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Archive for the Hardware Category

Arc Encoder

Posted by Scott





If you make music or follow artists like Daedelus you’re probably familiar with the Monome, the grid based OSC controller that gave birth to new ways of composing and performing music. The same people that make the Monome are back with a new controller, this time in the form of the Arc, a high-resolution OSC controller with two knobs which double as push buttons. Like the Monome before it, the Arc is beautifully designed, outfitted in the signature walnut/aluminum casing. At $500 I can tell you right now I’m not getting one, but the Arc sure is pretty to look at; that led ring is absolutely stunning.

Whenever I see an elegant interface like this I’m always left to wonder why we don’t have more control surfaces for Photoshop (I know people have found ways to control Photoshop with midi but I’m talking purpose-built controllers). Really, if Adobe were to open up to native osc or even midi support, we’d be off to a running start with all the pre-existing musical devices out there.

Here’s a video of the Arc and Monome in action:

Arc – Monome

Abbey Road Studios

Posted by Scott




Found a few great shots of Abbey Road Studios, the legendary London studios where the Beatles recorded almost all of their albums. I particularly love that first one which is apparently a shot of the control room in Studio Three as it looked during the 70’s. I am betting it’s considerably more boring now. Studio One (second shot) on the other hand, hasn’t changed at all.

583 Calculators

Posted by Alex







Vintage Technology has an enormous array of 1970’s era calculators on display. I’m into it because I love numbers, but if you want to know how many diodes and capacitors there were in a Caltronic 812, you are in luck. Each comes with a photo and an extraordinarily detailed reference page. There are 128 identified brands, and 583 calculators in total!

As an aside, I used to love calculators with an on/off button. I hated the kind that would turn off in a minute or two when unused. I mean I get it, but I like the power of having an on/off.

You may recognize the Omron from an earlier post. I’m sad Braun wasn’t represented on this page too…

via Core77

Galaksija Computer

Posted by Scott



I came across this gem the other day but haven’t been able to find any better shots of it. The Galaksija was an early 80’s Yugoslavian DIY computer kit designed by Voja Antonić. I found the top shot — which I believe was taken at some sort of computer museum — at Avian’s Blog. Given that this was a DIY kit, the external appearance of each unit differed and most weren’t all that interesting. But that top one is incredible; I don’t know what I’d do with it, but I want it in my studio. Anyone have any other shots of this particular one?

Bonus: “High Resolution Graphics” on the Galaksija

Wacom Cintiq 21UX Unboxing

Posted by Scott





Saw this set of Cintiq unboxing photos on Engadget today and even though the concept of documenting a retail product unboxing seems ridiculous, I couldn’t resist. Ever since I saw a Cintiq (a combination LCD display and tablet) on demo in Barcelona (OFFF) a few years back I’ve been wanting one. I’m not sure that it would benefit me that greatly but it would be fun to find out. Maybe not $1,999 (msrp) worth of fun, but definitely something I’d like to try.

The problem is that this kind of device relies on a mode of interaction few of us are very familiar with so it’s tough to make the leap without knowing if it will work for you. It’s not like you find these on demo anywhere; the only place I know of that stocks them in San Francisco is Calumet and they have them tucked away in some back corner, there’s not even a floor model out much less a working display last time I checked. I wish they had some sort of trial period but I suspect that would be a bad thing for me; I’m pretty convinced if I really spent some time with this thing I wouldn’t want to give it back. The only drawback I heard was poor color representation due to the touch surface over the screen, hopefully they’ve remedied that issue with this latest iteration.

Some questions: Anyone using one of these? Care to share your feelings? Everyone else: Are you planning on getting one? If not, would you use this if someone gave you one? How much cheaper would it have to be to make you consider it? Current Wacom users, does this seem like an improvement or would you rather stick with your regular tablet? Discuss in the comments

Link

OCZ Z-Drive R2: 1.4GB/s

Posted by Scott



You may have noticed that I’ve posted quite a bit on the subject of SSD drives over the past couple years. The speed this technology can afford has the potential to finally set us free as artists so that we can focus on our work and not beach balls and hourglasses. The main bottleneck of modern computers is the hard disk drive, which has inexplicably been frozen in time at speeds which have remained constant almost as long as I can remember. Remove this bottleneck and a whole new world opens up.

The problem with SSD so far is it’s failure to truly deliver on it’s promises of speed. Sure, 250MB/s is fast, but only marginally quicker than a standard HDD. So I was excited to see the announcement from OCZ that a new version of their Z-Drive, the “R2″ is due out soon.

The original Z-Drive was somewhat of a disappointment but — at least from the specs on this one — they seem to have learned some lessons from that initial attempt. The new model sports an 8 way RAID 0 setup (basically like 8 SSD drives in RAID 0 on a hardware controller — beats the heck out of my setup) — and speeds around 1.4GB/s. In case you didn’t read that correctly: 1.4GB/s. Insane speeds. And that’s both ways, read and write.

Imagine having this thing set up as your Photoshop swap drive (or, as the Engadget article suggests, editing raw 1080p footage in real time). In PS, I’d imagine you could tear through 24×36″ @ 300dpi with hardly a delay. And at 2TB (the largest possibly configuration), the Z-Drive is truly massive for an SSD. You could fit your entire OS and your data on there for quick file open/saves. And with 1.4GB/s of overhead, I wouldn’t think twice about using the drive as my OS and swap at the same time.

Now for the price (which hasn’t been announced yet): expect ridiculous. The original model ranged from $1500-$2700 and I don’t see this one coming too far down from that. But for performance like this, you have to pay. And when you consider the potential cost of eight SSD drives totaling 2TB and a hardware RAID controller the Z-Drive starts to sound a bit more affordable.

OCZ Product page
Further reading at Engadget & Hot Hardware

CDM: Paul Frindle Interview

Posted by Scott


Create Digital Music has posted an excellent interview with Paul Frindle. Frindle was one of the people at the center of the digital revolution in audio recording; he worked on SSL G-Series Console, was “part of the team that broke the “damnable black art” of digital conversion”, founded Oxford Digital (whose EQ plugin I still use extensively), and developed the application the Sony OXF-R3 Console. It’s a pretty technical article but it highlights how creativity and genius can combine to fundamentally change an art form.

Some producers and musicians these days lament the shift to digital saying that analog will always be better than digital. I tend to agree with that statement — particularly when it comes to synthesis — but the move to digital has made the process of production so much more efficient and accessible that it’s hard to argue against it. Digital audio has opened the doors of the music industry to anyone with a computer and made artists of people who might not have had access otherwise. Although I have spent many years trying to shift my process into the analog domain, I certainly wouldn’t have been able to get a start in music if it weren’t for the ability to record digitally.

So here’s to Paul Frindle and everyone like him who paved the way for a revolution in music, because whether we’re making music or enjoying it, we all owe these pioneers a debt of gratitude.

Interview Link