Dec 11

It’s that time of year when you start thinking of Musical gifts for the holidays. Whether it’s for a friend or loved one or yourself or just for the tax deduction, now’s the time to get that special something that you’ve been wanting all year.
As if you can’t think of a bunch of things that you simply must have, I’ll throw a few more Mac audio must haves your way. Topping my list is the number 1 Mac Audio must have, if you have a G4 or better Mac you need iLife 05. Because if you don’t already have GarageBand, you need it. So jump on the Bandwagon for the best piece of music software you can get for under a hundred smackers. Oh, and also for your $79 you get iPhoto, iMovieHD and iDVD. iLife05 is available from the Apple Store.
Got GarageBand and think you’re ready to move onto a more sophisticated program? Check out Steinberg’s Cubase SE. Cubase SE is the starter program in the Cubase line. It is simple enough to keep the your home studio making music instead of scratching you head. And it has enough features to just about everything you need to do including 48 audio tracks, an unlimited number of MIDI tracks, sequencing and hard disk recording features as well as professional 24-bit/96kHz resolution. Cubase SE is on sale at Audiomdi.com for $99.
If you’re tired of using GarageBand’s on screen keyboard or Musical typing feature, you need a MIDI Keyboard controller. M-Audio’s Keystation 49e is a solid choice. It packs 49 keys and a bunch of features into a keyboard that limbos under the $100 bar at $99. The 49e is available from the Apple Store or Audiomidi.com among others.
Midi keyboards are fine but what if you want to record your Guitar? GuitarPlug is a device that plugs directly into your guitar and has a USB cable output to allow you to plug directly into your Mac even if it’s an iBook and doesn’t have built-in audio inputs. If you record using a Dynamic Mc there’s also the MicPlug that plugs into you dynamic or self-powered condenser Mic and has a USB output. Handy. Both are available from Mac-Pro.com for $40 bucks apiece.
Another cool USB Mic solution is Samson’s C01U Large capsule condenser mic with a built-in USB interface. You just can’t beat the simplicity a studio quality mic that plugs directly to your Mac. The C01U is available from AudioMidi.com and others for $79. One last USB thingy is the iMic 2 from Griffen Technologies. It’s still the best and cheapest way to get audio into your Mac if it doesn’t have a built-in audio input. The iMic is available from griffintechnology.com and other retailers for a modest $39.
If you’re in the market for microphones, here are a couple that you need to check out. First is the venerable Shure SM-57. More specifically the SM57LC (LC for low cost presumably.) The SM-57 is arguably the most popular dynamic recording mic in the world. I don’t know how many thousand times I’ve used this Mic for everything from micing guitar amps to xylophones. You need to have this mic in your collection. The SM-57LC is on sale for $89 from Audiomidi com. The next Mic is a new kid on the block and sounds like mics costing hundreds more. The M-Audio Nova is quickly becoming the weapon of choice for small studios when you need a large capsule condenser Mic for recording vocals and acoustic instruments. The Nova is available from most music retailers for $99.
The Next two items are must haves for monitoring. You know actually listening to what you’re recording. As far as headphones go, the pro studio standard is the Sony MDR-7506. Whether it’s checking a mix or monitor for vocals the Sony’s don’t lie. No serious recordist should be without a pair. The MDR- 7506s are available from most music retailers for between $89 and $99. This next item is something that you don’t think you need but once you use it you’ll never know how you got along without it. The Samson C-Control is a control room-monitoring Matrix. What hell is that? You ask. The C-Control gives you total control of monitoring; just like a big time studio consol. Need to set up a headphone mix-minus for your performers the C-control makes it easy. It also includes features like a built-in talkback mic, Audio slating and Studio monitor switching. This device is the Swiss army knife of studio monitoring. The C-control is available from audiomidi.com and others for $99.
The last item on my list of 12 must-haves is IcedAudio’s Audiofinder. Audiofinder is a software package that allows you to manage the hundreds (if not thousands) of sounds that you have hanging around in your Mac. Whether its soundfonts, appleloops, Wavs of Aiff files Audiofinder allows you to find, audition and organize your sound collection. This program has more features than Brad Piit has fans. It does everything from extracting samples from sample CDs to outputting spreadsheet files of your collection. Simply put, this is the first piece of software you should get after your main sequencer. AudioFinder is available form IcedAudio.com for $69.95
That wraps up my list of twelve, believe me, there where a few more contenders, but you gotta draw the line somewhere. Happy Holidays!

written by macaudioguy

Dec 03

Last week I introduced you to the DLSMusicDevice which allows you to compose General MIDI songs within GarageBand. In part two of this series I’ll show you how to export your General MIDI compositions from GarageBand.
GarageBand is a powerful program but one of its most glaring faults is that it only allows you to export your music to iTunes. If you want to export a tune that you’ve composed using software instruments or the DLSMusicDevise you options are limited. The first and easiest method is to buy Logic Express and import your GarageBand composition into Logic express and then export a MIDI file from Logic Express. Of course if you have Logic Express it raises the question as to why you would compose in GarageBand instead of its big brother. For me, it’s a matter of simplicity. I like to sketch out my ideas using GarageBand as a “quick and dirty” tool then export the tune for polishing in a more sophisticated program. But I digress.
The second, and somewhat harder method of exporting MIDI from GarageBand involves the use of an Audio Unit plug-in called MidiO. MidiO is a freeware utility from RetroWare and can be downloaded from: http://home.comcast.net/~retroware/. Don’t worry I’ll post the link in the Noise section of MacAudioGuy.com. This plug-in will allow you to export a garageBand Software Instrument track as a MIDI stream. What this means is that you can only export one track at a time and you will have to a have some form of MIDI sequencer in order to record the MIDI stream. Kludgy? Sure, but you get what you pay for. So in order to use MidiO, you have to have some sort of MIDI Sequencer program. I like a cool shareware program called EasyBeat. Which is available from: http://www.macility.com/ . The next step is to set the generator of the track that you wish to export from GarageBand to MidiO.. Also set the MIDI output to MDI Virtual source in the edit window. Make sure that no tracks in GarageBand are set to record ready, because you’re likely to create a MIDI feedback loop. It’s far too easy to create a MIDI feedback loop with MidiO so be very careful. Next set EasyBeat or your MIDI Sequencer to use the MidiO as a MIDI Source and then set the sequencer to record. Once the MIDI sequencer is recording then hit play in GarageBand. If you’re lucky and did every thing right you should now be recording MIDI from GarageBand. Once you’ve recorded the stream, you’ll have to repeat the process for each track you want export and then you will have to offset the tracks so that they all start at measure one in your MIDI Sequencer. This process sounds more difficult than it is, but after a couple of tries, you’ll find it becomes at least tolerable.
Okay so now you’ve exported your software instrument tracks from GarageBand and have them as MIDI tracks in your sequencer. How do we turn them into a General MIDI file? The good news is that most sequencers make this fairly simple. In the case of Easy Beat, all you have to do is set the tracks instrument to an appropriate General MIDI instrument, and then after you have set all the instruments, export a MIDI file. And again if you’re lucky you will have a General MIDI file of your song.
Exporting MIDI from GarageBand is much more difficult than it should be, but now you know that it is possible, if your willing to jump through a few hoops.
New and Cool!
If you want to get audio into an iBook or just needed an inexpensive USB audio interface Griffin technology’s $39 iMic is a lifesaver. Guess what? Griffin has just released the new improved iMic 2 and it’s still only $39! What’s new and improved? Mostly the improvements are in appearance. The rather obscure icons are replaced by plain English labels for the inputs and outputs also the new iMic is iPod white instead of the old clear and silver. It also still comes with Final Vinyl software for transferring your vinyl to digital. The iMic 2 is available from Griffintechnology.com or most Mac retailers.
Another easy do product is MXL Microphone’s MXL Desktop recording kit. The all-in-one kit includes a condenser mic a preamp and all the cables you need to get audio into your Mac’s built in audio port. This is a great no-brainer starter kit for only $149. The Desktop recording kit is available from MXLmics.com.

written by macaudioguy