Nov 14 2014
Okay, I’ve been slacking as the Mac Audio Guy, Something to do with a day-job, and real-life, and making more video than audio lately, But I’m back with a top-ten list for 2013 and 14. Just in time for the gift –buying season. Let me know what you think of my list.
1. Logic Pro X
Logic Pro X (ten) was released in 2013 and blew us all away that you could get such a full featured DAW for a penny under $200. It is a lot more user-friendly than the previous versions of Logic , adds a ton of new features and half the price of it’s predecessor. If you have a Mac and you record music, Get it.
2. Ableton 9 and Push
$958 Push and Live Suite
If you DJ or compose Dub Step (Who doesn’t?) you probably use Live (we won’t ask how you acquired it. ) It is probably the most useful tool out there for composing EDM or performing live EDM. Live Nine adds a bunch of cool stuff, and has a new user interface that you can even use it with two monitors now.
Push is Ableton’s super-intuitive pad hardware controller that allows you to control almost everything in Live while performing live or composing. Using Live is not cheap, but if you wanna be the next DJ Skream, you gotta have it.
3. Yosemite/ GarageBand
Yosemite is rock solid stable, Talks to your iOS 8 devices and includes GarageBand and iWork for free. Download and install it now! (Okay, you can wait to finish this article.)
4. Presonus StudioLive AI Mixer/Control Surface
$1,999.95 – $3,499.95
It used to be that a mixing board was the center of a studio, nowadays some studios don’t even have a mixing board. Presonus bridged the gap between old school control and new school adaptability. If you are an audio professional or are setting-up a project studio, this is what you need. Presonus knows quality preamps and computer interfacing. The StudioLive series can act as a stand-alone digital mixing system with it’s own Mac software or act as a powerful control surface for Logic Pro X. You can even take it on the road as a sound reinforcement mixer. And it’s fun to watch motorized faders.
5. Cross DJ
First off I have to say that I love Algoriddum’s DJ app. And it has recently been updated to version 4.2.3. That said, DJ isn’t the only app in town anymore. Say hello to CrossDJ. Cross DJ is not only a very capable DJ mixing app, it also throws in some really cool video features. You can use it with a whole bunch of external controllers, or just pack your Macbook Air to the gig and blow down the house. Throw in iPhone and iPad apps and you’ve got a sweet DJ rig. There’s even a free version to check out.
6. Audiofile Engineering -Triumph and Spectre
Just when we thought that there were no new Mac pro-audio apps from third party developers Audiofile Engineering stepped-up to the plate. They’ve developed a whole suite of pro-audio apps both for the Mac and for iOS devices. Including a really cool (but expensive) voice-over recording app. But when it comes to audio for CD mastering, you need to get Triumph. It’s one of the few audio editors that work with the DDP format and supports AU effects. There is a bit of a learning curve, but the results are worthwhile. The sister app Spectre is a comprehensive audio metering solution, that allows you to optimize your audio for broadcast, CD mastering, even surround sound. Plus, it makes for a really impressive display screen to entertain your producer.
7. Korg iOS Gadget
This one takes your iPad and it turns it into a sick tool for making beats and kick-ass synth sounds. It has a bunch of built-in synths and drum machines named after cities, and if the built-in ones aren’t enough, you can purchase even more cities to round out the entire production studio on an iPad. If you can’t afford Ableton Live and you have an IOS device, Gadget is your studio.
This one is for the geeks. Ever want to turn your WiiMote or Guitar Hero controller into a Midi input device? Well, this is the app for that. With the OSCulator app you can even turn your Wacom tablet, Space Navigator or iOS device into a powerful MIDI Mapping controller. With a little imagination you can even do some really cool live performance gesture control. Warning: once you start playing with this, you might not stop for days. So play with it on a weekend, so you don’t lose your job.
9. Focusrite Tape and iTrack Dock
Dock $199 Tape free
What if you’re not a DubStep DJ producer and maybe good ol’ singer/songwriting is your thing? You just need a straight-ahead high-quality recording device. Focusrite makes some pretty sweet sounding mic preamps and pair that with a Lightning compatable iOS dock and you’ve got the Tape Dock. Paired with the free Tape app, you can do powerful high quality multi-track recording for a fraction of the cost of a traditional home studio. The dock also works as an iOS audio interface for other apps like GarageBand. Oh, and it looks Hella cool.
At first glance you say “WTF, $89? It’s just a MIDI interface.” You’d be wrong. The iConnMIDI2L+ does a couple things that no other device does. First, it allows you to do lossless audio pass-through between your Mac and your iOS devices. Secondly, it can act as a MIDI interface for your iOS device and Mac simultaneously. It basically integrates your entire MIDI device, iOS device and Mac set-up, so they all play well together. Isn’t peace and harmony in your studio worth $89? Oh, and it charges your iOS device too.
11. Cyberstep KDJ One
No Price yet
All right, I had to mention one more device, even though it’s not even real yet. It claims to be world’s first portable music studio. Although I might argue that the iPad has that title, the KDJ One is cool nonetheless. I’m definitely checking-out their Kickstarter.