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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.

BOSTON CALLING NAMED TWO HEADLINERS FOR 2020

Delivered... Spacelab - Independent Music and Media | Scene | Wed 13 Nov 2019 8:00 pm
Boston Calling headliners have been announced! 60+ other artists will be released in January! FOO FIGHTERS and RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS!

SXSW MUSIC PHASE TWO LINEUP IS OUT!

Delivered... Spacelab - Independent Music and Media | Scene | Wed 13 Nov 2019 7:00 pm
Wire, Automatic, Nasty Cherry, Iguana Death Cult, Monophonics, Otoboke Beaver, Parisalexa, Pleasure Venom, Bodywash and more!

USDA Issues Interim Rules for Hemp Production – How Does it Affect CBD Advertising? 

Delivered... David Oxenford | Scene | Wed 13 Nov 2019 6:02 pm

On October 31, the US Department of Agriculture published in the Federal Register interim rules governing the production of industrial hemp under the provisions of the 2018 Farm Act (see the USDA press release here).  These rules will allow the USDA to approve state and tribal plans for the regulation of hemp production.  It also allows for the USDA to authorize growers in states that have not adopted their own plans (or that have restricted the production of hemp).  The USDA notes the interest in hemp production driven by interest in CBD products derived from hemp.  While these rules do not address advertising issues specifically, they do ease some of the concerns that many broadcasters and other media companies have had about advertising CBD products when it was unclear that the production of those products was legal.  We wrote about some of those concerns many times, including in our posts here and here.

These interim rules recognize that CBD products can already be legally produced under provisions of the 2014 Farm Act.  As we noted here, that Act authorized experimental production of hemp products.  The 2014 Act also permitted research into commercial exploitation of hemp products – probably permitting greater production than Congress or the USDA expected when the Act was adopted.  The October 31 public notice states that production under the 2014 Act will be allowed to continue for the next three years until permanent rules implementing the 2018 Act are adopted.  In fact, the USDA notes that it expects that over 50% of hemp production will be by those operating under these grandfathered 2014 licenses for the next year.  This seems to recognize that a significant amount of production already underway is in fact legal under federal law, ameliorating some of the concerns as to whether CBD products now being sold could have been legally produced. 

However, the USDA also notes that states are free to adopt rules that are more restrictive than the rules it adopts – and states can even prohibit the production of any hemp products.  Thus, while the adoption of the interim rules eases many of the concerns of media companies about the legal origin of CBD, these companies still need to look at their state laws to make sure that they are not promoting a product that remains illegal in their state – or somehow promoting uses that would be prohibited in the state.  For instance, there are states in which CBD products are legal only with the written permission of a doctor – so promoting unfettered sale of the product may run afoul of state laws.

Not only do media companies have to worry about state laws, they also need to consider the rules and policies of other federal agencies.  USDA rules specifically note that uses of CBD remain under the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration.  As we have written before (see our posts here, here and here), the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission have been active in cracking down on CBD marketing where specific health claims are made (except for the one FDA approved CBD-based product used for control of seizures).  The FDA has also prohibited marketing of CBD food additives or oral medications until it conducts further studies on their safety and labeling.  So any media company looking to take CBD advertising also has to look at these restrictions.

While this action of the USDA appears to resolve some of the questions about the legality of the production of CBD products, it does not eliminate all legal concerns.  So talk to your attorneys and carefully consider your marketing for any of these products.

Game Boy music classic Nanoloop is coming to two dedicated mobile gadgets

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 13 Nov 2019 10:27 am

Nanoloop, the ingeniously simple pocket music-making tool, is being reborn. Two new dedicated pocket hardware devices promise to do what once required Nintendo’s Game Boy.

Nanoloop began its life as a home-brewed cartridge for the Nintendo Game Boy. The software shipped in the same physical format as classic games like Legend of Zelda – on a cartridge. That allowed the title to take advantage of the distinctive chip synth in the mainstream gaming hardware.

And Nanoloop was an instant hit, helping drive the explosion of the chip music scene. While some musicians swore by Nanoloop’s leading rival, Little Sound DJ [LSDJ], and its 90s-style tracker interface, Nanoloop stood out for its distinctive graphical design. Minimal elements onscreen belied powerful editing features, and opened up music-making to artists drawn to that aesthetic and way of working.

If you really want to be a purist, you’ll continue to run Nanoloop exactly like that, on the vintage hardware. And of course, there are also mobile OS versions now available, though they lose the tactile feel that’s part of the whole draw.

But now there’s a third way – run Nanoloop on new, dedicated gadgets, not made by Nintendo. (Not that Nintendo needs to worry about the competition – the target market here are typically rabid enough fans that they already own and extensively use Nintendo Switch!)

Incredibly, there are two separate projects inbound that offer new ways of running Nanoloop. Nanoloop’s own developer is building hardware designed just for music makers to run his creation. And separately, a project to make new hardware that runs the original cartridges includes the Nanoloop synth, built-in.

I mean, I kind of want both. (Santa Claus, if you’re listening…) Here’s the scoop:

Analogue Pocket

We have fewer details on Analogue Pocket, but imagine a sleek, black remake of the original, with a high-density display in place of the original lo-fi one. It isn’t a software emulator as such – it actually plays the original Game Boy cartridges from all the different generations (Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance). Those afternoons spent around the flea market are about to get way more interesting, then.

In place of the original specs, though, you get modern features – as though you stepped into a mirror universe. So the display is 665ppi and 1600×1440. The battery is lithium-ion with USB-C charging. There’s an SD card slot.

What’s potentially interesting to music users is that the developers have a built-in version of Nanoloop. That seems to be the newer Nanoloop 2. I don’t yet have information on the Analogue Pocket’s sound engine, though, which will be crucial detail for chip enthusiasts wanting to use this as an instrument. Even Nanoloop developer Oliver Wittchow told me he’s trying to learn more about this device.

One thing we have been able to confirm – Oliver says the creators tell him the Analogue Pocket will have correct audio pin compatibility. That means the nanoloop mono cartridge – nanoloop 1 – will be compatible with the new hardware.

Meanwhile, Oliver is designing his own hardware around his app. That’s less interesting to mainstream gadget and gaming press, but even more interesting to us. And Oliver is making progress.

Nanoloop Hardware

I covered the nanoloop hardware project and its Kickstarter campaign earlier this year:

What makes it special is really its hardware matrix design, with gamepads – it’s a never-before-seen hybrid of light-up physical grid and gaming-style joy/directional-pads. Or to put it another way, it’s the love child of a Game Boy Advance and a monome, part modern gadget, part nerdy DIY contraption.

And goddamn, son, this thing sounds sweet. Check out the update from late October:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/734721310/nanoloop/posts/2665107

He’s dumped the dorky LEDs for a svelte, retro-futuristic set of dots on the main display – very nanoloop. The sound is exceptional, and it fits in your palm.

There’s also a post reflecting on form factor. The horizontal option seems to me a clear winner, and it’s stunning how much he’s fit in so small a space. It really for me outdoes even the tiny Teenage Engineering OP-Z in terms of economical user interface. I look forward to playing the two as a duo, though.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/734721310/nanoloop/posts/2628067

Don’t take my word for it, though. Follow the Kickstarter campaign and check out his sound demos, as Oliver has produced a unique instrument for lovers of tiny electronic musical things. If you’re feeling eager for this to arrive, I am, too, so we’ll keep you posted on how the work is coming.

Image at top: “Nanoloop in C” by v8media is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The post Game Boy music classic Nanoloop is coming to two dedicated mobile gadgets appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

ELECTRIC FOREST 2020 DATES ARE OUT!

Delivered... Spacelab - Independent Music and Media | Scene | Wed 13 Nov 2019 12:00 am
Confirmed ... and Loyalty ticket information is out too. Get the details!

PHOENIX LIGHTS FESTIVAL JUST ANNOUNCED 2020 DATES AND TICKETS

Delivered... Spacelab - Independent Music and Media | Scene | Tue 12 Nov 2019 7:15 pm
The same weekend as last year with a fresh set of music to check out this spring. Tickets go on sale this week!

You can learn a lot from Surgeon’s live rigs

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 12 Nov 2019 3:04 pm

Our friends at Resident Advisor took a peek at the techno legend’s battle-tested live rigs. And it’s not so much about gear – it says a lot about musical technique.

First, it’s simple but irresistible – Surgeon’s live rig is devastatingly effective, thanks to some economical decision making and inarguable musicianship:

  • Octatrack – six drum sounds, some backing tracks
  • LEPLOOP – FM oscillators, noise, and then sequenced sample and hold and LFO, plus it filters and delays the Octatrack
  • Faderfox controller accesses Octatrack parameters without menu diving (the PC4 pot controller, though see also the new EC4 if you prefer encoders and display)
  • OTO Machines BOUM – compressor/warmer

Laboratorio Elettronico Popolare’s LEPLOOP is the unexpected star of this one – a unique sequencer – synth – drum machine. Surgeon does say that devices tend to come and go, but I’m glad RA caught him with the LEPLOOP in the mix – it’s really adding a lot of dynamism to his sets at the moment. (Well, and it’s nice when the lesser-known gear gets some love!)

It’s also interesting that he uses the BOUM as a kind of glue to keep things from jumping out in the mix.

“It does make you want to … jump around.” Hell, yes.

He also takes a look at the “abstract” live set. Actually, I think this is more idiosyncratic – meaning it’s harder to learn from how he works. So, sure, the inexpensive SH-01A from Roland makes loads of sense – it’s a melodic favorite of mine, and I think a more versatile instrument than the all-about-acid 303s everyone has talked about lately. (I’m sticking with its Juno sibling, myself, but the SH-01A is my other favorite Boutique.) And the LYRA-8 is simply dreamy – it’s the creation of the wonderful SOMA, who I’ve profiled.

Maybe the most telling part of this is the Electro-Harmonix looper, the 45000. Just as the techno set is all about controlled modulation, the spice of the LEPLOOP atop the foundation of the Octatrack, here the composition focuses on the looper’s structure. That allows spontaneous layering of new material, with the regular patterns from the Roland and Lyra building up a skeleton.

There’s a full feature interview on RA, and well worth a read – it’s a must if you’re a Surgeon fan, but full of sage advice even if your own music lies in another idiom.

The Art Of Production: Surgeon

The whole series from RA has been great, but I’d wager this one may be the most useful to other artists – and of course, I’m a sucker for anyone talking about how they actually play live.

For some longer-form discussion with Surgeon, he also gave a recorded 45-minute talk at Berlin landmark SchneidersLaden:

Oh yeah, and the set? It’s a couple of years old, but here’s a nice video from Glasgow:

The post You can learn a lot from Surgeon’s live rigs appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

BEYOND WONDERLAND DATES FOR 2020 ARE OUT!

Delivered... Spacelab - Independent Music and Media | Scene | Mon 11 Nov 2019 8:45 pm
The spring get down in SoCal just got real.

FCC To Consider All-Digital AM at its November Meeting – What Questions are Being Asked?

Delivered... David Oxenford | Scene | Mon 11 Nov 2019 5:20 pm

As we noted in our list of November Regulatory dates for broadcasters, at its November 22 meeting, the FCC will be considering the adoption of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (see the draft order here) allowing AM stations to go all digital – on a voluntary basis. This Notice follows a Petition for Rulemaking which I filed on behalf of my client Bryan Broadcasting (see our articles here and here). The FCC’s NPRM, if adopted in the form of the draft Notice, suggests that the Commission, subject to a review of comments, is inclined to adopt the proposal to allow AM stations to voluntarily convert to an all-digital operation. While that is the tentative conclusion of the FCC, it does pose numerous questions on which it seeks comments.

The FCC’s questions include inquiries on the technical, programming, and operational aspects of the conversion of an AM station to digital. But the FCC recognizes some of the potential benefits of the all-digital operation and identifies some of the likely early adaptors of any such technology. These early adopters would likely include AM stations that have an FM translator that can continue to provide programming to the public even if some of the public does not have a radio with AM digital reception capabilities. We note that some AM operators with FM translators have already suggested the possibility of surrendering their AM signal, a proposal that has thus far been rejected by the FCC (see our articles here and here). The prospect of an all-digital AM operation would allow these stations to rely on their FM translator for current analog coverage of their markets, while trying to provide a more robust AM signal in the long-term rather than simply abandoning the service altogether. In addition, music stations are much more likely to be interested in an all-digital operation with the promise of higher fidelity than possible through an analog operation. But the FCC asks numerous other questions.

Some of the technical issues include whether the all-digital AM operation will in fact provide a better listening experience, will its signal be listenable for greater distances than the analog AM signal, will signal interference from bridges and power lines degrade the digital listening experience, and will the directional patterns of some stations reduce the benefits of the service?  Other very specific technical issues about the standard are also raised in the draft Notice. Perhaps most importantly, as some commenters on the original petition for rulemaking expressed concerns, the FCC asks whether an all-digital operation will post a greater potential for interference to co-channel stations. The FCC tentatively concludes that interference to adjacent channel stations is unlikely to be a problem as the all-digital AM signal uses less of the assigned channel than current hybrid analog/digital operations.

The FCC also asks about other benefits that would be derived from an all-digital operation. Would artist and song information be displayable to listeners? Would AM stations have the potential to provide more data services? Would an all-digital operation allow for multicasting on AM as it does on FM? Could digital boosters be used to fill in gaps in the AM signal?

The FCC also asks about the costs. It suggests that the owner of the digital technology asks for a $10,000 licensing fee for current operations. Would that fee apply as well to an all-digital operation? The one AM station already operating on an experimental basis in all-digital mode – Hubbard Radio station WMFD(AM) in Frederick, Maryland – indicated that certain other equipment needed to be changed to allow for an all-digital operation. The draft Notice asks what these costs would include – and would these costs be faced by all converting stations?

The regulatory steps toward conversion were also the subject of a question. Currently, for an AM station to begin operating in the current hybrid mode where both analog and digital signals are being broadcast, only a simple notice to the FCC is required. The Commission asks if notice will be sufficient in this case as well – and can stations switch back to analog by notice if they determine that the digital operations are not successful?

If the FCC adopts this draft NPRM at its November 22 meeting, comments and reply comments will be due 60 days and 90 days, respectively, after the NPRM is published in the Federal Register. Watch for the discussion of this item at next week’s FCC meeting.

HUMAN EXTINCTION PARTY is all the AI-generated gore and death metal you can stream

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 11 Nov 2019 4:48 pm

If we’ve learned one thing about artificial intelligence, machine learning, and music generation, it’s that AI makes some damned fine death metal.

I mean, sure, part of why machine learning doesn’t really replace humans in its present form is this very phenomenon you’re hearing. If you put audio content of pre-existing music into a blender and then mathematically spew bits of it out, you’re losing all the nuance of form and compositional intent that make a lot of music genres work in the first place.

But back up – what was that bit about spewing things out of a blender?

If that part sounded like a feature, not a bug, then you sound like just the sort of person who will love AI-generated death metal. I am that sort of person, despite being about nuance and form and compositional intent, uh, most of the time. (At least I normally pretend.) And I’ve written about this before.

But now, it’s worth mentioning because HUMAN EXTINCTION PARTY 😵🗡️🤖🔪😵🗡️🤖🔪😵🗡️🤖🔪😵🗡️🤖🔪😵🗡️🤖🔪😵🗡️🤖🔪😵🗡️🤖🔪😵🗡️🤖🔪😵🗡️🤖🔪😵🗡️🤖🔪😵🗡️🤖🔪😵🗡️🤖🔪😵🗡️🤖 is amazing.

It’s a livestream of this stuff, just when the creators, Dadabots, have taken down a lot of their other streams. I realize this came out on the 25th of October, ostensibly for Halloween, which now is of course past. But I would implore Databots to keep this up, and the AI-generated text playing karaoke-style over images of meat, on through Christmas. (Honestly, this makes me feel a lot less murderous than hearing “Last Christmas.” If I seem to be getting stabby and Wham! is on, play this to calm me down and watch the butcher knife slide from my placid fingers.)

And yes, you should read their research paper:

Generating Albums with SampleRNN to Imitate Metal, Rock, and Punk Bands

More on SampleRNN:

http://deepsound.io/samplernn_first.html

I still think this will not really turn into a generative model for music, but could turn into a far more interesting way of processing your own samples than only looping them, by generating larger-scale textures out of existing material. If I’m wrong, you can flay my skin and … okay, now I’ve been listening to too much of this stream.

I’m in the midst of our AI Music Lab with MUTEK.jp, so more on this topic – and not just skin deep – soon.

Go go Databots:

http://dadabots.com/faq.php

And yes, if you really want to have an argument about authorship and this stuff, you should probably go talk to your MPC, too.

Also, Hatebeak forever. (And yeah, CDM has been going for 15 years – and if you got the Hatebeak reference, probably you’ve been reading roughly that long.)

The post HUMAN EXTINCTION PARTY is all the AI-generated gore and death metal you can stream appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Behringer 303 clones revealed: $199 street

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 11 Nov 2019 4:31 pm

Behringer’s analog remake of the 303 is now out in the open – a $199 set of red, blue, and silver synths called the TD-3.

On one hand, this might be the least exceptional of the low-cost Behringer synths, in that there are a lot of 303 remakes around already. There are boutique models, things called “Boutique” from Roland, the open-source hardware x0xb0x and its ilk (which even served as a template to open source music hardware generally), and plug-ins and software emulations galore.

On the other hand, the same thing makes the TD-3 newsworthy. It’s a synth everyone knows, and it’s now US$199 street. Get ready for a lot more acid — that’s for sure.

So what did Behringer actually do?

The TD-3 roughly approximates the TB-303 layout, without being slavish. And Behringer says they’ve recreated the essential analog circuits, down to the matched transistors.

It’s easier, then, to describe what’s new – apart from seeing a Behringer logo instead of a Roland one.

There’s a distortion circuit, which Behringer says is modeled on the DS-1. That presumably means a BOSS DS-1. And that’s actually the ballsy move here; Behringer has tangled with Roland before over BOSS.

The sequencer functionality borrows the 303’s interactions, but there’s more here – an arpeggiator, 250 user patterns x 7 tracks, and an intriguing ppq (parts per quarter) setting.

There’s also more I/O, bringing this more in line with a hacked/modded 303 than the original. You get USB, MIDI, and filter in / sync in / CV out / gate out, in addition to the original’s basic sync features.

Behringer are offering this in three colors, which otherwise are functionally identical – so TD-3-BU, RD, and SR are blue, red, and silver, respectively.

It’s really the price that’s the big deal, at US$199. That mainly hurts the Roland TB-03, which has a street of nearly twice that. Now, I don’t much expect anyone to dump the TB-03 – it sounds great whether it’s analog or not, it’s got a delay/reverb this lacks, and it runs on batteries. For that matter, I don’t know that people will dump any of their existing 303 emulations.

But for someone picking up the 303 who doesn’t have one, it’s going to be tough to compete with Behringer.

On the other hand, Behringer now joins a lot of low-cost, cool synths. Synthtopia compares the TD-3 with the KORG volca NuBass. I don’t know if that comparison came from Behringer, but the KORG seems like a totally different animal – different sound, different features, different workflow, and you know, a volca.

https://www.behringer.com/search/Behringer?text=TD-3

My question is – who’s going to use some strange bass sound to invent a new musical genre? It feels like we’re due.

I know, I know – “Karplus-Strong Techno” is really not a thing like acid house.

Okay – can someone make that a thing?

The post Behringer 303 clones revealed: $199 street appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

EDC ORLANDO 2020 DATES HAVE BEEN ANNOUNCED!

Delivered... Spacelab - Independent Music and Media | Scene | Mon 11 Nov 2019 3:00 pm
The event happened over the weekend and closed by announcing it's dates for next year, with a new weekend.

Third Circuit Asked to Rehear Decision Overturning FCC Ownership Rule Changes – Where Do We Go from Here? 

Delivered... David Oxenford | Scene | Sun 10 Nov 2019 6:03 am

In September, a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit released a 2-1 decision overturning the FCC’s 2017 decision modifying many of its ownership rules (see our summary of the Court decision here, and our review of the 2017 decision here).  The Court’s decision not only upset the plans of many media companies for acquisitions based on the changes adopted in the 2017 decision, but also dashed the hope of many radio companies for timely changes in the radio ownership rules that are under consideration by the FCC in its next Quadrennial Review of its ownership rules (see our summary of the issues in the current Quadrennial Review here).  Last week, both the FCC and a number of industry groups who were parties to the Third Circuit case filed Petitions asking that all of the sitting judges on the Third Circuit vote to rehear the decision of the three-judge panel.

The panel’s decision did not find that any of the rule changes adopted by the Commission (including the abolition of the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership prohibition) were not justified by changes in the media marketplace.  Instead, the panel voided the FCC’s decision because it did not believe that the FCC had enough historical data on minority and female ownership to be able to judge the affects of any ownership changes on diversity of ownership in the media industry.  The FCC Petition for Rehearing centered on an argument that the Commission had plenty of data to support its conclusions – and that Courts have never required government agencies to have perfect information in making any decision.  Instead, agencies are only required to have sufficient factual data to justify their conclusions.  The FCC argued that, where the information that is sought by the panel might simply not exist and where the panel’s insistence on the information has held up the FCC’s attempts to modernize its media ownership rules for a decade and a half as the same judges keep rejecting FCC attempts to justify its ownership decisions, the full Court should step in and conduct a rehearing.  The industry parties emphasized how the decision was overbroad – overturning all aspects of the FCC’s decision – even parts that had not been challenged by the petitioning parties.  The industry participants also pointed to the fact that real hardships were being imposed on media companies as the FCC had not been able make changes in its ownership rules to reflect the changes in the industry that had occurred in what may have been the most dynamic 15 years in the history of the mass media.  With these requests for rehearing on file, what is next?

Courts are not on any timetable to make a decision on petitions like these.  A decision could come quickly (most likely if the other Judges just decide not to review the decision of their colleagues) or it could take months, particularly if there are judges who want to write opinions that differ from whatever the majority of the Court decides.  This kind of “rehearing on banc” is rare, but this is an unusual case where the same three judges have overseen an agency’s decision making for so many years.  If the full Third Circuit does decide to rehear the case, they could ask for additional oral argument or potentially even additional briefing before making a final decision.

So, even if successful, this process could take a while.  If unsuccessful, the FCC could appeal to the Supreme Court (though the Supreme Court only takes a limited number of cases every year, and this one may not be the type of broad issue that is most usually reviewed by the high court).  Otherwise, the FCC would have to once again try to justify its ownership rule changes by trying to gather and assess the information which the Court has sought.  In any event, unless the rehearing petitions are acted on in record time, don’t look for a resolution of the ownership issues this year.  Any decision next year could be complicated by the campaign for next November’s elections, during which controversial decisions tend to be deferred.   Any potential for imminent resolution of the fate of the 2017 ownership decision is thus dependent on the Third Circuit, and review beyond that is likely much further in the future.

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