Mac is not Going Anywhere

by Nikolozi Meladze

On music production blogs I always see people complaining how Apple is abandoning Mac and its pro software. If you are one of those people you should read the Macworld's interview with Apple execs on the Mac at 30.

Bud Tribble (Apple’s vice president of software technology):

That cross-pollination of ideas, the fact that the [Mac and iOS] teams are the same team, has propelled the Mac further than I had hoped for.

Craig Federighi:

You don’t want to say the Mac became less good at being a Mac because someone tried to turn it into iOS.

Philip Schiller:

There’s a role for the Mac as far as our eye can see. A role in conjunction with smartphones and tablets, that allows you to make the choice of what you want to use. Our view is, the Mac keeps going forever, because the differences it brings are really valuable.

So, there you have it, Mac is not going anywhere.

Easy Drag Compatibility with Mavericks

by Nikolozi Meladze

Easy Drag is fully compatible with OS X Mavericks, however the way you turn on the "Enable Access for Assistive Devices" feature has changed. You need this to allow Easy Drag to be used with certain keys: such as esc, Space and `(grave). Previously all you had to do is enable Enable access for assistive devices in System Preferences > Universal Access. In Mavericks, you need to add Easy Drag to Allow the apps below to control your computer list in System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy > Accessibility.

My Thoughts on Apple's Latest Keynote from a Musician's Perspective

by Nikolozi Meladze

Apple announced a whole lot of great products and services today. Jim Dalrymple sums it up well:

If there was any event in recent memory that demonstrated the depth and scope of Apple’s products, it had to be this one. Every new product tied into the last and the next announcement in one way or another. Whether iOS or Mac, software or hardware, the connection was there.

I'm going to concentrate what the event means to me and other musicians. I'm glad Apple emphasised their commitment to creative professionals during the keynote. They even demoed the Drummer feature from the new version of GarageBand.

GarageBand for OS X

GarageBand for OS X looks exactly like Logic Pro X. You have to inspect the UI closely before you can figure out which of the two apps you are looking at. It's good to see Logic Pro’s awesome features, like Drummer, Bass Amps and Smart Controls, have been ported to GarageBand. In addition to this, Apple added a beautiful parametric EQ with a built-in analyser on every channel. And, it is finally retina ready. GarageBand has to be the last OS X app from Apple to get retina display support.

GarageBand for iOS

After Apple unveiled iOS 7 at this year's WWDC, I was quite curious as to how Apple developers were going to modify the user interface of the GarageBand. The app used to be quite skeumorphic and employed a lot of metaphors from the real world. In version 2.0, Apple kept some skeumorphic elements while making the other parts of the UI flatter. The arrange view, MIDI clip editor and all standard UI elements were made flatter to adopt iOS 7 look and feel. However, the skeumorphic feel for the virtual instruments and guitar amps were maintained.

The most notable new feature is Inter-App Audio support. I played with it briefly and it works quite well. Hopefully, many more instrument and FX apps start supporting it. Audiobus is great, but having an OS level audio routing capabilities is much better. The other welcome additions include 64-bit CPU support and ability to create songs with up to 32 tracks.

iCloud & GarageBand

We've had iCloud support in GarageBand for iOS a while now. The OS X version of the app just gained the feature. Sadly, while the new versions of iWork apps now have unified file formats across iOS and OS X, GarageBand apps aren't so lucky. However, you can still start working on your songs on iPhone or iPad and then complete them on your mac by importing the project files into GarageBand or Logic Pro X. I'm sure at some point in the future Apple will create a unified project format for these apps.

Aspiring Musicians

Apple made both versions of GarageBand completely free. Now anyone wanting to learn more about music production can easily start using these apps and they don't have to spend a single cent. They are very powerful tools and can be used to make professional sounding records. Throw Logic Remote iPad app into the mix, which can also control GarageBand (also free!), and you've got a fully functioning studio setup. You just may need a decent pair of speakers and a mic. Other than that, you've got everything you need to make great music.

iPads

I've been using iPad mini for the past year and I preferred it over the full size iPad, due to how much lighter it was. Now that a new lighter and thinner full size iPad is announced I'm going give it a go. Reason I'm choosing iPad Air over mini is mainly because I use Logic Remote and GarageBand apps a lot and prefer to have a bigger screen to easily hit virtual music keyboard when I'm composing.

Macs

Earlier this year I gave up my retina MacBook Pro to try much thinner and lighter MacBook Air. I thought trying to make music at random places, like coffee shops and parks, would be inspiring and might make me somewhat more productive. I've learned two things. Firstly, I'm not productive at all at those places. It's very easy to be distracted and completely lose focus. Even if it's simply someone bringing coffee over to your table. At least this is true for me. Second, I really miss the beautiful retina display. And now that Logic Pro supports retina, I really want to go back and enjoy these beautiful screens again. I was hoping Apple would release either a retina iMac or Mac Pro with a retina Cinema Display this year. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. So I'm going back to 15" retina MacBook Pro. Which I'll mostly use as a desktop computer and won't carry it around.

A couple quick thoughts on Mac Pro. I think the new model is absolutely beautiful and it's a beast. It's funny to see a lot of negative responses across the internet, described as not suitable for professional musicians because it doesn't have PCIe slots or is not expandable or some other random weak argument. Thunderbolt people, Thunderbolt! This is what Apple said:

In creating a pro computer for the future, we wanted to provide an enormous amount of expansion — without being limited to the space inside the enclosure. Designed with built-in Thunderbolt 2, USB 3, Gigabit Ethernet, and HDMI 1.4 ports, Mac Pro sets a new standard in flexible, high-performance expansion. It’s our most expandable Mac yet. And it has everything you need to build a workstation completely customized to what you need and how you work.

Overall, I am very happy with today's product announcements and updates. And, I can't wait to play with the new MacBook Pro and iPad Air.

WWDC 2013 Registration

by Nikolozi Meladze
Moscone West - WWDC 2013 Registration    

Moscone West - WWDC 2013 Registration 

 

Registration Done. I was there at around 4:30pm and keynote line was already forming. The guy behind the counter told me I should queue up as early as possible if I want to make to the keynote hall. Even 6am is not early enough apparently. OK, I'll bite the bullet and line up at 5am. Luckily, I got enough music loaded on Spotify.

Oh yeah, I witnessed the street shooting when I was leaving Moscone West.

OS X Mountain Lion v10.8.3 Update

by Nikolozi Meladze

Some audio related bug fixes from the 10.8.3 release notes: - A fix for an issue that may cause Logic Pro to become unresponsive when using certain plug-ins - A fix for an issue that may cause audio to stutter on 2011 iMacs

Interestingly, I've been experiencing audio stutter on my Retina MacBook Pro. Hopefully, this update fixes it.

Also, in Xcode 4.6.1 update Apple fixed the bug that bit me recently: - Fixes an issue where ARC-enabled apps would not launch on OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.

Easy MIDI New Features: MIDI Program Change & Chord Set Transpose

by Nikolozi Meladze

Easy MIDI has been updated to v1.4. Here's what's new:

  • Added support for MIDI Bank Select & Program Change
  • Chord Sets & Custom Scales can be transposed up or down
  • UI Improvements
  • Bug fixes

You'll notice a lot of UI improvements. I think it improves overall experience and it looks nicer than the previous version.

Many plug-in synths support MIDI Bank Select & Program Change, using keyboard shortcuts you'll be able to quickly preview presets. For Logic Pro, make sure you send MIDI Bank Select & Program Change messages to MIDI channel 2 or higher. Channel 1 is reserved for Logic's own functionality.

Another useful new feature is that you can now transpose Chord Sets & Custom Scales up or down by semitone steps using left/right arrow keys.

Get the update from the Mac App Store.

‘October software’

by Nikolozi Meladze

mrgan:

The Mac version of iPhoto has been getting quite stale, and now that Apple has reimagined it for iOS, it’s possible that they’ll move some of those new features and concepts over to the Mac version. I have no love for the iOS version, so I’m not looking forward to that kind of “upgrade”, but the app is badly in need of some attention either way. The rest of iLife seems to be just fine where it is right now; GarageBand and iMovie could do with minor updates, but no one’s picketing in Cupertino for them.

I will pick on GarageBand (and Logic Pro). It hasn’t received an update in a while. The iOS version has some really cool features. Would be good to see those translated back to the Mac version. Also, GarageBand and Logic Pro have to be the only non-retina Apple apps left.