Tag Archives: hardware

I Love Shapelock!

Shapelock iPhone 4 tripod mount

Sometimes you come across something so cool that you have to post about it, whether it’s directly related to music or not! This is just one of those times.

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The Beatseqr Returns

One more video featuring Steve Cooley’s amazing Beatseqr.  This time I’m using the Beatseqr to simultaneously send MIDI data to four different channel strips in Logic, each with a different instrument set up on it.  Let the awesomeness ensue.

Beatseqr comes to Robot Junkyard

Here are a couple of videos I recently did explaining the basics of the Beatseqr MIDI controller which is handmade by my good friend Steve Cooley.  If you are interested in getting your hands on one of these bad boys, head on over to beatseqr.com to learn more.

Bedtop mobile studio surgery

I had the wonderful opportunity to perform a surgical procedure on my mobile studio this evening, and by mobile studio I mean my trusty Macbook Pro.  A few months ago, my trusty studio took an unfortunate cliff dive off of a shelf with a cable in the left side USB port.  Sadly, the USB cable was no longer attached when I arrived on the scene to render medical assistance, and in its place was the mangled, twisted wreckage of one-time pristine I/O port.  I tried to revive the USB port, but even after bringing out the paddles, it refused to live, so I’ve had to exist with only one functioning USB port on the right side.  Most of the time this is not an issue, but occasionally, like when I’m lying in bed and I wish to have my monitor pre-amp plugged in, I need the left side USB.

I finally decided that it was time to do something about  the dead port so I started searching for a place to repair my wounded studio and I stumbled upon a website called iFixit.  I now love this site.  Not only did they have the replacement part I needed, they also had well photographed, step-by-step instructions on how to fix it myself.  After mulling over the costs for a couple of days, $130 including I/O board, tools, and freight, I decided to take the plunge and attempt open-case surgery on my laptop.  Parts ordered Thursday, and after waiting anxiously all day, parts delivered on Friday.

The kitchen table was already sequestered for random junk, so I decided to create a makeshift M*A*S*H facility on my bed.  I had ample light, a laid out light blue pillow case as a place for equipment and parts, and a quick borrowing of an IVAR shelf from my studio rig made for a solid surgical bed.  Now I wa ready to open up the patient.

Even though I’ve not had any previous reservations about opening up and working on any other computer I’ve owned, I was apprehensive about this one.  A laptop, where every nook and cranny is utilized, is quite different from the seemingly expansive insides of a desktop G3 or even my iMac.  Thankfully the well written instructions from iFixit made the operation a piece of cake.  Apparently, replacing the left I/O board is one of the most time intensive and difficult medical procedures on a MacBook Pro, but moving ahead slowly and deliberately for each step had the entire process done in about one hour, and that was with a couple of pauses to go check NCAA basketball tourney scores. (Go Wolverines and Zags!)

After surgery was complete, I fired up the laptop, started Logic, and plugged a midi controller into the now mended USB port.  I pressed a pad on the controller and the sound of moving electrons emitted from the speakers of my laptop.  Surgery was a success!

I am very happy with my new I/O ports, and even though I won’t be wary of mending my laptop again, I hope I don’t have to.

Tools of the trade

My current studio is 100% digital. It is really amazing what modern hardware and software is capable of, and I’m not even using anything terribly groundbreaking.  The ability to meld both synthetic and organic sounds all based in a digital domain is extremely liberating as I don’t have to take time to track down sources.  Yes, there are drawbacks.  One sound form that I have a very difficult time recreating is a simple repeating acoustic guitar strum with all it’s beautifully human inconsistencies.  Yet, lacking the ability to mimic certain organic sound sources forces me to be creative and use my existing synthetic tools in new, unknown manners.

Thinking about it, if I go back into my past, I’ve almost always used some sort of digital source in my studio setup.  My first years of writing music was done using the Commodore 64’s SidPlayer.  It really doesn’t get much more truly digital in a raw sense than that.  Three monophonic voices.  Four waveform choices.  ADSR modulation.  All controllable in a tedious note by note manner.  I spent countless hours nearly every day, programming notes and rhythms, tweaking sounds, listening to the changes, and tweaking or programming again. And again. And again.

In reality, that distilled process is still how I work, I just have much prettier interfaces to look at.

For fun and nostalgia, I’ll occasionally revisit how I created music in the past, and some of the lessons and techniques learned from those times.

Hop on over to the ‘Equipment‘ page to see a complete list of everything I’m currently utilizing.