Behind the Fake News: The mp3 Is NOT Dead, It’s More Alive Than Ever

In the past few weeks you have likely read several articles, or at least headlines, proclaiming that the mp3 format is dead or will die soon. Some of these even came from authoritative sources in terms of music and technology, leading many to blindly believe that the death of mp3 was in fact real, and leaving many others to wonder what would happen as a result.

Resident Advisor stated that the “era of mp3 is over,” while those at Fossbytes announced that the “mp3 format is officially dead,”  and elsewhere at Gizmodo they announced that “developers of mp3 have officially killed it.” All these headlines, just like the countless others who followed suit with the hasty announcement, rushed to declare the death of the most popular audio compression format in circulation without examining all the facts. Interestingly enough it appears that they all regurgitated the same sensationalistic headline without properly reading the original statement of the Fraunhofer Institute and, above all, without confronting it against the sheer reality of the mp3’s role in today’s technologic world.

First of all, let’s examine what really happened: the only recent news, if we can really call it such since it’s been known for years, is that the latest American patents related to the mp3 format expired on April 16th, while in Europe they had all expired by the end of 2012. A few days later, on the 23rd of April, the Fraunhofer Institute, the former patent holder, published an official press release according to which the license for the mp3 format will be closed as the institute focuses its efforts on the AAC format.

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Technics Unveils Plan to Launch New Budget SL-1200 Turntables for $134.99

The Technics 1200 has long been revered by DJs for its high-torque, direct-drive platter that ensures flawless mixes and incredibly precise scratch performances. Until last year, the latest version of the turntable, the MK6, had been released in Japan back in 2008. Then in January 2016, the brand owned by CES, Panasonic announced it had revived the turntable with the new Grand Class Technics SL-1200G and limited edition Grand Class SL-1200GAE.

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Enjoy a 360º Tour of Roland’s Private Museum in Japan

Are you a gear fanatic that salivates at the site of classic Roland hardware?

If the answer is yes, or you’re just curious to see what 28 years of Roland gear history looks like in one room, you’ve come to the right place! Instead of traveling all the way to Japan, you can now enjoy unobstructed 360º vies inside Roland’s private museum in Hamamatsu.

The tour is split into sections, with the guide walking the viewer through an impressive range of Roland products released between 1972 and 2000. The tour includes synthesizers, drum machines, classic pianos and anything else Roland released during that time period.

Tech-heads rejoice, press play and ensure you’re watching this on full screen:

 

 

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NAMM 2016: Pioneer CDJ-2000NX2 and DJM-900NX2

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Just in time for NAMM 2016, Pioneer has taken a giant leap forward with updated versions of its two quintessential pieces of hardware, the CDJ-2000NXS and the DJM-900.

The CDJ-2000NXS makes a “giant leap forward,” outdoing its predecessor (CDJ-2000NXS) with an even bigger multicolor touchscreen, featuring a QWERTY keyboard and filterable searches to help find your next track more easily. Additionally, the unit includes two quad banks and a built-in 24-bit/96kHZ interface.

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The DJM-900NXS2, successor to both the DJM-900NXS and DJM-900, is Pioneer’s first-ever 64-bit mixer, and reportedly delivers a “warmer, more nuanced sound.” In addition to new, adjusted EQ and fader curves, the DJM900NXS2 also features enhanced controls for FX, an independent send/return, two USB inputs, and four phono jacks.

 

The DJ-2000NXS2 and DJM-900NXS2 will be available beginning in February for  £1,699/€2,299 (2,900 USD) each. For more info, visit Pioneer DJ

CDJ-2000NXS2 new features

  • 96 kHz/24-bit sound card
  • FLAC and ALAC support
  • 32-bit D/A converter
  • Full-colour touch screen with Qwerty keyboard, Track Filter search, Needle Countdown multicoloured wave display and Wave Zoom
  • 2 banks of 4 colour-coded Hot Cues
  • MIDI controller interface to connect to the DDJ-SP1
  • Fractional beat Quantize
  • Pro DJ Link
  • Improved beat grids
  • More detailed Phase Meter
  • Colour-coded Memory Cues
  • Supports rekordbox dj HID control
  • Lever for Slip Reverse, Forward and Reverse

DJM-900NXS2 new features

  • 64-bit mixing processor
  • 96 kHz/24-bit sound card
  • Improved EQ and fader curves
  • More accurate clip indicator
  • 6 Sound Colour FX with a new parameter knob
  • 14 Beat FX with a bigger X-Pad and OLED screen
  • Separate Send/Return to connect external hardware and software
  • 2 USB ports and top-loaded input switch
  • DVS control
  • 4 phono inputs
  • Pro DJ Link via LAN or USB
  • Magvel Fader
  • 2 headphone jacks: ¼-inch stereo and 3.5mm MiniPin
  • Gold Plated RCAs
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iPhone 7 Will Not Support Your Headphones

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In typical fashion, it seems as if Apple is making moves to put the squeeze on its customers, says Forbes. Apparently, the company will be abandoning the standard 3.5mm (1/8″) headphone ports with the upcoming iPhone 7, forcing customers to purchase either dedicated “lightning” plug headphones or bulky adapters to be able to use their existing headphones.

In addition to the enormous amounts of money that consumers will have to shell out, this move will literally create tons of electronic waste in their overseas factories, which most likely will not be recycled. While this move is a big disappointment, it should come as no surprise.

Apple is notorious for arbitrarily changing its cable connectors for new Mac and iOS devices, rendering millions of car chargers and other accessories obsolete every couple of years.

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Return Of The Technics: SL-1200G

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The Technics SL-1200 (discontinued) is the undisputed heavyweight turntable champion, cherished and sought after by vinyl DJs of all ages and genres. For the 50th anniversary of Technics, the company (a subsidiary of Panasonic) will be releasing a pair of “Grand Class” models, engineered with the audiophile in mind: the SL-1200G, which features an aluminum exterior, and the limited anniversary edition SL-1200GAE, housed in a gorgeous magnesium casing. Unfortunately, Technics will only be producing the latter model in a one-time run of 1,200. (See what they did there?)

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In addition to beautiful exterior casing, these new, turntables include a three-layered turntable and high-dampening tonearm, two features that audiophiles old and young will get especially excited about. They even added a brand-new direct-drive system, controlled by microprocessor, to eliminate “cogging,” which they explain in-depth in their press release:

“Vinyl record sales have been booming lately, so it’s not at all surprising that Technics is capitalizing on the SL-1200’s mystique here — we’re actually expecting to see a few high-end turntables at CES 2016. No word on pricing, but expect these to be crazy expensive when the 1200GAE arrives in summer and the 1200G hits late in the year. (Also, 50 years’ worth of SL-1200s are also available on eBay and Craigslist in virtually every city in the world, if you’re that impatient.)”

vinyl DJ

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Guitar Hero? Nah. Roland’s TR-REC Is Here.

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Nowadays, essentially any activity can, and likely already has, been made into a mobile app for iOS, especially in the form of a game.

Roland, producers of the iconic TR-808 drum machine, is nothing short of a household name. In the past several years, they have released updated reissues of many classic synths; even more recently, however, they have plunged deeper into the endless capabilities of digital technology, with over a dozen iOS mobile apps.

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We’re beyond ecstatic to announce the newest addition to Roland’s line of apps. Just in time for the holidays, they have released TR-REC, a free game for iOS which presents a TR-style drum machine interface. The game challenges you to create beats with a visual guide within a set period of time. As you progress, the rhythms get increasingly difficult. Essentially, it’s “Guitar Hero” for drum machine. 2009 saw Activision’s DJ Hero follow-up, ultimately a let-down to many DJs and dance music aficionados; however, this game (created by a company that actually understands dance culture) focuses on the production of dance music rather than the DJ stardom that so many up-and-comers long for.

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Perfect for the inevitable winter-break couch slump, TR-REC instantly won our hearts, and we bet you’ll love it too; grab the app now from the Apple App Store.

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Thick Analog Tones From Roland’s New System-500

We first got wind of Roland’s System-1M modular synth at this year’s Musikmesse, and even saw some demo prototypes of the System5500, but we haven’t heard anything about the latter until now. Roland is notorious for slowly teasing us with details regarding upcoming gear releases, so it’s definitely been a long time coming. Based on the iconic System-100M, the brand new 500 series has received a major overhaul, fitting in a sleek and sexy Eurorack format. However, while the AIRA series (including TR-8 and System-100M) are digitally modelled on analog gear, the 500 series is, in fact, fully analog. For the initial launch, we’re looking at five modules, including the 512 dual VCO, 521 dual VCF, 530 dual VCA, 540 Envelope/LFO, and 572 Phase shifter/Delay/LFO. It’s a lot of gear, but the tones you can get from a proper analog modular system are truly unreal. Scroll down for detailed explanations of each module.

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System-500 512

For starters, we have the 512 dual VCO; as the name tells us, consists of two voltage-controlled oscilators, each of which can be set to pulse, triangle, and sawtooth waveforms. Pulse width can be manipulated by panel control or even CV modulation. The oscillators’ frequencies can also be synced with each other in one of two modes (weak or strong) to acheive a classic ‘sync’ sound.

For full specs and more info, visit the 512 product page.

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System-500 521

Second in the series is the 521 dual VCF module, featuring two separate low-pass filters, each with its own frequency cutoff and resonance controls. Each filter also includes a high-pass filter with a fixed frequency (although there are two switchable cutoff points)

For full specs and more info, visit the 521 product page.

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System-500 530

The 530 dual VCA module handles the amplification in your signal chain; each amp mixes three audio sources, and each source has three CV controls available. Finally, the 530 has an enormously useful switch to select between linear and exponential response settings.

Amplification duties are taken care of with the 530 dual VCA module, with each amp mixing three audio signals and three CV controls for each signal. The 530 also features a selector switch for linear or exponential response modes.

For full specs and more info, visit the 530 product page.

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System-500 540

The 540 is the next step in the signal chain, featuring a dual envelope generator and LFO, featuring two independent sets of ADSR controls. The sections can be triggered internally, externally, or even manually (separately for each envelope), and the output can even be inverted.

For full specs and more info, visit the 540 product page.

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System-500 572

Last, but certainly not least, we arrive at the 572, which features a five-stage phase shifter, analog delay, a control voltage gate decay, and an LFO. The phase shifter includes frequency and resonance controls, and the delay section allows you to set the delay time and feedback. Both the delay and phase shifter allow for modulation via the internal LFO or even external CV signals. Finally, the unit features dry/wet controls, which can be controlled on the front panel, or, (you guessed it) CV control.

For full specs and more info, visit the 572 product page.

 

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SYR-E84 Eurorack Case

Now that we’ve gone over all five module units, it’s important to remember that we’re going to need a nice rack to put them in. Well, I suppose you could have them sprawled out across the room, but what fun is that? The best option seems to be the SYR-E84 Eurorack case, a rugged and portable rack with a high-current power supply. Although it’s truly perfect for mobile producers or live electronic music performers, we’re fairly certain that SYR-E84 find its way into the hands of producers of all ability levels.

From more information and full specifications on the SYR-E84 check out the product page.

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Jean-Michel Jarre Schools Us On The History Of Tech

jean-michael jarreJean-Michel Jarre is a world-renowned producer, performer, songwriter, and composer. He has been an enormous pioneer in electronic music production and performance, inspiring and sculpting generations to come. He learned from Pierre Schaeffer, the so-called “father of musique concrete,” and one of the most innovative composers of the 20th century. Musique concrete is a style that arose in the 50’s and involved playback of primarily non-musical recorded sounds (via tape loops and turntables). This marks the beginning of the sampling era, and the style would be intimately linked with the evolution of technology for decades to come, influencing artists such as Aphex Twin and Brian Eno.

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After concluding his studies, Jarre released the album, Oxygène (1976), produced in his DIY home studio. The album was an enormous success, and ultimately went 18x platinum. In total, Jean-Michael Jarre has sold 80 million copies of his 17 albums, and holds a space in the Guinness Book of Records (largest concert attendance) for the 3.5 million people that attended his 1997 performance in Moscow. In this exclusive video, courtesy of Native Instruments, Jarre goes in-depth into the evolution of music technology, and how this evolution affects both the creative and technical side of music-making.

Click here to read his full interview with NI.

Ableton Drops Massive Update – Live 9.5 , Push 2, Link

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Ableton users, we have a special treat in store for you guys. The Berlin-based firm has just dropped a massive update to their array of products with Live 9.5, Push 2, and the forthcoming Link.

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Live 9.5

First and foremost, Live 9.5 comes with a complete overhaul of the already-powerful Simpler, including a new interface, warping and slicing capabilities, and new analog-modeled filters. These filters, developed by Cytomic, feature classic analog functions such as self-resonance, and also be incorporated into Sampler, Operator, and Auto Filter.

Additionally, we find three new Max for Live instruments: Bass is a gritty monosynth designed for, well, you guessed it… bass. Poli, on the other hand, is a polyphonic synth that really shines at stabs, pads, and strings. Finally, Multi is a synth created for real-time modulation via push.

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Push 2

Arguably the most exciting of the new releases is Push 2, an updated version of their enormously popular Push controller. No longer co-developed with Akai, the new Push 2 takes music making with Ableton to a whole new level.

Push 2 features a larger, hi-res RGB screen, a bigger touchstrip with more LEDs, and more pad controls that are more responsive, smoother, and softer than before. If you have already purchased the original Push, don’t be too dismayed. Push owners can trade in their controller for up to a 30% discount on Push 2, and all used controllers will be donated to children’s educational programs, free of charge. Click here for more info on the trade-in program.

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Link

Last, but certainly not least, is Link, a technology that allows Ableton users to wirelessly sync devices to play in real-time with your friends. Although Link is not yet available, Ableton has announced that it will be launching very soon as a free update for Live users.

For more info, check out Ableton: Official Site | Facebook | Twitter