Finally, Connect a USB Hub and Audio in One Gadget, on Laptop or iPad

File this directly under “why has no one done this properly before?” One of the few remaining annoyances in computer music making is just getting connected. First, you need an audio interface to get proper sound and headphone cueing. Then, you’ve got all this great gear for control – but where to put it? Macs and even many new PCs have few USB ports (especially ultrathin notebooks like the MacBook Air). Yes, it’s about time someone combined a practical audio interface with a USB hub. Focusrite/Novation seem to be the right folks for the job. Focusrite’s audio interfaces are some …

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On iPad and Desktop, Focusrite Aims for Simple, Premium Recording Interfaces [Gallery, Specs]

There’s no shortage of audio interfaces out there, but quality can be variable. Focusrite claims two new interfaces are focused squarely on “premium” quality. On paper, at least, they have some specs to back it up. And while fidelity is an emphasis, each interface is designed for simple recording scenarios – meaning, for those people who want something compact that sounds good but doesn’t necessarily overload them with inputs and outputs they don’t need. The Forte is a “flagship” audio interface whose compact design should position it directly opposite offerings from Apogee – albeit, unlike the Apogee entries, with support …

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Make it Tangible: Create Physical-to-Visual Interfaces with vvvv; Book Soon

The explosion of physical interfaces for computers continues. But it’s not so much the novelty of the idea as its evolution toward really being able to express ideas physically. Connecting visual expression to hands-on control, the creators of a new book entitled Prototyping Interfaces “sketch” in both the physical/electronic and digital/on-screen realms simultaneously. Color from an object can impact color onscreen, or a wooden knob can give a parameter physical form. Several things are significant about their effort versus the many other similar projects. First, they have beautiful documentation. (Yes, folks, if you’re scratching your heads wondering why you’re not …

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IK Release iOS SampleTank, iRig; In Demo, Your Post-PC Future?

IK Multimedia this week is shipping both their SampleTank virtual instrument and iRig hardware MIDI interface for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. It’s not the first software instrument for iThings, but it is arguably the first appearance of a major, conventional computer soft synth in mobile form. MIDI interfaces, likewise, would require a comparison of some competing gear, but it’s the combination of the two in IK’s demo video that I think might give someone pause. Music making tech has since the 1980s often involved some kind of computer. You might buy that computer in a piece of hardware that …

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On iPad, iPod touch, and iPhone, New MIDI Support, via Wires, Wireless

Over 25 years later, portions of MIDI introduced early on in the spec remain relevant. And if you want to connect your MIDI-equipped gear to Apple’s iPod touch, iPhone, and iPad mobiles, you will soon have an array of choices. In iOS 4.2, best known for leveling the playing field between Apple’s handhelds and tablet, you’ll get full-blown MIDI support. It was clear in leaked details from earlier releases that Apple’s Core MIDI framework was finding new life on the mobile OS, but not directly what that would mean for hardware. Now, the hardware picture is clear. The Core MIDI …

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Symphony I/O: Next-Gen Apogee High-end I/O, Works with Any Mac DAW Via USB

Looking for all the world like a high-end audiophile stereo radio receiver as much as pro audio equipment, the shiny, new Symphony I/O has arrived from Apogee. It’s a top-of-the-range audio interface designed for low latency, high-quality digital-to-analog conversion, and quality clocking, as well as flexible input and output, coming from a company known in the category. With Pro Tools HD support, it’s also a rival to Avid’s own audio interfaces, while also working with all major Mac DAWs – even Ableton Live. You’re talking an investment of a few grand here, depending on configuration, so this isn’t likely to …

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Apogee ONE: USB Interface with Internal Mic, Guitar, Mic In, $249

What do most musicians really need out of an audio interface? The answer to that question can vary wildly, but for a whole lot of people, it’s as simple as wanting to get an instrument and/or vocals in, and a basic, high-quality stereo mix out. That’s it. That’s part of why Apogee’s new compact ONE audio interface could be a huge hit on the Mac. Let’s reduce its specs to the basics: It lets you plug in a mic, with a preamp and phantom power It lets you plug in an instrument (high impedance — so think your guitar or …

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Tangible Interfaces: Beat Sequencing with Beer Bottle Caps

Digital technology has made music oddly invisible, virtualized somewhere inside a screen – but it also allows music to be mapped more literally to the physical world than ever before. Some of these experiments may even be silly, but they suggest a lot of possibilities. From Poland, BeatMachine is a project that sequences beats in a step sequencer using discarded beer bottle caps. Would-be Internet haters, I suggest you count the number of beer bottle caps on the table, and start drinking that number while watching. I guarantee eventually it’ll seem like a brilliant idea. Make sure you keep watching …

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Mac USB Audio: M-Audio Says Avoid the Left-hand USB Port, All Ports Not Equal

MacBook USB port, under scrutiny. Photo: Kevin Hiscott. Is your MacBook Pro a rightie? Something’s going on with the one or two left-hand USB ports on all MacBook Pros. I’ve heard some issues with hard disks, and now some problems with audio. (Controllers are evidently just fine.) The solution: use the right-hand USB port for audio instead. Updated: Reader Adam suggests that this is probably due to a difference in power delivered to the respective ports. USB audio requires more power, and so odds are you’re under-delivering on the left-hand ports. I’m inclined to think that this is exactly what’s …

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Roll Your Own Multitouch Screens, Tables: Max Multitouch Framework, PyMT

c Ever feel like you’ve found the seam dividing past and future? The past: restrictive UI frameworks requiring pages and pages of code to produce dated-look 2D displays. Proprietary software with rigid interfaces. Input bottlenecked through the x and y coordinates of a single mouse pointer. The future: UIs whipped together graphically or with a few lines of code. 3D mixed with 2D. Open-source, friendly frameworks. Creating your own interface or drawing upon a community of creative software makers. Input that uses multitouch for gestures, collaborative input, manipulation of 2D and 3D space, and … well, just a lot more …

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