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Thursday, January 7, 2010

That Wacky CES Show

The Consumer Electronics Show is here again and we have a new year's worth of hype, madness and even a little innovation. Here's a brief preview of some of the things that caught my eye, but I'll have a full report plus pictures on Monday.

Sharp and their 4 primary colors. Everyone knows that there are 3 primary colors except Sharp, who introduced a television sporting 4. Sharp claims that it increases the number of possible colors to 1 trillion for a "sharper" picture. I can just here the Sharp marketing guys now - "Let's give them a new primary color. Then they'll really want to buy it!"

Toshiba goes for it with 3D. Toshiba has put some extra computing horsepower into their new TV line called "The Cell" that allows any 2D picture to be turned into 3D. You still need the silly glasses though, which is the fatal flaw of the whole 3D format. The other thing about The Cell sets is that they'll be selling at a premium, because you gotta pay if you want your 3D.

Let's lose the keyboard. Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer wants everyone to start using alternative input methods instead of that old computer keyboard, and he showcased a number of products that didn't need one. I guess that will work for just about anyone who doesn't have to communicate by typing. I'm still waiting for the brain implant.

Anyone can be an artist, again. Music Mastermind aims to allow anyone to make music, regardless of musical experience. And you can have fun doing it by playing a game. I haven't seen this one yet, but industry pundit Ted Cohen is hawking it, and Matchbox 20 frontman Rob Thomas and producer Matt Serletic are backing it. But I've heard this record before a few times.

More details in the next post.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

2009 Music Sales At An All-Time High

Yes, you read the title correctly. 2009 US music sales hit an all time high according to Nielsen SoundScan, with total sales of over 1.5 billion, up 2.1% over 2008.

Despite reports of the album's demise, the format sold 373.9 million (which is still a very substantial figure), but individual digital track sales are even better with more than 1.1 billion in 2009, up 8.3% from 2008.

Read the rest of the post on my Music 3.0 blog.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The New Superspeed USB3.0

The Consumer Electronics Show is upon us again and while everyone is talking up 3D television this and Apple tablet that, a significant new technology will hit the shelves, apparently very much under that radar.

Anyone working in a computer-based pro application for either audio or video has been resigned to working with Firewire drives for quite some time. The standard Firewire 400 that's commonly found on computers was found to be quite a bit faster than the even more common USB interface, even though on the surface they looked to be just about the same speed. Not so - their different architectures makes Firewire far more efficient so it’s ultimately faster and works better for most professional work as a result (non-tech explanation). And there's an even faster variant in Firewire 800, which never quite caught on commercially, but pros know all about and frequently use.

While USB was down, it definitely was not out. Just coming on the scene is the brand new USB3.0, sometimes called Superspeed USB. USB3 offers up to twelve times the speed of what Firewire 400 can do, and has plenty of bandwidth for all but the most demanding pro applications. It also offers the ability to supply power to large drives directly from the USB buss, so you won’t even need a power supply for them. USB3.0 is backwards compatible with the current USB2.0, but will need a different cable and connector that has two additional wires to achieve the increased speed.

Up until now USB3 has been a twinkle in the engineering eye, but that's all about to change on Thursday when the newest consumer electronic device come rolling out. Just like last year, I'll have a full report on all the latest CE trends and some pictures from ground zero at the show in beautiful downtown Las Vegas.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Producer's Checklist For Basic Tracks

When you're the producer, it's pretty easy to get overwhelmed with the details and demands of the session and forget some of the things that can really help the musicians and the session along. Here's a checklist from my upcoming book, "The Music Producer's Handbook":
  • Do the drums sound great acoustically in the room? If they don’t, rent a new kit or hire a drum tuner.
  • Are the drums tuned properly? They should have new heads and have no buzzes or sympathetic vibrations before recording begins.
  • Do you have a variety of instruments available? The more different instruments you have, the better the parts will fit together and the more interesting the recording will sound.
  • Are all the instruments in tip-top condition? Is the intonation set correctly? Is the instrument clean of any buzzes, hums or intermitents?
  • Is everyone happy with their headphone mix? Can you give each musician their own mix? Is a personal headphone mixer available for each player?
  • Does the click the have the right sound? Does it cut through the mix? Is it musical enough that the drummer can play along? Is it too musical that the drummer can’t groove to it?
  • Does the click groove? Does it work better as ¼ or 1/8th notes? Is there a different sound for the downbeat?
  • Is the click bleeding in the microphones? Can the drummer use isolating headphones? Can you roll the high end off so that it doesn’t leak as much?
  • Do you have the studio talkback mic on? Can you hear the musicians in the studio at all times between takes?
  • Do you have the control room talkback mic always on? Can the musicians hear you at all times in between takes?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Beatles 3000

Let's start 2010 on a light note and maybe set the tone for the year. Here's a great video called Beatles 3000 that projects how the group might be perceived a thousand years from now. Considering how our views on things change after only a couple of months, it's completely viable. The video is pretty funny though.


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