Archives for 2011

Apple Promises its iCloud will “Just Work”… for everything

iCloud Music icons“It all just works,” says Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

“All” in this case means access anywhere, anytime on any Apple-enabled device (iPhone, iPad, Mac, iPod, iTouch, Apple TV…) to all of your music. And all of your photos. And all of your basic application documents (Pages word-processing docs, Numbers spreadsheets).

The bold promise is that your iTunes music will simply appear on all your devices, and you won’t even have to think about it. And with Apple these days, there no reason to doubt Jobs when he claims it will just work.

It’s no surprise that Jobs announced iCloud at the Worldwide Developers’ Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco on June 6th. What is at least a little surprising is the scope of the announcement, the bells and whistles that will set iCloud apart from competing services offered by Amazon and Google.

One of the key capabilities of iCloud that I wasn’t expecting to see is Match technology. iCloud isn’t just for your iTunes purchased music. The Match feature will also scan your entire library of music (including tracks ripped from CDs etc) and provide you with 256 kbps AAC audio files stored in the cloud… and available on all your devices, just like the music you’ve bought.

Match is something like Amazon’s Cloud Drive, but it sounds much more usable and convenient, since it avoids the tedious process of uploading songs from your computer to the cloud, (typically much slower than downloading, with most ISPs). Better still, you get instant access to a high-quality audio file, regardless of the encoding specs of the existing file on your computer.

The music you buy from iTunes is stored in the cloud for free, and you get 5GB of paid storage space for other content (other audio tracks, files, photos, video, contacts, calendars and more), for $25 per year (half the price of rival cloud services).

Another interesting aspect of iCloud is that it will supercede the cloud platform. If you’re a user, you’ll be delighted to get way more features and capabilities from iCloud, at a much lower cost (iCloud’s $25 annual fee, vs’s $100-plus).

Let’s give Steve Jobs the final word: “iCloud keeps your important information and content up to date across all your devices. All of this happens automatically and wirelessly, and because it’s integrated into our apps you don’t even need to think about it—it all just works.”

I’m loving it 🙂

Sound Reinforcement Behind the Scenes at Blizzcon

Christine Wu and Band on stage at Blizzcon 2010I don’t often get a chance to talk about my secret passion for World of Warcraft (a massively popular online game) here at AudioWorld. So I was quite pleased to find this opportunity! Electric violinist Christine Wu has posted a great story about the technical challenges she faced with sound reinforcement when she performed as bandleader at last October’s Blizzcon 2010 event.

Blizzcon is a huge annual event put on by Blizzard Entertainment, the game developer responsible for World of Warcraft, in Anaheim, California. It’s the place to be for WoW gamers, and it always includes splashy concert events in the evening, at Anaheim Convention Center. For Blizzcon 2010, one of the main stage events featured a costumed, WoW-themed dance contest, with music provided by a very hot band of L.A. session players, fronted by three electric string players. All led by Christine Wu.

The show came off without a hitch, at least as far as I could tell at the time. I remember thinking what a great job the band did, sounding (and looking) great under difficult circumstances. As Christine puts it… “we have no idea if we’ll play 10 seconds or 2 minutes of each song… but I’ll have no feed from the show’s producers or a talkback mic to talk to my band, which is going to present a MAJOR challenge.”

That turned out to be almost the least of her problems. Her story of behind-the-scenes at the show details how she used an Apogee GiO guitar interface to hook up her custom 5-string Yamaha electric violin with her Mac laptop, Logic Audio, and Waves GTR and Pedalboard. This solved all kinds of trouble with software incompatibilities and audio connectivity, and she managed to run solid through a 3-hour show entirely on battery power.

It’s a great story, especially for those of us who were at Blizzcon and enjoyed the whole spectacle without ever thinking what was going on with audio. In fact, I remember overhearing several comments about how great the sound was, better than ever before at a Blizzcon event.

Gratz to Christine Wu, her band, the sound reinforcement crew at Blizzcon… and Apogee Digital for the versatile GiO interface.