Gear Spotlight: LEAP Motion Controller & GECO

LEAP Motion is an American company determined to create a more fluid interaction between users and their computers. Launched in 2012, the company has launched a few iterations of their ultracompact sensors, and we’ve got a few of them here in the Music Tech program!

The LEAP Motion sensor has two cameras and three infrared LEDs packed into its tiny body to track user movement with extreme precision. The signal is sent at roughly 200 frames per second, creating essentially no latency, making it an obvious candidate for music software development. The sensors even respond down to changes of 0.7 millimeters, offering more precision than the standard MIDI controller.

LEAP Motion has been quite open with developers and there’s already a strong selection of software for what’s still a relatively new product. The Airspace app store has these various programs available for purchase, including GECO, a MIDI translator for the LEAP Motion signal. Using the GECO software, users can control up to 40 different parameters in their DAW using both hands, across 16 different midi channels. You might think of this controller as a fully programmable theremin.

The software allows you to customize the range of the MIDI signal. For instance, you might not want the software to start responding until your hand is a foot above the sensor, and you may want it to stop responding after two feet. All of this is possible to specify within GECO, which will even recognize a closed hand versus an open one, and various other positions. The only qualm one might take with this flexibility is the same as we’ve mentioned on this blog in the past—so many options can become daunting for setup. However, once you’ve got all of your gestures assigned, the possibilities for expression and showmanship using the LEAP Motion controller are really exciting. Check out some videos of the controller with Ableton below!

Useful Links:

LEAP Motion Max For Live

GECO Review

Point Blank GECO/Ableton Demo

Theremin Style Woodwind Performance

Steinhardt in College Magazine’s Top 10 Schools for Music Technology

After winding down another semester and a great year in the program, we’re elated to have been included in College Magazine’s top 10 schools for music technology! It’s great to see the incredible internship work of our currents students and the accolades of our alumni being recognized in the top five schools on this list. However, it’s not going to our heads, and 2017 promises to be another exciting year in our program!

Thesis Presentations Continued

The senior thesis presentations continue today, going live at 1’oclock! Once again the stream will be accessible from our Youtube page. The afternoon is filled with fascinating topics on how we interact with audio, and you can get more details on each specific presentation on the presentation schedule here.

Thesis Presentations & Defenses Live Stream

As we head into the last week of finals, the Music Tech thesis candidates are preparing for their presentations next week. We’ll be streaming the defenses  in full 360 video! You can also watch via VR devices. The presentations will be taking place on Monday and Wednesday, covering a variety of topics from film audio, phonograph recordings, and binaural space. (Hint: keep your headphones handy for binaural audio presentations!) Plan your viewing with the full schedule here.

The stream will be active from our YouTube site during the scheduled presentation times.

MARL Talk: Jacoti Lola: A low-latency Wi-Fi-based Audio System

Tomorrow, 12/15, composer & producer Richard Einhorn will be joining MARL to talk about Jacoti Lola, a low-latency Wi-Fi-based Audio System. The lecture will take place at 1 PM in Steinhardt’s 6th floor conference room (609).

Jacoti Lola is an assistive listening solution for classrooms, meeting rooms, and lecture halls that provides low-latency multi-peer audio streaming over consumer-grade Wi-Fi. Because audio problems like echo, reverb, and noise are very common in classrooms, meeting rooms, and big conference rooms, even people with no hearing loss can have considerable difficulty understanding speech. Jacoti Lola Classroom wirelessly transmits high-quality audio from speaker to listener which can help all listeners hear better.

Richard Einhorn is a composer, music producer, and hearing loss advocate. A summa cum laude graduate of Columbia University in music, Richard’s oratorio with silent film, Voices of Light, has been called a “great masterpiece of modern music” and been performed by the National Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, and at such venues as the BAM Next Wave Festival, Disney Hall, David Geffen Hall, the National Cathedral of Washington, and the Sydney Opera House. Active as a record producer, Richard produced the Grammy-winning Bach Suites with Yo-Yo Ma and many other recordings by well-known artists. After losing much of his hearing overnight to a virus in 2010, Richard has continued to compose but has also become well-known internationally as a passionate advocate for better hearing technology. He has spoken to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, the National Academy of Sciences, and is on the Board of Trustees of the Hearing Loss Association of America.

 

Mirrors of Time, Moments in Time

Last weekend, Music Tech professor Tom Beyer worked with students to create a long distance collaboration. Students performed at Steinhardt’s Loewe theater as students at Universidad Nacional de Quilmes, Argentina streamed a concurrent performance via webcam. These performances have been pushing life performance and streaming technology since the mid-nineties. In the early years, rather than a simultaneous performance, Steinhardt would fax notes back and forth between collaborating schools. Today, the performances use several HD camera and 8 channels of streaming audio, to preserve the independence of each signal.. Performers learn to compensate with the latency of the signal to create an entirely live, cross-continental performance. It’s worth mentioning that these themes of latency and audio streaming will be discussed in Richard Einhorn’s MARL talk this Thursday, 12/15.

Due to the nature of the performance, sending audio from once place to another, and then back to the source, feedback is a major concern. The video and audio for last Sunday’s performance required a full day of setup, where the crew had to get particularly creative with the microphone placement to ensure that no unpleasant feedback occurred. Despite the complexities of the signal path, all of the performances of the afternoon sounded great. Check out the photos!

 


Gear Spotlight: JazzMutant Lemur

Lo and behold: French technology! Used by the likes of Justice, Daft Punk, Björk, Nine Inch Nails, and so many others, the Lemur is a multi-touch, modular controller. First brought onto the market by JazzMutant in 2005, the device paved the way for touch-based controllers as we know them today.  Unfortunately discontinued in 2010 following the rise of iPads and other consumer tablets, the Lemur is starting to become a rare piece of gear with features that most touch-based controllers still don’t have today.

Rather than two or three touch points, the Lemur supports up to 10 gestures at a time, allowing performers to make use of all of their fingers. The Lemur software allows users to fully customize their interface, bringing the freedom of modular to a modern digital unit. Communicating with its host computer (and other Lemurs) via Ethernet and an OSC protocol means lower latency, higher data storage, 32-bit precision: a data flow that’ll blow your MIDI interface out of the water.

One of the most unique features of the Lemur is the Multiball feature, a physics-based automation system. Unexplored by other multi-touch interfaces, the Multiball function uses virtual bouncy balls connected to parameters of your choosing. The behavior of these balls can be randomized or with some creative scripting, they can create circuits as shown here. The X/Y gestures work between interpolation and mass spring options, as can the faders. If you’re looking for a plug & play controller, all of these options might be a bit overwhelming. However, if you’re the type of performer who likes to geek out in Max/MSP or SuperCollider, setting up the JazzMutant Lemur will be a breeze.

One of the many strengths of the Lemur is its cross-platform compatibility. Software, modular synthesizers, lighting rigs and VSTs can all be controlled within this one piece of hardware, making it clear why it has spent years on the road with Thievery Corporation, M.I.A., and Justice, among others.

Check out the Lemur from the 8th floor monitor’s closet, and if you don’t have an Ethernet port, grab an Ethernet to Thunderbolt adapter from MTech’s IT department!

Or, if you’ve got an iPad, iPhone, or Android, download the Lemur app by Liine for $24.99.

Useful Links:

Four-part Lemur Tutorial

Basic Scripting Tutorial

The Lemur at MusikMesse 2010

Daft Punk & Kanye West 2008 Grammy Performance

 

Music Tech Artists: ‘Evans’

Evans

A few weeks ago we sat in on a session with a number of Music Technology students at The Cutting Room to see what they’ve been up to. NYU Music Composition student Jonathan Evans and his band Evans are recording their first EP under their new name, with Music Technology senior Josh Liebman as head engineer. An intern at The Cutting Room, Josh has access to a pretty incredible space that’s given the group the opportunity to try out some unique recording techniques.

Walking down the hallway into the mixing room, there was a maze of microphones, cables and guitar amps. To compliment the band’s retro-pop style, Josh wanted to keep the band together during the recording, while still getting a clean, modern mix. With the drums recording in the main room, the lead guitar amp was recording in another isolated booth. Then with rhythm guitar amp being recorded in the hallway and the bass going into a DI Box, there was nobody allowed in or out once the group started recording.

Josh Liebman, Music Tech Senior

Both the band and the studio have a deep affiliation with the Music Technology program. Alumnus Matt Lau is on bass, and current seniors Jake Zacharia and Torin Geller on drums and rhythm guitar, respectively. The Cutting Room itself was founded by alumnus David Crafa in 1996, and has been offering opportunities to students from the program since. We’re excited to see more students getting involved with this iconic New York studio in 2017.

Jonathan Evans, Music Composition

Matt Lau, Music Tech Alumnus

Gear Spotlight: 1176/MC77 & Alumnus Andrew Roberts

In 1967, Bill Putnam and United Recording Electronics Industries (UREI) released the 1176 Peak Limiter. The compressor was the only solid state peak limiter available at the time. Putnam’s circuit design underwent several revisions and changes, which explains the variety of different 1176 “revs” available today.

Arguably the most popular revisions to the 1176 are revs C, D, and E. These revisions indicated the development of what UREI (now Universal Audio) calls the Low Noise circuit – hence, the “1176LN” title given to the compressors of this era. As of the year 2000, Universal Audio retails an 1176 reissue, based on the Rev C/D/E circuit designs.

The 1176 is a noticeably versatile and “bright” compressor, capable of both a mild, subtle sound (great for using first-to-bat on a vocal, kick, or snare), or highly aggressive and energetic compression. In addition to the standard attack, release, and ratio functions, the 1176 can also be used in what engineers call “British Mode” or “All Buttons In,” in which the four Ratio buttons on the device’s faceplate are pushed downward simultaneously, in theory engaging each ratio setting simultaneously. This technique leads to a compression ratio somewhere between 12:1 and 20:1, but also changes the circuit’s bias points such that the 1176 becomes even more aggressive.

Expanding on these classic characteristics, Purple Audio designed the MC76, their own 1176 revision in 1997. Founded that same year by Music Tech alumni Andrew Roberts, Purple Audio has now updated to the MC77, one of the most faithfully purchased 1176 reissues on the market. These pieces have a rugged, quality-build reputation that certainly doesn’t precede them. Check out the links below for more information, and visit studio A and Studio D to hear our two MC77’s and the 1176 for yourself.

Here are the standard features of any 1176 revision, clone, or DIY build:

  • Variable attack time (between 20µs-800µs)

  • Variable release time (between 50ms-1.1s)

  • Transformer-balanced inputs and outputs

  • Compression ratios of 4:1, 8:1, 12:1, and 20:1 (additionally, somewhere between 12:1 and 20:1 when using “all-buttons-in” mode)

Purple Audio built upon the original 1176 Rev D & Rev E Low Noise designs, incorporating all of the original core features while making these significant additions:

  • Easily accessible and convenient stereo-link function

  • True Bypass (meaning that, when bypassed, signal is dumped directly from the input to the output of the device – signal never passes through the device’s circuitry.)

  • Sidechain/key-input, an extremely useful and common compressor feature.

Audio engineers and electrical engineers alike have taken to online forums to write extensively about the advantages and disadvantages of using one or the other of these units. The full history of the 1176 is linked below, as are the schematics and more information about the MC77.

Useful Links:

Universal Audio’s 1176 Overview

1176 Hardware Revision History

Universal Audio History

UA: All Buttons In Mode

Purple Audio MC77

Purple Audio MC77 Manual & Schematics