iPhone Devs Get MIDI Keyboards, MIDI I/O, But With Some Strings Attached

Mobile devices are here, they’re powerful — get used to them. Now, could they just connect to the rest of your noisemakers and studio rigs? That’s the potential of new iOS SDKs for MIDI I/O and keyboard docking. But aside from some restrictions imposed by hardware support on iOS, what many developers are publicly wondering is whether a different path entirely will be most productive. Hot on the heels of Line 6’s SDK for their MIDI Mobilizer, a MIDI input and output connector for iOS devices, Akai is courting developers for its own music accessory. The SynthStation 25 is a …

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Virtual Reality: Guitar Notation, Amps, and Effects Appear on Apple Mobiles

Competing solutions from IK Multimedia and Peavey extend the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad with custom hardware for connecting a guitar. Here, the AmpKit LiNK, by Peavey and Agile Partners. All images courtesy the vendors. Ah, amplifiers and stompboxes. We hardly knew ye. Once exclusively the stuff of tubes, wires, cabinets, aluminum, and electronics, guitar amps and pedals have for years been available in growingly-sophisticated software models. Once the electronics of sound become software, there’s nothing stopping them from running on any computer – which now includes computers disguised as mobile phones, like the iPhone. (In fact, I expect that …

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Stereocilia Armor: Protect Your Hearing With Etymotic ER-20 Earplugs

I don’t think it would be presumptuous of me to think that readers of this site probably spend quite a lot of time at gigs. Whether on stage or in the audience, musicians (and VJs) spend plenty of time in loud environments. I find it quite surprising then, that relatively few of the artists I know use any kind of hearing protection. Stereocilia damage in mammals is permanent, and tinnitus is no fun. Most people know that cheap foam earplugs can help prevent damage, but few seem aware that a slightly larger investment can make gigs considerably more enjoyable. Etymotic …

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Why iPhone 3.0 SDK is Almost, But Not Quite, Great News for Creative Musicians

The tech press stopped today to keep up with Apple’s new SDK, version 3.0. It is a huge overhaul, and let’s give Apple credit where it’s due: they’re relentless in improving their mobile software, and they do listen to complaints and respond. I don’t think you can classify copy and paste as news, given Apple is the company that popularized the concept eons ago. (How long ago? Not only was Reagan President, but MTV still played music videos.) But 3.0 is a huge upgrade. Most mobile devices develop some usability quirks and functionality holes and leave them for years on …

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ExpressCard FireWire that Actually Works for Audio?

ExpressCard slots on new Mac and PC notebooks look tantalizing, but buyer beware: adding FireWire audio can be perilous. Multichannel FireWire interfaces work beautifully with the proper drivers and controller, but get some element of that equation wrong, and you may find your high-end interface is rendered unusable (think glitches and dropouts). The chipset in the controller and in the laptop can have an impact, but having a TI (Texas Instruments) controller in your ExpressCard seems to be a good start. Speaking of Rain Recording, Rain is about the only vendor I’ve found that offers a 2-port FireWire ExpressCard known …

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XLR to USB: CEntrance MicPort Pro Reviews

Unintentional CEntrance logo on whiteboard. Photo: Tsega Dinka. Blue Mic’s new Icicle and subsequent discussion of alternatives like CEntrance’s MicPort Pro has generated some interest and chatter. Matej Isak sends over a review he did of the MicPort Pro: CEntrance MicPort Pro review [Mono & Stereo] CEntrance links to some other good reviews online on their product page. Highlights: Craig Anderton writes a detailed review for Harmony Central and in March did a short round-up of “fun stuff to plug into your USB bus.” Steve Fortner at Keyboard is quite fond of the thing. MusicTech gives it a perfect score, …

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XLR to USB Adapters: Better Options than the Blue Icicle?

I’ve personally always been happy carrying around any one of a number of portable USB/FireWire audio interfaces. But as readers pointed out following Blue’s announcement of the Icicle yesterday, various solutions have offered direct mic – to – USB hardware with preamps for connecting a single mic to a single USB port. And several tech blogs picked up on the Icicle announcement, so clearly there’s a need for someone. The major oversight of the Blue Icicle is that (as near as I can tell) it doesn’t have a headphone jack. Result: the only way to monitor the microphone would be …

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Blue’s Icicle: Plug XLR Mics Straight to USB

Ever wished you could take any mic you wanted and plug it directly into your computer? With Apple nixing FireWire and the whole size issue, it’s not quite practical to expect an XLR jack on your computer. You could use a USB mic, but they’re useless in other situations. Blue Microphones has a new product called the Icicle, which is a small, pen-sized gadget that has XLR on one end, USB on the other end, and a preamp and a converter in the middle. Price: US$59.99. No drivers required.

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Crazy Idea Watch: A Guitar Player’s Stand for iPhone Tablature

Brian Kane sends along this whimsical proposal for iPhone/iPod Touch users reading tab. "It’s a portable practice device, also suitable for performance," says Kane of his concept. It’s like a harmonica holster, but for your tab. Attach this to yourself, pull up tab of a song, and fake your way through any tune you like. (Brian also suggested "Practice anywhere; get laid quicker." I’ll leave that to you to determine.) No, you can’t buy this yet. But never say never. It’s certainly not the strangest idea for an Apple accessory I’ve ever seen. Study for musical assistive device [at Brian’s …

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