Learners will love Roli’s colorful, light-up piano keyboard

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musician playing roli lumi
Look at how much fun it is to play. Just look.
Photo: Roli

Roli is best known for its squishy, multitouch, pressure-sensitive music keyboards and controllers. Those are great. But the new Roli Lumi goes in a different direction. It’s a small portable keyboard with light-up keys. And not the kind of light-up keys you might see in a movie set during the 1970s disco scene: These light up keys help you learn to play the piano.

Piano lessons will never be the same.

This single iPad knob costs almost $400

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My, what a beautiful knob!
My, what a beautiful knob!
Photo: Synclavier

The Synclavier is a digital synthesizer from the early 1980s. Synclavier Go! is an iPad app that mimics the classic synth. But this post isn’t about those. It’s about the Synclavier Knob, an accessory for the app.

The Synclavier Knob is a single knob on a mounting plate the size of an iPad mini. That’s it. Oh, and it costs $399.

Roland’s new Bluetooth speaker doubles as a guitar amp

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Roland’s BTM-1 would look at home on a Russian billionaire’s yacht.
Roland’s BTM-1 would look at home on a Russian billionaire’s yacht.
Photo: Roland

If you play an electric musical instrument, and you also listen to music from your iPhone, and you also (perhaps) have a pink neon flamingo on your nightstand (bear with me here), then you will L-O-V-E the new Roland BTM-1, a combo Bluetooth speaker and guitar/synth amp.

Let’s check it out.

Jamstack Bluetooth speaker clamps onto your electric guitar

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It’s bigger than it looks here.
It’s bigger than it looks here.
Photo: Jamstack

The $249 Jamstack is a Bluetooth speaker that clips onto your electric guitar, hooks up to your iPhone, and lets you run iOS amp simulation and effects apps. It’s like adding a teeny-tiny amp to your guitar, only with way more wires.

For practice, it looks pretty neat — but for recording, it seems killer.

RødeCaster Pro is the perfect box for iOS podcasters

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The RødeCaster Pro bundles everything you need to record a podcast in one box.
Everything you need to record a podcast, in one box.
Photo: Røde

Podcasting on iOS is perfectly feasible, as long as you don’t want to use Skype or FaceTime to talk and record the audio at the same time. The new RødeCaster Pro mixer/recorder neatly sidesteps this issue, as well as putting everything a podcaster might need into one sturdy box. And because the hardware is made by Røde, it’s probably pretty good.

Roli Songmaker Kit GarageBand Edition adds touch control to Mac

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Any Songmaker Kit can be turned into the GarageBand Edition.
Any Songmaker Kit can be turned into the GarageBand Edition.
Photo: Roli

Roli makes touch-sensitive controllers for music apps, and they come in Blocks, little modular units that can be snapped together via magnets to form bigger, better controllers. They’re kind of like Transformers for music. Now, Roli will now sell you a GarageBand-friendly version of its amazing Songmaker Kit, optimized for use with the Mac version of GarageBand.

But what if you already bought a Songmaker Kit? Should you return it and buy the new one? Nope. The hardware is exactly the same, all you need is a software update.

Today we’ll see what the Songmaker Kit GarageBand Edition can do, and find out how to update your own Blocks to use it.

Gig on the go with Roland’s awesome iPhone mixer

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The new Roland Go Mixer Pro
The new Roland Go Mixer Pro
Photo: Roland

Remember the Roland Go Mixer? The little pocket-size audio mixer that hooks up to your iPhone via its Lightning port, and lets you record a whole band at once? I do, although God knows I’ve tried to forget it. What looked like a promising product turned out to be missing basic functionality. Now, though, Roland has introduced the Go Mixer Pro, and it looks like it fixes everything from the original Go, and more.

Amazing Songmaker Kit has everything you need for making music on the go

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ROLI-Songmaker-Kit
This might be the cutest MIDI keyboard kit ever.
Photo: Roli

Roli’s new Songmaker Kit is a kick-ass portable music-making setup that hooks up to your iPad, iPhone or Mac. It consists of a mini version of Roli’s amazing Seaboard keyboards, along with a couple of the company’s modular Blocks. Everything connect via Bluetooth, creating a custom music workstation that’s easy to use and extremely portable.

Let’s take a look at the Roli Songmaker Kit and see how you can use it to make music anywhere.

How to plug your guitar into your iPhone and rock out

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guitar iPhone setup
Recording guitar into iPad is sometimes painful.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Short of learning air guitar, hooking a guitar up to your iPhone is just about the easiest way to get started playing music. But it’s not just for practice, or goofing around at home. You can record and edit serious music with an iOS device, and even produce whole records.

But we’re already getting ahead of ourselves. Today, we’re just going to hook things up and rock out.

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You don't need expensive equipment to record your guitar, an iPhone or iPad will do just fine.
You don't need expensive equipment to record your guitar, an iPhone or iPad will do just fine.
Photo: Lee Peterson/The App Factor