Microsoft just gave us the touch laptop Apple won’t

Apple’s strategy is clear: make one line of things that are laptops (running OS X), make another line of things that are touch-based (running iOS). That strategy has served them – and musicians and other creatives – well. You can certainly have a lot of fun with a fairly inexpensive iPad full of apps, and the MacBook line has earned its place as the music laptop of choice. But that’s still left some creative types in the gap between the two. That is, it did, until today.


Let’s make sense of Apple’s new iPad lineup – with charts!

The iPad isn’t just a gadget any more. There’s now enough of an app ecosystem that investing in an iPad is investing in a creative platform that turns into lots of other things. That is, it really is like another computer. For music, that means a lot. An iPad is a drum machine, or a vocal processor. It’s a practice aid, a simulated guitar amp. It’s an extension of your desktop music software, too, whether controlling instruments and transport in Logic or live sets in Ableton. It’s a DJ tool. Of course, the same is true of a computer. And …


This is now the iOS drum machine you want to jam with: Elastic Drums 1.6

Remember when apps were novel toys for experimentation? Now, an app could give your drum machine a run for its money. It’s the third wave of iOS apps. We’re now onto a moment where, cresting the wave of tools, a few are becoming simply invaluable to the right users. They can make an iPad feel a bit like dedicated hardware, perhaps even in a way that a computer can’t. And that to me makes them worth examining, even if you have no desire to use an iPad. Elastic Drums has that feeling to me. On its surface, it’s just another …


Making a light sculpture a musical instrument, played with Animoog on iPad

Light organs have been in use for generations. But this is the first generation that has grown up in a world of image and sound in which expression across electronic media might seem simply second nature. And oddly, as screens have become more ubiquitous, so, too, has thinking beyond them. What we see here, then, isn’t a projection. It isn’t a display. It’s a big bundle of lightbulbs, making rhythmic poetry in off and on once connected to a jumble of wires. Play the Moog app Animoog on an iPad, and that mountain of electronic junk winks back at you …


The Best App for Exploring Sound Just Got Better: Borderlands 2.0

It looks like a spaceship control panel, and has the futuristic sound to match. Borderlands Granular already set a high water mark for how touch could open up new possibilities in sound creation. With a new version adding live input and more control, though, its latest release may be even more significant than its first. Granular synthesis, which treats recorded sound as a fluid construction of tiny grains, needs an interface to realize its power. It’s not something that can be understood by turning a single knob. It’s defined by the sounds you put into it, by the way you …


These Are The DJ Controllers You Want When Space is Limited

How can you get the most hands-on control of a laptop DJ set when you don’t have a lot of room? With so many of us called upon to DJ in a pinch – even as producers or live acts, onstage or in mixes – it’s relevant to almost anyone making electronic music. And finding a way to stay mobile a worthy question – but one you might miss if following DJ blogs and music store displays. Imagine if you were making a generic DJ controller prop for a bedroom display at IKEA. You know exactly what it’d look like. …


MIDI and Audio Over iOS Cable: Here’s How, Available Now

We’ve seen the future, and it’s … back to wires. First, we saw midimux connect any MIDI app or hardware on your iOS device to any MIDI software or hardware connected to your Mac. Plus in a 30-pin or Lightning cable, run some software on each end, and connect anything. Then, we saw the promise of audiomux – doing the same thing for audio streams. Now, audiomux is available on the App Store, not only individually, but as a bundle with midimux. (The developers initially asked midimux users to wait while that bundle became available, to avoid overspending.) And, as …


LK Gives Your iPad or Android Tablet Easy Control of Ableton Live [Gallery, Hands on]

Ableton Live is happily running on your laptop. It’s not yet running on your iPad or tablet, or optimized in any way for touch. And that’s left a window wide open for touch controllers. Now, the question is, is there room for yet another control app? touchAble retains the crown for all-around control of Ableton Live; there’s very little this app doesn’t do, from replicating Live devices to MIDI editing to custom templates. But the relaunched LK, released today, has a few reasons for consideration, as an alternative or complement to other solutions. First, if you’re an Android user, LK’s …


Here’s How To Connect the iPad’s Easiest Pattern Maker to Your Mac [Video Tutorial]

Remember the days of clicking laboriously to add notes to a piano roll editor? Well, that’s a bit silly nowadays if there’s a touchscreen sitting next to your desk. You probably want to make use of it – and maybe without stumbling around helper apps and wifi configuration. We’ve already seen how Auxy, the iPad pattern editor, reduced a widely-known music process to its simplest elements. The recent addition of MIDI opens it up to external hardware. But it also makes a nice example of what the new utility midimux can do: connecting this app to the wealth of sounds …


Angry Bees! Swarms and Flocks of Sound in a New iPad Synth

Now, your iPad can go from sweet-sounding pads to hordes of angry bees and back again, all by modeling physical behaviors of flocking. It’s called the Photophore, and it’s a “flock synthesis” instrument. You may have seen synths that produce lush sounds by combining oscillators – the eight-oscillator Swarmatron springs to mind. Well, this synth puts the “swarm” in “Swarmatron.” With up to one hundred oscillators per patch, it uses physical modeling to transform sound by simulating flocking behaviors. I’ve seen experiments that have done things like this with flocking algorithms and particle systems, but this must be the first …