How does a $6999 Music Computer Workstation look like?

Hi,

Summer 2010, I did a post called “Why I quit Open Labs” (https://spidouz.wordpress.com/2010/07/31/why-i-quit-open-labs/ ) where I was listing the gear and soft you could buy for $6999 (the price at the time of a neKo XXL). If you haven’t read it, you should probably have a look.

However, since things never stop to progress, here’s how a $6999 Music Computer Workstation could look like:

Computer:
Apple MacMini Quad i7 2.6GHz 1To: $899
Apple Magic Trackpad: $69
Display Asus 27″: $645
16GB (2x 8GB) RAM: $130
SSD OWC Extreme 240GB: $294
Lacie 3TB Thunderbolt: $299

 

Accessories:
Yamaha MX61: $799
Digidesign Eleven Rack: $699
Native Instruments Maschine mk2: $599
Frontier Design Alpha Track: $199

 

Software:
Native Instruments Komplete 9 Ultimate Crossgrade: $749
Apple Logic Studio: $199
Nomad Factory MAGMA: $199
P&M Bundle: $169
Spectrasonics Omnisphere: $478
Korg Legacy: $199
u-he DIVA: $179
D16 LuSH: $189

Total: $6993
(yeah, you still have 6 bucks left to grab a six pack while reading this post… it’s a tradition now ;)).

 

Why?

What we can immediately notice (mainly from the 2010 setup), is that this time, I did a different setup, not based on an iMac, but on a MacMini.

Why? Probably just because we can and because it’s a very affordable solution. Of course, it’s quite different and we could still use an iMac (or even MacBook Pro) instead. It’s gonna be up to you to figure out what’s best for you.

However, by going the MacMini way, there’s one major good point, which is the cost when we will need to upgrade it… you won’t have to change your display, drives, etc… But the bad point (because there’s one) is the fact you won’t have a very powerful graphics card. On an iMac, you can go with a pretty decent geforce card… that could help for games and video montage. Just forget it on the MacMini… which isn’t a big deal if you dedicate this computer for Music only.

The current MacMini is also the only Mac to still have Firewire port (that might be helpful for the ones out there that have Firewire audio interface). Of course we can use adapter to plug it on a Thunderbolt port, but it’s a waste of Thunderbolt that can do so much better things.

The MacMini can easily be upgraded for both RAM and Drive (something we also can’t do on an iMac). So, we can buy the memories and SSD from any store we like (such Macsales, Frys, Newegg, etc..). No need to waste money on Apple *taxes* for that… as well as for the Display too.

Here I selected one 27″ display with similar resolution of the Apple one, but for the same price you could also go for two 27″ displays with slightly smaller resolution (there are 27″ displays around $320-$330). It’s another solution to think about it.

Since the MacMini can only have two 2.5″ drive, we will also have an external Thunderbolt drive to store all sample libraries, recording sessions, etc…

 

What’s new?

One of the changes is the Yamaha MX61 instead the Motif XF6. Since we will use the computer for everything, the keyboard doesn’t need to be super fancy with tons of features we won’t use since the computer will have those features anyway. Honestly, even a simple controller keyboard (M-Audio Axiom, Novation, etc…) would be sufficient… most of the time it’s around $599. So here for $200, it’s nice to have some sounds we can play without turning on the computer. For the guys out there that don’t like the Yamaha MX61, you can go for a Korg Krome 61 ($999) or something like that. It’s up to you.

Having a cheaper workstation keyboard will also allow us to have a real drum machine such Maschine mk2 (or the MPC Studio for the Akai fans). Instead of Logic and Maschine, some could perhaps like better to choose Ableton Live 9 with Push. Again, it’s a matter of choice, but in the end, it’s gonna be a great DAW with a great control surface. I think Push (just like the MPC Studio) is gonna be great in future, but for now, I’d rather stick with Maschine. Not only it’s rock solid, but it’s also well integrated with Komplete 9 Ultimate. There’s even a discount crossgrade price.

 

Content?

With this setup, you would have probably everything you would need to make music, regardless your music genre. You’ll get:

– 370 GB of amazing sounds from Komplete 9 Ultimate (with great pianos, drums, basses, guitars, etc…)
– 30 GB of really great sounds from Logic Studio 9
– 40 GB of breath taking sounds from Spectrasonics Omnisphere
– Very great “Analog-ish” synth with Monark, Diva, LuSH and the Korg Legacy ones (MS-20, Polysix, Mono/Poly)
– Very great “Modern” synth with Massive, Absynth, FM8, etc…
– Very useful FX Rack with MAGMA (with support of 3rd party plugins)
– Very useful FX plugins with P&M Bundle and the ones from Komplete 9 Ultimate (Solid Mix, Premium Tube Series, Driver, Guitar Rig, etc…)
– World most famous Sample Player: Kontakt
– Some old school instruments such Korg M1, Wavestation, etc…

If you can’t make music with a setup like this, you should probably considering to stop making music at all.

Also, you might think $6,999 is a lot of money today (and I’d agreed with you), but let’s keep in mind that some of you guys probably spent already as much money (or even more) on your current setup. One basic example? Just buy a Korg Kronos X 61 ($3,200) with a Roland Jupiter-80 ($3,499)… you already end up to $6,700 and you only have two keyboards with very basic and limited features in comparison to what we could do with the setup I listed here. And that’s supposed to be the flagship keyboard from Korg and Roland.

It’s night and day… In one hand you have a 16 Audio and 16 Midi Tracks sequencer, and the other hands you can have hundred of tracks in Protools and Logic. In one hand you have 16 InsertFX and in the other hand you have hundred of them. In one hand you can make a mixtape, in the other hand you can make a real production. The neKo XXL was already beating, performance wise, the regular workstation keyboards… and since this setup is beating the neKo XXL, it’s not even a question in comparison of hardware workstation.

Nonetheless, you could buy step by step every components. You don’t HAVE to buy everything in once. Which could help to get things over the time. So now, for the same amount of money, what will you buy?

Phil

NI Maschine vs. Akai MPC-Renaissance

I’m a Maschine user but I’m seeking about the MPC-Renaissance for a while now (actually since its introduction in January 2012). I don’t care much about the Maschine vs. MPC Renaissance war. I just want something that just works.
 
I had some MPC in my hands (I had the 2000XL and 60 at work and we had the 2500 and 3000 at the studio… we actually sold the 2500 few days ago and replace it with the Renaissance ).
 
I started to use Maschine because I use a lot of software and I was already using GURU and Battery to load my samples. The MPC would be only used as a Sequencer tied to the software. Therefore, Maschine was just the logical next step for me.
 
There’s a lot of good ideas on both camp, but there’s also a LOT of really stupid things on both camp too. Actually, after few days of intense test and comparison, I’m in the conclusion that at the moment, neither Maschine nor the MPC Renaissance are good enough to me.
 
I did these tests because I was considering to resell Maschine mk1 for Maschine mk2 or the MPC Renaissance. But since it’s not worth to resell Maschine mk1 to buy Maschine mk2, I started to consider to buy the MPC Renaissance instead (mainly if I’m gonna exchange some beat with the studio, etc…). So I only started to compare to know what I could gain or loose by going with a new platform.
 
I found out that everything that NI screw up, Akai did it very well… (that’s a good point, hu?). But everything that NI did well, Akai found a way to screw it up. Sometimes it’s just little details that some of you might not care much, but if it’s something you personally wants and needs every day to work and make some music, it could be very frustrating.
 
It’s sad, because there’s not better solutions on the market anyway (IMHO and to my knowledge). Here are some of the Pros and Cons I personally noticed. It could perhaps help other people to figure out if it’s something important for them or not.
 
First of all, even if they’re both a hardware controller tied to a drum machine software, there’s one MAJOR difference between Maschine and the MPC-R which is the way to handle the Sequencer. 
 
 
On Maschine:
 
the PADs are the center of the Sequencer (the Pads are actually the Tracks), therefore you load samples or plugin directly on the Pads. You can “only” have 8 Groups/Bank of 16 Pads (which is 128 Samples or Plugins). However, you can have on the same Group/bank, one pad with a sample, another one with a plugin, etc… This is really practical if you like to mix-up your sources and use a lot of plugin (having some kick and snare for Kontakt sample bank), hi-hat from some home made samples, and some percussion from a different plugin. It’s also very great for the guys who make a lot of live, easily and quickly turn on/off a pad, etc… It’s very practical because any pad (regardless if it’s a sample, a plugin or a midi insturment) could become a chromatic instruments (with Shift + Pad Mode). There’s no need to choose if a track/pad will be a drum or a chromatic instruments, which is cool for tuned snaress, kicks, etc… However, you can’t have one plugin on a pad and use it on several Pad (or I haven’t figure out how to do that). And you can’t have more than 1 sample per Pad. You can merge several Sample on a same Pad, but you can’t tweak them, have different volume, tune, pitch, velocity response, filters, etc…
 
 
On the MPC Renaissance:
 
the Tracks are the center of the Sequencer, therefore there’s 128 Tracks you can load a plugin or the Sample Player Engine on it (MPC). The Sample Player has 8 Banks of 16 Pads (which means 128 Pads). Each Pads can have up to 4 Samples (Layer, Split, Round-Robin, Random, etc…). It’s actually very more powerful to have custom sounds. We can easily use the Pads on several Tracks. However, we can’t have a sample on one Pad and a plugin on another one. So if you want to use several plugin (BFD2, Kontakt, Reaktor, etc…) on the pads, you need to use a new track for each plugin and you can play them on Live. And you have to choose if a track will be a drumpad track (with 16 samples on the pads) or a chromatic instrument (Keygroup). You can’t quickly switch a pad with a sample in a chromatic instrument with the view of the piano roll to do some chromatic sequencing.
 
 
Maschine PROs: 
 
+ Software in 64 Bits.
+ Really good integration with software, mainly with Komplete.
+ Great bundled Content (effects, Massive, or even some samples…)
+ The Universal Browser with Tag words. You can easily tag your kits to find them later even if you have thousands of samples in your library
+ Very nice GUI (mainly with the 1.8 Update and colors)
+ Scene mode (very similar to Ableton Live… very useful for Live performance)
+ Keep the Plugin on the Pads from one Pattern to another one (no duplicate)
+ Very fast workflow to browse, load and open a plugin, tweak it, add effects, etc…
+ Quick way to adjust the swing (per song, per pad, etc…)
+ Quick way to adjust the pitch
+ Quick way to use a sample on a Pad in a Chromatic Mode (Shift+Pad Mode open the Piano roll on any sample or plugin loaded on a pad)
+ Drag and Drop of a Project directly in your DAW (in midi or audio)
+ Multi-colors Pads (on Maschine mk2)
 
 
Maschine CONs:
 
– Almost inexistent hardware/Midi integration and support (in 2012, it’s really bad)
– Only 16 Midi Out Channel with no way to select the Midi interface or Midi Port. (there’s people that still use hardware gear. Not everyone are living in the NI software dreamland)
– No Program Change, MSB/LSB, No SysEx, etc…
– No easy way to “transpose” the 16 Pads when you’re in the Piano Roll Mode (such the dedicated Bank button on the MPC-R)
– Midi Timing is definitely not grooving properly such Legacy Groove Machines (it’s reacting too much like a computer, too straight)
– Some Edition Pages are confusing (very little page indicators)
– No Mixer with a general view on all Pads/Tracks, all plugins and Effects
– Missing some hardware immediate controller buttons (num pad, full level,…)
 
 
MPC Renaissance PROs:
 
+ Great Hardware integration, as usual with 4 Midi Out and 2 Midi In
+ We can use more than 16 Midi channel in a song
+ Support of Program Change
+ Easy way to transpose the Pads with the 8 banks
+ Akai Midi Timing that immediately groove “out of the box”
+ 4 Samples per Pads with advanced editing (Layer, Split, Round-Robin, Random, etc…)
+ Export options (including Mp3)
+ Better hardware controller with some useful command (jogwheel, num pad)
+ 16 Q-Link with Touch and LEDs
+ Conserved MPC Workflow from previous models (you almost already know how to use it)
+ Tilted Screen
 
MPC Renaissance CONs:
 
– NO 64 Bits (in 2012 it’s really bad, there’s people that use very large sample banks and/or plugin that require more than 3Gb of memory)
– Almost no software integration, mainly with big name company such NI, Eastwest, Spectrasonics, etc…
– Poor bundle (there’s few plugin 809, Wub, etc… but that’s not top high-end content)
– Poor Browser with no real smart search or keyword, tags, and stuff… Not the most efficient browser
– Ugly UI (not as clean and pure as Maschine, bad colors, too much information, sometimes with very old school (“too much old school”) layout and organization.
– Not practical for Live
– No way to have plugin and samples on the same pad bank
– Multiple instance of the same plugin on different Sequences (??)
– No fast way to change the swing and hear it in realtime
– No way to switch one pad in a chromatic mode (need to create a new track to have it with the piano roll??)
– Laborious export in the DAW (no drag and drop?)
 
Note that I only checked the MPC Renaissance for few days only now. So, I might just haven’t find some point I noted in the CONs. If so, please fee free to correct me and let me know how to do it (I’d be glad to remove it from my list).
 
I also didn’t compare the fact to have Audio interface or not (because in that case we should compare it to the MPC Studio) and if we add the price for an audio interface to Maschine, we end up to the same price than the MPC Renaissance. So, I just skip this part.
 
I also skip the whole big “Sampling” part… not because it’s not important, but just because I haven’t really tried it on the MPC Renaissance and I haven’t check deeply the new Stretching on the version 1.8 of Maschine. So, it’s a whole thing we need to look careful at… so I just prefer to not comment about it for now and maybe come back later on that when I will know more about it on both system.
 
 
Conclusion on NI Maschine:
 
At this point, I find Maschine useless if you also want to work with several multi-timbral hardware gear. It’s sad because it does detect multi-port midi interface such the Motu midi express or so, but there’s just no way to select it in the software (while we could change the midi channel on knob 1, the midi port on knob 2 and the midi interface on knob 3… just simple as that). I just can’t believe after so many update (1.1, 1.5, 1.6, 1.7, 1.8…), there’s still no multiple midi port/interface in Maschine. It just shows how much NI does care about anything else than themselves. They probably just prefer you to use their software only… but that’s wrong. There’s tones of stuff I still need to use in hardware (some Moog, Virus, 808, 909, 303, some workstations and expander, etc…).
 
Who knows how long we will still have to wait to have better support for hardware gear? Since NI is initially a Software company, it might never come…
 
 
Conclusion on Akai MPC Renaissance:
 
And at this point, I also find the MPC Renaissance useless if you also want to work with some very large plugins such Kontakt, BFD2, Spectrasonics Omnisphere, etc… We could easily go over 3Gb of memory with only a dozen of large plugin. With a 32 Bits support only, it’s a real bargain and limitation. I just can’t believe in 2012 someone can release an application that is only in 32 bits, mainly when it’s a brand new software… We’re not talking about Akai releasing an update of an existing application and they haven’t convert it in 64 bits… no it’s a brand new software. They should have gone in 64 bits from start.
 
Who knows how long we will still have to wait to have a new 64 bits version of the software? Since Akai is initially Hardware company, it might never come…
 
 
Note:
 
We did noted some sound difference between Maschine and the MPC-Renaissance using the exact same samples and similar beat on both (with full level, etc…). Maschine looks to have no treatment and is playing the sample back like a regular sample player.
 
The MPC-Renaissance in the other hand, sounds a little bit different and is apparently simulating the previous models… It’s just like it there was a Compressor/Limiter on the Master. The whole beat sounds more glued together. If we could turn it off (for the one that don’t want it), it would be actually a very good feature because it sounds great.
 
But some of us might just want to keep the sound the way it is? I just found that weird because I couldn’t decide if it’s a great thing or not.
 
 
My Wish:
 
I wish to get a MPC Renaissance mk2 that would have multi-colors pads (such MMk2) and some fast shortcut, for Piano Roll (make any Pad of a DrumPad Track as a Keygroup Track), Ableton Live Mode (SCENE) and a multi-color Display.
 
It would have a 64 bits software, with a nice black UI with less confusing text, better window space management, some color indication, with a categorized and normalized browser with keywords, tags, and full software integration (with presets of each plugin directly accessible in the browser, by category or instrument family, etc…), ability to drag and drop the midi sequence and/org audio directly in your DAW.
 
 
My Other Wish:
 
I wish to get a Maschine mk3 (with 2.0 software) that would have an embedded audio interface with multiple midi outs, more controllers (V-Pot and/or faders), as well as more quick function buttons (numpad, full level, bank,…).
 
It would allow to have multiple midi interface and ports, supporting Control Change, MSB/LSB, SysEx, etc… We would have up to 4 or even 8 samples per Pads (such GEIST) with layers, split, round-robin, random, etc… It would have complete software integration to select presets of any plugins directly from the controller. It would have a better Midi Timing and Audio Converter Filters with instant access. It would have a Mixer view and would run on multi-core system, two tilted color screen and an easy export windows.
 
That’s it for now…
 
 
Add-on October 23rd 2012:
There’s actually a way to transpose the 16 Pads in Maschine in Piano roll mode, by pressing Pad Mode + Menu button 5-8.
The menu buttons 5 & 6 are used for Semi-tone up & down, and the menu buttons 7  & 8 are used for Octave up & down.
It’s another demonstration that prove that sometimes the LCD Displays on Maschine don’t show all important information. They could have reduce the size of the graphics for the Pad Notes and add another top row for the function associated on the Menu button. It would have been clearer. 

How the Future Apple TV & Services could change the Movie Industry

We can hear a lot of rumors here and there about Apple TV, regardless if it’s a plugged box or a real TV set.

I personally always thought there was a place for the real “Digital Hub” in the living room but the Apple TV was a little bit too limited and the MacMini was perhaps a little bit “too much” without a dedicated User Interface.

So, here’s how I imagine a great Apple TV HD for my own use:

Hardware:
– Apple TV Box you can plug to any Home Theater Audio and Video system
– Native support of 1080p (and possibly higher such 4K)
– Apple CPU Chip and high-end Graphic Card (latest Nvidia) for high quality games in 1080p and higher
– HD 1080p (iPhone 4S) Camera, with optical zoom (to be able to zoom to your portrait for FaceTime)
– Bluetooth for wireless Remote/GamePads
– USB Ports for iPhone/iPod, external Camera, Macbook Air Superdrive, or even the optional Video “In” kit
– 32, 64 or 128 GB Storage
– Can use a TimeCapsule (or any NAS) as storage Drive (and can be used with AirDrop)
– Wireless Remote (such Boxee Box) and GamePad (such Xbox/PS3)
– Running iOS

Some Software features:
– Will run Apps, including all the new Apps in 2048 x 1536 (iPad 3 Retina Display resolution), ready for 1080p TV, including Netflix, Hulu, Facebook, Pages, iMovie, Facetime HD, etc…
– Connected to iCloud and App Stores
– Working with SIRI
– Will access to the iTunes Library stored on the Time Capsule and available for all devices
– GameCenter (Direct competition of the Xbox Live) and seamless gaming experience between TV, iPhone, iPads and Macs
– New App: Frontrow for iOS- which will actually be the main menu and will look like the current Apple TV app, but redo for an easier and faster navigation (just like the iPad), with Folder, Pages, etc…

– iTunes Live: It’s a monthly plan for Live Streaming from iTunes to watch live TV Channels (ABC, Fox, CBS, etc… All you can eat style). Let’s say between $19.99 and $29.99 / month (depending the number of channels? Maybe National and International?), similar of some Cable company… but without the need to pay TV Cable anymore. Just pay your ISP for Internet Data… All the rest is data (Message, Phone, TV, Internet, etc…).

In some countries, when you pay for a month to your ISP, you have Triple Play with a 20 Mbit/s connection, with 200 TV channels and Phone (all using DATA… TV uses around 5 Mbit/s). For instance, in France you can get TriplePlay for 29.99€ and the ISP is mainly a “bandwidth provider”. So, it would be no difference to use 5 Mbit/s to watch the TV Channels from the ISP servers, or from iTunes Live servers. Same thing with iPhone plan. Orange add over 60 TV Channels Live Streaming (over GSM network) when you subscribe to any iPhone monthly plan… so iTunes Live could even come (in lower resolution) on iPhone/iPad over 3G/LTE network.

– Tivo-ish App: To allow you to re-watch any episode at any time for free (no rent), with Ads, etc… like a VCR or recorded on TiVo episode. However, you don’t need to record any episode, you just re-download and re-stream from iTunes Live. When using the streaming feature of iTunes Live, you will get short Ads (same way with some internet services such Netflix, Hulu, etc…).

– Or you could just “buy” the episode (without any Ads), in HD, just like if you would buy a DVD. Prices would be lower to match better the current DVD/BR prices. HD movie would be $9.99 (like a music album) and TV Shows episode would be $0.99 for a 22 min episode (such The Simpsons), and $1.99 for a 44 min episode (such LOST). It’s typically the HD quality for the SD price. No more HD/SD buy, HD/SD Rent, etc… Only two choices: Stream with Ads in your iTunes Live Subscription or Buy HD version.

– As long you have an iTunes Live Subscription, you can connect to iCloud and re-watch an episode even if you forgot to record it. It will just re-download the file (with ads, of course… maybe even updated Ads for old content) without any extra-charge (just like a re-download of an app with iCloud).

– Ability to save a streaming/recording from the Apple HDTV storage to an external drive, such the Time Capsule (the same way we can burn DVD with a DVR). That way, no need for internal HDD such TiVo. It would work just like the music in iCloud.

– Integration between iTunes Live, Tivo, iCal, Reminder and iCloud, will be transparent. You can add a reminder to watch a live sport game, TV shows or so… and reminder will be across your devices.

– With Game between $4.99 and $9.99, very high graphics quality, 1080p resolution, Game Center and wireless GamePad, it will definitely kill the Xbox, PS3, Wii market with the $60/70 games, subscription for online gaming, etc……  And you can buy a game on your TV, and continue it on your iPhone or iPad, and even in your Mac pretty soon (if OS X would support iOS Apps). With 2048 x 1536 resolution Apps, they could perfectly run on an iMac 27″.

– The onboard camera (iSight) would be used for both FaceTime, as well as some movement detection, such Kinnect. It would also include an optical zoom with Face and vocal Detection and could be used in wide angle for games and large view of the room or zoomed on the talking person (with automatic detection of whom’s talking).

– The Apple HDTV would have some storage memory for games, some local content synced with iCloud (documents, pictures, music, etc…) and the current downloaded streaming active content.

– As long you pay for the iTunes Live subscription, you’ll have access to any content, regardless if it’s “Live” and “Recorded”. It would be no difference. The main difference then will be to have it free of charge, included in your plan but with Ads… or buy it from the current iTunes store without Ads and with even more features with iTunes Extras.

– With a monthly payment (between $19.99 and $29.99), it will provide a regular earning to Apple (they perhaps don’t make now with the current Movie business model in iTunes), but will also provide good earnings for Content providers and TV channels Apple will deal with, that will also get money from regular Ads. Even if Apple choose a 70-30% distribution (as they do for music, books, apps, etc…), it will still bring serious cash that will allow them to have better balance between Streamed and Purchased content (therefore lower the price for purchased content such movies and TV Shows in iTunes to be more competitive to the physical support).

Prices:
The Apple HTDV Box would be delivered with the Apple IR Remote (such the Boxee Box).
GamePad will be sold separately for $39 (same price as current Sony PS3 gamepads).

Since it would have the similar component than the iPod Touch without the touchscreen and the battery, or will be like a current Apple TV with more connectors, better CPU/GPU and memory, going in competition with the Boxee Box, Roku 2 XS, PS3, XBOX 360, TiVo, etc…

Apple HDTV – 32 GB: $149
Apple HDTV – 64 GB: $199
Apple HDTV – 128 GB: $299

That’s what I’m waiting for Mr. Apple… So what do you waiting for? Just do it and I’ll buy it…

Phil

PS: Of course that would be the first step for the Apple TV to not just be a hobby. Later could come a real TV set that would include the Apple TV and “Digital Hub” services.

What am I waiting from Canon…

Canon just announced few days ago the new EOS 60D, top of the amateur line, that comes right between the 50D and the 7D.

There’s several good improvements (some are even better than the current pro line products).

Being myself interested to buy a 7D or 5D, I can’t stop thinking Canon should come with a 7DmkII and 5DmkIII with some features I really do want and need. I don’t think we’ll see a 7DmkII anytime soon, but the 5DmkIII (and apparently a 3D) should happen in Q1 2011.

So, Mr. Canon, if you do listen and read, here’s my feature wish list for the next 7DmkII and 5DmkIII.

Things to Keep…

– Keep the same MP (18MP for the 7DmkII and 21.1MP for the 5DmkIII). I actually don’t care to have bigger and bigger pictures…
=> I don’t do building size printing. I just want better, clearer pictures…. mostly in low light condition. Let’s keep reasonable file size for a better burst rate. Improve picture with higher ISO with built-in Noise Reduction (from 1D mk IV)

– Keep 1.6x sensor (7DmkII) and FF Sensor (5DmkIII).

– Keep the current Burst rate

Physical Changes:

– Bring SDXC memory Cards…. smaller (it helps to reduce the size of the body), easier (direct transfer on MacBook Pro) and Cheaper.

– Slightly smaller and lighter body size

– New Screen similar to 60D (with 100% coverage). Well, I’ll be honest, even if I do understand an articulated screen could be very useful (mostly in video), I’m kind of scared that it would not be strong enough and brake with the time. However, I do find a great interest to actually close the screen to protect it during transport.

Features from other body (at least for 5DmkIII):

– 45-points AF (from the 1D mk IV)

– 720p @60f (from the 7D)

New Features:

– Built-in GPS… If my iPhone can have it on a way smaller and cheaper device, why my professional DLSR wouldn’t?

– Built-in WIFI… Again, if a tiny Eye-FI $50 SD Card or even my phone do have WIFI, why my professional DLSR wouldn’t? It will make life so easier…

– Tethering over Wifi… with a built-in wireless system, it makes possible to tether directly to my macbook pro during a shoot and have immediate view

– Improved Image Tagging… The 60D is a beginning with Star Image Tag… But if we do have a built-in GPS, we could also include location tag and even more…. Indeed, I wish we could have in the Menu a way to choose some keywords Tags (that could even be automatic) from a customizable List. Let’s say we go shoot a meeting. We can choose some tag such: 2010, August, Wedding, John & Julia, New-York… and all those keywords will be detected by Aperture (or Lightroom) when I will import my pictures (by card, USB cable or Wifi).

Making less work for the post…. by having information pre-shutter 🙂
You just go on a trip, you can get automatic tag using your GPS location info.

– New built-in Filters… Well, today with Aperture, Lightroom, Photoshop, etc… I often think we don’t need any built-in filters, mainly if they are post. However, it could be cool to immediately see how it looks (while shooting) in B&W, Sepia, HDR, etc…

– Talking about HDR, a customizable ± EV on 3/5 frames with built-in HDR filter, links on FPS (only 1 press)

So, now make it happen…. pleeeeease 🙂

Phil

What Apple should release…

Apple is one of the largest tech company in the world. With a great capital and huge profits, there’s no doubt they’ll continue to expand.

Let’s just have a look on what could appear anytime soon, and what should be the next one:

We can expect lots of updates of the current software line: iLife, iWork, perhaps also the Pro soft such Logic Studio and Final Cut Studio. There’s no doubt, all efforts put in ergonomics and GUI interface lately with the iPad and iPhone will benefit to the desktop software.

We might also see some new stuff to include FaceTime to iChat, new address book or iCal on the next version of OS X.

However, one crucial software is still missing… So let’s have a look on the current line:

We do have iPhoto for Beginner in one hand and Aperture 3 for the Pros in the other hand. With a perfect transition to learn people to start with iPhoto and update to Aperture 3. (a full library sharing would be appreciate thought).

Regarding videos, it’s pretty much the same setup with iMovie for Beginners and Final Cut Studio for Pros. There’s even an intermediate level to make the transition from iMovie to the $999 pack even smoother.

Another domain? After the photo and video, we obviously have music. In this domain, once again Apple is dominating the consumer market with Garage Band for Beginners. The pro market is more shared, but Apple is proposing a really good and complete package with Logic Studio and an interesting $499 price.

Any consumer markets are dominate by Apple. (there’s no real good and competitive alternative to iPhoto, iMovie and Garage Band…). Microsoft Movie Maker and other crap software are really not in the same league.

And Apple can still improve them… I wish iMovie will handle, organize, manage all my videos… I hate that my iPhone videos are in iPhoto (it’s VIDEOS for god sakes).

In pro markets, there’s always competition: some will prefer Adobe LightRoom to Aperture; the same way some will like better Adobe Premiere or Sony Vegas to Final Cut Pro, and some do like Digidesign ProTools or Steinberg Cubase to Logic Studio…

At this level, it don’t really matter… now. And that’s simple… If you dominate the mass market, the consumer market, you will ‘drive’ customer to stay with your products (to not learn again a new software)… Then you will grab more and more Pro market shares… That’s exactly what happen to Logic Studio right now. Lot’s of Garage Band users did switch to Logic Studio.

But, there’s one domain where Apple does have a consumer version only, without Pro option: Graphics and Web with iWeb

What does Apple propose for Pro?? Nothing else to recommend to buy the Adobe CS5 which is the direct concurrent and includes (on the Master package): Adobe LightRoom, Audition, Premiere and PhotoShop… All concurrent of the other domains (photo, video and music).

That’s why Apple needs to come with their own “Design Suite” for Graphics and Publication…

I said Publication because Apple is more than involved in the HTML5 for Web. But the HTML5 could also be used for other kind of publication such: CD cover, iTunes LP, eBook and so on…

Unfortunately, iWeb seems a little bit limited once you try to have something more involved than beginner webpage, probably the same way iMovie looks limited when you want to do some serious HD movies. They are real good appetizers, but also allow for a non-professional to have something easy to understand and use for personal or Family Projects.

However, I wish I could spend a $199-299 for an Express version and a $499-999 for a complete Graphic Suite (that would compete to Adobe CS5) and allows me to create graphic content, put them together and publish them (to MobileMe or even submit some to iTunes store & iBookstore directly).

It would give all tools to create HTML5 contents. A Pro version to Design Graphics, Animations, Publication and publish them directly… What a competition to Illustrator, Photoshop, Flash, Dreamweaver, etc…

By having this Graphic Suite, Apple would definitely go face to face with Adobe, but will assure to cover any aspects of Music, Photo, Video, Design and Publication… as well as Distribution with iTunes Store, iBookstore and MobileMe.

On top of office stuff such iWork, Apple will guarantee to grow up and grab more and more Pro Market Shares… By including Mass Market (Beginners) software on any Mac.

Financially, it’ll be a good opportunities to have another $499-999 per Pro and Apple Fanboy. It will be a part of money that won’t go in Adobe’s pocket. When a customer will use iLife, will be used to iWeb and iDesign (name it as you wish), this user won’t find a reason to spend $2500 on an Adobe Master CS5, when it could spend it on Logic Studio, Aperture 3, Final Cut Studio and the Graphic Suite.

The fidelity to Apple won’t be only because of the brand… It will be due to the learning curve and the easy way to switch from iWeb and iDesign to the high end Pro Graphic Suite.

For having done myself a switch from iPhoto to Aperture 3 lately, I can say there’s nothing more simple… Almost the same menus, same buttons… But just more complete with the features we actually miss/wish.

Come on Apple, it’s time to slap Adobe with the WarHammer. I never liked Adobe GUI and horrible workflow. (way too much PC like). This would make my point and give me the tools I need.

Phil

Why I quit Open Labs?

What can you get for the $6999 neKo XXL price (or why I quit Open Labs)?

Apple iMac 27″ i5 CPU 3.6 GHz, RAM 8Gb, HD 2Tb : $2249
Yamaha Motif XF6: $2199
Digidesign Eleven Rack: $799
Native Instruments Maschine: $549
Native Instruments Komplete 7: $499
Apple Logic Studio: $499
Frontier Design Alpha Track: $199

Total: $6993
(you still save $6 to grab a six pack while reading this post)

Why?

You can run both OS X and Windows… neKo doesn’t
You do have 27″ work-surface… neKo only has 15″
You do run and own ProTools…. neKo requires additional License
You do have zero-latency audio interface…. neKo doesn’t
You do have a real workstation…. neKo doesn’t
You do have a good Drum Machine… neKo doesn’t
You do have over 90 Gb of sounds from NI… neKo doesn’t
You do have over 30 Gb of sounds from Apple… neKo doesn’t
You do have real HUI controller… neKo doesn’t
You do have tons of guitar and vocal effects… neKo only have freewares
You can actually carry on the keyboard by yourself… neKo will kill your back
You do have instant access to thousands of sounds… neKo doesn’t (and requires to load vst or samples)
You can actually really find your presets already by categories… neKo doesn’t
You do have a real Sampler (to record, chop, map, etc..)… neKo doesn’t
You do have a real Sample Player… neKo doesn’t
You can directly import most of sample in Kontakt… neKo doesn’t (requires to convert samples with Translator)
You do have a motorized fader… neKo doesn’t
You do have LCD Value feedback… neKo doesn’t
You do have Arpegiators & all bells & whistles of a keyboard… neKo doesn’t
You do have FireWire 800 (for external drive)… neKo doesn’t
You do have Wifi, Webcam, Mic and speakers…. neKo doesn’t
You do have multi-touch trackpad… neKo doesn’t

And you can buy everything separately, step by step, without needing Car financing plan…

What about sounds?

You do have Reaktor, Kontakt, FM8, Massive, Battery, XPand, Structure, Sculpture, EXS24, ES2… well “real” virtual synths… neKo does have Sylenth, Truepianos, Wusik and some freewares that can also be installed on the Mac.
Even if Sylenth and Truepianos are good, Apple & NI Pianos and Synths are good too and even offer more choices.

About the All-in-one?

Well, the iMac is All-in-one system… and it only requires only 3 USB cables to plug the Eleven Rack, Maschine and the Motif XF.

What about Performance?

neKo runs on Win 32bits (which means really 3Go of memory). iMac does have 8Go, and have Core i5 (or even i7 for $200 more) 3.6 Ghz… neKo does have 3.33 GHz only. (and did I mention windows 32Bits?)

What about the keyboard by itself?

You can even choose a real 88 keys, with a Motif XF8. Or you can even choose a 76 keys if you like better… neKo simply doesn’t.

What about the customized GUI?

Logic does have MainStage that works actually exactly like RiFF Live Control (without the crash and bugs).

What about the touchscreen?

Well, touchscreen is useless if the User Interface isn’t designed for… (look how bad the smartphone were before the iPhone). If you really do want a touchscreen, you can buy the exact same 15″ touchscreen for $349, or even better, buy an iPad and use it as a control surface…

What about the SoundSlate to run Windows VST plugins?

Well, most of plugins are on Windows AND Mac today…
Anyway, if you really do want to run Windows plugin on an external rack… just save your $1999, and buy a $699 MacMini with AudioPort plug ($129) and a simple Gigabit Ethernet cable… Run Windows on it and use Microsoft Desktop Remote Control application for your iMac.
No audio interface, no tiny external useless screen, no cables, no hassle, easy access, smaller, cheaper.
Add a couple of hundred bucks and you will get a setup with more drive and memory.

What about Production/Beat Making?

Between Logic, Maschine, Komplete 7 and the Motif XF, you clearly have even more than a neKo. Maschine and Battery come with tons of drum sounds too… and I’m not counting other acoustic drum sounds.

What about Recording?

You can record vocal and guitar with the Eleven Rack Mic In (without noise or any latency), as well with the Motif XF inputs… even thought neKo does have phantom power Mic in connectors, neKo doesn’t record without noise. (Old M-Audio Delta 1010 audio interface).

NeKo Chassis & power supply fan system is awfully noisy, make the recording impossible in the same room. iMac is dead silent as well as Eleven Rack, Maschine, Motif XF and Alpha Track.

What about Mixing?

You do have ProTools… which is by far the professional studio standard. IF you really and strongly insist, you can still install the $25 Reaper sequencer. There’s a Mac version.

What about evolution?

You can still install as much instruments, sounds you want. And few years from now, you can switch your iMac without changing your Motif XF.

What about Tech Support?

Did I mention Apple name? Apple is a billionaire company… They’re not gonna disappear anytime soon. Apple support always been high profile…

Same with Yamaha, Native Instruments and Digidesign… They are high profile companies.

If you haven’t finish your beers by now… please toss me one 😉

Update March 26th 2013:

I just did a new version here:

https://spidouz.wordpress.com/2013/03/26/how-does-a-6999-music-computer-workstation-look-like/

Next Apple moves will be Books and Games…

Hi All,

With the success of the iPhone and proof the ability of Apple to reduce the size of a portable computer and the flexibility of OS X for portable device, we can easily suspect to see a new kind of device, such a mix of Sub MacBook, Mac UMPC, Mac MID, Tablet MAC and MAC PSP. Let’s call it: iMAID (Multimedia Apple Internet Device)… LOL, I know that’s a device to do everything in the house… oops! sorry about that 🙂 )

Who recall the keynote made by Bill Gates 3 years ago on the Ultra Mobile Personal Computer… After all, that’s what we’re talking about here:

Apple-iTablet08

A kind of “All-Multimedia” device, to merge:

– Audio (music, podcast, radio, audiobook),
– Video (movie, tv shows, tv channel & internet broadcast stream),
– Communication (Internet, email, IM, Chat, VoIP),
– Productivity (office work, speech recognition, hand writing/painting/drawing)
– Entertainment (Game, ebook, navigation)

This device could have all the successful features from the iPhone, plus some new innovations.

This device could look like those mockups:

apple_tablet

MacBook-Touch

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Except the device would have:

– a 5 to 6 or 7″ multi-touch wide screen,
– the dimensions of a pocket book, almost like a PSP to fit in the pocket or purse,
– EGDE, 3G, Bluetooth, Wifi connection for Networking,
– iSight for Mobile iChat, Skype call, etc…
– GPS for Car Navigation, Travel information, or Localisation Application
– Accelerometer
– Evolved on-screen keyboard (and support for Bluetooth devices)
– GPU and QT chips for high quality gaming and video compression/decompression
– 4 direction buttons, 4 actions buttons, two alternative back buttons and a joystick (such the PSP)
– a 16Gb Slate disk
– a full OS X applications such: iCal, Mail, Safari, iTunes, iChat, Finder, iPhoto, iMovie, iWeb, iWork, probably few games and even probably some new apps such: iDraw, iSpeech, iPlay, iWrite, etc…

We can imagine having a metal ring to have a wrist strap on one side and a place for a pen on the other one (but it will be locked… not all this shitty pen we always loose on any PDA, PocketPC, etc…).

Apple-iPlay08

– no drive or the same optional external drive such the MacBook Air
– “over the air” Content downloading from iTunes (for Apps, Games, Music, Movies, TV Shows, Podcast, eBooks, AudioBooks, etc…)

– an optional pen to naturally write, draw, sketch up, design… directly on the screen. It would reply to the finger and/or the pen. The pen would use something like the Wacom Cintiq, which will be usable in games… for the DS lovers!!

– an optional bluetooth keyboard for long typing, very thin shape as the lately wireless new keyboard, which could be used as a screen cover.

mactab

mactab2

– A price tag between $599 and $799. It could be expensive for a game station (to compare to Sony PSP or Nintendo DS) or a eBook Readers (such Kindle or Sony Reader), but it’s not so much for a all-multimedia device such: small tablet, sub-notebook, psp, Multimedia Internet Device, etc…
We saw lately a lot of new coming small form factor device… there’s definitely a market for this kind of devices, mostly when it merges with the game market and the book market (Kindle and Sony Reader)

After the music, movie, tv show, family stuff (such photo, movie, web) and productive domain (exchange, office, …), the remaining market are:

– Game Market (huge market when you merge home and mobile devices and have a look on the success of the last game stations (xbox360, PS3, Wii, PSP and DS together)!! Apple already knows games are a big deal since the huge success of game apps for iPhone.

– Book Market (for writer but for all kind of books! including album booklet with lyrics, comics, education, encyclopedia, dictionaries and newspaper if there’s some kind of “search”, chapter and categories for easy navigation through the book).

tablet-notext

pennyandaggie2-big

It wouldn’t be a surprise to even see a possibility to subscribe to some newspaper (such New-York Times) the same way of ‘Podcast’ for $.99, buy some weekly fanzine for $1.99 to 2.99, buy some regular book for 5.99 to 19.99 ($9.99 most of the case)…. exactly like songs, video songs and albums. (or even having some FREE content as we already see for iPhone Apps or Free content deliver with another purchase such Album for the booklet and lyrics).

itablet_mock_up

Having multiple device with a common platform to develop game/eBook, will help to have the same game/eBook released for: iPhone, Mobile Tablet, Notebook/Desktop or AppleTV (MacMini / Apple iGame?). The best way would even be to allow creation of eBook from existing PDF.

Because, I’m pretty sure the iPhone would be a great platform to read book on-the-way. As for the music, you will be able to transfer your eBook in your new iMAID and in your iPhone. That way, you can still finish reading the news or your last ebook when you only have your phone with you.

iTablet

Also, by having an iTunes Distribution Model, the developers will be assured against piracy. The numbers with the Apps Store proved there’s a real market. And it will be even easier to buy and read a book/magazine/encyclopedia or a game.

By looking the file size for (HD) movie, we can imagine than Apple will go for a complete software electronic distribution with iTunes (even for Desktop Apps). It will be faster, easier and even greener (which avoid paper, box, shipping, gas for transportation) and better security.

By doing so, it will be the next step for Apple to “un-materialize” a product in an electronic format (as they already did earlier with music, movie, tv shows, etc…). It would be possible to release from the smallest book size (the pure text book) to the largest comic book or even encyclopedia (with several large color pictures).

Also, by providing a way to subscribe to non-free regular content (such newspaper), it would be an opportunity for some websites, bloggers, etc… to release by themselves their own “weekly fanzine”, which could even be completed with some non-free audio/video Podcast…

It will really create something new: an opportunity for game developers, for writers, for magazines/fanzine publishers, for bloggers/podcaster… to create and have a business model for their work. All the financial procedure (TaxID, etc..) has already been done for the developers and the Apps Store. It wouldn’t be a huge deal to expand it now…

2334238234_47f318bdde_b

And last thing (and not the least), today’s world there’s readers and lazy/busy guys. The readers have more books than movie as you said… but lazy guys prefer just buy audiobook (to just listen them when they work out, etc…).

The best thing is to combine the both… and for example, having a “Book Store” in iTunes where you can search, find and buy for a book… which could be in eBook or AudioBook format… (as music and video music). It will be possible for some publishers to release a book in both format and then have more chance to sell it. Imagine having a new released book for $9.99 the eBook, $9.99 the AudioBook and $15.99 the both together….

Wouldn’t it be great to have both and then be able to choose where you want continue your listening or reading? Just tape on a page icon during the listening and you will have the number of the page and the link to this page in the eBook Reader (and vice versa with the page and the link to the time position). It will give back the desire to read and consume the books… again!

itablet-and-phone2

In all case, I would like to have this two main things… I will not have to carry on everything with me when I travel… Just having my iPhone, my iMAID… and a power supply 🙂 I will be able to create content (Audio/Video podcast, blog, photo, email, office documents, etc…) and having content (music, tv shows, movies, eBooks, AudioBooks, Games, Podcasts, Ringtone, Apps, etc…).

I don’t care what it takes, but it would make my life way easier… I would not regret to carry on 2 useless book I will finally not have the time to read at the hotel room…. Or I will not regret to not having my books with me when my flight has been delayed…

Our today’s life is focus on medias and the way to easily create or get them… I’m sure Apple knows that and will satisfy pretty soon 🙂

Phil

Add-on, Sep. 8th 2008:

I just discover the blog and pictures from Jacky Liu here:
http://www.jtothey.com/?p=148

The picture is just awesome and the design is really well done (very Apple-ish):

The only thing I would like for the design, are the small size (5 to 7″), the Game Controllers, the optional Pen.

The GamePad controllers is a need if you want play… Controls on screen & accelerometer are not enough and really not practical for some game. But if we can have the GamePad such the PSP, the Pen such the Nintendo DS AND the touchscreen and accelermeter… THEN, it will be a very killer Portable Game Device… mostly with the CPU and GPU power of a current computer (such ATOM, etc…).

An iPhone is already more powerful than a DS and a PSP combined… So, just imagine what an ATOM could do?!!! It would be as powerful (or more) than a PS3, XBOX 360 and Wii… But in a portable device…

With the Wifi/GSM Network, I can clearly imagine than everyone will buy this kind of device and then have some networking game with your friends or with some random people over the world… even if you’re mobile… You will always have a possibility to chat with the onboard mic, speaker and iSight (and mic/headphone plugs).

Here is another picture I found:

I can tell you… that’s the future…. We’re a lot who want really bad this device! Apple would be stupid to don’t do it! And there’s no doubt… I want it done by Apple!

Because I don’t want to have it by LG, Dell, HP, Asus, Sony, etc… Because they do some great device, but they don’t have the right software! We already see this problem with the Smartphone and Windows Mobile… Sorry, but it was just a piece of s#it! I never liked use a Windows Mobile SmartPhone… it’s just awful! And then after several years, Apple came with the iPhone and makes the life with smartphone so much better…

I’m sure they can have the same approach with the “UMPC” market / “Tablet” Market / “Netbook” Market / “Game” Market…

It’s 4 market where Apple is not present… Why? Because it’s not huge enough? Hmmm… I don’t think so, there’s a lot of devices and interest (at least for Netbook and UMPC) and I don’t mention the success of the Game devices… And the market could be really really bigger if you provide a great device… So, I think Apple didn’t came on this market because they want to do like for the iPhone… Not come with something which does not work well…. But come with something close to Perfect (even thought it isn’t) 🙂

So, it would be a great move to cover those Markets with a nice device as describe… They have the technology and knowledge to do it now… They did 90% of the work with the iPhone.

The only thing they should do is the “Book” Service (in iTunes, the book reader, the relation with Book Publisher, etc…), but that’s something they should do anyway, even if the iMAID/iTablet/MacPad/iTouch (oh gosh, there’s so much name for this one) doesn’t exist.

The book could be done with iTunes for Desktop/Laptop and with iPhone/iPod Touch… It doesn’t hurt to do this service… and it will just go compete with Amazon eBook… so then, they will need to release the adequate device 🙂

I can’t wait anymore….