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Remember what I was saying about the Raspberry Pi, well now there’s this …

The Audioinjector Octo surround sound card for the Raspberry Pi, on Kickstarter right now.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1250664710/audio-injector-octo-surround-sound-for-the-raspber#

I posted just the other day about the musical possibilities of the Raspberry Pi. Now there’s this, a 6 in and 8 out sound card for the Pi. This is pretty big stuff. Pretty amazing actually. Here’s the detail:

“We bring to you the audio card (for the Raspberry Pi) which seemed impossible, but now it is done! Push your projects further into un-trodden territory – further then others have gone before.

Whilst this gadget works with the Raspberry Pi, it represents an innovation in the realm of embedded systems. The innovation is at a hardware level, in audio signalling, giving us the ability to retrofit these systems with more then their typically quoted two channels of audio in and out.

This sound card features crystal clear 8 channel output audio, with 6 channels of input audio. Unlike other multichannel solutions, this surround hat only uses the GPIO I2S bus for audio. It doesn’t use USB nor does it use HDMI.

The sound card is designed to be customisable. You can design your own break out to suit your needs. The break out headers will have a KiCad project available to aid your designs.

Our previous kickstarter success was delivered on time, working and with support. Support this campaign which builds on the same foundation.”

Example applications

  • Professional audio recording (with 6 balanced inputs)
  • Multichannel output for your projects.
  • Car audio front/back fading.
  • Active crossovers, up to 8 way, or 2 speakers each 4 way.
  • SDR, processing many channels at the same time.
  • Surround sound output for your media centre.
  • Projects we didn’t imagine you would implement !

So it’s really worth taking a look at the Kickstarter page to see what’s what. I’m fairly sure I’m going to be a backer on this one.

One thing I’m not clear on is how this works with Tracktion’s new WaveForm multitrack software for Raspberry Pi. I’d be interested to understand how that works.

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PocketCHIP does music making, and Phase is one of the first apps specifically built for it

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If you’ve no idea what I’m talking about when I mention the PocketCHIP that’s fine. CHIP was kickstarted in June of last year, and units started getting to backers a few months ago. One of the builds of CHIP was the PocketCHIP which you can see above with the nice round silver buttons on it. In the picture, the PocketCHIP is running Phase.

New platforms are important, and what signalled to me that PocketCHIP was going to be potentially noteworthy was that it shipped with an app that we all know and love, SunVox, and it runs very well on this device too. Since then there have been quite a few moves to port existing apps to PocketCHIP. In the main these have been older bits of software like MilkyTracker, PicoLoop etc. People are even trying to get Pd running on the PocketCHIP, which could be fun. But, as far as I’m aware, nothing new (I could be wrong there of course).

That is, nothing new until now. Phase is the first new music app for the PocketCHIP as is from one of my favourite developers Erik Sigth who has brought us amazing apps on iOS like nils, frekvens, shapeSynth and strng. Erik has also moved into Android as well, but as far as I know this is the first thing he’s produced for PocketCHIP, and it’s very much up to his normal high standards.

So what is Phase?

Well you can read about it on Erik’s site, but in a nutshell:

“Phase is a phase distortion synthesizer written for the pocket chip. It has two individually tuned oscillators with controls for ring modulation, adsr, 4 – 32 point phase distortion, 8 point pitch adsr and distortion adsr. Further shape the sound with a stereo delay, phaser and chorus. Play the three playmodes: 4 voice polyphonic, monophonic or arpeggio with the pocket chip keyboard or by plugging in a usb midi device. “

It’s probably easier to see it though:

Whilst a device like PocketCHIP is never going to be as polished as an iOS device it does have one big advantage, and this is that it’s open. Being open means that it will hopefully see a lot more experimental apps arrive for it that we wouldn’t see elsewhere.

I hope that more developers start to experiment with PocketCHIP and that we see more high quality apps like Phase arrive that open up the hardware to a different group of musicians. Who knows, I may even have a go myself!

My personal view is that more hardware platforms give us more choice and a wider range of creative possibilities, and that can only be a good thing. PocketCHIP isn’t the only option of course, but given its highly portable nature it feels like a good fit and a useful way to step out of the mainstream app economy to play with something that’s a bit different.

I hope that PocketCHIP has a musical future. I’ll be watching it closely, and I’ll let you know how it unfolds.

 

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Apple have turned a corner, Android is still lagging behind, and why is there no third option?

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If you don’t know already then you should be aware that Apple has started the process of killing off the headphone jack in their latest iPhone version. Aside from that it’s a lovely new iPhone. More RAM, better speakers, and stereo ones at that. But I can’t go there without the jack. All of this adapter stuff doesn’t work for me, and as for the AirPods, they just don’t make sense to me. They last for 5 hours before needing a charge, that’s great, but I’ve never had to charge my headphones ever. And, more importantly, there’s no mention of the audio latency anywhere, I don’t think that bodes well.

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What’s more, I doubt that Apple will stop there. This is the beginning. The iPad will be next, then the Mac too. Jacks will vanish and others will do the same.

So if you’re not going to the iPhone 7, where else is there to go? Well there are of course lots of other devices available. Personally I may go to the 6s next, it seems a reasonable compromise for now. There is Android of course, but for mobile musicians this might not be a palatable move from iOS, as, let’s face it, as a platform it doesn’t rival the range and diversity of iOS music creation. That’s only fair to say I think, and in itself a real shame. Android always had promise, but it doesn’t seem to have delivered so far.

And what’s more, the jack removal movement is there already, with the Moto Z already going jackless! It was in fact a device I was looking at with some interest due its modular nature, but with no jack it really lacks appeal. It won’t be the only jack free device soon either, that’s my bet.

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So where else is there to go? Well that’s really the point of this piece. There isn’t anywhere else to go that really works as an iOS alternative. Apple have really done what they set out to in making it an ecosystem that you can’t get out of. If you like your iOS music apps you’re pretty stuck right now, and that seems like a real shame. There’s little chance that Apple will licence iOS to another handset manufacturer, so there’ll be no device that really comes close.

You could view this as a real market opportunity, but in all honesty, who will take it on? It’s a gap that no one is likely to fill at all, and that’s so disappointing.

Personally I could attempt a return to Palm OS, or even Windows Mobile (the really old one), but I know that it wouldn’t last. What I’m really after is a real alternative, but who’s got pockets big enough for that?

Any thoughts? I’m stuck!

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Audulus 3.1 arrives for Windows and Linux too!

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Audulus gets just about as cross platform as you can get! Now with Audulus 3.1, Audulus is now available for Windows and Linux too, in addition to Mac, iPhone, and iPad.

“It’s not easy to be multi-platform, but I take pride in offering Audulus on as many platforms as possible,” says Audulus developer Taylor Holliday.

The Windows and Linux versions of Audulus have all the features of the Mac stand-alone version. Audulus for Windows also includes a VST plugin version.

Trial versions of Audulus for Mac, Windows, and Linux are also available. These trial versions have no time limit and can load any patch. To save patches, purchase the full version of Audulus.

Audulus for iOS has also been refined. A new context menu does not require a long-press gesture, making the Audulus UI easier to learn and quicker to use. Support for iCloud Drive makes it easier to share patches.

Audulus is a minimalist modular software synthesizer and effects processor. With Audulus, users can build synthesizers, design new sounds, or process audio. All with low latency real-time processing suitable for live performance.

Audulus for iOS can be used as a stand-alone instrument or in conjunction with Audulus for Mac, for a round-trip workflow between platforms. Begin a patch on the bus ride home and then bring it up on your laptop at band practice later that night – with iCloud functionality, moving between platforms couldn’t be easier.

Audulus 3.1 for iPad/iPhone is available on the App Store for $29.99.
Audulus 3.1 for Mac is available on the Mac App Store for $39.99.

Audulus 3.1 for Windows/Linux is available directly from audulus.com for $39.99. Purchase a single license for both versions.

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Video: Doctor Who theme synthesized on a £4 Raspberry Pi Zero

Video description:

“It is remarkable how much synthesis performance is packed into the Pi Zero. Dazzling. Mind you, you really do have to work very hard indeed to squeeze this much performance out of it …

For reference, here is the AMAZING 1963 original, for me the single most important piece of electronic music ever recorded. The show would have been half of what it was without this – every Saturday evening that weird mutant bassline would kick in, and you were pulled in, just like that. Awesome. Watch it and weep – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75V4ClJZME4″

Video published by Pi Synth.

You have to admit that this is sheer genius! Who would’ve thought that you could get so much out of a Pi Zero!