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Entries in music (38)

Have Guitar will travel - IK Multimedia announce iRig

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We are very excited about IK Multimedia's latest hardware / software announcement.  iRig for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, provides a way to plug your guitar directly into your iPad, and use the input for guitar amp modelling or recording.

The iRig bit is the hardware, a specially made cable, or instrument interface (pictured right) featuring a standard 1/4" instrument input, a standard audio out jack (for headphones, speakers, or even an amp/PA) and another jack which plugs into the headphone socket of your i-Device.

The software part is an iPhone OS version of IK Multimedia's excellent Amplitube, and features:

  • Real time guitar and bass mobile multiFX app
  • Full rig made of 3 recombinable simultaneous stompboxes + amp + cabinet + mic
  • 10 Stomps, 5 Amps, 5 Cabinets, 2 Mics available
  • Import and play with songs or backing tracks with real time effects
  • 36 presets can be saved/recalled on the fly
  • Includes tuner/metronome
  • Free, LE and Full versions available
  • Free and LE versions expandable with a-la-carte downloadable gear
  • Same low-latency as Mac/PC system

Why you need this?

For anyone who has tried to record a guitar on the iPhone or iPad before you will know that you quickly run into a problem. Apple's portable devices need a special three ring plug to enable recording of audio input, like the jack on the end of the iPhone headphones/mic cable.

Even if you can rig one of these up you cannot hear the output of the software at the same time, because the microphone input jack is also the audio output jack. That is why a special piece of hardware like the iRig is needed and why we started off this post by saying how excited this announcement has made us!

IK Multimedia are taking pre-orders at the moment, so until the iRig interface and Amplitube app are released we can't say how well it works or how it sounds in real life. As soon as we can get our hands on an iRig though we will give a thorough run through on using it for input to the iPad and amp modelling with Amplitube.

We will be posting a full review because it is something we really want to be using our iPads for.  We will be reporting on how it sounds in our real world tests, what the latency is like for live playing or jamming, and also if there are any of the impedance issues which have affected other iPhone/iPad input solutions such as the already-released PRS Guitarbud.

In the meantime, check out the video below which demonstrates the Amplitube app in action, and the website for more details.

Making Music with the iPad - Groovemaker (Loopers, Synths and (Drum) Pads-Part 2)

We have been playing with Groovemaker on the iPhone for a while now, it has been great fun and we have really enjoyed it.  The interface on the iPhone is well thought out and responsive, but there are times when the smaller screen area of the iPhone makes it necessary to leave the main screen to access other functions of the app.  That's why were really excited to hear about the release of Groovemaker for the iPad.

The UI

IK Multimedia have taken advantage of the extra screen space available on the iPad to open up the user experience and make more of the interface and app functionality available to the user on the same screen. The main controller view that forms the basis of the iPhone app is now top and centre of the iPad interface (the area inside the yellow rectangle on the picture below) and is called the 'central control zone'.  It is literally like having the iPhone placed on the iPad screen with the other screens unfolded out around it. It really is a lovely looking interace.

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If you have used the iPhone app then much of the interface will be familiar to you already. The extended controls in the iPad version, give easier access to the Solo, Mute and Lock buttons for each of the 8 tracks, along with volume control sliders including integrated VU meters and Pan controls.  Another new control tweak is the up and down buttons for each track which scrolls through the available loops, but you can still access a list of all the loops via the Loops button in the central control zone as in the iPhone interface.

Sequence tempo is also easier to access now without needing to press and hold the Tempo button.  Although none of the interface interaction on the iPhone was overly annoying, in fact we think IK Multimedia did a fantastic job, as we have already mentioned, it is much nicer to see all the controls laid out on the iPad screen and access them quickly without having to remember where things are hiding.

Making Music

This is not a sampler program, you rely on the pre-loaded loops to build your sequences, but even the free version comes with 120 loops pre-installed and also a free song called Juice (a song is really a bunch of loops that can be used and remixed together, almost infinitely).  You can get another free song when you register the product too.

These songs are a great way to get started, and in seconds you will be creating sequences that can be saved or exported (more on that in a minute).  The instant creation of music is what impresses us about this app. There are four buttons to the right of the central control zone labelled A-D and these give you different random mixes of the current song using the built-in loops which can give a very different feel.  Button A gives you a 'Mild' version, B is 'Perc' for a Percussion only version (useful for taking things down to the basics for a sequence), C is 'Inst' or Instrumental, focussing the sound on the instrument samples, but the most fun one is D 'Random' which gives a completely random mix of your track, with great results sometimes that are useful starting points for creatively using the loops.

Even with no previous experience, you can dive straight in and start making 'grooves', which is really quite satisfying.  Just don't start doing this having promised to follow the other-half up to bed 'in a minute', because half an hour, or longer, can quickly disappear once you start experimenting with different loops and getting into mixing different sequences together, it can be addictive.

Mute, solo and grouping

Being able to group tracks together simply by sliding across them, using numbers 1-8 in the central control zone, is great for muting, soloing, or changing the volume of all of these tracks at once.  This lets you, for example, solo just the drum loop and bass for a bit, which you can record as a sequence by pressing the Groove Snap button, then bring the rest of the groove crashing back in by releasing the solo button if you are playing 'live'.  It really is great fun to play with.

Sequencer and Song Export

Up to 15 of these groove snaps can be saved, then you can move to the Sequence function to build your final mix with a simple drag and drop interface.  Grooves can be previewed before you add them, and used repeatedly so that a complete song with different sections can be built up, which becomes your final mix. This mix can then be exported, via Wi-fi, to your computer as a full quality 44khz 16bit WAV file.

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The export works via a browser interface, the app tells you the IP address to enter into your browser address bar, e.g. 192.xxx.x.xx etc., and then you can listen to your mix and/or save the audio file by right-clicking on it.  It works quickly and very easily and the quality is really good.

In just a few seconds our mix was on our Mac and opened up right away in iTunes. From here we could convert the file to an AAC version.  Interestingly this reduced our 10.4MB 1 minute audio file down to 986KB file with no real noticeable loss in quality.

Conclusion

As we have already said, the Groovemaker app is great fun to use and pretty much anyone can get down to creating mixes and acting out DJ fantasies as soon as it is started.

The interface is very straightforward to use, even the creation of the sequence with drag and drop grooves makes production of the final mix a breeze.  All this relative simplicity however belies a very powerful tool for music creation.

If you need to create a soundtrack for one of your movies, chilled, manic, or somewhere in-between, Groovemaker can do this for you.  If you want to play DJ at a party, Groovemaker is there.  Or even if you just want to get the kids interested in putting loops together and making their own creations, Groovemaker will enable you to do it, and you can get started for Free, so you have nothing to lose, except the hours that may disappear as you get embroiled in groove making.

Groovemaker is supplied in several paid versions too.  With the Free version you get 1 song and 120 loops, but there are also House, Hip-Hop and D'n'B packs at £5.99 ($9.99) each. These paid-for packs include 4 songs (plus another track on registration) and 315 loops, flavoured appropriately for the category you have chosen.

We think you will like this app.  If you do, let us know in the comments.  Check out the videos below for actual footage of the Groovemaker app in action.  There are quite a few more on the Groovemaker channel at YouTube.

 

 

Making Music with the iPad - Loopers, Synths and (Drum)Pads - Part 1

Without being able to play an actual instrument, such as Piano or Keyboards, Guitar or Drums, there are still many ways to make music electronically, and the iPad as a platform for unleashing this creativity is no exception.  There are new music creation apps being added for the iPad nearly every day, as well as those already existing for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

In this mini-series of posts we will take a look at a few of the main non-Keyboard Synths, Loop and Drum Pad apps that have caught our attention and, importantly, have been written especially for the iPad or have their own re-worked version for the iPad.

First up, a very faithful simulation of an awesome piece of beatmaker hardware:

KORG iELECTRIBEGorgeous to look at and very detailed in its execution, Korg's digital recreation of its own classic hardware the ELECTRIBE•R also includes a few features from some of the more advanced Korg beatmakers the ELECTRIBE•SX and ELECTRIBE•MX, and even the inclusion of the Vacuum Tube animation in the window at the top, the Tubes  react as the real ones would, a really nice UI touch.

Korg calls this app a 'virtual analog beatbox' and they say that while it is fun to use it 'is no toy'.  Everything has been brought over from the ELECTRIBE•R, the 'entire sound engine and sequencer' and nearly all the functionality you would expect is present here, including features such as:

  • 16 step sequencer
  • Four part percussion synthesizer (enhanced by cross modulation)
  • Four part PCM synthesizer
  • Accent function
  • Virtual Valve Force Tube modelling (for that analogue warmth, controlled by a Tube Gain knob)
  • 64 pattern presets get started straight away with these presets covering those on the ELECTRIBE•R plus new ones created especially for iELECTRIBE
  • 8 master effect types some brought over from the SX/MX hardware including the super-grungy Decimator, nice!
  • Advanced Motion Sequencing: allows live 'tweaking' to be memorised and replayed in your sequence. This improves on the original hardware which was limited in the number of parts it could memorise and incorporate into the sequence, but the iPad app has no limitation, Korg claims it can memorise 'all the parameters for each and every part', allowing some pretty complex patterns to be created.

Sequences you create can be saved in the app, called up later and amended or enhanced, but unfortunately there is no export option at the moment for DAW sync, which means that your creations stay on the iPad and cannot be incorporated into your desktop based music software, at the moment.  This may be added, but there is no word on that happening just yet from Korg, although a lot of the iTunes reviews and Korg forum posts are asking for this functionality.

Overall though this app is amazing value for money when you think about what is included here.  We have no doubt that, with a certain amount of skill and practice, this app could be used for a live performance, and with the portability of the iPad this could take your performances places the more bulky real life hardware couldn't.  Plus you can check your e-mail, browse the web, and show off your photos on the same device, try doing that with your hardware beatmaker!

iECLECTRIBE will normally be $19.99, but until 30th June Korg are selling it for $9.99 (just £5.99) and we think this is a great price for what is 'virtually' an excellent recreation of a couple of hundred dollars worth of hardware.  Have a look at the videos below and check it out in the app store if it pushes your buttons.

An in-depth look at the app compared to the real hardware

Get Creative With Groovemaker On Your iPhone To Win An iPad

 If, like us, you have been playing around with IK Multimedia’s Groovemaker on the iPhone for a while, you will know how much fun it can be pretending to be a supersonic DJ doing all the cool funky stuff they do (we are not cool or funky so we won’t try and say the things they do). Now that the Groovemaker app is on the iPad, with an extended interface enabling you to access more features at once, we think it is even better, but we will be looking at that in another post in the near future.

If you haven’t got your iPad yet though, IK Multimedia are giving you the chance to show off your groove creation skills to the world, and possibly win an iPad in the process. Basically, you create a video of your amazing Groovemaker creation in action (including yourself in the video if you want to), upload it to YouTube with the required tags and other info, then promote it like crazy however you want to on the social networking sites that we all know and end up having to use every day.

It looks like you have to create your unique composition on an iPhone or iPod Touch, as (we are guessing) if you record it on the iPad you are just being greedy because you have one already, but you can use the free versions so it won’t cost you anything. You have until 30th June 2010 to get your video viewed as many times as possible to stand a chance of winning.

We think it is a great way to promote music creation amongst users, combined with a healthy dose of competition (and a good dollop of marketing on the side). If it is your thing anyway, why not give it a shot? If you do enter a song, let us know in the comments and we will drop by and check it out.

Friday Fun: iPad in Live Classical Concert

There is no end to the creative uses for the iPad it seems. It can even be used in the austere and haloed halls of classical music concerts, sort of. Here's classical pianist Lang Lang amusing the audience in one of his encores by playing the most technically challenging Flight of the Bumblebee on his iPad.

Yes, we know he is playing it with two fingers using the awesome Smule 'Magic Piano' app (which was inspired by Lang Lang himself according to Smule), but it still sounds cool, and we reckon it might have sold a few more iPads too!

Check back later today for a full post on Magic Piano and other iPad music creation apps.

Play Realistic Piano on your iPad with Pianist Pro

MooCowMusic have built quite a reputation for awesome and useable music apps on the iPhone.  We have been using their music apps from the early pre-app store, jailbreak only, days (remember Band?).

Well, they have been working very hard on a new version of their popular iPhone app Pianist, especially written and enhanced for the iPad, they call it Pianist Pro.

In addition to the cracking features found in the iPhone version such as:

  • Multi-touch (polyphonic) keyboard
  • Configurable metronome
  • Multi-track recording
  • Dual keyboard display
  • Scrollable keyboard (multi-octave)
  • Configurable labelling of keys
  • Virtual soft and sustain pedals

Pianist Pro includes features that take advantage of the enhanced graphics and processing power in the iPad, as well as the biggest advantage over the iPhone, the screen size.

Using Pianist on the iPhone was, let's be honest, a bit of a challenge sometimes. Accuracy was always an issue, especially when the pace picked up.  Chords are possible on the iPhone but we can imagine that using the iPad is a world away from trying to squeeze our fat digits on to the iPhone's screen.

This has given MooCowMusic a lot more space to play with, literally! According to their site

"A key design goal in Pianist Pro was to remain as close to the real world as possible. We have found that this helps to mask the fact that one is interacting with a computer screen rather than an instrument, promoting creativity."

The app looks great, and there are some nice interface touches too, especially in the configuration screens, and the whole app really does have an authentic, real world feel.

Here are some of the additional features found in Pianist Pro for the iPad:

  • Appregiator - allows configurable runs of notes triggered by keys or chords

Pianist Pro includes a new mode called the 'Pattern Arp', allowing you to define patterns of notes that turn a simple held chord into a complex musical phrase.

  • Additional instruments such as Acoustic Guitar, different Organ types (Church, Distorted, Mellow), Synths and Pads
  • Drum machine, with a lovely looking interface
  • Scale piano - allows playing scales easily just by sliding your finger across the screen
  • Pitch bend and modulation wheel which can be used with the additional instruments

For anyone who does not have a physical, external, keyboard and who wants to record into GarageBand for example, this app seems ideal, and certainly a whole lot better than the 'Musical Typing' option.

According to the MooCowMusic website Pianist Pro is the top grossing Music App at the moment and 30th top selling app overall.  At £5.99 Pianist Pro seems well worth the investment, it offers a lot of functionality for the musician needing to record a song idea, play around with some melodies, or even for those learning and experimenting with music.

We are thinking about this type of app being used in the Education field or for Students themselves to create music and elaborate on ideas.  With the potential shown in the video demo below, Pianist Pro is definitely going to find a place on our iPads.  Check it out at the App Store here.

Musicians - you need this on your iPad StudioTrack

In our series, 'Apps we cannot wait to see on the iPad' we picked Sonoma Wire Works' Four Track as our music creation favourite. Now the same company has announced their iPad version of this app called StudioTrack.

This app created especially for the iPad now allows the recording of 8 tracks instead of the four available on the iPhone (one of the features we were hoping for in our post).

Sonoma have made a number of other improvements too. See the video for a preview and get ready with your $39.99!

StudioTrack is available now in the App Store.

5 Apps We Cannot Wait To See on the iPad - Part 4

With the US launch of the iPad now less than a week away, we take a look at some of the apps we know are coming to the iPad, or that we really want to see hit the platform when it launches.

Some of this is wishful thinking, some of it is just us getting excited about the ways we can hopefully use our iPads. Between now and launch day we will post one app from each core area of the creative sphere. Part 4 of 5 is...

Music - FourTrack

What developers have been able to achieve with the iPhone OS has really impressed us, and the functionality that Sonoma Wire Works have squeezed out of a device like the iPhone as far as audio recording and processing has rarely been bettered in our opinion.

If you are not familiar with what it does, FourTrack emulates the old cassette tape 4-Tracks like the ones that Fostex used to make, and that many bands and musicians used to record their creations on to.  From Sonoma Wire Works' website:

FourTrack multitrack audio recorder is a songwriting and practice tool for singers, guitar players, piano players, and others who want to capture musical ideas and record songs on the iPhone and iPod touch.

With this software on your iPhone and the right sort of external equipment you can even record a 'hit record', as indie band 'The '88' demonstrate in the video below (it is actually this video which made us buy the app for our iPhones).

However, this is not a review of FourTrack for the iPhone, what we want is a bigger and better version of this software, or something very much like it, for the iPad.  In fact what we really want is GarageBand for the iPad, or maybe even a cut down version much like the iPhoto / Aperture-mini we suggested for Photo editing in yesterday's post

Perhaps then we could have 6 or maybe even 8 tracks without needing to 'bounce down' tracks (always a compromise)?  Maybe we could have editable waveforms for recorded tracks instead of needing to export the tracks via wi-fi back to our Macs?  What about a raft of per-track audio effects that can be applied on-the-fly with the extra processing power the iPad affords, just like we can in GarageBand?  There are many possible ways this type of audio recording software could be developed that excite us greatly.  

We think there may be some hardware limitations on what can be input to the iPad, as there are with the iPhone, but the ingenious developers have worked around these things before to bring us solutions like FourTrack.

There was no official word from Sonoma Wire Works about iPad development when we asked them, but we have a feeling we will see something from them very soon, and we cannot wait!

Don't forget to check back tomorrow for Part 5 of our Top 5 apps we cannot wait to see on the iPad. If you haven't already, make sure you don't miss it by subscribing to our RSS feed or follow us on Twitter.

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