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Apple Notes By Martin Russ
Published January 1998


Martin Russ indulges in some post‑Expo analysis after a visit to the Apple event of the year, and takes a look at a new Mac‑compatible operating system, BeOS.

Early in November every year, some of the most committed and evangelistic computer users in the UK converge on Olympia in London. The Apple Expo exhibition is a strange bubble of Apple‑ness in an increasingly Windowed world, where the normal rules of 'C:\' computing don't seem to apply. As usual, I was there to see what's new, to scour the place for anything musical or MIDI‑related, and to see how many Apple Notes readers said "Hello". This year, for the first time, I was flabbergasted when a reader did indeed say: "Mr Russ, I believe!" Unfortunately there's no prize for spotting me: sorry, Paul.

Most years there's a vague sort of theme to the show, although this year the vagueness was thicker than usual. The Internet applications and large‑format, colour ink‑jet printers of previous years were in evidence, but I think 3D software was perhaps the nearest thing to a consistent theme. Many of the top‑end pieces of software now offer slightly cut‑down versions designed for people whose budgets do not run to four‑figure prices. The other interesting trend was the number of machines which appeared to be running MacOS 8, but which were in fact, running the Kaleidoscope shareware utility, which includes a MacOS 8 lookalike amongst its many alternative guises! Kaleidoscope is one of those utilities which serves very little purpose in a serious music production environment, but which is great fun to play with.

Free For The Zee


Hidden away at the back of the MacUser magazine stand was a quiet haven of music and MIDI, where Paul Wiffen of Korg fame was busy with a Mac, Korg Z1, and some of the now ubiquitous direct‑to‑disk digital audio hardware and software for the Mac. One piece of software which was very interesting was a Z1 editor for the Mac, which provides a detailed overview of exactly what's happening — great for serious editing and making the most out of a rather deep product. Programming polyphonic arpeggios is not much fun without a piece of software like this, and it also made a very nice librarian for sounds too. Paul said that this was freeware, which must make it one of the bargains of the century. (Try Korg US's web site,, where the software should be available for download, or if you have problems with that, call Korg UK on 01908 857100).

To Be Or Not To Be


Before Apple bought NeXT and the word Rhapsody suddenly meant a forthcoming Operating System (OS) instead of a piece of music, one of the much‑fancied alternatives to the abandoned in‑house Copland OS was BeOS. Be was founded by ex‑Apple R&D President Jean‑Louis Gassee in 1990, and has produced a very powerful, multimedia‑focused OS which incorporates the latest ideas in software. It's probably worth pointing out that although MacOS 8 is also very new, it is held back somewhat by the legacy of previous versions. In contrast, BeOS has no need to worry about anything other than producing clean, fast code. As a result, BeOS simply flies along, as well as offering features now that will probably appear on the Mac some time in the next year or so — such as full pre‑emptive multitasking and protected memory. On a PowerMac (it also runs on Intel processors — look out Windows!) you really can see just how powerful a PowerPC chip is when freed from the restraint of more than 10 years of ongoing revisions.

Son Of Turbo?

Do you remember Turbosynth, from Digidesign? From the days when the Mac had a tiny 9‑inch monochrome screen and a 20Mb hard disk was considered huge, Turbosynth was a software synthesizer (a close relation to the 'new' crop of software synthesizers which have reappeared recently) which allowed you to patch together some quite complicated sounds using standard analogue modules such as oscillators, filters, envelopes, and so on. But you could also manipulate audio samples and send the results to a sampler for replay. An 8‑bit resolution at 16 or 32kHz isn't so breathtaking these days, of course.

What I'm leading up to is a rather neat program, which runs under BeOS, called Audio Elements, from a company called Adamation. It's a modern software synthesizer, using the same paradigm of modules connected together by patch‑cords — but this time it's multitimbral, MIDI‑triggerable, has complex DSP functions, is extensible using C++ with a developer's toolkit, and it works in real time! The short demo I saw was impressive, and I took away a review copy, all ready for a brief synopsis here, with a full review to follow...


BeOS simply flies along, as well as offering features now that will probably appear on the Mac some time next year or so.

After several stable weeks, my PowerMac was looking good at last. In order to run Audio Elements, all I needed to do was install the freeware preview release of BeOS, reboot the Mac so that it ran BeOS instead of MacOS, and then drag Audio Elements across from its CD‑ROM. Now because BeOS has a different filing system (amongst other things) to the Mac, you need to install it on either a separate, specially reformatted hard disk, or a partition on your main disk. I acquired a spare 400Mb drive for just this purpose, and attempted to install BeOS on it, but unfortunately there was some sort of problem, and the BeOS installer refused to reformat the drive. So I tried to install it into a partition on my main 2Gb drive instead. But this time it installed some of the files and then stopped, refusing to proceed any further. Re‑installs either installed less files or a few more, but not all of the files. After having read all the FAQs, troubleshooting guides, recommendations and other material, and having got precisely nowhere, I gave up and tried to reformat the partition back to MacOS. After four reformats and three sessions in Norton Utilities, I finally got back the partition I started with!

Once bitten, twice shy. I ordered the full release of BeOS over the Internet (only about fifty quid!) and I'll get back to you when it's all running properly. Installs don't always run completely smoothly, even for magazine column writers... Which brings me to this month's checklist:

• When did you last do a backup of your important files?

  • Have you defragged your hard disk recently?
  • Do you ever read installation instructions? ('Read Me' files!)
  • Have you checked your hard drives for viruses in the last month?

On The Net

Last month's Apple Notes implored you to throw away almost all of your bookmarks and to use a search engine instead. So, instead of the usual lists of URLs with all those 'BBC announcer'‑confounding slashes and colons, this and future Apple Notes will include suitable search sequences. Which means that, instead of listing my favourite sources of Mac freeware and shareware, and facing up to the fact that some of the URL's will almost certainly be embarrassingly out‑of‑date (or evaporated!), you will now see something like:

mac +midi +freeware +shareware

And naturally you can always add a reassuring '‑win' at the end to prevent any Windows‑related links. A few search sequences you might like to use this month are:

  • mac +quicktime +3
  • beos +mac
  • beos +adamation +audio +elements

Of course, there may still be some times when there's no substitute for a URL:

Apple News In Brief

  • PRO TOOLS 24?

Digidesign's new Pro Tools 4 now provides 24‑bit audio file capability with its latest hardware and software (see preview starting page 30). Each time I look at Pro Tools, I seem to discover powerful new features — like being able to automate the controls in plug‑ins, and then edit them using the usual graphical tools.


Emagic's Logic Audio now has support for Digidesign's new 24‑bit hardware. A new version of Logic Audio was shown at the recent AES New York show. Emagic also announced a special bundle consisting of the Audiowerk8 PCI digital audio card, Logic Audio Discovery v3, and the ZAP audio file compression/archiving utility. The whole lot is available for £499 including VAT.

Continuing their tradition of free software support, Yamaha have released a stand‑alone CD‑ROM which avoids the need to download any software from the web site — you merely visit your nearest Yamaha dealer instead. The CD‑ROM contains audio demos of the current product range, freeware voice editing software for the AN1x, CS1x and VL70m, lots of sounds, and even A3000 sample data.

What Happens Next?

We've all had a bit of a roller‑coaster ride from Apple over the last couple of years, and the changes continue. Since they seem to happen faster than the time delay in publishing each issue of this magazine, I've not felt very happy trying to document all the goings‑on...

But as this is the beginning of a new year, I reckon that a little prediction is called for, based on what has happened for the last few years. Here's a rough guide to what you might expect to happen over the next few months.

  • January 1998: Faint rumours of a takeover. Change of management looms.
  • February 1998: More insistent rumours of a takeover. Some new faces in Apple management hierarchy.
  • March 1998: Warnings about forthcoming losses. MacOS 8.1 released.
  • April 1998: Losses not as bad as predicted. Takeover rumours evaporate. Demand for some of the new hardware is under‑estimated, and over‑estimated for the remainder.
  • May 1998: MacOS 8.1.1 released. Rhapsody launch date is revised.