Video Demos of Musical Instruments: Overview of the 440 Network & 440 TV

I am a little bit disturbed in my publishing frequency these last days because of some radical changes in my life, I’ll tell you about this soon enough… But until then, it’s time for me to continue the overview of the resources available to the internaut musician in terms of video demos of musical instruments… Today, I’m not screening one website but an entire network…

The 440 Network.

The 440 Network is a collection of 6 information websites dedicated to musicians either professional or amateurs. The name of the network is evocative and kinda “provocative” for its competitors (yeah I know I tend to exaggerate a little… Maybe a lot). Strategically speaking, I think the name 440 Network is a pretty good name as it refers to the A440, the reference for all the musicians around the globe.

Historically, the 440 Network started about 10 years ago from a single website, MacMusic.org, dedicated to musicians using the Mac computers to do music. The next move was to extend the concept and do pretty much the same website dedicated to the PC users in the music field via the PcMusic.org website based on the model of its big brother. I’m not going to review the 6 websites in details, but the 3 other sites are: a forum (440forums.com), a news aggregator (Zicos.com) and a wiki (Audiolexic.com)

The 440 Network is clearly a collection of information websites focused on a specific niche (Computer music to be precise) and community based websites via the forums and the wiki (both collaborative and thus more versatile). All these websites have their French and English versions though the French forums are clearly more visited than international forums. I guess it’s not that surprising because of the very active services offered by the competitors (particularly in the US) and because, whatever some might say, it’s quite difficult to have a large international audience when the founders are not on American soil.

logo_440tv440 TV, the latest website of the 440 Network.

Now that you are used to my obsessions, I’m not going to surprise you if I’ll focus on the latest website of the 440 Network: 440tv.com. Once again, anyone would blame the founder of the network for choosing lame websites names ’cause that ain’t the case!! 440tv is a website dedicated to music and audio videos. If you’re looking for the last MTV clip or Warner stuff or whatever… You won’t find it here. 440Tv is totally dedicated to tutorials, gear, interviews, lessons and so on…

Overview of 440 TV.

Visual:

A quick overview allows you to see a clean and sober interface. The navigation menus and the search box are clearly identified, and so are the advertising spaces as well. There are 2 horizontal banners at the top and the bottom of the page, and the right column has a vertical banner and a square beneath. Most of the time you won’t get blinded by the banners, except with a few blinking ones. The ads are particularly well targeted as I didn’t have any offer to be involved either in a sexy chat on the hum hum… Well ya know, nor any how to get rich without moving my fat ass promise!!

Some might regret the dark interface made of grey on grey on black, particularly if you compare this to the colorful theme of the MacMusic.org and PcMusic.org.

Ergonomics:

As I mentioned before, the different areas are clearly identified, maybe except for the connection pad that is way to small between the two navigation menus. The top menu allows you to get straight to the category of interest to you. However, some might regret that it does not allow you to go deeper in the sub-categories, though I think this not that much of a liability.

The sub-menu right beneath allows you to sort out the videos on several criteria: random, most recent, most popular manufacturers,…

The home page displays the typical modules of most video platforms on the net. These are the following:

  • Featured videos. Yet I didn’t figure out the selection pattern sustaining these particular selection.
  • Recent videos.
  • Top viewed videos.
  • Top rated videos.

Content:

The website is still beta, so I think it is inappropriate to comment the content yet. Plus, it seems that most of videos, if not all, are added by several members of the 440 Network team (however, I didn’t view the two thousand something videos… I think my eyes wouldn’t have survived such an exercise… Neither would have my visa card!!).

20th440The videos are all from Youtube as suggested by the logo on all the videos. A 440tv logo is added in the top right corner and so is a 440tv pre-roll (inspired by the famous 20th century fox). These logos can disturb the viewing, particularly when a third logo is brought up by the video itself. Indeed, most of the videos are professional contents (brands, websites, etc…) so they sometimes harbor the logo of the producer.

As for the most important criterion which is the sound quality, well… It’s the Youtube quality that never fully satisfied me, despite the efforts they’ve put the last few months to improve it.

Functionalities:

The integration of the videos on 440tv are made via a generic player. Unfortunately, it results in a  loss of the most interesting features of the Youtube player such as embedding or HQ switching.

The add function is restricted to one option only that consists in entering the Youtube url of the video. However, I guess it’s quite easy to implement as many sources of videos that they want to in the future (though the google property is already well stocked).

The user’s account sends you too the general 440 Network account, but I guess they are working to implement some specific features for the 440tv platform. Last but not the least, there is a Favorites section that allows you to easily find your favorite videos in case you would watch’em later.

Conclusion.

To conclude this overview, the website being in a beta phase, I imagine that it will evolve. Nevertheless, I would say that:

  • The website is interesting although it depends on Youtube policy (and servers) and Youtube’s users (I spotted several dead links).
  • The information is not hard to access even though I think it can be optimized (nothing is perfect).
  • The collection of videos, that emphasizes professional and producers content, is already not bad and covers a lot of topics : interviews, lessons, tutorials, demos,…

And you, what do you think about 440 TV? Do you think I forgot something in this overview of the 440 Network last website?

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