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Music Media Businesses GUI KDE Red Hat Software

Linux-Based Musical Keyboard Workstation Debuts 184

Henry G. writes "Lionstracs of Italy has released the Mediastation X-76 music workstation. It runs Red Hat and KDE 3.1. The base model features a 1.67 Ghz Athlon, 512MB RAM, 80GB HD, CDRW/DVD-ROM, 8.2" LCD, and a host of other things. Full specs can be found here and pictures can be found here. To this submitter, it looks more like a keyboardized computer than a computerized keyboard."
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Linux-Based Musical Keyboard Workstation Debuts

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  • by gpinzone ( 531794 ) on Monday November 10, 2003 @05:24PM (#7437362) Homepage Journal
    For playing music, it's the bomb. However, the only thing I can type in OpenOffice is "FACE"
  • by ericdano ( 113424 ) on Monday November 10, 2003 @05:25PM (#7437378) Homepage
    Man, 3 comments and the site is down. :-(
  • by Drubber ( 60345 ) on Monday November 10, 2003 @05:25PM (#7437381)
    Actually, it doesn't look any more computerized than many other keyboard workstations out there (e.g., Yamaha Motif). The fact that you can hook up external LCDs, etc. in order to more fully exploit what's under the hood will put it a generation beyond.
    • What I mean is that the UIs on most keyboards suck by virtue of the fact that the designers must cram thousands of voices, features, and functions into a 320x160 display having eight function keys and a dial. The option to pay extra for a full blown screen, for example, is something that many musicians would jump at.

    • Right. I purchased a Korg Trinity about 4 years ago, and it has a GUI touchscreen, optional hard drive, OS updates, the whole nine yards. It's an amazing piece of technology (even today), but I feel it was a bit hobbled by its measely 32-voice polyphony. If I'm reading the specs on this Lionstracs board, it has (256???) voice polyphony? I'd like to hear this thing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 10, 2003 @05:26PM (#7437396)
    Can I run Logic or any of the other industry-standard music applications ? If so, this would seem to be the breakthrough Linux has been waiting for in the audiophile/professional musician marketplace.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Problem in Database Connection

    This Website is powered by PostNuke

    Although this site is running the PostNuke software it has no other connection to the PostNuke Developers.
    Please refrain from sending messages about this site or its content to the PostNuke team, the end will result in an ignored e-mail.
  • Right when I was about to check out the specs, /. effect. Argh..

    Anyway, before it got /.'ed, anybody catch what kind of DSP cards they were using? 256 polyphonic voices per card with a dedicated 256megs RAM. That sounds impressive.

  • Google cache (Score:5, Informative)

    by MP3Chuck ( 652277 ) on Monday November 10, 2003 @05:30PM (#7437445) Homepage Journal
  • by RobertB-DC ( 622190 ) * on Monday November 10, 2003 @05:31PM (#7437467) Homepage Journal
    The site does seem to be behaving slowly, but perhaps that's because some "expert" told the company that "surfers love clicky color-changy grafx!"

    The focal point is a picture of a keyboard, with these "helpful" navaids:
    Click on the upper left part of the Mediastation to view the features.

    Click on the upper right part of the Mediastation to view the specifications.

    Click on bottom left part of the Mediastation to view the demos.

    Click on the bottom right part of the Mediastation to view the screenshots.

    Wow, that's clear. I always think "Demo" when I look at the bottom left corner of a keyboard at Best Buy.

    It's a computerized keyboard, which implies a computer-human interface. Let's hope that the design team responsible for the web site wasn't allowed anywhere near the actual prodcuct. "Click on the penguin's right toe for MIDI Configuration!"
  • Thanks to my ill-behaved crappy Windows scanner software that stuck an annoying window in front of Mozilla, I only saw the first half of the headline, which read:

    Linux-Based Musical

    And I thought that a LotR musical would be bad enough...

  • Hopefully more things like this will open up the doors to more serious high-end audio tools for Linux. Lack of such things is probably the one thing keeping me from switching over completely. As for Red-Hat ... well, a custom Linux distro made for audio production workstations would garner some attention, no doubt.
  • by StaticEngine ( 135635 ) on Monday November 10, 2003 @05:41PM (#7437600) Homepage
    From a musician's standpoint, I doubt many would care what OS their sound-making device is running. Most musicians just want a device that is stable, affordable, and sounds like they want it to sound. Lots of coveted synths (say, the Access Virus C) run an embedded OS, and musicians are totally happy with that.

    With software synths (Reason, Reaktor, plus the various VST and DXi synths available) gaining in popularity, a laptop and a small USB keyboard are all many electronic musicians need to get going. Factor into this the low cost (since downloading of MP3s is killing small/new artists more than it harms anyone associated with the RIAA), and the fact that even electronic musicians are not highly technically savvy ("Yo, mate, I plugged my 'board into the Insert Jack on this Mackie, becuase I want to Insert the sound, right?"), musicians will tend to go with what everyone else is using because then support is easy to find. Unless some new device offers some unique and killer sound with a dirt simple or intuitive user interface, it's just another box destined to fade into obscurity.
    • Yeah, we care about Linux. We care that it doesn't run Pro Tools well (or at all?), (as far as I know) does not support USB output of audio, does not run any quality professional software, and will not be supported by most major soundcard manufacturers.
      • Yeah, we care about Linux. We care that it doesn't run Pro Tools well (or at all?),

        The latter.

        (as far as I know) does not support USB output of audio,

        This is incorrect. ALSA supports all standards-compliant USB audio and midi devices, and has done so for about a year IIRC.

        does not run any quality professional software,

        professional != commercial. At the risk of sounding like a stuck record: http I could go on...

        and will not be

        • M-Audio does not support Linux. I have one of those. Both of those programs are BETA versions. Yeah, I wanna trust my $10,000 studio to BETA software. We're running Macs with ProTools, good luck getting us to convert. Why did I spend $2,000 on proven, reliable, proprietary software & hardware to find out I can give it all up and get the same thing for free with non-proprietary hardware? Because it's NOT a beta version. They barely support the de facto though not de "jure" (Latin, not French please) VST
    • Musicians aren't always the ones making the decisions. Think about it this way. Would a musician be the one deciding what OS to develop on?
      Many times the musician will seek help in determining what software he/she wants or needs. My friend, a musician, has been talking to me about computers, software, etc. that his group could use to record and do various other stuff. Also, I doubt that there aren't at least a few hundred musicians out there that use and maybe even develop on Linux.
    • Well these guys [] definitely do.

      they even encoded it in ogg.

    • by RobPiano ( 471698 ) on Monday November 10, 2003 @05:54PM (#7437782)

      Sorry man, you are amazingly disconnected with the computer music scene. Although many of are enjoying macosx now, most of us know and like unix.

      Perhaps its while we are using pure-data [], or STK [] or maybe CLAM [] or by chance audacity []

      Linking is getting old, but being surronded by computer music, I promise you WE USE LINUX.

      Kind Regards,
    • Musos care about cost. And Linux is cheap.
      Musos also care about drivers and unfortunately Linux doesn't deliver on this like Windows does.
    • Answer: Some.. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by msimm ( 580077 ) on Monday November 10, 2003 @06:06PM (#7437892) Homepage
      First off the availability [] is slowly but steadily [] increasing. With projects like Ardour [] nearing major releases even professional recording studios are starting to take note. Even the home user is finding more [] useful tools available. And with preemptive [] kernels there's lots of possibilities.

      The future for Linux holds many things. Hackers composing music? You bet.
    • There's a few here [] who do.

    • Most musicians just want a device that is stable, affordable, and sounds like they want it to sound.

      True, and Linux would fit the bill when it comes to stability and affordability. As to "sounding like they want it to sound", A/D or D/A conversion with the same sound card should produce the same results regardless of the OS. You can get ALSA support for most contemporary sound cards. But yes, VST plugin support sucks in Linux at the moment. I wish it were otherwise. Give me even a half decent multitrack w

      • I wish I were joking. The former guitarist for SMP (currently half of the Seattle band Doll Factory) worked tech support at Mackie, and you would not believe the phone calls he would get. Not only is the above quote direct from a call he got, but he had irate customers who couldn't find the "custom cable" for the onboard microphones in the Mackie 8 Bus Consoles. Apparantly they thought the holes drilled in the plates above the surface mounted talkback microphones were custom jacks.
    • From a musician's standpoint, I doubt many would care what OS their sound-making device is running.

      Not true. I'm a musician and a Linux geek. I refuse to pay outrageous fees to be shackled to proprietary software.

      While being a musician isn't my day job, I still play paid gigs, and go to rehearsals three nights a week.

      And while I'll admit that the selection of composition software for Linux is rather weak, I have a method to get around that; my day job title happens to be "computer scientist" ;-)

    • I'm not exactly a musician, but I'm most notably someone who cares about written word, graphical design, and such - in short, I'd be a printer.

      And I think GNU Lilypond [] absolutely rules. Definitely this is the best notation software I've seen - produces easily the most beautiful computer-printed scores I've seen. All this free.

      I like it because it allows me to work on musical scores just as easily as I work on any text. Also, it has - if I need it - support for macro-like constructs, so it also mildly in

  • by Dunark ( 621237 ) on Monday November 10, 2003 @05:43PM (#7437631)
    "This Website is powered by PostNuke"

    I suppose it's appropriate if you're gonna be slashdotted.
  • by Lord Satri ( 609291 ) <alexandreleroux@ ... m minus caffeine> on Monday November 10, 2003 @05:45PM (#7437656) Homepage Journal
    Free open source software for musicians:

    Other interesting I forgot ?
    • Redhat users should check out Planet CCRMA []. It's an apt archive for Redhat that provides everything you need for an audio workstation.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Ahhh! You missed some essentials for me Linux synth box...

      freqtweak :
      (Nothing else can do what this does... Spectral delay comes close, but can't warp parts of the spectrum to others...)


      Nice softsynth.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      erm, yes [].
    • Other interesting I forgot ?

      Rosegarden []

      Ardour is appealing for enthusiastic amateurs, because they can grasp the concept easier. But you need something like Rosegarden (MIDI sequencer) to do actual music.
    • Let's see:
      http://rnvs.informatik. t/noteedit.html

      The last one is a site with public domain music entered as lilypond score.
  • by FuShock ( 636287 ) on Monday November 10, 2003 @05:49PM (#7437709)
    Maybe they were hosting it off one of thier linux keyboards.
  • "To this submitter, it looks more like a keyboardized computer than a computerized keyboard."

    What it is, is a music workstation - it allows you to compose, arrange, and send to disc all your musical thoughts. Whether it's music or not...

    The backend to a music workstation needs to have more guts to it these days, which is why they are letting you know what's under the hood in the OS department. My preference is to have a PC that you can trade out all the components for, including recording & m
  • Professional audio is one of Linux's weak points. Kernel 2.6 might help by integrating ALSA completely and making MIDI less of a bitch to configure, but there is still vast room for improvement in setup and the available software packages. Hopefully, if this is a success, Lionstracs will be investing in relevant OSS (abbreviating for "software", not "digital dog turd masquerading as a sound system") projects.
    • Yes and no. While many of the essential sound apps are still in beta, ALSA pretty much kicks the crap out of Coreaudio and ASIO. What's lacking now is more polished apps, and some better documentation and easier setup of ALSA, but I wouldn't categorize professional audio as a weak point of linux. Amidst the somewhat tedious clones of proprietary applications, there are some truly innovative gems, like jack for instance, which needed a sufficiently advanced OS like linux to be developed. The last few years h
  • I don't think there has ever been an article that had more than 3 icons? With 6 icons - we have a new record!
  • Since the site is down, let me chime in with 2 cool devices I've seen lately: PC keyboard with integrated MIDI keys [] and a rack-mounted device that supports VST plug-ins without a computer [].Both look pretty cool, I though the musicians on here might find these interesting.

    • Plugzilla costs $3500...for that price I can see why I've never heard of this box before.
      It is a great idea but the price is to high.
      Most musos and engineers these days are thinking about using their old computer(s) to run software FX and their new computers for the workstation.

      I think the reason that computers will never fully take over is because computers don't really multi-task or run operations in parallel. They try to fool us by changing quickly from one task to another.
      However a 96 channel desk
    • I got a prodikeys for my girlfriend for her birthday last year. I got a bad one out of the box, but they replaced it. I was kind of dissapointed to find that while it advertises standard MIDI compatibility, this is provided by a software driver only, and the keyboard still plugs into the PS/2 port.. Thus it requires a special driver to show up as a MIDI device .. no working in Linux, etc. yet anyway... I really wonder why they didn't make it USB and have it show up as two USB devices (one MIDI interface, on
  • What is the sound of a synthesizer getting slashdotted?
  • Windows keys. :(
  • Can't RTFA thanks to 'the effect'. Anyone know how much they are charging for this contraption? I have been in the music business for 7 years or so, never heard of 'Lionstracs'. Is this a complete digital audio workstation? Does it offer any significant advantages? I use Logic 4.7 on a G4 tower and Logic 6 on a G3 iBook. I can hook up a usb midi controller for the keyboard if I wanted one. (I prefer to click all the notes into place with a mouse..) I can't imagine anything being more powerful than Logic at
  • It consisted of two boards you plugged into an Apple ][+ or better, and had a piano keyboard, and you could use the Apple to modify the patches, and create sequences, and play music on the piano keyboard. A wonderful sounding instrument that was the closest I have ever gotten to a Fairlight.

  • Two things need to happen before Linux can be used in a digital audio setting:

    1. Drivers for at least one professional audio card need to be written for linux. I would expect to see multi-channel recording, midi, and ASIO 2.0 drivers at the very least.
    2. Applications like Cubase, WaveLab, Sonar, and Reaktor need to become available for linux.

    We've still got quite a long way to go before this becomes a reality, but if hollywood keeps using Linux for movies then eventually they might start demanding it for
    • Actually, there are already drivers under ALSA for pro sound cards, like RME Hammerfall Sound cards. There is the linux equivelent of ASIO, and it's called JACK, which gives real-time sound IO for Linux. And there is already a number of free and commercial applications that will do multi-tracking under Linux.

      Now all I have to do is get a sample editor under Linux for the Ensoniq EPS keyboard I have...

      • JACK might be more accurately called the linux equivalent to ReWire than "the linux equivalent of ASIO." However, it does offer a similar callback-based development model to ASIO and apple's CoreAudio. But neither of those allow applications to transparently connect to each other the way JACK does.
    • 1. Drivers for at least one professional audio card need to be written for linux. I would expect to see multi-channel recording, midi, and ASIO 2.0 drivers at the very least.

      You're behind the times. ALSA has drivers for the RME cards and for ICE1712-based cards (including M-audio Delta and many others). This has been true for at least a couple years, I don't remember the exact timeline. I use a Delta 66, it works beatifully. With a properly set up system, latency meets or beats any Windows / ASIO platform

      • Nice to hear that some stuff has low-latency ALSA drivers for it, I didn't know that.

        My point is that while solutions may exist for linux, everything I've seen is still lacking compared with the powerhouse apps like Reaktor and Cubase. It would be nice if the big wigs would just port their stuff to linux, but hey it might happen with open source too. If it does though I still think the movie industry is going to be partly responsible for the development that results in widespread professional adoption of o
    • >1. Drivers for at least one professional audio
      >card need to be written for linux.

      The Delta cards work pretty darn well. But yeah, there isn't anything to compete with Cubase. I wish the Magix folks would just go ahead and release their stuff for Linux. That would do it for me. I actually prefer using Magix Audio Studio over Cubase.

  • Dedicated synths will always have a more robust sound in the production environment - nothing will ever replace my JP-8000, SP-808 and 202 sequencers and samplers, 12RU effects outboard, mixers, preamp etc for delivering pure, phat, phunkin sound.

    But of course, that isn't the point with this product. It's a great entry point for beginners; and may possibly be an excuse for those with weekly gigs to downsize somewhat and not have to lug multiple sequencers around.

    Many kudos to the developers; What a br
  • In another comment I found this link: 007355. html ... and there's a comment there from one of the developers. Apparently, other developers on this project include Rob Buse of SEQ24 (really nice little midi-loop sequencer) and Benno Senoner who we've known on the linux-audio-dev list for many years now. Congratulations guys!
  • On the Synthzone forum they're talking about $5000 (US?). Ouch. Also there is talk of a later entry-level model. OTOH, it's not out of the ballpark for this market; Korg Tritons can be $3400 depending on features.
  • This wouldn't happen to be a Ensoniq ZR-76 would it??

    Those keyboards were so nicley laid out.

    I consider them to be the Commodore64/Amiga of keyboards.

    To bad they went the they way of the C-64.

    They were bought out by E-MU systems.
  • by rtp405 ( 671252 ) on Monday November 10, 2003 @09:21PM (#7439986)


    While the Mediastation X-76 uses embedded Linux within some of the 11 in-house developed DSP cards, it is a hard disk based system with commodity computer components. Of course the value of commodity parts is that they're affordable and users can upgrade them.

    The eleven Lionstracs DSP cards are the result of two years and $500,000.00 U.S. of research and development. The basic system includes two wavetable DSP cards with 128 voices on each card. These cards run the sam9708 firmware which is common in high end keyboards. The system can be ugraded to run four wavetable cards, 512 voices. The X-76 is tentatively scheduled for release in April, 2004.

    Of course the OS is Linux based, with low latency and preemption patches to the kernel and it runs Alsa. With Alsa the system is able to run Jack Audio Connection Kit (JACK). Jack is a low latency audio server that automatically detects hardware ports and user defined application ports. So, routing data from one application to another is simple. Jack also inludes jack_transport where Jack clients are automatically synced to each other. Any jack client can initiate transport commands.

    Any available Linux audio applications can be run on the system. Lionstracs will package and maintain a selection of GPL licensed applications including audio, midi and video. Plus, there's modem and ethernet capabilities so software upgrades are "free" (GPL) and automatic.

    There will be three unused pci slots available on the basic X-76 system. These pci slots can be occupied with professional grade audio cards like those from RME. So you can build the workstation into a 24 track recording studio.

    With JACK and an RME audio card, the user can start Ardour (DAW), JAMin, (audio mastering tools) and Rezound (destructive wave editing). Jack enables routing of the audio chain and syncs the transports. In this scenario the audio source to the mastering tool is multitrack. Very cool!

    The X-76 has two hardware transports that can be mapped to any application transport. Of course these applications include sampler, DAW, midi sequencer, etc. One of the included applications is the Lionstracs full featured DJ mixer/player.

    Because Linux is a multitasking environment, in live performances a midi sequence that's playing can be fed into the Seq24 based style player where the beat can be changed from rock to reggae on the fly.

    The X-76 is designed for live performance where navigation speed to application interfaces is vital. There are 120 configurable hardware buttons on the top panel. The use of a mouse is not necessary.

    It also has a 116db dynamic range analog mixer matrix with master, cue and eight stereo in/outs. In a live situation you mix multitrack DAW to stereo_out:1, hardware transports to stereo_out[2,3], sampler_out:4,mic_out1and2:5, etc. This is typical functionality required in DJ/House control systems. Of course it would also be simple to sync MIDI control light mixers and beyond this, the X-76 video outputs can feed projector systems, etc.

    The disk based sampler includes time stretch, pitch correction and beat matching algorithms that are usable to +/- 30% without audio artifacts.

  • I have no clue what this is, but I want one: :-)
    Optional equipment

    * 15" or 17" color LCD screen transmission fluid temperature (TFT) display
    from the specs page []

    (It's Thin Film Transistor Liquid Crystal Display, for those who wonder.)

This login session: $13.76, but for you $11.88.