Want a FireWire, Non-Pro MacBook? The $999 MacBook is Looking Better

Apple has updated the US$999, white MacBook to some of the specs of the new “unibody” models – but retaining the one thing we like about it, namely, an actual FireWire port. (The only other option has been upgrading to the Pro for significantly more cash.) Now for US$999: NVIDIA 9400M graphics (meaning this is mainly a story for visualists, so see our take on Create Digital Motion – but the rest of you can more easily enjoy World of Warcraft, if so inclined) Newer Core 2 Duo, still 2.0 GHz but now with a faster 1066 MHz frontside bus …

READ MORE →

Can Laptops Be Expressive? Jamming on MacBooks at Stanford’s Laptop Orchestra

We routinely talk about how the interface paradigm of a computer — screen, QWERTY, trackpad – isn’t optimal for music. But how many of you have, in a pinch, done a live laptop set with just your computer, and found some way to make it work? The Stanford University Laptop Orchestra, set to play this year’s Macworld, natch, is making the most of what it has: “We tilt the notebook and use its built-in accelerometer to expressively control sound. We use the trackpad as a kind of violin bow,” explains Ge Wang, SLOrk’s founder. ”You can make some wild, diverse …

READ MORE →

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 …

READ MORE →

Laptop Choices: Rain’s New LiveBooks

A LiveBook on the test bench at Rain Headquarters, photographed for CDM. One of the things that attracts me to computers: choice. So it’s worth noting that you do have choices when looking to laptops, PCs included. (This sounds like those lame “We know you have a choice in your travel plans” announcements you get on airplanes. Unlike those choices, though, these are genuinely different – thankfully.) So let’s cut straight to the chase: there is a choice between Mac and PC, and there are choices on PC that keep it competitive (to say nothing of Linux). If you’re looking …

READ MORE →

Whither, FireWire? What the New Apple Laptop Port Changes Mean for Audio

By now, you likely already know that Apple came out with new laptops today. I could talk about the new features at the existing price points or about how the new machines are very pretty, but you can easily find that elsewhere. Instead, I want to address some unfortunate details on the new laptops in terms of ports. After all, small details can make a big difference for audio users. For connecting drives, audio interfaces, MIDI devices, and the like, you get: MacBook Pro: Two USB 2.0 port, one FireWire800 port, one ExpressCard/34 slot MacBook: Two USB 2.0 ports MacBook …

READ MORE →

New Early Computer Music Discovered; What Was the First Digital Synth?

Australia’s CSIRAC made the first computer-generated melody, but no recordings remain. For other primitive early computer music, catch new strains from the BBC from 1951. Photo by thefunklab. As several of you noticed, the BBC has discovered 1951 recordings of computer-synthesized music, predating the previous earliest recordings from New Jersey’s Bell Labs in 1957. ‘Oldest’ computer music unveiled [BBC News] So, who gets the credit for the first digital synthesis? This particular recording doesn’t change much, in that Bell was never recognized as the first computer-created music – they just happened to have the earliest recordings still available. Here’s the …

READ MORE →

Inspiration: Vintage Computers Parts Cover Radiohead

Big Ideas (Don’t get any) from 1030 on Vimeo. In case you haven’t seen this, James Houston has produced a short film in which an assortment of old computer gear “plays” Radiohead’s “Nude.” We’ve seen various bicycle parts and such performing music around here, but not the actual components of computers in this way. James features: Sinclair ZX Spectrum – Guitars (rhythm & lead) Epson LX-81 Dot Matrix Printer – Drums HP Scanjet 3c – Bass Guitar Hard Drive array – Act as a collection of bad speakers – Vocals & FX He explains: I grouped together a collection of …

READ MORE →

Asus Eee As Cheap, Tiny Music PC: Guitar Rig 3, Linux Tips

The Asus Eee PC is unlikely to be your first choice of laptops for music. But it’s small, it’s cute, and it’s ridiculously cheap. Some CDM-reading computer enthusiasts are biting, as we found out in March when we asked you if you had turned the Eee PC into a music box. On the Linux side, you’ve got lots of options. Best among these, CDM reader Dan Stowell has put together a comprehensive tutorial on using SuperCollider, the powerful, free sound synthesis engine. You can even add custom GUIs using a free Java-based tool. There are also plenty of DIY environments …

READ MORE →

Small and Light PCs About Ready for Mobile Music Making

Musicians have generally had to shy away from slim, light portable PC laptops, but watching the specs on these machines, I’d say that’s finally changing. Take the upcoming Lenovo IdeaPad U110. Like the Apple MacBook Air, you have to rely on an external optical drive, but otherwise, this machine comes pretty close to being a worthy mobile music machine. If shedding pounds and size is important to you, there’s no question you could make this box work on the road. Lenovo IdeaPad U110 [ Early Specs at GottaBeMobile.com] There’s not that much of a price premium: it’s US$1899. The specs …

READ MORE →

What OS Do You Use to Make Music?

Photo via jeanmarc77 I consider myself operating system atheistic: I refuse to believe in an operating system unless solid, empirical data is presented proving it exists works. Okay, actually … I spend a considerable amount of time doing production on both Mac and Windows, and even some time working with Linux (not to mention administering Linux servers). But we’d like to know more about what you use in your music. Our site analytics don’t tell us a whole lot: they tend to sample random users, not regulars, and if you use a work PC to browse, we may not know …

READ MORE →