Ars Technica DJ Software Review Round-Up, But Where’s djDecks?

The mighty Ars Technica regularly takes on technically-intense reviews of processors and operating systems, but this time they’ve turned their attentions to something else altogether: DJ software. Dave Girard helms the review, with an exhaustive look at both basic DJ virtual decks (Disco, FutureDecks Lite, DJ1800) and full-featured software (VirtualDJ, Traktor DJ Studio from Native Instruments, and MixVibes Pro). (Thanks for the tip, Ryan Pollack!) DJ Software for Windows and Mac OS X [Ars Technica] The DJ apps get the full Ars Technica treatment, down to helpful figures explaining how DJing works for the uninitiated. Traktor DJ wins handily on …

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Tips: Vocoders + Ableton Live; Vocoder Resources, Free Universal Vocoder Plug-in

Vocoding is capable of a broad range of sounds, from the traditional “robot talking” effects to unique, organic-sounding synth and drum effects. Like many commonly-used techniques for synthesis and processing (and qualifying as both), vocoder effects can be cliched — but they can also be used to great effect. Before today’s vocoders, there was the voder, developed at Bell Labs as a sound compression mechanism. From “As We Think”, Vannever Bush 1945, via Obsolete.com. The only real challenge in using vocoders in software is routing, since you need two signals — a carrier and a modulator. People are regularly asking …

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Novation Xiosynth Online Player, Tripped-Out Synth School Podcast; Which Starter Synth is Best?

Novation is hoping you’ll bring their new Xiosynth mini-synth keyboard home, and to help give you an additional push, they’ve got a new online sampler keyboard plus lessons for learning synthesis techniques. Have a listen to the patches on the Xiosynth with the Flash player below; try the z, x, and c keys on your QWERTY keyboard: The Xiosynth mini-site has a series of synthesis “tutorial” podcasts that purport to teach you synthesis. Novation PR (who sent links along with banner ads that it apparently hopes us blogs will run in stories — fat chance) hopefully describe these thusly: “The …

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Digidesign Unveils New Audio Interface, Mbox 2 Pro

Adding to the flood of new computer audio interfaces this summer is the Mbox 2 Pro from Digidesign, filling a gap left long ago by the old Digi 001. If you need some extra channels for Pro Tools LE and the M-Audio interfaces leave you cold, this could be a good choice, though I’d take a good look at the 002 first if you have the space. But other than Pro Tools, I can’t see a whole lot on this interface that can compete with similar interfaces in the same class. Interfaces from a number of competitors match the Mbox …

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Build a Gigging Small Form Factor PC for Music: How-to and Why

If I can do it, you can do it. Over on the just-launched Create Digital Motion, I describe assembling a custom PC from a barebones Shuttle case, with photos of each step. To keep that from getting boring, I dropped it all into the fantastic plasq app Comic Life to make it into a how-to comic: Building a Portable SFF PC for Live Visuals, Music Gigs: Part 1, Assembly in Comic Book Form As you’ll see, there’s not much to it. Shuttle already includes the motherboard and cables; it’s BYO processor, storage, and graphics. But those options alone can give …

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When Laptops Go Bad: HP Does Right by Laptop Lemon

When the magic works, it’s wonderful. And when it doesn’t … Jim Aikin, whose writing you know from Electronic Musician, Keyboard, his books, and many other places he pops up, has been having a pretty bad time with a brand new HP laptop and his shared his misery on the forums. The computer in question is a Hewlett Packrat Pavilion dv8000 dual-core machine. (Here’s confusing model numbering for you: the dv8000 series includes both Intel Core Duo and AMD Turion models; Jim has the Intel version.) It’s the latest-and-greatest on the inside, but it sounds as though Jim either got …

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Fun in the Lab: NI LabVIEW, Meet Standard Windows, Mac Audio Hardware; Cheap Academic Deal

Behold the power of the Web. Back in December, a reader from National Instruments wrote to tell me that one of their developers had adapted the digital signal processing capabilities of their LabVIEW product to synthesizing sound. In other words, you can take this high-end development platform for “testing, measurement, and control” (i.e., primarily for scientists and engineers, not something you’d normally find musicians hanging around), and use it like a musical synthesizer. That made for a limited audience for a story to say the least; you kind of need to have a LabVIEW sitting around. But I had a …

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Portable Guitar Travel Rig, from Kevin of The Nettles

Now having seen fold-up guitars in briefcases, here’s another approach to what to put in your portable guitar rig, from our friend Kevin Johnsrude of The Nettles. Kevin plays both bass and guitar, but he has a more portable rig so he can play music everywhere. Kevin writes: In the photo: The diagonal headless guitar is an old-school Traveler headless guitar minus the knee rest. The purple box is a Korg Pandora with tuner, multiple effects, crummy sampler/looper and drum tracks. I have a modified jazz guitar dialled-in for most of my practice and I use the drum tracks for …

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Composer’s Studio Goes Digital: Tech Toys and Inspiration

Now that the rest of our studio has gone digital, the approach to producing score for acoustic instruments has changed, too. Here’s a look at some of my favorite toys and tools for keeping music flowing. You’d have to be a true Luddite to argue that word processors are bad for writing. Blogs, perhaps, sometimes inspire poor writing (ahem), but it’s more difficult to blame technology. The original argument that word processors would end the process of drafting and revision is absurd to anyone who’s spent long hours slaving over text in Microsoft Word. Our attitudes have changed as we’ve …

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