Apple’s OS X Yosemite Proves Largely Wrinkle-Free for Music; GarageBand Updated, Too

Here’s a welcome change. OS X Yosemite (10.10 is a major update to a desktop operating system that brings with it almost no apparent headaches for pro audio. The normal advice applies. Backup your system before doing anything (even Apple’s Time Machine I’ve found does the job nicely). Time something major like an OS update for when you’ve got time to test, and to revert if you have trouble. (Hint: not in the dressing room before a gig.) And don’t rush to update – there’s nothing here that you immediately need for music work. But in this case, if you …


Apple’s One-Click Link to Remove Unwanted U2 from iTunes Marks a Textbook Marketing Fail

Execution is everything. Musical tastes are personal. And it seems that force-feeding people a new album from U2, unsolicited, doesn’t go over well. Apple giving away U2’s new Songs of Innocence is in itself not a bad thing. But there are two problems. One, the album is poorly reviewed – think Paul McCartney “Wonderful Christmastime” rather than Abbey Road. Two, because the album simply appeared in purchased music – and because iTunes (cleverly enough) displays what you’ve purchased from iCloud – it showed up in people’s collections when it didn’t belong. So, we’ve learned something. This doesn’t work. And as …


Apple Watch a Likely Target for Music Making Applications – Experimental and Otherwise

Apple Watch could be the first in a new wave of wearable technology for musicians. The idea isn’t new. We’ve seen various notions involving wearing extra controls for music. In fact, the whole category of alternative interfaces is deeply indebted to Michael Waisvisz, who helmed STEIM for many years and whose interface The Hands inspired generations of musical gloves and gestural interfaces. Guitarists have had various rings to wear; IK Multimedia is currently experimenting with rings that aid in gestural control of iOS. Apple Watch may not become the accessory the iPad and iPhone have for music, but – partly …


Apple MacBook Refresh Makes 13″ Retina a Great Sweet Spot for Music

The laptop is such an obvious part of music making today, it’s almost easy to understate its importance. But here’s the bottom line: for many musicians, it’s the most important gadget they’ll haul around with them. The glowing Apple logo may be the butt of some jokes, but it’s there for a reason. It’s tough to beat the versatility of a laptop for music making – and it’s tough to beat Apple on value. No, I really said that. On paper, Apple’s machines are pricey. But while OS X, like any OS, is a complex beast and far from perfect, …

Oh, so that's where it's been hiding. Click Smart Controls (top) and then the Inspector (bottom); you might need to adjust a preference (below).

How to Make GarageBand Work with Your Plug-ins – Even Though Apple Hid Them

GarageBand is a pretty amazing no-cost tool. You get a solid, reliable production app built on the same framework as Logic. It has loads of built-in sounds – instruments and loops. It has easy-to use but capable editing, complete with notation view. There’s now a virtual Drummer which can be fun for sketching out song ideas and backing tracks. And it’s very guitarist/instrumentalist friendly: there’s a big tuner (cough, Ableton), amps and effects. And did I mention it’s free? Just one problem: you might not immediately work out how to use third-party plug-ins. GarageBand 10 got rid of some features …

It covers just the basics, but sounds the business - and it's free with the SYSTEM-1. The SH-101 plug-in. (Yes, plug-in - we're not to the plug-out bit yet.)

Roland’s PLUG-OUT SH-101 Doesn’t Work in Many Hosts; What You Need to Know

Roland’s PLUG-OUT introduces a new way to deliver electronic musical instruments. You get a plug-in you run on your computer, but then the same sound-making code can be loaded onto hardware – the AIRA SYSTEM-1 synth keyboard. The good news is, the future-y stuff all works perfectly well. As we reported in our initial hands-on, when the installation works, you can use the software alone, the SYSTEM-1 alone, or a combination, which is a nice arrangement. The bad news is, the old-fashioned “install the plug-in and it works in your DAW” part? Well, for some – not so much. We’ve …


Wu Tang Debuts Song in Hackable Form: New Track on Blend First

If the album business model is collapsing, the frantic rush to everything else is at least interesting. Hip hop as a genre, of course, came from a deconstruction and reconstruction of the album, from the early evolution of DJ techniques and sampling. So, the fact that Wu Tang is skipping the conventional release altogether is new, but it’s also connected to history. Sure, plenty of artists have gone for remix contests and the like. What’s different in Wu Tang’s case is that this time, the debut track “So Many Detailz” from their Parent Advisory will head straight to Blend as …


Apple is Still Going Pro, from Hardware to Pro App Updates [Editorial]

There’s an oft-repeated conventional wisdom about Apple that I think is just plain wrong, and it goes something like this: The success of the iPhone and iPad means that Apple is now a consumer company, and doesn’t care about pros. Now, let’s parse the above statement and say Apple sometimes makes decisions pro audiences don’t like. Well, that’s certainly true; it just happened to be true prior to the success of iOS. It’s time to face this question again, partly because of the widely-noticed demise of Apple’s Aperture for pro photography workflows, but also because of significant and under-appreciated updates …

One hole that should stick around. Photo (CC-BY-SA) William Hook.

No, Apple Should Not Eliminate the Headphone Jack

Is Apple coming for your headphone jack? It’s a question I’d seen bouncing about publicly. Now, Macworld’s Marco Tabini goes as far as suggesting that the end of the analog headphone jack is a likelihood, and even “might be a positive change.” Hit the road, jack: Why Apple may say goodbye to the headphone plug [] See also Forbes’ Gordon Kelly, though that story isn’t as balanced as Tabini’s, and gets muddled on the subject of “digital” outputs and “exceedingly high lossless” output – whatever that means. The difference in output is 48KHz instead of 44.1KHz, which amounts to very …


In the Age of Beats and Spotify, Winners – and Opportunities

There is an accelerating transformation of music listening; that much is clear. And if you change the way people listen, you will change the way people produce. So who and what wins in this brave new world? Let’s consider. The month of May brought still more signs of tectonic shifts, with Apple buying Beats and Spotify showing no signs of slowing. The Apple acquisition of Beats can’t really be measured in dollars, because Apple has so much cash on-hand. (US$150 billion – and expect that dry powder to start getting loaded into cannons.) At least unlike Facebook or Google, Apple …