Record a Mic, Guitar with UA’s Apollo Twin, and Model Analog Like Never Before [Thunderbolt, $699]

Universal Audio’s new Apollo Twin (in SOLO and DUO variants, starting at US$699) gives you quite a lot of value on a single Thunderbolt connection to your Mac. It’s shipping now. It’s an audio interface, with connections for line, mic, or instruments. It’s a real-time DSP processor, adding the ability to run UA’s suite of (mostly analog-modeling) sound processing goodies. (SOLO/DUO refers to how much DSP muscle you get.) And it’s a bundle of UA models of analog hardware, including a rather nice pair of limiters, an EQ, amp models, and tube preamps. If you think they’re hoping guitarists and …

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Post-Christmas Deals on Apps, Software, More – Even a Game with Procedural Music [Bargain Roundup]

As more sales – particularly software – move online, we’re finding that musicians can save a lot on their tools by waiting on sales. Black Friday / Thanksgiving / Cyber Monday saw steep discounts on some terrific stuff, and now there are loads of sales in the quiet period from Christmas to New Year’s. Half off Lemur (through 19 Jan). One particularly tempting deal – especially if you’ve got a winter project in mind – comes from our friends at Liine. Lemur, my favorite controller app on iOS, is now 50% off. And LiveControl 2 has just added essential support …

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Mac Pro On Sale Now, Shipping February; What it Brings to Audio Applications

It looks like a machine from the future. It is a machine you’ll only be able to get in the future. And it may be further off before we really see music applications that reach its full potential. But it does paint a picture of a music machine that’s futuristic, and it isn’t so far off any more. Apple today made its Mac Pro tower available – sort of. It seems the massively-custom machine is taking some time to ramp up production, as delivery dates quickly slid to February for all but the first to preorder. But, while the Mac …

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Life After Slots: What the Mac Pro, External Hardware Mean for Production

“Pro” is a funny word. When people say “pros” in contrast to “amateurs,” “producers” rather than “consumers,” they mean something about relative seriousness. And in tech, they usually invoke these words when they’re looking down on tools they feel aren’t up to snuff. That’s fair. Especially in music making and digital art where money is tight, people invest in tools because they deliver, not just to show off. And they’ve usually been burned by something less-than-pro letting them down. So, when people see a machine from Apple dubbed the “Mac Pro,” they have certain expectations. The problem is, the upcoming …

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3 Approaches to Accessorizing the Studio: SPL, Softube, UA at Musikmesse

How can hardware make the computer-based studio more productive? Each trade show invariably brings new offerings that seek to answer that problem as vendors hawk their wares. At Frankfurt’s Musikmesse, steps from one another, three well-known names each each offered their own take. It comes at a time when the industry is re-imagining the role of our machines. It used to be that big, metal boxes said “pro” – and the studio was no exception. (Cue flashbacks trying to set up Digidesign expansion racks in the late 90s. Okay, now putting that out of my mind.) That’s still true in …

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Thunderbolt means serious I/O for UA's DSP-based processing on the Apollo card - even on a lowly Mac mini. Image courtesy Universal Audio.

The Thunderbolt Age Dawns: UA Ships Thunderbolt on Apollo; More to Come – Where it Makes Sense

Universal Audio is first out of the gate with an audio interface add-on that uses Intel’s Thunderbolt bus, the high-performance, low-latency connectivity option on current iMacs, MacBook Pros and Airs, and Mac minis (though, conspicuously, not the ever-more-outdated Mac Pro). The solution isn’t the most elegant – you need to add in an option card with an included tool – but once installed, Thunderbolt appears right in the box (see image below). And what can you do with all that extra bandwidth? On the Apollo, you get better performance even as you push the envelope with sample rates, and more …

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New Mac Laptops: As Apple Expands I/O Flexibility, Just About Any Model Great for Music

MacBook Air, now starting at US$999 and with USB3 and Thunderbolt onboard. Photo courtesy Apple. Apple, of course, rolled out new Mac laptops yesterday. The most desirable of these – new MacBook Pro laptops with ultra-high-resolution Retina Displays – will require a significant budget, with pricing beginning at US$2199. And it could be worth it for those who can afford them: while Apple has quietly eliminated its 17″ machines, the high-density displays should nonetheless make the 15″ real estate ideal for fitting pro app UIs on the go. But the most important thing to say about Apple’s machines from a …

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Apollo: UA Adds Low-Latency Effects in Audio Interface, Proves FireWire, Thunderbolt are Cool

Universal Audio has long had a successful business selling hardware DSP effects, many of them carefully-modeling classic analog gear. These products use dedicated DSP hardware for number-crunching, requiring that you connect an extra box to your computer. UA has certainly had their loyalists, and for fans of the products, the dedicated gear is simply a convenient way to get all of these sound-processing goodies. But it’s fair to ask the question, as many producers have who read this site, what’s the advantage? Why not simply use native processing on your computer? Apollo, UA’s new hardware, answers that question more emphatically. …

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A New Plug-in Format, Really? Avid Answers Our Questions About AAX and Pro Tools

Alongside its Pro Tools 10 and HDX unveiling, Avid turned some heads by recently announcing it was replacing its RTAS and TDM formats to a new format called AAX, “Avid Audio eXtension.” Now, your first reaction may not be unbridled enthusiasm, exactly: it seems the last thing users are likely saying is, “yes, please, I’d like a new plug-in format to worry about.” But I wanted to give the engineers at Avid a chance to tell us what they were thinking and why they made the move. Avid’s product announcements have unfortunately coincided, presumably because of the financial calendar, with …

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Good Listening: King Britt, Carl Craig’s Planet E Label, and Some Mastering Talk

Carl Craig. Photo (CC-BY-ND) James Kendall. “It must be a Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays.” -Arthur Dent, in Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy If you’re having any issue getting through your Thursday, it’s tough to beat some proper, good techno – the kind of techno anyone can love, even if they keep shouting about how they “hate” it. Techno pioneer Carl Craig is still going strong, the kind of artist whose work seems to flow freely. He’s got the roots, having begun with Derrick May in Detroit, but he’s remained a font of …

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