Reviews related to : Music/CDs

Another very mature product, as computers continue to get more powerful processors things that took a while to process can now be done almost instantly. Here is a good example you can manipulate your files easily and quickly and improve them effortlessly.
There are three versions of the latest edition of Magix Music Maker software the main difference between them is the number of instruments they come with. In the simplest terms this is electronic music creation software but as with all such software the simple part is putting the music down, the hard part is having the ear to know what is say an annoying earworm or perhaps just very occasionally a true classic composed piece.
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Qobuz Android

Last year I looked at a new high quality streaming service which also gave you a chance to download and save in 16 or 24 bit. Now with answers to some outstanding questions I look to a new version for Android (3.2) and more.
First for those new to Qobuz you pay a monthly fee and after that almost all the tracks they have are available to stream, in fact if you click a link you can also play them when offline. Their cheapest offering is for those happy with their music in MP3 quality. I was given a trial of their mid-range offering that allows you to stream in 16bit FLAC for most of their catalogue. Full details of all their offerings can be found on their site, link at the end.
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Spotify Premium

Most people will have heard of Spotify, the majority of them will have tried Spotify, the reason I am looking at the Premium version of Spotify is because I have recently reviewed another streaming product and it’s been a while since I last tested what Spotify has to offer.
After downloading the interface around 140MB I hardy recognised what I saw no difficulty in finding what you want and on not the most recent PC the search was fast. Vodafone is one of the Spotify content partners and you will find Spotify pre-installed on all their 4G offerings. Being able to play things offline on a PC may be less important when most now have broadband but could be useful when broadband is down.
Another of my rare forays into my passion – Jazz – before some think of various less pristine pastimes. I have known Nigel for many years and watched his undoubted talent grow and indeed I did feature some of his work in an earlier article.
Here there are two new albums which show his versatility as he is first shown as the powerhouse behind one of the UKs leading vocalists. Second in the format I first knew him in the Organ Trio with the excellent Pete Whittaker. However he has many other sides and I recently saw him light up a seven piece band and he also plays many other styles so ‘jazz guitarist’ must be the only way to describe the man who is at home with all styles of jazz.
These are both mature products and for not a great deal of money give you lots of control over your data. Both packages work with music and give the best output available from the data input. They are Samplitude Music Studio and Music Maker both from Magix and both 2014 versions.
Without spending thousands of pounds you can produce great sounding music. While it will work with Windows XP the other specifications probably mean it will be a Windows 7 or 8 PC as you need 1.5 GHz processor and 1GB of RAM. 4.3GB of hard disc space and at least a 1024x768 display. Finally to load the software you need a DVD Drive. This product has won awards between 2005 and 2013 for its software.
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CD v Download

With downloads becoming more popular is the CD in danger of going the same way as vinyl? In one of my occasional forays into my passion of jazz I tell you about one such release that is only available as a high quality download, while a couple of others are CD or download all are from the British label NAIM.
By download I do not mean low quality MP3 or even the higher quality 320kbps often used as downloads from places such as iTunes. In fact the download quality is more than twice that of Wav files found on CDs as it is 24bit and 96kHz. Mind you the downloads will be big the one I did is available in WAV or FLAC and in the WAV format is 1.8GB for a CD of just under an hour.
While better known for its DAB radio products, PURE offers an Internet-based service called the Lounge that you can inspect.
Owners of one of the more recent PURE DAB radio models with Wi-Fi and Internet radio capability will have already encountered the Lounge.  For those unfamiliar with this feature, I should explain that the Lounge is PURE’s online portal providing a gateway to an environment of Internet radio and on-demand content made up of podcasts, listen again programmes and a collection of ambient sounds captured from natural phenomena.
This is a small 32 key keyboard that connects via USB to your PC. The software is what makes this small keyboard something that really stand out it is Sibelius First a slightly cut down version of the full product that costs several hundred pounds.
The keyboard is 42x10.5x2cm, so the keys themselves are smaller at 7x2cm and the black keys 4.5x1cm in size. You have 19 white keys and 13 black keys however with the aid of the seven buttons on the left side of the keyboard you can raise of lower octaves to get a full keyboard. Here you will also find a volume knob to control sound. The box describes it as ‘32 note ultra-portable keyboard controller’ which although a bit of a mouthful describes it.
Did you realise the iPod first appeared over ten years ago? What started as a music player to challenge other manufacturers MP3 offerings has now become a brand that has spread its wings and gone on to be far more than that?
Here are twelve musical facts about those years. Do you know the year in which each of these happened? Check your answers with those at the end of the following review to see if you got them all. While I have not had an iPod for more than half that time it has still got lots of duplicates, untitled tracks and as for missing artwork …. So here Real Networks bring you Rinse that utilises the Gracenotes database to remove duplicates, give tracks correct titles and find that missing artwork.
While there are hundreds of iPod/iPhone docks around few products are currently coming to market that are in the hi-fi category. This product currently available in Aldi stores has CD and FM radio as well as the iPod iPhone capability.
The main unit is 26x16x24cm the last figure the depth is with mains and speaker cables inserted. The speakers are slightly bigger at 31x18x23cm. Both the main and speaker units have the same matt black colour. The speaker faces have two wire (effect) grills and the rear has a small indent and the speaker wires are hard wired. The only change from the matt black are two small silver grey areas between the speaker grills that match with a circular knob just above the central area of the main unit.
It’s been a while since I have indulged my passion with you, but here is probably the best guitarist in the UK. Yes I have heard Jim Mullen and Martin Taylor and numerous others but for me Nigel Price has an all round quality to his work.
I have been lucky enough over the years to hear Nigel in a range of small groups and often just as a backing member whatever the context he adds something to the mix, here first in his latest double CD and then as an integral part in a CD by a fantastic tenor saxophone player that I would probably never have heard but for Nigel. Even on this double CD you see two different sides to Nigel, first in the environment he is found most often with his organ trio.
Where once Disk Jockeys mixed chat with music, now they are more inclined to be creative with the way music is played. A new MAGIX title shows the way/
A while ago if you had mentioned the letters “DJ” then many people would have thought you were referring to dinner jacket while the thoughts of some others might have veered towards the more prosaic garment known as the donkey jacket.  I have to own up to wearing, at one time or another, the latter but not the former.
Having built up a store of digital music you might like to consider a software title that offers to help manage and make the most of your collection.
Although probably better know for its various video and graphics software titles, MAGIX’s original expertise and reputation was built up in the area of audio.  The company still retains its interest in the particular field with various software and hardware solutions aimed at transferring and managing digital music.  One of these solutions is MAGIX MP3 Deluxe 16 which offers to get the most out of your music collection.
614758 Since Forever Fred Simon Quarte

Three Jazz CD’s

The first two are from Naim with recent offerings from Neil Cowley and Fred Simon. The other is a solo guitar album from a new name to me Chris Flegg, calling this Jazz stretches the definition a little but it is relaxing.
Those innovative people at Sandberg have come up with a device that turns your computer into a central hub for your audio needs.
The computer is increasingly being used as the central hub for home entertainment activities.  Generally this involves television and video functionality but we must not forget about audio aspects.  The Sandberg USB Sound Box 7.1 is a product that offers to provide the capability to turn your computer into the focal point and control centre for your audio equipment.
If your singing is better than ‘hair brush’ standard then this item from Memorex could get you used to a Microphone so that when you progress you do not make the eating/licking the microphone mistake on your first gigs.
The base of the Memorex Sing Stand is circular at 32cm across and it stands 15cm high. The controls and settings are in the base. In the centre of the stand fits a three piece pole that stretches to more than two metres so that the supplied microphone can be at the correct level for all, no matter how tall or short you maybe. The reasonable quality microphone has a 2.7cm lead attached and even an on/off switch on the arm of the microphone.
It has been a long time since I have told you about some of the recent Naim offerings that come under the broad heading of Jazz. Jazz in itself is a word that means many things to many people, my preference is modern but not experimental.
If you have a general liking for Jazz then a Sampler is a good way – at a reduced price – to see exactly where your preferences lie. Here there are ten tracks from ten different groups. To give you an example of the ten three or possibly four were in my comfort zone. I will just mention the names on this sampler but beside each track it tells you the CD (and the number) each one comes from.
Normally you would get my opinion as an experienced computer user but a very basic musician. Here something different the view of a very experienced musician but almost a computer novice.
My friend Don has been a semi pro musician (keyboard player) for more than forty years. He has only a few years computing knowledge and only a few months with Broadband. He had some software by Finale -Print Music- but he always wanted more than it could give, and Sibelius will import Print Music files. So around five months ago I gave him Sibelius 5.
I am a lucky chap because just occasionally I get the chance to combine my job, my hobby and my passion all together as I do here while telling you about the latest CD from Georgia Mancio whose voice is a joy.
Twice recently I have had the great pleasure of hearing this young lady sing live, once with a quintet very like the sextet on offer on this CD and the second occasion with four of the five in a quartet. Both occasions were amazing and although artists usually supplement their wages by selling their latest CD's Georgia was having more success than most and what you will hear here on a live gig a true representation of what you hear on the CD.
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Two Great CD’s

Often a tune is inexorably linked to one musician (even if they have not composed it) their style is also unique, so when one pianist can play several styles this is special. Also here the latest offering from a UK musician who annunciates every word, great.
Geoff Eales  Jazz Piano Legends Sixteen tracks each well known by different master pianists all played by one man. On at least half of these you would certainly think it is the original master playing them. However this is not an exercise to simply mimic the original.