0

minijam studio – portable music machines arrives on Kickstarter, from the makers of Patchblocks

1b9da587d0b3be864748854b93491776_original

You might remember me talking about Patchblocks, originally when the hardware first launched, then again when they crowdfunded for equity. Now they’re back on Kickstarter with a whole new set of hardware. The mini jam studio. You can find it on Kickstarter now, and it’s already doing well. You can also listen to below:

Advertisements
0

PixiTracker 1.5 is here (iOS will follow soon)

On the ‘Voices of the Sun‘ blog there’s news of a new version of PixiTracker. Version 1.5 arrives for Raspberry Pi, PocketCHIP and many more operating systems. iOS will come soon.

Here’s what’s new and what platforms are covered:

  • export to XM (eXtended Module of the FastTracker2) – this file can be loaded by any modern music tracker/player (for example, SunVox);
  • sound editor: “reduce size / 2 (lossy)” function has been added;
  • Linux: ARM64 architecture support (tested on PINE64 64-bit Single Board Computer);
  • Linux: Raspberry Pi, PocketCHIP and other ARM(armhf)-compatible devices support;
  • Linux and Windows: multitouch support;
  • Android (4.0 and higher): System Settings -> Interface: new option “Hide system bars” for true fullscreen mode;
  • new sound packs (16bit): pack10_fm, pack11_percussion_2, pack12_orchestra;
  • new song (16bit) – Example12;
  • bugs fixed.

More information can be found here and you can check out the Voices of the Sun blog here.

0

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.

1

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

cxajmb0xuaazvg4

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.

 

19

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

iphone7-press-01-970-80

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.

apple-airpods

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.

big_moto-z-moto-z-force-edge-to-edge-1200x728

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!