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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Scratch This: A DIY Project Repurposes DJ Controllers as Scratch Inputs; Recycling DJ Gear

Scratching, meet recycling. Rather than allow MIDI DJ controllers to consign themselves to landfills, a new open source project promises to retrofit these gadgets with scratch capabilities. Scratch Decoder is a collaborative, open source effort to add or extend obsolete controllers, CDJs, and turntables with digital vinyl control – before they get tossed. Inspired by a 2009 thesis by Swiss student Ramon Mathis, advised by the folks who first developed the Ms. Pinky vinyl control system for Max/MSP, and rooted in years of work, the system is now publicly documented. The ingredients: An Arduino hardware board The encoder sensor and …

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portastudio

Portastudio on iPad, with Faux Cassette, and Everything Old is New Again

If it’s an iconic piece of hardware or software, there’s at least a decent chance you could be seeing it in virtual iPad form soon. Tascam’s Portastudio, released today, is a particularly striking example. The famed, budget cassette multitrack recorder, the box on which countless demos and quick songwriter creations was forged, appears on Apple’s tablet. There’s even a fake cassette tape, which I have to say is a little bit unnerving. This is all nostalgia, right? Well, no, actually: those big, simplified plastic controls and memorable layout work because they’re so easy to use. The problem with a lot …

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Ten Music Technologies to Be Thankful For Right Now

Photo (CC-BY-ND Dave/riptheskull. Happy Thanksgiving to our American readers. I was thinking about technologies for which I’m particularly thankful, some non-obvious, some perhaps so obvious they might be easily be taken for granted. Each I hope represents some opportunities for others. At the risk of starting a Thanksgiving roast, in no particular order, here are the ones foremost in my mind in the waning days of 2010.

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Take a Solar-Powered Tuner Wherever You Go, Says Tascam … But Environmental?

Sure, we spend a lot of time looking at far-out gear and high technology, but you have to tip your hat to practicality. Tascam’s TC-1S is a compact, portable tuner that you can take anywhere. Solar and USB power mean you never have to worry about powering it, either. Features: 12-tone equal-tempered chromatic tuner. Input via 1/4″ jack or mic Note/sharp-flat/bargraph pitch indication readout on the LCD. Display via “bar,” “fine,” “strobe animation,” or “needle.” Protective silicone case included 51 grams. Shipping this month, street price “under US$40.” It’s a cute little design, and with the economic squeeze continuing, I …

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Tascam’s New $99 Portable Stereo Recorder, with Pitch Control

There was a time when Tascam was associated with cheap, solid mobile gear for recording, like the Portastudio. The handheld DR-03 could be a landmark for a more digital age. It’s just US$99 for a microSD recorder with built-in stereo mic in a package Tascam describes as “smaller than an energy bar.” It’s designed to be operated handheld without a lot of noise (we’ll have to test that), and – in what I think may be the killer feature – it includes looping and Variable Speed Audition, so you can use it easily as a practice, music transcription, or interview …

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Garritan Rescues Giga Sampling Technology, Talks Open Standards

Should sounds be part of a closed format that may not last? What happens if the format and platform that once were trusted by musicians and sound designers ceased to be? That’s the hard lesson learned by users of a popular sampling “standard” – but for once, the news is good. GigaSampler has been a huge part of the sampling landscape since its introduction a decade ago, and users have massive investments in Giga sound libraries. As I noted over the summer, however, Tascam ceased development on the aging Giga platform, leaving users without an important tool – and some …

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Open Source GigaStudio Petition: Why It’s Unlikely

Amidst the news of GigaStudio’s demise, we’ve heard some isolated calls to open source Giga itself. There’s even an Open GigaStudio petition (via musicradar.com). The likelihood of open sourcing a code base as large as Giga’s, though, seems extremely slim. Making an open source project from a commercial developer successful requires a number of critical ingredients. You need the will of the company that owns the code, of course, but also: a code base that is accessible to people who have never seen it before code that’s free from "encumbrances" or code or concepts proprietary to a third party, such …

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GigaStudio is Dead, Leaving Sampler Users High and Dry

Photo: titge. Tascam has chosen to cease development and support of its popular GigaStudio sampler and product line, including GigaPulse, GigaViolin, and Giga VI, breaking a widely-used product and various other products based on it. I had actually heard this was coming some time ago, but unfortunately couldn’t verify on-record sources in a way that would allow me to share. Now, it’s official. MusicRadar has the story: Tascam axes GigaStudio and Film Music Magazine’s Peter Alexander broke the news first: Tascam Ceases Giga Development as of July 21; Sales And Support End December 31 Tascam has made no official statement, …

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Mobile Recording: Alesis Hooks XLR Mics to iPod; Edirol R-09 Adds Storage; Tascam DR-1 Review

The mobile recording space keeps rolling along. Alesis is the latest company to try to turn the iPod into a usable digital recorder. With up to 160 GB of storage, the fact that the iPod is a mobile hard drive you may already own certainly has some appeal. But what about quality? The Alesis ProTrack attempts to bridge that input divide with internal mics and XLR inputs: XY pattern stereo condenser mics (they look a lot like the mics on the Zoom H4) XLR and 1/4″ inputs (line/mic) with 48V phantom power 1/4″ stereo output, making this interesting as a …

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