audio software

Ableton Live 7

Live's interface is a single-window affair, clear and uncluttered despite its depth.  The market for audio recording software is vast, ranging from GarageBand to Pro Tools, with a lot of stuff in between. Now in its seventh iteration, Ableton Live started as a tool designed primarily for—surprise—live performances, but over the years, has morphed into a popular tool for studio and recording work as well. Ableton Live 7 is not revolutionary but evolutionary. With this latest version, Live has matured into a well-rounded, integrated environment with extensive automation and a unique approach to the musical process.

Leslie Ayers's picture

First Look: Can You Hear Me Now?

Choose Music > Pop-H when you're rocking out to Abba with headphones. Sure, it's easy enough to do, but we were too lazy to change Hear's preset to Hip Hop / Rap-H when the song switched to Akon's Smack That.  Even nonaudiophiles can appreciate an app like JoeSoft's Hear, which, for $49.95, boosts the sound quality of your entire digital music library - and any other audio you care to listen to on your Mac. After an admittedly quick look at the app, however, we found ourselves wishing JoeSoft could build in a few more features that cater to lazy mousers like us. To wit: With its dozens of music presets - from Alternative / Punk to Hip Hop/Rap to Techno, all for both speakers and headphones, choosing the one you want quickly is, well, a challenge.

Modartt Pianoteq 2

While there are lots of controls for tweaking the sound, you’ll fall in love with Pianoteq by just playing the darn thing.  While the digital music world is ruled by gnarly synthesizers, decked-out drum machines, and spacey sound effects, most musicians will tell you that the Holy Grail of software is one that can emulate the good old acoustic piano. Sampled piano instruments typically require sample libraries that eat up between 15 and 30 gigabytes of hard drive space, and are constrained by the limitations of sampling technology. Well, fear not: A group of French geniuses have come up with the ultimate nonsampled piano, and it’s downright luscious.

Detailed videos show proper finger and hand position from multiple angles.  The mention of guitar lessons probably conjures images of hunching over an acoustic guitar in the back room of a strip-mall music shop while an aging hippie prods your unwilling fingers to contort to the chords of “Kumbaya.” Fortunately, iPlayMusic has a more effective and humane way to teach you guitar with Beginner Guitar Lessons and Play Music Together.

Groove Agent 3 lets you synch up two different drum modules, for extremely dense and lush rhythms.  Anyone who makes—or listens to—music is well aware that, in the end, rhythm is the thing that keeps it all together and makes it gel. If you create your own tunes, you might feel constrained by using existing drum loops, and that’s where Groove Agent enters the picture: It’s a unique software drum machine that incorporates some innovative MIDI and sampled drum technology, and the result is one seriously groovy virtual skin beater.

 During the course of human events, it sometimes becomes necessary to bring the rock—and we cannot bring the rock without the hallowed tools of our trade. So we summon our guitars and amps, our boots and leather, our Pete Townsend windmills and Janis Joplin caterwauls. And now we also enlist our Macs—for they bestow furious powers of transformation upon those who seek rock star greatness. Yes, Macs are even more potent than cowbells. Consider the DIY career stylings of D’arby Rose, singer-guitarist of the As Ifs, a band that most certainly has the coolest name in the entire history of rock, ever. At the gravelly old age of 17, Rose has already produced all the must-have media assets that one would expect of a serious punk-rock frontwoman. She’s got the demo CD. She’s got the music video. She’s got the website with the obligatory music downloads and calendar of live appearances. And she, along with drummer Lily B, created all of this stuff with nothing but a MacBook. And we do mean nothing but a MacBook.