The real Apple news is that macOS audio should get fixed this month

While everyone is freaking out about headphone jacks on phones, the news this week musicians should really care about is that a badly needed OS update is on its away. Apple quietly set Tuesday, the 20th of September as the release date for the next major Mac revision – macOS Sierra (10.12). (It’s no longer called “OS X,” so as with Hillary Clinton and techno and Crystal Pepsi in stores, it’s the 90s all over again.)

"New MacBook." Photo (CC-BY Maurizio Pesce.

Feel the beat on a Magic Trackpad or MacBook with free tool

Don’t like clicks or beeps or other sounds when using a metronome? Try some haptic feedback instead, with this free utility.


Peek Inside Adam’s Mobile Rig to See How to Be Inspired on the Go

Any trip, anywhere can turn into a creative opportunity – if you pack the right stuff. So if you’re hitting the road this summer, here are some thoughts. Adam John Williams is a media artist and maker and musician and lots of other things. But even among that rarified breed, he’s somewhat unusual. The man brings Olympic effort to hack days – one of the organizers behind Music Tech Fest and a prolific performer and inventor. As a participant at our hacklab at CTM Festival, he was applying painful shocks to himself in time with Ableton Live – and that’s …


The Single USB-C Connector is Coming – But It’s Not Bad News

For years, the steady disappearance of ports from our computers has been unquestionably a bad thing for musicians. Things we used have been disappearing: Audio input jacks. Dedicated FireWire connections. Extra USB ports. And I’m not just talking Apple, here, either – slimmer and lighter PCs have often dumped connectors you needed, leaving us with a tangled mess of adapters and incompatibilities. Get a bunch of laptop owners together, and you’re lucky to connect anything without a Santa Claus-style bag of spaghetti. So, music and audio users can be forgiven to being resistant to change, because some of those changes …

This has never ever happened before with Apple. Well, except all those times it happened before. Photo (CC-BY) Marcin Wichary.

Why MacBook Pro Users Need Not Worry About the New MacBook

If you’re a music maker, a DJ, or anyone working with creative audio and video, you care about connectivity so you can do your job – rightfully so. So, if that has you freaked out by the strange “all-new MacBook,” let me the first person to tell you: relax. You don’t want it, but you don’t have to lose sleep over it. It seems Apple yesterday introduced a new product tier. Apple has done that before, creating different categories for their computers to serve different markets. (It’s what has turned them into a hugely profitable company.) You may still prefer …


The Clue to Apple’s MacBook Revisions is the Word “Pro”

Yes, Apple is today talking about wristwatches. But judging by those glowing logos I see absolutely everywhere all the time, it’s probably MacBooks that matter to you music creating folk. Apple today has three items of computer news: 1. They’re introducing a new, 12″ display model called the “all-new MacBook” (note that exact wording). 2. They’re updating the 13-inch Macbook Pro with Retina Display. 3. They’re updating the MacBook Air. (There are no changes to the 15″ model, but these revisions have historically been staggered.) With Apple, nomenclature is everything. It’s been a while since Apple called anything “MacBook” without …


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, …


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 …


IK’s $99 BlueBoard Bluetooth Pedalboard, Stomps on iOS or Mac with MIDI

Singers or instrumentalists have plenty of brilliant-sounding apps these days running on iOS and Mac. But unless you plan to strip off those socks and play with your toes, you might want a stomp interface. IK Multimedia’s iRIG BlueBoard could be an ideal solution for Mac and iOS mobile users alike, a $99 wireless box that adds four switches and two expression inputs.


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.)