Love For Old Music Gear In An ‘Easy Hook-Up’ Software World

I love vintage recording gear. I really do. Actually, to be precise, I have come to find I like the idea of vintage gear a lot more than actually hosting it in a studio environment. I’ve recently been cleaning house of all of my relic SCSI gear that went along with various hardware samplers and began to wonder what place hardware will have in a rapidly software recording, and peforming, lanscape? There is no way around it, I have fallen in love with software. I have fallen in love with its many efficiencies, varieties, and cheap price tags. I have also fallen in love with a relatively uncluttered space which often makes my work easier. Still, there is a nostalgia for old hardware that I can’t seem to replace with software. I don’t have a warm place in my heart for Kontakt 1.0 the way I do for an old EMAX or Akai sampler. Memories and workflows are much more specifically attached to actual physical gear I owned far more so than any software I have used through the years. I don’t know why that is.

Hardware is currently available dirt cheap on eBay, local classifieds, ditches by the side of the highway… and I still sometimes get a flutter of excitement when I see an Akai S5000 for under $100. Kind of like how a guy in his 40’s or 50’s always idolizes that car he wanted when he was 17 but was so unattainable at the time. But, like the car analogy, I always come back down to earth and realize, sure I can now own many multiples of S5000’s but where exactly will I put these old dust boxes and would I really actually use any of them? I know I have tried to reclaim past glory only to get frustrated with slow transfer methods, SCSI errors and a whole host of annoyances I have since been conditioned to be impatient towards.

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Hello Inter-App Audio! So Long Audiobus?

audiobus dead because of inter-app audio on iOS7?

Does iOS7 mean the death of Audiobus as we know it?

Well, it’s been a year since Audiobus – the third-party magicapp that routes audio between iOS apps – was released and it looks like we may be saying a quick and tearful goodbye… sort of. As amazing as Audiobus has been it always was considered a bit of a hack around Apple’s walled garden, even to its makers. Since then Apple has clearly seen the value of offering audio and midi routing between apps and has now included it as a core feature with the release of iOS 7. It’s now up to the app developers to update existing audio apps to support the new routing system – a bit of a bitter pill to swallow for some considering that the mad scramble to support Audiobus is just barely in the rear-view mirror.

To hasten adoption of the new standard, it seems there are quite a few bugs popping up between the way Audiobus routes signals between apps and the new way under iOS 7. That leaves developers with a choice between focusing support for the current accepted standard (Audiobus) vs a potentially limitless future that, perhaps unfortunately, only Apple can provide with Inter-App. If developers rally around Inter-App, where would that leave Audiobus? There may still be room for Audiobus in the marketplace yet, but it may possibly be in a diminished role that serves as an add-on to what Inter-App audio ends up providing. Perhaps it can function as a handy visualized routing system for all midi and audio paths currently flowing on your device (although it looks like it may have competition going forward with JACK)

As it stands, it’s still a bit of a wild west in the land of audio production on iOS. Standards have yet to be set in stone, and there are still growing pains to be felt. But with the release of Inter-App audio it appears the future is a little bit clearer, and brighter, for everyone using the platform. Until then, expect to see a lot of bullets flying in attempt to shoot down those bugs.

May 2014 UPDATE: Audiobus 2.0 has hit the App Store with unlimited input chains as a new core feature, and seems to have ironed out much of its existing iOS 7.0 stability issues. Meanwhile Inter-App audio is still struggling with adoption and has a lot of bugs to iron out. The audio production game is still wide open on the ever-changing iOS platform.

iConnect Turns Your iPad Into An External Midi Device

With iOS7 comes huge promise for the future of professional audio integration within iOS itself, as well as integrating with external pro studio setups. For the latter we have a major game changer in the release of the iConnect MIDI interface featuring realtime midi messaging and audio pasthrough between your desktop DAW software and your iOS music making app of your choice. What does this mean? It means you can essentially turn all of those beautiful sounding synths, drum machines and audio tools within your iPad or iPhone into real-time instruments you can play and record midi events to from your existing desktop sequencer setup. This is a brilliant merger between the charm and creativity found in oldschool external midi setups, with the accessibility and variety found in modern virtual instruments.

Check out a fantastic discussion and demonstration of the power in this humbly priced device from SonicState. Skip to 12:40 to see the magic happening:

Choosing The Right Soundcard / Audio Interface

Ok, so you’ve decided to get serious about music recording and, naturally, your first major purchase is probably going to be a good soundcard or audio interface. But, there are so many options, how do you know which is the best to choose for your particular goals/setup? While its nearly impossible to anticipate the best possible piece of gear for each particular setup out there, its a good idea to be aware of some basics before going out and purchasing something as central to your studio as the actual recording console. Read ahead and you’ll likely have a better picture going forward.

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Installing Vintage Memory In The Akai MPC

Some old vintage samplers are still quite popular in music production these days. The Akai MPC is one such sampler, and modern production demands chew up RAM for breakfast so upgrading your memory capacity for your vintage sampler has never been more important. Many of you are a bit nervous about opening up your cold, metallic babies and playing around with their guts, but fear not, the upgrade does not require any technical skills, just a little forethought and care. Here’s a simple tutorial

This tutorial is specific to installing 72-pin RAM (16MB, 32MB, 64MB, 96MB) into samplers such as, MPC3000, MPC2000(XL), Akai S-Series, Korg Triton Series, Yamaha Motif/EX/RS and others. However, many of the principles in performing ram-upgrades in general are covered here. Let’s take a look…

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