The ONE Smart Keyboard Pro lets you tickle the ivories with ease

The ONE Smart Keyboard Pro lets you tickle the ivories with ease
While the ONE Smart Keyboard Pro doesn’t have a sweet demo tune nor can it play barking dog Jingle Bells without some help, it can teach you or your kids how to play piano. The elegant keyboard has 88 weighted keys that simulate a true mechanical piano and connects to your phone so you can learn to play at your own pace.
The Keyboard Pro costs $799 and is essentially a compact teaching keyboard. It can connect to your iOS or Android devices via an oddly shaped USB B cable and once it’s paired with the app you can run through simple songs – think Greensleeves – and more complex sheet music. This keyboard is weighted but not progressively which means that each key offers the same resistance, a consideration that might be important to some more experienced players. Further, you can connect a USB cable and connect the keyboard to your computer to use it as a MIDI controller.
Again, this is a very austere keyboard. It doesn’t do much aside from teach you how to play which, in the end, is what most of us need. Because it doesn’t have the expansive bells and whistles of a Casio and because most of the smarts are in the app itself, it’s a bit of a hard sell for most people. However, if you’re looking to learn, the ONE works.
This larger and more complete version of the One Smart Keyboard offers quality workmanship and design. The entire system is surprisingly sparse with nothing but a power button and volume on the front of the keyboard. There is an input for a sustain pedal as well as a few output jacks for headphones and that’s about it. Don’t expect to pick out instruments or pitch shift with this keyboard. Once you fire up the app you have access to teaching exercises and games that let you follow along on the LED-lit keyboard as you run through songs and scales. Finally, you can buy sheet music for $3.99 or so that you can learn to play on the ONE. There is also free sheet music available for those who want to play a little classical.

I found the entire system to be quite usable and my kids, once they figured out how to slow down the music, jumped right in learning little songs. Nothing can quite teach you how to play piano like a human teacher – there aren’t enough smarts in this app to make adjustments based on your skill – but it’s the electronic equivalent of buying a Teach Yourself Piano book and sitting down in front of grandma’s old upright. I’m especially pleased with the quality of the keyboard. I’ve already had a few MIDI keyboards over the years including models from Casio and Yamaha and this one is on par with those. The teaching feature is the main draw here, as I noted before, because there is little else you can do with this keyboard right out of the box. However, if that’s what you’re looking for in a keyboard and you don’t want to sample bodily noises so you can play Farting Clair De Lune at the school talent show, this might be the model for you.

Learning to play on the One piano. pic.twitter.com/Ec2CVkmDEw
— John Biggs (@johnbiggs) April 26, 2018

Source: Gadgets – techcrunch

iHeartRadio opens up its playlists to all users with launch of Playlist Radio

iHeartRadio opens up its playlists to all users with launch of Playlist Radio

iHeartRadio is best known for its free service offering thousands of live, streaming AM and FM radio stations and its ability to create your own custom station, similar to Pandora. Today, the company is adding a new feature for all users – both free and paid – that blurs the lines between streaming radio and the typically premium-only option of using playlists: Playlist Radio.

Like most playlists, Playlist Radio isn’t a random assortment of songs.

Instead, the songs it plays are curated and programmed by radio DJs and other iHeartRadio staff. That means there isn’t an algorithm deciding what to play next – you’re listening to a selection of songs an actual person has put together.

However, because it’s still “radio” you can’t do some of the things you could with the premium product’s playlists – like reorganizing tracks, adding or removing songs, or playing a particular song in the playlist on-demand. Instead, the songs will play in their given order, though you can skip up to six songs per hour within a playlist – the same as free users have when they’re listening to iHeartRadio’s artist stations.

The addition of Playlist Radio opens up iHeartRadio’s over 1,000 existing playlists to a wider audience.

This includes all nearly the artist-created, genre-based, activity-focused, musical era-focused, and theme-based playlists, with the exception of a handful of playlists that have too few songs to turn into a radio experience.

Before now, those playlists were only available behind a paywall for iHeartRadio Plus, the $4.99/month on-demand music service, and iHeartRadio All Access, which offers unlimited access to millions of songs and offline listening.

In addition, the playlists will be updated every week, save for those where it doesn’t make sense – like those focused on a particular era, like ’60’s music, for example.

“One of the things we’re most excited about and the area where i feel like we really excel is in music curation,” explains iHeart’s Chief Product Officer, Chris Williams, of how Playlist Radio came to be. “We have some of the greatest music curators on the planet within iHeartRadio. We have the best radio programmers, music directors, and program directors who are out there curating every single day for their radio stations. So we tapped into the resources that we had there, as well as finding some external expertise.”

The idea is that these programmers have already built these great, curated listening experiences, but because free products can only offer radio play as opposed to on-demand streams, the subset of iHeartRadio’s 110+ million registered users who aren’t on a subscription tier were missing out.

However, Playlist Radio could also drive those free users to upgrade, in order to better take advantage of the on-demand options.

“I think it’s exposing a great listening experience to our existing free users, and offering them up a listening opportunity that doesn’t exist on the free tier right now,” says Williams. “I think what radio does a brilliant job at is programming formatically. And I think what Playlist Radio does a great job of is offering listening occasions that are thematic,” he notes. The new products aims to marry the two. 

While on-demand music services are growing, there’s an increased interest in lean-back modes of listening, even for on-demand users who can play whatever they choose. For example, Pandora just challenged Spotify with the launch of dozens of personalized playlists based on its Music Genome; and Spotify, of course, is still well-loved for its popular “Discover Weekly” personalized playlist and its curated trendsetters, like RapCaviar.

Of course, the launch also comes at a time when iHeartRadio is facing steep competition from those competitors and others, including Apple and Amazon, in music.

In fact, the streaming service’s parent company, iHeartMedia – which also owns hundreds of radio stations, a concert business, and a 90% stake in Clear Channel Outdoor’s billboard company – recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Consumers won’t know the difference when it comes to using iHeartRadio’s streaming service in the near-term. However, Pandora investor Liberty Media (SiriusXM’s owner) was interested in a deal with iHeartMedia which could impact iHeartRadio’s business in the future.

Playlist Radio is rolling out today to all iHeartRadio users on iOS, Android and desktop, before making its way to other platforms.

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

The Roadie 2 tuner ups your guitar game

The Roadie 2 tuner ups your guitar game
The first Roadie tuner was a modern marvel. An automatic guitar tuning system, the little device connected to your phone to listen to your guitar strings and then set them to the proper tuning using an internal motor. The new model, the $129 Roadie 2, is even cooler.
I’ve been using the Roadie 2 for a few months now and I’m hooked. I was never a good player or tuner – my ear wasn’t quite right and even with tools I couldn’t get my guitars exactly in tune. Now, however, with the Roadie 2 I just place the winding end on the pegs and press a button. A quick pluck of the string and you’re tuned in seconds.
The Roadie 2 is completely self-contained and charges via USB-C. It has a built-in vibration sensor that can also asses the current string and change the tuning accordingly. The system also allows you to add multiple stringed instruments – you can set up profiles for your electrics and acoustics and even your banjo . You can also tune them to standard or even open tunings. The high-torque motor spins the pegs quickly and effortlessly and you can wind and unwind your instruments as well.

Winding and unwinding with the Roadie Tuner 2! pic.twitter.com/TfIqMb6DXx
— John Biggs (@johnbiggs) April 13, 2018

The team kickstarted the Roadie 2 last March and began shipping this year. I’ve been using it to tune my guitars since I got it and it’s worked quite well except for one unfortunate incident while winding – and overwinding – a kid’s guitar. An app included with the package lets you control the instruments and the tunings.
I know some guitarists can tune to the sound of overhead fluorescent lights and still others are OK with a quick listen to a digital tuner. I’m neither of those. The Roadie 2, then, is a godsend for those of us cursed to the never-ending torment of being really bad at guitar. At least now I can be really good at tuning.

Source: Gadgets – techcrunch

This MIDI-powered robotic music box is the good news I needed this week

This MIDI-powered robotic music box is the good news I needed this week
It’s been a bit of a tumultuous week, to put it lightly, but one must always remember that no matter how dire things look on the global stage, there are always makers working obsessively to create something beautiful and useless — like this MIDI-driven, robotic music box.
Tinkerer and music box aficionado Mitxela (via Hackaday) was pleased by this music box that takes punch cards or rolls as input, rather than having a metal drum with the notes sticking out of it. But who wants to punch cards all day to make a music box go? These things are supposed to be simple!
Mitxela first made a script that takes a MIDI file and outputs an image compatible with his laser cutter, allowing cards or paper strips to be created more or less automatically. But then there’s the question of wear and tear, storing the strips, taping them together for long pieces… why not just have the MIDI controller drive the music box directly?
It clearly took some elbow grease, but he managed to create a lovely little machine that does just that. The MIDI pattern maps to a set of small servos, each of which is attached to a rigid brass wire and plastic tip. When the servo activates, the tip pushes the corresponding little cylinder in the music box, producing a note.

Now MIDI files (single-instrument ones, anyway) can be played directly. But there’s more! Mitxela’s efforts to lower the power draw and simplify the mechanisms had the incidental side effect of lowering the latency so much that you can even play the music box in real time using a MIDI keyboard. How delightful!
The video has quite a few breaks to listen to video game themes, so if you’re just interested in the device, you can skip through to the (relatively) technical parts. But hearing the Mario theme tinkling through a neat little gadget like this isn’t the worst way to spend a Friday afternoon after a week like this one.
You can check out the rest of Mitxela’s little hardware projects at his website.

Source: Gadgets – techcrunch

Fret Zealot adds lights and learning to your guitar

Fret Zealot adds lights and learning to your guitar
 I’ve been messing around with LED-embedded guitars since the original GTar. Designed to help beginners learn and players look like all supersonic freakadelic on stage, they have quickly become commonplace if expensive. Now Fret Zealot has something that can turn your guitar into a laser light show in a few minutes. Designed as an $199 add-on to any acoustic or electric guitar, this… Read More

Source: Gadgets – techcrunch