How did anyone make music before their devices were so powerful and connected? Whether it’s shooting video of a live show or capturing some initial lyrics and melody on your phone, the pain it takes to create a song is slowly being eliminated. Here’s some of the most impressive new gear aimed at musicians and the musically minded.
Recently a musician friend asked me for a camera recommendation. There are plenty of good options, especially with new micro four thirds getting better all the time, but I recommended a GoPro, which recently announced the GoPro Hero3+ Black Edition/Music aimed at musicians. The camera is the same as what’s been available, but it comes with clips and attachments for drums, guitars, and mic stands. The camera doesn’t include the waterproof casing, which makes the unit slightly lighter and the ports more accessible for audio and streaming. With full HD recording, 4k support, Wi-Fi, and 12mp pictures it’s hard to think of a better tiny camera for a band to take on the road.
Amps are usually about sound, not aesthetics. But it's hard to deny that Line 6’s new AmpliFi series of guitar amps is beautiful. Each amp is packed with five speakers—the main one being a custom 12" one from Celestion—and Line 6 is promising fantastic sound at loud volumes. Bluetooth enabled, the amp can also be your party speaker for music from your mobile device. It can also be controlled remotely via the Line 6 app. Another cool feature? The amp can model almost any tone just from sampling a recorded song. So now you can sound like your favorite artist more quickly than ever before. If the amp delivers on its promises, it’ll have beauty and the brains, still a rare combination in the music and tech space.
Do you need a dedicated songwriting app? Hum is a tool for building songs on the go. The iPhone app streamlines the hassle of keeping track of a progressing song and adds a few extras that the organized musician will appreciate. The first screen of Hum is for lyrics, the second is for organization—being able to tag a key, the dynamics, mood, and tuning—while the third screen provides room for miscellaneous notes. The most important part is the orange button prevalent through the app to record your idea, complete with count in and looping feature. Simple, yes, but Hum is focused on exactly what an iPhone carrying songwriter would want and need.
Singaling brings vocal effects to your iPhone or iPad. It wasn’t too long ago that on the fly auto-tune was a big deal, now it’s in your pocket. Singaling requires a dedicated microphone to function, whether that’s the one attached your earbuds you use to play around with or a higher-end third-party mic. Either way, the amount of programmable sounds and level of control from a $2 app is pretty crazy. Although there are plenty of preconfigured effects, it’s the auto-tune that will most likely get the most use.
What if you could remix a song based on your movements, would it increase your activity output? Jalapeno is a small hardware device that gets attached to your skateboard, snowboard, bike, or another piece of sports equipment and provides real-time changes to the music you’re listening to. Go off a jump and the music slows and picks up again when you land—just like in the movies. Unfortunately with an asking price of $199 per unit, it doesn’t look like the product will reach its funding goal.
Rather than connecting your guitar to a bunch of pedals, the folks at Livid think that the way to add effects to your guitar might be wirelessly with the Guitar Wing. The peripheral works with almost any existing guitar, is near universal, and is not limited to a single guitar or body shape. Once the project inevitably reaches its funding goal, it’ll allow button pressing and finger sliding instead of pedal foot stomping. Livid is taking its expertise in console-based instruments and bringing it back to the guitar, part of the company’s early roots.
Korg has already been experimenting with the iPad as an instrument since 2010, but its latest app, Gadget, takes things to a whole new level. The app features 15 different synths and drum machines—the "gadgets" that can be combined in multiple configurations. Korg is calling Gadget an all-in-one production studio, which appears to be accurate, but doesn’t come cheap to the casual user at a price tag of ~$40.
[Image: Flickr user Justin De La Ornellas]