Sponsors
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsors

Entries in musicians (22)

iPad at NAMM 2013 - Alesis

Next up in our brief look at iPad announcements from this year's Winter NAMM, are a couple of announcements from Alesis.

DM Dock and Dock Pro Kit

We have seen a few innovations in the field of iPad use for drummers, but Alesis have made a serious attempt to capture the attention of drummers who want to have the iPad at the heart of their sound.

Featuring a healthy 13 x 1/4 inch trigger inputs, the DM (Drum Module) Dock is like a souped-up iO Dock for standalone use with your existing electronic pads/kits or frame mounted as an integrated part of the Dock Pro Kit.

There are also the usual MIDI connections and a footswitch port so you can change kits on-the-fly using compatible apps.  These apps also allow a quick change of sound sets using drag and drop so the possibilities are pretty much endless given the amount of downloadable sound sets that are out there.

More details are available on the DM Dock product page and the official Press Release

iO Mix

We originally saw the iO Mix being demonstrated at MusikMesse last year but it has featured again at NAMM and because it reminds us so much of our original Fostex tape based 4-track recorder we wanted to give it a mention.

 

Touted as the world's first iPad dedicated multi-channel mixer/recording interface, the iO Mix enables input of mics, instruments and other audio via 4 x combo XLR/standard 1/4" jacks.  As you would hope, each channel has individual trim, gain and pan controls (just like your old 4-track) and even some EQ control. 

Importantly for us it also features a guitar DI input so that you don't need a seperate amp, useful for on-the-go mobile recording.

Like the DM Dock above, the iO Mix will charge your iPad when docked and fully encloses it inside the unit so it is nice and snug, but also up to a little knocking about in the (bedroom) studio.

We found a quick demo of the iO Mix at NAMM 2013 on YouTube, from Netherlands based audio suppliers Bax, so thanks to them for sharing this video, check it out below. 

As before, if you have any comments or want to let us know what you are looking forward to seeing, we would love to see them below.

Video: Dutch Band 'Rigby' Play New Single Live On Just Their iPads

It may not feel and respond like a real guitar, or bass, or drum kit or other instrument, but with the right app the iPad can sound like one if you play it well enough.

This is ably demonstrated in the video above by Dutch band Rigby, who you can see performing their new (Aha like) single 'One Life To The Next' [iTunes Music Store link] live on Vara, a National Dutch media network.

Instead of their usual instruments, the band travelled light with just their iPads, plugged into the radio station's sound board and they were ready to go.

We were very impressed with the result, what do you think?

App spotting will be rewarded with our deep respect. Leave a comment and tell us which apps you can see in the video.

Tune-in Tuesday: AmpKit Special

In honour of the AmpKit Retina graphics update we mentioned earlier today and the limited time 50% off AmpKit+, we thought it would be fun to find a few tracks on SoundCloud that have been made with AmpKit. Hopefully it will give you an idea of some of the sounds you can re-create in Agile Partners' authentic sounding amp sim.

AmpKit comes with SoundCloud export built right in to the app so it is very quick and easy to share your riff, chorus or even whole song idea with the world. It is also possible to import a backing track or drum loop and play over it in AmpKit, or you can use one of the provided loops complete with bass and rhythm guitars.

There isn't any punch-in type of recording in AmpKit itself though, so you often end up with imperfect one-off takes or maybe the third, fourth, fifth (you get the idea) attempt being shared to SoundCloud.

With that in mind, we have selected three different samples that demonstrate just a few of the many different types of sound you can get from AmpKit.

'Ready Set Jam' by TheRedDash

"Messing around with some Drum back tracking" is how this track is described by Dash from New York, but it features the rich, well sustained Rock sound that you can conjure up in AmpKit without too much effort and reliably every time. We liked the tight, compressed rhythm style at the start too.

'Duckie Dux' by toño châvez

A tongue-in-cheek title for this track but toño demonstrates very nicely the auto-wah pedal sound here, which is actually quite difficult to get right in our experience.

'Strat Your Stuff' by shred_777

We have featured Timothy Khalil's (a.k.a. shred_777) work once before, but we liked the funky Blues sound of this track a lot and it provides us with a sample of the Stevie Ray type of tone that makes us so happy. Nice one Timothy!

Just three short samples of the sounds you can create with AmpKit on your iOS device.

Good enough for a Commerical album

Of course, if you want to take it to the ultimate level and incorporate AmpKit as your main guitar amplification for commercial productions, you can do that too, as perfectly demonstrated by One Like Son in our bonus track below. To find out more about their album made entirely on an iPhone 3GS be sure to read our post.

Over to you

We hope you enjoyed listening to our AmpKit made picks this week, but as always, we want to hear from you too whatever iOS app you use. If you have your own iOS created sounds (preferably with the iPad, but not essential) here's how you can get them to us:

  • Join our iPad Creative SoundCloud group then click on the 'Share a Track' button on the group page
  • If you're on a computer, click 'Send us your sounds' at top of the sidebar --->
  • Leave us a link to your track on SoundCloud in the comments below

We're looking forward to hearing you soon.

Figure for iOS - Coming Soon from Propellerhead for $1

Propellerhead logo 500px

 

Get your musical creative juices flowing for minimal outlay with new 'Figure' app from the venerable Propellerhead Software.

Digital sound sketching

Figure has been designed to work as a digital sketchpad for your basic beat ideas while you are away from your usual desktop, maybe riding to work on the bus or train, taking a break from other tasks, in the office at lunchtime, etc.

Figure looks like a surprisingly powerful creation tool from what we have seen so far.

Reason to be joyful

Existing Reason users (as well as users of other digital audio creation software) will love Figure's ability to quickly shape new Drum, Bass and Lead/Melody ideas. There is also the opportunity to add some parameter "tweaks" that can usher in a reasonable amount of complexity to the patterns they create.

The Developers see this as a platform they can add functionality to later, so we can expect more from this app in the future.

Sonic State's video demo

Here is a fairly comprehensive demo filmed by SonicState at Musikmesse a few days ago, which will give you the best idea of what to expect from Figure. Watch out for the very nice X/Y touchpad feature at around 4:55.

Export?

We haven't seen any info on exporting the recorded sounds from Figure yet once you are back at your desktop, neither in this video or the in presentation from Propellerhead at Musikmesse (link to around 8 mins in, when Figure is demoed).

Hopefully there will be some sort of export option to make Figure really useable, otherwise it may just be limited to a toy for messing around on.

Figure should be out very soon at the great price of $1/69p and we're really looking forward to getting our mitts on it.

What do you think? How useful will you find this "little slice of Reason" on your iOS device?

Tune-in Tuesday: New iOS Made Music Picks

Here's this week's hand picked tracks from that creative bunch over at SoundCloud. After last week's fairly chilled picks we thought a slightly more uptempo selection would be in order, so here we go:

'Electric Box' by Future Grey

Crafted by San Francisco based Future Grey, we agree with what some of the commenters have said, this has a Bowie feel about it at times which is, of course, no bad thing at all.

We like this track a lot and we are sorry we haven't featured Future Grey's music before now as he has been a part of our SoundCloud group since we started it a few months ago.

'interrupción-de-cuenta-a-cero' by heidellberg

Built on a chunky guitar riff foundation, this track by Heidelberg from Argentina picks up nicely about half way through when the fittingly distorted and spacey vocals kick in. Great Indie stuff.

'Time Lord Bangin'' by GMAN GROOVES

We just enjoyed listening to this track so much that we had to share it with you. These nasty sounding beats were made with Korg's iELECTRIBE (Gorillaz edition) by GMAN GROOVES from Mexico and we like it a lot. 

Over to you 

We always want to hear your iOS created sounds, so here's how you can get them to us:

  • Join our iPad Creative SoundCloud group then click on the 'Share a Track' button on the group page  
  • If you're on a computer, click 'Send us your sounds' at top of the sidebar ---> 
  • Leave us a link to your track on SoundCloud in the comments below

We're looking forward to hearing you soon.

Tune-in Tuesday: Music Made on an iPad

It's that time again (where did that week go?) when we rummage around SoundCloud and pick three tracks that tickled our ears for one reason or another.

This week we've heard from a few iPad musicians on Twitter and had a number of additions to the iPad Creative SoundCloud group, which we are very happy about, thank you.

We are always on the lookout for more iOS made music so be sure to let us know if you come across anything you think we would like. As a quick reminder, you can follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and, of course, SoundCloud.

So here is this week's trio:

'Mr Brightside Electronic Love Song' by Michaelw

We LOVE this track because it is so interesting and different, plus we are big fans of Vocoders (it's a by-product of growing up in the 80's). Michael Wadlow from Wales here in the UK got his daughter to speak the lyrics from The Killers' Mr Brightside song to make this haunting, beautiful and mysterious track.

He used SynthTronica and SoundTrend's studio.HD to come up with something quite different to his other tracks on SoundCloud. Headphones will help this one sound so much more hypnotic.

'Battle Within' by freesoulsound

We had trouble selecting any one track from freesoulsound (a.k.a. Gerren Grant from Sacramento, California) because he covers so many different styles. We chose this one because we liked the unsettling and experimental feel of the track (and we love Animoog ).

But if you're in the mood for jumping around or maybe just nodding your head a bit more, check out the rest of freesoulsound's tracks on SoundCloud, and try not to get too distracted by the slightly saucy artwork.

'Mélopée' by nOtrO

Keeping on the ambient / minimalist theme (don't worry we've got some great uptempo tracks lined up for next week) here's a track by nOtrO (a.k.a. Sylvian Berthu from France).

Mélopée was created entirely in NanoStudio on Sylvian's iPad, and it builds to a solid rhythm that is quite entrancing.

You're Up

We hope you liked chilling out a little bit with our picks this week, but as always, we want to hear from you and your iOS created sounds, here's how you can get them to us:

  • Join our iPad Creative SoundCloud group then click on the 'Share a Track' button on the group page
  • If you're on a computer, click 'Send us your sounds' at top of the sidebar --->
  • Leave us a link to your track on SoundCloud in the comments below

We're looking forward to hearing you soon.

AmpDock We Think We Love You!

It is probably very wrong to get so excited about an iPad accessory before we have even seen it, but we felt the same way about the iO Dock from Alesis and their new AmpDock, designed specifically for guitar and bass players, has got us in a stupor again.

Basically a slightly cut down version of their iO Dock, Alesis have made the AmpDock more robust for live use. AmpDock features an enclosing cover on the fourth side so that you iPad isn't exposed on the top edge, as it was on the iO Dock.

There's also a handy little kickstand on the back to angle the AmpDock when it is sat on top of your amp and to allow clearance of the amp's handle. If you have ever tried balancing your iPad on top of your amp you'll know how useful and reassuring this feature will be.

But the main thing that got us excited was the inclusion of a pedalboard controller in the $299 price!

This is a great boon and means that, for the iPad-owning musician, AmpDock is ready to rock (or not, depending on your guitar style) out of the box without any further expenditure.

More details and specs below, after the teaser video from Alesis:

AmpDock Key Features

  • The first professional guitar processor to use your iPad or iPad 2 for signal processing
  • Works with GarageBand, AmpliTube, JamUp, and virtually any audio or CoreMIDI app
  • Includes a rugged pedalboard controller with program, effect, bypass, volume and continuous controls
  • Guitar Input 1 and switchable Mic/Line/Guitar Input 2; professional outputs, and MIDI jacks
  • Kickstand allows for stable positioning on top of guitar amps
  • Hinged door completely encloses and secures your iPad
  • Mountable to a mic stand using the Alesis Module Mount (sold separately)
  • 1/4" high-impedance guitar input and combo input for microphone, second guitar, or another instrument
  • 1/4" outputs with Guitar/Line impedance switch
  • Stereo auxiliary outputs for connection to external effects
  • Two assignable endless knobs to control parameters in compatible apps
  • Analog Input 1, Input 2, Main, and Headphone volume controls
  • MIDI input and outputs and USB MIDI jack for use with other controllers and MIDI software or hardware

AmpDock Specs:

  • (1) - High Impedance Guitar Input
  • (1) - XLR/ 1/4" Combo Jack for switchable for Guitar, Line Level, and Phantom Power
  • (2) - 1/4" unbalanced Auxiliary Outputs
  • (2) - 1/4" balanced Outputs
  • (1) - 1/4" Stereo Headphone Output
  • Ground Lift Switch
  • Class Compliant USB 1.1 and 5-pin DIN MIDI I/O
  • True Bypass

Tune-in Tuesday Special: One Like Son - 'Start the Show' Album Released Today

We've got something special for you in this week's pick of iOS created music. We mentioned last week One Like Son's upcoming third album, this one recorded entirely on an iPhone using iOS apps. Today the album is officially released and we were fortunate enough to be included in a pre-release listen.

What did we think? Gobsmackingly good! Really. We cannot believe that this album was entirely recorded and mastered on an iPhone. We've not heard anything better so far!

Take a listen for yourself, go and order the album (we did), or click on the 'Buy all' button in the playlist below, then take a look at some of the details we have included from the press release about the album:

Here's more detail from the press release about the apps used in making the album: 

Using the GuitarJack and AmpKit LiNK hardware interface and apps such as AmpKit, FourTrack, Multitrack DAW, Pocket Organ, Moog’s Filtatron, ThumbJam and even Apple’s Garageband, the group produced an authentic rock record. Where most music composed on the iphone or ipad sounds like digital music, this record sounds like a live rock and roll band. 

Here's a quote we definitely agree with from Sonoma Wire Works' Daniel Codella [bold text ours]:

One Like Son have produced a full blown rock record on the iPhone that sounds like it was recorded using thousands of dollars’ worth of gear. One Like Son have really set the bar for what can be done with an inexpensive mobile recording setup. Bravo!"

And this from Hamilton Feltman of Harmonic Dog [bold text ours]:

“One Like Son has gone off the deep end and produced an entire rock album, on a phone, and it sounds… amazing! The quality is outstanding, the production, superb. Five years ago, who would have guessed this would happen. On. a. phone.

If you haven't listened to the album yet, do yourself a favour and give it a listen now (above) and be sure to let us know what you think in the comments below.

Is Griffin Making a Move on Alesis with StudioConnect?

As you probably know already, Griffin Technology have announced a range of products at CES, many of them aimed at iOS devices. The iPad gets some special attention in the form of the StudioConnect.

What is it?

The StudioConnect basically incorporates Griffin's MIDI connect (coming soon) and Guitar Connect Pro, both available as separate input devices, into a charging dock with some audio outputs.

StudioConnect Front Sml

StudioConnect compared to the iO Dock

Initially it looks like the StudioConnect is moving in on the iO Dock's territory, and it is, a little bit. But if anything, the StudioConnect is a cut down version and seems aimed more at the consumer level audience rather than Alesis' Pro-musician aspirations with their iO Dock.

Although it doesn't offer the outer case protection of the iO Dock, or quite the same range of in/outs that the Alesis' device does, Griffin's StudioConnect is nearly $50 cheaper on the RRP. The street price will be the key thing of course, because we have seen the iO Dock for only $159.99 on Amazon.

The differences

What's missing on the StudioConnect may be the clincher for the more ambitious musician: XLR inputs, extra unbalanced and balanced ¼" inputs, phantom mic power and USB.

In addition, the iO Dock has video out (although we are not sure how much that is being used) and another ¼" input for a footswitch or controller.

StudioConnect Back Sml

How good the StudioConnect sounds remains to be seen and we will be closely watching the reviews when they come out later this year, but for the more casual musician, or those who don't need all the extra inputs, the StudioConnect's lower price tag could attract a lot of attention.

The StudioConnect is scheduled for release in 'Spring' this year, but until then, here's the specs from Griffin's press release. We have included the iO Dock's specs below so you can make a comparison:

Audio In and Out 

  • Audio In – Complete with its own gain control. Plug in your instrument through a mono 1/4" jack or plug a mixer into StudioConnect’s stereo 3.5mm jack.
  • Audio Out – Left and right line-­‐level RCA plugs. Also a 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack with its own volume knob helps monitor what's going in and out.

MIDI in and out is equally straightforward: 

  • MIDI In – Connect your MIDI controller through a standard 5-­‐pin DIN MIDI-­‐in port.
  • MIDI Out – A second 5-­‐pin DIN connector accepts a sequencer, sound module or other MIDI gear, allowing your iPad and favorite MIDI apps to act as a MIDI controller.

Alesis iO Dock Specs:

AUDIO INPUTS

  • 2 x XLR-1/4" Balanced TRS
  • Individual gain controls
  • Phantom power, switchable
  • Guitar (high-impedance) switch on Input 2 

INPUT SENSITIVITY

  • Balanced XLR Mic
    • Max -45 dBV
    • Min -3 dBV
  • Balanced 1/4“ TRS Mic/Line
    • Max -27 dBV
    • Min +16 dBV
  • Un-Balanced 1/4” TS Mic/Lin
    • Max -27 dBV
    • Min +16 dBV
  • Un-Balanced 1/4” TS Guitar
    • Max -38 dBV
    • Min +4.5 dBV

AUDIO OUTPUTS

  • 2 x 1/4" Balanced TRS Main
  • 1/4" TRS Headphone
  • Individual level controls

VIDEO OUTPUT

  • RCA Composite (requires compatible apps)

CONTROL I/O

  • MIDI In (DIN)
  • MIDI Out (DIN)
  • USB MIDI
  • 1/4" Footswitch (function assigned by apps)

What do you think? Does Griffin's StudioConnect tempt you? Or are you willing to spend a bit more for Alesis' iO Dock? Let us know in the comments.

Tune-in Tuesday: More iOS Made Music

Here's this weeks trio of tracks from our trawl around the SoundCloud universe, all made on or with iOS apps and devices.

Unstoppable by janogarcia

This track was arranged and recorded in GarageBand for iPad by Jano García from Spain. We love hearing what people are doing with GarageBand and this slice of brassy Electronica is a great example, we especially like the way it builds up towards the end of the first minute and into the rest of the track.

Bad Fun - 2AM by Bad Fun

Mike from San Jose in California created our second helping of Electronica, this time made entirely with Korg's iMS-20 app, a solid piece Synth Pop.

Randgrid Redux by Jim Straynge

Tagged as 'Industrial Techno' on SoundCloud, this short track by Jim Straynge from Washington, was made with the Randgrid iPad app (which we hadn't heard about before) and JamUp Pro on iPad for the guitar parts. There is something dark about it we like.

We want to hear your sounds

If you have already joined the SoundCloud community you can submit your tracks to our iPad Creative group, from a computer by clicking on the 'Send us your sounds' link on the right of the screen, or on the SoundCloud group page you can click on the 'Share a Track' button. There are also a whole host of apps that can upload to SoundCloud directly. Finally, if none of that works, just leave us a link in the comments below.

However you get them to us, we can't wait to hear your sounds!

'Start the Show' - An Entire Rock Album made on iOS

Ignoring for a moment that this album was created on an iPhone (3GS no less!), not iPad, we are really impressed by the production values of this new album from rock band One Like Son (Facebook link), even more so since it was recorded entirely on iOS.

We've never managed to get anything close to commercial sounding results in our brief attempts at music making. 

We realised we have heard a lot of electronic music created on iOS, but not really any full on rock tracks, which is surprising given the plentiful supply of guitar and bass effects emulators out there on the App Store.

One Like Son are inviting everyone to listen to the whole album when it is released next Tuesday 17th January on their Bandcamp page. If you go there now you can here two of the tracks from their album already, or pre-order the whole album for just $7.

Here's a teaser trailer the band have posted to YouTube, which is a bit of a masterpiece in-itself.

Let us know what you think in the comments below and especially if you decide to buy the album.

New iOS Music - Plus Send Us Yours

Now that we can embed iOS playable tunes from the prolific bunch of creatives over at SoundCloud (a bit like YouTube for audio), we thought we would try and share a few of the iPad-made tracks we come across over there, but there's more.

New iPad Creative SoundCloud Group

We are watching new additions to the various iPad and iOS groups on SoundCloud to see what musicians are creating with their devices but we have also created our own iPad Creative group.

Now you can send us your tracks directly at any time (from a computer) using the SoundCloud 'Send us your sounds' link under the Social section on the right hand side of this page -->

A Few Discoveries

We are really looking forward to hearing what sounds you create on your iPad and featuring them here for everyone to listen to. In the meantime, here are a couple of tracks we enjoyed listening to this week as we were browsing around SoundCloud: 

'Mizu Ryu' by Keiran Klaassen

This one takes a while to warm up, but give it a minute or so and we think you might like where it goes. All the synth sounds you hear are made in the awesome Animoog app.

'Chill by Fire' by Li$hus

Made in GarageBand for iPad, this is described as a "A relatively unpolished ditty…", but we still enjoyed it.

'Funny Hearts' by Rumbleheyner

This one made us smile, it sounds like the soundtrack to some sort of manic cartoon. Made on the iPad with Ampkit+, iSequence and StudioTrack.

Over to you

Plenty of iOS apps now have SoundCloud export built-in so it is easy to share your audio creations with the world.

If you're on SoundCloud already please join our group and if you have anything to share post your sounds.

Video - Crab Eyes by moe.

Moe2010portrait2

We hadn't heard of the quirky indie band moe. until we saw this video, but they look like they have a lot of fun on stage - and they like iPads!

Their story is a fun one too and we enjoyed reading about their 20 year / multi-album history over on their site.

This live version of the band's song "Crab Eyes", was played entirely with iPads using mostly GarageBand. There's even a great guitar solo with some fine vibrato bends around the 3:20 mark. Enjoy:

New JamUp FX App and Guitar Interface for your iPad

Here's news of a new guitar fx app in town, and it looks and sounds very interesting. With its boutique looking UI for the pedals and amps, sampler with overdub, jam tools and more, JamUp has a few tricks up its sleeve that might just entice guitarists to take a look at it despite being amongst a fairly crowded corner of the iOS app store.

Developers Positive Grid have released two versions of the JamUp App, a Lite (Free) version and a Pro version at $19.99 (£13.99). Interestingly, they have also released a guitar interface called the JamUp Plug that retails at $39.99, using the headphone/mic socket of your iOS device like the iRig and AmpKit Link .

Positive Grid say that their focus was on the tone of the guitar amp simulations and they have tweaked the standard sound from the industry standard amps to come up with a tone that they claim is better than anything heard so far on iOS.

Hopefully we will be able to tell you more about it soon, but for now, you may be as impressed as we were with the demo below, the end product sounds pretty fantastic!

iRig MIDI & SampleTank for iOS: Hands-on Review

Ok, let's get straight to the point: If you don't already have a MIDI input device for your iPad/iPhone, if you want one and can afford it, go and order the iRig MIDI right now!

We can't think of any major reason why you wouldn't. But if you want to know a bit more about iRig MIDI, why we think you need it and IK Multimedia's new SampleTank for iOS software, be sure to watch the video below and then read on for the inside scoop...

 

iRig MIDI Hardware

Setting up and using iRig MIDI really is as simple as the video above makes out!

In the box, as well as the iRig MIDI, you get:

  • 2 x 5.2' standard MIDI cables - DIN to 1/8" jacks
  • 1 x very short USB to Micro USB charging cable
  • Quick Start guide

The iRig MIDI has 3 MIDI ports: In, Out and Thru with two Red LEDs which reasurringly light up to indicate throughput in and out.

Setup is very straight forward. We had no trouble at all using our M-Audio Oxygen 8 test keyboard controller with any of the CoreMIDI compatible apps we had installed on our iPad.

We tested the iRig MIDI with a fairly simple setup but the Thru port also allows some more complex setups and a few alternative use cases are detailed on IK's site.

Little Shorty

The only real problem we had was the ridiculously short USB charging cable. This cable connects your standard iPad/iPhone charger to the iRig MIDI and charges your iOS Device while in use, which is handy and very useful.

But because the cable is so short we had to leave the iPad on the floor to be close enough to the charger and this meant we couldn't control the apps or use the touchscreen as it was out of reach.

In the end we used a 4-gang extension cable and had this sat on the desk, which took up precious work space and got in the way a bit, but it's not the end of the world and the extra sockets were handy.

Update: We heard from IK Multimedia after posting this review and apparently they wanted to include a longer cable, but doing so would not meet Apple's power rating requirements to charge the iPad and so they had to go with a cable of this length to get approval. Still, as they pointed out, at least you do have the option of charging the iPad with iRig MIDI and they supply the cable in the box.

Flawless Operation

This issue aside though, the iRig MIDI worked flawlessly with our MIDI Keyboard and apps like GarageBand, Addictive Synth, Animoog and NLog Pro, all recognising the Pitch Bend and Modulation wheels without any further setup (as you would expect with Core MIDI) and there are over 100 apps that are compatible with iRig MIDI listed on IK Multimedia's site.

The iRig MIDI is highly recommended by iPad Creative. For us, it certainly lives up to the promise. Go and get one.

 

SampleTank for iOS by IK Multimedia

If you want to start using multiple MIDI Channels or layering with your iRig MIDI, then you will probably need to use IK Multimedia's own SampleTank app, which comes in a Free version (available now from the app store) with a limited sample set initially.

Upgrades

In-app purchases can be made for different sample packs as you need them. The range of options for upgrades and add-ins is a bit complex to be honest, but it does give you the chance to add what you want if not everything suits your musical or playing styles.

The best value seems to be the upgrade to SampleTank for $9.99 (£6.99). Upgrading to the whole lot will set you back around £30 ($39.99) though, making it a more considered purchase for many of us.

Professional Sounds

All the samples are taken from IK's well respected desktop version of SampleTank which has been used in many professional and commercial projects.

The app has been designed for live use and its design allows you to switch between one of the four instrument banks, play over riff loops and/or presets using a midi controller and the onscreen keyboard simultaneously. 

The samples sound really good for the most part, just take a few minutes and give them a listen in the video demo below.

The main features of SampleTank for iOS are:

  • 4-part multi-timbral live sound module
  • Over 900 MB on-board sound library with over 400 instruments in 16 categories
  • Huge selection of melodic and rhythmic patterns for accompaniment or groove creation
  • Instruments are processed using 20 different insert FX with up to 4 simultaneous inserts per part
  • Master reverb effect with individual sends

The full set of samples takes the app up to just under 1GB, which meant a bit of app juggling on our 16GB iPad. This gives you a great range of sounds with a nice batch of Presets to get you started. The presets cover a good selection of styles from Pop through Reggae to Rock and a few Thrashy ones. There are also 3 pages of empty Presets for you to save your own customised versions. 

We were especially impressed by the quality of the samples in the Woodwind sections such as the Sax samples and also the Piano and Keyboards sounded great.

A Few Issues

As impressed as we were with the sounds in SampleTank for iOS, we thought we should mention the two issues we had: 

  1. We know the app was designed with live performance in mind, but we really missed a recording function. (Update: IK Multimedia have said that a recording feature is on the wish-list but there is no timescale as yet)
  2. The app is currently not Universal, so on the iPad we have to use it in 2x mode. It isn't the ugliest app at 2x we've seen on the iPad, but the text and keys do look pretty fuzzy and the lack of clarity gets annoying after a while, especially for those of us that rarely use iPhone apps on the iPad precisely because of this. But, an iPad version is on the way according to IK and hopefully it won't be long. (Update: IK Multimedia have confirmed to us an iPad version "is on  the way and it WILL be Universal", plus it will be a Free upgrade for those who have already paid for SampleTank for iOS)

These issues are not deal breakers, and we know that both of them can/will be addressed in future updates.

Final Thoughts

Because SampleTank for iOS is initially a free download and includes a selection of IK Multimedia's professional sound samples we would definitely recommend you download the app and have a look.

Because of the onscreen keyboard you don't need to have an external controller, so SampleTank for iOS stands alone.

Combined with iRig MIDI and an external controller though we think IK Multimedia have provided live performers with a fantastic way to incorporate their iPad and favourite Core MIDI compatible app into their setup.

The Lovechild of an iPad and a Guitar: The iTar

We love Kickstarter, it gives inventors a chance to make the gadgets we want to see and provides a constant source of creativity.

We also love Music, Guitars and iPads. Mash all of these things together with some serious credentials in making musical instruments (for the likes of Vernon Reid, Chemical Brothers and Lou Reed) and you have the iTar.

What is it?

With a prototype that looks part 80s classic headless guitar / part frying pan, the iTar has some serious potential in our opinion. It is guitar shaped with a MIDI key fretboard and can act as an instrument, soundboard, lighting board or pretty much anything else controller.

The $200 price tag for an actual production unit might be a little high for some, but there are plenty of funding options if you want to support the project towards its $50,000 funding target.

A serious option

If you really want to integrate your iPad into live performances and/or your music creation workflow, it's actually not a bad price when compared to many instrument interfaces and it's probably a small fraction of what you would normally pay for a custom made instrument from the iTar's makers StarrLabs.

We think the iTar has some real potential, especially for live performance.

Check out the promo video below from StarrLabs, plus get the full back story and funding options on the Kickstarter page:

Be sure to let us know in the comments if you think this one has got potential, especially if you plan on backing the project.

Act Now and get Retronyms' Amazing Tabletop App at a Bargain Price

From the video above you can see that Retronyms' new iPad app Tabletop does something pretty special. As soon as we purchased this app and started playing around with the demo sessions we were really blown away and our minds are now racing with the potential this app offers musicians.

Modular Power

Created exclusively for the iPad, the modular device approach and simple interface design belie the power that this app has in store for musicians, both pro and amateur. We think it will become especially useful when linked up to other iPads, extending the workspace or syncing with apps like iElectribe or similar, especially for live performances.

Great Introductory Pricing

The app is currently enjoying some keen pricing under Retronyms' launch promotion, you can get the app with 9 of the 15 modular devices included for only $4.99 in the App Store. These devices together would normally cost you $50, so it is great value.

In addition, most of the extra modules are currently on sale at $0.99 to celebrate the launch (usually $2.99) as in-app purchases. Act quickly to get your discounted copy of Tabletop!

Here is what the pros are saying about it:

Huge Potential

We have only just begun to play around with Tabletop and, although we are far from professional musicians, even we know this could be huge. As more people experiment with Tabletop and start creating songs or live performance recordings with it we think it is going to be one of the more significant app developments in the iPad music scene.

The video below illustrates just one way Tabletop can be used, in this case for creating samples from the Turntable using the recorder and incorporating them into a live mix. It is nearly 7 minutes long but stick with it as the end result is really interesting. Enjoy, and get experimenting with Tabletop.

Have you purchased Tabletop? What do you think of it? Sound off in the comments below.

On the Music Path: Beautiful, Intimate and Effective

How would you like an intimate 1:1 guitar lesson from some of the top musicians in the business? In your own home!

With On the Music Path app, that is pretty much what you get. You can even say, “Hang on, slow down a bit and play that again”, as many times as you like without annoying your tutor.

If you want to improve your musicianship, appreciate high quality video and classy app design, we think you will love On the Music Path, and it is not just because our favourite actor/photographer/musician Jeff Bridges told us to.

Here’s Jeff to tell you more about the app. We'll give you our hands-on review after the video:

The Approach

As you can see in the video above, On the Music Path uses high production value video tutorials to teach a skill. We liked the teaching approach used in the videos. The guitar videos, for example, show both hands of the tutor on the guitar, all the way through the lesson, so you can see exactly what they are doing.

These videos are supplemented with onscreen guitar tabs (or optionally music notation) highlighting the notes being played with a little blue arrow above or below the Tab.

IMG 0359

Each lesson begins with a short introduction from your tutor where they demonstrate the skill your are going to learn, what will be covered and how it can be used. These introduction videos are very personal and although it may sound a little hokey, it really feels like they are talking directly to you. Try it and see.

You're In Control

You can control the speed of the video playback and even slow it right down to quarter speed whilst retaining the exact same pitch. Very useful if you need to break a riff or song down note by note.

There can be some strange sort of echo like stutter if you play the video at the slowest speed, but you have to expect this really from the audio and the notes are still clearly audible to play along with.

Another great feature is being able to set in and out points on the video so that you can loop and repeat a section that you are trying to learn, very handy. 

Once a video lesson is finished the app pauses with a screen that lets you tap once to carry on to the next part of the lesson, or double-tap to replay the last video. This seemingly small detail has a big impact when you are learning.

Instead of breaking your concentration, going back to a menu or rewinding a video, just double-tap to practice the skill again, and again. It is a very useful feature (one we had to use quite a lot!).

Your Tutors

This app is not for wannabee super shredders or death metal fans necessarily, not at the moment anyway. The style of music being taught and the manner of your instructors is relatively sedate with Blues and Folk style guitar playing being the current topics covered.

Some well known musicians have lent their talent and knowledge to these tutorial videos though, talented and authentic musicians who love their craft.

Our teachers have won Grammy’s, been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, played at the very top of the charts and even been nominated to Parliament…But that’s not why we chose them. We chose them because they’re great teachers: They have the patience, generosity and talent to inspire you to become a better musician.

Among these is Jackson Browne (Rock and Roll Hall of Famer); Songwriter, Folk Rock guitarist and Brit legend Richard Thompson (OBE); and noted guitarist Steve Postell who delivers a stellar series on the fundementals of guitar. These are really good, solid basic lessons that any beginner guitarist will find invaluable to starting them off on the right foot (or leg actually) in their guitar playing lifetime.

Only acoustic guitar lessons are available right now, covering mostly folk, blues and classical playing, but the app shows a 'Coming Soon' label on electric guitar lessons with Eric Johnson, Sitar with Ravi Shankar Piano with Vonda Shepherd and Drums with Steve Ferrone, amongst several other instruments, so there is a lot to look forward to.

Video Size and Quality

The videos are gorgeous and look fantstic on the iPad screen if you opt for the full HD quality lessons. You are looking at around a 750MB to 1GB download that will be stored on your iPad though.

If, like us, you are struggling not to overstuff a 16GB iPad, you will find yourself deleting a lot of apps, podcasts, music, photos and other video to make room for these lesson downloads.

You do have the option of Standard quality downloads or the much smaller low-res versions.  These take about 380MB and 180MB on average respectively. We tried them all for most lessons and the low-res videos are ok to watch on the iPad screen if you don't need to see the detail but the Standard quality videos were more acceptable to watch on the iPad.

If you can make room for them though, the HD quality is worth it, especially if you plan on hooking your iPad up to a larger display whilst using On The Music Path. We used HDMI and VGA out to watch the video tutorials on our HDTV in the lounge and they looked and sounded fantastic.

The guitar tab overlay is always clear, no matter what quality video you have selected, so you won't have problems seeing the notes you need to play.

No Streaming

We think it would be better if there was an option to stream these lessons, meaning we wouldn't have to keep them on our iPad. This may mean we lose the portability of the lessons, but if your main use for the lessons was at home where you have wifi and broadband available, having to wait for the stream each time wouldn't bother us too much.

The Cost

On the Music Path is a free download for your iPad, and most lessons have a sample provided for free.

Lessons range from $1.99 - $19.99 (£1.49 - £13.99) which might seem a bit expensive but, when an hour with your local guitar tutor costs around £25, consider what you're getting for your money:

  • 45 mins to 1 hour of personal instruction from a professional musician
  • Content to keep and re-watch again and again
  • 1:1 lessons with top names in Folk/Blues/Country and soon Rock music
  • Very high quality video
  • Well produced teaching tools, such as tab display and video slow down with pitch retention
  • Lifetime access to download lesson content again if deleted

If, like us, you are running a limited budget, then you may have to ration yourself to one or two downloads per month.

Given the size of the tutorials, especially at high quality and the amount of content in each one, you probably wouldn’t want to download all of the lessons at once anyway.

Overall Impressions

If learning to play guitar or becoming a more accomplished player , is something you have always wanted to do we think you will relish On the Music Path, especially if Blues, Folk and Classical is your thing.

As more lessons are added in the future in other areas such as Rock guitar, Keyboards, Bass, Ukulele and Drums, so the app has the potential to become your portal to all manner of musical instruction, right there on your iPad.

We highly recommend you check out On the Music Path, you have nothing to lose as the app is a free download from the App Store.

You will be able to tell if it is for you from the free samples that are included. Just be sure to free up some space on your iPad, especially if you are already struggling with your 16GB iPad like we are.

Trubadour iPad Case Made For Musicians (and other awesome people)

An over the shoulder iPad case, made especially with musicians in mind, attached to a guitar strap?

It could be a reality if a new Kickstarter project gets off the ground. This video for the Trubadour iPad Case (very much a prototype at this stage) says it all and it could be yours if you pledge $40 or more.

What do you think, is this a good idea?

(via Wired Magazine)

Meteor Multitrack Recorder Video Preview from 4Pockets

Want a full on recording studio on your iPad with a range of per track effects and recording features? This might be it!

After we saw a tweet and blog post from uber-mobile-music blog Palm Sounds about Meteor Multitrack Recorder, we found this video below from the Developer 4Pockets and it has got us excited at the possibilities. The 'Effects Freeze' feature looks especially impressive.

This app includes video import too (like the desktop version of GarageBand) for editing movie and video audio or adding synchronised narration and sound effects!

Hopefully we can grab a copy to play with and let you know more after we have given it a thorough workout, but for now check out their video below, then let us know what you think in the comments.

 

Thank you again to Palm Sounds for giving us the heads-up on this one.