The industry standard. (CC-BY) Dave Walker.

Let’s talk about laptops in the DJ booth

Last week stirred up something of a fracas in the DJ community, as Los Angeles club The Cure and the Cause announced a ban on laptops in the DJ booth – the announcement of which then went perdictably viral. That much turned out to be brilliant publicity: club trolls DJs, magazine trolls DJs, “controversy” generates social media traffic. Here’s the problem, though: once you get past the nonsense about “talent” and laptops, I think there should really be no controversy here. What The Club and the Cure said about laptops and controllers I think is dead-on – and hard to …

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Shiftee takes us inside his latest virtuosic laptop DJ routine

Master turntablist Shiftee has posted a sharp routine. It’s a clever product placement for Razer’s laptops, but – well, it’s more than that. It’s an ad for laptops in general, at a time when DJing has increasingly come to mean “showing up with a couple of USB sticks.” And it’s sort of an ad for being DJ Shiftee. So, we asked Mr. Shiftee to show us what was going on.

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Peek Inside Adam’s Mobile Rig to See How to Be Inspired on the Go

Any trip, anywhere can turn into a creative opportunity – if you pack the right stuff. So if you’re hitting the road this summer, here are some thoughts. Adam John Williams is a media artist and maker and musician and lots of other things. But even among that rarified breed, he’s somewhat unusual. The man brings Olympic effort to hack days – one of the organizers behind Music Tech Fest and a prolific performer and inventor. As a participant at our hacklab at CTM Festival, he was applying painful shocks to himself in time with Ableton Live – and that’s …

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The Single USB-C Connector is Coming – But It’s Not Bad News

For years, the steady disappearance of ports from our computers has been unquestionably a bad thing for musicians. Things we used have been disappearing: Audio input jacks. Dedicated FireWire connections. Extra USB ports. And I’m not just talking Apple, here, either – slimmer and lighter PCs have often dumped connectors you needed, leaving us with a tangled mess of adapters and incompatibilities. Get a bunch of laptop owners together, and you’re lucky to connect anything without a Santa Claus-style bag of spaghetti. So, music and audio users can be forgiven to being resistant to change, because some of those changes …

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The Clue to Apple’s MacBook Revisions is the Word “Pro”

Yes, Apple is today talking about wristwatches. But judging by those glowing logos I see absolutely everywhere all the time, it’s probably MacBooks that matter to you music creating folk. Apple today has three items of computer news: 1. They’re introducing a new, 12″ display model called the “all-new MacBook” (note that exact wording). 2. They’re updating the 13-inch Macbook Pro with Retina Display. 3. They’re updating the MacBook Air. (There are no changes to the 15″ model, but these revisions have historically been staggered.) With Apple, nomenclature is everything. It’s been a while since Apple called anything “MacBook” without …

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Apple MacBook Refresh Makes 13″ Retina a Great Sweet Spot for Music

The laptop is such an obvious part of music making today, it’s almost easy to understate its importance. But here’s the bottom line: for many musicians, it’s the most important gadget they’ll haul around with them. The glowing Apple logo may be the butt of some jokes, but it’s there for a reason. It’s tough to beat the versatility of a laptop for music making – and it’s tough to beat Apple on value. No, I really said that. On paper, Apple’s machines are pricey. But while OS X, like any OS, is a complex beast and far from perfect, …

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Apple is Still Going Pro, from Hardware to Pro App Updates [Editorial]

There’s an oft-repeated conventional wisdom about Apple that I think is just plain wrong, and it goes something like this: The success of the iPhone and iPad means that Apple is now a consumer company, and doesn’t care about pros. Now, let’s parse the above statement and say Apple sometimes makes decisions pro audiences don’t like. Well, that’s certainly true; it just happened to be true prior to the success of iOS. It’s time to face this question again, partly because of the widely-noticed demise of Apple’s Aperture for pro photography workflows, but also because of significant and under-appreciated updates …

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What Apple’s Event Means for Creatives: 10 Takeaways on Mac Hardware, Software News

To the rest of the world, Apple’s event today was about new iPads. To most people reading this site, it’s probably more along the lines of, “can I finally stop putting off buying the new MacBook I need?” Answer: yes. But let’s quickly review what was announced that’s relative to music makers and live visualists: A new GarageBand, in line with Logic Pro X, for iOS and OS X MacBook Pro line that now has updated Intel graphics and chips, better performance and battery life (good) but completes the march to non-upgradeable memory, glossy displays, and SSD-only storage (bad, for …

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Acer Hopes Music Making Will Propel Touch Tablets, Ultrabooks; Report from Taipei

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of traveling to Taipei, Taiwan for Computex, where Acer was promoting its latest touch hardware. Normally, I’d ask whether there was reason for musicians and DJs to care. But this time, the computer maker is hoping the passion around music will be a factor that woos users to their newest machine. Let’s get one thing straight: the PC market itself isn’t going anywhere. In the final quarter of last year, PC makers shipped hundreds of millions of units. (That includes Apple – and it’s another reason Apple may not want to get out …

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Four Tet Walks Through His Unique Live Rig for Red Bull Music Academy [Video]

Playing with laptops can become performative in conventional ways, just by adding instruments – voice, guitar, live drums, ukelele, or whatever it is you play. But it becomes more mysterious in the hybrid performance media that emerge from “playing” the arrangement directly, manipulating the larger bits of a track in the form of stems and samples. That can be really boring – the “press play” approach – or it can begin to embody an artist’s musical imagination. They can improvise with the composition. You’ll want to make sure you don’t tune out early in this video with Four Tet, shot …

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