Entries in musicians (22)

'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.


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.


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.