What’s New In Music Technology: 2013

Mike Lawson • Technology • March 8, 2013

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It was snowing here in Carson, Washington when I left for NAMM 2013, the annual music products tradeshow that took place in Anaheim, California from January 24-27. I thought I could get away from the foul weather but arrived to unseasonable rain, thunder and lightning, and, believe it or not, snow in the Golden State. Nonetheless, the NAMM convention offered comfort inside and a few new and exciting things in music technology coming your way for 2013.

iPad Software Apps

The Apple iPad™ is definitely turning into a music making device, and a lot of companies are offering some great new products for it. Thinkmusictechnology is coming up with a music notation app that will recognize music hand writing via a stylus, input using the on screen piano, or hook up a midi controller and just play it in. The product is being created by a start-up company of four musicians and tech savvy people, and is scheduled to be released fall of 2013 and will cost $29.99. Make sure to watch the videos on their website at www.thinkmusictechnology.com.

MakeMusic™ is bringing out SmartMusic for the iPad in the spring of 2013. Offering much of the functionality found in the desktop version of SmartMusic, the upcoming app includes quality practice tools, assessment and accompaniment features as well as access to the entire content library with a SmartMusic subscription.

Chromatik is a free web platform with everything you need to practice, perform, and teach music. It is available for iPad and web. It allows the teacher to share music with students, make assessments, and have everything synced in the Cloud. Upload your own sheet music or workbooks for free into the Cloud or purchase music through their store. When I saw it at NAMM, my first impression was a free SmartMusic. For more information go to www.chromatik.com.

iPad Hardware

IK Multimedia™ has just about everything you will need as far as iPad music hardware, goes..

Their new iRig Keys $99 is the first ultra-slim and highly portable universal MIDI controller keyboard for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and Mac/PC. iRig KEYS connects directly to the iOS device 30-pin dock connector or the USB port on your Mac/PC. The iRig mic ($59) is the first handheld, quality condenser microphone for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

Of course if you have your own mic, then go with the iRig Pre $39 which allows you to connect your XLR mic directly into the iPad and includes phantom power.

Apogee™ is a definite step up in quality and has some wonderful hardware for the iPad ranging in price from $199-$799. The Duet ($595) is a 2×2 audio interface, headphone amp, and midi interface. The Apogee Mic ($199) is a USB Condenser Microphone with Cardioid Pickup Pattern, Adjustable Input Level, and Monitoring LED.

Notable Keyboards

I am very excited about the new M-Audio™ Axiom Air keyboard line coming in at $99, $299, $399, and $499 for the Mini, 25, 49, 61 note models. As a controller it is massively equipped with knobs, sliders, pads and switches to control the included Pro Tools Express ($49 value) and Ignite software that ships with the 25, 49, and 61 keyboard. I was really impressed with Ignite as it provides a refreshingly original and musician-centric way to quickly capture, combine, and arrange your musical ideas.

Korg‘s new MS20 mini ($599) made the show for me. For those of you “old school” synth players, this thing is a blast. In a nutshell it is an analog synthesizer featuring the original circuitry from 1978 with 2VCO / 2VCA / 2VCF / 2EG / 1LFO structure. Much fun!

Notable Software

Ilio™ introduced a new notation product called Score Cleaner ($99 teacher/$69 student) that I was really impressed with. This software is designed for those who just want to play in without a metronome with a midi keyboard and get great results. It amazes me how the software can interpret your key, your time signature, your phrasing, your quantization, and artistic intent without ever having to set things up ahead of time. Just click and play and Score Cleaner will dictate your score with amazing accuracy. You can also save as XML to bring into Finale or Sibelius.

The Garritan Ultimate Collection ($449) contains a collection of six Garritan Sound Sets Including Instant Orchestra, Jazz & Big Band 3, World Instruments, Personal Orchestra 4, Classic Pipe Organs, Concert & Marching Band 2 – RTAS, VST, AU (Mac/PC).

Digital Audio

Steinberg™ introduced the new UR 22 USB 2.0 audio interface ($149). This portable two-in/two-out device with 24-bit/192 kHz resolution is the perfect choice for mobile musicians, touring DJs and everyone in between.

Acoustica™ and MXL Microphones have teamed up to create Mixcraft 6 Vocal Studio ($169), a streamlined software and hardware package that turns any PC into a powerful and easy-to-use recording studio. Packed with pro-quality effects, authentic virtual instruments, thousands of audio loops and sound effects, and a high-end versatile USB recording microphone, Mixcraft 6 Vocal Studio provides musicians with everything they need to create professional mixes with ease.

Roland™ introduced the new STUDIO-CAPTURE ($999) high-performance USB 2.0 audio interface for studio and mobile production. With 16 audio inputs, 12 premium-grade mic preamps (a first for a compact USB audio interface) and 10 audio outputs, the STUDIO-CAPTURE provides extensive connection capabilities for professional production needs – and will fit easily into a travel bag. You also get 24-bit/192 kHz audio quality, comprehensive front-panel metering, XLR monitor outputs with dedicated level control, dual headphone outputs, rock-solid drivers with VS STREAMING technology, and much more.

M-Audio introduced three new audio interfaces. The M-Track ($99) is a simple two-channel Portable USB Audio/MIDI Interface and ships with Ignite software. The M-Track Plus ($149) is a two-channel Portable USB Audio/MIDI Interface With Digital I/O and ships with both Pro Tools Express and Ignite software. The M-Track Quad ($249) is a four-channel USB Audio/MIDI Interface and ships with both Pro Tools Express and Ignite software.

Blue Mic™ introduced the all-new Nessie ($99) the first adaptive USB mic. Nessie is plug-and-play compatible via USB with both PC and Mac with driverless installation. For mobile recording, you can connect to iPad using Apple’s camera adapters (30-pin to USB or Lighting to USB), sold separately.

The HK Lucas Nano 300 portable PA system ($699) blew me away. At only 22 pounds, 230 watts, and a frequency response of 44-20khz, this powerhouse has the quality of much larger systems, making it perfect for the music classroom. Just watch the video at goo.gl/QKtJU.

Summer Workshops

I will be offering a variety of face-to-face and online workshops this summer to include:

Pro Tools 10, Sibelius 7, Teaching Music Using Technology in the Classroom, iPADs in the Music Classroom 101, Music Technology Projects, and of course Private Study. Go to www.midiworkshop.com for more info.

Mike Klinger is the owner of Synthesis Midi Workshop, Inc., which specializes in music technology educational sales and training. www.midiworkshop.com (800) 248-9699. 

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