ExpressCard FireWire that Actually Works for Audio?

ExpressCard slots on new Mac and PC notebooks look tantalizing, but buyer beware: adding FireWire audio can be perilous. Multichannel FireWire interfaces work beautifully with the proper drivers and controller, but get some element of that equation wrong, and you may find your high-end interface is rendered unusable (think glitches and dropouts). The chipset in the controller and in the laptop can have an impact, but having a TI (Texas Instruments) controller in your ExpressCard seems to be a good start. Speaking of Rain Recording, Rain is about the only vendor I’ve found that offers a 2-port FireWire ExpressCard known …

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Laptop Choices: Rain’s New LiveBooks

A LiveBook on the test bench at Rain Headquarters, photographed for CDM. One of the things that attracts me to computers: choice. So it’s worth noting that you do have choices when looking to laptops, PCs included. (This sounds like those lame “We know you have a choice in your travel plans” announcements you get on airplanes. Unlike those choices, though, these are genuinely different – thankfully.) So let’s cut straight to the chase: there is a choice between Mac and PC, and there are choices on PC that keep it competitive (to say nothing of Linux). If you’re looking …

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Whither, FireWire? What the New Apple Laptop Port Changes Mean for Audio

By now, you likely already know that Apple came out with new laptops today. I could talk about the new features at the existing price points or about how the new machines are very pretty, but you can easily find that elsewhere. Instead, I want to address some unfortunate details on the new laptops in terms of ports. After all, small details can make a big difference for audio users. For connecting drives, audio interfaces, MIDI devices, and the like, you get: MacBook Pro: Two USB 2.0 port, one FireWire800 port, one ExpressCard/34 slot MacBook: Two USB 2.0 ports MacBook …

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Did Apple Just Eliminate All S-Video, Composite Video Output?

It appears that, with the shift to the DisplayPort, Apple has eliminated adapter accessories for S-Video and composite video output. We’ll need to properly confirm this, but of course, you will want a way of being able to do this for maximum flexibility on the road. DIY solutions, anyone? DisplayPort does have the ability to pass through analog signals, so there’s no reason, in theory, this shouldn’t be possible, as far as I know. And you should be able to use an adapter that translates VGA to S-Video / composite. (Apple DOES offer a VGA output adapter for the new …

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New Apple Laptops: New GPUs, Connectors; Non-Pro Changes

As you’ve no doubt heard by now, Apple has new laptops as of today, including even a refresh for the Air. Look past the industrial design and gestural trackpad, and some of the significant under the hood changes to Apple’s laptop line are graphics-related. There’s a new graphics connector, which adds the nice feature of dual-link DVI support, refreshed GPUs, and possibly most importantly, an easier transition to the low-end. While it’s too soon to know for sure, my hope is that means a US$1299 MacBook could now be capable of running software like Final Cut Studio and Resolume 3 …

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CPU vs. GPU Mythbusters Demo Reveals a Lot

If you haven’t seen it yet, Jamie and Adam did what may be the greatest illustration of a computing concept onstage ever, using an 1100-barrel paintball gun: Updated: We’ve seen the basic idea before — one of the Max/MSP + Atmel-powered Printball notes his own, similar project, as featured on Pixelsumo way back in 2005. But it’s the first time I’ve seen this used to illustrate this point. The basic idea: GPUs, by using parallel processing, are able to render graphics more effectively than CPUs. And while the illustration is something of an oversimplification, it is pretty literal in terms …

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New Early Computer Music Discovered; What Was the First Digital Synth?

Australia’s CSIRAC made the first computer-generated melody, but no recordings remain. For other primitive early computer music, catch new strains from the BBC from 1951. Photo by thefunklab. As several of you noticed, the BBC has discovered 1951 recordings of computer-synthesized music, predating the previous earliest recordings from New Jersey’s Bell Labs in 1957. ‘Oldest’ computer music unveiled [BBC News] So, who gets the credit for the first digital synthesis? This particular recording doesn’t change much, in that Bell was never recognized as the first computer-created music – they just happened to have the earliest recordings still available. Here’s the …

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Inspiration: Vintage Computers Parts Cover Radiohead

Big Ideas (Don’t get any) from 1030 on Vimeo. In case you haven’t seen this, James Houston has produced a short film in which an assortment of old computer gear “plays” Radiohead’s “Nude.” We’ve seen various bicycle parts and such performing music around here, but not the actual components of computers in this way. James features: Sinclair ZX Spectrum – Guitars (rhythm & lead) Epson LX-81 Dot Matrix Printer – Drums HP Scanjet 3c – Bass Guitar Hard Drive array – Act as a collection of bad speakers – Vocals & FX He explains: I grouped together a collection of …

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Asus Eee As Cheap, Tiny Music PC: Guitar Rig 3, Linux Tips

The Asus Eee PC is unlikely to be your first choice of laptops for music. But it’s small, it’s cute, and it’s ridiculously cheap. Some CDM-reading computer enthusiasts are biting, as we found out in March when we asked you if you had turned the Eee PC into a music box. On the Linux side, you’ve got lots of options. Best among these, CDM reader Dan Stowell has put together a comprehensive tutorial on using SuperCollider, the powerful, free sound synthesis engine. You can even add custom GUIs using a free Java-based tool. There are also plenty of DIY environments …

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Oddities: a MacBook Pro Has a Visual Conversation with a ZX Spectrum

Matthew Applegate sends this our way — it’s like two computers having a conversation, across epochs of computer history. The MacBook Pro is running a computer vision algorithm and "singing" notes based on colors it sees on the Spectrum’s screen. Maybe this will get your brain thinking of something new — file this under "really odd inspirations."

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