Archive for 'Music and Gear'

Buddha Machine Wall!

Very cool. A wall of 21 virtual Buddha Machines. Compose your own meditation music.

eMusic Online Music Download Service

I’ve been using eMusic for a while now as a companion to iTunes and am finding it very useful. The company is based in the UK and it seems to me to have a more “European” bent that iTunes. I have been exploring the Electronic genre quite a bit and have found a bunch of songs I like and probably would not have discovered any other way. There is a Related Artists section as well as the ability to explore other member’s playlists fro suggestions on new music.

You can sign up for a free trial at emusic.com and get 25 songs free. Seems like a good way to experience it! They also have a referral program so if you’d like an additional 25 free songs on your trial, shoot me an email to that effect to schmenzer@gmail.com and I’ll send you an invitation to take advantage of the extra free downloads.

When your trial is finished you can choose from several different plans with varying numbers of downloads per month. Songs can be had for as little as $.40 (40 cents). Seems like a deal to me.



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iTunes Web Widget

I got all excited there for a minute when I saw this new iTunes Widget thingy. But it doesn’t do the one thing I’d like it to, List currently playing songs on MY iTunes. It shows album/songs I recently purchased, albums/songs I’ve reviewed (none) or my Favorites which is merely a list of the artists I’ve purchased most at iTunes. It would be cooler if this was actual data from MY iTunes listening.

If you look in the sidebar to the right you will see a heading called “iTunes is Playing”. This is a near realtime list of what I am listening to right now. The only lag is that is is a very bandaged together system that uses the old KungTunes to publish locally and then an Interarchy mirror to upload because KungTunes stopped being able to directly upload a long time ago, like at iTunes 4 or 5 and development stopped back then (2004).

Right below that is a Last FM widget that does even more. Not only does it list tracks scrobbled from iTunes but it lists songs that I listen to right on the Last FM radio stations.

I liked my band-aid solution because it serves MY interest, not Apple’s or Last FM’s by automatically generating a link to Amazon where you could grease me a bit through the affiliate program if you bought the album there. Obviously both Apple and Last FM want you to go to there sites and spend your rupees there. I guess we are all self serving!

If the iTunes Widget let me make coin from my iTunes affiliate account maybe it would be more useful to me. Also, I went through my library and of the nearly 5,000 songs about 250 have been purchased at iTunes. the iTunes Widget is hardly representative of my total listening habits.

Anyway, here is what my Apple iTunes Widget looks like:

Oh, if you looked at the “Songs” section and noticed “That’s What Friend’s Are For” in three versions, don’t hate me. My daughter had to sing it for a 2nd Grade project so I got those for her to practice with!



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If You Made It To the Pirate Party 2007 in Milwaukee Here Are Some Pix

The Pirate Party 2007 happened on Friday, July 13th, 2007. It was quite a spectacle as it was held on a barge anchored out in the Milwaukee Harbor as well as two tour boats that were moored to the barge.

The barge held the stage where both live bands and DJs played as well as the Riptide catered food area.

The tour boats added the bar areas and some great vantage points to watch the action.

Pirates, fire dancers, bands, DJs, drinks and friends. What a great event!

Check out pix here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/gasmith/sets/72157600951460213/

I love the time lapse photos of the fire dancers and of Danin, one of the DJs.



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iTunes Complete My Album Feature

Kudos to Apple for finally doing this. There is no reason to have to pay for a song twice if you tried a track and then decide to buy the whole album. I had about 40 albums from which I bought songs but not the whole thing. I only “completed” one album, the other I wanted said it was being modified and to comeback later, but I also bought several songs from albums I’d previously purchased a song from. The reminder of the songs I’d bought was a nice tickler to look over the bands again and listen to the snippets to see if any other songs struck my fancy.

To find this new feature just go to the itunes home page at the iTunes Music Store and look on the right side in the “Quick Links” section and go to “Complete My Album”



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iWoW iTunes SRS Plug-in

I played around with this plug-in for a while today. It was one of MacUpdate’s deals of the day and at $12.00 (40% off the regular $19.95) it seemed like a good deal

I ended up playing with the settings for most every song I listened to on my Dual 2.0 G5 with M-Audio Studiophile SP-5B’s running digital in through an M-Audio 2496 Super DAC (This is my mixing and mastering speaker set up and for that work I really like the flat response and the in-your-face sound field the SP-5s create.) I was trying to get the perfect settings. What worked for one song did not, necessarily, work for another. It seemed like I needed to tweak it for every song and especially if it was a change in Genre, say Metal to Jazz. Bummer because my playlists are pretty eclectic with the musical style varying a lot from song to song. Too much overhead for me. I think that if you listen to similar musical styles a lot you may get by with a standard setting like the preset “Rock” or other Genre. With the SRS on at my mix volume it was usually too much processing and I liked the clean sound straight through the SP-5s. It always sounds like the high-end of the frequency spectrum is getting muddied or something. At low volume, the type I like to work with in the background when I am doing web coding or writing, I liked the added presence of iWoW doing just a touch of work. It seems to open up the sound stage some.

Unfortunately, on my G5 running 10.4.8 there is a bug or conflict that does not let me see the iWoW window after I close it. Couldn’t do anything to get it back. It does not show up in the “Window” menu like it is supposed to. I reinstalled it and as long as I don’t shut the window using the “x” it seems to be working even after I quit iTunes and restart. Weird.

On my MacBook Pro I tried it with both the stock speakers, where I noticed the biggest improvement in sound quality and fidelity, and with my Grado S-80 headphones where it was a waste. The Grados are so good that any processing just muddied up the sound. The stock speakers, however, are so poor normally that some of iWoW’s voodoo actually helped quite a bit, especially being able to move the apparent crossover frequency with the “Speaker Size” control.

So, because of the bug on the G5 and the way I normally listen to music I guess I’ll just leave it installed on the MacBook Pro for those times when I have to use the built in speakers. That seemed, to me, the biggest bang for the buck anyway.

You can find a Mac or PC version at http://www.srslabs.com/consumerhome500.asp

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I Knew It Would Not Be Long!

When I got my Ipod Hi-Fi I noted that it probably wouldn’t be long before there is a carrying case for the Hi-Fi. Well Waterfield Designs has introduced the iPod hi-Fi Speaker Case. It looks like what I expected but is a bit spendy coming in at almost half the cost of the Hi-Fi. That said if the quality is like other bags/cases from Waterfield then it is worth the coin. If I find myself carting the Hi-Fi around a lot this is probably whrer it will ride.

Check it out at:

http://www.sfbags.com/products/hificase/ipodhificase.htm



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Grado SR-60 Stereo Headphone Review

Whoa! These Grado SR-60 headphones are great!

I got them to help with Mixdown tasks when using my Yamaha AW-16G DAW and they are better than the old stand-by Beyer Dynamic DT-550s I’ve been using, well, it seems like forever! Don’t get me wrong, the Beyers are still a great set of headphones after at least 15 years of use and I think it is cool that there are still parts available for the Beyers. I bought a new set of the foam ear covers that had worn out over the years only last year! But the need for a second set of phones, as well as a set I could use with my 60Gig iPod, sent me on a hunt for a new set. Older phones like the DT-550s just don’t work well with the iPod unless you have a headphone amp and that is kind of defeating the purpose.

Read more



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