Free MacOS Sampler, Samplr For Touchbar

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Marcos Alonso, developer of Samplr for iPad, has introduced Samplr for Touchbar – a free app that puts a touchscreen sampler into your Mac’s Touchbar.

His ‘quarantine project’, Samplr for Touchbar is a mini version of the original Samplr and is a great showcase of the underutilized potential of the Touchbar.

Alonso describes the app as “a demo of Samplr for the MacBook Touch Bar.” The app uses the multitouch display of the Touch Bar to play samples in four different ways with multiple controls and effects. The iPad app offers many more features, including four additional play modes.

Samplr for Touchbar is available now as a free download.

Note: Depending on your OS settings/version, you may have to manually authorize the app in System Preferences/Security & Privacy.

iMacs Running Apple Silicon In Emulation Mode May Beat Your Intel MacBook Pro

Apple‘s June 22nd announcement that it was dumping Intel CPU’s and moving the Macintosh to internally developed ‘Apple Silicon’ raised a lot of red flags for some readers.

While there are many valid concerns about issues like compatibility, speed bumps in the transition process and the ultimate loss of legacy applications, many readers also fundamentally questioned whether the chip designs that Apple has developed for over a decade to run iOS and its variants are powerful enough to run a ‘real OS’.

The first prototypes of Macs running Apple Silicon are now out in the wild, and speed tests are starting to appear that suggest that performance worries may be overblown.

Geekbench metrics of the prototype Apple Silicon Mac in Apple’s Developer Transition Kit show that a Mac with a repurposed iPad chip, running Geekbench in emulation mode via Rosetta, has better Multi-Core Geekbench performance than a 2020 Macbook Air running on an Intel Core i3 processor.

‘Apple Silicon’ Geekbench:

2020 Macbook Air Geekbench:

Geekbench is a cross-platform tool that’s designed to measure your device’s CPU and GPU Compute performance.

The Macbook Air is an entry-level machine, so, as a point of comparison, we checked benchmarks on one of Synthtopia’s Mac laptops, a 15-inch Late 2016 MacBook Pro. Geekbench stats show the Developer Kit Mac Mini beating our MacBook Pro in single-core performance and offering comparable Multi-Core performance:

MacBook Pro (15-inch Late 2016) Geekbench:

Note that these are preliminary results. The Mac Mini computers included in Apple’s Developer Transition Kit are not intended to be production computers, and are arguably built with half-baked hardware.

For musicians, it remains to be seen how well Apple’s in-house chips scales up for higher-performance systems. High-end MacOS and Windows PCs blow away the Geekbench scores for typical laptops.

But the fact that the first ‘Apple Silicon’ Mac performs as well as it does – running in emulation mode, on a chip repurposed from an iPad – bodes well for the ‘Apple Silicon’ switch.

Apple Dumps Intel At WWDC, Promising Faster Macs & Vast Application Options

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Apple today kicked off its annual World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) with a keynote event, embedded above, that saw the company introduced updates for iOS, iPadOs, watchOS, privacy, tvOs and macOs.

The event would be notable for many electronic musicians for that alone, but Apple also announced the most significant change to the Mac platform in 15 years, that it is transitioning from using Intel processors to ‘Apple Silicon’.

Apple’s mobile devices – running on Apple’s custom silicon – have long benefited from CPU performance that leads their competition. Their computers, though, use standard Intel processors, and have offered relatively undistinguished price/performance.

Apple plans to change that, and also to make MacOS a much more flexible platform, with its announcement today of plans to transition the Mac to custom ‘Apple Silicon’. The transition promises to deliver more powerful macs at more affordable prices, and to create a common platform for iPhone, iPad and macOS applications.

Apple also introduced macOS Big Sur, which the company describes as is biggest update in more than a decade.

Big Sur includes technologies that are designed to ensure a smooth transition to Apple silicon. Developers can convert their existing apps to run on Apple’s new Macs, while providing compatibility with existing Macs. And for the first time, developers can make their iOS and iPadOS apps available on the Mac without any modifications.

Apple plans to ship the first Macs with Apple silicon by the end of the year and to complete the transition from Intel processors to custom Apple Silicon in about two years.

Apple says that they will continue to support and release new versions of macOS for Intel-based Macs for years to come, and has new Intel-based Macs in development.

What This Means For Musicians

Apple promises a painless transition, similar to their change, 15 years ago, from Power PC CPUs to Intel.

Musicians that went through that transition may remember ‘Rosetta’ and ‘Universal Applications’, which  allowed users to run legacy applications for years on new hardware. These made it relatively painless for many musicians to transition from old Power PC Macs to Intel Macs.

Many Mac-based musicians, though, will also remember losing legacy applications that never got updated by their developers to run on Intel chips. And some may have had to say goodbye to audio interfaces or other peripherals, because it was not worth the effort for some manufacturers to update their drivers to work with Intel-based Macs.

So the downside of the transition is that long-time Mac users may find some of their hardware and software orphaned by the transition to Apple Silicon.

The upside, though, is that all of Apple’s hardware – from mobile devices, to computers to home media devices – will now be based on Apple’s ARM chips. This promises to be a huge change, because iPhone and iPad applications will now run on Macintosh computers. This means that tens of thousands of iOS music apps will now run on Macs. Conversely, it means that desktop-level DAWs may be easier to port to mobile devices. And it should be easier than ever for developers to create applications and platforms that work across Apple’s mobile and desktop platforms.

Applications In Transition

Apple says that it, along with major developers, already have their apps running on the new ‘Apple Silicon’ Mac platform. Based on this, it sounds like there will be a lengthy transition period where your old apps work, while updated apps will deliver new features and better performance.

A less obvious side-effect of the transition for musicians is ‘bloatware’. Apple’s ‘Universal Applications’ essentially deliver two copies of an application in one file One is compiled for the legacy platform and another for the new platform.

This means that – during this transition period – you’re likely to see some application bloat and lose some disk space to version of applications that you do not need.

It also means that some time in the near future, it will not make sense for developers to offer updates for your existing MacOS computers. There will be compelling arguments for creating apps that can run on iPhone, iPad & Macs, but little incentive to update apps that are limited to running on Intel-based applications.

And it means that – at some point in time – Apple will remove their ‘compatibility layer’ and support for ‘Universal Applications’. This should open up a lot of disk space, but also mean that some legacy apps will be orphaned.

Macs based on the new Apple Silicon should be commercially available later this year. Apple expects its transition off of Intel to be complete within 2 years.

Apple Logic Pro 10.5 A Massive Release For Electronic Musicians

Apple today unveiled a major update to Logic Pro X, version 10.5.

The company calls Logic Pro X 10.5 “a massive release for all musicians, including those producing electronic music.”

The update introduces an amped-up version of Live Loops, a redesigned sampling workflow, and new beat-making tools.

Here’s what’s new in Logic Pro x 10.5:

Live Loops

With Live Loops on the Mac, Logic users can now create music in new freeform and nonlinear ways. Loops, samples, and recordings can be organized into a new musical grid, where musicians can perform and capture different arrangement ideas into the timeline. From there, tracks can be further refined using all of the professional production features in Logic.

Remix FX enhances Live Loops with an exciting collection of electronic effects like Bitcrusher, filter, gater, and repeater that can be performed in real time over individual tracks or the entire song mix. Both features become even more powerful when using the free Logic Remote app, allowing users to pair their iPhone or iPad with their Mac to provide Multi-Touch control over Live Loops and Remix FX.

Sampler and Quick Sampler

Sampler represents the next generation of the popular industry-standard EXS24 plug-in, with a new design and expanded sound-shaping controls, while maintaining full backwards compatibility. Producers can use Sampler to create and edit sophisticated multisampled instruments, using elegant drag-and-drop workflows that automate complex production tasks.

Quick Sampler is a fast and simple way to turn any individual sound into a playable instrument. Musicians can pick a sound from within Logic, the Finder, Voice Memos, or even record directly into Quick Sampler. With just a few clicks, an imported sample can be trimmed, looped, and played across a keyboard controller, with access to creative sound-shaping controls.

Beat Creation

Logic Pro X 10.5 offers a collection of new creative tools designed to work together to make it fast and fluid to build original beats — an integral part of hip hop and electronic music production.

Step Sequencer is a new editor in Logic designed to make it fun and easy to program drum beats, bass lines, and melodic parts using an interface inspired by classic drum machine workflows. Step Sequencer combines a pattern-based style of music creation with powerful editing options for creating original parts — providing detailed control over note velocity, repeat, gate, skip, playback direction, and randomization.

Drum Synth provides a wide collection of kick drums, snares, toms, and percussion sounds generated entirely by software. Each sound is accompanied by dedicated sound-shaping controls to help musicians fine-tune their favorite parts. Drum Synth sounds can be used on any pad in Drum Machine Designer, where it can even be blended with samples for creative sound design options.

Drum Machine Designer, the tool for building electronic drum kits in Logic, has been enhanced to integrate with the new sampling and beat-programming workflows. Each drum pad can host the new Quick Sampler and Drum Synth plug-ins, making it easy to edit and shape individual sounds within a drum kit. After kits are created, they can be played in real time, or programmed with Step Sequencer.

Logic Remote

Logic Remote is a free companion app that allows users to pair an iPhone or iPad with their Mac to control and perform Logic features and instruments using Multi-Touch. The Logic Remote update supports triggering of sounds in Live Loops, browsing and adding loops, and applying Remix FX to a session.

Pricing and Availability

Logic Pro X 10.5 is available today as a free update for all existing users, and is available on the Mac App Store for $199.99 (US) for new customers. Logic Remote 1.4 is also available today as a free download on the App Store. A free trial version is also available.

Free Mac Plugin, AudioGridder, Lets You Offload VSTs To A Second Computer

Developer Andreas Pohl has released an ‘alpha’ (pre-release) version of AudioGridder, a plugin for macOS that lets you offload DSP processing from your local computer to remote computers.

This lets you free up processing power for your Mac DAW, and makes it possible to run more complex projects than might otherwise be possible.

Here’s what he has to say about it:

“AudioGridder comes with a plugin and a server that is enabling VST3 and AudioUnit plugins to be hosted across the network. Simply run the server component on a remote machine and connect your DAW using the AudioGridder AU/VST3 plugin.

You can add remote insert chains into your DAW’s signal paths that way. The DSP code of the inserted plugins will be executed on the remote machine and the plugin UI’s will be streamed over the wire. This allows for an experience very close to hosting the plugins directly in your DAW but not using your local CPU.”

AudioGridder is free and open source and is available as an alpha release via Github.

New Substantia Physical Modelling Laboratory Sneak Preview)

Developer Giorgio Sancristoforo – known for his unique virtual studio instruments, like Berna and GleetchLabX – has announced Substantia, a new macOS application described as an ‘electroacoustic physical modelling laboratory’.

Substantia pairs modal synthesis software with an integrated euclidean sequencer and recorder.

Here’s what he has to say about Substantia:

“Many modal synthesis tools, so far, have a limited number of options and models. Some instruments give you just inharmonicity and dumping controls over a bank of resonators, some other offer few models like a pipe, a plate, a box, and usually a very small selection of materials: metals, plastic, wood…

Substantia has 16 different models and 23 materials, ranging from Aluminium to Nickel, Glass, Marble, Sapphire, Platinum, Gold, Nylon, Uranium and more, for a total of 368 resonant models. (The list will grow with updates).

For unparalleled precision, Substantia uses 100 Resonant Band Pass filter for each voice, for a total of 800 filters (8 voice polyphony).

You can excite the resonators with contact microphones (2 for stereo sound), samples, or white noise and experience a new exciting way to make digital sounds with human gestures. Substantia is a powerful tool to create new hyper-real sounds, from amazing bongos to luxurious glassy and metallic textures.

A must have for experimental musicians, lovers of new frontiers of sound.”

Pricing and Availability

Substantia will be available April 190, 2020 for 14.99€.