Archive for the ‘Computer DJ’ Category

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Soundcard Buying Guide

October 21, 2009

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We understand that the Soundcard market can be a little daunting if you don’t know exactly what you are looking for. With various connection methods such as USB, Firewire, and PCI it is difficult to find the one for you.

This guide should give you an overview of the world of soundcards and hopefully help you someway in choosing the right one for you. Please remember that you can always call us if you ever need help or advice on 0844 815 0888.

The difference you find with soundcards to mixers is that where as a mixer will just take an analogue signal and keep it as analogue. A soundcard converts the analogue to digital. The price of soundcards can sometimes be determined by the quality of the AD converters and mic pre amps. For example the quality of the RME AD converters is better then the ones found on the M Audio soundcard range, although how much better is negotiable.

Tascam US122 M

Will the soundcard on my computer not suffice?

Whenever a customer questions this at Dolphin our response is always to let them try it out first with the onboard soundcard. There is no better way of learning how much of a difference good AD converters can be then to use really bad ones. The onboard soundcard (or internal soundcard) is installed for alert sounds, games and MP3s but when it comes to recording audio and transferring to digital you really do need a better soundcard. Interference from the transformer, hard drive and so on will always inhibit the quality

On board soundcards don’t offer multiple inputs which rules out any larger scale recording of bands or primarily drums. They also suffer from large amounts of latency (glitches in the audio recording) which you will need to overcome via getting a better soundcard. This latency is caused by the onboard drivers not being capable of fast transfer speeds. You really need something with ASIO 2 drivers, which most external soundcards support

 Saffire Pro 24

Focusrite Saffire Pro 24

How Many Inputs and Outputs do I need?

In today’s market there is a soundcard for everybody. We always ask customers to think into the future. Will there ever be a time that you will want to record more than two inputs simultaneously. This might be drums, a live recording, a band or the fact that they will have many instruments and don’t want to keep plugging and unplugging cables. If the answer is yes then we recommend 8 inputs. Unless you have a specific reason we would recommend that you have all 8 inputs via XLR and mic pre amps. You may not want this if you are using your own Pre Amps or you specifically need jacks.

 ProFire 2626 High-Definition FireWire Audio Interface

M-Audio ProFire 2626 High-Definition FireWire Audio Interface

If your music work will mainly be you and overdubbing other parts later, you can work happily with one or two inputs which is how a large amount of souncards are designed. Many people realise that they only need two inputs and if that is the case there are many options for you. Solutions range from just a small box that you connect to your computer, MIDI keyboards with soundcards built in (for the musician on the move) to guitar FX modeling solutions that you can connect straight to your computer. More and more manufacturers are seeing the need for combining an audio recording solution with their products.

 POD Studio UX2 Pro Tone Recording & Modelling Interface

Do I need a special Soundcard to use Pro Tools?

In a nutshell “Yes”. DigiDesign software will only work with Digi Design hardware. They obviously do very expensive HD systems for the medium to large studios, but they also have a more budget range of audio recording solutions. They have the Digi 002 and rack version for someone who wants 8 simultaneous inputs into ProTools. Anyone just wanting 2 inputs they have the ever popular MBOX and new MBOX Pro.

Digi Design MBox 2

Digi Design has recently bought M Audio, a smaller company that specialises in soundcards. Since doing this they have allowed users to run Pro Tools on M Audio soundcards. To do this you must purchase software called M Powered and have a soundcard that is compatible and you have a Pro Tools system.

Digi Design 002 Rack

Soundcard Connectivity with Computers

The ever popular question about what connection you should go for is asked by customers every day at Dolphin Music. Firewire is probably the most popular type as of today due to its fast data transfer speed, you will find that M Audio firewire interfaces as well as Presonus are very good. USB 2.0 which is actually slightly faster is also popular with the Mbox 2 Micro , Steinberg CI2 and Apogee ONE using it.

Back in the last century when we started all this USB and Firewire were but a twinkle in some technician’s eye. It was all about PCI cards which are going as string today as they have done. PCI (or PCIX – new versions) can offer faster data transfer but are also more processor dependent. Famous PCI soundcards are the likes of the M Audio Delta range and the older MOTU range of soundcards.

M Audio Delta 1010

It would be rude to talk about connectivity and not mention PCMCIA. This is a method of connecting directly to laptops. Just think PCI for laptops. Due to USB and Firewire it is becoming less popular but some still believe it to be the only true way of getting true recordings onto laptops. This is debatable and we just don’t have the time!

Free Software

All soundcards will come with software that will allow you to control the routing of audio within your soundcard. You will need this software to interface with your recording software. It basically allows you to interface with your soundcard as if it were a mixing console.

Presonus Inspire

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The Top 10 Music Technology Websites On The Web

June 3, 2009

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1.  SOUND ON SOUND

http://www.soundonsound.com/

SOUND ON SOUND has consistently remained at the forefront of music technology since it was launched on Channel 4 TV’s The Tube in 1985 by the visionary SOS Publications Group, championing the convergence of MIDI, computer technology and recording equipment that continues to revolutionise the music production industry today.

The magazine is excellent and the website is no exception!

sos

2. YOU TUBE

Youtube can teach you lots of useless and wondeful things, music technology and software is no exception. If you have query or a problem simply ask yOUTUBE and chances are 14YRD old from  Milwaukee will tell you eveything you need to know!2 Audio tuts+

youtubedol

3. Audio Tuts+

Audiotuts+ is an in depth blog for musicians, producers and audio junkies! It features tutorials on the tools and techniques to record, produce, mix and master tracks. Audiotuts+ also features weekly articles for the music obsessive. Our commisisoned tutorials are written by industry experts and professionals, but anyone with an awesome skill to showcase can contribute a post and  pay $150 if we publish it.

audiotuts copy

4. MUSIC RADAR

Like a few of the sites who are on this list, Musicradar.com is not exclusively about guitars, but a good amount of their features, including news, reviews and tutorials focus on guitars and are all of excellent quality, making this another essential stop. And their lists of the most outrageous guitars are simply hilarious…check them out!

musicradar1
5. REMIX MAG

Endles resource of information. Remix educates DJs, engineers, producers, and performers of electronic music about the latest applications and new products specific to the electronic and urban music markets. Remix is the premier consumer magazine in North America dedicated 100 percent to the tools, techniques, and production syles of electronic and urban artists

remix

6. HARMONY CENTRAL

Harmony Central is generally a great place for anyone interested in any sort of musical gear info: tons of resources including news, reviews and forums about synths, souncards, software and much more. Great user reviews section!

harmony

7. SYNTHTOPIA

Synthtopia is a portal devoted to electronic music.There are lots of electronica sites, but they all seem to cover one tiny aspect of electronica: trance, classical electronic music, dance, or synthesizers. Synthtopia covers it all.

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8.  eMUSICIAN

EM is the premiere resource for musicians interested in personal-music production. EM consistently publishes the most “how-to” applications and reviews-a real benefit for the recording musician. Our editors react quickly to changes in the industry to deliver the in-depth technical expertise and tools necessary to successfully use new concepts and technology.Being an American publication  this could be the first place you hear news!4 http://www.kaosaudio.com

Kaos Audio is a huge database of audio software and news, books, synth presets, samples and loops libraries, video software, links, interesting free soft and much more for all the audiophiles out there.

emusicain

9. KAOSS AUDIO

Kaos Audio is a huge database of audio software and news, books, synth presets, samples and loops libraries, video software, links, interesting free soft and much more for all the audiophiles out there.

kaoss

10. COMPUTER MUSIC

CM and its similar sites (Futuremusic etc) have  vast array of reviews articles and good image content

CM

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Beatles: Rock Band guitars announced. Replica Rickenbacker 325 and Gretsch Duo Jet guitars will be made available as standalone music peripheral controllers!

May 12, 2009

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Rickenbacker 325 and Gretsch Duo Jet to be made available as standalone controllers

Harmonix, MTV Games and Electronic Arts have announced that replica Rickenbacker 325 and Gretsch Duo Jet guitars will be made available as standalone music peripheral controllers for The Beatles: Rock Band.

The Beatles: Rock Band will allow fans to pick up a guitar, bass, mic or drums and experience The Beatles’ extraordinary catalogue of music through gameplay that takes players on a journey through the legacy and evolution of the band’s legendary career. It will be available simultaneously worldwide in North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and other territories on September 9th 2009.

The Rickenbacker 325 and Gretsch Duo Jet guitars are hailed as two of the signature, most celebrated instruments played by John Lennon and George Harrison throughout their careers, respectively.They will be made available at a retail price of £89.99 in the UK.

These wireless instrument controllers join the previously announced Höfner bass controller, a large-scale replica of the bass famously used by Sir Paul McCartney, and the Ringo Starr inspired and Ludwig-branded Rock Band 2 drums, with a classic pearl finish and vintage replica Beatles kick drum head. All controllers will be available for the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, Playstation 3, Wii and will be compatible with all Rock Band titles.

62f558b26754183b_beatles-rock-band

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Maschine: What is it? An in depth look

May 6, 2009

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Finally merging a fast and intuitive groove-box workflow with the power and versatility of software, MASCHINE enables an inspiring and spontaneous creative approach for today’s computer-based music production setups.

MASCHINE is built on an intelligent combination of timeless groove box and drum machine workflows, systematically refined and expanded to take advantage of the best aspects of computer technology. It brings together flexible step sequencing and real-time polyphonic recording in a forward-thinking pattern-based arrangement concept that makes it easy to jam out ideas, and turn them into full-blown songs in a way that is efficient, effortless and fun. MASCHINE was designed to accommodate and facilitate inspiration at any point in the creative process, from spontaneous beat creation to sophisticated multi-timbral arranging.

The advanced MASCHINE controller was designed as a natural extension of the software, and makes the system feel and respond as a true instrument. The 16 pressure-sensitive drum pads have been carefully engineered for the best possible response and durability, and they illuminate to visualize sequence patterns and other crucial information.

Eight rotary encoders, a concise layout of dedicated buttons and dual high-resolution displays give immediate access to all functions of MASCHINE without touching the computer mouse or keyboard. By design, all features are quickly accessible “on the surface” rather than hidden away in hierarchical sub menus. The MASCHINE hardware also doubles as a powerful universal controller for any MIDI compatible music gear, thanks to an included MIDI mapping application and support of the MCU protocol for sophisticated DAW control.

Native Instruments Maschine

Based on a powerful high-resolution sample engine, MASCHINE is a versatile instrument that renders intricate drum kits and percussion, loops and multi-sampled polyphonic instruments with uncompromising sonic accuracy, assisted by automatic sample mapping, beat slicing, note repeat and more.

The advanced real-time audio recording and resampling features in MASCHINE also allow producers and performers to capture, map, sculpt and transform any external or internal signal immediately, and seamlessly integrate the result into a running track without ever breaking the flow of the music. Multiple performance effects sections on the sample, group and master level provide a versatile arsenal of 20 highquality algorithms ranging from conventional to experimental, all optimized for profound sound shaping and creative real-time control through the MASCHINE hardware.

MASCHINE lets everyone get into making music right away through its massive library of drum and instrument sounds for contemporary urban and electronic music styles, created in collaboration with international cutting-edge producers and sound designers.

Based on several GByte of studio-quality samples, the arsenal of MASCHINE provides hundreds of drum kits, synthesizer sounds and acoustic instruments, with around ten thousand individual sounds overall. All kits, instruments, samples and effects can be efficiently managed and located through a highly convenient browser that uses categories and concise metadata.

With MASCHINE, all crucial functions including parameter automation, sample mapping and sound editing are always immediately accessible through the controller and within the concise single-window user interface of the software. Usable both as a self-contained standalone instrument and within any DAW or music sequencer, MASCHINE utilizes all the benefits of computer integration like total recall, superior processing power, memory and file handling, project transfer and more, while retaining the inspirational handling and tactile appeal of a hardware instrument.

NI Maschine

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iPhone Roundup: Field Recording, DJ Tools, Odd iInstruments, Cinco de Mayo

April 29, 2009

fire

Now we’re talking: FiRe turns your iPhone into a serious recorder. No, really, a serious recorder – with advanced features and actual mic support.

Your pocket is bulging with power.

Anyway, the mobile software revolution continues. There’s so much stuff out there that it can actually be hard to track. Here’s a round-up to help you navigate everything that’s going on this week.

And even if you can’t stand another word about the iPhone, consider this: the explosion of iPhone software, more than just a fad, illustrates what happens when you give developers tools to make multimedia capabilities easier, then provide a distribution outlet. I don’t love everything about the iTunes approach, but those are lessons that could easily be learned in desktop and mobile development alike. The iPhone platform, if nothing else, is surprisingly uncompromising in the sound and visual interaction departments, especially for a mobile platform. And even desktop platforms could benefit from this kind of distribution mechanism (see also: Steam for games).

Also, we do have some of the first signs that the iPhone won’t be alone for long – new functionality on Google’s Android could take that platform in new directions. See my next story, Android/Linux/open source fans.

Disclaimer: don’t worry. I’m not giving up on desktop apps. Relax. In fact, even now as I look across these applications, while there are lots of cool ideas, it’s still clear this is a nascent area. The experience is nowhere near as rich as you get on the desktop. But it’s nonetheless worth exploring some of the ideas before we return to our (more powerful) desktop applications for music.

Field Recording, Microphones for iPhone + iPod touch

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The big news this week was FiRe, which promises to be the “first professional field recorder” for the iPhone and iPod touch. The developer behind it is one of which we’re already big fans: Audiofile Engineering. AE make Wave Editor, which has rapidly become the secret weapon of choice for Mac audio producers and sound designers, as well as the batch-processing Sample Manager and adoptive parents of the excellent Rax plug-in host. Anything these guys do would get our attention, and then they go and add specs you wouldn’t expect to see on the iPhone:

  • Accurate real-time waveform display
  • Live, touch-controlled waveform navigation
  • Audio markers
  • Broadcast WAVE metadata
  • Instant downloading in multiple formats – and easy sharing via FTP, Web server, or even a SoundCloud account
  • Tag recordings with location data
  • Overdub mode
  • VU meters for input and output
  • Configurable time units
  • Mic flexibility: use Blue Mikey, Alesis ProTrack or even the internal mic

http://www.audiofile-engineering.com/

iTunes link (which is tricky to find otherwise)

Let’s just cut straight to it: this is, bar none, the most full-featured app out there. It’s the first one that would make me seriously consider using this platform for recording.

This, of course, raises the question of which mic you might want to use.

If you’re on the iPod touch, you don’t have even a built-in mono mic. (Don’t knock it: I’ve put together entire pieces based on simple mono mic samples. Creative sampling artists will use anything.)

Even on the first-generation iPod touch, you can use some simple solutions that will let you do basic sound.

The SmartTalk mic poses for the Smule blog.

The Smule blog has a terrific round-up of recommendations for touch owners wanting to use their Ocarina app. Their technical needs are much lighter than what you might need for FiRe, but this is still worth a look if you have any interest in recording at all:

Microphones for iPod Touch Ocarina

The Griffin SmartTalk wins out for 2G owners. I have Griffin’s TuneBuds mobile, which has worked well enough for applications like RjDj. (Note that Smule have managed to get their app working with the first-gen hardware; FiRe requires the newer generation.)

At the fancier end:

mikey

Blue Microphones’ Mikey is a slim-line stereo condenser capsule that plus into the iPod accessory port. It’s hinged so you can play with placement at least a little, and there’s basic gain control (3 settings). It runs about US$80 street, which means it doesn’t have to compete with standalone recorders. Update: Audiofile Engineering say they’ve seen some issues with FiRe and Blue Mikey, and can’t officially support the combination. Readers have had some issues themselves. If you’ve already got a Mikey, this might be worth a try, but otherwise, you can await updated information as Blue and Audiofile Engineering attempt to address the problem.

Specific update: The problem sounds as though it is the combination of the production Mikey with second-generation iPod touch units running the current OS. This is expected to be fixed with the next OS release. Stay tuned for more.

protrack

Tha Alesis ProTrack is even more impressive-looking, but at US$249 list, it does start to get into the realm of “you could just go buy a dedicated recorder.” The ProTrack extends the iPhone by adding a shell with an X/Y stereo mic pair – one that looks quite a lot like the Zoom H4 mics – and even has onboard XLR jacks and phantom power. You also get LED monitoring, a limiter, additional power (four AAA’s), a mic stand mount – basically, it turns your iPhone into a real mobile recorder.

The Alesis has its own app, but the Audiofile Engineering option is looking more powerful. Naturally, that’s the advantage of software – because the iPhone is essentially a computer, you can add whatever software you like.

h4n

I still think there’s a good place for a dedicated recorder. I’ve started testing the Zoom H4n,seenat right. (Not an iPhone hiding in a shell.) I’m already blown away – it corrects most of the navigation and quality issues with its predecessor, and unlike an iPod or iPhone, has fantastic battery life and onboard XLR input jacks. (Okay, the ProTrack does have XLR’s, so this is getting a little more interesting.) In other words, I’m not sure I’m giving up on dedicated recorders in favor of one of these yet. It’s still handy to have, though – and who says you can’t use both, given how essential it can be to have a backup recording in many situations?

Paul Van Dyk’s DJ Tools

This one was a bit of a surprise: Paul Van Dyk has released a DJ app, but it’s not just a quick, attention-grabbing, “DJ on your iPhone” gimmick. It’s more like a utility belt for DJs. I’m surprised to see that as a result it’s actually gotten some criticism. To me, finding some genuinely useful stuff you might want to have on your mobile device is the whole point.

What’s in there?

  • BPM counter
  • Frequency analyzer
  • Noise level (the “NYPD Application”), with an oddly beautiful visualization
  • Seismic reader (for testing your turntable, not for telling if there’s an earthquake happening – that you’ll probably figure for yourself)

And then some silly stuff, too – glow stick, anyone?

http://www.paulvandyk.com/

Not yet available – coming late May 2009

Nine Inch Nails App

ninaccess

NIN, of course, had their app become available on 4/14. There’s been quite a lot written about it – so much, in fact, that I feel like the whole thing is a bit overhyped. The basic development here is that NIN is taking all their fan data and making it location specific. On the upside, this is a lot more than many high-profile bands have done with iPhone development. But then, these guys should be doing more – they have the budget to hire real developers. I do like the idea of fans being able to interact on their mobile device; that clearly makes a lot of sense. But few artists will inspire the kind of loyalty NIN does, which means the real question is, will someone be able to build a platform for everyone else? And if you are a more obscure artist, what should you be doing?

The app is free, so just a conduit for fans, really.

iTunes link

http://www.nin.com/

Gestural Beat Sharing, Celebrate Cinco De Mayo

ZoozBeat is the application I looked at in the fall: the idea is to make musical improvisation more accessible by allowing people to use fun gestures, taps, and the like to assemble beats. The software is not only for iPhone, but the powerful Nokia N95, too.

That story is worth checking out from the perspective of gestural music in general, not just iPhone or mobile apps:

Gestures, Mobile Music, and the “Low Floor” for Novices: ZooZBeat on iPhone, Nokia

The latest news: the guys have gotten funding, for one. More importantly to end users, ZOOZ Mobile is adding a sharing component, much like what we saw with Smule’s Leaf Trombone. New upgraded software adds a Latin component with Samba and Tejano rhythms and is ready-to-go for Cinco de Mayo. Sounds great to me – and the Latin market has been oddly ignored by a lot of musicians and developers. There are also new Pop, Hip-Hop, and Techno beats.

http://www.myzoozbeat.com/

Unusual Instruments

lakepiano

You’ve got plenty of faux-808 apps for the iPhone now. Our friend Henry Lowengard is taking a very different tack, with drone-friendly creations and detuned pianos. He describes this as well as I could, so here’s what he writes to tell us about.

Imagine a piano in a summer home on a small lake, far in the north of the Northeastern United States. Imagine the piano sitting there for 60 or 70 years, untuned and unmaintained.
The naturally prepared timbres of the Lake Piano are now here for you, each missing felt, each individual nuance of the key action and character-filled tones. Briskly recorded one summer in lo-fi, these samples also contain sounds of children, cats, screen doors, and the summer breeze.

The first version of Lake Piano is relatively minimal, Henry says, played as a double row of scrolling piano keys and the ambient sounds stolen from a videotape he recorded. Henry promises more playability and more ambience in an upcoming upgrade, but you’ll get that automatically when it’s done, so you can always go play now.

Palm Recorders

Edirol R-09HR Including Free 4GB SD Card

The R-09HR is a professional, high-definition recorder that travels light and performs like a heavyweight. With crystal-clear 24/96 fidelity, the R-09HR is the new flagship of EDIROL’s award-winning R-series recorders. Features 24-bit/96kHz linear PCM high-resolution, low-noise recording and more! View details…

Line 6 BackTrack + Mic

Great songs begin with great ideas. Capture all your revelations, epiphanies and inspirations the moment they strike. Inspiration Insurance Inspiration is spontaneous, and BackTrack™ + Mic is your guitar’s instant replay button. Easy to use, BackTrack + Mic captures everything you play without ever hitting record. View details…

Zoom H4 4-Track Handy Digital Audio Recorder

The palm-sized Zoom H4 Handy Digital Recorder is ideal for recording live musical performances, interviews, podcasts, meetings, classes and seminars. The Zoom H4 records linear PCM at up to 24-bit/96-kHz sampling rates or compressed MP3 format at up to 320kbps bit rates. View details…

Zoom H2 Handy Recorder

The H2 will record via the integral one point stereo design microphone, and achieves the Mid/Side (MS) Stereo technique by using a 3 microphone capsule configuration and digital signal processing. Affordable and very versatile!  View details…

Yamaha Pocketrak 2G

There are so many compelling reasons to record band rehearsals or music lessons for later review that a portable recorder is an essential item. Recording conferences and meetings has become a matter of course too. Naturally, the smaller and lighter that recorder is, while delivering top-class sound quality, the better. View details…


Source: http://createdigitalmusic.com


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Roland Wants Videos of Junos New and Old; A Look Back at the Juno Line

April 22, 2009

juno106

JUNO-106, as captured by cicciostoky

Roland is holding a YouTube video contest to get people to show off their JUNO keyboard synths. They’re not just talking the currently-available Roland keyboards that wear the JUNO badge, but the classic models going back to 1982.

“How Do You JUNO?” Video Contest [Roland US]

I like to disclose our partnerships upfront, so in the interest of disclosure: Roland US is currently promoting this campaign on CDM – thanks, Roland, for supporting the site. I can also tell you that personally, selfishly, I’d really love to see some great JUNO videos up on that YouTube channel, and that I suspect the take of some of you readers will be different. Also in the interest of really full disclosure – yeah, okay, I’m partial to the vintage JUNO. That’s my own personal bias. But I’m eager to see videos of whatever you’ve got. (Also, the JUNO-G is one of my favorite mainstream keyboards at the moment, for reasons I talk about below – it has the advantages of a workstation, like the ability to load custom waveforms and do onboard audio recording and sequencing, but without some of the bells and whistles a lot of us don’t want.)

JUNO History

I think it’s worth reviewing the history of the JUNO line. What it’s meant to be a “JUNO” has changed pretty radically over the years; a JUNO-D and a JUNO-6 might not recognize each other. It reflects some of the changing tastes and technologies in the industry. Sometimes that represents forward progress — hooray, MIDI and patch memory! But sometimes something is lost. The analog original is something special, and even Roland wound up bringing back retro-styled front-panel editing, missing on the JUNO-D, to the JUNO-G and JUNO-STAGE. It’s not about nostalgia: it’s about making something musically productive. In some ways, that’s brought us full circle.

Mirror, mirror: JUNO-6, photographed by p caire.

1982: JUNO-6, JUNO-60. The original JUNO was a six-voice polyphonic analog synth. The distinctive, punchy analog sound was so beloved, it even inspired a meticulous emulation on a dedicated Linux machine. It also introduced Roland’s friendly-looking panel layout approach with big, clear labels and a spacious setup – something to which Roland themselves have recently returned. The JUNO-60 added patch memory storage. No MIDI, although there Roland later produced add-on hardware for MIDI control.

Roland generations: the JX-8P was the successor to the first commercially-available Roland MIDI synth (JX-3P). You can also see how the JUNO-60 compares to the size of the JUNO-106 at top. Photo: Soundingblue.

1984: JUNO-106. The 106 has a special place in history, not only a favorite of the 80s but ever since – it’s got six analog voices as on the original JUNO, plus one digitally-controlled oscillator per voice, but adds MIDI control. It sounds great and it’s dead-simple to use. It’s also a nice choice if you’re looking to pick up an 80s keyboard as it’s a good value today as it was when released. In a world in which “vintage” often translates to elite and expensive, the JUNO-106 is one of the great populist keyboards of all time. Note that if you are looking to pick up a used 106, our friend James Grahame from Retro Thing notes tells me the voice chips are starting to die. Buyer beware: owning a used synth can be like owning a used car.

The Roland Jupiter, not the JUNO, went down in history as one of the two first synths to connect in public via MIDI – at winter NAMM, January 1983, connected to a Sequential Prophet-600. But the JUNO-106 was still one of the Roland products that helped popularize MIDI.

Digital oscillators + analog filters. Odd that we don’t have more synths like that today, in fact. Photo: ALERT ALERT.

1986: Alpha JUNO 1. The Alphas are smaller, and eschew physical controls for LED and minimalist button selections – there was something about the mid-1980s that did that to synth design. But you can add on a PG-300 controller for additional controls, the Alphas are MIDI-friendly, and not hard to find these days. They maintained the distinctive JUNO sound and have been a favorite in the techno scene ever since.

Alpha JUNO 2. The Alpha 2 hits a nice sweet spot as a controller: aftertouch, 61-note keyboard. That could make it a decent choice on your keyboard rack even today.

The New JUNO Models

2005: JUNO-D. The JUNO-D is a budget wavetable synth, and as such, really the odd man out here. The connection to the original JUNO is presumably that it’s a friendly synth with some favorite sounds, and it does support a computer editor. There are also front-panel envelope controls. But it’s the more recent JUNO models that have brought back more of the original spirit of the JUNO. The JUNO-D has “JUNO” printed on it, but otherwise, while a solid entry-level keyboard, it lacks a lot of the features that make the other modern JUNO line appealing.

JUNO-G, at home in the studio. Photo: Claudio Matsuoka.

2007: JUNO-G. The JUNO-G is quite a lot more interesting if you’re interested in doing some real programming and live performance. It’s a workstation, though without some of the arranger features that are superfluous to many of us. You get the Fantom-X synth processor, but with easily-accessible front-panel editing controls and a layout inspired by the original JUNO. There are also some nice gigging features, like onboard audio/MIDI recording, 16-part MIDI sequencing, and a slot for flash memory. It’s also got additional controller features, like a D-Beam, plus USB connectivity. I reviewed the JUNO-G in summer 2007 for Keyboard Magazine. I was especially attracted to the ability to use your own waveforms as the basis of sounds, and to the front-panel editing and sequencing/recording features.

Version 2 of the JUNO-G recently added waveform editing.

junostage

2008: JUNO-STAGE. I quite liked that the JUNO-G is light, but the JUNO-STAGE gives you a 76-note, semi-weighted keyboard and additional performance controls. It gets rid of some of the sequencing and workstation features of the JUNO-G, but if you want to do all your sequencing on computer, that may not matter. The idea of the STAGE is really focused on live performance controls. Like the JUNO-G, it’s the soul of a Fantom-X in a different package, but that package is more narrowly-focused in a way that can appeal for live playing.

Modern JUNO Portal at Roland

Source: http://createdigitalmusic.com

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Cakewalk’s Entry Level Music Creation Software for Windows Gets Major Polishing

April 22, 2009

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Cakewalk today did something quite unorthodox for the company: it launched a product on Facebook.

The results are what clearly aim to be a GarageBand killer for Windows users. Music Creator had always, quietly, been a big hit for Cakewalk: it’s cheap, entry-level software for the PC, which has the potential to reach a big audience of computer users. But the software itself was nothing to brag about, with a dated-looking interface.

Music Creator 5 looks stunningly different. The arrangement window has the familiar, GarageBand and ACID-style loop arrangement window. But there are additions you might expect in a bigger DAW: quick in-line access to track parameters, video preview frames at the top, elaborate time displays and editing tools. There’s also a sophisticated-looking mixing mode with graphical EQs and other options.

Cakewalk MusicCreator

There’s also quite a lot of instrumental and effects content for a $35 app. You get preset playback features – a bit like what you get in Kore Player, down to the pre-mapped 4-8 knobs and 4 trigger buttons – with 150 instruments. There’s the rather sophisticated Studio Instruments Drums for some acoustic and electronic drum parts, making it easier to actually program your own patterns rather than rely on loops.

Cakewalk also includes easy Flash-based music player creators, so you can share your finished tracks easily on the Web, and notation publishing features with tablature and guitar chord support.

In other words, you get the power of what might once have been a flagship Cakewalk DAW, for 35 bucks. (Windows-only) Some of the power options may actually be a bit intimidating to beginners – recently, I’ve heard that complaint even applied to the comparatively minimal GarageBand.

publisher

Cakewalk’s clever Publisher tool makes it a snap to export directly to an embeddable player.

As far as value, though, there’s a whole lot in this box, and a nice balance between looping features and the sort of acoustic drums and notation and sharing features that could appeal to bands just starting to add a computer. I actually think the integrated interface in Steinberg’s rival Sequel is a bit more efficient and runs on the Mac, too, but there’s quite a lot of added-in functionality in Music Creator that makes it broader in scope, and some of that added power may be a deal-maker depending on your needs.