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 …

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Asus Eee PC Gets SDK; Anyone Using Eee for Music?

While mentioning the OLPC XO laptop, I have to point, as well, to Asus’ Eee. Sure, it’s not necessarily designed for being in the middle of a sub-Saharan desert, but it has some of the other hallmarks of OLPC — low power use, light weight, extremely low cost, and open-source, Linux-based software. These little machines are underpowered for many digital audio tasks, but MIDI and basic live audio are certainly feasible. I’ve heard at least a couple of readers using them. Anyone using them for musical tasks? Asus has launched an “SDK” — a bit of a misnomer, as you …

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Abletonator: Ableton Live as Arcade Cabinet

It’s big. It’s beautiful. It’s … not at all practical as a mobile controller. It’s the Abletonator: Ableton Live on a PC with custom controller and casing, transformed into an arcade game cabinet form-factor. Why? Because. (Thanks to comments by Gavin for the tip!) So, if you liked the Ambassador Live controller with arcade buttons, but wanted a full cabinet so it’s impossible to lift, you’ll love this. The creator is Jr Savage, who evidently created this in 2006. Install MAME on this, and you’ve got an all-Live, all-vintage-gaming dream machine. Specs: Custom-built plywood cabinet PC running Windows XP, Ableton …

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One-Fader Control Surfaces: A Cubase-Only Entry, vs. Everything Else

This is the new Steinberg control surface. (See the hands-on video at SonicState.) It’s built to integrate out of the box with Cubase 4, which if you’re a Cubase 4 user should be good. You or I might give it a name like “CubaseControl” or something, but Steinberg has seen fit to call it the CC 121, which sounds like it was lifted off of a MIDI specification. No matter — they can call it Eustice if it’s a good controller. But that’s not the only odd thing about the CC 121. There’s a little light that goes on to …

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Weekend Inspiration: NIN + Monome + Lemur, Trackers

In case you haven’t seen it, Nine Inch Nails has taken to the multi-touch Lemur control surface and More Buttons Than Thou top-end Monome. There’s a short video of an experiment combining the two with a real (MIDI-enabled) Yamaha piano. It’s just under a minute, but already evocative — I’m not entirely sure why Alessandro is manning the touchpad on his laptop given all this hardware around, but the cascading patterns on the Monome suggest both LED art and a digital take on a player piano. More videos on the official NIN YouTube page, which has recently launched a visuals …

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Read, Write Music Notation Digitally, on Windows: $100 or Less

Proprietary systems like FreeHand’s awkwardly-named MusicPad Pro Plus (Pro Plus, eh?) have offered digital manuscript paper for some time. But the idea there is you buy dedicated hardware; the MusicPad Pro Plus is US$899. With tablet PCs starting at about the same price, and the convenience of having your mobile computer also be your music notation, it seems like the convergence of the manuscript page and the computer isn’t far off. Enter MusicReader for Windows XP and Vista. It runs just US$69-99; bring your own laptop. Better yet, bring your own tablet PC and you have a form factor that …

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Tiny PCs for Music: UMPC Runs SONAR, Fruity Loops Like a Real PC

The UMPC may not have caught on with the masses, but the idea is terrific: a full-featured Windows PC in a space only slightly larger than a smart phone. Loyal followers continue to love their UMPCs, especially when they’re as tiny as the Raon Digital Everun. And as we predicted when Intel first announced the UMPC, this is a workable little music machine. After all, just a few years ago computer musicians would have described these specs as “high-end”, and there’s USB for input. To prove the point, Steve Paine, from UMPCPortal.com writes in with video evidence: a clip from …

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