Photo (CC-BY-SA) musicabinaria.

USB3 + Apple Update from NI; Your Best Bet — Wait

Native Instruments, whose hardware was some of the first to prompt reader compatibility reports, now has issued a statement. I had hoped for more background on what’s actually going on – we’ll keep pressing vendors to tell us more – but the short-term advice on the MacBook Pro and Air and their USB3-only ports is clear. You’re going to want to wait until hardware you use is confirmed to work, and it seems that at least this vendor is communicating with Apple directly. (Those fixes will hopefully benefit the handful of readers we have suffering from USB3 woes on Windows, …

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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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Slap Your Laptop: Open Source Tool Lets You Play MacBook By Hitting It

Come on – you know that occasionally you want technology to respond when you slap it. As my sister watched an episode of the television show Quantum Leap, I thoroughly enjoyed watch Dean Stockwell’s character Al give his pocket computer, looking for all the world like a 7″ tablet, little helpful smacks. SmackTop does that for music. Yes, we hear, ad infinitum, the complaint that laptop musicians simply stare inertly at blue glowing laptops as if checking their email. Now they get to put a little skin in the game, literally. And a version 0.3 update makes this humorous novelty …

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Hands-on: Universal Audio’s UAD-2 Satellite, a DSP Box for Macs and MacBook Pros

With all the horsepower computers are now packing, you might be surprised at the idea of adding on dedicated hardware for sound processing. Or, you can look at it another way: with computers more powerful than ever, with digital processing sounding more convincing both as emulation of traditional gear and in imagining never-before-possible sounds, the digital studio in a backpack is even closer. Into that picture, enter the Universal Audio UAD-2 Satellite. Enclosed in a metal housing about the size of a large-ish external hard drive, the Satellite could absolutely fit into the side pocket of a computer backpack or …

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FireWire800, ExpressCard Survive MacBook Pro Revision, So You Can Relax; Thunderbolt Audio Hardware Coming

Photo courtesy of Apple. Those of you in the market for a new MacBook Pro are no doubt already tuned into the product news. So let’s talk about what isn’t changed on the new MacBook line, because it’s a good thing. You still get FireWire 800 ports on all models, including the entry-level 13″ machine. ExpressCard is still standard on the 17″ MacBook Pro. Your dongles for video adapters still work. I’m researching implications for audio of the new Thunderbolt connection. My guess is it’s a little too early to say; 10 GBps storage sounds fantastic, but it’s far beyond …

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DSP Goodies on New Macs, as Universal Audio Does Firewire

It’s difficult to describe Universal Audio’s plug-ins until you’ve tried them. It’s a bit like having chocolate sauce at your disposal, sonically speaking. Whatever your higher-level brain may have to say, somewhere deep in your mammalian brain, you hear only … mmmmmm. Chocolate. It’s the word I get from UA users, and I’ll also have an interview with UA to post next week in which we get deep into the philosophy of sound, software design, and modeling, a conversation that transcends any one product. They’re not for everyone – they demand a price premium, to be sure, versus rival CPU-native …

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New MacBook Air: Light, But Core 2 Duo, NVIDIA Graphics

Image Courtesy of Apple. Any time Apple unveils a new product, someone is likely wondering if it’s a viable choice for music. The answer on the new MacBook Air is probably yes – though for music production, even at a $999 price, you may want to sacrifice a little bit of weight for the specs on the non-Air MacBook line. Here’s a quick look: Core 2 Duo architecture. While running at slower clock speeds, this is a more efficient CPU choice for audio. (Don’t let the clock fool you, in other words – there’s a fair bit of power here.) …

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Max for Live Solutions: Full Control Surface Support, Mac Trackpad as Controller

There’s not much to say about this news: if it’s the kind of thing you’ve been anxiously awaiting, you’ll know you’re in luck just from the screenshots. First, for anyone with a recent MacBook and a copy of Max for Live, Juan Pablo Carrascal has come up with a lovely solution for on-the-go production. Using the trackpad’s multitouch input support, his Max patch transforms your laptop into a MIDI control device, for those times when you don’t have a controller handy. (See also a great, open source Mac touchpad tool.) I don’t have a compatible Mac on which to test …

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