A while back I wrote an article titled Apple – The Competent Danger to Free Software. It got a lot of hits. It also caused a few people to send me emails, one of which called me a traitor to Free Software.
The problem that everyone ignores, is that if you are a musician, you haven’t really got a lot of choice. Apple’s products are the best available for musicians. Sure, there’s some software available for the Windows platform, but really it’s not all that good. There’s some software available for Linux too, but it’s limited.
Hardware wise, Apple is a mile ahead. Almost all Macs have Firewire ports, which are a must for recording. IPhones, IPods, and IPads have a wide range of add-ons that are just incredible.
Sunday is a bad day for shopping, but the closest music store was open, so we visited them. They didn’t have any guitars that I liked, but on the way out my wife spotted an IRig, a neat little device that you can plug into an IPod Touch, an IPhone, or an IPad, which claims it’s the ‘ultimate mobile effects system’. Well, I own an IPad (I mostly use it for note taking, writing, and demoing my wife’s recorded music), and the price was right, so we bought it. When we got home, I installed the app on my IPad.
Monday we got lucky and found the right guitar (long story – short version is I’m left handed – ask your guitar store how many lefties they stock). I tested it in the store, using the IPad/IRig combination with my $300.00 monitor headphones (yes Virginia, my professional headphones cost $300.00, and they are cheap ones), and the sound was incredible – it had that mean nasty note I was looking for (Parker P42 if you are interested, also tried a PM10, a PM20, and a P44, all of which were more expensive, but the P42 had the sound I wanted).
So what has this got to do with Apple? Simple. I was able to try twenty guitars, using the exact same rig, since with the IPad/IRig combination, I could fit everything into a laptop bag. I also recorded the various guitars, so I wouldn’t forget what the ones I’d tried earlier sounded like.
Normally when you test a guitar, you have to rely on the store’s amplifiers, and the odds to two stores having the same amplifiers, set the same, are damned close to zero. Add a third store, and it is zero. I didn’t have that problem.
Apple owns musicians. They have us by the balls, because no one else makes the kit that they do, and no one else has the third part support that they do. I can plug my IPad/IRig into my amp, or if I want to have real fun into several amps, and blow my neighbors windows out. I can record anywhere, anytime (my entire recording studio fits into a three foot high chest on wheels, that is light enough that even in my current lousy physical shape (I live on Oxycontin) I can still get loaded into the car. And everything in the chest that isn’t Apple (Sony Monitor Headphones, Pro-Audio Firewire interface, Apex tube driven vocal Microphone, etc.) all works perfectly with Apple products. It doesn’t work properly with standard Windows/PC or Linux/PC hardware. Yes, you can buy pieces to make it work, and software, but by the time you’ve done that, the Microsoft/PC solution is way more expensive than the Apple solution, and while the Linux solution is less expensive, it just doesn’t have the capabilities.
That’s one reason I’m bitching, moaning, and complaining. Because Linux people are proud. You tell them that something doesn’t work right, and they’ll come up with a solution. Like possibly a way to hook an IRig into a Samsung Galaxy, and building an Amplitude clone.
It damned well better be Free Software wants to get into the music industry. And quite frankly we want you. Apple is slowing down up Garage Band updates. Now’s your chance to catch up.
Come on guys! Come up with something. I’ll happily help you to test it.
Wednesday November 24, 2010