Imagine a piano keyboard that is also a multitouch surface, like the screen on an iPad. Now imagine that this is a tactile silicone surface with bumps and dips so you can feel the keys, just like a piano. Hold that image in your mind — you are currently imagining the Roli Seaboard Block, backpack-sized Bluetooth MIDI keyboard that will change the way you play music.
One great recent addition to GarageBand for iOS is the Visual EQ, an equalizer that is about as far away from the 1980s-style bank of sliders as it’s possible to get. The Visual EQ also shows you a waveform of the actual sound you’re adjusting, so you can see as well as hear the effects immediately. This visual element, combined with a clever three-“band” EQ, makes this a very powerful tool for shaping your music.
This week, GarageBand saw the first new entry in its Sound Library since the feature was added in version 2.3. The Sound Library is a kind of App Store for music, letting you browse and download all kinds of samples, loops, presets and even brand-new software instruments. These come in sound packs arranged around a theme or genre. The new one is called Flex and Flow, and it brings you chilled hip-hop.
Logic Pro, GarageBand’s big brother, just got a big update to coincide with the NAMM music trade show. In addition to lots of new effects plugins, and a couple of relaxed new Drummers is something called Smart Tempo. This banishes the click track, and lets you create music that is much more organic, but still perfectly in time.
One of the craziest omissions in GarageBand for iPad and iPhone is the lack of a master track for mixing. A master track sits in your GarageBand window alongside your recorded instruments, and lets you apply EQ and effects — bass, treble, reverb, and so on — to the entire song. Even in the amazing new GarageBand 3.2, there’s no proper master track.
But there is a workaround that is both easy, and as good as having the real thing. Let’s check it out.
Focusrite’s iTrack One Pre might be the ultimate portable recording gadget for musicians. It’s a little cube that fits in a pocket, but that packs in connections for a microphone and a guitar, as well as a port for charging the iPad or iPhone you connect to. It can even supply Phantom Power to a microphone, and has it’s own gain (“volume,” kinda) knob.
What would happen if you took an electric guitar, made it as thick as an acoustic guitar, and stuffed the extra space not with boring old air, but with speakers and an electronic brain that works with your iPhone?
Then, you might put in a cutout on the guitar top to hold that iPhone, and a rechargeable battery to power it all. If you did all that, then you’d have invented the Fusion Guitar.