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.
Still have dreams of being the next Jimi Hendrix or Elton John? But your guitar or piano/keyboard is now gathering dust in the corner because you don’t have the time or the money to spend taking lessons, right? Well, dust it off, because online lessons may be the answer to your dilemma. Online lessons are much cheaper than in-person lessons, which typically cost $50 or more an hour; you can take a lesson at home whenever you want, or even on the go with a laptop and portable instrument; and with streaming video you can see exactly how your instructor plays the melodies and chords. Also, unlike package deals that send you DVDs and books, online material is not static—new lessons are continually added, and in some cases you can select from a variety of instructors. Online lesson forums also allow you to get feedback from your teachers and have them or other students answer your questions, listen to your music, and more.
At just under 4 inches on all sides, the iCube fits nearly anywhere—as long as there’s AC power nearby. Boynq offers the iCube II (and another iPod speaker, the Sabre) in both black-and-chrome “Pour Homme” and lavender-and-white “Pour Femme” versions. While “Pour Femme” is one glitter unicorn sticker away from being “Pour 9-Year-Old Girl,” the black-and-chrome version is attractive enough for a desktop, bedroom, or kitchen.
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.
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.
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.