Pagano mostly makes his living repairing … Read more
Pagano mostly makes his living repairing … Read more
I went to the New York International Auto Show with just one thing on my mind: car audio. Like many New Yorkers, I don't own a car, so this was my chance to sample a wide range of premium car audio systems in everything from Smart cars to Rolls-Royces. For the most part, generic car audio or famous name-brand systems like Bose and Mark Levinson sounded thick and muddy. Not one was up to the standards of a decent home hi-fi system. They played loud and had lots of bass, but even the most expensive car systems at the … Read more
Online advertising is one of the best examples of "can't live with it; can't live without it" we can think of: it's annoying, at times extremely so, yet it pays the bills and even occasionally informs, entertains, and assists consumers. Most of the time you wish you could just block it out, though, especially the worst offenders, the flashing, animated Web ads designed to stooge-slap your attention span. AdFender is a free, standalone ad-blocking tool that not only works with all major browsers but also some less common ones, too, such as Opera, Safari, Maxthon, … Read more
These five cars have the best-sounding stereos we've tested all year.
To get good sound in a car, you used to have to visit an installer, who would rip out four tinny speakers and replace them with six-by-nines, a sub, and an amp. But now many automakers are partnering with known audio companies to put high-quality audio components in cars at the factory. These systems are designed specifically for each car by professional audio engineers. We picked out five cars with the best-sounding audio systems we heard this year. These systems produce the kind of sound that will have you driving around the block until your favorite song finishes playing.… Read more
With Rock Band 3, music games take a significant leap, adding a level of real-music simulation previously unseen in this genre. Part of it is the two-octave MIDI keyboard that comes with the game, but even more interesting is the optional Pro-level guitar controller. Made by MadCatz and using a licensed Fender Mustang design, the guitar has separate buttons for each string at every fret--102 buttons in all--meaning one can play actual guitar chords on it.
To compare the experience to actual music-making, I whipped out a real guitar (in this case a Fender Telecaster--sorry, I don't have a Mustang) and did a side-by-side run-through. By hooking up this Pro guitar and playing on the hard or expert difficulty levels, the guitar part consists of the actual chords from the song in question.
Unfortunately, the onscreen notation for this was unfathomable to me, with lines of varying heights indicating the fingering, starting with a root note. Fortunately, the actual chord names float by at the same time, and if you stick with those, the effect is very close to real guitar playing. … Read more
Because the plastic accessories used to play music games such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band look somewhat like real musical instruments, they have the unintended consequence of making gamers think they can pick up a real-life guitar and play, and real-world musicians think they'll be instant experts at these games. Neither case is generally true (take it from someone whose most recent album is holding steady at No. 87 in Amazon's Funk Rock category, and has been playing guitar for more than 20 years, but who can hardly get through a Guitar Hero song on medium difficulty).
The inclusion of basic but usable electronic drum pads in the past few generations of these games changed the situation somewhat, and at harder difficulties, one could end up playing a fairly realistic drum part, but it wasn't until this year that the line between real instruments and game controllers really started to blur.
Having recently gotten a chance to demo the latest gear for Rock Band 3, I found a lot of new angles designed to punch some life into the ailing music games genre, but also still ran into several examples of the disconnect between real music and game music.
Just as Rock Band changed the guitar game landscape by adding drums, the upcoming version of the game adds a keyboard controller, a few new types of guitar controllers, and a new chord-playing system in the game that finally makes actual music-playing ability relevant.
Besides the usual five-button guitar controller similar to the ones used in music games as far back as the original Guitar Hero, there's also a new Pro-level controller. This version has six fixed string-like sensors in place of the traditional strum bar, and replaces the five colored fret buttons with separate tiny buttons for each string at every fret on the guitar neck. That's 17 frets across six strings, more than 100 independent buttons.
Playing with this Pro guitar controller turns on an optional chording system, which allows for onscreen chords requiring up to six notes to be hit simultaneously (thereby forming the chord in question). The in-game tutorial for learning to play these chords seems reasonable enough, but the notation used in the game itself was confusing, with bars of differing heights scrolling down a virtual fretboard, indicating a chord constructed from notes above or below an indicated root note. If that sounds hard to follow, that's because it is. … Read more
The myTouch 3G Fender Limited Edition model will be available starting on January 20 for $179.99 with a two-year contract and features a new sunburst finish inspired by Fender guitars as well as a number of enhancements centered around, not surprisingly, music. For one, the phone now has a 3.5mm headphone jack and also ships with a 16GB microSD card for storing all your … Read more
With guitar mania still going full bore and showing no sign of abatement, it may be only a matter of time before this kind of fashion item comes into vogue.
This Fender "Stacked Amp Wallet" is a miniature replica of the soundstage equipment, right down to an "amp cord" that connects to a belt loop (or wherever), as Gearfuse observes. This might actually be something to consider if it had a built-in MP3 player, but unfortunately it's just a billfold with a little attitude.
Don't despair, however, because there are still plenty of other … Read more
True guitar heroes are a tough bunch to please. Not satisfied with the biggest names in the business making their own branded controllers, these aficionados need something even more realistic to live out their Van Halen fantasies.
That's why an entrepreneurial inventor has gone to eBay with a mod kit that will replace the Rock Band controller's plastic strum bar with real guitar strings. The Fender Stratocaster Modification "includes everything you need to swap out the plastic bar with a playable string, special strum switch, along with several metal strings, springs and even a Fender guitar pick,&… Read more
Rock Band--the upcoming Harmonix release that will add bass, drums and vocals to the whole guitar game genre--will feature a licensed Stratocaster controller that, for our money, looks close enough to the real thing. "Like other Guitar Hero controllers, it has colored buttons on the neck and features a pickup selector and three volume knobs like a true Strat does," CrunchGear reports.
This restores at least part … Read more