Freedom From Your 9 to 5

News article index

This section covers general news related to the world of piano, pianists, synths, electronic music, and musicians.

Rick Wakeman to perform entire “King Arthur” album live at Stone Free Festival

November 20, 2015

We’ve just heard that Rick Wakeman is a headline act at next year’s Stone Free Festival (18/19 June 2016, O2 Arena, London).

Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table by Rick Wakeman

As part of the 12-hour-per-day multi-stage festival, Rick will be performing the album “The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table” in its entirety – for the first time since 1975.

Wakeman spoke to Planet Rock radio of the success of his “Journey To The Centre Of The Earth” shows last year, and his excitement at performing his 1970s work with a full orchestra and choir. “It’s going to be wonderful!” he said.

Other headliner Alice Cooper said, “It will be my only performance in the UK next year, so that makes it even more special. And as always with my show you can expect the unexpected!”

Other confirmed bands include Marillion, Southern rockers Blackberry Smoke and ex-Genesis axeman Steve Hackett.

Planet Rock reports: “As well as the phenomenal live music there will also be special acoustic performances, Q&As with headline performers, cinema screenings at the STONE FREE picture show, a vinyl fair, specialist market stalls, classic album playbacks, Rock Royalty VIP packages, craft beers and street food alongside the established award-winning restaurants.”

Stone Free Festival Poster

Tickets went on sale this morning (Friday 20th November, 10am) and you can get more details at the Planet Rock Ticket page.

Tickets for each day cost from £75.60, with higher-priced tickets getting you more perks. Rick Wakeman will perform on the Sunday. For £140.50 you can get a “Sunday Rock Royalty – Meet and Greet Rick Wakeman” ticket.

M-Audio HDH50 high definition headphones

January 29, 2014

M-Audio HDH50 headphones

M-Audio HDH50 headphones

M-Audio has shown off its HDH50 high definition headphones, offering great sound reproduction for monitoring and studio use.

Key features include:

  • Studio-grade quality, tuning, and frequency response
  • 50mm neodymium drivers provide critical audio detail
  • Gunmetal aluminum and steel construction
  • Closed-back design prevents sound from leaking in or out
  • Around-the-ear padding remains comfortable during long sessions
  • Audio cable with 1/8″ connector; 1/4″ adapter included
  • Communication cable with built-in microphone included

M-Audio M-Track Quad revealed

January 28, 2014

M-Audio M-Track Quad

M-Audio M-Track Quad

Alongside their M-Track Eight comes a four track USB audio and MIDI interface from M-Audio.

Features include:

  • Efficient desktop design offering up to 24-bit/96 kHz resolution
  • 4 XLR+1/4? combo inputs accommodate any source
  • Selectable phantom power and guitar-level switching
  • 1/4” balanced outs; monitor (1, 2) with level; fixed (3,4)
  • 4 TRS 1/4? inserts; MIDI in/out; three-port powered USB hub
  • Avid® Pro Tools® Express and AIR Ignite included

Pricing and availability to be confirmed.

Korg DS-DAC-100m mobile digital/analog audio solution

January 24, 2014

Korg DS-DAC-100m

Korg DS-DAC-100m

Alongside Korg’s new curvaceous DS-DAC-100 comes the compact DS-DAC-100m, a mobile digital/analog converter audio system designed to be used for high quality sound on the move.

It’s about the same size as a portable hard drive and offers the same great sound as its bigger brother.


  • Compact Design
  • AudioGate 3 and the DS-DAC interfaces provide the simplest and yet most comprehensive high-quality playback system available
  • Realtime DSD conversion delivers optimum sound
  • Native DSD playback of 2.8224 MHz or 5.6448 MHz DSD files
  • Pro-quality hardware design that builds on the achievements of the MR series DSD recorders
  • Stable, dedicated Win/Mac drivers developed specifically for AudioGate 3 and the DS-DAC series


DA Converter: Cirrus Logic CS4398

Audio Interface

Number of Channels: 2
Input Format (USB): DSD: 2.8224MHz/5.6448MHz, 1bit, PCM: 44.1kHz/48kHz/88.2kHz/96kHz/176.4kHz/192kHz, 16 bit/24 bit
Host Interface: USB2.0 (High Speed)
Audio Driver: ASIO (DSD playback is supported by the DSD option of ASIO 2.1 and later), WDM, Core Audio


Indicator: Power indicator x 1(LED), Sampling frequency/Headphone volume indicator x 8 (LED)
Power: USB bus power (5V, Max: 500mA)
Power Consumption: Max: 2.5W
Dimensions: (W x D x H) 92 x 129 x 20 mm / 3.62 x 5.08 x 0.79 inches (including protrusions)
Weight: 175g / 0.39lbs.

Main Standards

Frequency Response Characteristics: 10Hz – 20kHz ±1dB (fs=44.1kHz/48kHz), 10Hz – 40kHz ±1dB
S/N: 105dB (TYP.) 20 Hz – 20 kHz, IHF-A
THD+N: 0.005% (TYP.) 20 Hz – 20kHz


Connector: ?3.5 mm stereo mini phone Jack
Load Impedance: More than 10k?
Nominal Level: -6dBV
Maximum Level: +6dBV?0dBFS 0dB-SACD?


Connector: ?3.5mm stereo mini phone Jack
Load Impedance: More than 16?
Maximum Level: 85mW + 85mW @32?

USB (Device)

Connector: Type mini B
Format: USB 2.0 compliant high-speed

Accessories: USB cable

Yamaha Disklavier Education Network (DEN) launches

January 17, 2014

Just before NAMM13, Yamaha launched the Disklavier Network and now, just before NAMM14 the company has announced its Disklavier Education Network First Audition Programme.

The Disklavier concept is now 25 years old, and is used in many music schools and other educational establishments in order to allow students to practice and the instrument reproduce accurate, note-for-note performances.

The press release states, “The initial focus of the new website is on the world’s first online college piano audition program that replicates an in-person performance, which runs from early January through mid February. Working in partnership with 17 community colleges and universities along with 27 audition sites, Yamaha is now offering young pianists the opportunity to record video-synchronized auditions on Disklavier PRO reproducing pianos that are shared with college admissions and scholarship committees over the Internet. At their convenience, audition committees will be able to access these time-shifted performances via the cloud, watching the students play on a large screen while their own piano reproduces these performances as though the student was in the room.”

Read more via Digital Journal.

Roland HPi-50e gallery

January 15, 2014

The official photo gallery for the Roland HPi-50e.

Roland HP508/HP506/HP504 gallery

January 15, 2014

Here’s the official gallery for Roland’s 2014 HP Series digital pianos

Roland AIRA teaser

January 15, 2014

AIRA logo

Roland AIRA logo

Roland has posted the first of a number of resources (possibly videos) teasing viewers about something it’s calling “AIRA”.

The first video briefly discusses the development of the TR-808 in the early 1980s (including the classic, erroneous, dialog “At that time, electronic music and dance did not yet exist”):

At the end, we’re left with the cryptic message “So the time has come to take the next step.”

The title of the video suggests that AIRA is “the evolution of the Roland TR-808 Rhythm Machine” but beyond that, we don’t have many clues.

Will this be something groundbreaking, or will there be a rather mixed reception as with Roland’s FA-06 and FA-08?

Jersey Opera House Steinway grand piano to be restored

January 13, 2014

Steinway grand piano at the Jersey Opera House

Steinway grand piano at the Jersey Opera House

The Steinway grand piano installed in the Jersey Opera House is finally going to be restored, after a decade of fundraising plus a one-off £10,000 donation.

The piano was bought second-hand and although it is constantly used by local and touring groups, it really needs some work to bring it back to its former glory.

Restoration will include the replacement of strings, tuning pins and keyframe felts plus some general repairs.

The large donation was made by De Lancey and De La Hanty Foundations.

A new Steinway of this type would cost around £120,000 and take a year to make.

Dominic Ferris, who works with Steinway, said, “Each one has a personality, we treat them like living things and any piano players will know when you play one of that calibre, it is like driving a top of the range car.”

“A car that is not maintained will not run as well as it would when it is new, if they continue being used in a place like an opera house it is important they are maintained.”


Pianist Ryan Green, 16, exits The Voice UK without a vote

January 13, 2014

Teenager Ryan Green missed out on a place in The Voice UK after he failed to secure a single vote from the four-strong judging panel at the first blind audition in the BBC’s reality show.

The judges seemed torn, and due to not being able to see the 16-year-old, hadn’t realised that not only was he singing, but was also playing the piano live.

“There’s a reason why I didn’t turn,” he said. “I didn’t know you were playing the piano, but now I feel like an idiot,” said “You play the piano and you sing, and you’re 16? We all made a mistake.”


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