Finally, Connect a USB Hub and Audio in One Gadget, on Laptop or iPad

File this directly under “why has no one done this properly before?” One of the few remaining annoyances in computer music making is just getting connected. First, you need an audio interface to get proper sound and headphone cueing. Then, you’ve got all this great gear for control – but where to put it? Macs and even many new PCs have few USB ports (especially ultrathin notebooks like the MacBook Air). Yes, it’s about time someone combined a practical audio interface with a USB hub. Focusrite/Novation seem to be the right folks for the job. Focusrite’s audio interfaces are some …

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Focusrite iTrack Dock is a Serious Lightning iPad Accessory for Recording Music

The iPad could change recording. But first, you have to change the iPad. Docks once reached fever-like proportions in hardware manufacture. Among those, one stood out: I’ve seen the Alesis iO Dock see iPads get more serious studio use, thanks to convenient access to audio and MIDI. (And that, in turn, is something you often don’t get when connecting hardware directly.) Then, Apple switched connectors to the new Lightning Connector – and the hardware world fell silent. Now, Focusrite steps in to fill the void. (We’ll see if Alesis is doing the same.) And if many docks are dubious purchases, …

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With Free Tape App for iPad, Focusrite Wants Everyone to Record

“The future has arrived; it’s just not very evenly distributed.” – William Gibson. Well, that’s certainly true of digital recording. Dedicated producers aside, the masses of musicians in the world are often still at a loss when they want to record their music on the iPads and laptops and machines that surround them. And for all the great stuff that’s happened on the iPad for musicians, there’s still not one go-to app that everyone might use to record. Apple’s own GarageBand is one option, though even GarageBand is overkill if you just want to save some quick ideas on the …

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C64s, Control Voltage, MIDI … iPads, Keyboards and Audio: NAMM Saturday [Gallery, Impressions]

Everything old is new again. And everything new is everywhere – at least if we’re talking iPads and so on. At Anaheim’s massive gathering of music gear, there were some definite themes. Photographing for CDM, James Grahame and Marsha Vdovin give us a look at the tools on the floor. James has stumbled upon various fascinating oddities, and of course the booth celebrating MIDI’s 30th anniversary. (We’ll be talking more about MIDI’s history and legacy in the coming weeks.) From top, the keyboard models that made the history first connection, and a Commodore 64 talking to an iPad. Synthtopia has …

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On iPad and Desktop, Focusrite Aims for Simple, Premium Recording Interfaces [Gallery, Specs]

There’s no shortage of audio interfaces out there, but quality can be variable. Focusrite claims two new interfaces are focused squarely on “premium” quality. On paper, at least, they have some specs to back it up. And while fidelity is an emphasis, each interface is designed for simple recording scenarios – meaning, for those people who want something compact that sounds good but doesn’t necessarily overload them with inputs and outputs they don’t need. The Forte is a “flagship” audio interface whose compact design should position it directly opposite offerings from Apogee – albeit, unlike the Apogee entries, with support …

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Ableton Live Beer; Music Tech Beverage Nominees

Ben Rogerson and the blokes at Future Publishing / musicradar.com in the UK got a nice piece of swag: a Pilsner, to be specific. Thank UK distributor Focusrite for this one (which I assume means the brew has not yet graced Ableton’s office here in NYC.) They did miss the obvious opportunity to offer an Ableton Live Lite. Or perhaps a liqueur called Ableton Evil (that t-shirt remaining the best Ableton swag ever). “Lively up yourself” I guess appeals to UK audiences. I would have called it Live Lager. That got me thinking – what other music technology beverages can …

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New MacBook Pros Don’t Power (Some) FireWire Devices?

I may be the last person to notice this for all I know, but I just plugged my FireWire-based Focusrite Saffire into a MacBook Pro 17″ and was treated to a blinking light show. The solution? Don’t use bus power; plug in the Saffire’s power supply to an outlet to power it directly. The solution is detailed in Focusrite’s support document, and I expect applies to some if not all other FireWire bus-powered devices, as well: The LEDs on my Saffire flash when the unit is connected to my MacBook Pro. Why? So, I wonder why Apple chose a lower …

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Recording on Planes and in Bubbles; Battery-Powered In-Flight Recording

Jamiroquai sound engineer Rick Pope joins the mile-high recording club. Funny, when I try to set up this way on a plane, my neighbors get annoyed. When you hear the repeated stories about how traditional recording studios are dead, I suspect your first thought is not, “Finally! The dream of in-flight recording has its day!” or “Ah-hah! Now all the bands will move into inflatable plastic bubbles as a marketing stunt!” Yet, such things have come to pass. One involves a band you may care about and actually yields some practical tips. The other involves a band I’m almost sure …

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Digital Compressor Emulations: Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing?

I have to point this one out in case you missed it: none other than George Massenburg chimes in on CDM’s comments on the new Focusrite Liquid Channel (click through to comments on that story for context): Not sure everyone knows that although digital emulators are quite competent at some chores, others, such as comprehensive dynamics, are a different story; it’s my studied opinion that these devices are less than convincing when emulating analog compressors.

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Messe: 32 Compressors, 32 EQs, All in One Tiny FireWire Box

“This is all going to be software,” said a Focusrite rep at an AES show in 2004, as he gestured at racks of Focusrite’s beloved racks of audio gear. (Needless to say, that was not on the record.) While not everything can be digital — you’ll still need to get sound into the digital realm, meaning analog/digital converters and preamps will never go away — it’s astounding what is possible with ever-advancing digital audio tech. And so, we have the incredible Focusrite Liquid Mix: 32 channels of EQ, 32 compressors, all modeling classic and vintage sounds in one cute, compact …

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