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A closer look at Don Gilmore's self-tuning piano system

A few years ago Gibson began introducing some clever new technology to a select few guitars which automatically tuned the instrument and kept it there (seen most recently in the gorgeous Firebird X). I think that it's fair to say that robot tuning has not quite been a phenomenal success, perhaps due to the fact that tuning six strings only takes a few seconds and doesn't require any specialist training. That's certainly not true of the piano, which has more than 200 strings divided between 88 keys and its tuning is, for the most part, gratefully handed over to the experienced ear of a professional technician. In the 1990s, Kansas City mechanical engineer and classically-trained pianist Don A Gilmore created a mechanical self-tuning device for the piano. From there he went on to develop a thermal system that can bring the whole instrument to tune within a minute.Read More

Go (almost) cable-free with Ion Audio's Guitarlink Air

We've previously featured a number of devices that give players a low latency interface to the world of device-based digital tone manipulation, but each one poses something of a risk for those who like to rock out. To reduce the chances of a connected tablet or laptop flying across the room as you twirl the guitar around your body Malmsteen-style, Ion Audio has developed a wireless system called Guitarlink Air that severs the physical link between device and instrument common to products like Apogee's JAM or the AcousticLink from Alesis.Read More

Universal Earphones detect left and right ear placement

The L and R labels on your headphones serve a purpose, and it isn't just about fit. The audio source - whether it's a receiver, PC or MP3 player - sends left- and right-channel sounds to the appropriate earbud. While it might seem minor, this can be a difference between a disjointed experience listening to music, movies and other video, to a fuller experience that connects sight (in the case of video) and sound - with sound coming from the direction it's intended. There's no chance of a mix-up with the Universal Earphones being developed by Igarashi Design Interfaces Project in Tokyo - the headphones decide for themselves which ear they are in, and send sound to the each channel accordingly.Read More

Zoom introduces the G5 supercharged stompbox

The Mustang Floor multi-effects unit for guitar we featured earlier this month is a good first effort from Fender, but Japanese digital tone-manipulation veteran Zoom is about to really show how it's done with the introduction of the G5. The company's most advanced guitar FX unit to date, the Zoom G5 Guitar Effects and Amp Simulator Pedal - to use its full name - features hundreds of stompbox and DSP effects, tube drive boost, looping and recording, and an onboard drum machine.Read More

iBamboo speaker to get recycled plastic "Urban" companions

Anatoliy Omelchenko of Triangle Tree reports that since launching the iBamboo speaker we featured in June 2011, he has received numerous requests from customers asking if there's anything like it that's made from plastic. Despite being made from a material considered stronger than some plastics and metal, users seem worried that the beautifully simple iPhone amplification device may get damaged if made part of their regular travel kit. Enter the new iBamboo Urban design, which is shaped just like its natural elder but is made from recycled plastic.Read More

Chord Dice give songwriters a chance

We uncovered lots of fantastic technology-driven innovations at NAMM recently, but as we saw with PocketStrings, not all good ideas are built around transistors. Chord Dice is another example. This clever songwriting and teaching tool dispenses with chord charts and books and hangs musical theory on the roll of the dice.Read More

Fender remembers early days of electrified sound with Pawn Shop Special amps

Whether it's an old-fashioned typewriter input for tablet computers, digital cameras made to look like 35mm film classics, or custom e-bikes with a touch of vintage styling - retro-now is most definitely in. If you want a guitar amplifier to fit right in with all your nostalgia-oozing new tech, Fender's Pawn Shop Special models are here to help. The diminutive Greta is styled liked an old tabletop radio, and the more powerful Excelsior is described as one of the distinctive tube combo amps in the company's history.Read More

The DUBE takes an out-of-the-box approach to percussion

If you’re getting weary of trying to wrap your head around things like smartphones that answer questions, self-driving cars or microscopic machines, perhaps this might be more to your liking ... a wooden box. Well OK, the DUBE isn’t just a wooden box. It’s actually a percussive musical instrument, that caught our eyes and ears last week at NAMM. Read More

Z-Stik combines drum, shaker and rain stick, wows Stevie Wonder

Debuted at the aural Aladdin's cave that was Winter NAMM 2012, the Z-Stik is a wooden zigzag-shaped multi-use percussive instrument that its creator says "combines the most intriguing elements of a rhythm stick, a shaker, a fingertip drum, and a rain stick." The Z-Stik can be tapped and patted in various ways to achieve nice, organic-sounding percussive hits, and shaken to, well, sound like a shaker. "You can get tones from deep bass drum all the way up to bongo drums and everything in between clean or snare," says creator Greg Dahl. Read More

Sonomax's eers earphones are custom-molded to fit, by the user

Undoubtedly, one of the biggest things to happen with in-ear earphones in recent years is customized fitting. Products such as those made by Ultimate Ears, for instance, are made to fit precisely into each user's unique ear structure. The catch is that said users must first pay a visit to an audiologist and get an ear imprint made, send that imprint away to the company, and then wait to receive their custom-molded earbuds in the mail. Canada's Sonomax Technologies, however, has come up with an alternative - earphones that you can mold to your ears by yourself, at home.Read More

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