How headphones changed the world

Great piece over at The Atlantic on the history of “personal music”:

The purpose of the headphone is to concentrate a quiet and private sound in the ear of the listener. This is a radical departure from music’s social purpose in history.

And also, on music’s educational benefits:

If headphones are so bad for productivity, why do so many people at work have headphones?

The answer is surprising. Give this article a good solid 10 minutes to sink in.

Lets have fun reading into Apple’s acquisition of Redmatica

Here’s an interesting tidbit buried among all the other Apple news: Apple bought a small Italian plugin company.

I feel like I used AutoSampler at one point:

AutoSampler has been designed to be as simple as possible to operate. For sampling an hardware instrument, you just need to connect it to your Mac through MIDI and audio cables. The MIDI synth is sent a sequence of notes at various pitches and velocities and each sample is recorded, trimmed, normalized, saved and automatically inserted at the appropriate place in newly created instruments.

Pretty cool – I’d like to see this baked into future editions of Logic, for sure. But why acquire this company with expertise in sampling-based plugins? Surely Logic’s engineers could do this on their own. And Garageband’s sampler is…

…only on iOS. Here’s another Redmatica product: GBSamplerManager

Use your EXS24 instruments in your GarageBand for iPad songs
There are literally tens of thousands of commercial and freely available EXS24 sounds available on the internet. Drum loops, vintage analog synths, everything. With GBSamplerManager you can easily use them in your GarageBand iOS projects. And if you want to migrate your hardware and software synth sounds to GarageBand iOS you can purchase the simple one-click AutoSampler application on your Mac to create your own sampled sound library.

So, if we’re almost a year from the last major GarageBand release, and we’re just now buying a highly relevant company whose products could be baked into the next GarageBand, AND their products are highly relevant to the probably more popular iOS GarageBand, then either:

A) Apple already copied Redmatica’s core apps and they’re being swell and offering them jobs because their products will likely no longer be relevant. Expect a big release soon with all of the cool sampling features.


B) There isn’t going to be a major GarageBand release until at least 6-8 months from now, giving them time to implement Redmatica’s software. Expect a big release in 8-12 months.

Either way, this acquisition tells me that Apple is serious about improving the state of affairs on Mac GarageBand, which is a good thing for everyone – if Apple is trying to improve their audio products, the OS is going to stay ahead of the game as well.

Luke Dubois – Vertical Music

This is sonically and technically amazing stuff.  It’s like a Paulstretch creation done live by real musicians in real time.  Or maybe it’s like being in Inception and hearing what’s happening one dream higher.   This is a 4.5 minute piece, slowed down (due to being filmed at 300fps). I’m guessing to get the sound quality to be equally high when time stretched he recorded either at (above?) 192kHz/48bit or one of those DSD recorders that go at around 5mHz/1bit.

(edit: it was actually time stretched using Michael Klingbeil’s SPEAR) – I wonder if it’s even possible to record fast enough to get this type of effect?

Either way, amazing stuff:

Mike Lawson tells it like it is

Great Q&A with TI:ME’s executive director in SBO this month.  I sometimes have trouble defining what exactly TI:ME does, and this paragraph really nails it down:

There are a lot of band directors moving towards retirement. The older band directors are the ones who are least likely to adapt. Many of the newer ones coming in are already familiar with some of the more widespread music software, but they still haven’t spent a ton of time doing audio production or recording. Those educators could still benefit from some training on a basic understanding of the physics of sound and how to explain that to kids.  The bottom line is that TI:ME wants to help teachers figure out how to solve these problems.

Bottom line: if you’re a music teacher and your classes are losing modern relevance, TI:ME will help you drag yourself (kicking and screaming?) into the 21st century.

100% crop of a screenshot of iPad GarageBand on the Retina Display

Stunning amount of detail on this display.

From the “recent projects” screen – the thumbnail of the default demo project:

Remember: these aren’t enlarged.  This is the actual image from the screen at full resolution.  Imagine if you could cram this much detail into a desktop display.

The best headphones for your lab (or yourself)

CultofMac has a great review of the headphones I started using in my lab last year.  Sonically I prefer the semi-open AKG-style, but for holding up in class these are the absolute best you can buy.

At the beginning of the year, we went through three different models in actual classroom use: The Sennheiser HD201, the AKG K240, and the Shure SRH440.  The Sennheisers are super cheap, which is good if you’re on a tight budget I suppose, but they will only last about a year or two before the hinges snap.

The AKG’s *should* have worked well.  They’re very flexible, but not in a hinge-snappy kind of way.  The problem I had with these is that after a short use period, the electrical contacts in the ear cups would start to fail.  Back when they made these in Austria I never encountered this problem, but the newest batches are Chinese-made and must not have a reliable production method yet.

The Shure SRH440, on the other hand, is built like a truck.  These are the most solid headphones I’ve ever used – all metal, and still pretty comfortable.  The backs are closed, which make them a bit worse for mixing than the AKG’s, but for general class use they can’t be beat.