Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Digital music

The Minx Go portable Bluetooth speaker from Cambridge Audio

Walk into any consumer electronics store and you'll likely encounter an overwhelming choice of wireless speaker systems on display. If you want premium cable-free sound, however, you can expect to pay a premium price. The Minx Go portable speaker from London-based Cambridge Audio is a little different. Not only is it claimed to offer high fidelity audio for a fraction of the cost of comparable systems, but its built-in battery keeps the party going long after other devices have given up and headed for the wall outlet. Gizmag has spent the last few weeks with a review unit, and we're suitably impressed.  Read More

The new Misa Digital tri-bass

Early in 2010, Gizmag caught up with software engineer Michael Zarimis and learned a little about his new Misa Digital Guitar. Renamed the Kitara and launched at CES 2011, the instrument had a built-in synthesizer, a neck packed with low profile buttons, and a touchscreen in the body that combined to offer the player an impressive arsenal of futuristic sounds and effects. The Kitarist was also given precision control over numerous parameters, and could use the device as a MIDI controller. Despite being well received, Zarimis has now retired the digital guitar in favor of something he's calling the tri-bass. Despite its name, the new device has not been designed to lurk only in the lower frequencies. In fact, it doesn't make any sounds on its own, but requires cabled connection to MIDI synths or third party software running on a computer.  Read More

The Spine digital music instrument (Photo: Vanessa Yaremchuk)

For the last three years, a small research team at McGill University has been working with a choreographer, a composer, dancers and musicians on a project named Instrumented Bodies. Three groups of sensor-packed, internally-lit digital music controllers that attach to a dancer's costume have been developed, each capable of wirelessly triggering synthesized music as the performer moves around the stage. Sounds are produced by tapping or stroking transparent Ribs or Visors, or by twisting, turning or moving Spines. Though work on the project continues, the instruments have already been used in a performance piece called Les Gestes which toured Canada and Europe during March and April.  Read More

Yamaha's DTX502 Series electronic drums

Yamaha's updated DTX502 Series e-drums made their US debut at the Summer NAMM Show in Nashville at the weekend, and are now ready to ship. The three new kits were originally launched at Hamburg's Musikmesse in April, and feature revamped drum pads, a realistic vertical-motion hi-hat, a lighter steel rack, and a brand new trigger module that the company claims is more powerful than anything in its class.  Read More

The Yamaha NU1 is an acoustic upright with the digital heart of a grand

Yamaha US has started shipping the NU1 piano, an acoustic upright with the digital heart of a grand. The latest addition to its hybrid product category, which includes 2009's AvantGrand, the new family member is being pitched to serious musicians who are short on space, but still want to experience the feel and sound of a high-end – and therefore much more expensive – concert grand. It features the same piano action used in acoustic pianos, while the sonic mimicry comes courtesy of digital samples of the company's hand-built CFX Concert Grand.  Read More

The Instrument 1 from Artiphon

After tempting us with some candid studio shots last December, followed by some attention-grabbing showcasing at CES 2013 and NAMM, Artiphon has revealed that its Instrument 1 will shortly be available to buy. The professional-grade instrument leverages the processing power of a docked iPhone or iPod touch running digital music creation and recording apps, such as GarageBand or Animoog. It allows existing guitarists or piano players to use familiar playing styles in a new way, while ushering in a whole new wave of digital music noodlers.  Read More

Gizmag reviews Riffstation jam software for guitar

Not too long after its launch in 2005, you'd be hard-pushed to visit any friends without being challenged to a round or two of Guitar Hero. Interest in learning to play a real guitar also blossomed, but many found the transition from guitar-shaped controller to actual instrument a difficult one, and perfectly good axes have been gathering dust ever since. Irish company Sonic Ladder has now released some interesting software called Riffstation that gives you the opportunity to break out your much-neglected guitar and play along with your favorite bands to onscreen prompts. Gizmag takes a look at what this software has to offer.  Read More

The ITreq Micro Audio Player for active music lovers

If you're a mobile music lover who also happens to be the active or adventurous type, you've probably been cursed with an earbud or two falling out, interrupting your rhythm or breaking your concentration while you try and shove it back in place. Even if your buds stay put, danger can lurk on every street corner and at every curb thanks to the immersive passive isolation resulting from a snug fit. These are issues that users of the ITreq Micro Audio Player shouldn't be troubled with. Whether you're at the gym, riding a bike, skateboarding, or just aggressively gardening, the device should stay in place behind one ear, leaving your other one on alert for potential hazards.  Read More

The PDJ portable stand-alone DJ system and music production studio

If that great night on the town turns into an after-hours party at a friend's house and you want to show off your Digital Disc Jockey mettle, the odds of you happening to have a Numark iDJ about your person are pretty remote. You may well have an iPhone packing IK Multimedia's DJ Rig app, but what are the chances you've also remembered to bring an iRig MIX? Korea's JD Sound is busy readying its PDJ portable stand-alone DJ system and music production studio for US release, which puts everything you need to get your groove on into one fairly pocket-friendly unit.  Read More

Designed by Wesley Chau, Drop The Beat is an electronic drum kit fashioned into a vest, wi...

Over the years, we've seen a number of worthy attempts at turning our clothes into electronic instruments, from drum kits built into shirts and pants to a motion-activated MIDI controller concealed in a jacket. The latest addition to the wearable instrument ensemble is "Drop The Beat" from industrial design student Wesley Chau, a vest outfitted with pads for a drum kit that musicians can rearrange and reprogram to their liking.  Read More

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