Looking forward to 2008

Well, we're nearly at 2008. I think that there is quite a lot to look forward to in 2008 and here are a few of the things I'd love to see next year:

January
- What will Apple announce at MacWorld?
- TuneStudio released at last?
- TrakAx competition closes - 21st Jan

February
- Apple to release the iPhone and iPod Touch SDK!
- Pacemaker DJ device available?

March
- First iPhone music apps?
- DScratch and DS Protein apps develop?

April
- More games like Harmonix Phase for iPods?
- More Sound Toys from Palm Sounds, or something more interesting?

May
- 2008 Mobile Music Workshop in Vienna

June
- Something new from miniMusic like SpinPad or WavePad?

July
- Something new from 4Pockets, or maybe updates of StompBox and AudioBox?

August
- Echo nest doing something exciting with the iPhone and iPod Touch?

September
- TrakAx updated and even more impressive?

October
- AxisPad update to include recording and MIDI

November
- Echo nest release Capers for Palm?

December
- MixPad Pro: MIDI recording and editing

Obviously I'd love to see all these and more in 2008, but I guess we'll need to see what happens.

Pixilang 1.3

Pixilang 1.3 has been released with a range of new features:

Main features:

* added commands for video-export to AVI file; at the moment working in Windows only;
* added command resume_video_export();
* parameters of t_translate() changed to fixed point (1.0 = 256);
* fixed bug with pixi-sound playing;
* internal structure optimization;
* fixed bugs with print() command;
* changed priority of math operations;
* added new construction: while( .. ) { .. };
* increased precision of delay in frame() command;
* changed pixi-image sound playing in stereo mode: now red is right channel and green is left channel;
* added functions for drawing array of 3D-triangles: triangles3d(), pixi_triangles3d, sort_triangles;
* new functions: t_get_matrix(), t_set_matrix(), t_mul_matrix(), t_get_x(), t_get_y(), t_get_z();
* added software Pixel Shaders (version PS1);
* added two options in config file: noborder and windowname;
* new command: exit() - exit to OS; exit(1) - exit to OS with exit-code 1;
* new command: noesc(1) - no exit on ESC; noesc(0) - exit on ESC;
* fixed bug with negative frame numbers;
* now during pixi-program compilation virtual disk0 defined to the file "data.tar"; so you can include TXT files from disk0 (INCLUDE "0:/blabla.txt");
* removed zoom() command (please, use scaled pixi instead).

Mobile Music in 2007: Round up

I thought it might be worthwhile to give 2007 a little review in terms of some of the highlights of the year, Of course, lots of other things happened and, but this is kind of a best of review of 2007. Overall a good year for mobile music in many ways.

January
Apple announces the iPhone a mobile device running OSX
Belkin announces the TuneStudio, a 4track hardware add-on for 5th Gen iPods.

February
4Pockets release Pocket StompBox for Windows Mobile, an effects box for using live.
Alesis announce iMultiMix 8 USB with iPod integration.

March
miniMusic released their MIDI player / mixer application MixPad

April
Palm announce their new Linux based OS.

May
In May we saw the release of the first true multi-track software for a handheld. MeTeoR by 4Pockets gives 12 tracks of audio with effects and automation.
Tao Group go into administration and with them miniMIXA disappears for ever.
Palm Sounds publishes the mobile music directory.
Pacemaker DJ

June
Intermorphic are born out of Tao Group and announce their first products.
Griff Network MIDI plugin surfaces.
MeTeoR PC version becomes available.
Syntrax becomes free.
MilkyTracker v0.90.60 released.

July
Mixx Mobile released
Palm Sounds announces Sound Toys series

August
Pophorns are coming.
DScratch video on YouTube
Palm Sounds releases first Sound Toy app - ranDRUM
Psytexx II updated to v 0.5

September
Tenori-on launch
UbiSoft release JamSessions for the DS platform
Kaosillator announced by Korg
More details on DScratch appear
iPod Touch announced.
Palm cancels the Foleo device
Pophorns go live!

October
MeTeoR saw an upgrade to version 1.07
Apple announce official SDK for iPhone / iPod Touch coming Feb 2008
DScratch is to become DS Protein Suite of audio manipulation applications
TrakAx mobile multimedia app for Pocket PC on the way
Circuit Bending challenge from CDM
Styletap Symbian version in alpha: Now run Bhajis in Symbian!

November
Pixilang version 1.2 allows Palm users to create soft synth type applications
iPhone comes to the UK
iPod Touch firmware upgrade allows calendar add / edit. iPod Touch becomes a true PDA
Google announces Android mobile OS.
Harmonix Phase game for 5th Gen iPods appears
TrakAx Mobile becomes available for Windows Mobile

December
Garnet VM for Nokia internet tablet allows Palm apps to run.

All in all I think it was a good year in many ways. There have been some new applications and some apps that have disappeared namely miniMIXA. There's been lots of new hardware too, and maybe the start of a more mainstream future for mobile music.

So, more of the same for 2008 or a really interesting year on the horizon? Time will tell.

Music Studio 1

Ages ago I wrote about this application. It isn't available anymore as the developer's site vanished years ago and now even the palmgear listing is now more.

When it originally came out I bought it as was quite disappointed. It is a notation application for Palm OS. However it supported the Clie GM chip and so was quite good at using MIDI sounds from that range of devices.

I found it the other day and decided to see if it could access the GM sounds on my old Treo 600, and amazingly it did!

The app is basically a notation based sequencer with 8 individual channels. Each channel can be assigned to a different GM instrument and has an independant volume control.



Sounds can be selected from standard MIDI groups.



Notes are entered via a keyboard and appear on as notation.



It isn't the best application in the world, that's for sure, but it also isn't the worst I've seen. It is a shame that the application has vanished and can't be purchased any more, but you can still get the demo from the Palm Sounds site.

The Basics: MIDI

There are quite a lot of applications that support MIDI in one way or another. So I thought I'd give a brief run down of what you can expect:

MixPad
MixPad from miniMusic is a MIDI player / viewer / mixer which arrived in 2007. The Pro version of MixPad (not available at the time of writing) will have recording and editing facilities as well.


NotePad
NotePad again from miniMusic is a notation editor with the ability to export files to MIDI, but no MIDI import facility.

BeatPad
BeatPad again from miniMusic is a pattern sequencer which will export to MIDI, again, no MIDI import.

Bhajis Loops
Bhajis Loops will import and export MIDI files.

Griff
Griff has some interesting MIDI control facilities using the Griff MIDI plug in, and also the MIDI network plug in. I've never got around to trying these two plug ins, but they present some interesting possibilities.

Syntrax
Syntrax has MIDI support.

AudioBox Micro Composer
AudioBox has MIDI import.

PDA Musician
PDA Musician have a couple of applications that feature MIDI support. MidNote is a notation application that also has MIDI import and export, and MIDI control is a MIDI file utility that allows you to mute tracks and change instrument etc.

All in all lots of applications have MIDI support in one form or another although most are limited to simple import and export facilities.

For me the most promising will be the Pro version of MixPad when it becomes available. We'll have to wait and see.

The Basics: Trackers

I was never really into trackers, so I doubt that you are going to get a good idea of what the tracking capabilities are. What I can do is tell you about the tracker applications I know about that run on PDAs.

Milkytracker
This application runs fine on my Dell Axim although I have spent very little time on it so far. It is worth a look if trackers are your thing, and is being continually developed.

Psytexx
This is an application I know very little about indeed. Psytexx has been around for some time and is a cross platform application as well as being open source.

Mobi Tracker
Mobi tracker is another app I know nothing about, but also runs on a platform I know nothing about.

As far as I know that's it in terms of tracker apps, but if you know of more, please let me know.

The Basics: Music Studios

If you're looking to make mobile music on a PDA then you may well be looking for a mobile music studio kind of application. There are a number of options available.

Palm Operating System
The most obvious choice for Palm is Bhajis Loops. Bhajis is one of the most well rounded all in one music applications available, irrespective of platform. It not only includes sample editing, sequencing, mixing, automation, and rendering to .wav, but also can import and export MIDI files amongst it's array of features.

If you are a palm user and what a stand along application for all your music needs then Bhajis Loops is really worth trying out.

Windows Mobile
When it comes to windows mobile there is a lot more to choose from.

First off there's Griff which sports multiple plug ins, synthesis, sampling, etc.

AudioBox is a great self contained music studio application with MIDI support. There's lots more on AudioBox on the rest of the blog, so if you want more just search for it,

Finally, there's Syntrax which is another excellent application (as well as being free now) and it runs on Windows Mobile and Symbian. Again, there's more on Symbian on the rest of Palm Sounds.

This is really just a brief run down of what is around. The best thing to do is to try out applications before you buy them.

Re-Org

You may have noticed that the labels or categories for the blog have altered. I'm trying to make to it easier to find information and generally navigate about.

I was toying with the idea of a "best of" category, but I thought it might be better if I asked if anyone had any suggestions for entries to this category first?

Apple Making a new Newton (via Brighthand)

Brighthand has yet another rumour on Apple's supposed new Newton. I like the idea, let's see what happens next month.

The Basics: Sampling

Sampling applications are quite common on all platforms these days. Of course there are a wide variety of applications available but few will do all the things you want in one place.

First off there are lots of voice recording applications. There's nothing wrong with these apps, but of course they do very little in terms of sampling.

Palm OS
On the Palm side there are only a small number of actual audio editing applications. My favourite is Wave Edit Pro, and of course the enterprise edition of the same app.

Wave Edit Pro is an excellent recorder and editor. It offers no plug ins or effects, but is very good at cutting and pasting sample data directly on a Palm device. Also, it has one benefit over other applications in that you can paste sample data from one sample into another.

Aside from Wave Edit Pro the best application for sample editing and manipulation is Bhajis Loops. Of course there's plenty of information on this blog about Bhajis Loops and on the chocopoolp site too.

However, the notable information in terms of sample editing is that you can do almost anything using Bhajis loops when it come to samples.

Windows Mobile
In terms of windows mobile applications, again there are lots and lots of audio recorders available, but fewer sample editors. There is one application like Wave Edit Pro called Pocket Mixer, which I have never tried personally but looks really good.. There are of course lots of applications that work with sample data:

4Pockets make the awsome MeTeoR (Multi-Track Recorder) application, which is one of the best audio applications for PDAs anywhere. 4Pockets also make the AudioBox Micro Composer, which has an onboard sampler.

Griff too has a sampler, as does Syntrax, although Syntrax has really amazing sample manipulation features. Mixx Mobile is also worth a look at.

Other Platforms
Syntrax is available for Symbian devices as well as PocketPC, but aside from that I know very little

Handango Year End Sale: 25% off

Welcome back from the Christmas holidays. I hope you got what you wanted. If you got something amazing for Christmas, why not share it and send me the details.

In the meantime, I thought I'd let you know that Handango have a year end sale with 25% off site wide for email subscribers. The code for the sale is YEARENDSALE. Which is very inventive isn't it.

Enjoy.

Yamaha SU10


I'd love to have one of these, but in many ways I've been thinking that something like this would be a great application for a PDA. A simple sample trigger, maybe with assignable hard buttons, and then something that approximates to the ribbon on the SU10.

I think it would work live very well indeed.

The Basics: Notation

Notation applications are few and far between on all platforms:

Palm OS
For Palm devices there is the wonderful NotePad from miniMusic. With four ways to see your songs on screen, it's easy to enter music and edit your ideas. Tools include chords, key signatures, time signatures, tied notes, triplets, inversion, retrograde, MIDI export, and full cut/copy/paste editing.

As a user of NotePad for many years now I can safely say that it is almost certainly the best notation tool available for a PDA.



Windows Mobile / Pocket PC
On this platform I know of only one application that has not been updated for a very long time indeed. MidNote was developed when Microsoft's mobile OS was Pocket PC and hasn't been updated. It does have a number of useful features though:

- Enter music with fully graphical editor
- Each piece can have up to 10 separate tracks.
- Six octave tonal range (or 15 with tricks :-)
- Musical edit functions like transpose and mirror
- Full drum support
- Standard MIDI import and export
- Polyphonic play through integrated MIDI player (GSPlayer, Mimidi or PocketAMP)

Happy Christmas from from Palm Sounds


A very Happy Christmas from Palm Sounds.

Double click on the image above to see the animation.

Thanks to all the people who wrote with news or questions, or just for encouragement.

Most Innovative Development of 2007

I thought I'd put up a quick poll to see what you thought was the most innovative development in mobile music in 2007. I'm really interested to see what comes out on top.

Apple UMPC? (via AppleInsider)

AppleInsider Exclusive: Apple to adopt Intel's ultra-mobile PC platform.

Here's an interesting article from AppleInsider on Apple taking Intel's new ultra mobile chip. Worth a read.

Chimera Synthesis bC16 (via Livepa)



Livepa has this story on a new synth the size of a CD! It looks fantastic. Here's what the Chimera Synthesis site says about it.

"Chimera Synthesis is rolling out it's first product! The bC16 miniature patch synthesizer wraps up a fully featured VCO, LFO, 24dB VCF, VCA, ADSR envelope generator, noise source, ring modulator and headphone amplifier all in a crisp, white, round, CNC machined acrylic housing the same diameter as compact disc. Powered from two 9V batteries the bC16 can be used on it's own, with a MIDI-CV converter (not supplied, see the forth coming SM16), attached to other bC16's and so on. Being a patch synthesizer almost infinitely expands the range and control of sounds created, bC16's can be intergrated with other pieces of equipment, used to process signals, and even used to generate and/or respond to control signals from other synthesizers/audio kit."

Being such a tiny synth, it would seem only appropriate to run it off a tiny sequencer, like a PDA!

Pacemaker community and competition

I got another email, this time from Pacemaker.net. They're launching their own community site and have made available their beta software for Mac and Windows. They're also launching a commpetition:

"All beta testers that publish mixes before February will automatically enter the contest to win a Pacemaker for free. We're reserving ten Pacemakers for those of you guys that we think deserve them. More about the contest shortly."



Well worth entering for the chance to win a Pacemaker for free.

PlanetGriff sends Seasons Greetings


I am guessing that a number of you got an email from PlanetGriff sending seasons greetings. Very nice too.

The also have a list of all their plug-ins available, and apparently pSyn is their No. 1 download of the month.

I think it would be even better if they made some new ones for Griff, that'd be a great Christmas present!

iPod Hack's review of Phase


iPodHacks have a brief review of the iPod game Phase, and seem to like it lots. But them, it is quite good fun so why not.

ScaleMaster 1.0


RoGame have added a new application to their suite of music theory and learning applications. Here's what their site says about ScaleMaster:

ScaleMaster is designed to help in several key areas concerning scales. It lists over 100 scale types in all keys and shows them in music notation. There are four different clefs available (treble, bass, alto and tenor). Additionally scale degrees are shown qualified by the interval to the root. To help visualization there are four virtual instruments (bass, guitar, mandolin and piano). These virtual instruments feature overlays that can show scale degrees or position of a note in the current scale and can be shifted to all available positions. Any scale can be sounded out using RoGame’s Sound Libraries (Palm OS 5.0 and higher only) or the built-in synthesizer.

Designed for the beginning musician as well as the professional, ScaleMaster is an excellent tool towards advancement in theory and scales in particular, making it easy to look up a scale in seconds, getting a taste of the flavor of a particular scale by listening to it, or finding out how to play it on one’s instrument.

What do you want for Christmas?

Well it is that time of year again. With only a few days to go what are you wishing for? I've had several emails this Christmas about different "gift" ideas, so I though I'd share some of them, and a few of my own suggestions too:

1. Kaosillator - Only £119 and it does look very cool indeed.

2. Casio VL-1 - You can still get these on eBay for around £30

3. TrakAx Mobile - One of the best applications of the year in my opinion, and very reasonably priced.

4. Yamaha MU15 - A bit more difficult to come by, but a great little tone module

5. Yamaha SU10 - Quite hard to get hold of, but very collectable.

6. Roland PMA 5 - Again, hard to find, but (apparently) very good indeed.

7. MiniMusic Pro Suite - The collection of applications from miniMusic (a must have as far as I'm concerned.

8. Boss MICRO-BR - The iPod sized 4 track.

9. A Stylophone - I never had one, but you have to admit that they have some real history behind them.

I'm guessing that I won't find all (or indeed one) of these in my Christmas stocking, but I can hope can't I?

The Basics: Synthesis

I've always been a lover of synths since I was a teenager and bought my first mono synth of a friend. Synthesis on PDAs is difficult as the devices themselves don't have anything like the processing power of desktop or laptop computers, and depending on the kind of device and operating system you choose, there are big differences in terms of what you can achieve.

Windows Mobile
Windows mobile music applications actually do very well when it comes to synthesis, and there are a number of different applications to choose from. One of my favourites is AudioBox from 4Pockets. This application has a number of different synths available to it, and works in many ways like a mini studio application giving you synths, sampling, sequencing etc. In terms of the synthesis options avilable they are very good indeed. AudioBox offers an an analogue synth and dedicated string pad synth amongst it's capabilities.

Griff is also an excellent contender for synthesis on the go, and boasts an array of synth plug-ins which are worth looking at such as pSyn, or Goldfish. If you want to know more about Griff, I have written a whole post on it here.

Other useful applications for synthesis are Phoenix Studio and of course, Syntrax, which has some truly amazing synthesis capabilities, although I have never really got to grips with it.

Palm OS
Synthesis options are far fewer on the Palm operating system. Microbe is a great starter application for Palm and includes two monosynths. SoundPad from miniMusic is a dedicated synth application, but in order to use the sounds from it you need at least one of the other applications from miniMusic such as BeatPad or NotePad.

Of course, Bhajis Loops has a range of synthesis options within it, but of course you always start with a sample as the basis for your sounds.

As far as other platforms are concerned, Syntrax is available for Symbian Series 60 and UIQ devices.

As time goes on I'm sure we'll see synth applications for the iPhone / iPod Touch platform coming out too, but so far there's not much available. In early 2008 the SDK for native applications for this platform will be released, so let's and see what happens.

Hopefully this gives you a brief overview of what's available, if you find anything that I haven't covered, please let me know.

iPhone Synth Alpha


Here's the beginnings of the kind of application I"d like to see on the iPhone. The app uses the iPhone’s accelerometer to control the filter’s cutoff and resonance. It'll be interesting to see how it develops. iPhone Synth is currently in alpha. There's an interesting video of it at the future music blog.

TrakAx Competition


TrakAx are running a competition:

"Simply create a Holiday-Themed Mix using trakAxPC or trakAxMobile and send you final mix into us and we, the trakAx team, will judge the entries. The winner will receive US$100 worth of trakPacks to use with trakAxPC or trakAxMobile. Runners-Up will received US$75 and US$50 worth of trakPacks.

The trakAx team are looking for unique and creative mixes, capturing you and your family and friends, celebrating the Holidays. Be it office parties, drinks with friends, opening presents with family, New Year’s parties or even stock footage, simply capture the happy times, mix them up and send them into the trakAx team."


I might give it a go, knows. Anyone else up for it? It'll be interesting to see what kind of stuff gets put together using the mobile version.

Another iPhone / iPod Touch music app

This time a Chord Library from the same people that brought a web app tuner a few weeks ago.

TuneStudio turns up on Amazon.com

Althought the actual Belkin site still says "coming soon", Amazon have the TuneStudio listed as available in 3 to 5 weeks for $299.

HTC Shift coming in early 2008


Running Vista Business edition with 1gb of RAM and a 40gb hard drive it is an interesting device. UMPCs haven't really taken off as far as I can see so far, but now that you can get a great deal of computing power into not much more than a PDA sized package will the UMPC start to take the space previously occupied by the PDA?

Another screens environment update

Seems he is really making progress as this is the third update this week, and there is now a mention of a Palm OS port.

Mobile Music Workshop 2008

I got the email about next year's workshop today, so here it is:

5TH INTERNATIONAL MOBILE MUSIC WORKSHOP 2008
13-15 May 2008, Vienna, Austria
Call for Submissions: Deadline 10 February 2008
http://www.mobilemusicworkshop.org

The Mobile Music Workshop 2008 is the 5th in a series of annual international gatherings that explore the creative, critical and commercial potential of mobile music. They are inspired by the ever-changing social, geographic, ecological, emotional context of using mobile technology for creative ends. We are looking for new ideas and ground-breaking projects on sound in mobile contexts. What new forms of interaction with music and audio lie ahead as locative media, ubiquitous networks, and music access merge into new forms of experiences that shape the everyday? Can they change the way we think about our mobile devices and about walking through the city?

The emerging field of Mobile Music sits at the intersection of ubiquitous computing, portable audio technology and New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME). It goes beyond today’s personal music players to include creative practices of mobile music making, sharing and mixing. The mobile setting challenges existing notions of interfaces and interaction, stretching music to new creative limits. The workshop has been at the forefront of this innovative area since 2004. Past editions of the event have taken place in Amsterdam, Brighton, Vancouver and Göteborg in collaboration with the Viktoria Institute, STEIM, Waag Society, Futuresonic, NIME and others.

The 2008 edition of the workshop will be held in Vienna, one of the hotspots in the European for laptop, glitch, and electronic music. Hosted by the University of Applied Arts, it will feature three evenings of performances and installations, an exhibition in the heart of the city, invited speakers, paper presentations, posters and demo sessions as well as hands-on tutorials. Besides the workshop proceedings, we will publish a catalogue that will gather key contributions from the last 5 years. We invite artists, designers, academic researchers, hackers, industry professionals and practitioners from all areas, including music, technology development, new media, sound-art, music distribution, cultural/media studies and locative media and more to present and discuss projects, prototypes, applications, devices, performances, installations, theoretical and historical considerations.

IMPORTANT DEADLINES

Submission deadline: 10 February 2008
Notification of acceptance: 14 March 2008
Submission deadline for final papers: 14 April 2008
Registration deadline: 14 April 2008

PARTICIPATE

Please upload your submission in any of the three following categories at http://ocs.waag.org/. Submissions will be peer-reviewed by a committee of international specialists in the field.

Papers

We invite submissions of workshop papers presenting new projects, approaches or reflections exploring the topic of mobile music. Potential submissions could include but are not limited to mobile music systems or enabling technologies, interface design, legal issues, user studies, ethnographic fieldwork, social implications, art pieces and other areas relevant to mobile music. Accepted paper authors will be given a time slot during the workshop for presentation and discussion of their work. They are encouraged to bring a demo of their work if possible.

Format: 4 pages in ACM SIG publications format (for templates, see http://www.acm.org/sigs/pubs/proceed/template.html). More artistic submissions are free to pay less attention to the academic or technical detail of the format, and to include more media instead.

Posters and Demos

We also invite the contribution of posters and demos that document work-in-progress projects or ideas in similar areas of mobile music technology as the papers. There will be a poster and demo presentation session where attendees will be able to discuss work with the authors. The most robust of the demos will be offered the opportunity to exhibit to the general public during the open sessions (although this is not mandatory). Posters will be on display for the duration of the conference.

Format: 2 pages in ACM SIG publications format (for templates, see http://www.acm.org/sigs/pubs/proceed/template.html). More artistic submissions are free to pay less attention to the academic or technical detail of the format, and to include more media instead.

Installations and Performances

We invite mobile art installations and performances in the genres of mobile music and locative audio. There will be an exhibition space in central Vienna, and the possibility to show work in the city. There will also be a series of evening performances/concerts/parties.

Format: Please follow loosely the ACM SIG publications format (for templates, see http://www.acm.org/sigs/pubs/proceed/template.html) without too much academic or technical detail and include more media instead. Please indicate if your project would be suitable for indoor or outdoor, installation or performance.

REGISTRATION & FEE

The workshop will have both closed sessions for registered participants and sessions open to the general public. The number of participants for the closed sessions of the workshop is limited to 50 places. Accepted submitters are given priority, other participants are accepted on a first-come first-served basis. Registered participants will have automatic access to all sessions of the workshops.

Registrations fees for the closed sessions of the workshop have yet to be confirmed. However this will be in the region of 75 € at full rate and 45€ for concessions.

Deadline for Registration: 14th April 2007.

ORGANISERS&INFORMATION

The 2008 edition is hosted and co-organised by the University of Applied Arts, Vienna, Austria (Nicolaj Kirisits). The Steering Committee is formed by Lalya Gaye (Dånk! Collective and IT-University of Göteborg, Sweden), Atau Tanaka (Culture Lab Newcastle, UK), Frauke Behrendt (University of Sussex, UK), Kristina Andersen (STEIM, The Netherlands).

Contact: info@mobilemusicworkshop.org
More information: http://www.mobilemusicworkshop.org

20% off sitewide at PocketGear

Another offer from PocketGear, this time on Windows Mobile software:

"To celebrate the season, we are giving you 20% Off Your Order! Just enter DECSALE at checkout to receive your discount. Hurry! This offer expires December 19, 2007."

There's lots of nice applications to choose from, such as:

Z4 Music



AudioBox Micro Composer


PocketMC


Pocket StompBox


MeTeoR

TrakAx Mobile: 50,000

Good to hear that TrakAx is doing well and lots of people are trying it out. Why not take a look at their blog for details.

Pro Tools controller on iPhone


Here's a great post from CDM on this Pro Tools controller running on an iPhone or an iPod Touch.

Another reason to consider an iPod Touch then.

Garnet VM no sound support (yet?)

According to the Garnet VM Faq there is no sound support for the N770, although it doesn't mention the newer N series tablets. I wonder if the N800 could become a serious contender for a music device? Especially if someone ports / develops some native audio applications to it.

Maybe it could even be like the Trinity DAW device, just much smaller. I don't know much about Linux, so I'm just speculating now.

Another screens environment update

Seems he's really making some progress now.

TuneStudio in 2007


Probably the biggest dissappointment of 2007 has been the TuneStudio. Announced in January this year and back then we were told that it would be available in the summer. Well the summer came and went, and even though it won various awards it still hasn't seen the light of day.

The other thing that bothers me is the price rises. Originally it was announced at $180, and is now on the Belkin site at $399, which is a really big jump.

When it was first announced the TuneStudio looked like such a cool idea such an excellent way to extend your iPod, but perhaps events and iPod design overtook Belkin. Now their site shows the following for compatibility:

TuneStudio is currently
compatible with:

iPod classic: 80GB 160GB
iPod nano (3rd generation) 4GB 8GB
iPod 5th generation (video) 30GB 60GB 80GB
iPod nano (2nd generation) 2GB 4GB 8GB

So if it does ever become available, will it sell with the latest price tag of $399? Well, I might have gone for one at $180 - $200 but not at $399. Let's face it, you could buy quite a lot in terms of mixing for $399, in fact you could buy an Alesis iMultimix 8 for $299.

Although not as portable as the TuneStudio it is more functional.

So, I hope they do something about it and finally bring it to market, and reduce the price. I'd love to see them pull something really unexpected out of the bag for TuneStudio, but most of all I hope it isn't one of those products that never makes it out to consumers.

Another screens environment update

Another screens update. Let's really hope he is getting moving now.

20% off Palm titles at PocketGear

Although I have to say that I am not overly impressed with how the new PocketGear has dumped all the freeware off the site, here are a few things you might want to use you 20% discount on:

Wave Edit Pro is worth a look, and comes in a number of different versions.


miniMusic NotePad which is excellent for notation and includes a MIDI export.


So, there are a couple for starters. The offer is open until the 19th of December.

Griff Yahoo group closes

I got an email today from the old Yahoo group for Griff. It is now closing and all traffic should go to the Griff Forum.

Mixx Mobile: Updated to version 1.8


Mixx Mobile has been updated to version 1,8 on the "classic" pocketgear site, although I can't really see what's been updated with it accept perhaps for new installers.

Capers could see the light of day?

I noticed that my comment on Brian Whitman's Pushpin release had got published, and so I read the whole post again and noticed this:

"During the summer of 2000 I went through a sort of decompensation that resulted in my sitting on one of those Amtrak NYC->Boston trains that somehow go through Springfield MA and take roughly $34 in box Amtrak dining car wine to get there. On the tray table was my trusty Palm VII, the same one that supported earlier developments as Egg Timer, Hedgehog (and baby Hedgehog), Tractor Pull and the nascent Capers API (more on these later) — head to head, kissing IR sensors with my prized clear purple Gameboy Color (aka “Tetris DX Machine.”)"

So, I wonder if the "... more on these later ..." comment could mean

a) A release of workable capers applets for OS5 Palm devices?
b) A full release of capers as an OS replacement for Palm OS4 devices?
c) A release of the capers code for other developers to take on?

Ideally I'd love to see a or b, but c would be fine too.

Screens: another update

Things seem to be going well again, which is encouraging.

Griff review

I've been meaning to write a review of Griff for ages, and a recently I've been wondering exactly how to make it work. There are some excellent reviews of Griff, such as the Sound on Sound review written in May 2003, or the excellent one in Computer Music Tutorials, and I am sure that there are others.

Of course, I could give you something of a crash course in Griff, but the lovely people at Cobwebb Communications have already provided a fantastic tutorial online, and in fact they emailed to remind me just the other week. So what is there left that I can add?

Well, after much thought, I thought I'd write about why I started to use Griff, how I found it and what I like and don't like about it, and I hope that'll be useful.

Griff was in fact the only reason I ever bought a Pocket PC. Before then I had been a devoted Palm fan, and had avoided the Pocket PC platform (I quite like it now). I bought an HP Jornada 568 off eBay and it served very well indeed up until recently when I upgraded to a Dell Axim.

I started by just buying the main application and then moved slowly to buy all of the plug in applications. For now I think I'll just cover Griff and the plug-ins it comes with, and perhaps we'll move on to the other plug-ins at a later stage.



Griff Music Studio
Let me start by saying that I think that Griff is an excellent application and well worth trying especially if you're already a Pocket PC / Windows mobile user. It was one of the first portable music studio applications, and remains one of the best available. One thing you will notice about Griff is that the user interface is very graphically rich, and I've always liked that about Griff. It isn't just functionally rich, but great to look at too.

In term of the application's features it has all you'd expect from a music studio application. All of the mix and instrument parameters can be automated. The mix facilities are very user friendly, and according to the tutorial you can even go up to 32000 channels on the mixer, although I dare say that the response times would not be great.


There are many good things to talk about with Griff. One of my favourites is the fact that Griff supports plug ins. You can purchase 8 instrument plug ins and a couple of effect plug ins too. The plug ins really extend Griff especially with soft synth instruments. My two favourites are mda Organ


and pSyn



All the others are worth a look too. But that does bring me on to one of my complaints about Griff, and that is the fact that Cobwebb never (or at least never as far as I am aware) made a specification or SDK available for others to develop Griff plug ins. Maybe one day, but who knows.

So, as I've started on my list of minor issues with Griff, I'll let you know what the rest are.

Registration
Whilst I acknowledge the need for developers to secure their products with registration codes, there must be a better way with Griff. My problems with Griff registration is that when you have multiple plug ins all with different codes and then you need to change device, it takes ages to enter all the codes again.

No midi import
I think that Griff a MIDI import would have been an excellent addition to an already excellent application.

Pricing
Griff costs £40, which is quite a lot for a mobile music application. Not that I mind that at all. However, if you add on the individual costs of all the plug ins you can end up with a total cost of just under £125. Which is a lot. I think that there could have been a bundle price or something more creative around pricing, which may have encouraged people to buy more plug ins anyway.

So, minor complaints out of the way. My verdict on Griff is that it still remains one of the best music applications for PocketPC and Windows Mobile. I wish that Cobwebb were still developing for it, but at least they continue with the Griff forum and that is very welcome. I think I will be a user for years to come and I suspect that more users will gravitate towards it as they have been doing for a long time.

Give it a a good look if you're already on Windows Mobile.

The Basics: Platforms

Handheld platforms are changing quite rapidly now, and more platforms are becoming available as more devices become available. There was a time when selecting a PDA was a simple choice between Palm OS, and Pocket PC. However now there's much more choice both in terms of device and operating system.

Palm OS
In the past Palm was one of the few mobile OS's that had any kind of music applications available. Of course, some of the best apps are on Palm OS. Such as Bhajis Loops, Microbe, NotePad, BeatPad etc

Windows Mobile
Windows Mobile is perhaps one of the strongest mobile operating systems these days. However, when choosing a device be careful not to choose a Windows Mobile smartphone devices, as this will mean that you can't make use of many of the best music and audio applications. Of the many applications available for Windows Mobile there is of course MeTeoR, the 12 track multi-track audio editor and Griff, the music studio with numerous plug-ins. Of course the other thing to keep in mind is that if you want to run palm applications on a Windows Mobile device you can using the StyleTap emulator.

Symbian
I know very little about Symbian, except to say that there is a tracker application available for it, and that now StyleTap are supporting a version of their emulator that will allow you to run Palm OS applications on a Symbian device.

Nintendo DS
Not so much of a PDA platform really, but it has not only a growing number of homebrew music applications, but also a number of excellent commerial applications, such as Electroplankton and Jam Sessions.

iPod Touch / iPhone
The jury is out on the iPhone platform at the moment, we'll have to see what the SDK brings in 2008 and how developers respond to it.

Palm OS II
Again, this new platform from Palm promises much, but is as yet to surface. If you believe Palm then you'll be able to use their new devices running Palm's OS II to run current Palm applications and also do all manner of new things. Who knows what it will mean for developers.

Nokia Internet Tablet
The Nokia tablet runs a linux based OS and the nice people at Access (previously know as PalmSource) have made a Palm OS emulator for the device. Ok it is currently in beta, but it does have potential. However, if you're looking to choose a device for mobile music, don't head straight for the Nokia as it has no native applications for music.

Android
Last of Google's forthcoming Android mobile OS. No one knows what it will mean as yet. However, one developer (Daniel from Griff) has commented that as the SDK is Java based it will be no good for mobile music applications. I guess we'll have to wait and see,

Some new Pixilang videos





I think that these are from the developer of Pixilang. They show how versatile the language can be. I really must get my head into it a bit. Maybe I'll do that over the Christmas break, or at least I'll add it to my list of things to do.

Another DScratch video


I like this video, it shows a lot more of what is possible with the application.

Palm Sounds no longer on PocketGear

Since PalmGear vanished and became PocketGear it would appear that they have decided to remove a lot of the freeware applications from their portfolio. As I can't get in to their site to find out what is going on I thought I'd write a brief post telling you that you can still get the Sound Toys applications from the FreewarePalm site.



Pacemaker device in Feb, App in December



Well it looks like the long awaited Pacemaker DJ device and application are on their way for real now with the device itself expected in Feb 2008 and the cross platform application this month.

The Basics: External Hardware

External hardware used to be far more important than it is now. In terms of Palm devices and devices powered by the Palm OS, there were only three external hardware devices that I was aware of.

Swivel Systems SG20
The SG20 module was the first external module I discovered some years ago. I don't know how long it was made for or how many were sold but it was a very niche product to say the least. The SG20 was an innovative product for its time. It was a GM module housed in palm modem casing (or very similar) that clipped on to the bottom of a Palm III series PDA, or a TRG Pro. It would also fit a Palm V or Vx with a special adapter.

The sound quality was very good indeed using a 3.5 stereo jack socket. But the SG20 didn't stop there, it also had MIDI out capability



The Tsunamidi for Palm V
This tone module offers a full General MIDI sound set and wavetable synthesis. This means you'll have 128 different instrument sounds plus drums clipped onto your Palm V or Palm Vx handheld!

The Tsunamidi is about the same size as the Palm V Modem. It takes two AA batteries and doesn't use any additional power from the handheld. It has a built-in speaker and headphone jack and a port for an AC power adapter. There is also a special cable (included) that gives you full sized MIDI-in and MIDI-out ports to connect to any electronic music instruments or equipment.

I owned one of these for a while, and it was a nice device to have, but in many ways very similar to the SG20 device.


BeatPlus Module
This module only works in the Handspring visor PDA series. It is almost impossible to find these days. However, the Yamaha chip used in the module is the same as the one used in several of Sony's Clie devices.

The module had a 3.5 mm headphone jack and a tiny speaker too. The applications that worked with it were miniMusic's suite of software.


miniMusic Adapter

This was a MIDI adapter for Palm PDAs prior to Palm OS 5. It converts any Serial HotSync Cradle or Cable into a MIDI-out interface that you can connect to any electronic music instrument (requires full RS2332 serial signal, some handhelds require special cables to meet this specification). There are some low cost handhelds that include ONLY a USB port instead of a full HotSync connector, like the Palm Zire, preventing anyone from making a serial cable and preventing a MIDI connection of any kind.

These are still available from miniMusic


Other external hardware options

Of course you could connect other MIDI hardware. With the exception of most OS5 Palms serial out was supported. People have used the Yamaha series of portable MIDI studios such as the QY100 or the MU15.


As for Windows Mobile / Pocket PC devices, there was ages ago a MIDI adapter for some of the iPaq series called MIDI Port, but I haven't seen them for a long time.

And another iPhone music app

One music related iPhone web app follows another. This time a chord reference from Cray Design.

iPhone Guitar Tuner


I guess it had to happen sooner or later. From Waterstone's here's a little guitar tuner web app for your iPhone / iPod Touch.

The Palm Sounds Interview: 4Pockets

This the first of what I hope will become a series of interviews with mobile music developers. Paul from 4Pockets gives an insight into what's important to the developer that brought us MeTeoR and AudioBox to name only two of their outstanding applications.

PS: Where would you like to see your applications going in 2008 and beyond?

4P: If possible I would like to build on the success of our sound applications. Winning two Pocket PC magazine awards this year was a real boost, especially since these products are nominated by the public. Ultimately I would love to see us combine the audio recording features of our multi-track recorder MeTeoR, and the software synthesis and sequencing of AudioBox. This is more of a long term goal than something I've penciled in for 2008. I may have to wait for technology to catch up before this becomes a reality.

PS: In 2007 platforms have begun to shift radically with the iPod Touch / iPhone, Google's Android OS, and Palm's OS II. How will platforms change what you develop?

4P: Apple has really shown the way in terms of interface design, and I'm sure this will set new standards which the rest have to follow. I've never been a fan of the Apple products, and I always found the iPod inferior in terms of sound quality to other products such as the Archos and Creative products. However, even I gave in and bought an iPod Touch, simply because I'm a technology freak, and it's a pleasure to use, despite still being inferior in the sound department. I'm still not convinced however that combining an MP3 player and a mobile phone is a good idea, and the iPhone is still far too expensive.

PS: Will you consider developing for the iPod Touch / iPhone when the SDK becomes available?

4P: I'm sure we will take a look at the SDK, only then will we know the full potential of the device. Whilst you can unofficially install third party applications on the iPhone / Touch, these tend to be poorly implemented and rather simplistic programs. Lets hope this isn't a limitation of the device and just a lack of a decent SDK.

PS: Do you think that there is a future in mobile music making, or will it remain as largely a hobbyist's thing

4P: If we look back at the type of music programs we were running 10 years ago on 400Mhz PC's, they were very limited, mainly due to processor speed. In the main most music packages such as Cubase and Cakewalk were at best very good midi sequencers, rather than hard disk recorders. I feel the Pocket PC technology is about where the PC was 10 years ago, but I am sure that as technology evolves and CPU speeds improve, so will the quality of portable music software. At present, peoples expectations of portable devices is way ahead of the technology. Currently the lack of mass storage and FPU mean that this type of application are hard to develop.

PS: What was the most technically challenging application you have created?

4P: I think MeTeoR is definitely the most challenging product we have written so far. This product can handle up to 12 44Khz tracks, with effects, which takes some serious processing power and pushes the device to its limits. Sound editing is also quite a challenge on portable devices as they aren't best equipped to edit 500MB files, something even a PC would have problems with. Possibly the biggest challenge is dealing with the poor latency of these devices, but I think these problems will eventually be resolved as technology and CPU speeds improve.

PS: What application / feature are you most proud of and why?

This is a hard question to answer because we try to add something new and innovative to all our products. I'm proud of the software synthesis of AudioBox, the time shifting capabilities of Virtual Recorder, the technology behind Pocket RTA, and the graphics engines of Red Sector and Harry Putters Crazy Golf.

PS: What do your users ask for most?

4P: We pride ourselves in trying to give our customers what they want, which is basically born out by the existence of programs such as MeTeoR and Virtual Recorder. However, it does help that audio software development is something I have always been interested in.

PS: What are you working on right now?

4P: Currently I'm working on a vector engine for our forthcoming release, Pinball Evolution.

PS: What one development could make application development easier for you?

4P: The introduction of an FPU. Whether you develop 3D graphics applications or signal processing algorithms, life is made so much harder for not having a floating point processor.

PS: When you make music, what kind of music do you make?

4P: I've always been a fan of early electronic music, such as Gray Numan which is where my love of synths and sequencers comes from. However, over the years my tastes have changed, and I now prefer guitar driven music.

PS: What are you listening to?

4P: Another difficult one. I'm a fan of live music, and my favorite band at the minute is Within Temptation, a gothic metal band with one hell of a singer (think Evanescence only better). I'm also a big fan of bands such as Muse, Placebo, and older bands such as Pink Floyd and Rush.

PS: What would you like for Christmas this year?

4P: Probably an iPhone, but I refuse to buy one until the price drops!

Thanks Paul, I hope that 4Pockets has another excellent year in 2008 with even more innovative applications, and congratulations on this year's awards.

Casio VL-10 on eBay for £20 (currently)


I would like to get one of these as they rarely come up on eBay. This one started off at just £0.99 and is at £20 already.