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Tablet Scores: Avid Answers Our Scorch Questions; Bluetooth Page Turners for iPad, Android

Digital notation took a big step forward last week with the release of Avid Scorch, the first take on mobile notation from developer Sibelius. (It’s the first mobile app, period, from industry titan Avid, so it’s interesting to watch them go first with notation – especially as even Apple skipped scores with their first release of GarageBand.) Anything new is liable to generate a lot of questions. So we’ve taken those questions straight to the source, to the Sibelius team at Avid. One of the things I always enjoyed about the folks at Sibelius is that they’re an exceptionally bright, …

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Hands-on: Rock Band 3’s Keytar, a Surprisingly Serious $80 MIDI Keyboard

The Rock Band keytar Rock Band 3 Wireless Keyboard, next to an iPod touch, for scale. What if a gaping product hole for musicians were filled by a game company instead of a musical instruments company? There’s no need to imagine: pick up the new Rock Band 3 keyboard, and you’ll see what I mean. Consider: most sub-$100 and compact keyboards have dumped 5-PIN MIDI DIN ports in favor of USB only – little comfort if you want to plug a keyboard into that DIY sound module or eBay treasure. (Alesis’ QS25 is one exception, but even a $150 M-Audio …

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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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Apple Magic Trackpad as Multi-Touch Input, and Cross-Platform Multi-Touch

Apple today, alongside beefed-up iMacs with quad-core and Mac Pro towers with twelve, introduced a $69 Bluetooth trackpad accessory with multi-touch gesture support. http://www.apple.com/magictrackpad/ I’m not a huge fan of trackpads over mice, but yes, this does give you a cheap multi-touch input to play with. And we haven’t seen much in the dirt-cheap, under-$100 space. Wacom’s Bamboo Pen & Touch is a fun, decent-enough tablet available at a street price about the same as the Magic Trackpad. But its “multi-touch” functionality consists of a set of hard-wired gestures – developers can’t get at discrete touch points directly on the …

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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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Review of Cheap, Mini Mimo Display, Plus Reflecting on Long-Term Value

Ed. For this guest review, we welcome artist and musician christian.ryan. What started as a simple review of the Mimo UM-710 7″ USB LCD monitor becomes a reflection on deeper issues of how the design of objects can impact workflow. By the end of his usage journal, I come away with a sense that user interface designers may want to be more agnostic about the kinds of displays on which their UIs may be used. Unfortunately, I was safe from any craving for these interfaces until I saw the pictures. Once Mimo adds touch, these could be huge for music …

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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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