Deep Synthesis Made Free, Easy: QuteCsound

In this guest column, we turn to veteran synthesist and music tech expert Jim Aikin. When Jim wants to do digital synthesis, one of the tools to which he turns is a veritable favorite with a direct-line legacy to the beginnings of computer sound. That doesn’t mean Csound hasn’t kept with the times, though, or that it has to be unfriendly. If you’ve been looking for a way to dive into sound and code, this could be an ideal path. -Ed. Csound is one of the most powerful pieces of free, open-source, cross-platform music software in the world. But it’s …

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iPhone Roundup: Field Recording, DJ Tools, Odd iInstruments, Cinco de Mayo

Now we’re talking: FiRe turns your iPhone into a serious recorder. No, really, a serious recorder – with advanced features and actual mic support. Your pocket is bulging with power. Wait… okay, that sounded really wrong. Anyway, the mobile software revolution continues. There’s so much stuff out there that it can actually be hard to track. Here’s a round-up to help you navigate everything that’s going on this week. And even if you can’t stand another word about the iPhone, consider this: the explosion of iPhone software, more than just a fad, illustrates what happens when you give developers tools …

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Recession Specials: From Tenori-On to Little Phatty, Costco Blue Mic Deal to Soft Steinway

Illustration (CC) Dani Armengol, who just became my hero. Black Friday? Cyber Monday? Who need them? The entire month of December seems to be on sale when it comes to music tech. Christmas (and Hanukkah, for that matter) are nearly here. Whether it’s economic pressure or just some aggressive holiday pricing, there are some big deals out there that could make excellent gifts – or might just give you a nice list for shopping for yourself before or after the holidays. (Yes, it’s true: most of what readers suggested in our “gift guide” for the CDM Winter 08 special wasn’t …

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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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New iPhone Multi-track Recording, iPod Mic, More, but No Love for Original iPod touch?

Mobile Apple users, I’ve got a couple of recording solutions for you – a hardware mic for the iPod (not the touch), and a multitrack audio app for the iPhone and second-generation iPod touch. I’m sure they’ll be a godsend to some people out there. But this time, I’m not waiting for commenters to say “I’m sick of iPhone apps.” I have to offer some healthy skepticism of my own this time around – and a bit of regret that the first-generation iPod touch is getting left out in the cold. But don’t let that stop you if this happens …

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Preview: Blue Snowflake, US$79 Portable USB Mic You Can Clip to Your Laptop

Blue’s Snowflake USB claims to be the "first portable USB microphone to hit the market." (I thought they were exaggerating, and then picked up the "USB" bit — okay, fair enough.) It’s just US$79, plug-and-play on Mac and Windows, bus-powered, and comes in a cute case that doubles as a stand or screen clip. Blue’s mics are quite nice — I’m just a little skeptical in terms of how this performs in terms of quality, given its bargain price and small size. Hope to get one of these to try out, and we’ll see. Oh yeah, that and it costs …

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