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


Samplr’s creator made a free sample player for the MacBook Touch Bar

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 9 Jul 2020 6:34 pm

The MacBook Touch Bar just got a new use. From the maker of the excellent iPad app Samplr, this free utility makes a multi-touch sample player - and it's surprisingly capable.

The post Samplr’s creator made a free sample player for the MacBook Touch Bar appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Step by step: rhythms and polyrhythms, even advanced ones, for free in VCV Rack

Delivered... Kent Williams | Scene | Fri 26 Jun 2020 7:48 pm

Discover the wonders of the QUAD ALGORITHMIC RHYTHM module from Frozen Wasteland. We'll learn how to compose rhythms, trigger them live, and more - all with free modules and VCV Rack.

The post Step by step: rhythms and polyrhythms, even advanced ones, for free in VCV Rack appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

With ARM and the Mac, a new landscape for music, creative app developers

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 22 Jun 2020 8:12 pm

Apple's announcement of moving the Mac from Intel to ARM is no surprise. But here are the details most relevant to your tools - and why we're in a new era on both the PC and the Mac.

The post With ARM and the Mac, a new landscape for music, creative app developers appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

How to get into a creative flow with FL Studio – and what could make it worth it

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 10 Jun 2020 3:25 pm

FL Studio's reputation is deceiving: this is one of the richest, most surprisingly open-ended tools for music-making. But long-time users may miss some of its recent improvements - and newcomers may not be clear on how to start.

The post How to get into a creative flow with FL Studio – and what could make it worth it appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Cherry Audio’s Voltage Modular 2.0 is here – and friendlier, feature-rich, with more modules

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 25 May 2020 4:39 pm

Software modular just keeps getting better. Cherry Audio’s Voltage Modular looks like a top contender, with a major (free) 2.0 update and changes to support free and affordable module add-ons. https://cherryaudio.com/news/2020-05-19/voltage-modular-2-0-is-here Where Cherry fits Just think how rich and accessible the modular world is in software – and Cherry just made it more so. VCV […]

The post Cherry Audio’s Voltage Modular 2.0 is here – and friendlier, feature-rich, with more modules appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

How to update your Mac to Mojave – not Catalina – for the new Logic and more

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 15 May 2020 4:25 pm

Unless you have brand new Mac hardware, it's likely you want to run macOS Mojave for now for greater compatibility. Here's how to do it (including links to advice for when your App Store isn't cooperating).

The post How to update your Mac to Mojave – not Catalina – for the new Logic and more appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Apple’s sweet spot: which MacBook do you want for music making now?

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 7 May 2020 2:31 pm

Every price point in Apple’s notebook lineup has recently gotten an update, with revisions to the 13″ MacBook Pro this week. And they’ve fixed the keyboards. So if you’re in the market for a Mac, which should you get? We know from sales figures that even in the midst of dueling economic and health crises, […]

The post Apple’s sweet spot: which MacBook do you want for music making now? appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Resolume adds transitions, better gradients – and here’s how to stream with it

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 27 Apr 2020 9:48 pm

Resolume brings some subtle but powerful improvements to this live visual/VJ/media server tool. Here’s a look – plus a quick tutorial for streaming live with OBS.

Resolume is a unique favorite in the live visual world partly for its elegant, straightforward UI. That hides some powerful features, which might not be immediately apparent if you’re used to tons of toolbars and palettes. These little changes pretty well fit in that category.

There’s a new gradient tool that handles multiple colors – so, basically, taste the rainbow, folks!

But what I think will have you really interested is the “Transition Phase.” Described in words, it sounds kind of boring – blah, blah, clip … parameter … linking … something. What?

Okay, let me put it this way – it lets you do mind-blowing animations between clips. So you can muck with stuff. And glitch stuff. And do wacky animation things in between clips, so you can edit together… motion… well, like this:

That looks like a nice way not only for live visuals (you know, the stuff that requires audiences) but also editing slick visuals fast. I don’t know about you, but that latter one is important, so I can get back to jogging/wheezing time and playing video games.

And these kinds of live tools have long been a secret weapon of people making edits faster.

If you do want to stream the results live, though, Resolume have a tutorial up for streaming – which will simultaneously bring you up to speed on OBS (the popular free streaming tool), OBS NDI (a tool for routing video textures between apps), and YouTube streaming.

OBS: obsproject.com/
OBS NDI plugin: obsproject.com/forum/resources/obs-ndi-newtek-ndi%E2%84%A2-integration-into-obs-studio.528/
Youtube Tutorial: youtube.com/watch?v=Ok3qM3ecWJU&t=3s
Streaming Resolume: resolume.com/support/en/Streaming

Okay, enough tutorials, I want to see some raving EDM flamingos, and wish granted:

And this is trippy and beautiful:

And this is boxy:

Lots of other quick video tips are on Resolume’s Vimeo channel – and they really are fast, as great video tips should be:

https://vimeo.com/resolume

More on the software:

https://resolume.com

The post Resolume adds transitions, better gradients – and here’s how to stream with it appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Free modular: open source Mutable Instruments ports expanded in VCV Rack

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 22 Apr 2020 12:18 pm

As the TV car ads say – no money? No problem. VCV Rack can get you into some extraordinarily deep sound making for free. And thanks to a crowd funding effort, what’s available in the Audible Instruments range has expanded.

There’s a bunch of new stuff in the world of Rack for synth lovers. Here’s the latest round-up.

More modules

VCV Rack is a free, open source platform for Mac, Windows, and Linux that emulates a Eurorack modular setup, with support for free and paid modules. And it does some things physical hardware can’t do – well, unless you have magic powers that let you summon unlimited numbers of modules out of thin air and recall previous states in an instant. Thanks, software!

Module makers are regularly updating their stuff, so you’ll see a friendly red dot appear in the menu that tells you there’s new stuff to download. And there’s been lots of activity lately, especially from developers like Vult ( Leonardo Laguna Ruiz), Bogaudio, Impromptu, Count Modula, and others. (I recommend that batch right now, in fact – trust me.)

But two recent developments from VCV themselves merit mention.

A new Library

First, with all that healthy module ecosystem growth, recently the Library feature got a major refresh. Rack uses a browser-based system for finding and managing your module collection, called the Library. From the browser, you can find and install modules, purchase paid modules, and deselect modules you don’t want any more to declutter your collection. Log in to Rack on any OS, and your collection of modules is immediately available anywhere. (For instance, I regularly boot between an Ubuntu and Windows partition; modules automatically appear in both places. Install your Rack files on a connected drive like Dropbox, and your whole modular studio can live in the cloud.)

https://library.vcvrack.com

The old interface looked like a big spreadsheet, and was dull and a little challenging to navigate. The new interface is graphical, and lets you quickly look at just premium paid modules, or just free or open source modules, or jump to particular makers or tags.

Search quickly for premium (great stuff to buy in there), free and open source (or not), or by tag, brand, and more.

Audible Instruments expanded

Audible Instruments is the set of modules based on the popular Mutable Insturments line of open source modular hardware. It’s not an official Mutable Instruments project (hence the name); it’s developed by VCV, but complies with Mutable’s open source GPLv3 license. It does show the power of open source tech, and may make you want some of Mutable’s hardware even more.

We got a one-two punch of Audible updates recently.

The big one is, Mutable Instruments Ripples got ported as Audible Instruments Liquid Filter, thanks to a crowd funding campaign. It’s a beautiful model of the filter, and as usual, you get a ton of features in a clear, minimal panel.

Mutable made this filter analog, so it’s worth checking the original module – a connection to the Shruthi synth lineage here.

Plus…

Macro Oscillator 2 is now polyphonic. That’s huge news; this powerful oscillator really feels like a dozen or two modules in one space. There are eight pitched and eight percussive models, and a built-in low-pass gate in this single module. You can then make some extraordinary polyphonic patches using something like the excellent Sensel Morph MPE-compatible hardware – add a Buchla Thunder overlay and go to town.

https://library.vcvrack.com/AudibleInstruments/Plaits

and the original – https://mutable-instruments.net/modules/plaits/

Check the full Audible Instruments page:

https://vcvrack.com/AudibleInstruments

Great modules to buy, too

Free stuff is great – especially because it allows Rack to be a tool for collaboration and teaching in a way other environments can’t. But developers need support. That’s why it’s encouraging that crowd funding enabled Liquid Filter, and why hopefully software modules with hardware equivalents (from Mutable Instruments to Befaco, Erica Synths and others) will encourage sales of the real gear.

I’ve been happy to buy software modules in Rack, partly because the instant gratification is great – and there’s some beautiful stuff to buy. I find I actually even enjoy purchasing this stuff – that combination of consumer satisfaction with musical inspiration with knowing you support the developers.

One way to support Rack itself is buying the proprietary modules developed by its creator, Andrew Belt. These modules appear under the VCV name. Must-have modules for me include Console, a performance-friendly mixer, and Router, a superb set of three routing modules:

https://library.vcvrack.com/VCV-Router

There’s some interesting new stuff out now from third-party developers. I already want to check out Unfiltered Audio’s new frequency and amplitude splitters, for instance.

For anyone feeling conflicted about saving money on a Minimoog from a certain clone hardware maker, let me present the Mockba Modular Model V – because you can’t beat US$20 as a price.

I recently bought the beautiful Stellare Modular Creative Suite, which comes with some wild options for organic modulation and sequencing.

And what’s this? cf now has a sample-based drum machine conveniently mapped to a numeric keypad? Well, I’ll take one of those and, please, some kind of weird mechanical keyboard kit! (Hmm, someone in Germany must be shipping now.)

https://library.vcvrack.com/cf_hardware/Number9

Fiddling around with Rack I find endlessly inspiring. And there’s something grounding about having idiosyncratic, hardware-style modules as your building blocks – like having someone else’s personality staring back at you. Happy synth-ing to you! And let us know if there’s more we might cover in the world of Rack.

https://vcvrack.com

The post Free modular: open source Mutable Instruments ports expanded in VCV Rack appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Streamlabs is an easier, free all-in-one streaming app, now on Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 3 Apr 2020 5:40 pm

Start with OBS, the now industry-standard streaming app, and add a bunch of special sauce to make it easier and friendlier. Now you’ve got Streamlabs – and it just added Mac support to its other platforms.

Mention live streaming any time in the past year or so, and someone no doubt told you to use OBS. Open Broadcaster Software, aka OBS Studio, is indeed free and powerful – not only for streaming but live recording, too. (It quietly displaced a lot of pricey and often incomplete commercial screencasting software, too.)

OBS has gotten a lot easier – a cash infusion from Twitch, Facebook, NVIDIA, and Logitech no doubt helped. But it’s still a bit intimidating as far as configuring settings for recording, to say nothing of the manual settings required to then make it upload to various streaming platforms.

That’s where Streamlabs comes in. It’s got its own desktop apps based on OBS, plus apps that let you easily stream from Android and iOS, too. So while you could do all of this on OBS desktop, Streamlabs makes it easier – basically, it’s a bit like having a custom distro of OBS. And then by adding mobile access, those platforms become easier, too.

Looks like OBS – but 100% less intimidating.

So in addition to all the things that make OBS powerful – using any video source or onscreen inputs, switching between them, handling resolutions and recording as well as connecting, you get:

  • Pre-configured streaming platforms and easy login (think YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, etc.)
  • Auto-optimized video settings
  • Custom alerts (so you can also beg for donations, add engagement)
  • Themes and widgets for customizing your stream
  • Built-in chat (normally requiring you to open another window in OBS, which gets surprisingly clumsy fast)
  • Easy recording
  • Cloud backups (so you don’t lose your recording)

https://streamlabs.com

Honestly, having played around with it a bit, maybe the best part of Streamlabs is that all the power of OBS is there, but easier to use. So it doesn’t feel like a dumbed-down version of OBS so much as a polished, beginner-friendly interface with all the same features – and some useful additions.

The easier-to-follow Sources dialog alone is probably worth the price of admission. And price of admission is free, anyway.

The mobile apps also feature a lot of nice integrations on these lines, too. Think similar cross-platform streaming support, importing OBS settings from desktop, and adding widgets for events, donations, and chat.

https://streamlabs.com/mobile-app

The spin here of OBS is open source, like its sibling. It’s based on Electron, so I hope that now that macOS was added, we’ll see Linux, too. Linux users should meanwhile note that OBS packaging has improved a lot across distros, and Ubuntu Studio for instance even bakes a pre-configured OBS right into the OS. I have no idea how much work would be required to do the same with Streamlabs. (PS, you can beta test 20.04 LTS right now and help them squash bugs before what I think will be a very essential global pandemic stay-at-home OS release!)

So, since this is free and open source, what’s the business model?

Basically, you can grab this for free and have a nicer version of OBS. Tips and donations to content makers go 100% to you – no cut for Streamlabs. (Good – and a major difference with a lot of horrible startups.)

Then for a monthly fee, you can add additional effects (US$4.99/month, “PRO”), or a bunch of custom widgets, custom domain and website, and other extras (Prime, $12/mo billed annually).

https://streamlabs.com/pricing

I hope they allow month-to-month billing, but regardless, it’s nice to see a business built on open source software and that still has sustainable business support. (CDM is possible because of just that idea – thank WordPress.)

I’m sure some people are groaning at me even sharing this information, given how many streams are out there right now. But”streaming” doesn’t necessarily mean to a wide audience – it’s useful in any case where you want to teleport yourself around the world (while under stay-at-home orders, for instance) even if it’s to a small group. Plus, even if you haven’t been struggling with this yourself, now you can tip off your friends so they don’t a) bug you for how to set up their stream and/or b) stream really low-quality material you have to then watch.

And I think just as with blogs, the question is not really quantity or openness, but quality – and whether there’s a model for supporting the people putting out that quality. More on this soon.

The post Streamlabs is an easier, free all-in-one streaming app, now on Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Map anything in Ableton Live’s Browser to MIDI, keyboard with Max for Live

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 2 Jan 2020 10:33 pm

Get push-button access to your favorite stuff in Ableton Live with this clever Max for Live tool.

Continuing our new year look at some of the coolest Max for Live stuff, flowstate has come up with a tool that lets you map anything in Live’s Browser. If you find yourself frequently using the same instrument, effect, sample, or whatnot, you can now map those to keyboard or MIDI.

The solution is a combination of MIDI Remote Script with Max for Live Device. And it works with almost anything – devices, sounds, third-party plug-ins, basically anything except Live Packs (which don’t support this mapping).

The package is name-your-price, with a £5 minimum.

The developers says instructions and an example set are included, plus 64 button slots pre-mapped to all of the internal Live Suite stuff (MIDI Effects, Audio Effects, and Instruments), including 5 user slots (or remap the whole thing as you wish).

https://gumroad.com/l/SgohV

https://maxforlive.com/library/device/5884/browser-mapper

It’s overkill for me personally, but I imagine it could be really useful to some. And it shows some of the potential of using the Live API and MIDI Remote Scripts to customize Live, so I imagine it might inspire other ideas, too.

The post Map anything in Ableton Live’s Browser to MIDI, keyboard with Max for Live appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Today only, get Waves’ Bezerk Distortion plug-in for free

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 29 Nov 2019 6:42 pm

Waves Audio are giving away a unique multi-functional distortion plug-in, normally $99. I’m even jumping on this – it’s a Black Friday deal even for those celebrating Buy Nothing Day.

Some of us never really can get too much distortion, and this one looks excellent. There are ten distortion shapes, feedback, pitch, dynamics, and built-in options for sidechain and Mid/Side modes. And then there’s a randomizer/chaos button, cleverly labeled “Go Bezerk!”

This is really a bunch of distortion modules crammed into one – Waves says they modeled everything from amps to stompboxes to vintage tubes and analog circuits, to create custom waveshapes for their favorite distortion curves. All of this is then built around those distortion curves – even that “Bezerk” button.

There are a ton of precise controls to explore here, including feedback with self-oscillation and other goodies (including pitch/speed controls). Think for instance custom EQ, a dedicated Dynamics section, and even a gate/expander. The M/S processing lets you apply different degrees of distortion to mid and side portions of your signal.

You just enter your email address and that nets you the download. I just did it myself. More details:

https://www.waves.com/lpn/black-friday-2019/free-plugin

Free today only (Black Friday, November 29).

Why are we celebrating Black Friday? Well, for Steel y Dan, obviously.

Feel free to send me the industrial techno / noise music you make with this plug-in. I guess I know what my plan is for the evening.

The post Today only, get Waves’ Bezerk Distortion plug-in for free appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

16″ MacBook Pro, a better MBP at 15″ prices, as Apple responds to user feedback

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 14 Nov 2019 10:04 am

Apple has a 16″ MacBook Pro that improves performance, adds a bigger, better display, and makes promising changes to the keyboard – without increasing price. Next question: should you upgrade?

Apple’s flagship laptops still command a price premium: standard configurations are US$2,399 and $2,799, which can be punishing for cash-strapped musicians (especially in other countries once accounting for currency and cash). Figure budgeting at least $2599 for 1TB storage, and then the $2799 standard price point bumps processor speed and graphics.

But as before, what you get in exchange for the luxe price is some luxe hardware. That’s always been especially true of the display. Even big fans of the price/performance ratio on PCs have got to concede that Apple ships some big, bright, color-accurate, gorgeous displays.

And the 16″ revision does three things:

  1. It sweetens the display deal with what might be the best laptop display on the market.
  2. It improves the performance-to-price ratio with upgraded specs for the processor, graphics, and battery. But maybe most importantly –
  3. It fixes the damned keyboard. (Or at least first impressions suggest so.)
Now with an Escape key – and while the Touch Bar is standard, improved keyboard performance means there’s not really anything in particular to gripe about, we hope.

The keyboard had held a lot of people back. The butterfly-action keyboard on past models prompted some complaints about key travel, and worse, were subject to reliability problems. I was unable to attend the press preview for the new Apple laptop, but journalists more experienced with those issues are so far impressed – Dieter Bohn for The Verge and Roman Loyala for Macworld each have their first hands-on impressions. Apple are confident enough that they’re dubbing the new keyboard Magic Keyboard, in a nod to their well-liked Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad (all the way back to the Steve Jobs era, actually).

You still get the Touch Bar whether you want it or not. But it’s no longer at the expense of a dedicated escape button (it’s back), and the fingerprint sensor now also gets its own dedicated control. Plus even the inverted-T directional keys are back.

Having tested the old keyboard, I have to say this is the MacBook Pro I would save up for. But I think the most encouraging thing about this is it means Apple was listening to complaints from pro users.

Also encouraging – you get more ports. You’ll still need adapters for a lot of gear (or a hub), but with USB-C evolving, having four USB-C ports that also double as Thunderbolt 3 (yeah, all four of them) makes this a machine that’s easy to connect.

Computers have largely caught up with the needs of most musicians, meaning all these extra performance specs won’t matter to anyone. But producers pushing the envelope should appreciate the new machines. All images courtesy Apple.

We’ll need a full review before we can judge the on-paper specs, but so far the indications are positive.

  • Ninth-generation CPUs (6- or 8-core, depending on model) from Intel – these will be great for running things like modeled synths (hello, VCV Rack), as well as CPU-native operations for visuals and so on.
  • 100 watt-hour battery (that’s the biggest battery approved to fly in the USA), for longer battery life
  • AMD Radeon Pro 5000M GPU with 4GB VRAM, option for 8GB

This is new generation AMD stuff, made just for Apple, though that also means it’s tough to make a direct comparison. As in past models in this line, it’s middle of the road stuff. Just remember that Apple likes to choose balanced GPUs as far as heat and power draw; they’re not making gaming laptops with big fans.

The relevant factor there is, you still don’t get to take advantage of NVIDIA-specific instructions and acceleration. I guess we’ll see if Apple are able to push Adobe to finally optimize Creative Suite for the Apple GPUs. (Right now, CS uses NVIDIA CUDA optimizations, and suffers quite a bit when it comes to performance on AMD chips. Of course, Apple will be happy if you use Final Cut Pro, at least on the video side.)

You can load up to 64GB of memory, though that’s overkill for even some sample playback applications and as usual is a fairly expensive build-to-order.

Speaking of nice options for deep pockets, you can also add an 8TB SSD. Please don’t drop this machine when riding your helicopter.

But to me, it’s really the display and slick form factor where Apple continues to reign supreme. And, wow, that new display –

  • 16‑inch (diagonal) LED‑backlit display with IPS technology; 3072‑by‑1920 native resolution at 226 pixels per inch with support for millions of colors
  • 500 nits brightness
  • Wide color P3 / True Tone
  • Refresh rates: 47.95Hz, 48.00Hz, 50.00Hz, 59.94Hz, 60.00Hz

So everything is great, and you should go buy this – well, maybe.

The Catalina factor

Now that Apple has successfully responded to MacBook Pro customer feedback, let’s see how they handle complaints from developers. Developers I talk to are still venting widespread frustration with glitches under macOS Catalina – and Catalina is installed by default. These go beyond just eliminating 32-bit code and adding expected security improvements. Many developers I’ve talked to tell me that the major changes made to the OS are producing unexpected glitches and challenges.

I wish I could be more specific – Apple, for their part, infamously emailed developers to ask them to stop being so negative in their communication. But I can say this: Apple changed a lot of security features at once, and then shipped that OS on a strict timetable. That introduces a lot of variability, because it doesn’t leave a lot of time for even Apple to respond to developer and user feedback, let alone their third-party ecosystem.

16″ is the one to watch

I think the 16″ machine is likely to be a great choice in the long run – just maybe not today. As with new OSes, patience is a virtue.

If you can keep dust away from the keys, it’s even worth considering a refurb 15″ model for significant cost savings, which is what CDM contributor and friend David Abravanel just did. (Since we don’t live on the same continent, he’s safe from me showing up every day with croissants to see if I can torture test his new baby.) The 16″ model is almost certainly better, but if you get a great deal, that’s another matter. And a new Apple launch is likely to flood the market, especially since there’s no price increase here.

The 16″ model does look like the new sweet spot for the Mac. I would just wait a little bit to get some detailed reviews of the new laptop, and to wait as Apple inevitably works on any bug fixes for this new machine generation and/or macOS Catalina. Plus third party developers are working really hard on support, meaning even a couple of months from now, you can expect a smoother Catalina switch experience than now.

By then, maybe we’ll see this keyboard rolled out on the more affordable, more mobile 13″ model, too.

And Windows laptops remain an option. With more and more music software offering essentially identical experiences across OSes to end users – even in a growing number of cases, on Linux – we’re in a competitive landscape for laptops for music and live visuals.

But that’s a good thing. And it’s great to see a new laptop from Apple that promises to be genuinely inspiring again – and what users actually want.

https://www.apple.com/macbook-pro-16/

The post 16″ MacBook Pro, a better MBP at 15″ prices, as Apple responds to user feedback appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

16″ MacBook Pro, a better MBP at 15″ prices, as Apple responds to user feedback

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 14 Nov 2019 10:04 am

Apple has a 16″ MacBook Pro that improves performance, adds a bigger, better display, and makes promising changes to the keyboard – without increasing price. Next question: should you upgrade?

Apple’s flagship laptops still command a price premium: standard configurations are US$2,399 and $2,799, which can be punishing for cash-strapped musicians (especially in other countries once accounting for currency and cash). Figure budgeting at least $2599 for 1TB storage, and then the $2799 standard price point bumps processor speed and graphics.

But as before, what you get in exchange for the luxe price is some luxe hardware. That’s always been especially true of the display. Even big fans of the price/performance ratio on PCs have got to concede that Apple ships some big, bright, color-accurate, gorgeous displays.

And the 16″ revision does three things:

  1. It sweetens the display deal with what might be the best laptop display on the market.
  2. It improves the performance-to-price ratio with upgraded specs for the processor, graphics, and battery. But maybe most importantly –
  3. It fixes the damned keyboard. (Or at least first impressions suggest so.)
Now with an Escape key – and while the Touch Bar is standard, improved keyboard performance means there’s not really anything in particular to gripe about, we hope.

The keyboard had held a lot of people back. The butterfly-action keyboard on past models prompted some complaints about key travel, and worse, were subject to reliability problems. I was unable to attend the press preview for the new Apple laptop, but journalists more experienced with those issues are so far impressed – Dieter Bohn for The Verge and Roman Loyala for Macworld each have their first hands-on impressions. Apple are confident enough that they’re dubbing the new keyboard Magic Keyboard, in a nod to their well-liked Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad (all the way back to the Steve Jobs era, actually).

You still get the Touch Bar whether you want it or not. But it’s no longer at the expense of a dedicated escape button (it’s back), and the fingerprint sensor now also gets its own dedicated control. Plus even the inverted-T directional keys are back.

Having tested the old keyboard, I have to say this is the MacBook Pro I would save up for. But I think the most encouraging thing about this is it means Apple was listening to complaints from pro users.

Also encouraging – you get more ports. You’ll still need adapters for a lot of gear (or a hub), but with USB-C evolving, having four USB-C ports that also double as Thunderbolt 3 (yeah, all four of them) makes this a machine that’s easy to connect.

Computers have largely caught up with the needs of most musicians, meaning all these extra performance specs won’t matter to anyone. But producers pushing the envelope should appreciate the new machines. All images courtesy Apple.

We’ll need a full review before we can judge the on-paper specs, but so far the indications are positive.

  • Ninth-generation CPUs (6- or 8-core, depending on model) from Intel – these will be great for running things like modeled synths (hello, VCV Rack), as well as CPU-native operations for visuals and so on.
  • 100 watt-hour battery (that’s the biggest battery approved to fly in the USA), for longer battery life
  • AMD Radeon Pro 5000M GPU with 4GB VRAM, option for 8GB

This is new generation AMD stuff, made just for Apple, though that also means it’s tough to make a direct comparison. As in past models in this line, it’s middle of the road stuff. Just remember that Apple likes to choose balanced GPUs as far as heat and power draw; they’re not making gaming laptops with big fans.

The relevant factor there is, you still don’t get to take advantage of NVIDIA-specific instructions and acceleration. I guess we’ll see if Apple are able to push Adobe to finally optimize Creative Suite for the Apple GPUs. (Right now, CS uses NVIDIA CUDA optimizations, and suffers quite a bit when it comes to performance on AMD chips. Of course, Apple will be happy if you use Final Cut Pro, at least on the video side.)

You can load up to 64GB of memory, though that’s overkill for even some sample playback applications and as usual is a fairly expensive build-to-order.

Speaking of nice options for deep pockets, you can also add an 8TB SSD. Please don’t drop this machine when riding your helicopter.

But to me, it’s really the display and slick form factor where Apple continues to reign supreme. And, wow, that new display –

  • 16‑inch (diagonal) LED‑backlit display with IPS technology; 3072‑by‑1920 native resolution at 226 pixels per inch with support for millions of colors
  • 500 nits brightness
  • Wide color P3 / True Tone
  • Refresh rates: 47.95Hz, 48.00Hz, 50.00Hz, 59.94Hz, 60.00Hz

So everything is great, and you should go buy this – well, maybe.

The Catalina factor

Now that Apple has successfully responded to MacBook Pro customer feedback, let’s see how they handle complaints from developers. Developers I talk to are still venting widespread frustration with glitches under macOS Catalina – and Catalina is installed by default. These go beyond just eliminating 32-bit code and adding expected security improvements. Many developers I’ve talked to tell me that the major changes made to the OS are producing unexpected glitches and challenges.

I wish I could be more specific – Apple, for their part, infamously emailed developers to ask them to stop being so negative in their communication. But I can say this: Apple changed a lot of security features at once, and then shipped that OS on a strict timetable. That introduces a lot of variability, because it doesn’t leave a lot of time for even Apple to respond to developer and user feedback, let alone their third-party ecosystem.

16″ is the one to watch

I think the 16″ machine is likely to be a great choice in the long run – just maybe not today. As with new OSes, patience is a virtue.

If you can keep dust away from the keys, it’s even worth considering a refurb 15″ model for significant cost savings, which is what CDM contributor and friend David Abravanel just did. (Since we don’t live on the same continent, he’s safe from me showing up every day with croissants to see if I can torture test his new baby.) The 16″ model is almost certainly better, but if you get a great deal, that’s another matter. And a new Apple launch is likely to flood the market, especially since there’s no price increase here.

The 16″ model does look like the new sweet spot for the Mac. I would just wait a little bit to get some detailed reviews of the new laptop, and to wait as Apple inevitably works on any bug fixes for this new machine generation and/or macOS Catalina. Plus third party developers are working really hard on support, meaning even a couple of months from now, you can expect a smoother Catalina switch experience than now.

By then, maybe we’ll see this keyboard rolled out on the more affordable, more mobile 13″ model, too.

And Windows laptops remain an option. With more and more music software offering essentially identical experiences across OSes to end users – even in a growing number of cases, on Linux – we’re in a competitive landscape for laptops for music and live visuals.

But that’s a good thing. And it’s great to see a new laptop from Apple that promises to be genuinely inspiring again – and what users actually want.

https://www.apple.com/macbook-pro-16/

The post 16″ MacBook Pro, a better MBP at 15″ prices, as Apple responds to user feedback appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

MOTU’s new audio interfaces may finally be what we all need – $169.95

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 8 Nov 2019 3:13 pm

The no-compromise and entry-level audio interface – it’s something that should be impossible, but MOTU might have just cracked it.

I have literally been trying to pack suitcases for a long trip, staring at audio interfaces because I can’t find the one that does what I need. I’ve been equally stumped sometimes asking inevitable questions from friends about what they should buy.

MOTU has always made great audio interfaces. But many of them require drivers, which means your Linux-running laptop with Bitwig Studio or your iPad with those great new Eventide apps are both out of luck. Or they don’t fit a small budget.

So the M2 / M4 genuinely surprised me. They have the specs of a high-end box from MOTU or others, but they start at US$169.95 and at last they also work with every OS, all squeezed into a portable package.

Here’s what you might not expect:

High-end converters

2.5 ms latency with their drivers

A high-res color screen and built-in metering (unheard of at this price)

RCA outs? MIDI I/O? Sure!

But that’s not why I say they’re really no-compromise (though the high-end converters surely go there). MOTU did their own custom USB drivers for ultra low-latency performance on Mac and Windows but they also made this class-compliant – so it doesn’t need drivers on Linux or iOS or Android.

And then the pricing is stupidly nice.

So finally, one little box does everything – and if you get into the iPad or Android or Raspberry Pi, you don’t have to go buy another interface.

Yes, these are USB-C but that will also connect to your existing USB A connection.

Promising stuff – I’ll be interested to pick one to review (or pick up one to hopefully keep).

Full specs from MOTU:

• 2-in / 2-out and 4-in / 4-out USB audio interfaces with studio-quality sound
• Best-in-class audio quality driven by ESS Sabre32 Ultra™ DAC Technology
• Best-in-class speed (ultra-low latency) for host software processing
• Best-in-class metering for all inputs/outputs with a full-color LCD
• 2x mic/line/hi-Z guitar inputs on combo XLR/TRS
• Individual preamp gain and 48V phantom power for each input
• 2x balanced 1/4-inch line inputs (M4 only)
• Hardware (direct) monitoring for each input
• Monitor mix knob to balance live inputs and computer playback (M4 only)
• Measured -129 dB EIN on mic inputs
• Balanced, DC-coupled 1/4-inch TRS outputs (2x for M2; 4x for M4)
• Measured 120 dB dynamic range on the 1/4-inch balanced TRS outputs
• RCA (unbalanced) analog outs that mirror 1/4-inch outs (2x for M2; 4x for M4)
• 1x headphone out (driven by ESS converters) with independent volume control
• MIDI in/out
• Support for 44.1 to 192 kHz sample rates
• USB audio class compliant for plug-and-play operation on Mac (no driver required)
• Windows driver with 2.5 ms Round Trip Latency (32 sample buffer at 96 kHz)
• Mac driver (optional, for 2.5 ms RTL@32/96 kHz and loopback feature)
• iOS compatible (USB audio class compliant) 
• Driver loopback for capturing host output, live streaming and podcasting
• Bus powered USB-C (compatible with USB Type A) with power switch (USB cable included)
• Rugged metal construction
• Workstation software included (MOTU Performer Lite 10 and Ableton Live Lite 10)
• 100+ instruments (in Performer Lite)
• Over 6 GB of included free loops, samples and one-shots from industry leading libraries
• Kensington security slot
• Built in the USA
• Two-year warranty

Now shipping, $169.95 for the 2×2 M2, or if you want 4 ins and 4 outs, $219.95 for the M4.

https://new.motu.com/en-us/products/m-series/m2/

https://new.motu.com/en-us/products/m-series/m4/

The post MOTU’s new audio interfaces may finally be what we all need – $169.95 appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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