Focusrite iTrack Dock is a Serious Lightning iPad Accessory for Recording Music

The iPad could change recording. But first, you have to change the iPad. Docks once reached fever-like proportions in hardware manufacture. Among those, one stood out: I’ve seen the Alesis iO Dock see iPads get more serious studio use, thanks to convenient access to audio and MIDI. (And that, in turn, is something you often don’t get when connecting hardware directly.) Then, Apple switched connectors to the new Lightning Connector – and the hardware world fell silent. Now, Focusrite steps in to fill the void. (We’ll see if Alesis is doing the same.) And if many docks are dubious purchases, …


C64s, Control Voltage, MIDI … iPads, Keyboards and Audio: NAMM Saturday [Gallery, Impressions]

Everything old is new again. And everything new is everywhere – at least if we’re talking iPads and so on. At Anaheim’s massive gathering of music gear, there were some definite themes. Photographing for CDM, James Grahame and Marsha Vdovin give us a look at the tools on the floor. James has stumbled upon various fascinating oddities, and of course the booth celebrating MIDI’s 30th anniversary. (We’ll be talking more about MIDI’s history and legacy in the coming weeks.) From top, the keyboard models that made the history first connection, and a Commodore 64 talking to an iPad. Synthtopia has …


The Linn Tools That Never Were: Roger Linn Shares Shelved Designs [Gallery]

Designer Roger Linn is beloved by producers for drum machines like the MPC, beloved by guitarists for AdrenaLinn, and now newly respected for the Tempest with Dave Smith. But for anyone who imagines design is a direct line from idea to product, it’s not. Whether Roger Linn or Apple, the process leaves the way littered with discarded creations. Of course, that doesn’t mean these are bad ideas. Now that we live in a world of DIY, some intrepid musical souls will make products for an audience of one. And where designs are discarded, ideas often survive. Roger Linn writes CDM …


gTar, Digital Guitar that Scales from Easy Mode Up; Now Does Ableton Control, Too

Music games like Guitar Hero introduced the notion of musical instruments that scale digitally to the masses. By the time Harmonix introduced the latest version of Rock Band, complete with MIDI controllers, you are able to go from something that’s a toy to simply playing the instrument in a conventional way. The idea of scalability isn’t even new in instrument design – from capos to an instrument like the Autoharp to the very invention of frets, instrument builders have always designed instruments in ways to make them easier to play. In a digital/software realm, though, the plasticity of an instrument …


The Live Mixer, Reimagined, in a Futuristic Touchscreen Device from Line 6

Photo: Marsha Vdovin, snapped for CDM in the mood lighting of the Line 6 press room at the NAMM show. Few things are as essential to music making as the experience of a live show. So it’s about time someone took some risks to see if there’s a better way to run live sound. Line 6’s new StageScape M20d is important because it does just that – it finally says the mixer as you know it doesn’t have to be sacred, and tries to build a better one. Traditionalists might be skeptical – and with good reason, as we see …


Akai Turns an iPad Into a Full-Sized Music Keyboard: Akai SynthStation49

If you’re an iPad-using, keyboard-playing musician, Akai has your dock. Their original SynthStation was a cute little accessory, but required playing a tiny keyboard (and iPhone-sized screen). The SynthStation49 looks more serious, with nine MPC-style pads, transport controls, and dedicated pitch and mod wheels. The iPad sits on what Akai describes as an adjustable “cradle,” so you can tilt it to whichever angle you want. That could mean tilting it up for reading notation or studio use, then down again for performance. There’s also an internal audio interface with 1/4″ output jacks, so you don’t have to worry about taking …