Vintage radio equipment, ca 1957, (CC-BY) the Seattle Municipal Archives.

Oliver Chesler and his Wire to the Ear blog have long been among my favorite reading on the Web. It turns out he and I have both been pondering the idea of doing an audio podcast to talk about trends in music and technology. After we did a panel together, the idea was irresistible. Sure, podcasts have exactly none of the hype they once did, but both of us listen to spoken word content voraciously.

So, here’s the first experiment. We get a chance to speak, uncensored and off the cuff, about mobile apps for iOS we’re actually using, how MIDI might work on those gadgets, Rock Band 3, the MeeBlip, and items currently in the news. Expect very different topics in future. Audio below, on SoundCloud.
Music Tech in Review – Episode 1 – Podcast Chat by cdm

We’ve also assembled links into a handy link bundle; even if you don’t care for listening to us chat, this will give you a hint as to what’s on our radar.

This was entirely impromptu, but we do intend to plan ahead and do it right and make it a regular thing. That raises a couple of questions. What would you want in such a program? (High on my list: adding some actual music and music discussion, guests, interactive Q&A…) And on a more technical level, I found that there wasn’t an easy way to simply host audio that would work in podcast form. Ideally, you’d want something easily digestible by iTunes and non-iTunes players (I subscribe with Banshee and Google Listen, too), and I’d love to have something we could recommend to bloggers, perhaps even helping them get set up on Noisepages. Any suggestions, readers who have been paying more attention than I? (If you don’t know, let us know how you listen and I’ll keep researching.)

Updated: SoundCloud have added subscription links for podcast readers; you’ll find them on our profile! It’s an experimental feature, but give it a go and let us know how it works. More on this stuff to come…

And, of course, if you prefer words or video, we’ll have more of those.

  • I really like podcasts. They are the main source of my new music and an important source for music information. 

    So I hope you continue with MTIR.

  • Bynar

    Considering that audio podcasts are about my only refuge at my workplace, I couldn't be happier that you guys are doing this. Interviews, music (with commentary), and workflow discussions would be at the top of my list for show features. Great news!

  • hey guys, kasson here from harmonix…  thanks for the great coverage of rb3!  we're really proud of it and hope that people really enjoy the new features we put in the game.  also for calling out how amazing the keytar is.  we're really happy with how it came out.
    also, congrats on the podcast, really great stuff.  please keep it up.  peter, met you out a yuri's night event where freezepop played… and oliver,  it's been years since fpop played with your band!  hope both of you are well…

  • Greg

    Got a cite indicating some sort of causal relationship between increasing participation in "real" musicmaking and music games as cited in the interview?
    Also, Behringer makes a keytar midi controller for well under 200 bucks as well.

  • Carson

    Top of my list would be  Q and A sessions mainly about setting hardware, mapping software, workflow, and any other related topic. Perhaps you could take questions like a week before in order to research the question if need be.  Other then that i would totally listen to a podcast devoted to music technology

  • Peter Kirn

    Thanks, everybody, for listening.

    @Greg: I cite a study in the story for RB3, here:
    One major caveat to attach to it though: that particular study looked at perception of music teachers. So it isn't necessarily causation; it's just that music teachers *think* it's working. That counts for something, and particularly from people with direct contact with young people, but it's still something worth investigating. I'll try to pull together some other studies. The most compelling evidence I've seen is anecdotal, but in terms of how big that movement is, worth looking at this and other trends (like increases in certain sheet music sales), and even the impact of television (American Idol, Glee, etc.)

    I don't *quite* count the Behringer as a keytar just because – unless I missed something – that's a keyboard without a neck. The addition of the neck is more rare than just the pegs, and I think makes a big difference in playability.

  • Greg

    That "study" smacks of BS by a non-profit entirely funded by a group of very for-profit musical instrument companies.

    And yeah, the Behringer just has pegs.

  • Podcast idea is great. wish more would do the same.
    Getting into a subscribe-able form is a must tho.
    FeedBurner might be useful.

  • Nice podcast guys, I hope you keep Music Tech in Review up.

  • Regarding midi, the problem to me is the protocol. It is small and easy to work with, but it is based around keyboard control. CCs are great, but limited in resolution and by bandwidth. When you start to work outside the realm of regular note control for new and interesting surfaces you get a bit stuck. Say I want separate control of each voices filter, the only polyphonic controller CC is the polyphonic aftertouch. When I brain-storm around how I want my tools to work I almost immidiately get restricted by how midi is working. OSC could be great, but is far to complex and arbitrary so something in between would be great.

  • Random Chance

    First off: I like the idea of doing this podcast thing. But regarding the topics I was a little (to say the least) disappointed: The whole iOS thing has been in the news everywhere to the point where probably even people who own one or multiple iOS devices get thet instinct to run to the hills when it comes to iOS articles. Overall this episode was a bit interface laden for my taste. How about some more actual news about hardware and software that runs on common systems like Mac OS and Windows (or do something about GNU/Linux software, Peter, that would probably be more interesting and relevant just because this topic usually gets far less coverage)?

    One last thing about the MeeBlip: "Don't get a plugin, get this!" Is this guy for real? I mean hardware is fun and useful, but the MeeBlip does not really offer any sonic advantage over software running on a different platform. You could perhaps argue that it's the DA converters, or the sampling rate, or the reconstruction filter. It's not like there's a digitally voltage controlled filter like in the Shruthi-1.

  • rich

    Great work. I've been looking for a podcast just like yours for quite a while! Make one every day =)

  • Chad

    @Random Chance:  Yes, but the MeeBlip is a *physical thing.*

    It's not about sonics, it's about process.  It's about your relationship/rapport with the instrument.  And, for many people, physical things are more inspiring than virtual.

    Also, respectfully, I disagree with your iOS objection entirely.

    – c

  • james

    i like the podcast.

    re: wifi issues.

    you mentioned interference issues. ie, wifi performance would work in rehearsals but then not at a gig in a room full of people with iphones.

    this is the case for all wireless technologies.

    the same as for wireless mics, iems, guitar/bass. at a gig you have crew that setup the RF stuff so it works, it is not a job for the muso on stage. the infrastructure is of course substantial and it can be a lot of work to get smooth operation, but it is of course doable.

    but you can't say a technology isn't suitable, full stop, because on a large scale it is harder to do. because that applies to all things involved in all gigs. do you think musos tour with techs just cos they're rich and showing off or whatever? no, it's because you need dedicated people to make stuff work for a gig who are no the people also performing.

  • Good podcast. I would listen every week.

    I don't understand the hesitation with starting a podcast in 2010. I've been putting out my music in podcasts since 2004 and my numbers have never been better. Same with a monthly literary fiction magazine I've helped produce for the past 5 years (300% listener growth in the past 9 months alone!). Good syndicated content will always have growth potential. Definitely get the Feedburner feed and get that submitted to iTunes, regardless of your opinion of it as a podcast search mechanism (I share your opinion, btw…).

  • Great first show, guys — the topics were good, and the discussions were interesting, even though I'd already read up quite a bit on the MeeBlip and RB3.

    I'm sure it's just due to this being a first episode, but I did think the production could use a bit of work — the levels and quality were a bit inconsistent, and there was some nasty plosive popping in there too. Are those things you'll be cleaning up if it becomes a regular show?

  • Peter Kirn

    Yeah, my fault; I used a headset and it was quite poor… I think we'll arrange a better setup next time! Consider this an experiment … Prototype. Now I think we'll do it right.

  • Great job! I'd love to hear more! You managed to dig in deeper than some of the other audio podcasts around (i.e. Sonic State).

    Don't hesitate to go into specs and detail. I think, judging by typical comments and posts, that going in depth is what makes CDM unique and enjoyable. Uh oh, my comments can't go any further than this line…

  • Yay for CDM podcast!
    The inconsistent audio levels made it a bit jarring to listen to but good to know that it will improve.

    The Sonic Talk weekly podcast is the closest thing that exists and while it's pretty good, the guests are mostly older synth guys who, with all due respect, are not always up on the latest tech stuff as the folks here so this would fill the gap nicely. Sonic Talk now even goes out as a video stream as well and since it's aired live, they have a live chat going on at the same time so listeners can chime in.

    I would love to hear more about tools that go outside of the traditional DAW paradigm and innovative developments happening like Maschine and iOS apps. And along those lines, a good topic would be how workflow and resulting output are influenced by the interface design and ways of inputting information.

  • Peter Kirn

    Given this is an *audio* podcast from two music sites, yeah, we'd better get on it. 😉

  • Matt W

    Good start. Would be good if you can get the mic levels similar and consistent throughout, not to mention a little compression to trim the loud bits down a touch. Driving while listening made for a lot of volume changes.

    Secondly, not sure who the main speaker was but my suggestion would be not to override everything your co-host says and work as a partnership rather than against each other.

    But I'll certainly listen again.

  • Thanks to everyone for listening. Based on the initial feedback we will continue for sure. I knew we would get flack for the overall quality but it was more important to just start and apologize after. I really like the SonicTalk podcast… Music tech is a pretty exciting place and I am sure we will have plenty to talk about.

  • chesler + kirn! excellent podcast! should get the matrixsynth guy and that would be interstellar

  • Tuuksi Jii

    I LOVE podcasts and I've been waiting for one that is about music tech. So when's the next one coming?

  • rich


    Looking forward to more please =)