Category Archives: Computers

Teeny little controllers from Korg

In the midst of recording and editing dialog for a new videogame (whose name I unfortunately cannot divulge), I caught wind of these new workstation controllers from Korg, cleverly grouped together as the nanoSERIES:Korg nanoSERIES USB controllers for laptops.

There are three of them, and each is designed specifically for laptop use. They connect to your computer via USB, and appear to be bus-powered (at least for one at a time use. Don’t know if you can connect more with a hub or not). They all speak MIDI, so it should be possible to program them to perform various functions, as most Mac and PC software editors now support MIDI controllers and Continuous Controller (CC) messages. The music keyboard and drum pad units look like fun, but the money piece is the mix controller, shown below.

The nanoKONTROL comes with nine very short throw faders, nine associated knobs, and eighteen buttons for (I presume) mute and solo. It also features a transport section that lacks only a jog/shuttle wheel, and speaks MIDI Machine Control (MMC). A software app called Korg KONTROL Editor promises to provide a friendly interface when it’s time to program this Bad Boy, and the ability to store programs and settings on computer for later recall. I’ll def have to get my mitts on one of these mix controllers for review in RAP, ASAP.

Pricing and delivery information is not yet available, of course. But you can get firsthand info at Korg’s USA website here, or if you’re fluent reading Japanese you can check it out at the source here.

Mac OS X 10.5.3 released [updated]

Yesterday Apple released Mac OS X 10.5.3, the latest revision of their newest “Leopard” operating system. This release contains what appears to be a boatload of security fixes, as well as a tidy list of improvements to various Apple applications.

I do have one Mac running Leopard for evaluation purposes, but the “money” machines are still on 10.4.11, at least until Digidesign qualifies Pro Tools LE and M-Powered for Leopard. Pro Tools HD is currently qualified on OS X 10.5.1, but not 10.5.2; LE and M-Powered are not yet qualified, period.

[Update 05/30/08] So-called pre-release versions of all three, ready for Leopard 10.5.3, are now available from Digidesign’s website. See this. Continue reading Mac OS X 10.5.3 released [updated]

May’s product reviews in RAP magazine

I haven’t decided yet, actually. In fact, I just figured out that I have another couple weeks to finish writing it (joy!).

But I’ve been playing with two very kewl products… the MicPort Pro from CEntrance and Magix’s Samplitude 10. Actually I’ve been playing with both at the same time. MicPort is a USB-to-audio converter that so far sounds great, unlike some others out there. Most of the existing converters are noisy and sound like crap, but the MicPort actually sounds very good, and does 96k/24 bits to boot. I think I’m keeping this one.

Samplitude 10, like previous versions (the last one I reviewed was version 8 back in 2005), is very deep. My concern with it is finding whether it’s still a resource-hog… I’ll be checking that this week. More later.

Disassembling a MacBook Air

Apple says their MacBook Air can only be serviced by the Mothership. While that’s smart while it’s under warranty, at some point the Air will become fair game for DIY fixing. You knew someone was going to ignore Apple’s FUD regarding opening the Air, and make it public to boot.disassemairlg

The nice folks at ifixit.com in Atascadero, CA have documented a complete teardown of a MacBook Air, including photos. Click this thumbnail to see it all:

BTW, iFixit is my first stop when I’ve got an Apple-related hardware problem. Their how-to guides have walked me through more than one laptop teardown. Others sell hard drives and memory for less, but if you need other bits for an Apple product you need to go there. Seriously.

iZotope RX review in March issue of RAP

This month’s review concerns one of those products that not everyone needs, but those who need it really need it.

I’ve scored a copy of iZotope’s RX noise reduction plug-in, and so far, it’s sweet. It’s a standalone program that lists for $349 USD, substantially less than the current crop of third party noise reduction plugs. What’s more, RX offers five distinct modules: a de-clipper, a de-clicker, a de-noiser, hum removal, and spectral repair, all in one interface. And quite the interface it is, with the buttons for each modules at the lower left of the interface.iZotope RX

Actually the nice folks at iZotope have given me a full copy of RX Advanced, which retails for about $1200. While it’s nice to have, I can already tell that I’ll do most of my work using the “simpler” controls that come with the regular edition. Here’s the main screen: Continue reading iZotope RX review in March issue of RAP

Pro Tools in Yer Pocket

Pro Tools users almost got what they’ve begged and pleaded for o these many years — Digidesign just introduced the Mbox Micro, a USB stick audio interface with stereo outputs (but no inputs) for $279. It’s clever enough… on the end there’s a 1/8th-inch stereo output jack and a little thumbwheel volume control. Otherwise it looks like a USB memory stick, with no cables to connect and no controls save the thumbwheel. Digi says it’ll be available in mid-November.

Now before we all go bonkers, let’s remember that there are no inputs on this little dingus. So while it’s great for mixing and editing on an airplane flight, it won’t really do for cutting voiceovers in a hotel room, right? ‘Cause there’s no inputs, right? ‘Cause Pro Tools won’t recognize any inputs other than the one that’s on the Digidesign interface, right? And this interface ain’t got none, right?

Right.

Continue reading Pro Tools in Yer Pocket

ClearOne Chat 50 USB in Nov 2009 ProAV Magazine

I’ve just finished writing a Peer Review piece for ProAV magazine on the Chat 50 USB by ClearOne. ClearOne Chat 50 USBThis is one sweet Skype-ing machine. This little box sounds great for VoIP — it has a full sound and the intelligibility is excellent. It works in full-duplex mode, so it doesn’t cut off the sound of the other party when the caller speaks over him. Clear One includes software for adjusting the internal input and output levels and for disabling the Chat 50’s echo canceling feature, and the software can then store these settings in a database of devices for later recall.

The downsides are so very minor — ClearOne says it can be used as a remote speaker for an iPod. Well, yes it can, but you won’t like the results for that… it’s a bit boxey-sounding. But for speech, it is fabulous. I’m keeping mine. Check it out in November’s ProAV, which can be found here.

Coming Up in RAP – Sound Forge 9

Sony’s Sound Forge version 9 is out… how good is it? Is it worth upgrading from version 8 or earlier? We’ll soon see, as I have a copy coming for the June issue of Radio & Production magazine.

I’ve been using version 8 for a year or so, but I still think version 5 was the best since Sony bought Sonic Foundry’s product line. Simple, solid, and very stable.

Variation on an old joke: how many old audio editors does it take to install a new version of software? Five. One to install it, and four to talk about how good the old version was.

Sorry. That sucked, didn’t it?

No Alphatracks until May, dammit

I’m trying to get my hands on one of Frontier Designs’ new Alphatrack fader controllers for a magazine review and general thrashing. I played with one at NAMM in January and it wuz kewl – it’s a compact desktop controller consisting of a single moving fader and several knobs that would seem perfect for a small studio.

Now it seems they’ve sold through the first three production runs, and won’t have a loose one for me until mid-May. Damn thing must be good, or at least popular with the early-adopter crowd. More to come, but meanwhile you can look at the pretty pictures here.

April’s Review in Radio & Production Magazine

I’ve just finished writing a product review for the April issue of Radio & Production magazine. This month I got to play with Sony’s Vegas 7 multitrack audio recorder/editor.

If you’re using an older version of Vegas, say v5 or earlier, you should check it out. If you’re using some other PC editor and you’d like your life to be simple again, then you should check it out right now. You can read about it here.