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 …

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What Apple’s Event Means for Creatives: 10 Takeaways on Mac Hardware, Software News

To the rest of the world, Apple’s event today was about new iPads. To most people reading this site, it’s probably more along the lines of, “can I finally stop putting off buying the new MacBook I need?” Answer: yes. But let’s quickly review what was announced that’s relative to music makers and live visualists: A new GarageBand, in line with Logic Pro X, for iOS and OS X MacBook Pro line that now has updated Intel graphics and chips, better performance and battery life (good) but completes the march to non-upgradeable memory, glossy displays, and SSD-only storage (bad, for …

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Acer Hopes Music Making Will Propel Touch Tablets, Ultrabooks; Report from Taipei

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of traveling to Taipei, Taiwan for Computex, where Acer was promoting its latest touch hardware. Normally, I’d ask whether there was reason for musicians and DJs to care. But this time, the computer maker is hoping the passion around music will be a factor that woos users to their newest machine. Let’s get one thing straight: the PC market itself isn’t going anywhere. In the final quarter of last year, PC makers shipped hundreds of millions of units. (That includes Apple – and it’s another reason Apple may not want to get out …

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Four Tet Walks Through His Unique Live Rig for Red Bull Music Academy [Video]

Playing with laptops can become performative in conventional ways, just by adding instruments – voice, guitar, live drums, ukelele, or whatever it is you play. But it becomes more mysterious in the hybrid performance media that emerge from “playing” the arrangement directly, manipulating the larger bits of a track in the form of stems and samples. That can be really boring – the “press play” approach – or it can begin to embody an artist’s musical imagination. They can improvise with the composition. You’ll want to make sure you don’t tune out early in this video with Four Tet, shot …

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The Daft Punk Press Problem: Nostalgia for What?

Who’s afraid of laptop musicians? Music stories are more exciting when there are eight-foot-high walls of flames and hype to match. But what when it’s all just a special effect? And when does mystique trump the actual music in music journalism? The new Daft Punk record is perfectly likable. It is at times arguably polished to the point of being over-thought, the opposite of the original duo’s personality that was “punk” and not just “daft.” But their new, sparkly-shiny persona is guided by a sense of their musical taste, and the earworm-y hit single is a reminder that, with pop, …

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In Drawings, A Producer Looks at Big Acts’ Live Laptop Rigs, Deadmau5 to FlyLo

In a charming set of schematic doodles, self-described hip-hop producer deejers has assembled an exquisitely-researched compendium of live laptop rigs from top music acts. In the lineup: Flying Lotus, Skrillex, Bassnectar, Pretty Lights, Daft Punk – a reasonable sampling of artists playing big shows live on the US circuit. And, oh, yes, deadmau5, who despite claiming that everyone just presses play, has put together a fairly impressive controller setup with monome, Maschine, Lemur, and Pioneer EFX-1000. (Just one of those four controllers could let you assemble a track from scratch, let alone all four.)

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Magic Pockets: In Short Scenes, Live Music Construction With An Obscene Amount of Gear

Rusty’s Revenge from magicpockets on Vimeo. Music making, like a finely-tuned kitchen workstation arranged by a master chef, might come down to a few, carefully-selected tools, sharpened to make quick work in minimum… Oh, shove it. Let’s watch live music made with so much gear it looks like one act stole everyone else’s flight cases and decided to have a go of combining all of it. Leaf, the artist himself, puts it succinctly: “The videos are basically me with as many different bits of kit that i could lay my hands on creating some tortuous noise. I hope you enjoy.” …

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The Era of Hardware Mixing for Laptops Cometh: SPARK D-FUSER Available

*spark d-fuser: demo from toby*spark on Vimeo. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s nearly here. The first hardware mixing for laptops that’s practical and affordable for the visual community has arrived. And it should be just the tip of the iceberg. Back in 2009, we celebrated Toby Spark’s community-led video mixing, and bravely (perhaps bravely and prematurely) declared that the era of high-quality hardware mixing was at hand. It is, of course, a simple premise. You’ve got one laptop, and you want to crossfade to another. And you don’t want to use an analog signal – least of …

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USB 3.0: Backwards Compatible in Theory, But Some Audio Drivers Aren’t Cooperating

One of the handful of USB 3.0 devices currently available: the new “SuperSpeed” port on a Verbatim hard drive. Photo (CC-BY-NC-ND) auxo.co.kr. “SuperSpeed USB” or USB 3.0 offers major forward advancement for hardware ins and outs, with faster throughput (yielding up to ten-fold speed gains over USB2), improved overall performance, and lower power consumption. That should be good news for music and motion users, who make heavy use of bandwidth for audio, storage, video, and other media applications. Real-world usage, though, has been scarce. The specification is nearly four years old, but extensive experimentation using USB 3.0 in the field …

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New Mac Laptops: As Apple Expands I/O Flexibility, Just About Any Model Great for Music

MacBook Air, now starting at US$999 and with USB3 and Thunderbolt onboard. Photo courtesy Apple. Apple, of course, rolled out new Mac laptops yesterday. The most desirable of these – new MacBook Pro laptops with ultra-high-resolution Retina Displays – will require a significant budget, with pricing beginning at US$2199. And it could be worth it for those who can afford them: while Apple has quietly eliminated its 17″ machines, the high-density displays should nonetheless make the 15″ real estate ideal for fitting pro app UIs on the go. But the most important thing to say about Apple’s machines from a …

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