Your iPod excels at serving up music for one, but using it to entertain a crowd is problematic. Speaker docks are an option, but most are anemic at best, more suited to background music in your cubicle than serious listening. Audyssey’s South of Market dock changes all that. Taking inspiration from San Francisco’s famous party ‘hood—SoMa to the locals—known for bars and nightclubs that go bump in the night (and well into the next morning), Audyssey’s first consumer device delivers amazing sound and comes packed with some stellar features.
When Apple rolled out iLife ’11, it touted the fact that more than 5 million folks are using GarageBand to create music, podcasts, and other types of audio, making it one of the most successful DAW (digital audio workstation) programs of all time. With this newly updated revision, there are even more reasons to really dig this maestro of a music-making app.
Perhaps the single most important new editing addition, Flex Time, has been brought over from GarageBand’s older sibling, Logic. Simply grab a part of a sampled audio track—a guitar lick or a vocal—and instantly drag it to a new position in time, with extremely smooth—and musically useful—results. It’s a study in effortless, clear interface design, and once you drag a guitar lick into place with it, you’ll instantly be hooked. GarageBand is incredibly smart about automatically grabbing the desired audio segment, and adjusting either the head or tail of the waveform based on where you click the mouse.
I’ve been working on a personal website for quite some time. I’m using iWeb because it’s pretty simple. However, my uploaded audio files (entirely ethnic songs) from iTunes can only be accessed by Macs or the very latest PCs. Since this personal website caters to my friends, most of them in different parts of the world, very few use Macs and most are using older PCs. When I asked a friend overseas to test my website, he didn’t see any of the audio files at all.
There are thousands of applications out there that let you record audio. Some are swell for podcasting. Others can rip the audio right out of a YouTube video or suck the sound out of a Skype conversation so that you can listen to it at a later date. You could use any number of one-trick ponies to take care of the various audio chores in your life; or, if you're a savvy Mac user, you could whittle that number down to just one.
Apple’s iMovie and Final Cut give Mac users intuitive tools for editing their home movies from dry, amateurish “Wave to the camera, kids” productions into something that’s actually worth watching. But if you start with cruddy footage, there’s only so much you can do in post-production to improve it. Two of the biggest problems that can’t really be fixed later on are poor sound quality and a jittery camera. So when you’re ready to take your backyard epics to the next level, we offer the following improvements to your movie-making setup. They won’t break the bank, but they’ll definitely improve your work. Next stop, Sundance?
The iPhone’s iPod functions replaced an actual iPod in my pocket long ago. But as great as it is to have one device I can use to tweet, listen to music, check my calendar, and make the occasional voice call, for me, the iPhone is a less than perfect music player. Without hard buttons for navigation, I can’t skip to my favorite tracks without having to look at the device. Luckily, Etymotic’s new hf3 headset has an inline remote for playback control (and taking calls), and this time around, they’ve added volume buttons as well for the ultimate in control.
Bigfoot may get the majority of the media’s attention, especially after his stint on The Six Million Dollar Man. But the real star in the half-man/half-bear/monkey/gorilla arena is the Yeti. While Bigfoot is out stomping his footprint into mud, the Blue Microphone Yeti (shown left at very close to its actual size) is doing a bang-up job recording your podcasts, band practices, and events. Pretty good for a mythical creature--er, an affordably priced USB mic.
Why doesn’t this great audio receiver include great audio/video streaming tools? The NetBoxx R-904N sounds good, but its streaming is more annoying than awesome. You have to dig up your own Mac software, you’ll fight the weak interface, and you’ll be rewarded with video-resolution issues. We’d hoped that this one box could rule our A/V needs, but you’re much better off buying a standard audio receiver and an Apple TV.
There was a time when listening to music meant sitting in front of a stereo and popping in your favorite CD--or maybe even an actual vinyl record. But these days, we do most of our listening via iPods or from our Mac at our desk. Which is fine, except for the fact that most computer speakers suck. But these speakers from Bowers & Wilkins are so good, you should just stop reading this review now and start earning some of the 500 bucks you’ll need to pay for them.