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Archive for May, 2009

Attention EM Shoppers!

The Alesis iO|26 audio/MIDI interface is now on clearance at Musician’s Friend. It retails for $599, but it’s currently in stock for $299. The iO|26 is a FireWire interface that has 8 combo Alesis interfaceinputs with mic preamps and phantom power, 8 analog outputs, 16 ADAT inputs, stereo S/PDIF I/O, and dual headphone outputs. It supports 24-bit audio at rates as high as 192 kHz.

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Related Topics: Emusician, Geary Yelton |

Enter the Mind of Moog (Again)

If Bob Moog were still around, he would be celebrating his 75th birthday on Saturday. This Thursday night, legions of his friends, fans, and family will gather at the Orange Peel in his adopted hometown of Asheville, North Carolina, to show their support for the Bob Moog Foundation. Spearheaded by Bob’s daughter, Michelle Moog-Koussa, the Foundation exists to honor his legacy and promote his life’s work. Moog Poster

Like a previous fundraiser in 2007, Thursday night’s celebration is called Enter the Mind of Moog. Its goal is to raise funds to establish the permanent Bob Moog Museum (aka Moogseum) to house Bob’s personal archives, which include his tape recordings, notes and diagrams, prototype instruments, and other artifacts the Foundation has saved from the ravages of deterioration.

Enter the Mind of Moog will feature a scaled-down version of the Moogseum, immersing participants in a hands-on theremin tour, synthesizer lounge, and Moogerfooger remix station, as well as an auction from the archives and an interactive timeline that guides you through stages in Bob’s career and the foundation’s evolution. Entertainment will be provided by the Bob Moog Foundation House Band, who will be recording four songs live onstage. Admission is $15 for adults and $5 for anyone under the age of 16.

You can read more about the event or make a donation on the Bob Moog Foundation’s Web site. And you can read an article about the event, including comments from former EM editor Gino Robair, here.

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Related Topics: Emusician, Geary Yelton |

Avid Releases Sibelius 6

Avid has just announced Sibelius 6, the latest version of its notation software. The big highlight of version 6 is a feature called Magnetic Layout. When activated, it automatically positions score objects like dynamic and rehearsal marks and lyrics, the kinds of things that in the past (and in other notation programs) you’ve had to constantly re-adjust. I saw this feature demoed and I was very impressed. It promises to take a lot of the time and tedium out of putting a score together.

The Live Tempo feature is designed to let you control the tempo of playback the score from a MIDI controller or footpedal, or even from your computer’s keyboard. This allows you to “conduct” the playback, a capability that will be really helpful when performing with live musicians.

Also new to this release is the Sibelius Player, a sample playback engine which replaces the Kontakt Player that was used in earlier versions. It’s loaded with sounds from Garritan, AIR, and Tapspace, as well as a General MIDI instrument it comes effects like convolution reverb, chorus, EQ, and distortion that can be applied to individual parts.

ReWire support is also new to Sibelius 6, allowing Pro Tools or any other DAW to slave to Sibelius. So if you wanted to play back a score that was mostly MIDI tracks, but with a few actual audio files (a vocal, or maybe some real strings), too, slaving your DAW to Sibelius using ReWire would make that process easy.

Also new and cool is the Versions feature, which tracks changes by others to the score, so that, say you sent your score to an orchestrator, you could easily see the changes he or she put in. Versions will be useful in the classroom, as well.

The other big additions are keyboard and fretboard windows that allow you to see the notes in real time as Sibelius plays them, and also let you enter notes from them.

Sibelius 6 is available now, for an MSRP of $599 ($329 educational price). Upgrade pricing is $169 USD $129 (educational price). Check out the Sibelius Web site for more info.

sibelius-6_-main-screenshot.png

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Related Topics: Emusician |

Which Moog rocked first?

I’m trying to find out whether the Doors or the Monkees first recorded a rock song featuring a synthesizer. I’ve read that Paul Beaver played on sessions with both bands, though he wasn’t credited on Strange Days, which is said to feature a Moog on the song “Horse Latitudes.” He was credited on the Monkees’ song “Star Collector,? though. The two albums — Strange Days and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. — were released within a month of each other in late 1967. Does anyone know which session came first? (Interestingly, both albums predated Carlos’ 1968 release, Switched On Bach.) The first time I ever saw a synth was on the Monkees’ TV show in early 1968, on a song called “Daily Nightly,? from the same album. You can watch that clip here.

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Related Topics: Emusician, Geary Yelton |

Propellerhead’s Bombshell Announcement

Record interface
On Saturday, Propellerhead Software introduced Record, a very impressive standalone audio recording program for Mac and Windows that can seamlessly integrate with Reason to become a fully featured and very powerful recording/MIDI sequencing environment. Rumors had been percolating about it on the Web for a while, but the company announced it officially at a series of Propellerhead Producers Conferences in London, Berlin, Los Angeles and New York, all of which took place on Saturday. Watch the video (part 1 and part 2) that I shot at the New York event.

My biggest headline about Record would be the incredibly impressive timestretching capabilities of the program. Propellerhead CEO Ernst Nathorst-Böös, who demoed Record, opened a song originally recorded at 140 BMP, and then sped it up to 160 and slowed it down to 113 as it played, with no audible artifacts. The crowded room—the event took place at Clinton Studios, a large commercial recording facility—broke into applause after Nathorst-Böös had navigated the song through its tempo changes. He then demonstrated how you can automate tempo changes, as well.

“The concept of recording stuff on a computer, from our perspective, which we like to think is the musician’s perspective,” said Nathorst-Böös. “It’s a little bit different from what’s out there today, a lot of which we think is designed from an engineer’s perspective.”

Ernst Nathorst-BöösThe mixer section of Record is an emulation of an SSL 9000K console, and includes the EQ, dynamics, and even the master bus compressor. There was an audible gasp and then applause from the gathered Reason users when the mixer screen was first shown.

Record’s editing features are designed for ease of use. It has a comping feature that appears really user-friendly and is similar in basic concept to those now included in Logic 8, Pro Tools 8, and Digital Performer 6.

As mentioned, when you run Record alongside Reason, the two programs integrate into a single production environment. You get the full MIDI recording functionality of Reason and its sequencer together with Record’s audio prowess. Reason’s sequencer tracks appear alongside Record’s audio tracks.

You also get Line 6 guitar- and bass-amp models and effects, and if you use a Line 6 hardware device (like a POD or audio interface), connected via USB to Record, you can access all of the models from that device in the software.

One area that may give pause to some users is Propellerhead’s decision to make Record a closed environment, that is, it will not support outside plug-in formats like Audio Units or VST. As a result, your plug-ins will be limited to those in Record, or Record and Reason if you’re working with both together.

Nathorst-Böös explained the decision by saying that by not having to support the outside formats, Propellerhead was able to make the system much more efficient for using its included effects (and instruments when you’re running in tandem with Reason). “It’s not that we don’t acknowledge that there’s all this cool stuff that you can use,” he told the crowd, “we figured we’d rather give you 30 or 40 channels of true, really good, mixer processing, and being able to use it on a computer you already have.”

And he demonstrated that capability by playing back a song from his MacBook Pro, and showing the huge amount of effects that were included on it (there were at least 50 different instances of effects on that song, and probably more). For situations where one wants to export a project out to another DAW, Record has an incredibly easy setup that lets you select the tracks you want to export, hit a button, and boom, it’s done—and all the tracks are automatically set to start at the beginning of the song, making syncing them in another host a breeze.

Record will ship on September 9th of this year (that’s 9/9/09 for you numerologists out there), and there is an almost fully functional public beta that is available now.

Oh, and one more thing, the street price for Record is $249 (there was another audible gasp from the crowd when that was revealed). Registered Reason users will be able to upgrade for $149. A bundle of Reason and Record will street for $499.

Record’s Rack

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Related Topics: Emusician, Mike Levine |

I Want My Auto-Save

Okay, here goes a bit of a rant: I was doing a video edit recently, and I got so into what I was doing that I forgot to hit save for awhile and, wouldn’t you know it, my video editor crashed and I lost about 30 minutes of work. Not a catastrophe, but maddening nonetheless. Why do I bring this up? Because if my video-editor software had an auto-save feature, I would have lost no more than a few minutes of work instead of a half hour.

It got me to wondering, why don’t more DAWs, video editors, and other creative applications have auto-save options? It seems like such a no-brainer to me, and should be a basic feature common to all programs.

Kudos to Digidesign, because Pro Tools has a very useful auto-save feature, called Auto Backup, with which the user can setup how often an automatic copy of your file is made (or turn it off completely). Steinberg’s Cubase and Nuendo have such features, as does Cakewalk Sonar.

I know that some people don’t like auto-save. The complaint is that it can make the program slow down briefly when it’s saving. My response to that is: fine, if you want to work without a net, that’s your prerogative. Turning it on should be an option. Also, the feature should be designed so that it won’t save during a recording or playback (because that could cause a glitch).

Yes, we should all get in the habit of hitting Command + S (or Control +S on a PC) every time we do almost anything in a DAW, at least anything of significance. But no matter how diligent you are about saving, I’m willing to bet that there will be times when you get so into producing or playing or whatever you’re doing in the session that you forget to hit save and then…

I’m curious for your opinions: do you like auto-save features? Have you lost data due to the lack of an auto-save feature? Let me know what you think.

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Related Topics: Emusician, Mike Levine |

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The Bus, EM's editorial blog, features posts from all the EM editors on topics related to gear, recording techniques and much more. It's also home to posts from a selected group of guest bloggers.

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