Modstep is … an app that does a lot of sequencing things on iOS. Step sequencing and sequence recording with … a lot of stuff. And then those things all connect together, and there are templates for… Okay, it’s hard to explain. Those of us in the business have gotten used to the “it does a whole bunch of stuff” quality of DAWs. But now, new organisms are crawling out of the sea and walking on land, and they don’t have a genus and species yet. Fortunately, a new Modstep video does it absolutely perfectly, so let’s watch that.
Hot on the heels of our write-up of a board that makes any hardware you can imagine, here’s a mod that takes all that power and fits it in a handheld space with hands-on controls.
We know an iPad can augment a music setup. But the question for many is, can it replace a computer? Arturia’s iSpark isn’t shy about what it accomplishes. It really looks a whole lot like the company’s drum machine on desktop, only remade for iPad. And it even works with the dedicated SparkLE controller – meaning you now can go pad controller + iPad as you could controller + computer. It also comes with Ableton Link, for easy syncing and jamming with other apps, other iPads/iPhones, and Ableton Live (in any combination).
The funny thing about Ableton Link is that it doesn’t require Ableton Live. It isn’t even an app. It’s a sync technology, one that allows software to jam together, wirelessly, without any one clock having to be the source or “master.” But as of today, if you do use Ableton Live, that wireless magic is built-in – and requires almost no configuration.
Priced at $59, inspired by vintage Nintendo Game & Watch, and looking like calculators, the Teenage Engineering Pocket Operator line was a runaway hit. So, just adding three more of them seems a no-brainer. Then again, with drum machines, bass synth, and lead synth covered, the next three might easily have been an anticlimax. Good news for Teenage Engineering fans: they aren’t. The Stockholm designers have managed three retro-tinted follow-ups that might easily make as big a splash the originals.
“Surprise!” might well be Teenage Engineering’s best tagline. The latest unexpected invention from Sweden is the OP-Z – pronounced “oh pee zed.” It’s an all-in-one instrument/groovebox like its predecessor the OP-1, packed into a tiny, game-like form factor. And even from the early prototype shown at NAMM, it’s fantastic.
There are plenty of hardware step sequencers out there. But now Arturia has a compact entry friendly to keyboardists. This isn’t about dialing up melodies with knobs. It assumes you actually know how to find melodies on some keys. Clearly building on the success of the BeatStep Pro sequencer hardware, Arturia’s Keystep is a keyboard with both step sequencer and arpeggiator modes. And Arturia has given CDM an exclusive first peek, to share with you.
Apple is also releasing today a 2.1 upgrade to GarageBand for iOS. The mobile sibling of GarageBand and Logic on desktop doesn’t get a whole lot of attention, but it’s a reminder that music creation remains central to Apple – even the Apple that sells the world’s favorite phone, not just the Apple that sells the Mac. GarageBand 2.1 includes some features you may or may not care about. But there’s reason to take notice.
Apple has apparently been paying attention to the way musicians use their iPhones. If you’re like me, you’ve occasionally used Voice Memos for a quick musical idea or impromptu field recording. Apple is now turning that into an app, called Music Memos.
It’s the same old story: if you love Apple, you better also love carrying around little adapters. In a surprise to no one, latest reports – including one from Fast Company – suggest Apple is about to nix the 3.5mm “minijack” analog headphone jack from its next iPhone. (iPad and presumably laptops, too, would be next in line.) There are two common misunderstandings of the news. One reading (from Apple critics) assumes this locks you into proprietary Apple headphones. It doesn’t. The other (from Apple fans who don’t know that much about audio) assumes higher audio fidelity from “digital” headphones. …