MetaSynth 4 Arrives (OS X)

At long last, one of the most beloved and unusual Mac sound creation applications has made it to OS X, with vastly expanded features. The brainchild of Bryce creator Eric Wenger, the first version of U&I Software's MetaSynth was popular with the likes of Aphex Twin for its far-out, one-of-a-kind sound production and the ability to generate audio by painting or importing pictures. This builds on that tradition: Completely new Image Synth architecture for creating sounds from images with new signal sources and plenty of other changes Image Filter 'room' that takes all the features of Image Synth and applies …

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Live from Connecticut College

Today I'm speaking to an audience at the Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology of Connecticut College about finding a meeting place between visual expression and sound. For attendees (and you readers at home), here are some helpful links: Physical Modeling and Sound Creation: Apple's Logic (Mac-only) is deep as it is, but its Sculpture synth alone points to the future of virtual instruments with sophisticated physical modeling sound generators. Free Lunch on Windows: Logic's price tag is a hefty $1000 ($500 academic); if you're a Windows user, check out the free VST String Theory from Ugo. No VST host? …

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Space Invaders Invades Synth, Guitar

We were already stoked about ElectroKraft's Axe*Synth theremin/guitar invention and Space Box effects unit, but new gear from ElectroKraft now features the actual 70s sound chip used in vintage 80s arcade game cabinets. Tony writes us: "It produces those awesome sounds of the UFO and the approaching aliens as well as other synth sounds . . . It also has a new type of fretboard that contains metal sensors arranged like the frets on a guitar." This is the same chip used in Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, Pong, and Asteroids. The Axe*Synth is now the Space*Axe, reflecting the new features, …

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Tube 5.1 Surround Headphones

Clearly, the future of headphones is surround sound, delivered by "acoustical alloy" tubing worn around the head. I have no qualms whatsoever about this device. I'm sure the surround effect is completely successful, and I think the claim of "mastering" as an application is an excellent idea — if you're mastering professional 5.1 surround mixes, then you should spend the EUR149.00 on this device, because it will accurately represent 5.1 surround separation and spatialization. What do you mean, I'm overdoing the irony? I also see they're working on a combination DVD player + headphones "perfect for karaoke." Um, 5.1 surround …

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Build Windows VST Instruments; Free VST Links

If you're on Windows, you can build your own instruments and effects for $20 or even free, and you have an incredibly broad range of free plugins. (Mac users, don't despair: some of the instrument and effect links are Mac-VST or AU, too.) Check out SynthEdit, the US$20 shareware for building your own VST instruments mentioned yesterday O'Reilly has a full article on SynthEdit by Rick Jelliffe explaining the software and VST, with extensive links to commercial and freeware instruments built in the environment and even music made with SynthEdit instruments SynthEdit's official site has a huge list of links …

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PowerBook G5: Keep On Waiting

News flash: Apple isn't releasing a PowerBook G5 anytime soon. A G5 laptop would be bulky, hot, and power-hungry. And ugly. Is it possible? Yes. But it's going to be a while. A long while, like probably 2006. Sound eerily familiar? Only because CDM has been saying just that over and over again, along with plenty of other sites, based on my extensive research and knowledge of chip and enclosure engineering. In other words, based on a) my complete ignorance, b) some common sense and c) links I've read elsewhere. Which brings us to today's story: CNet.com has a superb …

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PowerBook: The Theme Song

Down about no G5 PowerBooks? Want to jazz yourself up about how much you really do love the Mac? Take heart, and listen to: "A Laptop Like You", the song Johnathan Coulton wrote to his Mac! See, I didn't really want you to switch to Windows, cool Cakewalk software notwithstanding. And I certainly don't find this lyric in ANY way freaky: "You make my lap hot / `Cause underneath your Aluminum case there's love" For the record folks, createdigitalmusic.com is about making music ON your computer, not necessarily ABOUT your computer. And yes, I'm writing this from my 1GHz PowerBook …

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New PowerBooks: Laptop Musician Analysis

Apple updated its PowerBook line Monday, but as we expected this is a "speed bump" release: minor changes only. There is some good news for digital audio users: Faster processors at radically lower prices: US$1699 for a PowerBook means laptop musicians finally have an affordable option, and 1.5 – 1.67 GHz processors should be just fine for running Logic, Live, and more. Optical digital audio in and out: Via a stereo TOSLINK connector, as on the Power Mac G5; with external equipment increasingly digital this means your PowerBook can be a self-contained audio studio even without an interface. Just connect …

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Build Your Own Audio Unit Plugins

PC users have had various simple ways of constructing custom VST plugins (including the popular SynthEdit), but now Mac users can get in on the action: SonicBirth is an environment for creating custom Audio Units for Mac OS X, via a modular 'patch cord'-style interface. The interface is very approachable for this kind of system, and MIDI control is easy to implement. (Note the more-than-passing resemblance to Ableton Live's knobs.) It comes with a number of included prebuilt plugins, with more planned for the future. Now the bad news: you can share your AUs, but only to owners of the …

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Cakewalk: Why 64-Bit Matters

Okay, Windows advocates, here's a little break from all the Mac minis and PowerBooks: Cakewalk's VP of Engineering Ron Kuper explains to DMN Digital Producer why 64-bit is a boon to music: more RAM access and better CPU performance. If you're expecting revolutionary enhancements (64-bit is TWICE 32-bit!), think again: you'll only reap memory advantages if you're addressing memory over 3 GB. But faster, more efficient CPUs would be nice to have, and right now Cakewalk is ahead of the pack on both PC and Mac as the only developer to have 64-bit music software up and running now. And …

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