It’s pretty obvious where Apple wants you to get your music: the iTunes Store. And we’re not knocking it—we appreciate the simplicity and convenience of iTunes for buying songs, managing our collections, and loading up our iPods. But only looking for digital music in one place—even iTunes—is like only getting takeout from one restaurant, or only ever accessing the Internet through AOL. There’s just so much more out there if you’re willing to look around.
A little too basic for super serious composers, but it should be just right for everyone else. GarageBand brought low-cost home recording to the average household Mac, giving weekend rock stars the opportunity to create musical masterpieces. But pecking out notes with a mouse cursor on an onscreen keyboard is no way make music. To really harness the power of GarageBand, you need a MIDI keyboard controller.
When you’re on the road, and you’ve finally arrived at your hotel room, unpacked your things, and clicked on the TV to see what’s on, it finally hits you—that feeling that you’re someplace unfamiliar, someplace strange. The best way to cure that feeling of displacement? Music. Bust out your iPod and some portable speakers, and fill your room with audible comfort. We’ve found a pair of portable speaker sets that are both quite capable of being your best buddy during your travels.
It’ll wake you up, all right—if the bright display lets you get to sleep. The iLuv i166’s retro circular design is a nice break from the current set of shoebox-shaped alarm clock iPod docks glutting the market. But when the room lights go out, the problems of the device shine through. Even though you have the option of dimming the blue display, the choices seem to be bright and oh-my-God-my-eyes! bright. Covering the display negates the reason for having a clock in the first place, and moving the i166 across the room brings up a new issue: The display is unreadable at about 10 feet. You’ve basically traded your alarm clock for a bright blue night light.
The Rig Kontrol 3 pedal requires a Mac host. The Holy Grail of the electric guitar involves a single magical box that replaces racks of gear and puddles of pedals, with no compromise to quality, accuracy and flexibility. Guitar Rig 3 is a significant evolution in digital guitar hardware and software. It could easily serve as the cornerstone of a completely digital guitar setup.
Nicecast lets you set up your computer as a streaming server that broadcasts your iTunes music to friends and coworkers over the Internet. I work in a cubicle with another person and we would both like to listen to the same iTunes music at the same time. But with the music coming out of just one of our computers, we have to turn it up so loud that it disturbs people in other cubicles. Same problem if we were to stream our music to an AirPort Express–equipped stereo. Is there a way that we can have the exact same music coming through each of our individual computers at the same time?
The screen’s nice, but you can’t play your brand-new iPod’s video on it. The iMep MP-702-388 looks like a portable TV, and it is, but it’s also a boom box with an AM/FM radio, a DVD video player, a CD player, and an iPod speaker. The radio works well, and there’s a collapsible antenna to help with reception. We didn’t have much luck with the TV, even when we attached a TV antenna, but you if you have cable, just connect it to the iMep. DVD movies looked good onscreen, and you can use the included remote control to navigate through the DVD menus.
Sibelius 5 has an uncluttered interface. When most people think of the intersection of Macs and music, they think of synthesizers, MIDI, and apps like Logic Pro. But some musicians like to score their music the old-fashioned way—on paper, with musical notes written on a staff. And to do that on a Mac, there’s Sibelius.
CoverScout can search Amazon’s music library for covers, but it doesn’t match the song with the correct album.
iTunes’ ability to display album artwork adds a visual element to your music collection, but its ability to actually get that artwork doesn’t always work. CoverScout can help fill those holes in your music collection, if you can work around some of its shortcomings.