REVIEW: iRig and iRig HD

For a while now, I’ve been using an iRig with my EWI. It works rather well considering the price. It allows me to hook up my EWI to an iPad/iPhone/iPod and use programs like Garageband to add effects. You can also even get Looping apps so you can layer sonic creations on you iOS device.

My one complaint about the iRig would be that it is rather noisy. You can hear a lot of audio noise while using the interface as it plugs into the headphone/microphone jack on your iOS device. Latency isn’t a factor at all, which is really the bigger thing I was concerned about. Nothing sucks more than have a delay between when you physical sound a note (i.e. blow into the EWI) and hear it. My EWI settings are all tweaked to make it near instant (so no effect usually on the patches). For $30 (actually, look around iRigs are cheaper than that now) the iRig strikes a good compromise between features and audio quality.

The iRig HD fixes two issues in the original iRig. First, it fixes the audio quality problems by now plugging into either the 30 pin connector, the lightning connector, or via USB. So the signal is, I think, all digital now. Second, you now have a gain dial right on the device, so you can dial in the right amount of gain (and help eliminate noise). It’s about 3 times more expensive compared to the iRig, but it does come with the ability to unlock some amp sounds in Amplitube.

Which to get? Honestly, the original iRig works fine on EWI. The noise level is totally acceptable (sorta sounds like audio tape hiss…..so sorta retro sounding). If you plan on using the iRig with a REAL guitar as well as an EWI, you might want to get the iRig HD instead. It is sooooo much better than the original iRig in terms of noise when you use an electric guitar.

Check it out.

REVIEW: EWI Case

I first published this in 2012 on Jazz-Sax.com.

Rittercase

I have had an Akai EWI4000S for a while now (5 years? More?) I should probably at some point do a review of it and why you should get the 4000S instead of the crippled USB only version (or maybe that is the review?). But what I can say is that I saw on Amazon the case that I totally love for it, which I had a HELL of a time getting from the Woodwind and Brasswind (backorder hell basically).

 

The Ritter Soprano Saxophone case works great for an EWI. It’s stylish, has enough compartments for your iRig, 1/4″ cable, and power supply. The current cases have a large RITTER logo on them (mine is several years old and doesn’t have that), but the basic design is the same. Check it out.

Ritter Soprano Case 1

Ritter Soprano Case 2

Side note…..if anyone has a line on where to get the clip in battery thing for an EWI 4000S….I need one. Mine is lost.

Learning EWI…..What Fingering Mode To Use

Someone asked me about this recently, and I honestly totally forgot that the Akai EWI 4000S has different fingering modes. If you too forgot, refresh yourself here (reference manual).

I suppose if you are coming from another instrument, say Oboe, flute, clarinet, saxophone, or trumpet, switching the EWI into a mode that emulates the fingerings from the instrument you are coming from makes the most sense. So, obviously, if you play flute, switch the EWI into Flute Fingerings mode. But what about if you play something else, or perhaps you play nothing at all.

The EWI 4000 does offer an EWI Fingerings Mode, which looks pretty much identical to the saxophone fingering mode with a couple of differences. First, the revision D manual I think has a misprint on the EWI Fingerings. G and G# are the same fingerings. I think the meant to color in the next key, K5 for G#. The second thing I noticed when I printed off the two fingering charts (yes, I had to print them off and cross out the fingerings that were the same) was the the EWI fingerings were basically the same exact fingerings as the saxophone mode fingerings. The FOUR differences I noted was that the saxophone fingerings offered 4 alternatives that are absent in the EWI Mode fingerings. These alternates are:

  • Low B Alternate
  • Low C Alternate
  • Low C# Alternate
  • Middle Bb Alternate

If you are coming from an instrument that isn’t offered as a fingering on the EWI 4000, what mode should you use? That is a tough call. I would say saxophone mode, because it makes more sense to me (cause I obviously play saxophone) and also that having more alternatives is NEVER a bad thing.

Michael Brecker’s Logic Environment

I was trying to clean out a folder on my Mac with a ton of PDFs, and came across a PDF that was from an article from the ill-fated Virtual Instruments Magazine.

I’m pretty sure I have the article scanned and saved SOMEWHERE, but as I remember it detailed sort of the magical environment Michael Brecker and George Whitty put together. EWILogic has a little bit on recreating it. Sorta.

If you look at the PDF, it looks very very complex. It uses a lot of instances of Augustus loop, some Delay plugins, and a couple instances of ES2 and Kontakt.

Now, if the “lore” is true, people who heard Michael and this setup, or just Michael playing his EWI with this, were awe struck. Supposedly his legendary saxophone playing looked meek compared to what he was doing with the EWI.

Sadly, his last album had hardly any EWI on it. I kinda wish he had done an all EWI album. His EWI stuff that he did back in the late 80s/early 90s is STILL the best EWI stuff 20+ years later.

Perhaps there should be an effort by EWI players to recreate this Logic Environment? I’d be game (if I understood the whole Logic environment thing).

  Michael Brecker's Logic Environment (13.0 MiB, 171 hits)
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Artiphon

We live in an awesome age. We have little 4 inch devices that are more powerful than computers that were made less than 8 years ago. Now, there is this very interesting instrument, an Artiphon.
Artiphon

CNN had an article on it:

Is it a guitar? Is it a piano? Nope, it is a crazy iPhone-powered combination of both. Plus it has a built in bass, violin and drum machine to boot. The Artiphon Instrument 1 looks something like a medieval lute, but with a smart phone jammed into its belly.

In 2008 the Margaret Guthman Musical Instrument Competition was established to showcase and recognize the invention of new musical instruments. Commenting on the Artiphon Instrument 1, Gil Weinberg, organizer of the competition and director of the Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology, said: “In general, I’m a big believer in using the capabilities of smart phones to power novel hardware. The ‘brain’ of such devices is already in your pocket, so why not use it?

Which got me to thinking….is it possible to take what I think is a severally crippled Akai USB EWI, and use an iPhone as the synth/controller? Hmmm…..

Launch Equity Acquires MakeMusic

Launch Equity Acquires MakeMusic:

Today, MakeMusic announced that Launch Equity will purchase the company.  You can read MakeMusic’s press release here.   Launch Equity proposed the buyout last July (July 15, 2012), with the intent of taking the company private and then investing money into the company for a new CEO as well as updating software (particularly Finale’s base code).

(Via Technology in Music Education)

This is great news considering Avid is falling off a cliff and the development team of Sibelius was sacked and have started a new project with Steinberg.

However, this did crop up. Seems everyone isn’t happy about this