10 Free Non-Musical Windows Software Every Musician Should Use

  Process Explorer is the essential portal to seeing what’s going on with CPU and memory activity on Windows. It was good enough that Microsoft bought the tool. Any computer – Mac, Windows, and Linux – can experience degraded audio experience pretty fast if a background task starts stealing CPU or a driver is misbehaving. In contrast, a fully-tweaked Windows machine, equipped with a set of tools to diagnose potential problems, can be rock-solid for audio performance. That’s an especially big deal for those of us using computers for live music. I think a lot of people’s Windows experience is …

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Circle Synth is Here: New Instrument Built Around Flow

We’ve been lucky enough to break the story of Circle, a new soft synth with a creative user interface, and to take you behind the scenes of its creators thinking process in creating the software. But maybe you don’t buy into the idea of a synth that focuses on flow and working method, or its wave morphing, modulation and effects, and quick MIDI learn features. Well, now you can give Circle a try for yourself, because it’s publicly available: Future Audio Workshop Circle It’s obviously something a lot of people are eagerly anticipating, because, having missed the announcement only by …

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Digidesign Talks Latest Windows, Mac Releases, Compatibility, Drivers

Having already heard from M-Audio, we now have a response from Digidesign regarding concerns about driver support and Pro Tools software compatibility for the latest Windows and Mac operating systems. Bob Langlie, VP of Customer Support and Service, and via Digi’s forums, Digidesign’s product marketing and general operations representatives all weigh in with some clarification and answers. There’s even a response to me complaining about the lack of explicit Vista Home Premium support. (The short answer on that is, if you’ve got Home Premium, give it a shot and see what happens; a lack of explicit support doesn’t mean that …

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M-Audio Responds: Update on Driver Situation, New Drivers

M-Audio has actually gotten in touch in response to frustrations about incompatibilities with OS updates — updates which, admittedly, have recently been frequent and sometimes troublesome on both the Windows and Mac sides. Niels Larsen, General Manger at M-Audio, responds in comments with some specifics on where drivers are, some new drivers that were released literally today, and some comments on the OS situation in general.  (I’ve copied it here just in case you missed it in comments.) I’ve also heard from Digidesign/M-Audio public relations; I hope to have additional updates soon. This is well worth reading whether or not …

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PreSonus Goes to Open Beta for Drivers

Speaking of drivers, PreSonus announced today that they’re allowing users to register for open beta drivers. They’re hardly the first to do this — M-Audio has done the same historically, even if I’m not thrilled with their pace at the moment. But this raises an interesting question: could opening a beta help improve driver quality and get updates in users’ hands faster? Do audio users really want to "beta-test" drivers in the first place? (I guess that depends on how mature the "beta" release is.) We’ll have to see how PreSonus fares. How is PreSonus doing with released drivers? Reasonably …

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Digidesign and M-Audio Drivers Fail to Keep Pace with Vista, Leopard, and XP SP3

There aren’t many positive ways to spin this: if you’re a user of Digidesign and M-Audio products and looking to use current operating systems, very often you’re out of luck. In some cases, this isn’t so surprising — given issues with Leopard, I actually suggest running Mac OS X Tiger if you can until some issues are resolved. And while I have one machine here running Vista happily, suffice to say Windows XP remains the choice for many, as drivers from a variety of vendors mature. Still, I think it’s bad to see drivers missing altogether this late in the …

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Guitar Rig Software, Hardware Bundle Available Soon On The Cheap

Native Instruments is releasing some cheaper ways of getting at their software guitar modeler, Guitar Rig, in the form of a cheaper software version and a hardware bundle: Guitar Rig 3 XE is a "lite" version of Guitar Rig, focused on the basics — 5 guitar/bass amps, 12 cabinets, and 21 effects. It also some of the "helper" modules from Guitar Rig, including a metronome, tapedeck, and tuner — but no looping module, which is one of my favorites. (See the full list.) US$99 on its own. Guitar Session bundles the XE software with Cubase 4 LE, some pop drums …

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Adobe Director Lives: Director 11 Does Physics, DirectX

When Adobe acquired Macromedia, a lot of people thought that’d be the end of Director. After all, Director and Flash have had increasingly overlapping capabilities for some time, and Director seemed like something people used years ago. Think again: talk to people doing interactive design, and Director — for better or worse — lives on. With the Director 11 update announced this week, that’s unlikely to change any time soon. New in this release: Vista support on Windows, Intel support on Mac Bitmap filters (a la the bitmap API in Flash 8/9, I’m assuming) Full JavaScript support and Code Snippets …

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