January 23, 2015

The Daily Dot:

Terrible news for anyone who has ever been bored on an airplane: the company behind SkyMall, that in-flight catalog you disdainfully flip through after you’ve suffered through all the available episodes of The Big Bang Theory, has announced its inevitable bankruptcy filing.

Why do we say “inevitable”? Because SkyMall is packed full of actually useless garbage that no human being would conceivably buy, even in a late-capitalist boom cycle. Thankfully, a legion of loyal Internet fans has done the noble work of archiving these inexplicable items:

Proof that air travel makes you crazy – I read that catalog many a time and thought, “Hey – I should buy that!” only to get on the ground, regain consciousness and never buy a damn thing from their catalog.

Video promoting Apple’s opening of the West Lake store in Hangzhou, China

Tomorrow, Apple opens another store in China and they have posted this video explaining the Chinese poem on the outside of it.

Samson’s new Synth 7 raises the standard for premium UHF wireless performance. Available in five unique configurations (Handheld, Guitar, Headset, Earset, Presentation), the Synth 7 system features rugged all-metal construction, as well as dynamic LCD setup and monitoring options. Together with advanced system features and flawless operation, Synth 7 is the future of professional wireless.

There’s a little something for everyone here. They have a Web page set up for each category, so you can see how you can use it.

Samson’s Meteor M2 Multimedia Speaker System is the ideal sound solution for desktops, laptops and tablets. Through the use of premium components, innovative sound design and custom digital signal processing, the full metal Meteor M2 breathes new sonic life into your favorite music, movies and games.

I haven’t seen these yet, but I’m going to try to stop by today.

The new 600 Series guitars elicit the best of the inherent tonal properties of maple. In 2014, Master Builder Andy Powers began to experiment with how far bracing, thickness, finish, and new seasoning processes like torrefaction, a wood roasting method, could enhance maple’s tone profile.

I played one of these yesterday and the tone was so warm. I’d definitely buy one of these.

miss-universe-canada-hockey-2015-1
VanCity Buzz:

In her attempt to pursue the Universe’s crown, Miss Universe Canada Chanel Beckenlehner of Caledon, Ontario has certainly captured the world’s attention as her flamboyant, hockey-inspired costume has gone completely viral.

The 26-year-old strutted out on the stage Wednesday night wearing a costume that may have very well been designed by Lady Gaga, Hudson’s Bay Company and Roots. Altogether, the costume is said to have a weight of 25 pounds.

This is how much Canadians love hockey.

iMore:

Apple detailed the earnings of its top executives in the filing. Apple CEO Tim Cook – $9.2 million. Eddy Cue and Jeff Williams – $24 million each. Angela Ahrendts – $73 million.

Apple also announced board member Millard Drexler will be retiring after the company’s annual shareholder meeting on March 10 and that it managed to generate a staggering $182.8 billion in sales over the course of 2014.

Nice gig if you can get it.

Wait. You can add subtitles to a DVD rip, even of a DVD that didn’t come with subtitles? Kirk McElhearn tells you how.

Dave Aiello spotted this new bracelet from Leatherman, makes the pitch that Leatherman should turn this into a watchband for the Apple Watch. A solid premise, especially with a bit of design assistance from Apple.

9to5mac:

Apple initially wanted the Apple Watch battery to provide roughly one full day of usage, mixing a comparatively small amount of active use with a larger amount of passive use. As of 2014, Apple wanted the Watch to provide roughly 2.5 to 4 hours of active application use versus 19 hours of combined active/passive use, 3 days of pure standby time, or 4 days if left in a sleeping mode. Sources, however, say that Apple will only likely achieve approximately 2-3 days in either the standby or low-power modes.

Apple has also been stress-testing the Apple Watch’s battery life with pre-bundled and third-party applications. Our sources say that Apple is targeting 2.5 hours of “heavy” application use, such as processor-intensive gameplay, or 3.5 hours of standard app use. Interestingly, Apple expects to see better battery life when using the Watch’s fitness tracking software, which is targeted for nearly 4 hours of straight exercise tracking on a single charge.

The early adopters will live with any battery life constraints and, ultimately, the power problem will get better over time as Apple R&D finds ways to shave power usage, create more efficient components, and battery technology becomes more efficient.

Back in November, AppLovin.com reported a China iPhone 6 to 6 Plus sales ratio of 65 to 35 and a US sales ratio of 80 to 20.

In AppLovin’s latest report, the China ratio moved to 60 to 40, while the US ratio changed to 75 to 25.

Why is this important?

Morgan Stanley ran an estimate of gross margin of the various models of the iPhone 6 versus the iPhone 6 Plus and found the iPhone 6 Plus profit margin to be higher across the board. More iPhone 6 Pluses in the sales mix means more revenue for Apple.

Note that these numbers represent aggregate sales (the mix of all phones in the market, versus only the latest sales). This means that the mix of more recent sales is even higher (to bring up the average). Bottom line, this is good news for Apple, ahead of Tuesday’s FQ1 results.

January 22, 2015

Pay and the Super Bowl

Whether you’re attending the Super Bowl in person or watching it on TV like me, there are apps supporting Pay to make your life easier. I’ve said since its release that Pay is one of the best technologies Apple brought out in years—I use it nearly every day.

If you’re staying home and want something delivered:

  • Postmates: Imagine a service that delivers from places that don’t even offer delivery themselves. Consider a mobile experience so effortless, you simply tap a button and food, booze, electronics, prescriptions, and the raddest retail items arrive at your door in under an hour.

  • Target: All the tools you need to plan, find, and save are now front and center.

  • Instacart: Groceries delivered in 1 hour without a trip to the store. Order from local grocery stores like Whole Foods Market or Costco and get your groceries delivered when you want them.

  • Merchbar: Discover and buy merch from your favorite bands, artists and more. Remember Katy Perry is the halftime show.

If you’re one of the lucky ones going to game you can try:

Tickets:

  • Ticketmaster: The Ticketmaster app is the best way to discover, buy, transfer and sell tickets to thousands of live music, sporting, arts, theatre, and family events.

Stay:

  • Airbnb: Make travel planning as mobile as you are with the Airbnb iPhone App. Airbnb opens the door to the world’s most interesting places to stay and is the simplest way to earn money from your extra space. With over 600,000 listings in more than 34,000 cities, Airbnb connects you with the experience that’s right for you.

  • Stayful: Stayful finds & negotiates the best price on the perfect boutique hotel for you!

  • Hotel Tonight: Hand-selected hotels at great prices. Book your Tonight, now up to 7 days in advance.

Rides:

  • Uber: Request a ride using the app and get picked up within minutes. On-demand service means no reservations.

  • Lyft: Need a lift? Try Lyft for a friendly, affordable ride whenever you need one. Request a ride with the tap of a button, and get picked up by a nearby community driver who’ll take you to your destination within minutes.

Parking:

I’ve listened to a lot of headphones over the years, from high-end models to in-ears, but none have sounded as good as the Mo-Fi. The Mo-Fi are made by Blue Microphones, a company that I’ve respected for a long time, but I had no idea their headphones would be so good. If you’re in the market, you have to try these out. You’ll thank me.

Yamaha introduces the perfect mixer for podcasters

Usually when I write about Yamaha at NAMM, I’ll talk about new guitars or keyboards, but today the company introduced a new mixer it said was designed specifically for webcasting, podcasting, gaming and music production.

The AG03 and AG06 feature high-resolution (24-bit/192kHz) audio recording and playback, iOS compatibility and battery operation. Mixers for some people can seem complicated—and some are—but Yamaha went to great lengths to make these as simple as possible for people to use.

AG06

I had a chance to play around with one yesterday before it was released and it seems very hard to make a mistake setting it up. The inputs and outputs are all labelled with pictures, so you know exactly what goes where. It’s really easy to use on iOS or Mac.

A key feature of the AG Series is the intuitive TO PC switch that allows users to select which inputs get routed back to a desktop or iOS device. Selecting Dry CH 1-2 allows computer or iOS recording of inputs 1 and 2, while the INPUT MIX switch routes all inputs to the computer or iOS device via USB for standard music production applications. The LOOPBACK function in the TO PC section, which is perfect for podcasters, routes all inputs to the stereo USB output, along with the USB input from the computer. This makes mixing mics and instruments with music beds, sound effects or the audio from computers and iOS devices a breeze.

Gamers are also able to adjust their sound in real-time with the included headset interface and hardware controls, removing the need to open a software control panel. The AG is the perfect tool for creating videos on sites like Twitch.tv.

Both mixers feature Yamaha D-PRE microphone preamps and onboard DSP effects, along with an AUX input for a music player and foot switch jack to control effects.

AG03

The AG06 features six channels: a main input optimized for vocals with a D-PRE studio-quality mic preamp, a second channel for another mic or a guitar and two stereo inputs for keyboards or other line level sources. The second channel features 1-TOUCH AMP SIM DSP for guitar tone at the touch of a button.

The three-channel AG03 features a single 60mm fader for the main input with D-PRE mic preamp and a Hi-Z input that allows direct connection for guitars and basses.

The Yamaha AG03 ($199) and AG06 ($269) mixers will ship in April 2015.

Universal Audio unveils Apollo Expanded

I’ve made no secret about my love of Universal Audio products. For years, they have been my go to company when recording and mixing audio. Today things got even better.

“UA’s mission is to bring the character and warmth of analog to digital,” said Bill Putnam Jr., the Founder of Universal Audio, at a NAMM press conference.

Today at NAMM, the company unveiled Apollo Expanded software, which will be released in March. Expanded allows users with Thunderbolt-equipped Apollo Twin, Apollo DUO, Apollo QUAD, and Apollo 16 audio interfaces to freely combine up to four Apollos and six total UAD-2 devices—adding I/O and DSP as their studio grows.

The new Flex Driver also lets users customize Core Audio I/O—name, save, and share presets for different hardware setups and DAWs.

console

Console 2.0, which will be released as part of the update, includes a high-resolution, Retina-compatible 64-bit software interface for Thunderbolt-equipped Apollos; numerous monitoring improvements including Alternate Monitors, new Control Room functions, and enhanced headphone cue management; enhanced plug-in features such as preset auditioning and drag & drop functionality; per-input Record/Monitor effect switching; and multi-level Undo and Redo for plug-in assignments and parameters.

Sound Machine Wood Works Plug-In — $299

  • Lets acoustic guitar piezo pickups sound like a studio-miked acoustic
  • Get rich acoustic sounds in noisy environments or when high-quality miking is not possible
  • Re-voice the source guitar’s resonance and acoustic properties live or at mixdown
  • Freedom to re-mic during mixing, changing and adding microphones as needed

UA Distortion Essentials Plug-In Bundle — $249

  • Features the legendary Ibanez Tube Screamer TS808, Raw Distortion (based on the vintage early-80s Pro Co Rat), and Bermuda Triangle (based on the early 70s-era) Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi) plug-ins
  • Harnesses Unison technology to precisely emulate the circuit interaction, gain range, and clip points of the original stompboxes

Antares Auto-Tune Live Plug-In — $249

  • Realtime pitch correction and manipulation with iconic Auto-Tune effect
  • Incredibly low latency for instant response, onstage or in the studio

Friedman Amplifiers Plug-In Collection by Brainworx — $249

  • Includes spot-on emulations of the industry-leading Friedman DS40 and Friedman BE100 guitar amplifiers
  • Audition 66 different Recording Chains to match the perfect tone to the part
  • Fine-tune sounds with an onboard FX Rack that includes a noise gate, EQ filter controls, and host-syncable lo-fi delay

31 years ago today, Apple broadcast the legendary Apple 1984 ad

Contrary to legend, it didn’t play just once. It is still considered by many as “the greatest television commercial ever” and is the genesis of all the “Super Bowl Event Advertising” we see today.

There are a ton of new features and licensing options available in the new version. Good day for Pro Tools users.

Avid today unveiled Pro Tools | First, a free version of the industry-standard Pro Tools that offers many of the same music creation capabilities used by top artists and recording studios worldwide. Delivering on Avid Everywhere and built upon the Avid MediaCentral Platform, Pro Tools | First is simple enough for beginners to learn, yet sophisticated enough for the experienced musician. Pro Tools | First enables anyone to experience the industry’s most trusted digital audio workstation at no cost, so they can turn their musical ideas into fully realized, professional productions that stand out from the crowd.

What a smart move from Avid.

The Firehawk FX multi-effect processor combines world-class tone with intuitive app-based editing, so you can get the perfect sound faster than ever before. The Firehawk Remote app for iOS and Android gives you the power to sculpt great tone, right in the palm of your hand. Choose from over 200 legendary amps and effects—including 50 HD models—and wirelessly control every detail of your sound. You get access to 128 internal presets plus a massive online tone library, making it easy to find the right sound for any recording session, rehearsal or gig. With 1/4” and Variax Digital (VDI) inputs, two outputs, FX loop, USB connectivity and ultra-low latency, Firehawk FX is also an ideal guitar recording interface for PC, Mac and iOS.

I love that Line 6 is going after the entire market here—mobile and desktop. I haven’t tried the Firehawk, but it’s reminiscent of an HD500, but with more color and options.

Addictively playable with classic looks, Variax Standard gives you exceptional handcrafted quality—plus incredible Variax HD technology that puts it in a class of its own. Inspire your playing with a collection of the world’s most coveted vintage electrics, classic acoustics and exotic instruments. Switch up your tunings on the fly.

I had a chance to play one of these yesterday and it is truly a step above the Variax guitars of old. The problem I had with the older models was the digital artifacts that you heard in the models and when changing tunings. These guitars have regular magnetic pickups, so first and foremost, it is an electric guitar. All of the electronics can be turned off completely if you want to play it like that. When turned on, the electronics give the guitar something really special that you won’t find anywhere else, all with no artifacts.

BlackBerry:

neutrality must be mandated at the application and content layer if we truly want a free, open and non-discriminatory internet. All wireless broadband customers must have the ability to access any lawful applications and content they choose, and applications/content providers must be prohibited from discriminating based on the customer’s mobile operating system.

What BlackBerry’s CEO is talking about is forcing companies like Apple to make their software available on BlackBerry’s devices and OS.

The CEO of BlackBerry has lost his mind.

January 21, 2015

The new service is expected run on Sprint and T-Mobile’s networks, two people familiar with the product say. Google is expected to reach deals to buy wholesale access to those carriers’ mobile voice and data networks, making it a mobile virtual network operator, or MVNO, they say.

I’m kind of ambivalent about this, to be honest. Google has never done a very good job selling phones, so I don’t know how they will make this work. I’m just having a hard time wrapping my head around it.

Apple releases Logic Pro X 10.1

Apple on Wednesday released a major update to Logic Pro X, the company’s professional digital audio workstation software. As part of the update, Apple also released a new version of Logic Remote, giving the software access to Logic or Audio Unit plug-in parameters and multi-touch gestures, as well as other changes.

MainStage gets updated with a redesigned compressor plug-in features, a Retina-ready interface and 7 models including the new Classic VCA, which is one of my personal favorites.

Other improvements in this release include:

• 10 new Drummers that produce beats in a variety of electronic and hip hop styles including Techno, House, Trap, Dubstep and more

• Drummer provides specialized sound and performance controls for dialing in electronic or hip hop drum grooves

• New Drum Machine Designer plug-in offers new sounds and features for customizing electronic drum kits in a variety of styles

• Create a sequence of notes with a single mouse gesture using the new Brush Tool in the Piano Roll Editor

• New view options in the Piano Roll Editor let you see more notes in less vertical space and help identify drum sounds by name

• Easily compress or expand the timing of selected notes with new time handles in the Piano Roll Editor

• Note Repeat and Spot Erase modes allow classic drum machine style techniques for creating beats in realtime

• Smart Quantize proportionally corrects the timing and length of notes to preserve the musicality of your original performance

• Redesigned Compressor plug-in features scalable, Retina-ready interface and 7 models including the new Classic VCA

• Retro Synth can now create wavetables from imported audio and is able to stack up to 8 voices

• Expanded sound library includes over 200 new synth patches and 10 classic Mellotron instruments

• Automation can now be part of a region, not just the track, which makes it easier to use effects creatively

• Manage large-scale mixes more easily with the addition of console-style VCA faders

“I’m always looking for new beats and inspiring sounds that nobody has heard before, said Diplo (Beyoncé, Usher, Madonna, Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg). “The new Drummer and Drum Machine Designer in Logic Pro X will be a useful set of tools to spark ideas for anyone to create great sounding electronic beats. I’d use Drummer to create grooves and fills, then chop them up and use some of the crazy processing tools to make them sound interesting & unique.”

The update can be downloaded from the Mac App Store.

In addition to VST plug-in format support, v6 includes a complete upgrade to the entire McDSP product line. New user interface features, faster loading times, and algorithm optimizations across all formats are just some of the improvements in the v6 release. Pro Tools users will appreciate v6 additions such as enhanced support for the Avid S6 and S3 control surfaces. Artist presets from the likes of Dave Pensado, Kevin Churko, Joe Barresi, and many others are also included.

This looks like a solid release from a great company.

Apple has acquired British startup Semetric, which runs the Musicmetric analytics tool, as part of its plans to relaunch its Beats Music streaming music service later in the year.

It will be fascinating to see what type of plan Apple has for Beats. Will it be integrated into iTunes as a technology, or will Beats get some Apple touch-ups and continue on as it is.

“It’s a fantastic product, an incredible achievement,” he said. “I’m not just living in the tradition and culture and the past, I also want to be connected to the future. The Apple Watch connects me to the future. My watch connects me to history, to eternity.”

Oh boy, this is going to be an interesting year.

iMore:

NBC will stream 11 continuous hours of live content on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 1 to desktops and iPads. The “Super Stream Sunday” event will run from noon EST and to around 10 p.m. and include NBC’s pre-game coverage, Super Bowl XLIX itself, the halftime show, and the post-game show, and the episode of The Blacklist that will air following the game. The stream will take place through the NBC Sports Live Extra app.

That’s a lot of talking about football.

Apple captured a record 33 percent market share in South Korea in November, the highest ever for a foreign brand, according to a monthly report released by Hong Kong-based market research company Counterpoint on Wednesday. In contrast, Samsung’s share slipped to 46 percent after hovering around 60 percent for five months.

The quarterly iPhone numbers are going to be incredible.

It really does. You can’t buy advertising like that.

Jim and Shawn talk about quoting Steve Jobs, Google Glass, Mac magazines and NAMM!

Sponsored by Squarespace (use code GUITARS for a free trial and 10% off) and lynda.com (Visit the link and do something good for yourself in 2015, sign up for a FREE 10-day trial to lynda.com).