Minifinders: 3D to Audio

3-D Software

  Carrara Studio 3 ($399), from Eovia (www.eovia.com): Carrara Studio 3 is an exceptional value, and its new features, particularly in rendering and modeling, make the midlevel 3-D program faster and more sophisticated ( March 2004 ).

  ImageModeler 3.5 ($750), from Realviz (www.realviz.com): This fun tool for making 3-D models from photographs may be pricey for hobbyists. But for architects, product designers, and animators, ImageModeler 3.5 is a great buy ( September 2003 ).

  MotionBuilder 5 ($995), from Kaydara (www.kaydara.com): As a tool for creating real-time 3-D character animation, MotionBuilder 5 is unbeatable. It's also an excellent complement to other 3-D packages (April 2004).

  Pixels 3D 5.0 ($399), from Pixels Digital (www.pixels3d.com): Although this 3-D program doesn't provide the ultimate tool set for making 3-D animations and still images, it's certainly an excellent choice for beginners ( December 2003 ).

  ZBrush 1.5 ($399), from Pixologic (www.pixologic.com): If you need an easy-to-use 3-D–modeling facility, ZBrush is a great tool to have, as long as it isn't the only 3-D brush in your tool kit. ( July 2003 ).

Audio Hardware

  imp ($30), from SiK (www.sik.com): This iPod power adapter for your car is unique in that it provides third-generation iPods (with Dock) with a line-level output jack ( March 2004 ).

  inMotion ($149), from Altec Lansing Technologies (www.alteclansing.com): If you're looking for external speakers to use with your iPod, look no further than inMotion. This portable unit is small, light, and easy to tote around, and it lets you listen to your iPod without the hassle of earphones ( April 2004 ).

  iPods, third generation ($299 to $499), from Apple Computer (www.apple.com): Apple's new players are a solid improvement over the old. A smaller size and a new button layout make them refined; updated software makes them easier to use ( July 2003 ).

  Mini-Me ($1,495), from Apogee Digital (www.apogee digital.com): A professional-quality digital-analog converter at a professional price. The converter requires a computer-based USB port and works well in both OS 9 and OS X, though there are some limitations on its use in the latter ( October 2003 ).

  PocketDock ($19), from SendStation (www.sendstation.com): This tiny adapter for the new iPods with dock connectors provides them with a FireWire port. Anything you could do with an older iPod, you can now do with the newer ones and the PocketDock ( January 2004 ).

  PowerMate ($45), from Griffin Technology (www.griffintechnology.com): It looks like a mad scientist's panic button, but the PowerMate is a USB controller that you can program for just about any application to scrub audio, scroll through documents, and more ( June 2003 ).

  PowerWave ($100), from Griffin Technology (www.griffintechnology.com): The USB-based PowerWave is a great way to get a little more audio into and out of your Mac, with no drivers required ( June 2003 ).

  Pyramat PM300 ($150), from Pyramat (www.pyramat.com): It's a three-cushion mat! It's a subwoofer and pair of speakers! It's both! For those who like foldable furniture and also like to feel every thump of the bass right between their shoulder blades, this reclining wonder is for you (November 2003).

  Squeezebox ($299), from Slim Devices (www.slim devices.com): It's the perfect device for anyone who wants a seamless stereo-component experience from an iTunes music collection. Its advantages include wireless networking and the ability to play uncompressed audio ( April 2004 ).

Audio Software

  B4 ($235), from Native Instruments (www.native-instruments.com): B4 is a virtual instrument that beautifully re-creates the sound of a Hammond B3 organ. Its clean and mesmerizing sounds are excellently true to life ( March 2004 ).

  Digital Performer 4.1 ($795), from Mark of the Unicorn.

  iTunes 4 (free), from Apple Computer (www.apple.com): If you're interested in improved sound quality with AAC files, want to browse and buy from the iTunes Music Store, or would like to share music, you'll dig iTunes 4 (July 2003).

  Live 2.1 ($399), from Ableton (www.ableton.com): DJs and live musicians will love Live's ease of use, implementation of OS X music technologies, and cool Tap Tempo feature. Version 2.1 adds enhancements like multichannel audio-input and -output support for Digidesign hardware, support for Rewire, and a snappier response time ( November 2003 ).

  Lounge Lizard EP-2 ($249), from Applied Acoustics Systems (www.applied-acoustics.com): This virtual instrument produces great Rhodes electric-piano sound and has excellent presets and parameter controls ( March 2004 ).

  MasterWriter ($289), from MasterWriter (www.master writer.com): This songwriting utility features thorough rhyme generation and filtering to help lyricists get past writer's block. In addition, a useful date-of-creation registry service helps lyricists take credit for their creations ( November 2003 ).

  Nicecast ($30), from Rogue Amoeba (www.rogueamoeba.com): Nicecast lets you set up your Mac to stream audio over the Internet. It's simple but powerful -- the best streaming-audio solution for Mac OS X ( March 2004 ).

  Phrazer 2.0 ($299), from BitHeadz (www.bitheadz.com): This loop-based sequencing application works reasonably well in Mac OS 9, but it doesn't support MIDI input or audio input in Mac OS X ( July 2003 ).

  Pro Tools LE 6 ($75), from Digidesign (www.digi design.com): Pro Tools LE 6 doesn't hold any surprises, but it does provide a comfortable transition to Mac OS X. Its new file-management tools and MIDI capabilities are excellent additions ( June 2003 ).

  Sonicfire Pro 3 ($299), from SmartSound (www.smartsound.com): Sonicfire Pro 3 is a useful app for video pros who need to add high-quality, made-to-fit, royalty-free music scores to their productions ( November 2003 ).

  SoundSoap 1.0 ($99), from Bias (www.bias-inc.com): This noise-reduction utility is simple enough for a preschooler to operate. If you want to remove hiss and hum from a recording, this is pretty much all you need. But if you want to enhance recordings, look to a more sophisticated product, such as Arboretum Systems' Ray Gun Pro X ( August 2003 ).

  Soundtrack 1.0 ($299), from Apple Computer (www.apple.com): This addictive program lets you quickly create original, royalty-free music for video and multimedia projects. It won't instantly transform you into a pro musician, but its intuitive workflow does make creating music a pleasure ( December 2003 ).

  Traktor DJ Studio 2.0 ($199), from Native Instruments (www.native-instruments.com): Traktor DJ Studio lets you mix, speed up or slow down, and apply cool filter effects to your songs. It's easy and fun to use, and it's a great alternative to lugging around your DJ hardware ( June 2003 ).

  WireTap 1.0 (free), from Ambrosia Software (www.ambrosiasw.com): Although a number of tools out there let you capture audio on your Mac, the free WireTap is clearly the easiest to use ( January 2004 ).

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