Warning: mysql_get_server_info(): Access denied for user 'indiamee'@'localhost' (using password: NO) in /home/indiamee/public_html/e-music/wp-content/plugins/gigs-calendar/gigs-calendar.php on line 872

Warning: mysql_get_server_info(): A link to the server could not be established in /home/indiamee/public_html/e-music/wp-content/plugins/gigs-calendar/gigs-calendar.php on line 872
Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » mobile


Unreal game engine’s modular sound features explained: video

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 24 May 2018 8:47 pm

Unreal Engine may be built for games, but under the hood, it’s got a powerful audio, music, and modular synthesis engine. Its lead audio programmer explained this afternoon in a livestream from HQ.

Now a little history: back when I first met Aaron McLeran, he was at EA and working with Brian Eno and company on Spore. Generative music in games and dreams of real interactive audio engines to drive it have some history. As it happens, those conversations indirectly led us to create libpd. But that’s another story.

Aaron has led an effort to build real synthesis capabilities into Unreal. That could open a new generation of music and sound for games, enabling scores that are more responsive to action and scale better to immersive environments (including VR and AR). And it could mean that Unreal itself becomes a tool for art, even without a game per se, by giving creators access to a set of tools that handle a range of 3D visual and sound capabilities, plus live, responsive sound and music structures, on the cheap. (Getting started with Unreal is free.)

I’ll write about this more soon, but here’s what they cover in the video:

  • Submix graph and source rendering (that’s how your audio bits get mixed together)
  • Effects processing
  • Realtime synthesis (which is itself a modular environment)
  • Plugin extensions

Aaron is joined by Community Managers Tim Slager and Amanda Bott.

I’m just going to put this out there —

— and let you ask CDM some questions. (Or let us know if you’re using Unreal in your own work, as an artist, or as a sound designer or composer for games!)

Forum topic with the stream:

Unreal Engine Livestream – Unreal Audio: Features and Architecture – May 24 – Live from Epic HQ

The post Unreal game engine’s modular sound features explained: video appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

8BitMixtapeNEO is a glitchy hackable synth the size of a cassette tape

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 14 May 2018 2:24 pm

It’s the size of a cassette tape, has buttons and pots so you can play it as a handheld instrument, it’s open and hackable – and it sounds like 8-bit mayhem.

8BitMixtapeNEO is very, very lo-fi synth built around the Arduino-compatible ATTINY85 chip. But what’s interesting about it is that all that hackable, programmable mayhem is accessible to anyone curious, not just coders.

It sounds mental:

And it’s got some weird and clever features:

Pocket mods: Just like the KORG volca sample, an audio protocol works for upload. So you can send firmware code just by playing a sound file from an audio playback device. Flash with your phone on the fly. (They also suggest a SONY Cassette WALKMAN, of course.)

Lite-Brite: Eight RGB LEDs work as a sort of 8-pixel screen / feedback / Knight Rider display.

Upcycle: Since the PCB is the shape and size of a cassette tape, a re-purposed cassette shape shell works as a case.

Arduino-compatible chip.

Visual programming. There’s a visual, drag-and-drop programming interface you can use as an alternative to uploading code. Have a look:

User mixtapes. They’ve built their own custom community for user-generated tools, including visual effects, sequencers, sounds, and other hacks. It’s here – http://neo.8bitmixtape.cc/mixtape – and since audio playback upload is easy, you can just flash from any computer or phone or tablet with speakers!

Pricing stars at 65EUR (with that beautiful, artsy PCB). There are various ways to buy, including getting it in person in Berlin – and workshops from Hong Kong to Zagreb to Taoyuan. Check it out:

http://wiki.8bitmixtape.cc/#/XXX-Shop

http://neo.8bitmixtape.cc/

The post 8BitMixtapeNEO is a glitchy hackable synth the size of a cassette tape appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

The $199 UNO is an analog synth from IK and some great minds

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 2 May 2018 12:49 pm

It’s portable, battery-powered, and a capable analog monosynth with a sequencer, at a low price. But it’s also worth noting IK Multimedia’s new US$199 UNO involves collaboration with some unique people.

Before the modular craze, before KORG’s volcas, before even the Minimoog Voyager, it was the Alesis Andromeda in 2000 that arguably signaled a return to analog circuitry and hands-on control for the electronic musician consumer. And that instrument was the work of synth designer Erik Norlander, who’s now the resident “synth guru” at IK Multimedia, and who IK says is the brain behind the UNO. IK have also collaborated with Italian boutique maker Soundmachines, who themselves have a bunch of wacky and wonderful ideas.

So put all of this together, and the UNO is something new – a familiar architecture, but not a clone of something you’ve heard before. It’s also an inexpensive instrument that involves collaboration with boutique makers (as Roland have done with Malekko and Studio Electronics) – rather than just undercutting those makers at low prices. And it’s made in Italy, proving that Europe can still make this sort of product.

Plus, it looks like a really fun bass synth with a built-in sequencer. Specs:

  • Analog audio path with two analog oscillators, noise generator, resonant multimode filter and analog amplitude
  • Saw, triangle, and pulse waveforms (with continuously variable shape and pulse width modulation), separate white noise generator
  • That filter isn’t the Moog ladder filter – it’s a smoother, Roland-style OTA filter, which you know from instruments like the Jupiter-8
  • Filter can be set to lowpass, highpass, bandpass, and has overdrive
  • 7 separate waveforms for modulation: sine, triangle, square, up and down saws, random, and sample and hold
  • Built-in delay
  • Instant modulation effects: Dive, Scoop, Vibrato, Wah and Tremolo

For arpeggiator/sequencing:

  • 100 presets, 80 user presets, each with an associated sequence and arpeggio (I think you can then store your own presets and patterns, making this ideal for live performance)
  • Arpeggiator with ten modes
  • 100-pattern sequencer, which you can program in real-time or step-by-step
  • Parameter locks! Set per-step modulation

And finally, I/O:

  • MIDI in/out
  • USB MIDI
  • Runs on 4 AAs or USB power

There’s also a Mac/PC software editor. (Helps to be a software company, too, as IK is.)

Sounds (though I do believe you need to go beyond just manufacturer demos):

Now, there are some questions I definitely want to answer when I get this hands-on. Analog synths with battery power — well, let’s hear if it’s noisy or not.

Multi-touch keyboard — that’s touch-based, so while they promise two octaves of sound, I want to see how precise it feels. Ditto those touch controls. You also get some pre-defined scales, which should help you … like, hit actual notes.

But this architecture looks great. That extensive modulation is already promising, and then the ability to set per-step modulation with the sequencer looks powerful, indeed. And it’s just 400 grams (under a pound).

US$/€199.99; shipping scheduled for July 2018.

http://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/unosynth/

The post The $199 UNO is an analog synth from IK and some great minds appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

An online and mobile DAW called BandLab just acquired Cakewalk’s IP

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 23 Feb 2018 3:42 pm

Cakewalk may not be all dead. A developer of online and mobile music creation tools has snapped up the former PC DAW maker’s complete intellectual property.

As I wrote earlier this week, Gibson Brands, the guitar maker-turned-wannabe consumer electronics giant, is hard up for cash. So, while they discontinued operation of their Cakewalk division, apparently they had not found a buyer for one of pro audio’s biggest names.

That changes today. Signapore-based BandLab announced they’ve acquired the “complete” intellectual property and “certain assets” in a deal with Gibson. There’s no word on what those assets are, and BandLab say they’re not making any additional announcement about the specifics – so we don’t know how much cash Gibson got or what those assets were. If the Nashville Post numbers are correct, it seems this will make little difference to Gibson’s debts, but that’s another story.

So Cakewalk’s codebase, product line, trademarks, everything go to BandLab. BandLab also has confirmed to CDM that some former Cakewalk team members will join the new company. (That itself is big news.)

And there’s some relief here: all those thirty years of accumulated expertise in making music software may not go entirely to waste.

BandLab is a familiar idea. There’s a mobile app with multiple tracks, automatic pitch correction, guitar/bass/vocal effects, and cloud sync, plus a grid-style riff interface and more traditional track layout. And there’s a free online tool you can use to collaborate with other people on the Internet and DAW features.

BandLab’s browser-based DAW.

Of the two, it’s the online DAW that looks most interesting, at least in that it’s more ambitious about incorporating desktop tools than some rivals. There’s built-in time stretching, automation, a guitar amp, and virtual instruments, for instance. I’m impressed on paper at least – I hadn’t heard of BandLab before today, to be honest, though it’s easy to lose track of various competing online solutions out there, since they tend to be somewhat similar.

And that raises the question – what’s the Cakewalk angle for BandLab?

I presumed on first blush this would be limited to assets relevant to their existing mobile products, but it seems it’s more than that. From the official press statement, it sounds as though you’ll see Cakewalk’s line of software – possibly including the flagship DAW SONAR, virtual instruments, and other tools – continue under the BandLab name. That’s been the case with other acquisitions of media creation software, if with mixed results in terms of development pace. From the press statement:

The teams at both Gibson and BandLab felt that Cakewalk’s products deserved a new home where development could continue. We are pleased to be supporting Cakewalk’s passionate community of creators to ensure they have access to the best possible features and music products under the BandLab Technologies banner.

[emphasis mine]

Then there’s the product that was just seeing the light of day right when Gibson shuttered Cakewalk operations, the one with the unintentionally ironic name:

https://momentum.cakewalk.com/

Momentum even looks quite a bit like BandLab’s mobile app. The mobile app and cloud sync solution runs on iOS and Android, with four-track recording, editing, looping and effects. And it cleverly captures ideas as recordings (via something with the dreadful name “Ideaspace”), then makes them available everywhere.

Momentum also has something that BandLab lacks – a VST/AU/AAX plug-in for Mac and Windows. Here’s the thing: it’s all fine and well to start talking about making music making easier, and reaching people with phone and browser apps. But even though big desktop DAWs don’t look terribly friendly, they’re still reasonably popular. Ableton Live alone has a user base the size of most major cities. Adding that plug-in could bridge Cakewalk’s product line and other desktop products with BandLab’s own mobile solutions.

And it’s not just the plug-in – Momentum also had an integrated cloud sync service and server-side infrastructure. (Plus don’t forget the ScratchPad iOS app. Well… maybe.)

BandLab’s mobile apps might be complemented either by Cakewalk’s mobile/cloud offerings or desktop products – or both.

So, we’ll see what BandLab are planning. Of course, the nostalgic part of me wants to see some of the soul of Cakewalk in what they do.

It seems from the way BandLab are handling the announcement that they share some of the same emotional attachment to Cakewalk that a lot of us do. For evidence, see what they’ve done to Cakewalk’s website, where there’s a headline reading:

“The news you’ve all been hoping for…”

Follow through to their own http://cakewalk.bandlab.com landing page for the acquisition, and there’s a charming ASCII art reading Cakewalk and a line reading “Cakewalk is dead. Long live Cakewalk!”

I’ve asked if any of the former Cakewalk team are joining the new effort. That would inspire more confidence than just selling these DAWs with minimal updates as-is. BandLab for their part promise a product roadmap and other details soon.

http://cakewalk.bandlab.com

So yeah, Cakewalk? Dead?

The post An online and mobile DAW called BandLab just acquired Cakewalk’s IP appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Bela Mini gives you 1ms sound anywhere, to turn into anything, for £120

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 22 Feb 2018 2:04 pm

Make anything you want, with free music software of your choice, and <1ms latency. Bela is back, smaller than ever - a pocket-sized £120 computer for sound.

Embedded mobile tech has in recent years brought us pocket-sized, low-power boards that can match the performance of what not so many years ago we actually called a desktop computer. And that’s led to high-profile boards like the cheap Raspberry Pi. The problem has been, many of the cheapest of these machines were limited in computational power, and more importantly, had audio performance that ranged from middling to disastrously awful, both in audio quality and reliability/responsiveness.

But you shouldn’t settle for that. The whole point of building an embedded audio system dedicated to the task of music making – like a DIY effects pedal or synth or sound installation – ought to be that audio performance is better than on your PC. You’ve got a pocket-sized board that isn’t running weird file indexing, OS updates, buggy Facebook code open in twenty tabs, and the like. It ought to just do the number crunching you need for the granular delay you want to sing along with, and do it really well.

A few audio engineers have decided to brave the challenge. It’s not an easy thing to do: these little boards are so cheap that there’s not a whole lot of money to be made on them.

But one of the better projects has been Bela, first introduced in 2016. And today, its makers are taking advantage of a new board PocketBeagle board from beagleboard.org. It’s more powerful than that much-hyped Raspberry Pi, but runs on a battery and is absurdly small – the Bela Mini measures just 55x35x21mm. (Please do not eat your Bela Mini, or Tide Pods, or anything that isn’t food.)

It’s not just a small computer, though – there’s more.

Low latency. 1ms round-trip for audio, or a minuscule 100us round-trip via analog and digital I/Os.

Run your favorite free audio software. Support for the graphical patching environment Pure Data (Pd), the crazy-powerful code world of SuperCollider, plus C and C++, and community support for FAUST, Python, etc.

An IDE in your browser. Fire up your browser and use a built-in IDE with oscilloscope and spectral analysis and documentation and more.

Sensors! High-resolution sensor inputs onboard open up interesting interfacing with the real world, whether you’ve got a wearable technology idea, an interactive installation, or a unique custom interface.

The applications should be clear here. You could ditch your laptop and run a granular looper on a pocket-sized box. You could hook up some sensors and invent your own weird instrument. You could make a custom vocoder and bring this with a mic and croon along at “robot lounge night.” You could produce a runway show of electronically singing couture. You could devise a series of installations and turn into the next Nam June Paik and someday have a solo show at the Guggen– well, possibly at least some hipster gallery somewhere. You get the idea.

For now, that unique focus on audio makes this possibly the best game in town. There is one rival – the Pisound, a board that hops atop the Raspberry Pi, and couples with a custom case. The Pisound does have the advantage of onboard MIDI – both USB MIDI and MIDI DIN – but for computational power with audio, the Beagle looks stronger. (I could imagine doing an audio/MIDI application with Pisound and coupling it with an audio/sensor creation with Bela.)

https://blokas.io/

Bela winds up pricing out pretty nicely, too. The smart buy is a £120 all-in-one kit (£110 intro price through March 9). That gets you cables, the Bela, the PocketBeagle base board, and a pr-flashed SD-card. If you prefer to source your own parts, you can get just the Bela Mini for £60 (£55 intro).

Here’s what’s in the kit.

It’s bigger, but the original Bela has basically the same specs and ships now if what I’ve done is make you impatient to own one now, rather than wait for May.

Basically, what’s new on the Bela Mini is really the tiny size. That opens up projects where small size matters. (The Pisound above is really just about music projects, more than wearable tech and the like, by contrast – but of course by virtue of being larger affords more space for full-sized ports!) The original Bela will remain available, with “capelets” for adding additional features.

Either way, if you’re quick, you can get out of the studio and have your battery-powered box to make weird experimental music for your friends at the beach all summer long. (Or, southern hemisphere readers, let’s say keeping your friends warm with your July beatbox busking.)

And all for the price of one basic Eurorack module. Who said electronic music was just for the rich kids?

Full specs:

Based on the PocketBeagle (http://www.beagleboard.org/pocket) with a custom hardware cape and low-latency operating system
1GHz ARM Cortex-A8 processor, 512MB RAM (based on Octavo Systems OSD335x system-in-package)
Stereo audio I/O with integrated headphone amplifier (16 bit, 44.1kHz)
8x 16-bit analog inputs for sensors (DC-coupled; up to 44.1kHz for 4 inputs or 22.05kHz for 8 inputs)
16x digital I/Os (3.3V level)
USB host and device ports
Dimensions 55 x 35 x 21mm (including PocketBeagle)

Software:
Latency as low as 0.5ms (analog/digital input to audio output) or 1.0ms (audio input to audio output)
Browser-based IDE including oscilloscope, spectrum analyser, interactive pin diagram and onboard documentation
Support for C, C++, Pd and SuperCollider languages. Community-contributed support for FAUST, Python and others

Bela Mini launch + FAQ

Buy it:
https://shop.bela.io

Sample projects:
http://blog.bela.io/

Resources:
http://github.com/BelaPlatform
http://github.com/BelaPlatform/bela/wiki
http://forum.bela.io

The post Bela Mini gives you 1ms sound anywhere, to turn into anything, for £120 appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Arturia AudioFuse Review: the tiny square that packs nearly everything

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 22 Feb 2018 2:54 am

There are some exceptional audio interfaces out there. But Arturia stands out by cramming an unusual amount of connectivity in an ultra-mobile package.

Look, when it comes to audio interfaces, compromise is the name of the game. The interface either never has every single port you want, or … it does, but it’s big. And computer operating systems remain an obstacle – especially once you’re beyond what theoretically should work, and into the realm of now something is popping and I better turn up the buffer size. Some of this is in the hands of manufacturers; some is decidedly not. (Computer and OS makers, I’m looking at you. Yes, you. Music – it’s kind of important to human civilization. Check it out some time.)

What’s impressive about Arturia’s AudioFuse is that they seem to have taken to heart a lot of the wishes of the mobile musician – and actually delivered.

I’ve had my hands on the AudioFuse for some time now, long enough to torture test it with both my Mac and PC in a variety of live and studio conditions. And I can share what I’ve been sharing with friends about it – this is easily on my short list of easy-to-recommend audio interfaces. (More on the others at the end.)

What the AudioFuse manages to pull off, and this isn’t easy, is maximizing flexibility in a variety of situations while still fitting into an enclosure small enough that you may always keep it in your backpack.

Plug-and-play, reliable performance

First, one feature that makes the AudioFuse essential to keep around is, it’s USB 2.0 class-compliant, driver free. With this amount of I/O, USB 2.0 makes this box far more flexible and compatible. Officially, that means Mac and Windows support that’s plug-and-play. But unofficially, that means Linux, Raspberry Pi, iOS, and Android, too.

You will need Mac or Windows to run the AudioFuse Control Center for additional configuration options. But I’ve happily dual-booted to Linux on my PC and gotten great results from the box. And there’s enough onboard control that I didn’t feel stranded without the software control panel, even though it’s useful in some situations. Meanwhile, the AudioFuse remembers all of its settings after you disconnect from the control panel.

You mileage may vary, but I got extremely reliable results with a 64 sample buffer size, which means well under 10 ms latency, on Mac, Windows, and Linux with a variety of tools. Remember that with latency the point isn’t just paper specs or whether the audio interface can run with a small buffer size; it’s whether you consistently remain without pops at that small buffer size. For me, the Arturia out-performed a number of USB devices laying around my studio.

If you have a single OS environment, and you don’t mind installing drivers, you may well best the AudioFuse’s performance. And I would consider Thunderbolt/USB3 if you want to use more I/O than the AudioFuse has onboard. But I find there’s some comfort in knowing I’m traveling with an interface I can plug into a different computer without worrying about driver installation, and I like owning at least one box like the AudioFuse that can work outside just Mac and Windows.

Connect nearly everything

Wow, did someone hear or intuit what I wanted in I/O (with one caveat below):

4 inputs: 2 XLR mic ins, 2 phono/line ins
2 RIAA phono preamps (seriously)
4 analog outputs
2 analog inserts
ADAT in/out
S/PDIF in/out
Word clock in/out
3-port USB hub
2(!) independent headphone jacks
MIDI in/out (via minijack adapters)

This.

Including MIDI, the USB hub, and separate headphone jacks alone makes this a huge boon to the mobile musician. And everything works as advertised – plus it all runs via bus power if you like (adjusting automatically to allow it to do so). A bit on the power modes:

USB is via micro USB. That may sound fidgety, but structurally I’ve found these to be sound. The included cable has a second USB connection, but if you lose your cable, you can swap a phone cable – also critical, because it means again the interface will still function when you’re on the road and misplaced a cable or someone lifted it from you. Uh… not that those things ever happen.

Arturia advertises their own, built-from-scratch mic pres. They certainly sounded transparent to me, and I appreciate that they get their own signal path. And you’ve got onboard 48V phantom power plus a multi-level pad and auto-impedance matching. Basically, you can more or less plug anything into this and forget about it. 24-bit 192kHz may sound like overkill, but then – quite literally, friends and I have lately got interested in recording ultrasonic birdsong and bat noises, so there’s that.

There are also unique monitoring settings, like handy summing to mono. (Having once had my trusty mastering engineer yell at me when I accidentally sent something that had phase cancellation problems, thanks for this!)

The one thing I’m missing here is more than four outputs. With some serious multichannel output situations becoming more commonplace, that means the AudioFuse isn’t quite the last interface I’d ever need to own. (Someone somewhere is saying the same about the inputs.) But let’s not consider the fact that the whole thing is a tiny square. Speaking of which:

That form factor / UX

Arturia really nailed it here. This is the one audio interface with a decent selection of I/O I can comfortably drop in a backpack or suitcase without worry, thanks to its small size, low weight, and a cute and indispensable cover. That’s not just for looks – a lot of audio interfaces have some dangerously exposed controls. (It does look nice, too, of course.)

I’m also a fan of the top panel. There’s a big knob, certainly reminiscent of interfaces from Universal Audio and others, plus dedicated meters for input and output and gain and phone knobs, plus shortcut keys and a cleverly-positioned dial for adjusting whether you monitor from the computer source or direct through the interface.

Arturia were clearly inspired by Universal Audio both in those dials and the displays. (Not to be outdone, UA also have a slick new box called the Arrow. Upside: Thunderbolt, DSP processing. Downside: far less connectivity.)

Here, I’ll link directly to Sound on Sound and say everything Sam says about monitoring is absolutely true. (Sam, I’m not cribbing your review notes – I just definitely can say I can directly count myself with the opposite use case!)

I can be even less diplomatic than Sam and say, if you want an audio interface that doubles as a (sub)mixer, or if you want particular control over what goes to the monitor mix, forget the AudioFuse and go with something else.

But —

If you just want to quickly plug in some inputs and then reach one dial that’s either the computer or whatever input you’ve got, the AudioFuse makes sense. That is, if you literally aren’t thinking about what’s plugged in – and quite often in the heat of the moment onstage or on the road recording, you really aren’t – it’s great. Monitoring, like connectivity, are about instant plug and play. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer to that; I’d say what this box does is suit this particular use case.

Conclusions

As a versatile all-around mobile interface, I love the AudioFuse. I’d still choose the Universal Audio Apollo Twin for audio quality, and the ability to add processing via UA’s effects without adding round-trip latency through the computer. I’d consider MOTU and RME for adding more I/O, too (especially if you don’t need or want the UAD effects), and certainly MOTU for its unique AV applications and mixer operation. Thunderbolt really does look like the future for more advanced applications.

MOTU is worth an additional mention for being universally compatible with their 828es, which has both Thunderbolt and USB. And that’s the box you want if you find the AudioFuse appealing but want more I/O and real standalone mixing operation, plus better performance.

But that also slightly misses the point. You wouldn’t throw an 828es into a backpack and take it with you everywhere. The AudioFuse, you would. And all musicians don’t always travel with road cases.

And that’s why one size doesn’t really fit all. But for under $/EUR600, in a small size that does fit everywhere, the AudioFuse is worth a look. Now, note to Arturia – if this is a big hit, a micro edition might make sense. Or an expanded box that’s a rectangle rather than a square for a little more I/O. In the meantime, I’ve got to go pack my backpack and get a move on.

https://www.arturia.com/audiofuse/

Got another audio interface you’re using? One you prefer? Let us know in comments.

The post Arturia AudioFuse Review: the tiny square that packs nearly everything appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

This low-latency OS could change how music gear is made

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 30 Jan 2018 8:01 pm

You want the flexibility of PC software, but the performance of standalone gear? A new music OS is the latest effort to promise the best of both worlds.

Sure, analog gear is enjoying a happy renaissance – and that’s great. But a lot of the experimentation with sound production occurs with software (iOS or Windows or Mac) simply because it’s easier (and cheaper) to try things out on an Intel or ARM chip. (ARM is the architecture found in your iPhone or iPad or Android phone, among others; Intel you know.) Some manufacturers are already making the move to standalone hardware based on these architectures – at AES last year, I saw Eventide’s massive coming flagship, which is totally ARM-based. But they’re typically rolling their own operating system, which provides some serious expertise.

MIND Music Labs this month unveiled what they called ELK – a Linux-based operating system they say is optimized for musical applications and high performance.

That means they’re boldly going where… a lot of players have tried to go before. But this time, it’s different – really. First, there’s more demand on the developer side, as more makers have grown intrigued by off-the-shelf CPUs. And developer tools for these options are better than they’ve been. And hardware is cheaper, lower-power, and more accessible than ever, particularly as mobile devices have driven massive scale. (The whole world, sadly, may not really feel it needs an effects processor or guitar pedal, but a whole lot of the world now has smartphones.)

ELK promises insanely low latencies, so that you can add digital effects without delaying the returning signal (which for anything other than a huge reverb is an important factor). And there are other benefits, too, that make music gadgets made with the OS more connected to the world. According to the developers, you get:

Ultra-low latency (1ms round-trip)
Linux-based, using single Intel & ARM CPUs
Support for JUCE and VsT 2.x and 3.x plugins
Natively connected (USB, WiFi, BT, 4G)

That connectivity opens up possibilities like sharing music, grabbing updates and new sounds, and connecting to wireless instruments like the ROLI line. There’s full MIDI support, too, though – and, well, lots of other things you can do with Linux.

(JUCE is a popular framework for developing cross platforms, meaning you could make one really awesome granular synth and then run it on desktop, mobile, and this platform easily.)

Now, having done this for a while, I’ve seen a lot of claims like this come and go. But at least ELK last week was demonstrated with some actual gear as partners – DVMark, MarkBass, and Overloud (TH-U).

1ms latency claims don’t just involve the OS. Here, ELK delivers a complete hardware platform, so that’s the actual performance including their (high-quality, they say) audio converters and chip. That’s what stops you from just grabbing something like a Raspberry Pi and turning it into a great guitar pedal – you’re constrained by the audio fidelity and real-time performance of the chipset, whether the USB connection or onboard audio. Here, that promises to be solved for you out of the box.

DVMark’s “Smart Multiamp” was the first real product to show off the platform. Plugin Alliance and Brainworx have signed on, too, so don’t be surprised if you’re soon looking at a dedicated box that can replace your laptop – but also run all your plug-ins.

And that’s the larger vision here – eventually ELK has its own plug-in format, and you should be able to move your favorite plug-ins around to connected devices, and access those gadgets from Android and iOS, But unlike using a computer or iPad on its own, you don’t have to sweat software upgrades or poor audio performance or try to imagine a laptop or tablet is a good music interface live.

This leaves of course lots of questions about how they’ll realize this vision and more questions if you’re an interested developer or manufacturer. I’m hopeful that they take the Eurorack market as a model – or even look at independent plug-in and app developers – and embrace a model that supports imaginative one-person developers, too. (A whole lot of the best music software and module ideas alike have come from one- and two-person shops.)

I at least like their vision – and I’m sure they won’t be alone. Best line: “Whether your idea of music is to be shut in a studio that looks like the bridge of a Klingon cruiser or you are a minimalist that wants everything to sound exactly like in 1958, we think you will be surprised at just how much smartness is going to affect us as musicians.”

I’ll throw this out here for now and let you ask away, and then we can do a follow-up soon. Loads more info at their site:

https://www.mindmusiclabs.com/elk/

The post This low-latency OS could change how music gear is made appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

New Teenage Engineering Pocket Operators: Speak, Sample

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 25 Jan 2018 6:32 pm

The Swedish family of tiny, calculator instruments-on-a-board continues to grow: and now they sample and speak, too.

Teenage Engineering are back with their sub-100EUR line of simple, playable pocket instruments. As always, these feature screens, battery power, folding stands, and alarm clock features that mimic early Nintendo handhelds – plus more powerful features, like parameter locks for creating elaborate sequences of sound tweaks.

The new models feature sampling capabilities and even voice synthesis – and still more clever ideas from developer Magnus Lidström (Sonic Charge).

First up – the PO-35 speak, which can be a voice synth, and can mess with your own input (via a mic), and is inspired by Magnus’ Bitspeek effect.

Specs:

microphone for sampling NEW! ** that’s not normal sampling as you might think of it – see note below -Ed.
sequencer
parameter locks
step multiplier
8 voice characters NEW!
8 effects NEW!
transpose and change scale NEW!
built-in speaker
3.5mm audio I/O
replaceable drum sounds with microtonic (sold separately) NEW!
jam sync
animated LCD display
folding stand
break away lock tab
clock + alarm clock
battery powered (2xAAA)
1 month battery life
2 year standby time

The 120 seconds “sampling time” listed actually “stores speech-parameters, not traditional sample data.” Magnus tells us. “Parameters like pitch, volume and formant envelopes. Then it resynthesizes the voice in real-time when you play with it.” This employs the same technique used in Magnus’ Bitspeek plug-in – it’s a clever way of analyzing incoming signal (like you messing about with the mic) and then turning that into fluid sound characteristics, for pitch-shifting, time-stretching, formant-shifting, and the like.

If it’s actually sampling you want, look to the PO-33, below.

https://teenage.engineering/products/po/metal#po-35

Our friend Jakob has video:

And then there’s the PO-33 sampler, called, fightin’ style, the “K.O!” This has real sampling capability – 40 seconds of actual audio recording (which the Speak doesn’t have). And it can use that as a sampler would. You can apply sounds to either drum or melodic modes, and sequence away. More specs:

micro sampler with 40 second sample memory and built-in recording microphone.
microphone for sampling NEW!
8 melodic sample slots NEW!
8 drum slots NEW!
sequencer
16 effects
parameter locks
40 seconds sample memory NEW!
built-in speaker
3.5mm audio I/O
jam sync
animated LCD display
folding stand
break away lock tab
clock + alarm clock
battery powered (2xAAA)
1 month battery life
2 year standby time

https://teenage.engineering/products/po/metal#po-33

Check the full PDF guide.

More video:

99EUR each, 39EUR for the add-on case, the new two join the microtonic to make up what TE call the “metal series.”

The post New Teenage Engineering Pocket Operators: Speak, Sample appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

KORG’s Volca Mix is the little mixer your compact gear was missing

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 18 Jan 2018 5:32 pm

You’ve got the inexpensive, compact gear, like the volcas that started it all. Now you need a mixer. KORG finally responds.

Volca Mix is the hardware everyone’s been predicting for about as long as we’ve had Volcas, only now, it’s real. And it also reveals KORG’s answers to some questions that weren’t so obvious. How many channels should this thing have? Mono or stereo? What would make it special?

Well, here you are:

4-channel analog – two mono, and one stereo pair.

Three faders: so mono, mono, stereo

Low/high-cut filter on each channel

Analog stereo expander/compressor with sidechaining

Master clock with sync out – so you can clock all your other KORG gear (or other stuff that takes that signal, like the Teenage Engineering Pocket Operators)

Patchable power: you get one DC power in, three out

Dedicated stereo send out

Stereo line out (phono)

Stereo speakers! And a switch so you don’t have to hear them if you don’t want.

All the cables / power are in the box: AC adapter, DC-DC cables, and audio cables. That’s a huge change; in the past, those volcas were actually priced deceptively cheaply by not including a power adapter in the box. (AA batteries don’t grow on trees, that is!)

We’re of course really keen to use this with our own MeeBlip, too. (Heck, we should make new stuff to plug into it, huh?)

But there’s your winning answer, I think: it’s just enough channels, and the effects are built-in. So it’s not just a utilitarian solution to this problem – it’s really a performance tool. You had me at sidechaining compressor.

The stereo send is useful, too – I’m just double-checking that in fact there’s an aux return you can use so you still have 4 inputs.

That said, it’s really the effects I’m interested in testing – and noise floor and overall sound performance – to determine whether this is the Mixer We Really Want.

US$169.99, available this month.

korg.com

The post KORG’s Volca Mix is the little mixer your compact gear was missing appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Roland R-07 wants to be your next recorder – and your phone’s friend

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 8 Jan 2018 8:22 pm

Smartphones have already changed how we think about cameras. So what about recording? The newest handheld in Roland’s poopular line has one answer to that.

The R-07 is a handheld recording gadget, in the tradition of Roland (and Edirol) recorders past. That already suggests it could be a good choice. This year’s model has various high-quality modes and stereo recording, including built-in stereo operation.

Now, that already can best the internal mono mics in your smartphone. Plus, add-on mics are kind of a pain – they require different connectors, may make you worry about battery life, and then require you to position your phone in the recording location. Plus, phones generally speaking lack tripod mounts (even if there are some solutions to that).

So the R-07’s innovation is to both respond to the sleek, small design of modern phones, and to couple with your iPhone or Android phone for added functionality.

This doesn’t look quite like any handheld recorder we’ve seen yet from Roland or anyone else. It’s incredibly tiny, with a sleek design that seems more consumer gadget and less chunky pro audio device. It still manages to include one-touch access to important features, plus USB connectivity, audio jacks, and a built-in stereo mic. But it does so in a pocket form factor.

Work with the R-07 and your smartphone (hey, trousers have two pockets for a reason?), and the device expands in power. First, there’s remote control functionality. You can stick the R-09 where you want it to go – especially important if you’re using that built-in mic – then record and play and manage recordings and set levels wirelessly, over Bluetooth. (They’ve even got a nifty Apple Watch app.)

The R-07 can also stream audio from the record to your phone, via Bluetooth. And refreshed technology can mean the fidelity of that is higher than you might expect. That’s thanks to new tech from chipset maker Qualcomm called aptX. Basically, it’s a higher-quality codec optimized for improving sound quality while simultaneously improving low-latency reliability. There’s a good writeup on Android Authority covering both aptX and aptX HD variants. (iPhones don’t support aptX natively, but some dongles do; I don’t know yet if the R-07 will be compatible with those.)

You can also use Bluetooth to monitor your R-07 with Bluetooth wireless headphones – and again, if those headphones support aptX, you’ll get higher-quality, lower-latency sound. (Now we’re beginning to see some added tax to living in the Apple ecosystem, since it seems Apple is going their own way with this.)

Apart from the phone features, the R-07 looks like a darned cute little pocket recorder – like one that would actually fit in your pocket. It also solves a really big problem that may be more important than wireless operation or how it works with your phone, and that’s that it has some features to prevent you accidentally recording at a volume that’s too high.

Each time you record, the R-07 actually makes not one but two recordings – one at full level, and one at a lower level. So when the full-level recording clips, you can go back to the lower-level recording that has more headroom – even just for the portion that clips. If you’d prefer this process to be automatic, something called Hybrid Limiting automatically splices in the lower-level bits you need. Neat. I’m curious to try this in practice.

(This is hardly a pro or consumer issue. For instance, I was once in a taxi racing to the Philadelphia airport and learned my taxi driver was frustrated with Zoom’s recorders because he kept clipping his recordings when he was playing drums with a heavy metal band. This is probably potentially relevant to half the world’s population. There you go. And obviously, pros and consumers have all screwed this up at one time or another.)

The R-07 can make two simultaneous recordings—one at full level and another at a lower level with increased headroom. If there’s unexpected clipping in the main recording, you can replace that section with a portion of the lower-level backup recording. Hybrid Limiting can even handle this automatically, so you get all the safety of limiting with none of the downsides.

Features:

Stereo WAV recording, up to 24-bit/96 kHz
MP3 recording, up to 320 kbps
Included stereo mics
One-touch access to scene setups (oh, lord, having done a lot of menu diving on Zoom devices, this is welcome)
microSD slot
USB connectivity, with USB class compatibility (so you can mount it on any computer, mobile device)
Jacks: headphone out, mic/line in (that’s a stereo minijack – it disables use of the mic, but it means you can use the R-07 for external line recordings, like from a mixer in a show)
Powered by two AA batteries or USB bus power
Black, white, or red, optional bags available

With the splashy marketing materials and a launch this week at the Consumer Electronic Show, it’s clear Roland hopes this recorder will reach out to a wide, wide audience. Hope we get to try one.

Watch the overview here:

More:

https://www.roland.com/us/products/r-07/specifications/

The post Roland R-07 wants to be your next recorder – and your phone’s friend appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Roland R-07 wants to be your next recorder – and your phone’s friend

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 8 Jan 2018 8:22 pm

Smartphones have already changed how we think about cameras. So what about recording? The newest handheld in Roland’s poopular line has one answer to that.

The R-07 is a handheld recording gadget, in the tradition of Roland (and Edirol) recorders past. That already suggests it could be a good choice. This year’s model has various high-quality modes and stereo recording, including built-in stereo operation.

Now, that already can best the internal mono mics in your smartphone. Plus, add-on mics are kind of a pain – they require different connectors, may make you worry about battery life, and then require you to position your phone in the recording location. Plus, phones generally speaking lack tripod mounts (even if there are some solutions to that).

So the R-07’s innovation is to both respond to the sleek, small design of modern phones, and to couple with your iPhone or Android phone for added functionality.

This doesn’t look quite like any handheld recorder we’ve seen yet from Roland or anyone else. It’s incredibly tiny, with a sleek design that seems more consumer gadget and less chunky pro audio device. It still manages to include one-touch access to important features, plus USB connectivity, audio jacks, and a built-in stereo mic. But it does so in a pocket form factor.

Work with the R-07 and your smartphone (hey, trousers have two pockets for a reason?), and the device expands in power. First, there’s remote control functionality. You can stick the R-09 where you want it to go – especially important if you’re using that built-in mic – then record and play and manage recordings and set levels wirelessly, over Bluetooth. (They’ve even got a nifty Apple Watch app.)

The R-07 can also stream audio from the record to your phone, via Bluetooth. And refreshed technology can mean the fidelity of that is higher than you might expect. That’s thanks to new tech from chipset maker Qualcomm called aptX. Basically, it’s a higher-quality codec optimized for improving sound quality while simultaneously improving low-latency reliability. There’s a good writeup on Android Authority covering both aptX and aptX HD variants. (iPhones don’t support aptX natively, but some dongles do; I don’t know yet if the R-07 will be compatible with those.)

You can also use Bluetooth to monitor your R-07 with Bluetooth wireless headphones – and again, if those headphones support aptX, you’ll get higher-quality, lower-latency sound. (Now we’re beginning to see some added tax to living in the Apple ecosystem, since it seems Apple is going their own way with this.)

Apart from the phone features, the R-07 looks like a darned cute little pocket recorder – like one that would actually fit in your pocket. It also solves a really big problem that may be more important than wireless operation or how it works with your phone, and that’s that it has some features to prevent you accidentally recording at a volume that’s too high.

Each time you record, the R-07 actually makes not one but two recordings – one at full level, and one at a lower level. So when the full-level recording clips, you can go back to the lower-level recording that has more headroom – even just for the portion that clips. If you’d prefer this process to be automatic, something called Hybrid Limiting automatically splices in the lower-level bits you need. Neat. I’m curious to try this in practice.

(This is hardly a pro or consumer issue. For instance, I was once in a taxi racing to the Philadelphia airport and learned my taxi driver was frustrated with Zoom’s recorders because he kept clipping his recordings when he was playing drums with a heavy metal band. This is probably potentially relevant to half the world’s population. There you go. And obviously, pros and consumers have all screwed this up at one time or another.)

The R-07 can make two simultaneous recordings—one at full level and another at a lower level with increased headroom. If there’s unexpected clipping in the main recording, you can replace that section with a portion of the lower-level backup recording. Hybrid Limiting can even handle this automatically, so you get all the safety of limiting with none of the downsides.

Features:

Stereo WAV recording, up to 24-bit/96 kHz
MP3 recording, up to 320 kbps
Included stereo mics
One-touch access to scene setups (oh, lord, having done a lot of menu diving on Zoom devices, this is welcome)
microSD slot
USB connectivity, with USB class compatibility (so you can mount it on any computer, mobile device)
Jacks: headphone out, mic/line in (that’s a stereo minijack – it disables use of the mic, but it means you can use the R-07 for external line recordings, like from a mixer in a show)
Powered by two AA batteries or USB bus power
Black, white, or red, optional bags available

With the splashy marketing materials and a launch this week at the Consumer Electronic Show, it’s clear Roland hopes this recorder will reach out to a wide, wide audience. Hope we get to try one.

Watch the overview here:

More:

https://www.roland.com/us/products/r-07/specifications/

The post Roland R-07 wants to be your next recorder – and your phone’s friend appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Elastic FX lets you route and morph 32 effects on iOS, for $7

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 14 Dec 2017 5:23 pm

It looks a bit like what would happen if an iPad, a KAOSS Pad, and a plug-in folder had a love child. It’s the new iOS app from the makers of Elastic Drums.

Elastic Drums already had won fans as the indie-developed drum synth / production app released by Mouse on Mars. And inside Elastic Drums, you had a powerful range of effects. So, at some point, lead developer Oliver Greschke had the idea of taking all those effects, and making a standalone multi-effects processor for the iPad.

The result you get, though, is a fully spec’ed-out sound processing powerhouse for iOS: Elastic FX. If you were already using Elastic Drums, you’ll like these effects, too – but now they’ve been reworked, and provide stereo processing (not just mono). You’ll find new effects, too, plus all-new routing options and feedback.

And if you haven’t used Elastic Drums before, Elastic FX promises straight out of the gate to be one of the leading options for processing effects on the iPad.

There are 32 available effects, including modulation, pitch, distortion, filter, delay, reverb, and more.

From those 32 effects, you can assign to one of four effect units.

It’s that four-effect unit that opens up more possibilities. Choose how to route between effects, add feedback, then adjust parameters all at once via X/Y pad (KAOSS-style). That X/Y pad also has phrase recording and automation, of 1-8 bars in length.

There’s additionally a master effects section (which adds 3-band EQ, compressor, and stutter).

From there, you’ve got a load of options to integrate this with your mobile studio:

  • Audiobus 3, Inter-App Audio for working with other apps’ audio (in/out)
  • A built-in audio player so you can quickly audition effects
  • Ableton Link support for jamming and sync, plus time-synced phrase playback and tempo-synced effects (like the delay)
  • Save, load, share user presets
  • MIDI, MIDI learn for parameter control
  • MIDI program change for changing presets

Intro price, iPad only: 7.99€ / US$6.99

http://mominstruments.com/efx/

Demo videos:

And check out this synced-up automation:

The post Elastic FX lets you route and morph 32 effects on iOS, for $7 appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Bastl’s tiny, patchable Kastle now more durable, sounds better

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 14 Dec 2017 4:31 pm

The tiny, 80 Euro, 8-bit Kastle synth from Bastl just got better. A 1.5 revision updates the case, sound, and features.

First off, in addition to batteries, you can now run on micro USB power.

The case is updated, too. It’s fiberglass instead of acrylic for added durability, and has a slick black matte finish, plus better patch points.

And then there’s sound. Bastl Instruments say they’ve done a total rework on the sound engine, improving smoothness, ranges, and anti-aliasing performance.

Two sound engines running in parallel deliver three new modes: formant synthesis, noise mode, and tonal mode. Plus there are the existing phase modulation, phase distortion, and track & hold modulation, each with new improvements.

Formants: Inspired by the 1865 Helmholz synthesizer, you get combinations of harmonics / vowel sounds.

Noise: This glitchy mode comes from granular playback of a piece of code that’s run from the sound chip – basically an edgy ultra-digital glitched-out wavetable/granular source.

Demo here:

More:

http://www.bastl-instruments.com/instruments/kastle/kastle-v1-5/

I’ll be in Brno, CZ Friday and Saturday this week and catching up with team Bastl, if you’ve got questions for them.

The post Bastl’s tiny, patchable Kastle now more durable, sounds better appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

BlipCase mobile music gear storage is now half off (USA, CA)

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 14 Dec 2017 1:21 am

You’ve got the gear. You’ve got the gifts. Now … a place to put it, on the go, or setting up onstage. That’s BlipCase, and in December it’s just $39.95.

BlipCase ships to the USA and Canada in time for Christmas, as long as you order by December 18. (We ship internationally, too, but shipping costs are most affordable in North America.)

Buy now – in stock and shipping – $39.95

You can read our introduction last year when we introduced the system:
BlipCase is a custom solution for toting your compact music gear

And here are some images showing the variety of gear that fits inside:

Buy BlipCase

The post BlipCase mobile music gear storage is now half off (USA, CA) appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

How BeatMaker caught the iOS music trend before it even started

Delivered... Ashley Elsdon | Scene | Mon 11 Dec 2017 6:39 pm

It was one of the first apps to define what mobile music making on iOS could be. We talk to its creators to understand the story behind Intua BeatMaker.

CDM’s mobile editor Ashley Elsdon has always been ahead of the curve in understanding the potential of mobile music making. The clue is right in the name of his ground-breaking block “Palm Sounds” – started back when Palm devices were state of the art and iOS didn’t even exist yet. Those Palm gadgets included some all-in-one production tools, but BeatMaker took advantage of Apple’s generational boost in power and multi-touch interface. And that journey starts even before Apple had an App Store, let alone an iPad and a cadre of music making tools running on desktop-class architectures. No one has really told that story until now – and Ashley is the person to investigate. -PK

Before even the introduction of the iPad or even the App Store, BeatMaker 1 helped define the iPhone as mobile music platform. From there, it’s grown continuously in feature set and community, with BeatMaker 2 and now BeatMaker 3 each representing not just incremental, but ground-up new apps and radical landmarks in functionality. Ed.: You might look at those older releases if you’ve got a ‘vintage’ device running an earlier OS.

Following BeatMaker 3’s release, I wanted to understand direct from the developers how that journey took place. I was curious what had driven them and how they’d made decisions about what to keep and what to throw away. Hopefully you’ll find Intua’s responses as interesting as I have. Intua developer and co-founder Mathieu Garcia responds.

Ashley: What was it that first made you think about developing BM1, and how did you go about making it happen in a pre-App Store world?

Mathieu: Back in 2006, I was an IT consultant and was sent for a mission in London. The company was looking to create a “proof-of-concept” app that would allow VoIP calls on the iPhone. At the time, months before the launch of the App Store, you had to go through all kind of homemade toolchains and rough documentation. It was pretty interesting project, and one of my tasks was to reverse-engineer the audio layer of iOS 1.x. By the end of the project, they gifted me the development iPhone. During the flight back home, I looked at this futuristic phone and thought it would be pretty nice to write a small drum machine on it, just for the sake of it.

Luckily I had a couple of free days ahead and basically spent them reverse-engineering, designing and coding this modest drum-machine called “BeatPhone”. I would be sleeping only a couple of hours a day and barely eating. It was a really creative “rush.” I connected with a very nice IRC community of hackers / devs; George Hotz was one of them.

At the time, third-party apps were distributed on a platform called “Cydia,” that was installed automatically after jail-breaking. Ed.: For those not familiar with this process, basically you’d hack an exploit in the phone, allowing custom, non-authorized open source software to run its own application installer on the device. Apple was routinely patching these holes, with hackers rushing to stay one step ahead.

Every day, new apps would be made available. I can imagine that a lot of now-established iOS developers started during this period, too. So I uploaded “BeatPhone” in there. It looked pretty horrible, to be honest, and was barely usable at first. I had a blog, too, with install instructions, dev updates, etc. People would reach out, sending encouragement emails, asking for new features, etc.

Before the iPhone was even announced, some close friends organized a meetup in Barcelona to brainstorm around a touch-screen based device for music production. It was tricky, since we were not living in the same place, but we kept exchanging for a couple of months. Work and budget came in the way as well. Two of them, Colin and Vincent, who would later become co-founders of INTUA, were part of the project. We attended the same engineering school back in Paris, and we knew each other pretty well.

Anyway, a couple of months later, I decided to show them the app “BeatPhone”. During that time, it was evolving quickly. The interest for music creation apps was growing steadily. In a couple of weeks, this turned from a complete hobby side-project to my daily activity. I think I reached somewhere around one million hits on the blog. Vincent and Colin came over in Geneva, I introduced them to the unofficial SDK/toolchain, and naturally, we started brainstorming and designing a new app. UIKit wasn’t even a “thing” at the time, but we had a good friend working on a cross-platform OpenGL widget library for a few years now. We ported it to iOS, and still today, we use this framework.

We also wrote an audio engine from scratch, we made blueprints — it was so creative. A few months later, in March 2007, I think, Apple made the big announcement: the App Store was launching in July – perfect timing. We quickly set up a company, got the official SDK, and started adapting the existing code. We were immensely productive and BeatMaker 1 was made available two days after the initial App Store launch. We thought, oh well, at least if we can cover just the basic cost of a modest lifestyle, that’d be great! We had no idea about sales, and I think 15 days later, someone from Apple gave us a call, congratulating us and giving us the first numbers. It was very unexpected. It was becoming real! That was it, we were now convinced we could really continue working on BeatMaker. We quickly went back on the whiteboard and start planning features ahead. INTUA was now a real mobile app company.

What was the reaction to BM1?

Amazing, really, at least from people who had bought the app. We would get daily encouragements, some super nice fellows reached out, and we naturally started working on artists kits, sound packs, etc. New opportunities would open almost every week, press would reach out, etc. That said, it was still very “niche.” Most artists and producers wouldn’t even consider sketching out a few beats on the iPhone. It made no sense to them, and honestly we could understand why, knowing the limitations of the devices. At the same time, people started sharing their tracks, or even full albums with us, entirely made on iOS. It was taking off; it was clear it would take time for the platform to be really considered as “viable.” The community involved was very supportive, and that really drove us in the right direction.

After BM1, what was it that helped you to form the ideas around BM2?

Basically, we thought BM1 was focusing too much on the drum aspect and had no real track/instrument paradigm. Limitations are good, but you really had only 16 pads for your track. We looked at what was available on iOS and started scratching our heads, brainstorming a lot. This was maybe only a few months after the initial BM1 launch. We looked at desktop software, too, and decided it made sense to follow the multitrack path, while also focusing on the sampling aspect. It came pretty naturally to improve the existing BM1 drum sampler layout, and complement it with a keyboard sampler. Adding a more advanced sequencer, people would be able to compose full tracks. Originally BM2 had no audio tracks and was designed for iPhones. The iPad came out and gave us even more room for improvements while also focusing on bringing meaningful features.

What did you want to achieve with BM2?

Trying to bring a solid new app on the iOS world. For us, innovation is paramount. The feature set had to be powerful and [not something users had] seen elsewhere. We knew big names from the industry had a growing interest in developing for iOS, so we absolutely needed to be one step ahead. BM2 was feature-rich, sometimes maybe even too much. The learning curve was a bit steep but after a while, people started finding crazy (genius) workarounds, tricks, and ways to compose. Basically, you got to invent your own workflow to materialize your idea in the app.

Keyboard Sampler Interface v3

BM3 was a big step from BM2. How did those ideas come about, and how much did user input help you to make decisions?

It was really important for us to address all the workflow issues and discrepancies BM2 suffered from. The idea was to bring something new not only in terms of features, but also on the UX [user experience design]. Again, we like to start fresh while improving concepts that have proven to work well. It was clear BM2‘s strongest points were the sampling and chopping capabilities. This time, we decided to look a bit further than the software world and see what modern gear had to offer. After all, the iPad is a controller, too. Before even hitting the whiteboard once more, we went on our own forums, collected all the feedback (positive & negative), and printed it. We would constantly read and get back to this huge pile of paper — a goldmine, really. The more we were reading it, the more we would grasp what people expected: a concept that would blur the line between a controller and an app. Digesting all of this information took time, but we did not want to rush anything and be sure to come with a novel design. It took us around three years in total.

One thing you haven’t done is move out from iOS, either to Android, or indeed to the desktop. Can you imagine BeatMaker as a desktop DAW?

It’s the next logical step, since more and more of our users are asking for BM3 on their Mac or PC. Competition is tough on desktop platforms, and I don’t see BM3 ever replacing the big DAWs out there, and that’s not what we have in mind, anyway. Our users want to transfer their productions back and forth to their studio/computer, without ever getting into manual file transfers and things like that. Offering the same feature set on the go or back at home is what we can provide. We do have a Mac version for internal development and to make the life of sound designers easier, but this isn’t quite what we want to release to the public. Hopefully, 2018 will be the year INTUA makes its first move to the desktop world — it’s a really good opportunity for us.

As for Android, well, it’s a tough one. If we can’t provide a similar experience on it, then we’ll keep waiting until it gets a bit more unified. There are so much devices out there, it could really become a nightmare to ensure the app works correctly on all of them. However, I think [Microsoft] Surface / Windows Universal Windows Platform is to look for! Ed.: That’s Microsoft’s family of touch-equipped hardware laptops and tablets, plus the means of targeting traditional desktop Windows users and users of a variety of hardware platforms at the same time – even including things like Xbox and HoloLens.

CDM: What does the future look like on iOS for Intua?

Intua: The latest iPads and iPhones are often benchmarked against laptops, and I think this says a lot of what’s coming next. Also, some of the frameworks we use to develop on macOS and iOS are merging into a single entity, so clearly, Apple is blurring the lines between both worlds. It’s ambitious to ever consider replacing laptops with tablets, but they can surely complement each other.

If we look back, iOS has evolved so much in the past couple of years; iOS 11 brings file management a step closer to the desktop experience.

On the audio side, well, Audio Units V3 [plug-in support] was a huge milestone, and our users love integrating their favorite synths and effects directly into BM3. This is a real creativity booster and gives a new dimension to mobile production. It’s even bringing devs to connect, which is great! We’ll keep working on iOS, for sure, and staying in line with Apple’s products and technology is something we actually enjoy doing – especially since the introduction of the “pro” iPads (and now iPhones).

If you could give new iOS developers a piece of advice, what would it be?

Be sure to bring something unique to the user. Competition is tough and there are so much synths, effects, DAWs out there that you need to differentiate yourself in a clever way. Being close to the community is also paramount — understanding how your users create with your app is something to look for constantly. As developers, we often focus on testing part of the app; it’s a very methodical approach, but testing it as a whole entity is a completely different thing. Your users do, so
keep listening to them and make sure you don’t break their creativity with a clumsy interface. Even the smallest detail can become a productivity killer.

That said, iOS is a land of opportunity; you see indie devs “living” along big companies such as Korg in the music app charts — this is pretty unique!

What would you change about iOS, if you could?

Luckily, iOS 11 was released not so long ago, but one aspect would be a more streamlined way to manage and transfer files to and from the device. Also, on the hardware side, we need more storage space! Samples, projects, exports, archives, etc. will eat space very quickly. The latest iPads and iPhones come with better storage options (but you pay the price), so I guess it’s going on the right direction.

 

All three versions of BeatMaker are still on the App Store – BM1, BM2 and the latest BM3).

The post How BeatMaker caught the iOS music trend before it even started appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Next Page »
TunePlus Wordpress Theme