The Week In Apps: Recording & Songwriting
Songwriter ($1 for now, $2 normally): Are you an aspiring songwriter looking for a better way to remember your valuable song ideas as they occur to you? Or do you just aspire to be an aspiring songwriter? Either way, songwriter lets you notate lyrics and chords just as you would on ordinary notepaper, except you can also record a sample of the song using your guitar, piano or your own voice to accompany the notation. It lets you save song ideas and email them to friends or to yourself, when it’s time to switch to your DAW. (See also Walksoft Chordbank.)
Ringtonium ($1): With so many lackluster ringtone apps around, one has reason to be wary. Nonetheless, the updated Ringtonium brings features to the table that could make it worth the megabytes — and the buck for that matter. Ringtonium cuts custom ringtones from your favorite track or any recorded sound, somewhat in the manner of another fave, Mashtone. The Macro Tuning wheel slices up soundbites to one one-hundredth of a second accuracy; sound filters and effects offer more customization options; and the new display graphics allow you to see the controls in vivid, crystal clear resolution. Ringtones can be saved, exported and emailed to friends without loss in audio quality, and you can make as many as you want.
Studio.M (free): Fans of the top-selling iPad version will be happy to see this multitrack mobile studio finally available on the iPhone — and for free, at that. Studio.M records up to four stereo tracks (with an additional four available as one of many in-app upgrades), with easy tempo syncing to over 100 included loops (more with another upgrade). The app handles everything from recording and loops to mixing, arranging and exporting tracks, with real-time effects and easy editing options to keep you inspired along the way.
Banjo Companion (free): Much like its real world counterpart, the banjo app doesn’t always get the love it deserves. Banjo Companion sets out to change that by bringing the power, twang, and unmitigated joy that is Western music’s only drumheaded chordophone to your iPhone! (Disclosure: The author has passed many a warm summer night in the company of his five-string.) Banjo Companion packages basic chord and scale reference charts for banjoists of all levels to dig their picks into, along with string-by-string pitch references in standard G tuning to keep your instrument sounding perfect, roll after roll.
dB level (free; pictured above): This useful, possibly-ear-saving tool that gives a decibel reading for ambient sounds via the built in mic on your Android phone. Its straightforward display includes an illuminated dB meter with the current value in large text, and it records peak and average levels to keep you clear of damaging sound pressure levels (or in my case, reminding me that I really need to get that muffler changed.) For an extra buck, the paid version couples this functionality with a graph that displays dB over time.
Touch DAW ($5): This may not be a true digital audio workstation (DAW) in and of itself, but it can help you pilot one remotely, if walks between the control room and the live room aren’t really your thing. The app controls various parameters in Pro Tools, Logic, Cubase/Nuendo, FL Studio (itself now available in iPad app form), Ableton Live, Cakewalk Sonar and other DAWS, and works as a basic MIDI controller over WiFi. Skeptics of third-party iPad controllers, present company included, will appreciate the free trial.
Wireless Mixer (free): While remote studio control is still the word of the day, how about giving this MIDI control surface a try too? Same deal as above — this app is not a stand alone controller and has to interact with a desktop DAW (like the ones listed above.) Still it offers a nice way to adjust faders, pan knobs, muting/soloing tracks, and other mixing functions from across the room.
More App Reviews:
- RadioSoulwax Syncs Album Covers to Mangled Samples
- Dozzzer iPhone App Lulls You To Sleep, But in a Good Way
- TuneControl’s Car Music Player Exudes Retro Cool
- Excellent CarTunes App Brings Safety, iTunes Playlists to the Car
- Don’t Get Played By iSwipe’s Car Music Player
- Raditaz App Assigns Music Stations to Places
- Music Car Control Player App Counters Highway Noise with Speed Data
- TwitSpace Turns Twitter into MySpace for Social Music Discovery