Resolume adds transitions, better gradients – and here’s how to stream with it

Resolume brings some subtle but powerful improvements to this live visual/VJ/media server tool. Here’s a look – plus a quick tutorial for streaming live with OBS.

Resolume is a unique favorite in the live visual world partly for its elegant, straightforward UI. That hides some powerful features, which might not be immediately apparent if you’re used to tons of toolbars and palettes. These little changes pretty well fit in that category.

There’s a new gradient tool that handles multiple colors – so, basically, taste the rainbow, folks!

But what I think will have you really interested is the “Transition Phase.” Described in words, it sounds kind of boring – blah, blah, clip … parameter … linking … something. What?

Okay, let me put it this way – it lets you do mind-blowing animations between clips. So you can muck with stuff. And glitch stuff. And do wacky animation things in between clips, so you can edit together… motion… well, like this:

That looks like a nice way not only for live visuals (you know, the stuff that requires audiences) but also editing slick visuals fast. I don’t know about you, but that latter one is important, so I can get back to jogging/wheezing time and playing video games.

And these kinds of live tools have long been a secret weapon of people making edits faster.

If you do want to stream the results live, though, Resolume have a tutorial up for streaming – which will simultaneously bring you up to speed on OBS (the popular free streaming tool), OBS NDI (a tool for routing video textures between apps), and YouTube streaming.

OBS: obsproject.com/
OBS NDI plugin: obsproject.com/forum/resources/obs-ndi-newtek-ndi%E2%84%A2-integration-into-obs-studio.528/
Youtube Tutorial: youtube.com/watch?v=Ok3qM3ecWJU&t=3s
Streaming Resolume: resolume.com/support/en/Streaming

Okay, enough tutorials, I want to see some raving EDM flamingos, and wish granted:

And this is trippy and beautiful:

And this is boxy:

Lots of other quick video tips are on Resolume’s Vimeo channel – and they really are fast, as great video tips should be:

https://vimeo.com/resolume

More on the software:

https://resolume.com

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All about Mutable’s Marbles random sampler – and a clever, just-released update

Mutable Instruments’ modules seemed poised to live forever, in synth terms. A clever update this week is a good reminder of the coolness of the Marbles random sampler.

Okay, first – what’s Marbles? Well, the name should evoke dropping a cluster of marbles on a hardwood floor from waist height and listening to the cascade of tapping sounds.

And the hardware itself delivers something like that poetic image. The Marbles Eurorack module is a source of random gates (for rhythmic events), and clocked random voltages (for other patterns and random changes). The twist is – apart from copious controls and ins and outs – Marbles is also a random sampler. So you can reuse bits of material, for randomness that repeats a little, or a lot (depending on where you set the knob).

Here is exactly where this week’s update comes in – it “super locks” a chosen section with a long press, letting you subtly play with variation. It’s a small feature, but it expands the musicality of this module as an instrument. From creator pichenettes:

How does it work? A long press on the t or X DEJA VU buttons locks the random generation for this section – which will stop responding to the DEJA VU knob. When a section is in this “super locked” state, the illuminated push-button blinks rapidly. Press it to bring it back to normal.

What is the point? Allow subtle variations or permutations in the melody (by playing with the DEJA VU knob) while the rhythm remains constant… or vice-versa!

More on the details, with download, and discussion, on the Mutable forum:

Marbles “super lock” feature

There are detailed release notes for this revision, 1.2, plus the 1.1 version which added accessibility for people with red/green color blindness, and bug fixes.

https://mutable-instruments.net/modules/marbles/firmware/

This is a singular update for the maker in some time, as Mutable Instruments founder/developer Émilie Gillet moves on to some other career areas and leaves this project in “low power” mode. Full support for her in doing that – speaking as someone who has clung to projects, I can also appreciate why there are moments when you might want to let go and do something different. (Despite what you may have read elsewhere, there’s no indication that more is in store after this – but I think this is still a newsworthy and creative update.)

Speaking of open-source hardware, though, Mutable’s contribution to the scene has been both in producing some of the most compelling Eurorack modules and desktop synths of recent years, and in influencing others through open-source licenses. So for instance, on VCV Rack you can try a third-party recreation in software of the Mutable modules as “Audible Instruments” (since Emilie didn’t produce them, the name is changed). Marbles is just called “Random Sampler” there. I’ll be curious to see if this feature gets added.

I’m learning the module and what it can do there, and if I ever get around to making a small skiff, this is one of the modules I expect to drop into it. (Big advantage of VCV Rack, of course, is that you can try before you buy – and then invest carefully in hardware you really know how to play.)

Check the one and only original module:

https://mutable-instruments.net/modules/marbles/

Ready to learn how to use this? Let’s go:

And for you fellow Rack users:

Our friends over at Schneidersladen did a workshop on the full Mutable range back in 2018:

And yep, for proof that Marbles is open-source hardware, see here:

https://github.com/pichenettes/eurorack/tree/master/marbles

Seems only fitting to mention Emilie in this screwball week we’ve had here, as Mutable Instruments and our conversations about open source technology and change have also been part of the ride CDM and MeeBlip have had to get to where we’re at. And in the end, we’re all mutable instruments.

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FL Studio 20.6 does what FL does best – adds more great toys to play with

It’s still tough to beat FL Studio when it comes to, well, playing with stuff – in a tool in which that play can get very advanced indeed.

There are some great new toys here:

Distructor is a new pedal-style distortion and multi-effects plug-in. What’s especially nice is you get four slots, each of which can be assigned to one of four modules. There are different distortion models and then filters, chorus, and speaker cabinets. Those different distortion models (Blood overdrive, Soft Clippor, Harmor, Distructor, and Crusher) each have their own various algorithm choices, so this thing is deep. And the filters give you every shape you would want.

This reuses some existing FL stuff, but in a very nice way, and you can mess around with all the different bits and re-route them. In fact, it occurs to me that this is really what the scattered distortion and cabinet devices in Ableton Live probably should have been. Advantage, FL on this one.

If you want to go even crazier, the amp/cab bit is based on Fruity Convolver. So you could instead of limiting yourself to Distructor alone, chase the Distructor plug-in with Fruity Convolver and then load any impulse you want for some serious mayhem.

The Euclidean Rhythm Generator lets you fill in patterns with this now weirdly ubiquitous mathematical means of generating symmetrical rhythms, which work well as polyrhythms and in techno. Right-click a channel, and choose Advanced Fill.

Control Voltage is a new Fruity Voltage Controller for integrating with analog gear. It works with any DC-coupled interface – which now includes those affordable MOTU boxes I looked at recently for a low-cost solution. (Or just use a Eurorack rig with an audio interface inside it.)

“Burn” MIDI. Got an interesting pattern coming out of the Arpeggiator, note effects, or other plug-ins? Now you can right-click the channel and record to MIDI. Yeah, this already works in DAWs like Logic Pro, but it really fits the FL workflow perfectly.

NewTime time warping. Warp, quantize, and groove shuffle audio. This is a far cry from the early days of FL Studio where everyone seemed to be making terrible trance tracks with only the default step sequencer options in the main view. FL now gives well-known, much more expensive DAWs a proper run for the money.

Oh speaking of mangling audio – the Fruity Granulizer now has a display and visualizations so you can see what you’re doing, so together with NewTime, you can mess with sound really easily.

Plus there are tons of other improvements – convert playlist tracks to audio, “don’t show this in the future” checkbox for popups, and a ton of little details. (FLEX has a modulation speed for reverb time, for instance.)

Both Image-Line and SoundCloud sent me press releases emphasizing that you can upload directly to SoundCloud from FL. I have a feeling if you have the patience to read my writing, you already know how to upload to SoundCloud, but … now you know.

More importantly, Image-Line continue their lifetime free updates tradition – think of it as the reverse of horrible subscriptions in certain pro graphics apps. The subscription model: pay continuously, see updates that you mostly don’t want. The FL Studio model: pay once, see updates you want, continuously. (You need a supported account, but it can be worth it.)

The latest – and there’s a lot of it:

FL Studio 20.6 released [Image-Line news]

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Elektron Analog updates let you sequence other gear, add musical complexity

Elektron just revised their Analog Four and Analog Rytm MKI/MKII OSes. Finally: MIDI out. Wait, that’s cool: per-track scale, powerful macros, and more.

A few features really stand out here.

First, finally you get sequencer MIDI out. Now, that’s been a long wait, but it at last brings the Elektron sequencer workflow and conditional trigs and whatnot to all the other stuff in your studio.

There’s some other cool stuff in this update, though:

Scale per track: Borrowed from the Digitakt and Digitone, this makes even more sense as an advanced feature on the Analog line.

Parameter randomization: You can do this instantly across a whole page, and there’s revert if you don’t like it.

Multiple performance macros, one knob: The Quick Performance Control knob now can be assigned multiple macros. I’d say Elektron are gradually improving their live performance features, and it’s a welcome move.

Graphics have been improved, too, and there are various bug fixes and other little details.

https://www.elektron.se/support/

News item on upgrades

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Music on the go – Auxy app now has tweakable sounds, Ableton export

For all the app choices in music, a lot feel like plug-ins crammed onto the mobile screen. Auxy may have the essential combination of ingredients – a simple, quick UI, but now the ability to make sketches you finish in Ableton Live, and sounds you can more easily tweak.

Auxy always had an elegant, approachable UI. The tool basically strips the essential function of the familiar piano roll-style view so you can quickly sketch ideas with your fingertips.

But just being simple isn’t quite enough. Mobile apps all face the common problem of having to satisfy two very different use cases or workflows. Some people want to focus on music making right on the phone or tablet, stay away from their computers (or other gear), and yet make finished tracks. Others want the app to be a rough sketchpad for ideas they can use on the go, then finish in the more comfortable environs of their computer rig or studio. The problem is, of course, those come with different demands.

Swedish app Auxy has had two updates that address some of these cases.

First, Auxy 5.4 in April added direct export to Ableton Live projects. Cleverly, this exports both audio and MIDI, so you retain your sound designs from the app as stems, but can also use patterns to work with new sounds inside Live.

Auxy 5.4 also represents a new high water mark for Ableton’s SDK. Auxy encouraged Ableton to add features for populating the Arrangement, so that song ideas and arranging choices you make on the go are reflected when you open up your project in Live. These features will be available to other developers, too, so if you’re a dev, you can get in touch with Ableton. (And that’s important, too – the better this support works in different apps, the more useful mobile-to-Live workflows become.)

5.4 also added improved import/export for samples, imported samples that share when you share projects, and updated Ableton Link support.

Auxy 6 is a major update just released this month, focusing on giving you more control over sounds and effects. And that addresses the other thing that might have kept you from adopting Auxy in the past – the simplicity is great, but you might feel constrained by the available sounds.

Auxy launched as a kind of preset machine. That makes things simpler, but might be uninspiring if you feel like you can’t shape your own sounds. That changes with some significant features:

More effects for instrumental sounds: distortion, delay, reverb, chorus, filter, ducker, and EQ sounds everywhere – customizable, not locked to presets.

More effects for drums, too: delay, distortion, compressor, filter, EQ, and ducker are now available on drums.

Shape sound envelopes: attack, release, glide, offset. (works on drums, too)

Free grid mode: move notes and automation freely as you edit.

Browse sounds by category.

This isn’t going to sound so revolutionary, but of course that is always the challenge when trying to keep things simple – there’s a lot to think about adding even simple features.

All in all, Auxy has really evolved into one of the easiest, most elegant sketchpads for music on mobile. There’s many things it isn’t – it’s not really about live playing, it’s not a full-featured DAW (and doesn’t try to be), it’s not really an audio multitrack. But what it is, it really focuses on. And with Live export, that could prove invaluable.

Auxy regularly select favorite user tracks, which is a nice way to get a feel for what people are doing. Here are the Staff Picks for last month:

Plus one creation made in this latest release:

Check out Auxy for iOS (no Android version, sorry):

https://auxy.co/

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MASSIVE X synth arrives; here’s what makes it special

The last time Native Instruments released a synth called Massive, they accidentally helped define genres (EDM, dubstep). But MASSIVE X returns to the original vision: make it easier to get deep with wavetables and modularity and go wild with sound. And now, the wait is over.

It’s been years in the making. But the original team behind Massive are back with a sequel to one of the most influential software synths ever made.

I was actually the very first press meeting for Massive, back in the day. But what that tells you is, initially they thought they were making something for nerds, not what would become EDM mainstages.

In 2019, MASSIVE X enters a world that’s not only been shaped by the first Massive, but is also far more comfortable with digital sounds and modularity, the staples of the original. Even inside NI, you’ve got REAKTOR and BLOCKS. There are plenty of other wavetable synths, plenty of semi-modular plug-ins. There are semi-modular synths – heck, Moog alone has three just in one line. There are Eurorack modulars in pricey hardware racks that require a screwdriver and modeled in software so you just need a laptop.

I mean, basically, those of us who love synths are all really spoiled. And like any spoiled child, little wonder there are bunches of those people whining and crying and rolling around on the floor like a toddler who ate too much candy. Well… if you read message forums, which I try not to.

So is there a place for MASSIVE X? You’ll hear plenty of talk from Native Instruments and reviewers alike, but let’s boil this story down.

MASSIVE X is a rarity – a kitchen sink digital synth plug-in that keeps its front panel easy to read.

Deep routing lets you path when you want to. But unlike a full-blown modular, that doesn’t stop you from creating sounds (and even modularity) straight away – and your sound design remains within a consistent interface and architecture.

Bigger on the inside than it is on the outside

Basically, the latest MASSIVE gives you this: it makes an argument for a semi-modular design by packing the oscillators with features, and then giving you ways of playing and modulating and inter-connecting all that depth easily. It walks that balance between complexity under the hood and legibility inside a coherent interface. So while other people might easily dismiss adding another semi-modular plug-in when you could just patch, there is a fundamentally different method to constructing sounds based on this architecture:

All about those oscillators. 170 wavetables, 10 oscillator modes, submodes for each of the oscillator modes – Massive focuses you on one architecture and one UI, but then gives you loads of choices once you’re there.

Get weird without even patching. It’s a true semi-modular, so you can make sounds without patching anything – and you can use its phase modulation oscillators to start that modulation just from the oscillator section. (Yeah, you’ll wind up doing some sound designs where you never get past those oscillators. And that’s fun, anyway.)

Route and patch in ways conventional modulars can’t. With a huge routing matrix and a unique approach to insert effects, you can swap all sorts of unique processors inside an individual sound – and recall all of those as presets. Any control output can be connected to any input; audio can go to and from anywhere you like. It’s enormously flexible.

There are plenty of synths out there with deep architectures, but MASSIVE X allows you to then take that depth and work with it:

Trackers give you sophisticated control over how MASSIVE X behaves as an instrument – by designing how it responds as you play.

Make uniquely playable instruments. NI have added a number of tools for tracking input from performance, as in velocity, and then scaling and mapping that where you like. This means you can make sounds like instruments, and ‘play’ a lot of that sonic depth live. (There are four Tracker modules to accomplish this.)

Add variety in performance and modulation. Tracker modules let you play live; Performer modulators let you draw in up to eight bars of modulation patterns and use those without playing. That can mean either unattended modulation in the sound, or can be triggered live with your controller.

You have 9 slots for LFOs, voice randomization, and then a bunch of potential sources and shapes for those variations.

The original MASSIVE isn’t going anywhere. And that’s important, because it’s light on the CPU in a way the new X – and other plug-ins – aren’t.

But MASSIVE X is simply a beast. As a flagship for Native Instruments, it enters some competitive waters – not the least being the fact that NI itself has, effectively, more than one flagship.

Performer envelopes give you the kind of extensive, visual modulation you expect from 2019 flagship software. The Remote Editor lets you trigger those envelopes live, making this a tool for improvisation or onstage.

Inside the Voice

Having said MASSIVE X is all about having a consistent architecture and UI – there is definitely a candy store inside. Just some rough ideas of specs, to give you an idea:

Wavetable modes: Standard, Bend, Mirror, Hardsync, Wrap, Forant Capture, ART, Gorilla, Random, Jitter

Insert Effects: Anima, BitCrusher, Correction Filter & VCA, Fold Wrap, Frequency Shifter, Distortion, Track Delay

Unit FX: Dimension Expander, Flanger, Nonlinear Labs, Phaser, Standard EQ, Stereo Delay, Stereo Expander

The Voice page. You can also find some possibilities messing about with Noise Restart, Oscillator Restart, Spread and Engine Reset – think serious sound design with phasing. Combine that with the various oscillator types and modes and poly/mono/unison modes, and a really wild option called Unisono (for unique, analog-ish drifts and detunes), and you could probably devote a whole month in the studio just on this page and be perfectly satisfied.

Filling a Massive niche?

The thing is, MASSIVE X makes even more sense in 2019 than it did when it first arrived. And if MASSIVE demonstrated that a larger slice of the population was ready for edgy, hyper-modulated experimental sounds, MASSIVE X might demonstrate that more people are ready for experimental sound design..

This isn’t a straight modular workflow. It isn’t a Eurorack. It isn’t REAKTOR. And it shouldn’t be any of those things. Instead, MASSIVE X brings back what made the first MASSIVE compelling – drag and drop routing, easy visual “saturn ring” modulation – and adds more sonic depth, the kinds of organic quality now possible on today’s CPUs, and more visual feedback. We all spend too much time staring at screens, but MASSIVE X gives us a good reason to look back – and is far easier on the eyes (and brain) in the process.

So, sure, we are spoiled for choice, which I’m sure means MASSIVE X will get some significant hostility from the sorts of people who lurk in comment threads instead of make sounds. But I’m happy to have my cake and eat it, and my other five cakes, too.

From my own vantage point, having not been entirely swayed by would-be contenders to the plug-in throne, I think MASSIVE X will be ideal as a complement to open-ended modulars. Having a single oscillator section that does this much means you don’t get lost window-shopping modulars. And that matrix and the depth of Trackers and Performers means MASSIVE X is manageable when other modulars (hardware or software) turn into messes of spaghetti-routing, at least for sounds you want to pack to the brim with subtle shifting transformations over time.

More details of this as I spend more time with the now-finished build. (Sound design, too – just give me some time on that!)

[watch this space, we should have the overview video from NI shortly…]

https://native-instruments.com/

Cost:
USD / EUR 199
USD / EUR 149 upgrade from the previous version
Included in KOMPLETE 12 (and greater editions)

The competition

There’s indeed a lot of competition. Look to:

U-he‘s ZEBRA2, Hive 2. Also deep modulation, but with a single window mode – more like Massive 1 – to MASSIVE X’s various pages and options.

ARTURIA Pigments We’ll be looking more soon at the sound possibilities of this one. It’s perhaps more conservative than MASSIVE X, but its virtual analog/wavetable hybrid is a crowd pleaser, there’s a unique and easy-to-follow interface, and it has a clear high-contrast dark look to the all-gray/beige Massive approach.

Serum of course arguably stole the bass crown from Massive as NI bided their time on an update. It is focused on wavetables (and custom wavetables) compared to MASSIVE X’s fascinating sprawl.

Who else would you want to see up for comparison? Let us know.

To me, at least my initial impression is all this mayhem of choice makes MASSIVE X stand out, but we’ll be interested to dig deeper and get feedback from other sound designers.

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Sonarworks Reference 4.3: more headphones, features for calibrating your mixes

Sonarworks Reference 4.3 has a bunch of new features – more headphones, better performance, and it won’t blind you in a dark studio. The goal: make sure your mixes sound consistent everywhere. And with both high-end and consumer cans on the supported list, they seem to want everybody to give this a go.

I think the biggest challenge Sonarworks has here is that even I would have imagined calibration was something for engineers, but not necessarily producers. But once you hear the results, anyone can hear what this does. The thing is, headphones and studio monitors really aren’t flat. And especially outside of perfectly tuned studio environments, neither are working environments. Testing and calibration improves that enough that anyone can hear.

I’ve been using Sonarworks Reference religiously since the fall. The biggest challenge has been that there are two modes. One sounds really great, but adds a ton of latency. That’s especially rough if you want to work with calibration switched on all the time. The other is low-latency, but doesn’t sound as good. Those differences are, again, noticeable to anyone.

The big improvement in Reference 4.3 is to let you have both – with a mixed filter mode that operates with minimal latency but still delivers accurate results. That for me makes Reference way more useful. In fact, given this involved a ground-up rewrite, I’m surprised Sonarworks didn’t call this Reference 5. (It’s a free update, though!)

You also get new headphone profiles, which show both some high-end Beyerdynamic models but also the sort of consumer listening cans a lot of us use on the go with our smartphones and such. Those seem to target new users as well as ones traveling.

Beyerdynamic Custom Studio
Beyerdynamic MMX 300
Direct Sound EXTW37 Pro
Direct Sound Serenity Plus
Direct Sound Studio Plus
Marshall Major III
Marshall Major III Bluetooth
Marshall Monitor Bluetooth

More important than the addition of new individual models, though, they’ve added on-demand profile delivery, so you can add support inside the tool. There are already over a couple hundred of these, and they keep adding more.

There are some other improvements, too:

Dark mode – some people hate these; I love them, since I work in a lot of dim / late night environments

A better menu/tray bar, which is critical as you modify settings as you work

Integrated room measurement inside the Systemwide and plugin tools

Better virtual sound device performance (I need to test this across my Mac and Windows machines)

The little tool that gets you up and running when you start I already liked, and wrote about previously, but they’ve enhanced that even more

Previously, I did some deep dives into this software and answered reader questions:

What it’s like calibrating headphones and monitors with Sonarworks tools

Your questions answered: Sonarworks Reference calibration tools

I need to follow up with them on how Linux support is coming, as CDM was the first to write about that and some of you I know were interested (as am I)!

Also since I last covered Reference, Sonarworks has started offering a bundle with pre-calibrated headphones. These theoretically deliver more precise calibration than what you’d get from any profile, since they’ve tested the actual harder. It’s pricey, because it includes the already-expensive HD650 headphones from Sennheiser.

But those are terrific headphones, and headphones are crucial to precise mixing and mastering. I imagine these would be a great investment for a producer or especially studio or engineer wanting to invest in a full calibration package at once. (Feel free to shout about whether Sennheiser or Beyerdynamic are better in comments, though!) In fact, I think if you’re thinking of buying the HD650s, you should spring for the bundle.

The bundle, with Sennheiser HD650.

I have talked to more producers about this tool than engineers (though my mastering engineer collaborator is a believer), so I would be interested to hear about that use case more.

And yes, this is another member of our music tech industry now located in Riga, Latvia, along with Gamechanger, Erica Synths, and others. It’s a surprising new hotbed.

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Logic Pro X 10.4.5 is all about huge projects, with or without a Mac Pro

Logic Pro X 10.4.5, seen onstage at WWDC, is now available. And yes, it supports the new ultra-high-end Mac Pro – but there are fixes and performance optimizations for everyone, with or without new machines.

10.4.5 looks like the most pro-oriented Logic Pro in a long time. Apple has been aggressive with its update cadence for Logic for years running now, even with free upgrades, and this version is no exception.

This release also marks the end of the road for Mac OS X 10.12 Sierra. The new minimum OS requirement is 10.13.16 High Sierra. (Mojave is seeming stable these days, and it’s summertime, so maybe now is a good time to do a full backup and take the plunge.)

First up – yes, the banner feature from Apple’s perspective is that the new Logic runs on the new Mac Pro. Under the hood, that means support for up to 56 cores, the kind of massive multiprocessing the new Mac Pro can do.

The use case for this kind of processing power is slim, but then, that’s what the ‘pro’ concept is all about. Doing artist relations, you may have a film composer with advanced technical needs and a shelf full of Academy Awards. Even one user in your user base can be critical.

That said, I think the real story here is that Apple is shaking the tree across the whole code base – meaning these performance optimizations and fixes could benefit you even if you’re running on a beat-up older MacBook, too.

So, think really big track counts – which could be meaningful since even some mid-range CPUs can theoretically churn through a lot of tracks, to say nothing of that shiny Mac Pro tower.

Increased Number of Tracks and Channels, up to:
1000 stereo audio channel strips
1000 software instrument channel strips
1000 auxiliary channel strips
1000 external MIDI tracks
12 sends per channel strip

Way back around 2006, I heard from a Macworld reader complaining about lifting exactly these limitations and how I didn’t mention them in a review. (See above: that one user thing.)

There’s a bunch of other new features that are serious DAW improvements – and almost no mention mention of any fictional artificial drummers.

An all-new DeEsser 2 plug-in

16 ports of MIDI clock, MTC, and MMC from Logic – yeah, expect to see a Mac Pro in broadcast/film/TV applications running audio

Mixer configuration can be set to your own user-definable defaults (huge time saver there, finally)

A clever automatic duplicate erase when you’re merging MIDI recordings

And some new keyboard shortcuts to save you time when editing:

  • Option + Shift while rubber-band selecting in the Piano Roll: new time Handles selection.
  • Option-click track on/off button: loads/unloads the plug-ins on the channel strip (wow, easy A/B!)
  • Shift-double-click Tracks background: start playback from that position.

And for the “I have an old beat-up MacBook you can pry out of my dead fingers” crowd – finally Freeze works the way it should. (How many of you were desperately freezing tracks while cursing Logic as the CPU meter refused to go down?) From the release notes:

“Freezing a track now unloads its plug-ins to free up resources.”

There are also fixes and performance optimizations and workflow and display improvements throughout. As you’d expect, fixes are concentrated on newer features – Smart Tempo, ARA, Flex, and the like.

So you don’t get any earth-shaking new features unless you’re really into de-essing, but what you do get is some evidence the Apple engineers are working through their log of stuff.

Logic Pro X 10.4 release notes (Apple support, 10.4.5 stuff is right up top)

Full disclosure: I will now this week refresh my MacBook Pro’s OS and then Logic release.

Hey, say what you will about Apple, but Logic Pro these days is pretty accessible from a user experience perspective. There’s some powerful and numerous competitors that either fail that ease of use test or that simply lack features you need to get big jobs done in scoring and the like. Maddeningly, a lot get the ease right but lack features, or have insanely powerful features but demand you contort your brain to use them. (Once upon a time, an earlier version of Logic was also far harder to use.)

I know from CDM’s own site stats and plenty of anecdotal evidence that all this matters to music makers. It’s not just Apple brand loyalty that makes Logic last.

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Everything you might have missed in Apple’s latest announcements

There’s a giant expensive cheese grater Mac and display and new versions of all Apple’s platforms. But what’s going on with iTunes? iPadOS? And what else might matter to musicians and visual artists? Here’s a round-up.

macOS Catalina

iTunes is getting split into Music, Podcasts, and TV. This you probably heard – Apple is breaking up iTunes and releasing fresh new Mac apps with more focus. That’s caused some people to panic – but don’t panic yet. Apart from the likelihood that you’ll be able to continue using iTunes for now, the new Music app may give you reason to switch – without losing existing functionality or libraries.

iTunes download sales aren’t going away. Apple made a big change when it went from the iTunes Music Store – which offered paid downloads – to the ability to stream most of its catalog in Apple Music, for a subscription fee. But that announcement was made in June 2015. Apple confirms you’ll still be able to buy downloads and access purchases in the new Music app. The music industry is still torn between the download and streaming models, but this week’s announcements don’t really change much as far as Apple.

Apple Music may turn out to be more iTunes than iTunes.

Music Store is “a click away.” Here’s the thing: far from being bad news for download sales, if the Music app is cleaner and more pleasurable to use than iTunes, it could actually improve visibility of the Music Store and give a little boost to sales. You still see streaming options by default, and Apple is promoting their own recommendations. But that’s the trend with Spotify, too – it’s not necessarily good for music producers and independent music, but it’s also not news.

In fact, the real news is, Apple might be more interested in growing music revenue, not less. Here’s the thing to remember – Apple is an iPhone business ($31 billion in the second quarter of this year), but it’s also a services business. Services are what is growing, and services are what set records in the quarter Apple just reported. In fact, Services outpaced the Mac and iPad businesses in that same quarter – combined.

$11.45 billion: Services
$5.51 billion: Mac
$4.87 billion: iPad

Apple releases Q2 2019 earnings, announces revenue of $58 billion [9to5mac]

Killing downloads makes no sense for Apple. If anything, it makes sense for them to find ways to grow music purchases. Basically, Apple cares about music revenue just as musicians care about it – even if Apple’s goal is to get a bite of that, uh, fruit.

Music appears to do what iTunes did. All the major playlist, library management, and sync and conversion features of iTunes appear to be coming to the new Music app, too. It reportedly will even burn CDs, a feature dating back to the early iTunes “Rip, Mix, Burn” days. Apple also says you’ll see updated Library pages and easier typing to find what you want, plus a refreshed player. (9to5mac called it weeks ago.)

Ars Technica got some clarification of this. The main thing is, you can import your existing library without losing anything. And you’ll sync in the file system (which makes more sense, frankly). Apple Music may turn out to be more iTunes than iTunes.

Answers to some of your iTunes questions: Old libraries, Windows, and more

Devices are now in the Finder, not iTunes. Sync, backup, update, restore in Finder, plus get cloud sync options – rather than digging around iTunes.

Music may even work with your DJ software. Many DJs currently manage libraries in iTunes, then sync with desktop software like Rekordbox, TRAKTOR, and Serato. We don’t have a specific answer on how this will work – specifically, if something like the current iTunes XML format for metadata will be available. But the fact that the new Music app syncs using Finder, in the file system, is encouraging. Watch this space for more information.

It’s not clear what happens to iTunes on Windows going forward. If you think iTunes on the Mac is due for a refresh, you should see the clunky Windows port. Since Apple is making “Apple Music” part of macOS, and building as it always does with native tools, it’s unclear what Windows users will get going forward. Given the new sync stuff is all tied to the file system, this gets even murkier.

In the same Ars piece, Apple confirmed they’re keeping iTunes for Windows for now. But that goes without saying – otherwise Apple would break their music product for a huge number of their users – and still doesn’t answer the future situation.

Sidecar looks very cool – for everything from sketching and drawing to a new gestural input method and shortcuts.

Apple’s Sidecar will make it easier to use your iPad with your Mac. It’s what Duet Display already does – and that app was made by ex-Apple engineers – but Apple is promising native integration of the iPad as a second display, plus support for Apple Pencil. I’ll keep using Duet on my Windows machie, but I’m betting the Apple-native integration will dominate on the Mac. Sidecar also does more than Duet ever did – with additional gestures, inserting sketches into apps, modifiers for pro apps, and native developer support.

(So far, of pro apps, Final Cut Pro, Motion, and Illustrator are listed – though not Logic, in case you think of a way of sketching into your music arrangements.)

Zoom a second display. Independent second monitor zoom should come in very handy in multi-monitor editing of both video and music.

Uh, this might break some drivers. I’ll quote Apple’s documentation here: “Previously many hardware peripherals and sophisticated features needed to run their code directly within macOS using kernel extensions, or kexts. Now these programs run separately from the operating system, just like any other app, so they can’t affect macOS if something goes wrong.” Obviously, we’ll need to check in on compatibility of audio drivers and copy protection for audio software.

Sophisticated voice control. Apple is significantly developing everyone’s “Tea, Earl Gray, Hot” Star Trek voice command fantasies with new, more accurate, more powerful, more integrated lower-latency voice control. There’s no sign yet to how this might get used in pro audio or visual apps, but you can bet someone is thinking about it.

QuickTime gets an update. It’s probably been since the days of the long-lamented QuickTime Pro 7 that we got QuickTime application features to write how about. But there are some compelling new features – turn a folder of images into a motion sequence in any format (yes!), open a more powerful Movie Inspector, and show accurate Timecode, plus export transparency in ProRes 4444.

Snapshots with restore. I’ve long complained that macOS lacks the snapshot features of Windows – which let you easily roll back your system to a state before you, like, screwed something up. There’s now “Restore from snapshot.” Apple only mentions third-party software, but it seems recent file system changes will mean this should also work with ill-behaved OS updates from Apple, too. (Yes, sometimes even Apple tech can go wrong.)

https://www.apple.com/macos/catalina-preview/features/

iOS and now iPadOS

Apple not only announced major updates to iOS in iOS 13, but also a new more pro-focused iPadOS.

Expect more sharing between macOS and iOS/iPadOS development AudioUnit is listed as a shared framework allowing developers to target Mac and iOS with a single SDK. You can also expect AV frameworks like Core Audio, and other media and 3D tools. Of course, that was always the vision Apple had with its mobile OS – and even can trace some lineage back to early work done pre-Apple at NeXT. That said, while this SDK is appealing, many developers will continue to look elsewhere so they’re not restricted to Apple platforms, depending on their use case.

You’ll need specific devices to support the new OS. iOS 13 requires iPhone SE / 6s or better, or 7th-gen iPod touch. iPadOS is even more limited – the iPad Pro, iPad Air 3rd gen or Air 2 or better, iPad mini 4 or better, and 5th-gen or better iPad.

iPadOS: external storage. Finally, you can plug USB storage into your iPad and navigate the external file system – a huge boon to managing photos, video, audio recordings, and even USB sticks for DJ sets. Yes, of course, Android and all desktop OSes do this already, but it’s definitely welcome on the iPad.

iPadOS: better file management. The Files app has been updated with columns, and you can share whole folders via iCloud Drive. (Finally and … finally.)

iPadOS: ‘desktop’-style browser. Apple says you get something more like the desktop Safari on your iPad – so you can use more sites and you get a download manager.

iPadOS: mouse support. This is an accessibility feature, but the combination of touch and mouse will be useful to everyone – like so many accessibility features. I expect it’ll also make working with tools like Cubasis way more fun. Basically, your external mouse or trackpad gets to behave like a very accurate finger. It’s not a desktop mouse so much as it is a way to access touch via the mouse:

Spotted other interesting details in recent Apple news? Let us know.

The post Everything you might have missed in Apple’s latest announcements appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Get going with MOTU’s DP10 with these videos

DP10 for Mac and Windows, unveiled this spring, brought breakthrough features to the long-standing favorite DAW called Digital Performer. So now it’s time to dig in and start using the new stuff.

DP has never been short on updates, but some of them certainly felt iterative. And the software had to make the jump from Mac to Windows, which initially got tricky with Windows’ archaic high-density display support and left the screen hard to see.

DP10 is interesting because it brings some genuinely new ideas. There’s a Clip View that looks an awful lot like Ableton’s Session View, but with some new twists – and in a more traditional DAW, with stuff like proper video and cue support which Live so sorely lacks. There are more ways to manipulate audio and pitch without jumping into a plug-in. There’s a substantially beefed-up waveform editor. If you missed it before, I covered this when it debuted in February:

DP10 adds clip launching, improved audio editing to MOTU’s DAW

Or watch Sound on Sound‘s breakdown of the upgrade:

I’m a great fan of written tutorials, but some of this stuff really does benefit from a visual aid. So let’s get started. As it happens, while it’s a bit hidden, you can now download a 30-day demo – enough time to try finishing a project in DP and see if you like it. They’ve got a US$395 upgrade from competing products, so DP fits nicely in a mid-range price point when some competing options have crept up to a grand or more. (Cough, you know who you are.)

http://www.motu.com/download

First, Thomas Foster will hold your hand and walk you through a total-beginner walkthrough of how to get started with DP10. And unlike MOTU’s own videos, this one is also oriented toward in-the-box electronic production – so it’ll be friendly to a lot of the sorts who read this site.

From the absolute beginning, here’s a look at actually creating something, using the Model12 and the BassLine instruments:

(If you want to get more advanced with BassLine, check the MOTU videos below.)

And also at the 101-level, importing audio and applying audio effects to vocals:

VCA Faders are one of the more unique new features – here’s a walkthrough focused on that:

Lastly, round about March MOTU posted a huge trove of demos and tutorials from seminars at NAMM. It’s maybe doubly interesting for including some industry heavyweights – Family Guy composer Walter Murphy, LA producer/composer David Das, Mike McKnight who programs and plays keyboards for Roger Waters, music tech legend Craig Anderton, and more.

It’s easier to navigate what’s available from MOTU’s blog than in the distracting maze that is YouTube, so have a look here:

MOTU demos from NAMM 2019

I expect some CDM readers out there are DP users, so I’d love to hear from you about how you feel about this update and how you use the software in your work.

And as always, if there’s a tool you want to see featured, don’t hesitate to write.

The post Get going with MOTU’s DP10 with these videos appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.