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What to expect from 2017’s first wave of new music gear

Happy New Year? Not yet. In the universe of music gear, the NAMM show in California is a sort of unspoken new year’s holiday – home to the biggest wave of music tech announcements of the year. It doesn’t cover everything, as many music producer-specific makers have fled the pricey trade show booths for more focused events. But there’s still rather a lot. Here’s a look at what to expect. Year of the drum machine The monosynth has made its comeback; now it might be the drum machine’s turn. Behringer and Akai are likely to join recent product launches from …

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Here’s how MOTU says they’re improving latency on their new interfaces

You’d be forgiven for not noticing, but the top audio interfaces are one of the things that have been steadily getting better. That is, the handful of makers really focused on service musicians (and other audio and audiovisual applications) have improved interface quality, added a lot of features and connectivity, and improved driver performance. MOTU is one of those makers on a short list that I hear good experiences with. But this fall when a press release crossed my desk saying they had more low latency performance, I wanted a bit more detail than the marketing language was offering. So …

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The new MacBook Pro will work with your gear – if you add adapters

Apple’s new MacBook Pro series – regardless of screen size – ships with four connectors, all of them USB-C. That may lead to some confusion, because these aren’t the USB ports most people know from their current laptop. Let’s take a quick inventory of the gear I typically use, which I think it fairly typical: USB sticks (with Rekordbox, for playing on CDJs) A Lightning cable for my iPhone External hard disk, Thunderbolt External hard disk, USB3 Universal Audio Apollo audio interface, Thunderbolt Lots of USB controllers, audio interfaces, etc. Occasionally need Ethernet for the odd connection SD cards from …

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New tech makes it easier to connect audio on Windows, Mac

If you think computers aren’t advancing for audio, you haven’t been paying attention to connectivity. The latest generation of OSes, computer architectures, and audio interfaces can combine to give you lower latency and easier connectivity. They can even connect over long distances and networks. MOTU and RME this month unveiled cross-platform Thunderbolt support that works on Windows – and MOTU have been focused on connectivity in a series of updates.

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Watch Battles Reflect on Loops, Ableton in a Live Band Setting

On some deeper level, maybe it doesn’t matter how something repeats – whether it’s looped in a pedal, looped in software, or simply repeated by a human player, for instance. On another level, given just how much repetition matters to music, maybe that’s why we care so much about how it’s accomplished. Ableton this week released a visit to New York’s experimental rock trio Battles, in a film and interview under the header “The Art of Repetition.” There, we get to learn more about the process behind Battles’ dense, hypnotic sound. The film is a bit long, but there are …

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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 …

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Universal Audio’s Latest Audio Hardware, Software Comes of Age Nicely

For me, Apollo is what changed the value equation and appeal of Universal Audio. Suddenly, we weren’t talking about buying hardware just to run some nice effects – which, good as those effects were, limited the audience for the UAD. With Apollo, the hardware splurge made sense. It was simply one of the better audio interfaces you could buy for production work, even before instantiating a single plug-in. And then you could add the UAD plug-ins. For anyone who said that they weren’t interested in running effects on dedicated DSP hardware, the Apollo is an answer. Fine. Here’s a reason …

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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 …

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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 …

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Here’s What’s New in Universal Audio’s DSP Software and Hardware System

The line between pain and ecstasy on a computer for music making can often boil down to some key elements. One commonly on that short list is getting the sound you might from a studio. Another is making all your inputs and outputs work in your interface. Universal Audio is one of a handful of vendors that aims to bridge both of those gaps in a single product, with devices that are audio interfaces as well as DSP platforms for hosting high-quality effects. And UA are starting out 2015 with a fairly big benchmark for the company in that software/hardware …

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