January means one thing to Mac people and that’s the Mac World Expo and Steve’s Keynote. It’s also the time of year when Mac people, like yours truly, start speculating on what new products will be announced at the Expo.
With iPods making Apple more money than Macs are, it will be no surprise that this years Expo will be more about iPods than computers. The first and most credible rumor is that the 1Gig iPod Shuffle will be replaced. The evidence is that Apple retail stores are just selling remaining stock. Apple’s online store, has been saying “Currently Unavailable” for the 1GB iPod shuffle, since mid-December. And this iPod model is not available at major retailers, including amazon.com. We hope that 512 Meg. Shuffle will still be under the $100 price point, and that the 2GB Nano goes down to $150. Certainly there will be some kind of shuffle in the iPod line-up.
If you got a new 5G iPod this year, it’s probably painfully obvious to you that a lot of 4th gen. IPod accessories don’t work with the new form factor. Most notable, to me at least
Other iPod rumors include an Apple Boom Box for iPods. (Probable,) HBO programming (Very Likely,) Bluetooth or 802.11x wireless capability for new iPods (not expected this year) and an iPod camera. (ehhh, Maybe?)
The main thing is that hopefully the Expo will see a landslide of accessories to enhance the 5g iPods capabilities.
Enough about iPods what about the new Intel Macs? According to MacSecret.com “Apple appears on track to deliver an Intel-based iBook early next year, sources report, and in doing so will replace its long-standing 14.1-inch model with a widescreen 13.3-inch display.” I think we’ll definitely see an Intel Mac before the end of 2006, probably both iBooks and Mac Minis, but I would be extremely surprised to see them launched at the Expo simply because the 10.4.4 OS that will support Intel Macs isn’t expected until mid-year. I’ll go out on a limb and guess that there won’t be any significantly new Macs launched at the Expo. So what about software? New versions of iLife always seem to appear at the Expo, so iLife ’06 will probably be announced. The ’06 version will almost certainly include a version of Front Row that will allow remote control of your iLife Apps. Midi export and 48Khz recording are on my wish list for GarageBand 3, but I would be surprised if that happened. The most obvious addition to iWork ’06 would be a spreadsheet app that would finally make the suite competitive with MS Office. The Lack of a spreadsheet in Iwork is the only thing keeping many users shackled to a Microsoft product. At last a Microsoft free Mac, Yippee!
Finally there is one piece of Apple hardware that has been rumored for a long time. I’m talking about a 24bit 96Khz stereo Audio interface box from Apple. I would think that it’d be USB 2 rather than Firewire ala the iPod and although it probably won’t happen. It would be a dream machine in my book if you could record directly to the new iPod.
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!
Unless you’ve been living underground, you’re probably aware of the new video iPods.
The big question is, are they revolutionary or ho-hum? I say revolutionary and here’s why.
I thought the iPod mini was pretty cool, the Shuffle and the iPod photo were stupid and that the Nano has too small of a screen for my aging eyes. And like all Apple products, I think that they are pricey. But I’m jumping up and down in anticipation of buying the Video iPod. Because it’s the first true multi-media player in the iPod line, it’s the difference between radio and TV. When I’m going to a studio or meeting a client I usually have my iBook and a cell phone with me, so I thought having an iPod was kinda redundant. Besides I have a little cheapy multimedia thingy from Apitek that I picked up at Target that has a 512 CF card that plays MP3s, has a 2 megapixel (crappy cell phone quality) still camera, A 640×480 15 FPS video camera, a voice recorder, a 1.5 inch screen, An A/V out and a USB port, runs on two AA batteries, fits in my pocket and cost less than $200. Why do I need an iPod?
The video iPod changes everything, at least for me. Now I can carry around 30 to 60 Gigs of files. Display photos and video, playback audio. And have and organizer all in one pocket device. Why does the MacAudioGuy need video? Actually most of my sound design work is for video or synced to a video clip for a game. So now I can throw the finished product onto the iPod as a file and encode an iPod video for display on the iPod or outputting to a Monitor via the AV cable. Sure I can do the same thing with my iBook, but my iBook doesn’t fit in my pocket.
I’ve read the reviews and I can see why some reviewers were underwelmed by the video iPod especially longtime iPodders that can’t see beyond what a regular iPod does or those who try to compare it to a PSP or similar larger media player. But I think they missed a few features that make the video iPod, my kinda iPod. First off, 16bit 44.1 KHz stereo recording capability. (Making my portable DAT Machine even more obsolete.) How about he AV out, now I can playback the latest slideshow of my grandkids anywhere there’s a T.V. monitor. bwwhhahaha! And finally I think that most reviewers are underestimating the power of Video Podcasting. Which brings me to the truly revolutionary part.
Podcasting has become so popular because the iPod democratizes both the production and the consumption of media content. Anybody can have a radio show and anybody who is interested can listen to it. Now with the video iPod anybody can have a TV show and anybody who is interested can watch it. On the Go. Mark my words; this is the stuff that revolutions are made of. The video iPod is but one of the early forms of this type of media distribution device. Video mobile phones with RSS capabilities are hitting the market too. Think of it like having tivo in your pocket. The ability to subscribe or download video content to a portable device will soon give a whole new meaning to video on demand.
Yes, the revolution will be televised, but probably as a Podcast.
New and Cool!
At the risk of being perceived as a mouthpiece for Steve Jobs, The AppleG5 dual core line-up is both New and cool. The PowerPC dual cores will probably be that last hurrah for the IBM chip before the Intel’s arrive. And the way I see it, if I want to run my current software as fast as possible. I want to buy the lastest and fastest PowerPC based Mac. While the kick-ass Quad 2.5Ghz at a mere 3300 smackers is bit beyond my means. The dual 2.3 GHz is a pretty good bargain at $2500 when you look closely at the features. And you can even spend less for the $2000 Dual 2Ghz.
The bad news is that if you have a PCI or PCIX sound card (read Digidesign TDM,) it won’t work with the new PCI express architecture. Supposedly the PCI express is going to be around even on the Intel machines. But I’m sticking to Firewire audio interfaces myself.
Other than the PCI express caveat. The dual cores (which means two processors on one chip BTW) should be lean mean A/v editing machines.