Mac OS X Yosemite

YosemiteWe recently upgraded our production system to Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite. So far things have been running very smoothly. The system has a cleaner, flatter design. There is deeper integration with Apple’s other devices such as the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. A new feature called Handoff allows you to easily move or ‘hand off’ open documents from one device to another. Spotlight, the Mac search tool, now appears in the middle of the screen and can be used to search not only your hard drive but almost anything including things on the web and wikipedia. iCloud drive now allows you to store any type of file similar to services such the popular Dropbox.

Something that may be useful for musicians is the ability to attach very large files via Apple’s Mail program (up to the 5 GB limit of your iCloud storage capacity).  For instance, a musician may need to send large high quality audio files or tracks to another artist or studio.  Normally, email providers set limits on attachments and block them if they are over 20 or 25 megabytes.   Mail Drop simplifies the method.  The recipient will receive a download attachment link in the email to click on and the file will be downloaded as a normal attachment from the iCloud server.

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New Intel Haswell Recording Rig with Apple Logic Pro X

Logic Pro XWe recently upgraded to a new Macintosh Intel Haswell i7 Quad Core system running Apple’s latest operating system Mavericks – OS 10.9.

We also upgraded to Apple’s latest version of their flagship professional recording system Logic Pro X.

os x mavericksNew Features of Logic Pro X:
– Add drum tracks to your songs with Logic’s new ‘Drummer’ feature by choosing among 15 different studio drummers.  Create and modify drums for verse, chorus, intro that can ‘follow’ your songs or follow your guitar or piano rhythm.
– Flex Pitch: Ability to change the melody of an audio recording after it was performed.  For instance,  if you missed a few vocal notes or need to correct a few bum bass notes, this can be fixed after the fact without re-recording.

intel core i7Cosmic Circuit utilizes the latest in technology in a unique creative environment.   We are excited to have a new powerful system and look forward to creating and assisting you with your projects.

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Inexpensive Phone Service with Voipo

GrandstreamYears ago I signed up for Vonage – one of the first phone companies that offered inexpensive phone service through your Internet connection. I was fairly happy with the service at the time and recommended some of my family members sign up. Slowly over the years the price of Vonage phone service increased higher and higher with more taxes and fees. At a certain point I felt it was no longer any great deal and switched to Voipo.

You can sign up for Voipo for $149 + tax = $185 total for 2 years of service (24 months). That ends up to be roughly $7.71 a month.  This is the least expensive deal around for unlimited calling within the United States. They send you a phone adapter that you connect to your router or cable modem via an ethernet cable. It is fairly easy to install. I was able to port my phone number over from vonage without a problem.

The service includes some nice features including caller id and do not disturb mode. It also has a great feature that will attach the voicemail message as a file and send it to your email if you are not there to answer.  If you are an email person – you will enjoy this.

There have been a few times when I have had to call them because of some minor issues (voice mail light was not appearing).  Their customer service is very good and have been helpful.  For instance I called a few months ago and they sent a firmware update to my adapter and after a restart things were working better than before.

If you click my banner and use the promo code: 5108689323 you will get an extra month free.   I have recommended this to other members of my family who have been happy with their service.

Most people have a cell phone and the need for a landline has diminished.  If you still want a home line for a very inexpensive price I would give Voipo a try.


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We’ve Moved to El Cerrito!

mixing boardAfter 7 years in Berkeley we were forced to move to a new location. The new digs are located in a very scenic area of El Cerrito, California, the hometown of Creedence Clearwater Revival.  Nice views of the Golden Gate bridge, San Francisco business skyline, and Oakland can be viewed from the street.

We specialize in acoustic recordings with singer songwriters and small bands.  We also do voiceovers and professional voice recordings.

Listen to Audio Samples and Pictures of musicians.

Main Services:
Audio Recording, Video Editing,  Private Guitar Lessons, Web Design, Consulting and more.

Free and easy on street parking is available.  Email with a description of your project and time table.

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iPod Touch 5th Generation Review

Apple announced the 5th generation iPod Touch on September 12th, 2012 and began shipping the item at the end of October 2012.   Apple had not made a significant upgrade to the iPod Touch in 2 years other than adding an additional color option (white) a year ago.
The main features of the newer model include a thinner, lighter and slightly longer body, faster performance, the voice assistant Siri, Airplay mirroring to an Apple TV, faster and more robust wireless signal strength, and a new lightning connector.

I have owned all the iPod Touch models since the 2nd generation.  The main difference most will immediately notice compared to the last generation model is that the overall responsiveness is much quicker.  Surfing the web, launching apps, everything is much quicker and snappier.  The new longer body (but same width) gives a little more screen real estate and makes it easier for reading and surfing the web.

The internals of the new iPod Touch contain a faster processor – A5 chip as opposed to the A4 in the previous version. A bump up to 512 MB internal memory from 256 MB on the previous model.

If you have an Apple TV, the ability to use Airplay (Apple’s wireless streaming protocol) to stream live videos as well use your TV as a wireless monitor for games is a big benefit.

Apple Giveith and Apple Takeith Away

Apple Giveith
– Much improved rear facing camera with flash.  The back camera on the previous generation iPod Touch was sub standard – less than one megapixel.  The new camera is 5 Megapixels with an LED flash.  In the previous model taking pictures of checks to submit using a popular banking app from Chase were not clear enough to be submitted.
– Siri – the personal voice assistant surprisingly works very well. Great for playing songs, launching applications, finding sports scores, and various other tasks.  Siri will only work if you are connected to a wi-fi Internet connection.

Apple Takeith
– No microphone or remote control on the included new Apple ear pods.  This is a very chincy move by Apple to save a few pennies.  The mic and remote are included with the iPhone 5 and that model will work with the new iPod Touch.
– No ambient light sensor (was included in previous models). (Apple’s Phil Schiller recently stated that the new iPod Touch is “too thin” to include the sensor).
– Google Maps built in app is gone and replaced with Apple’s own poorly reviewed version of maps.  (Note: You can now install Google Maps separately from the App store)
– YouTube native built in app is gone.  (Note: You can now download and install the YouTube App
– New Lightning connector renders your old accessories and docks obsolete.  If you have an Apple dock or speaker dock you will need to spend $29 for a 30 pin to lightning adapter to the older wider dock connector.  Another downside to the the new connector is that it is still at USB 2.0 speeds even though USB 3.0 has been out for a while and can transfer data when syncing at 10 times the speed as USB 2.0.   For the huge inconvenience this has caused millions of people Apple should have at least increased the speed of the lightning connector to USB 3.0.

More Unwelcome News for People with Large iTunes Libraries
Unfortunately, Apple did not upgrade the maximum capacity of the device – which still remains at 64 GB – even after 2 years. For people with very large iTunes libraries, including myself, – this means having to carefully create and select Playlists to fit all the songs on the device.

Overall Summary
The iPod Touch 5th generation is a wonderful little mini computer.  For those that want most of the benefits of a smart phone but do not wish to pay the monthly service charge, the iPod Touch is your best best.  The retina screen is very nice and much crisper to read things than older models.  I wish they came out with some large size capacity so people with larger libraries would not have to pick and choose which songs to sync.  For a portable music player with Internet access – there is no match.  The iPod Touch is your best bet.

For more technical specifications check:

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Live Music on 4th Street

Gypsy Jazz on the Streets

Gypsy Jazz on 4th Street

Paul Mehling and some members of his Hot Club of San Francisco performed in a casual setting outside of Peet’s Coffee on 4th Street in Berkeley Wednesday Dec 21st.  Mehling performs exceptional gypsy jazz guitar in the style of  the French legend Django Reinhardt.

For more information:
Hot Club of San Francisco
Fourth Street Berkeley

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Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2011

Bright Eyes Friday evening - Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival

Bright Eyes closed the evening Friday night Sept 30th at the Rooster stage of the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in San Francisco’s Golden Gate park.  Music all day long on 6 different stages with a mix of folk, old-time, rock-n-roll music and more.  

Bright Eyes Friday Night at Golden Gate Park

The festival runs three days – Friday Sept 30th – Sunday October 2nd.  The event is completely free and funded by Warren Hellman.  It is estimated that 60,000 people will attend the event each day.

Parking in the area can be difficult.  There is ample bicycle racks available. Try to ride your bike or take public transportation in if you live close by.

More info:

Street musician drumming & dancing Friday evening


People in trees for a better view of Bright Eyes

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Oakland Art Murmur 1st Fridays of Every Month

Oakland Art Murmur

Every 1st Friday of the month the local art scene comes alive at the Oakland Art Murmur.  From 6 pm to 9 pm the art galleries are free and open to the public.  Musicians abound on the street and in many of the galleries.  23th Street between Telegraph and Valley is closed to traffic and there are craft vendors.  Galleries are open between 22nd & 26th Street.  A great vibe… check it out…

For more information:

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The End of iTunes Music Copy Protection, Sort of…


A few years ago Apple made a big announcement at Macworld in San Francisco.  It wasn’t a new dazzling hi-tech computer, iPhone or iPod but the announcement that the iTunes Music store will sell all music download without any digital rights management (DRM) copy protection.

Previous music purchases from iTunes contained copy protection

Previous music purchases from iTunes contained DRM (digital rights management) copy protection

Previously if you purchased music from iTunes the files were encoded as an AAC protected file which would only play on an iPod or other Apple related device.  If you wanted to put your music on a non-Apple device such as another manufacturer’s digital music player  or stream to say a Tivo  – the music files would not play.  The way around this was to burn the encoded music file to a CD and then re-import the file from the CD back into your computer in a different format such as the popular mp3 or as an non-protected AAC format.

Truth be told – the copy-protection was not necessarily Apple’s idea but was implemented mainly at the insistence of music executives which did not want people to give away and share their music purchases.

Steve Jobs, Apple’s master guru, had made a public statement earlier indicating that Apple believed DRM was no longer feasible and expressed the idea that they wanted songs sold without DRM.  EMI was the first to offer songs without copy protection and the rest of the major labels followed suit.

Are iTunes songs though now really DRM free?  Well, sort of… however, the audio files embed the original purchaser’s name and email address. You may want to be cautious if you are sharing songs purchased from the iTunes store with others due to this fact. The embedded purchaser’s name and email address allows the song files to be traced back to the original owner.  What Apple will do with this information is anyones guess.

Name & email address embedded in a newly purchased iTunes song


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Record with an Apple Logic Pro 9 Certified Engineer

I  recently became Level 1 certified in Apple’s newest cutting edge high end audio recording application Logic Pro 9 (part of the latest version Logic Studio).  I am a long time user of Logic.

Apple Logic is a great tool for singer/songwriters and composers and provides a great deal of flexibility when recording or composing.  It is often very hard to be 100% perfect when recording a track – you may have some great moments and a few not so great.  One of the newest features is the ability to lay down multiple versions of a track (say for example a lead vocal) and select the various portions of each take to create a composite or ‘best of’ take.

Want to add a little piano or hammond organ to a track? Logic comes with a plethora of great samples such as pianos, hammond organs, horns, etc that can be triggered with a standard midi keyboard.

When you are ready to step up and have tested and certified engineer record your project send me an email or give me a call.  I specialize in singer songwriters, acoustic projects and small bands.  I can import GarageBand tracks directly into Logic Pro 9.  I can also import your wav and aiff tracks.

Joe Rizzo
Cosmic Circuit Studio
Engineer, musician, producer


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Jerry Garcia Day, San Francisco

Peter Rowan performs at Jerry Garcia Day, San Francisco

Peter Rowan performs at Jerry Garcia Day, San Francisco

Every August 1st Jerry Garcia day is celebrated at the Jerry Garcia amphitheater in McLaren Park, San Francisco.  Friends and fans of the San Franciscan native gathered for a free festival with music in the transcendent spirit of Garcia.  This year was the 8th year of the annual celebration and featured musical performances by Check Engine Light, Front Street and Friends, Peter Rowan and Melvin Seals with JGB.  The outdoor amphitheater is located in the Excelsior district of San Francisco – Garcia’s childhood neighborhood.  McLaren amphitheater was renamed The Jerry Garcia amphitheater after fans petitioned the city of San Francisco.   August 1st marks Garcia’s birthday.  The Jerry Garcia Amphitheater is located at 45 John F. Shelley Drive, San Francisco.

For more info:

Jerry Garcia Day in McLaren Park, San Francisco 2010

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Khi Darag! at Berkeley World Music Festival


Khi Darag performed at People’s Park in Berkeley on Saturday June 5th as part of the Berkeley World Music Festival.  The music blended elements of many different styles of music including surf, klezmer, pop, trance and more.  A difficult band to describe but definitely worth checking out.  Listen to samples on their web site.

More info:

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Vintage Bluegrass Footage on YouTube

We recently posted a few vintage clips of some local musicians performing in the San Francisco Bay Area.  There are a few clips from a live performance in Black Oak’s Bookstore in Berkeley, California from 1992 and some clips from the Freight and Salvage.  Check our YouTube channel at:

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Follow us on Twitter

We recently opened a Twitter account.   Twitter allows you to receive ‘tweets’ or posts from various people, businesses, etc.  If you would like to receive tweets from Cosmic Circuit, click on the link below.

Stay connected! Follow us on Twitter Follow cosmiccircuit on Twitter

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Musical Night in Africa at Ashkenaz

Afrobeat Connexion

Saturday night Dec 5th was Musical Night in Africa at Ashkenaz in Berkeley with Kotoja, the West African Highlife Band, Afrobeat Connexion, the  Nigerian Brothers and DJ Mike Onas. Musical Night in Africa is a decade-old  Ashkenaz tradition produced each year by Nigeria’s Babá Ken Okulolo. The night began with an opening Libation Ceremony with Babá Ken followed by the Nigerian Brothers and some excellent rhythms.   Each band had very strong hypnotic dance rhythms.  The night ended with Kotoja and an excellent horn section.

For more info:

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Final Cut Pro 7 Certified Pro

Final Cut Studio 3

Apple recently unveiled a new version of their flagship video editing application Final Cut Pro 7, part of the newest Apple Final Cut Studio suite.

I recently became a ‘Certified Pro’ in Final Cut Pro 7.   I have had a level 1 certification since Final Cut 5.   I am also certified professional in Apple Logic Pro (Audio).

Cosmic Circuit Studio offers video editing, DVD authoring, audio services and other post production services.  We work on many custom projects for businesses, artists, musicians, etc.  Call or email for more information or assistance with your next creative project.  For more detailed info check

Joe Rizzo
Apple Final Cut Pro Certified Professional
Toll Free: 1.877.793.4195
Local: 510.868.9323

Certified Pro, Final Cut Pro 7, Level 1

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Hardly Strictly Bluegrass


John Prine (right) joined Lyle Lovett (left) on stage Friday Night in Golden Gate Park

The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival kicked off the weekend with 3 days of free musical acts at Speedway Meadows in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.  Lyle Lovett headlined the event on Friday evening with John Prine warming up.  Gillian Welch, Jorma Kaukonen, Steve Martin with the Steep Canyon Rangers,  and Steve Earle & The Bluegrass Dukes were some of the bands that performed on Saturday.  Steve Martin, better known for his acting abilities and his hit movie ‘The Jerk’, ended his set Saturday with a rousing rendition of ‘The Simpson’s’ television theme song.

For more information check:

Gillian Welch Saturday in Golden Gate Park

Gillian Welch Saturday in Golden Gate Park

Steve Martin

Steve Martin on banjo Saturday afternoon

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35th Annual Solano Stroll Street Festival

The 35th annual Solano Stroll in Berkeley served up plenty of local musicians, artists, food vendors and shops this Sunday Sept 13th.  The event covered 26 blocks and was heavily attended.  Surf bands, mexican dancers, caribbean steel drums, orchestras, one man bands, literally something for everyone.  If you missed it, check it out next year…

For more information:

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Live Music & Great Pizza at Cheeseboard in Berkeley


The Cheeseboard, located in the ‘gourmet ghetto’ district on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley,  not only serves up great gourmet pizza but also has live music.  The lines for pizza are typically long and out the door – but the wait is definitely worth it.  The Lee Gaines jazz trio performs on Fridays at 5 pm and other musicians and groups often perform on different days.  The Cheeseboard serves lunch 11:30 – 3:00 Tuesday through Saturday and dinner 4:30 – 8:00 Tuesday through Saturday.  The Cheeseboard was founded in 1967 as a collective and has become somewhat of a ‘must experience’ Berkeley institution.

K.I. Nicholas Three Piece Band

K.I. Nicholas Three Piece Band


Lee Gaines Trio performs most Fridays

For more information:

The Cheeseboard
1512 Shattuck Avenue
Berekely, Ca 94709
(510) 549-3055

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Acoustic Music with Sandy Rothman and Stu Allen at Ashkenaz

sandySandy Rothman and Stu Allen performed at Ashkenaz in Berkeley, California August 6th with Brian Godchaux on fiddle and Justin Purtill on stand-up bass.   The band performed a mix of old-time and bluegrass classics.  Stu Allen performed lead vocals and acoustic guitar.  Sandy Rothman, who previously has done acoustic work with Jerry Garcia (Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band ‘Almost Acoustic’) and performed with Bill Monroe,  played mandolin, dobro guitar and lent backing vocals and lead on a few tunes.

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