals with a “Streaming CDJ.”

The point is, you shouldn’t have to worry about any of that. And there’s no rush – smart companies like Beatport will charge sustainable amounts of money for subscriptions and move slowly. The thing to be afraid of is if Apple or Spotify rush out a DJ product and, like, destroy independent music. If they try it, we should fight back.

Will labels and artists benefit?

If it sounds like I’m trying to be a cheerleader for Beatport, I’m really not. If you look at the top charts in genres, a lot of Beatport is, frankly, dreck – even with great editorial teams trying to guide consumers to good stuff. And centralization in general has a poor track record when it comes to underground music.

No, what I am biased toward is products that are real, shipping, and based on serious economics. So much as I’m interested in radical ideas for decentralizing music distribution, I think those services have yet to prove their feasibility.

And I think it’s fair to give Beatport some credit for being a business that’s real, based on actual revenue that’s shared between labels and artists. It may mean little to your speedcore goth neo-Baroque label (BLACK HYPERACID LEIPZIG INDUSTRIES, obviously – please let’s make that). But Beatport really is a cornerstone for a lot of the people making dance music now, on a unique scale.

The vision for LINK seems to be solid when it comes to revenue. Heiko again:

LINK will provide an additional revenue source to the labels and artists. The people who are buying downloads on Beatport are doing so because they want to DJ/perform with them. LINK is not there to replace that.

But I think for the reason I’ve already repeated – that the “serious” and “amateur”/wedding/beginner DJ gulf is real and not just a thing snobs talk about – LINK and WeDJ probably won’t disrupt label business, even that much to the positive. Look ahead to Rekordbox integration and the higher tiers. And yeah, I’m happy to spend the money, because I never get tired of listening to music – really.

And what if you don’t like this? Talk to your label and distributor. And really, you should be doing that anyway. Heiko explains:

Unlike other DSP’s, Beatport LINK has been conceived and developed in close cooperation with the labels and distributors on Beatport. Over the past year, new contracts were signed and all music used for LINK has been licensed by the right holders. However, if labels whose distributors have signed the new contract don’t want their catalog to be available for LINK they can opt out. But again: LINK is meant to provide an additional revenue source to the labels and artists.

Have a good weekend, and let us know if you have questions or comments. I’ll be looking at this for sure, as I think there isn’t enough perspective coming from serious producers who care about the details of technology.

https://www.beatport.com/get-link

The post No, Beatport’s subscription will not kill music – here’s how it really works appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

AUM is perfect iOS music hub, now with Ableton Link and MIDI updates

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 24 Apr 2019 10:49 pm

Speaking of tools to glue together your gear and serve as the heartbeat of your studio – AUM. This iOS super-tool can serve as an essential hub for combining apps and hardware in any combination – and now it’s even more savvy with Ableton Link and MIDI.

You’d be forgiven for thinking AUM was just some sort of fancy mixer for the iPad. But it’s more like a studio for combining software with software, software with hardware, and hardware with hardware. So it might be a way to combine stuff that’s on your iOS device, or a convenient tool for mobile recording, or a way to let your iPad sit in a studio of other gear and make them play together, or a combination of all those things.

It does this by letting you do whatever you like with inputs and outputs, iOS plug-ins (Audio Unit extensions), audio between apps (Audiobus and Inter-App Audio), and multichannel audio and MIDI interfaces. It’s a host, a virtual patch bay (for both MIDI and audio), and a recording/playback device. And it’s a tool to center other tools. There’s also Ableton Link and MIDI clock support.

It’s worth bringing up AUM right now, because a minor point update – 1.3 – brings some major new features that really make this invaluable.

  • Ableton Link 3 support means you can start/stop transport.
  • You get “MIDI strips” for hosting useful MIDI-only Audio unit extensions.
  • You can import channels between sessions, and duplicate channel strips.
  • And you get tons of new MIDI mappings: program changes, tap tempo, loading presets, and even loading whole sessions can now be done via MIDI. I imagine that could see this used in some pretty major stage shows.

Jakob Haq has shown some useful ways of approaching the app, including MIDI mapping control:

Lots more tutorials and resources on the official site:

http://kymatica.com/apps/aum

The full feature list:

High quality audio up to 32-bit 96kHz
Clean and intuitive user interface with crisp vector graphics
Extremely compact and optimized code, very small app size
Unlimited* number of channels
Unlimited* number of effect slots
Inserts and sends are configurable pre/post-fader
Internal busses for mixing or effect sends
Supports multi-channel audio interfaces
Supports Audio Unit extensions, Inter-App Audio and Audiobus
Audiobus state saving
Highly accurate transport clock
Metronome with selectable output and optional pre-roll
Sends host sync to Audio Unit plugins and IAA apps
Send MIDI clock to external hardware
Play in time with Ableton Link
FilePlayer with sync and looping, access to all AudioShare files
Records straight into AudioShare storage space
Record synchronized beat-perfect loops
Built-in nodes for stereo processing, filtering and dynamics
Latency compensation makes everything align at the outputs
Separate Inter-App Audio / Audiobus output ports
Built-in MIDI keyboard
Fully MIDI controllable
MIDI Matrix for routing MIDI anywhere

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MidiWrist aids instrumentalists by giving Siri and Apple Watch control

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 26 Feb 2019 9:02 pm

Grabbing the mouse, keyboard, or other controller while playing an instrument is no fun. Developer Geert Bevin has a solution: put an Apple Watch or (soon) iPhone’s Siri voice command in control.

We’ve been watching MidiWrist evolve over the past weeks. It’s a classic story of what happens when a developer is also a musician, making a tool for themselves. Geert has long been an advocate for combining traditional instrumental technique and futuristic electronic instruments; in this case, he’s applying his musicianship and developer chops to solving a practical issue.

If you’ve got an iPhone but no watch – like me – there are some solutions coming (more on that in a bit). But Apple Watch is really ideally suited to the task. The fact that you have the controller strapped to your body already means controls are at hand. Haptic feedback on the digital crown means you can adjust parameters without even having to look at the display. (The digital crown is the dial on the side of the watch that was used to wind and/or set time on analog watches. Haptic feedback uses sound to give physical feedback in the way a tangible control would, both on that crown and the touch surface of the watch face – what Apple calls “taptic” feedback since it works with the existing touch interface. Even if you’re not a fan of the Apple Watch, it’s a fascinating design feature.)

How this works in practice: you can use the transport and even overdub new tracks easily, here pictured in Logic Pro X:

Just seeing the Digital Crown mapped as a new physical control is a compelling tech demo – and very useful to mobile apps, which tend to lack physical feedback. Here it is in a pre-release demo with the Minimoog Model D on iPhone:

Or here it is with the Eventide H9 (though, yeah, you could just put the pedal on a table and get the same impact):

Here it is with IK Multimedia’s UNO synth, though this rather makes me wish the iPhone just had its own Digital Crown:

Version 1.1 will include voice control via Siri. That’ll work with iPhones, too, so you don’t necessarily need an Apple Watch. With voice-controlled interfaces coming to various home devices, it’s not hard to imagine sitting at home and recording ideas right when the mood strikes you, Star Trek: The Next Generation style.

Geert, please, can we set up a DAW that lets us dictate melodies like this?

It’s a simple app at its core, but you see it really embodies three features: wearable interfaces, hands-free control (with voice), and haptic feedback. And here are lots of options for custom control, MIDI functionality, and connectivity. Check it out – this really is insane for just a watch app:

Four knobs can be controlled with the digital crown
Macro control over multiple synth parameters from the digital crown
Remotely Play / Stop / Record / Rewind your DAW from your Watch
Knobs can be controlled individually or simultaneously
Knobs can be linked to preserve their offsets
Four buttons can be toggled by tapping the Watch
Buttons can either be stateful or momentary
Program changes through the digital crown or by tapping the Watch
Transport control over Midi Machine Control (MMC)
XY pad with individual messages for each axis
Optional haptic feedback for all Watch interactions
Optional value display on the Watch
Configurable colors for all knobs and buttons
Configurable MIDI channels and CC numbers
Save your configurations to preset for easy retrieval
MIDI learn for easy controller configuration
MIDI input to sync the state of the controllers with the controlled synths
Advertise as a Bluetooth MIDI device
Connect to other Bluetooth MIDI devices
Monitor the MIDI values on the iPhone
Low latency and fast response

http://uwyn.com/midiwrist/

All of this really does make me want a dedicated DIY haptic device. I had an extended conversation with the engineers at Native Instruments about their haptic efforts with TRAKTOR; I personally believe there’s a lot of potential for human-machine interfaces for music with this approach. But that will depend in the long run on more hardware adopting haptic interfaces beyond just the passive haptics of nice-feeling knobs and faders and whatnot.

It’s a good space to keep an eye on. (I almost wrote “a good space to watch.” No. That’s not the point. You know.)

Geert shares a bit about development here:

Fun anecdote — in a way, this app has been more than three years in the making. I got the first Apple Watch in the hope of creating this, but the technology was way too slow without a direct real-time communication protocol between the Watch and the iPhone. I’ve been watching every Watch release (teehee) up until the last one, the Series 4. The customer reception was so good overall that I decided to give this another go, and only after a few hours of prototyping, I could see that this would now work and feel great. I did buy a Watch Series 3 afterwards also to include in my testing during development.

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Why is this Valentine’s song made by an AI app so awful?

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 13 Feb 2019 11:19 pm

Do you hate AI as a buzzword? Do you despise the millennial whoop? Do you cringe every time Valentine’s Day arrives? Well – get ready for all those things you hate in one place. But hang in there – there’s a moral to this story.

Now, really, the song is bad. Like laugh-out-loud bad. Here’s iOS app Amadeus Code “composing” a song for Valentine’s Day, which says love much in the way a half-melted milk chocolate heart does, but – well, I’ll let you listen, millennial pop cliches and all:

Fortunately this comes after yesterday’s quite stimulating ideas from a Google research team – proof that you might actually use machine learning for stuff you want, like improved groove quantization and rhythm humanization. In case you missed that:

Magenta Studio lets you use AI tools for inspiration in Ableton Live

Now, as a trained composer / musicologist, I do find this sort of exercise fascinating. And on reflection, I think the failure of this app tells us a lot – not just about machines, but about humans. Here’s what I mean.

Amadeus Code is an interesting idea – a “songwriting assistant” powered by machine learning, delivered as an app. And it seems machine learning could generate, for example, smarter auto accompaniment tools or harmonizers. Traditionally, those technologies have been driven by rigid heuristics that sound “off” to our ears, because they aren’t able to adequately follow harmonic changes in the way a human would. Machine learning could – well, theoretically, with the right dataset and interpretation – make those tools work more effectively. (I won’t re-hash an explanation of neural network machine learning, since I got into that in yesterday’s article on Magenta Studio.)

https://amadeuscode.com/

You might well find some usefulness from Amadeus, too.

This particular example does not sound useful, though. It sounds soulless and horrible.

Okay, so what happened here? Music theory at least cheers me up even when Valentine’s Day brings me down. Here’s what the developers sent CDM in a pre-packaged press release:

We wanted to create a song with a specific singer in mind, and for this demo, it was Taylor Swift. With that in mind, here are the parameters we set in the app.

Bpm set to slow to create a pop ballad
To give the verses a rhythmic feel, the note length settings were set to “short” and also since her vocals have great presence below C, the note range was also set from low~mid range.
For the chorus, to give contrast to the rhythmic verses, the note lengths were set longer and a wider note range was set to give a dynamic range overall.

After re-generating a few ideas in the app, the midi file was exported and handed to an arranger who made the track.

Wait – Taylor Swift is there just how, you say?

Taylor’s vocal range is somewhere in the range of C#3-G5. The key of the song created with Amadeus Code was raised a half step in order to accommodate this range making the song F3-D5.

From the exported midi, 90% of the topline was used. The rest of the 10% was edited by the human arranger/producer: The bass and harmony files are 100% from the AC midi files.

Now, first – these results are really impressive. I don’t think traditional melodic models – theoretical and mathematical in nature – are capable of generating anything like this. They’ll tend to fit melodic material into a continuous line, and as a result will come out fairly featureless.

No, what’s compelling here is not so much that this sounds like Taylor Swift, or that it sounds like a computer, as it sounds like one of those awful commercial music beds trying to be a faux Taylor Swift song. It’s gotten some of the repetition, some of the basic syncopation, and oh yeah, that awful overused millennial whoop. It sounds like a parody, perhaps because partly it is – the machine learning has repeated the most recognizable cliches from these melodic materials, strung together, and then that was further selected / arranged by humans who did the same. (If the machines had been left alone without as much human intervention, I suspect the results wouldn’t be as good.)

In fact, it picks up Swift’s ticks – some of the funny syncopations and repetitions – but without stringing them together, like watching someone do a bad impression. (That’s still impressive, though, as it does represent one element of learning – if a crude one.)

To understand why this matters, we’re going to have to listen to a real Taylor Swift song. Let’s take this one:i’

Okay, first, the fact that the real Taylor Swift song has words is not a trivial detail. Adding words means adding prosody – so elements like intonation, tone, stress, and rhythm. To the extent those elements have resurfaced as musical elements in the machine learning-generated example, they’ve done so in a way that no longer is attached to meaning.

No amount of analysis, machine or human, can be generative of lyrical prosody for the simple reason that analysis alone doesn’t give you intention and play. A lyricist will make decisions based on past experience and on the desired effect of the song, and because there’s no real right or wrong to how do do that, they can play around with our expectations.

Part of the reason we should stop using AI as a term is that artificial intelligence implies decision making, and these kinds of models can’t make decisions. (I did say “AI” again because it fits into the headline. Or, uh, oops, I did it again. AI lyricists can’t yet hammer “oops” as an interjection or learn the playful setting of that line – again, sorry.)

Now, you can hate the Taylor Swift song if you like. But it’s catchy not because of a predictable set of pop music rules so much as its unpredictability and irregularity – the very things machine learning models of melodic space are trying to remove in order to create smooth interpolations. In fact, most of the melody of “Blank Space” is a repeated tonic note over the chord progression. Repetition and rhythm are also combined into repeated motives – something else these simple melodic models can’t generate, by design. (Well, you’ll hear basic repetition, but making a relationship between repeated motives again will require a human.)

It may sound like I’m dismissing computer analysis. I’m actually saying something more (maybe) radical – I’m saying part of the mistake here is assuming an analytical model will work as a generative model. Not just a machine model – any model.

This mistake is familiar, because almost everyone who has ever studied music theory has made the same mistake. (Theory teachers then have to listen to the results, which are often about as much fun as these AI results.)

Music theory analysis can lead you to a deeper understanding of how music works, and how the mechanical elements of music interrelate. But it’s tough to turn an analytical model into a generative model, because the “generating” process involves decisions based on intention. If the machine learning models sometimes sound like a first year graduate composition student, that may be that the same student is steeped in the analysis but not in the experience of decision making. But that’s important. The machine learning model won’t get better, because while it can keep learning, it can’t really make decisions. It can’t learn from what it’s learned, as you can.

Yes, yes, app developers – I can hear you aren’t sold yet.

For a sense of why this can go deep, let’s turn back to this same Taylor Swift song. The band Imagine Dragons picked it up and did a cover, and, well, the chord progression will sound more familiar than before.

As it happens, in a different live take I heard the lead singer comment (unironically) that he really loves Swift’s melodic writing.

But, oh yeah, even though pop music recycles elements like chord progressions and even groove (there’s the analytic part), the results take on singular personalities (there’s the human-generative side).

“Stand by Me” dispenses with some of the ticks of our current pop age – millennial whoops, I’m looking at you – and at least as well as you can with the English language, hits some emotional meaning of the words in the way they’re set musically. It’s not a mathematical average of a bunch of tunes, either. It’s a reference to a particular song that meant something to its composer and singer, Ben E. King.

This is his voice, not just the emergent results of a model. It’s a singer recalling a spiritual that hit him with those same three words, which sets a particular psalm from the Bible. So yes, drum machines have no soul – at least until we give them one.

“Sure,” you say, “but couldn’t the machine learning eventually learn how to set the words ‘stand by me’ to music”? No, it can’t – because there are too many possibilities for exactly the same words in the same range in the same meter. Think about it: how many ways can you say these three words?

“Stand by me.”

Where do you put the emphasis, the pitch? There’s prosody. What melody do you use? Keep in mind just how different Taylor Swift and Ben E. King were, even with the same harmonic structure. “Stand,” the word, is repeated as a suspension – a dissonant note – above the tonic.

And even those observations still lie in the realm of analysis. The texture of this coming out of someone’s vocal cords, the nuances to their performance – that never happens the same way twice.

Analyzing this will not tell you how to write a song like this. But it will throw light on each decision, make you hear it that much more deeply – which is why we teach analysis, and why we don’t worry that it will rob music of its magic. It means you’ll really listen to this song and what it’s saying, listen to how mournful that song is.

And that’s what a love song really is:

If the sky that we look upon
Should tumble and fall
Or the mountain should crumble to the sea
I won’t cry, I won’t cry
No, I won’t shed a tear
Just as long as you stand
Stand by me

Stand by me.

Now that’s a love song.

So happy Valentine’s Day. And if you’re alone, well – make some music. People singing about hearbreak and longing have gotten us this far – and it seems if a machine does join in, it’ll happen when the machine’s heart can break, too.

PS – let’s give credit to the songwriters, and a gentle reminder that we each have something to sing that only we can:
Singer Ben E. King, Best Known For ‘Stand By Me,’ Dies At 76 [NPR]

The post Why is this Valentine’s song made by an AI app so awful? appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Synth One is a free, no-strings-attached, iPad and iPhone synthesizer

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 31 Jan 2019 6:52 pm

Call it the people’s iOS synth: Synth One is free – without ads or registration or anything like that – and loved. And now it’s reached 1.0, with iPad and iPhone support and some expert-designed sounds.

First off – if you’ve been wondering what happened to Ashley Elsdon, aka Palm Sounds and editor of our Apps section, he’s been on a sabbatical since September. We’ll be thinking soon about how best to feature his work on this site and how to integrate app coverage in the current landscape. But you can read his take on why AudioKit matters, and if Ashley says something is awesome, that counts.

But with lots of software synths out there, why does Synth One matter in 2019? Easy:

It’s really free. Okay, sure, it’s easy for Apple to “give away” software when they make more on their dongles and adapters than most app developers charge. But here’s an independent app that’s totally free, without needing you to join a mailing list or look at ads or log into some cloud service.

It’s a full-featured, balanced synth. Under the hood, Synth One is a polysynth with hybrid virtual analog / FM, with five oscillators, step sequencer, poly arpeggiator, loads of filtering and modulation, a rich reverb, multi-tap delay, and loads of etras.

There’s standards support up the wazoo. Are you visually impaired? There’s Voice Over accessibility. Want Ableton Link support? MIDI learn on everything? Compatibility with Audiobus 3 and Inter App Audio so you can run this in your favorite iOS DAW? You’re set.

It’s got some hot presets. Sound designer Francis Preve has been on fire lately, making presets for everyone from KORG to the popular Serum plug-in. And version 1.0 launches with Fran’s sound designs – just what you need to get going right away. (Fran’s sound designs are also usually great for learning how a synth works.)

It’s the flagship of an essential framework. Okay the above matters to users – this matters to developers (who make stuff users care about, naturally). Synth One is the synthesizer from the people who make AudioKit. That’s good for making sure the framework is solid, plus

You can check out the source code. Everything is up at github.com/AudioKit/AudioKitSynthOne – meaning Synth One is also an (incredibly sophisticated) example app for Audio Kit.

More is coming… MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression) and AUv3 are coming soon, say the developers.

And now the big addition —

It runs on iPhone, too. I have to say, I’ve been waiting for a synth that’s pocket sized for extreme portability, but few really are compelling. Now you can run this on any iPhone 6 or better – and if you’ve got a higher-end iPhone (iPhone X/XS/XR / iPhone XS Max / 6/7/8 Plus size), you’ll get a specially optimized UI with even more space.

Check out this nice UI:

On iPhone:

More:

AudioKit Synth One 1.0 arrives, is universal, is awesome

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AudioKit Synth One 1.0 arrives, is universal, is awesome

Delivered... Ashley Elsdon | Scene | Thu 31 Jan 2019 5:48 pm

Synth One arrived in the middle of last year and was almost universally well received. Today it reaches a very significant milestone, version 1.0. That’s a big thing, and with this new version comes universal status so you can use Synth One on your iPhone as well as your iPad. That in itself is a good thing in my book. But that’s not all. Here’s all that’s new in version 1.0:

Synth One is now Universal. You can now play AudioKit Synth One on your iPhone! (Requires iPhone 6 or above)

NEW PRESETS:

  • New Preset Bank by world-class sound designer, Francis Preve (sound designer for Serum, Ableton, Korg, and more)
  • New presets added to JEC bank by James Edward Cosby
  • Synth One & all of these upgrades will always be free.

What we shouldn’t forget of course is that the entire team at AudioKit, those behind Synth One are volunteers. AudioKit itself does not have any sponsors or investors. The people who make it are all musicians / developers who love making apps. Synth One isn’t all that they make. AudioKit’s main output is AudioKit itself, loved by main, and the mainstay of a lot more apps than you’re probably aware of.

To say that Synth One is a labour of love would be a profound understatement. I know personally that the team behind it are exceptionally dedicated and proud of what they do, and they should be. The app is rightfully loved by many, and as a high quality free app with not the merest hint of an IAP to be found, it is unique.

Long may it continue, and long may AudioKit keep doing what they’re so good at.

You can find Synth One at the app store here:

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Hello 2019, Goodbye Allihoopa

Delivered... Ashley Elsdon | Scene | Wed 16 Jan 2019 12:35 pm

You may have been wondering where all the app coverage had gone towards the end of last year? The short answer is that I took a break for a variety of reasons, but now, I’m back, and will be talking about apps and mobile once again.

Welcome to 2019, already, in just a few days it’s been an interesting year. With the launch of the Korg Volca Modular. There’ll be a lot more to talk about in mobile, and not just in apps. But to start with there is sad news. The online mobile centric sharing and collaboration service Allihoopa is shutting down as of the 17th.

I have to admit that this came as a surprise to me. Allihoopa has been around for quite some time now. They started back in 2016 as a web based service and launched their own native iOS app back in early 2017 in response to user feedback. They built great partnerships with other high profile app makers such as Korg, Yamaha and Soundtrap. But even so, it seems that it wasn’t enough to keep the lights on. They’ve posted a statement here if you’re interested in reading it, and if you’re reading this before the 17th then you can download any content you shared as well.

So why has this happened? To use their own words:

“Simply, we can no longer afford to be in business”

Which is a common issue with music tech start ups irrespective of how good or how well loved they are. The this happens usually comes from a handful of causes:

Lack of funding
Without detailed knowledge of their financial position it’s difficult to say if this was it or not. But securing funding is never easy, irrespective of how good the idea or how big the potential market is.

Burn rate
Even if you have funding, if your burn rate (that is the amount of cash you physically need to spend each month) is too high you will always be looking for funding and that detracts for actually making and improving your product, attracting customers, and generally running the business.

Monetising the product
With a service like Allihoopa it’s difficult to see how this was going to happen. I could have envisaged additional services and a possible “pro” tier for users, similar to SoundCloud, but, to the best of my knowledge that wasn’t something that Allihoopa had even hinted at.

All of this is of course just my speculation. I have reached out to a few people to get more detail, but at the time of writing I don’t know. If that changes I’ll update this and let you know more.

This leaves some currently unanswered questions though. What will happen to the existing Allihoopa apps? Here’s what Allihoopa’s statement says:

We are trying hard to find a place for our Take and Figure apps, but at this point they have no home. We’ll let you know if that happens. If we are unable to find a new owner for them, they will be removed from App Store.

As far as I know there is no current taker for either app. I hope that’ll change too, but as of now, that’s it. This in particular is a really sad situation. When Figure first launched, under the Propellerheads brand, it was a breath of fresh air. It was what mobile music was all about and it engaged a huge number of new users.

If it goes and if no one picks it up that will be loss to the whole mobile music world.

What does this mean for other music sharing start ups?
Finally a few words on what this means for others looking to occupy a similar space. At face value this could be interpreted as a fairly negative message. I have to say, that without knowing exactly what’s been happening inside Allihoopa that is a big assumption. There could be multiple reasons for this outcome.

However, if nothing else, it should be taken as a cautionary tale for anyone playing in a similar space. Getting users onboard and hosting vast amounts of content is great. Allihoopa hosted over 1.7m pieces from around 240 countries. That’s impressive by any standards.

Even so, the lights are still going out.

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The new iPad Pro has a USB-C port – so what can it do, exactly?

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 5 Dec 2018 1:46 pm

The iPad finally gets a dedicated port for connectivity, as you’d find on a “desktop” computer – and it’s loaded with potential uses, from power to music gear. Let’s break down exactly what it can do.

“USB-C” is a port type; it refers to the reversible, slim, oval-shaped connector on the newest gadgets. But it doesn’t actually describe what the port can do as far as capabilities. So initially, Apple’s reference to the “USB-C” port on the latest iPad Pro generation was pretty vague.

Since then, press have gotten their hands on hardware and Apple themselves have posted technical documentation. Specifically, they’ve got a story up explaining the port’s powers:

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT209186

Now, keep in mind the most confusing thing about Apple and USB-C is the two different kinds of ports. There’s a Thunderbolt-3 port, as found on the high-end MacBooks Pro and the Mac mini. It’s got a bolt of lightning indicator on it, and is compatible with audio devices like those from Universal Audio, and high-performance video gadgetry. And then there’s the plain-vanilla USB-C port, which has the standard USB icon on it.

All Thunderbolt 3 ports also double as USB-C ports, just not the other way around. The Thunderbolt 3 one is the faster port.

Also important, USB-C is backwards compatible with older USB formats if you have the right cable.

So here’s what you can do with USB-C. The basic story: do more, with fewer specialized adapters and dongles.

You can charge your iPad. Standard USB-C power devices as well as Apple’s own adapter. Nicely enough, you might even charge faster with a third-party adapter – like one you could share with a laptop that uses USB-C power.

Connect your iPad to a computer. Just as with Lightning-to-USB, you can use USB cables to connect to a USB-C port or older standard USB-A port, for charge and sync.

Connect to displays, projectors, TVs. Here you’ve got a few options, but they all max out at far higher quality than before:

  • USB-C to HDMI. (up to 4K resolution, 60 Hz, with HDMI 2.0 adapter.)
  • USB-C Digital AV Multiport. Apple’s own adapter supports up to 4K resolution, 30Hz. (The iPad display itself is 1080p / 60Hz, video up to 4K, 30Hz.)
  • USB-C displays. Up to 5K, with HR10 high dynamic range support. Some will even charge the iPad Pro in the process.

High end video makes the new iPad Pro look indispensable as a delivery device for many visual applications – including live visuals. It’s not hard to imagine people carrying these to demo high-end graphics with, or even writing custom software using the latest Apple APIs for 3D graphics and using the iPad Pro live.

Connect storage – a lot of it. Fast. USB-C is now becoming the standard for fast hard drives – USB 3.1/3.2. That theoretically allows for up to 2500 MB/s data access, and Apple says the iPad Pro will now work with 1 TB of storage. I’ve asked them for more clarification, but basically, yes, you can plug in big, fast storage and use it with your iPad, not limiting yourself to internal storage capacity. So that’s a revelation for pros, especially when using the iPad as an accessory to process video and photos and field recordings on the go.

Play audio. There’s no minijack audio output (grrr), but what you do get is audio playback to USB-C audio interfaces, docks, and specialized headphones. There’s also a USB-C to 3.m mm headphone jack adapter, but that’s pretty useless because it doesn’t include power passthrough – it’s a step backward from what you had before. Better to use a specialized USB-C adapter, which could also mean getting an analog audio output that’s higher quality than the one previous included internally on the iPad range.

And of course you can use AirPlay or Bluetooth, though it doesn’t appear Apple yet supports higher quality Bluetooth streaming, so wires seem to win for those of us who care about sound.

Oh, also interesting – Apple says they’ve added Dolby Digital Plus support over HDMI, but not Dolby Atmos. That hints a bit at consumer devices that do support Atmos – these are rare so far, but it’ll be interesting to watch, and to see whether Apple and Dolby work together or compete in this space.

Speaking of audio and music, though, here’s the other big one:

Work with USB devices. Apple specifically calls out audio and MIDI tools, presumably because musicians remain a big target Pro audience. What’s great here is, you no longer have the extra Lightning to USB “Camera” adapter required on older iPads, which was expensive and only worked with the iPad, and you should be free of some of the more restrictive electrical power capabilities of those past models.

You could also use a standard external keyboard to type on, or wired Ethernet – the latter great for wired use of applications like Liine’s Lemur.

The important thing here is there’s more bandwidth and more power. (Hardware that draws more power may still require external power – but that’s already true on a computer, too.)

The iPad Pro is at last closer to a computer, which makes it a much more serious tool for soft synths, controller tools, audio production, and more.

Charge other stuff. This is also cool – if you ever relied on a laptop as a mobile battery for phones and other accessories, now you can do that with the USB-C on the iPad Pro, too. So that means iPhones as well as other non-Apple phones. You can even plug one iPad into another iPad Pro.

Thunderbolt – no. Note that what you can’t do is connect Thunderbolt hardware. For that, you still want a laptop or desktop computer.

What about Made for iPhone? Apple’s somewhat infamous “MFI” program, which began as “Made for iPod,” is meant to certify certain hardware as compatible with their products. Presumably, that still exists – it would have to do so for the Lightning port products, but it seems likely certain iPad-specific products will still carry the certification.

That isn’t all bad – there are a lot of dodgy USB-C products out there, so some Apple seal of approval may be welcome. But MFI has hamstrung some real “pro” products. The good news as far as USB-C is, because it’s a standard port, devices made for particular “pro” music and audio and video uses no longer need to go through Apple’s certification just to plug directly into the iPad Pro. (And they don’t have to rely on something like the Camera Connection Kit to act as a bridge.)

Apple did not initially respond to CDM’s request for comment on MFI as it relates to the USB-C port.

More resources

MacStories tests the new fast charging and power adapter.

9to5Mac go into some detail on what works and what doesn’t (largely working from the same information I am, I think, but you get another take):
What can you connect to the new iPad Pro with USB-C?

And yeah, this headline gives it away, but agree totally. Note that Android is offering USB-C across a lot of devices, but that platform lacks some of the support for high-end displays and robust music hardware support that iOS does – meaning it’d be more useful coming from Apple than coming from those Android vendors.

The iPad Pro’s USB-C port is great. It should be on my iPhone, too

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Cyber Monday means still more deals on music software

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 26 Nov 2018 6:28 pm

If you snoozed on some deals this weekend, and you’re longing to build out your software arsenal, erm, legally, it’s not too late. Here are some of the best deals we missed over the weekend plus some Cyber Monday news.

And yes, if you think I’d do this just as an excuse to run an image of some Cybermen, vintage ones looking like BBC actors dressed in a combination of balaclavas and some combination of hardware store parts that make it look like they have an air conditioner strapped to their chest, oh absolutely I would.

Ah, back to deals.

pluginboutique.com continues the sale of the weekend with a bunch of Monday “flash” deals. That includes ROLI’s wonderful new Cypher2 synth on sale, Softube Tape for thirty bucks, and many others – plus loads of plug-ins are $1 or free meaning you can go shopping for next to nothing or actually nothing. Also, pluginboutique.com’s site is up, which isn’t always the case with some of these flash deals from plug-in developers, so they’re a good place to check out.

Some examples:
Loopmasters Studio Bundle at 90% off, or $132 for a bunch of stuff.

iZotope at 78% off (weird number, but great)!

AAS / Applied Acoustics for 50% off – I’ve always loved their unique physical modeling creations.

The beautiful Sinevibes creations for 30% off.

Harrison make wonderful consoles. Now Mixbus was already kind of ridiculously affordable – US$79 buys you a full console emulation that’s great for mixdowns and mastering and the like. But for Cyber Monday, that’s a “okay, you have to buy this” $19, which is just stupidly good. Alternatively get Mixbus plus 5 plug-ins for $39. They didn’t pay me to say that, either; at those prices, I don’t imagine they have much marketing budget!

Enter code CYBERMON18 when you shop their store.

Trakction are back with 50% off everything today only. Try entering code EPIC2018, too.

Spitfire Audio have Black Weekend sales still going – think 25% off individual products, or up to 77% off of collections, for their unique and delightful sound libraries.

Sugarbytes have everything on sale: EUR69 plug-ins, EUR333 bundle, plus up to 50% on iOS Apps.

Propellerhead have a huge Cyber Monday sale, and with loads of big discounts on Reason add-ons and the cheapest ever price on an upgrade, it’s nice fodder for their loyal users. Euclidean rhythms, the KORG Polysix, the Parsec “spectral synth,” the Resonans physical modeling synth – some serious goodies there on sale. And €99 for the upgrade means you can finally stop putting off getting the latest Reason 10. (Not only is VST compatibility in there, but the Props have done a lot lately on usability and stability meaning now seems a good time to jump for Reason users.)

Eventide have their software on sale through the end of the month. This is really the most affordable way to get Eventide sound in your productions (short of a subscription deal).

Anthology XI for US$699 instead of the usual $1799 is especially notable. Having those 23 plug-ins feels a bit like you’ve just rented a serious studio, virtually.

If that’s too much to budget, consider also the new Elevate Bundle – makes your sounds utterly massive, and the three do fit well together, so $79 is a steal.

There’s also the excellent H3000 delay on steep discount, and the luscious Blackhole reverb for just $69. (Or for more studio reverb sounds, the ‘Heroes’/Visconti-inspired Tverb for $99.) And of course the rest of the lineup, too.

Waves had a big sale over the weekend, but for Cyber Monday they also have a new synth – the Flow Motion FM Synth. This crazy UI is certainly a new take on making FM easier to grasp, and it’s got an intro price of US$39. (I have no idea how good it is as I haven’t tried it yet, but they’ve got my attention – and NI aren’t shipping the new Massive yet, so Waves gets in here first with their own hybrid take!) And Waves are doing a buy 2 get 1 free deal, as well.

After introducing a vocal plug-in over the weekend, Waves are using Cyber Monday for a product launch, too – the Flow Motion FM synth seen here.

Output have added a 25% off discount on their software, even including their already discounted bundle, for Cyber Monday.

Steinberg have a big sale this week, including apps, with up to 60% off. That’s a big deal for fans of their production software and plug-ins, but also take note that their terrific mobile app Cubasis – perhaps the most feature-complete DAW for iOS – is half off, as is the Waves in-app purchase for the same.

App lovers, it’s worth checking the Android App Store / Google Play as a bunch of stuff is on sale now – too much to track, probably. But some top picks this week: Imaginando’s Traktor and Live controllers, iOS and Android, are all 40% off – everything.

KORG’s apps are still 50% off.

And the terrific MoMinstruments line is all on sale:
Elastic Drums: 10,99€ -> 5,49€, $9.99 -> $4.99
Elastic FX: 10,99€ -> 5,49€, $9.99 -> $4.99
iLep: 10,99€ -> 5,49€, $9.99 -> $4.99
fluXpad: 8,99€ -> 3,99, $7.99 -> $4.49
WretchUp: 4,49€ -> 2,29€, $3.99 -> $1.99

Puremagnetik have US$10 Cyber Monday deals – $20 each, then enter code BLACKFRIDAY18 for 50% off on top of that – so ten bucks for String Machines XL, Retro Computers +, and Soniq’s classic synths.

Still going… A lot of the deals I wrote up over the weekend are still on, including Arturia and Soundtoys.

Native Instruments have a 50% off sale still going. Tons of stuff in there, but Reaktor 6 for a hundred bucks – full version, meaning you don’t need a past version – that’s insane. That’s a hundred bucks to buy you what could be the last plug-in you ever need.

IRRUPT/audio have a 50% off deal on their unique sound selection if you enter code IRRUPT-VIP.

Sonic Faction have a 40% off sale on instruments for Ableton Live and Native Instruments Kontakt – enter code CYBRMNDY40

Need to learn things and not just buy them? Askvideo/Macprovideo have a deal for today only with US$75 for a yearly pass (the price that usually gets you just three months), or 75% off all à la carte training.

And SONAR+D in Bacelona has a 200EUR delegate pass sale today only.

Some of the deals are expiring, but some last through today or through Friday (with a few straggling into December), so check out previous guide and guide to other guides:

Here’s where to find all the don’t-miss deals for Black Friday weekend

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Noir is part bass, part drum synth – a must-have iOS drum machine

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 12 Nov 2018 8:58 pm

Dark, crunchy, synthetic sounds, grooves that morph somewhere in the shadows between bass line and percussion pattern – Ruismaker Noir is exactly the sort of drum machine you’d want with you at all times. And as it’s an iOS app, you can take it with you.

Here’s the idea: what if the drum synth were also a monophonic synth? And what if you could morph between those, for basslines that start to get edgier and more rhythmic, or rhythmic lines that start to get more melodic? And what if you had an integrated sequencer so you could mess with both of those at once (including all the mighty morphing modulation)? Well, uh, obviously the answer to that would be yes, please, I would want that.

Noir is the latest in the Ruismaker line from Dutch developer/designer Bram Bos. Bram has had a series of synthesis-focused drum machine apps for iOS mobile, and as if that weren’t already enough experience for you, he has a long history of plug-in development dating back to one of the first software drum machines ever.

But that’s the thing about developing electronic instruments – it’s often not about a single breakthrough but lots and lots of iteration. So Noir is the most full-featured of the Ruismaker series yet, but also reaches a new level of playability and sound. Sorry, that sounds like marketing copy, but having used Bram’s stuff over the years, I mean that from first-hand experience – I’ve watched him add those details and refine ideas as he goes.

And it comes at the right moment. You hear a lot of these sort of aggressive, synthetic sounds (uh, winter is coming for the northern hemisphere). But a lot of people use modulars to get them, which means you need a modular rig and some time in the studio. (Time, money, space … uh oh.) Plus, having this in an iPad app with an intuitive touch sequencer will also be a far shorter path to articulating a groove that’s in your head for a lot of people. And the results here are distinctive enough that even if you do have that modular rig, you might tinker around with this anyway.

You can also use a standalone mode to fine-tune presets, then jam with the plug-in later.

It’s built as a plug-in, so you can use it with DAWs like Cubasis, Garage Band, and Modstep. Or combine it with other drum machines like Elastic Drums for some serious drum mayhem.

Delicious with effects:

Specs:

– AUv3 (Audio Unit) plugin, with integrated sequencer
– Basic standalone mode for tinkering or preset creation
– Universal; runs on any iDevice with iOS10 or higher
– All parameters accessible via MIDI CC and AU Params
– AU MIDI output from sequencer (requires iOS11+)
– Fullscreen plugin GUI in all compatible hosts
– Modest CPU and resource loads

This whole thing packs a lot into one app. There’s a full MIDI implementation, which means you could even make a hardware controller mapping if you like. But it’s also nice that the internal sequencer will do the job if you don’t want to switch back and forth to an app.

I have a feeling I may not sleep on my flight back from the USA to Germany as I’ll get sucked into playing with this. See you on the flipside.

The app:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ruismaker-noir/id1441208874?ls=1&mt=8

User manual available on ruismaker.com

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Apple’s new iPad Pro: USB-C is in, headphone and home button are out

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 31 Oct 2018 2:09 am

Apple’s new iPad Pro again establishes the high-end of Apple’s tablet line. But it also reveals some significant changes that iPad-using musicians will notice – USB-replaces Lightning, and the headphone jack and home button are gone.

Apple’s own marketing reveals something of how they think of computing – “a magical piece of glass that does everything you need.” And in that regard, the new iPad continues Apple’s leadership both in quality of display and the computational and graphics horsepower underneath. The iPad Pro has a dramatically better display, and dramatically faster hardware to power it, both of which will benefit creative apps including music and visual creation. These are the high-end models – US$799 and up for the smaller model starting at 64GB, $1149 for the bigger display.

The chip in this case is the A12X Bionic, which boosts all three categories of hardware performance we’re now seeing in mobile – CPU/computation, GPU/graphics, and now machine learning-specific optimizations. Apple has also vastly improved their Pencil for those using that. Most notably, you don’t have that awkward problem of charging with the pencil balanced from a Lightning port; you can just magnetically attach it to your iPad and it charges automatically. There’s a new keyboard design, too, which is also welcome. (I prefer my Logitech keyboard to Apple’s offering on my older iPad Pro; we’ll see if this time round, the first-party offering is more competitive.)

The boosted performance comes at a nice time for Apple apps, as Adobe ships full-blown Photoshop and promises an augmented reality platform next year.

About that port: now in place of Lightning, you get a USB-C port. The good news about this is, you get a single port for connectivity and charging. And it’s the same one you’d use with your later-generation MacBook (or newer PC).

The bad news is, there’s only one port. That means dongles not only for USB-C use, but also you’ll need an adapter that has pass-through charging if you want to charge your iPad and use accessories. Lightning-based accessories are also out.

Oh yeah, “USB-C” – a phrase which is utterly confusing, since it describes the connector but not what the connector implements. (I will reach out to Apple for comment on that.) We do know there’s support for advanced external displays, but that requires … still more dongles. (“Up to 4K through USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter and USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter,” sold separately.)

And Apple has eliminated the headphone jack. That’s defensible I think on a phone, which has limited space and benefits from better water resistance. On a hefty tablet, though, it’s inconvenience without any real purpose.

This doesn’t mean the end of iPads for audio use – you just add an adapter. But it adds some additional resistance for pro users. And I remain puzzled as to why Apple doesn’t offer its own more innovative pro solution based on USB-C, other than a bunch of plain-vanilla but very-expensive adapters.

There’s another, subtler problem. For a lot of us, one of the big use cases for the iPad is use as a control surface for other apps. If you’re using an iPad onstage, though, one of the first things you’d want to do is disable all those gestures, so you don’t accidentally trigger them while running your live show or jamming. Since the new iPad Pro eliminates the dedicated home button, that’s no longer an option – and the upward swipe for the home button means you’re liable to accidentally exit your controller app. That’s pretty unpleasant if you’re onstage.

All of this could be another reason to consider something like a Windows touch-enabled device instead of an iPad Pro, particularly at the high end. $300-400 iPads are just phenomenally better than anything running Windows or Android right now, so there it’s no contest. But at the price point of the high-end iPads Pro, you might want to do some pros/cons with Windows.

And I don’t expect this news to go over terribly well, because it’s coming atop a year that left anyone looking for high-spec Mac desktops in the cold … again. So you get some utterly gorgeous iPads, but they’re still port-challenged. And you get updated MacBook and Mac mini, but still favoring slimness and battery life over high-end specs.

Apple has hinted there’s more in the pipeline, but it seems that we’ll see those results some time next year. In the meantime, some iOS developers I know are taking a more serious look at competing platforms – but that may be for the best, anyway.

Heavy iPad users I’m sure will want these, and if you’ve been putting off Mac mini or slim MacBook purchases, now you finally can make your move. Just expect some added griping from pro users about losing ports, especially when there’s not a clear immediate benefit in trade.

https://www.apple.com/ipad-pro/

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Teenage Engineering OP-Z is here, and it’s full of surprises: video round-up

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 29 Oct 2018 6:25 pm

Teenage Engineering’s OP-Z takes everything the mysterious Swedish maker has done in the past years and packs it into a candy bar-sized hunk of awesome. The first feature reveals and videos of the final creation are inbound, showing it doing some weird and wonderful things.

First, what is the OP-Z? (O-P-Zee for Americans, O-P-Zed for the rest of the world.) It’s an ultra-compact digital synth with loads of sequencing and groove features. It feels terrific in the hand – nicely heavy, but with the width of the beloved iPhone 5 so it’s easy to hold. (I don’t have a review unit yet, but I have gotten to try it.)

The main focus of the instrument: sequencing, so you can create elaborate patterns of synthesized sounds, as part of a rig or on its own, for on-the-go and studio creation or live performance.

What it doesn’t have is a screen; you connect a smartphone or tablet for that on the go. And so the basic idea is, it combines some of the compact game-style ideas of TE products like the Pocket Operators with the powerful synth and sequence workflow of the OP-1. It does more than all those past creations combined, though, and the Teenagers are pushing some unique possibilities for visual creation.

Your iPad or iPhone is the display and multi-touch editor / expanded sequencer for the OP-Z. (No Android support yet, but there are some unique PC visual integrations, too.)

The OP-Z ships worldwide for EUR599, and at the moment it’s sold out. That situation may ease as the Teenagers ramp up production.

But the OP-Z seems to have the most attention at the moment of any digital product, in contrast to sought-after analog instruments like the Moog One.

And sure, while some of this is more predictable – sample packs of drum sounds, effects like delay and reverb, – some of it is decidedly more left-field.

The most surprising features so far

The biggest surprises of the OP-Z:

1. It’s polymetric and does automatic melodic analysis. 1-144-step patterns let you create different rhythms on different tracks, and automatic melodic analysis gives you easier transposition.

2. Wireless display. iOS devices – iPhone, iPad – give you wireless displays and multi-touch input, and they’re remarkably responsive, enough so to play live.

3. The microphone is connected to the accelerometer. Yeah, this thing knows if you hold it up to your mouth.

4. Luxe texture. At first I thought this surface was a process applied after manufacture, but TE say they’ve added glass fibers into the body during injection molding. That makes the OP-Z feel expensive and grippy – so you don’t drop it. It’s not quite like anything you’ve touched before, and they’re promising serious durability.

5. It’s a spiritual successor to the Game Boy Camera. This wouldn’t be a TE product without some nod to the weirder side of Nintendo. This time, you get rapid-fire “photomatic” sequences a bit like on the Game Boy’s camera mode, which you can sync to the music. Of course. Or maybe you should think of it as a GIF creator. Either way, back to the 90s.

6. It’s a VJ instrument and immersive audiovisual tool. This is wild enough that we’ll need a separate story on it, this being CDM. But think Unity 3D integration.

This has relevance not just for the OP-Z but anyone interested in MIDI control of 3D visuals in Unity, since they’ve released the entire toolkit on Github:

https://github.com/teenageengineering/videolab

Plus there’s even a dedicated track for controlling lighting (via the industry standard DMX protocol)? Not sure how you connect this, exactly, but it’s a cool add-on – and someone may want to rig up some DIY solution with light bulbs as in their demo.

7. Tons of expandability is planned. Teenage Engineering are promising new effects, firmware updates, expansion via hardware ports, and more.

Video hands-on

YouTube celebrity Andrew Huang has the highest production values of the first OP-Z videos, and gives you a snapshot review.

More depth comes from Cuckoo, who’s don an extensive mega tutorial (and is just getting started, it seems):

Microwavez shows how you’d combine this with an iPad:

Here’s what it looks like making a beat, via Brandon Guerra:

And NomNomChomsky has a review up, as well:

More:

https://teenageengineering.com/products/op-z

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Teenage Engineering OP-Z has DMX track for lighting, Unity 3D integration

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 29 Oct 2018 6:21 pm

The OP-Z may be the hot digital synth of the moment, but it’s also the first consumer music instrument to have dedicated features for live visuals. And that starts with lighting (DMX) and 3D visuals (Unity 3D).

One of various surprises about the OP-Z launch is this: there’s a dedicated track for controlling DMX. That’s the MIDI-like protocol that’s an industry standard for stage lighting, supported by lighting instruments and light boards.

Not a whole lot revealed here, but you get the sense that Teenage Engineering are committed to live visual applications:

There’s also integration with Unity 3D, for 2D and 3D animations you can sequence. This integration relies on MIDI, but they’ve gone as far as developing a framework for MIDI-controlled animations. Since Unity runs happily both on mobile devices and beefy desktop rigs, it’s a good match both for doing fun things with your iOS display (which the OP-Z uses anyway), and desktop machines with serious GPUs for more advanced AV shows.

Check out the framework so far on their GitHub:

https://github.com/teenageengineering/videolab

We’ll talk to Teenage Engineering to find out more about what they’re planning here, because #createdigitalmotion.

https://teenageengineering.com/products/op-z

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