Apple launches third generation AirPods

They’re the next instalment of Apple’s most popular headphones

Declan McGlynn

Monday, October 18, 2021 – 18:11

Apple has launched the next version of their popular AirPod headphones. The third generation of AirPod won’t replace the current second-gen but adds some features from both the Pro and the AirPod Max including Spatial Audio, Adaptive EQ and Dynamic Head Tracking. The new pods are also water and sweat resistant and add up to six hours of listening, with four full charges via the new case, which now also supports wireless charging. 

Spatial Audio is Apple’s new ‘surround’ tech developed with Dolby and offers placement of sound and FX in 3D space rather than traditional stereo. It’s been part of Apple TV and Disney+ for a while but has been making its way into Apple Music with new and old catalogues being updated. We discussed it in our review of the AirPod Max here

Adaptive EQ automatically adjusts the EQ curve depending on the placement of each pod and the shape of your ear, to attempt to keep the frequency response as flat as possible.

Dynamic Head Tracking is designed to keep audio in place based on its position on the screen, regardless of how you turn your head.

The new third-gen AirPods will cost £169 and are available for pre-order now.

Apple gets the Pro back in MacBook Pro with more power – and ports and keys

Maybe the most noticeable feeling in Apple’s latest product unveiling – that sense that a Mac notebook launch brings real excitement again. “I sense something. A presence I’ve not felt since…”

This is available to order now and ship next week, so I think some of your credit cards beat me to even writing this story. Notably, everything about the M1 Pro and Max – plus that roomier MacBook Pro form factor and all those ports – indeed seem worth the wait. This is a new generation of advanced CPU/GPU/machine learning architecture with fast memory and storage, coupled with a top-flight display and Apple’s distinctive hardware design.

And so, yes, the MacBook Pro line is also bringing back the stuff you missed. Those who stayed with PC machines will laugh at this, but that means real function keys, no more weird touch strips, a dedicated HDMI port (without dongles, even), and tons of ports. Plus there’s a MagSafe port again for power.

But that’s not what’s giving me a sense of deja vu. The real throwback is we got to see a Mac event that emphasizes music production alongside visual eye candy magic, puts Logic front and center (there was even a cameo by Soma Laboratory in the opening so someone got a fun way of spending their budget). And you got the sense of a radical new laptop that put desktop power in a mobile form factor, while conserving a slim case, elegant industrial design, and managing both battery life and quiet operation without sacrificing horsepower.

It’s definitely 2021 Apple – just specs, product front and center, testimonials only briefly from developers but not users. (no BT!) But no matter – it really does feel like an unofficial 20th anniversary of this moment:

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And now, as then, Apple is really good and cutting past the specs and just speaking directly in a way that gets to what people want.

Of course – I don’t work for Apple marketing, so my job is to get back to those specs, and past that, how this will work in practice for creative folks. (And to the extent I can’t do that, which is – well, a reality – it’s my job to find the folks who can get those answers.)

Yeah, that is an SD slot and an HDMI slot. Plus you can charge from any port, run USB 4 (and everything up to it) and Thunderbolt and DisplayPort on any port… Photos courtesy Apple.

It’s too soon for that, but we do see some promising numbers here. One thing I do miss from 2001 Apple (and Jobs, absolutely) is comparisons to PCs. Not that we should trust Apple to give us a (cough) unbiased view of that, but I do think the absence of one-on-one comparisons to something like NVIDIA RTX-based systems is a little telling by design. There was a brief graph in the presentation of PCs with dedicated GPUs which was stunning except… well, the graph had no numbers and I have no idea what GPU that was because the print was too small. (See, there’s the Apple we know and love!)

What are they comparing?

Updated – reading the fine print on the PC vs Mac graphs.

So there’s a CPU test, with the high-end, 8-core machine an MSI GP66 Leopard.

That’s as expected, really – Apple’s architectures are delivering more performance for the same power consumption (and by extension, heat generation).

Note that the GP66 is significantly cheaper when similarly configured with memory/storage, but yeah, you’ll probably hear a fan and I don’t think you’ll get anywhere near the hours of battery life on the Apple machine. (Plus Apple is shipping high-end machines that charge via USB-C ports. That MSI will require a dedicated 280W power adapter.)

“Relative performance” is – relative to what? Of what? Just… what does that axis even mean? I’ll try to find out.

It’s really the graphics comparison where I’m interested. You’ll see an even higher-end MSI and Razer machine in comparison, too – check the newsroom to dig in.

Here we also find out that the Apple machines produce more performance per power consumption than does an NVIDIA RTX-based GPU. The problem is, we don’t know what the relative performance actually represents, so it’s not really as earthshaking as it may first appear – think of this more as a teaser for why benchmarking this gets interesting than it is something you would use to make a purchase decision. (Whee! Lines! Get my wallet!)

But don’t get me wrong – it is still promising where this is heading.

Okie dokie.
Yup. So the x-axis here is actually fairly expected – the question is what is really happening on the y-axis. It at least gets us excited for graphs from independent testers that start to fill in details like, you know, what “relative” or “performance” mean.

It will be cool, somehow, but we have to find out how.

Probably as interesting is what Apple chooses for comparison. They’re positioning the M1 Max against the MSI GE76 (RTX 3080) and Razer Blade 15 Advanced (RTX 3070).

Let’s talk specs and upgrades

There are some specs that do jump out immediately, though, especially some that really have no fair PC architecture comparison at the moment. And we are back almost in vintage Apple, too, in that we have an Intel (or AMD derivative) architecture on one side, and Apple’s own architecture on the other (now even more proprietary, since they’re making the chips). I do love a good horse race, so this has my computer nerd sense tingling.

Some of the specs we do know:

The new Macs do unified memory – for both CPU and GPU. As Apple (fairly and correctly) points out, this means you can max out Macs at 64 GB of memory that’s accessible from both the graphics and computational subsystems. On a traditional architecture, you need separate video RAM, which right now on the PC is limited to 16 GB (for the time being). The flipside is true, which is if you do intend on using all that memory for graphics, you’re subtracting from what’s available to the CPU, but having one pot for everything is generally an edge.

You get a ton of computational power. Yeah, this pretty much hoses the Intel i9 that was in the previous models, it looks very competitive with what’s on the PC from Intel and AMD, and you get that power without a fan so much as switching on. More battery life, no fan noise, less heat, crazy amount of power. 8- or 10-core CPU, plus a Media engine doing even more acceleration of video encode/decode.

Machine learning power is a real thing now, too. Look, let’s forget the AI hype – machine learning is in many ways a graphics-related technology, and there it shines. So this new machine is fast at scene edit detection, object tracking, and subject selection in Premiere, Final Cut, and Photoshop, respectively – by several orders of magnitude, according to Apple. This is not “AI replacing humans” so much as “AI making computer graphics magically quick the way we always wanted.”

There’s a powerful GPU, too. For graphics, you now get 14- or 16-core GPUs. It’s still too soon to say how this stacks up against high-end GPUs on the PC – like the kind that presumably were even running the presentation everyone saw – but I imagine for a lot of video and visual applications, combined with all that video memory, this will be competitive. And while desktop PCs will continue to dominate high-end graphics and gaming, the industrial design and quiet, mobility, and battery life on the Mac tilt things in Apple’s favor before any comparisons. I do want more comparisons here though, to know the details.

You can use multiple displays again. Finally. 2 external displays on M1 Pro; 4 on M1 Max.

It’s still not cheap with storage and RAM. Apple has put insanely fast SSDs in these machines again – they’re talking 7.5G/s transfer speeds. The unified memory is speedy, too. So you can’t really compare spec-for-spec. But with these high-end, premium components comes at a price as you add memory and storage, which you’ll want to do right away, of course, since they’re not upgradeable later. Taking the most basic 14″ MacBook Pro, I’m quickly up to US$2599 with 32GB unified memory and 1TB SSD. That’s the other reason we will want some real head-to-head comparisons with the PC architectures.

But all in all, the specs look great. And now that they have gotten rid of the stuff you didn’t like – the weird redesigned keyboard, the mostly-panned Touch Bar – and added back function keys and a new keyboard and lots of dedicated ports, this is likely to get back to being the world’s most loved notebook machine.

This is the bit Apple has that right now PC makers don’t – a single chip with unified memory, up against the dedicated CPU and GPU, each with separate memory.

Plus, Apple’s industrial design and high-end displays are generally not matched by anyone else, to say nothing of that OS from Apple.

And yeah, Apple has trade-in and financing programs, too, which is not irrelevant.

Readers of this site know I do love computers. I’m excited to see fresh stuff happening on both PCs and Macs and software across the board, musical and visual. There’s tremendous expressive power even on a relatively small budget in just one machine, which is great for independent artists. Watch this space for more details.

Let me know if you have some questions as we learn more.

Other specs I think are worth handling (the full specs you can read at Apple.com, so I’ll edit here):

200GB/s memory bandwidth

Really nice displays (let’s leave it at that – but think 120 Hz, big color gamut, microLED, 3024×1964, that sort of thing)

USB-C to MacSafe 3 power connection

512GB minimum storage (finally), up to 8 TB

HDMI port

Dedicated SDXC card slot

3.5mm headphone jack

Three Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) ports – all of them fully capable for everything, basically

https://www.apple.com/macbook-pro-14-and-16/specs/

Nia Archives shares new single inspired by ‘90s jungle and reggae, ‘Forbidden Feelingz’: Listen

It’s accompanied by a black and white, stop motion-style video

Brian Coney

Monday, October 18, 2021 – 13:33

Nia Archives has shared a new single inspired by ‘90s jungle and reggae. Check it out below. 

‘Forbidden Feelingz’ is the first single by the Leeds-born, London-based artist since the release of her debut EP ‘Headz Gone West’ earlier this year. Paying tribute to her Grandma Liz, the single features a sampled snippet of Colombo from the eponymous ’70s detective series.

The single – which is inspired by old school reggae and dub, as well as jungle and breakbeat – is accompanied by a black and white, stop motion-style video courtesy of director Delphino. Watch it below.

“The goal was to make something that would be nostalgic at any point in time,” said Delphino. “No matter if you watched it now or in years to come. Our aim was to create something that complimented the synergy between the vocals and instrumental.”

Nia Archives started her journey into production in 2017, and was boosted by her EQ50-led mentorship with the iconic V Recordings. The producer, songwriter, DJ and visual artist was previously tipped as one of DJ Mag’s emerging artists to look out for.

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Former fabric promoter Shaun Roberts launches fundraiser for life extending cancer treatment

Former fabric promoter Shaun Roberts has launched a fundraiser for life-extending cancer treatment.

Roberts, who worked at the London club as promotions manager for 16 years, launched a GoFundMe page on Wednesday, 13th October, in order to cover medical costs following a diagnosis of Stage 4 Metastatic cancer.

“The chemotherapy is still working well but beating cancer is not an option for me now so the name of the game is to stay alive as long as possible,” Roberts revealed. “The NHS have been amazing and will continue to look after me but I’ve pretty much run out of options for further treatment with them outside of chemotherapy. I need to look further afield.”

Roberts stated that he hopes to join the program at CeGat Clinic in Tubingen, Germany, where he would received a “personal cancer vaccine” that will “train [his] body to recognise cancer in [his] system and actively fight it.”

At the time of writing, Roberts has exceeded his initial goal of £125,000, but please consider donating here.

fabric have recently finalised the line-up for its 39-hour party across 22nd-25th October.

Sneak Preview Of Clip Launching In Ardour 7

Sneak Preview Of Clip Launching In Ardour 7
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Ardour shared this sneak preview of clip launcher in Ardour 7 – an upcoming version of the free, open-source digital audio workstation (DAW) for Linux, macOS & Windows.

They note that “Things are far from finished, and there’s a lot left to do, but this video will give the first sense of one way that Ardour might present this functionality.”

Details on release date for Ardour 7 are to be announced. The current stable version is 6.9.

Two Guy, Four Instrument Metal Band Punches Above Their Weight

Two Guy, Four Instrument Metal Band Punches Above Their Weight
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LA-based synth-rock band Bantamweight shared this live performance video for their track Hellion, from their new EP Sounds + Haptics.

Bantamweight punches above their weight by doing more than just playing synths. Drummer Max Kelly combines syncopated rock drumming with complex keyboard riffs, while frontman Keith Shacklett plays bass, sings – and throws in some keyboard work for good measure.

After nearly 15,000 hours of close collaboration, the duo have telepathic chemistry, chops to spare and a unique sound.

This performance comes from a charity livestream organized by Polyverse Music. All proceeds were donated to Sweet Relief Musicians Fund.

Fatboy Slim’s ‘Rockafeller Skank’ has been remixed by Todd Edwards

A Fatboy Slim classic has been given the remix treatment.

As part of an upcoming remix collection, titled ‘Everybody Loves a Remix’, garage legend Todd Edwards has reworked Fatboy’s 1998 single ‘The Rockafeller Skank’. The bouncing house rework – which will be released this Friday, 22nd October – will be followed by various other remixes from A-class artists, which will be released every two weeks. 

Featuring samples by artists including Lord Finesse, Art of Noise and Just Brothers, ‘Rockafeller Skank’ charted well across the globe in 1998. It was later certified Gold in the United Kingdom. Revisit its iconic video below.

‘Everybody Loves A Mixtape’ comes ahead of the launch of English producer and DJ Cook’s forthcoming ‘We’ve Come A Long Way Together’ UK tour, which kicks off on Thursday, 4th November at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena, before going on to London, Liverpool, Glasgow and a number of other cities. 

Fatboy Slim also celebrated the 20th anniversary of his hit ‘Weapon Of Choice’ by sharing a new KiNK remix of the track.

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New Mobile MIDI Controller, The Nektar Impact LX Mini

New Mobile MIDI Controller, The Nektar Impact LX Mini
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Nektar has introduced the Impact LX Mini, a new mobile USB MIDI Controller Keyboard that offers 2 independent Arpeggiator/Repeat engines, LED drum pads, a joystick, foot-switch socket and a 25-note mini-keyboard with velocity.

Features:

  • 25 velocity-sensitive mini keys
  • 4 velocity curves (soft, default, hard 1, hard 2) + 3 fixed values
  • Joystick for pitch bend, 2 modulation controls (MIDI assignable)
  • Footswitch jack 1/8? (adapter to 1/4? included)
  • Octave up/down buttons with LED indicators
  • Transpose via Shift + Part 2 buttons
  • Part 2 LED buttons (assignable to momentary keyboard shift, transpose, layering MIDI notes and switching MIDI channels (includes Latch option)
  • 7 transport buttons for DAW integration or MIDI assignable
  • Shift button activates secondary level for a total of 14 accessible MIDI button functions (plus 3rd level for another 7 functions with Nektar DAW Integration)
  • 8 velocity-sensitive LED Pads (4 pad maps)
  • 8 pots (x2 via Page button, functionality changes according to mode)
  • Volume pot with LED settings indication (MIDI-assignable)
  • Nektar DAW integration support

Pricing and Availability:

The Nektar Impact LX Mini is expected to be available in Nov 2021, priced at $119.99 USD / €119.99 EUR.

Streaming Saturday: Catch flash crash, full of live coding stars, and Scanner on Bandcamp

Staying in today and wish the electronic music could come to you? It’s your lucky day.

First up, the flash crash series continues today Saturday the 16th – full of live coding and out-there electronics, starting from 13:00 LA time. (That means it’s afternoon/evening east coast, starting 16:00, 22:00 Berlin, or those of you out east can start your Sunday morning this way – 05:00 start Tokyo time.)

And there’s a Halloween-ish theme for this edition. The lineup is, unfortunately, all in an image file (cough, accessibility, y’all!). But you get the likes of karol, Tom Hall, ezra buchla, Chromatouch, simco… and plenty of others.

Tyler Etters (releasing music as LA’s intertext, blogging at northern info) writes us with more.

There’s no ulterior motive, no monetization, no patreon, no accounts for people to follow and like and subscribe. It’s about giving artists a place to perform and audiences a place to experience. Each event has felt like a genuine “happening” or gathering in a really intimate and connected way.

There’s an ethos behind it:
We are…
… a celebration of livecoding.
… root(-kit)ed in the global livecoding scene.
… anchored by the rallying cry “show us your screens!”
… a recursive live stream && artist community.
… celebrating crashes && mistakes.
… everywhere && everywhen.
… everycolor && everygender.
… inventing && destroying microgenres daily.
… pushing the boundaries of music && technology.
… never ending && already over.
… inviting you.

Metronome!

Sounds good to me. They’ve opened up on live coding – Tyler says the first one was limited to teletype, the monome module, before the second edition added stuff like Orca. Find it:

https://flashcrash.net

https://llllllll.co/t/flash-crash-saturday-oct-16/45273

And follow the Twitch account for the lines community (that’s the forum with all the, uh, letters L in the title). That’ll give you the live stream:

https://www.twitch.tv/lines_community

Twitch I have to say has worked nicely as a live music platform just because of the streaming fidelity and community platform features.

Scanner on Bandcamp this weekend

London’s Robin Rimbaud aka Scanner is a legend and a favorite – and now you don’t have to worry about being in the right town to see him, because he’s doing a live show from his studio. It’ll cost you 5 GBP, but hey, this could be a promising model – it means underground Bandcamp artists can start to transmit music from their studio and ideally earn enough money and fan base to self-organize tours, too.

The model here makes loads of sense – you don’t have to be live, which is much, much better on a) a planet that is round with b) species who have to sleep some of the time.

Description:

Another show live and direct from the Scanner Studio in the UK to the world. As ever, it will be completely impressed and feature all new music. Afterwards I will remain online to chat with you and answer questions and probably tell some stories ? The performance will remain available for 48 hours afterwards so you can watch it back or catch up with it in case it’s in the wrong time zone for you. Looking forward to playing for you all very soon!

If you do tune in, let us know how your experience is as a listener – and I’m keen to hear other folks trying out Bandcamp’s new streaming functionality, knowing how much overlap there is between CDM readers and Bandcamp fans.

Vive le Underground! (Uh, vive le “souterrain”?) Keep creating, stay caring, see you on the Internet.