Posts Tagged ‘iPhone’


iPhone Roundup: Field Recording, DJ Tools, Odd iInstruments, Cinco de Mayo

April 29, 2009


Now we’re talking: FiRe turns your iPhone into a serious recorder. No, really, a serious recorder – with advanced features and actual mic support.

Your pocket is bulging with power.

Anyway, the mobile software revolution continues. There’s so much stuff out there that it can actually be hard to track. Here’s a round-up to help you navigate everything that’s going on this week.

And even if you can’t stand another word about the iPhone, consider this: the explosion of iPhone software, more than just a fad, illustrates what happens when you give developers tools to make multimedia capabilities easier, then provide a distribution outlet. I don’t love everything about the iTunes approach, but those are lessons that could easily be learned in desktop and mobile development alike. The iPhone platform, if nothing else, is surprisingly uncompromising in the sound and visual interaction departments, especially for a mobile platform. And even desktop platforms could benefit from this kind of distribution mechanism (see also: Steam for games).

Also, we do have some of the first signs that the iPhone won’t be alone for long – new functionality on Google’s Android could take that platform in new directions. See my next story, Android/Linux/open source fans.

Disclaimer: don’t worry. I’m not giving up on desktop apps. Relax. In fact, even now as I look across these applications, while there are lots of cool ideas, it’s still clear this is a nascent area. The experience is nowhere near as rich as you get on the desktop. But it’s nonetheless worth exploring some of the ideas before we return to our (more powerful) desktop applications for music.

Field Recording, Microphones for iPhone + iPod touch


The big news this week was FiRe, which promises to be the “first professional field recorder” for the iPhone and iPod touch. The developer behind it is one of which we’re already big fans: Audiofile Engineering. AE make Wave Editor, which has rapidly become the secret weapon of choice for Mac audio producers and sound designers, as well as the batch-processing Sample Manager and adoptive parents of the excellent Rax plug-in host. Anything these guys do would get our attention, and then they go and add specs you wouldn’t expect to see on the iPhone:

  • Accurate real-time waveform display
  • Live, touch-controlled waveform navigation
  • Audio markers
  • Broadcast WAVE metadata
  • Instant downloading in multiple formats – and easy sharing via FTP, Web server, or even a SoundCloud account
  • Tag recordings with location data
  • Overdub mode
  • VU meters for input and output
  • Configurable time units
  • Mic flexibility: use Blue Mikey, Alesis ProTrack or even the internal mic

iTunes link (which is tricky to find otherwise)

Let’s just cut straight to it: this is, bar none, the most full-featured app out there. It’s the first one that would make me seriously consider using this platform for recording.

This, of course, raises the question of which mic you might want to use.

If you’re on the iPod touch, you don’t have even a built-in mono mic. (Don’t knock it: I’ve put together entire pieces based on simple mono mic samples. Creative sampling artists will use anything.)

Even on the first-generation iPod touch, you can use some simple solutions that will let you do basic sound.

The SmartTalk mic poses for the Smule blog.

The Smule blog has a terrific round-up of recommendations for touch owners wanting to use their Ocarina app. Their technical needs are much lighter than what you might need for FiRe, but this is still worth a look if you have any interest in recording at all:

Microphones for iPod Touch Ocarina

The Griffin SmartTalk wins out for 2G owners. I have Griffin’s TuneBuds mobile, which has worked well enough for applications like RjDj. (Note that Smule have managed to get their app working with the first-gen hardware; FiRe requires the newer generation.)

At the fancier end:


Blue Microphones’ Mikey is a slim-line stereo condenser capsule that plus into the iPod accessory port. It’s hinged so you can play with placement at least a little, and there’s basic gain control (3 settings). It runs about US$80 street, which means it doesn’t have to compete with standalone recorders. Update: Audiofile Engineering say they’ve seen some issues with FiRe and Blue Mikey, and can’t officially support the combination. Readers have had some issues themselves. If you’ve already got a Mikey, this might be worth a try, but otherwise, you can await updated information as Blue and Audiofile Engineering attempt to address the problem.

Specific update: The problem sounds as though it is the combination of the production Mikey with second-generation iPod touch units running the current OS. This is expected to be fixed with the next OS release. Stay tuned for more.


Tha Alesis ProTrack is even more impressive-looking, but at US$249 list, it does start to get into the realm of “you could just go buy a dedicated recorder.” The ProTrack extends the iPhone by adding a shell with an X/Y stereo mic pair – one that looks quite a lot like the Zoom H4 mics – and even has onboard XLR jacks and phantom power. You also get LED monitoring, a limiter, additional power (four AAA’s), a mic stand mount – basically, it turns your iPhone into a real mobile recorder.

The Alesis has its own app, but the Audiofile Engineering option is looking more powerful. Naturally, that’s the advantage of software – because the iPhone is essentially a computer, you can add whatever software you like.


I still think there’s a good place for a dedicated recorder. I’ve started testing the Zoom H4n,seenat right. (Not an iPhone hiding in a shell.) I’m already blown away – it corrects most of the navigation and quality issues with its predecessor, and unlike an iPod or iPhone, has fantastic battery life and onboard XLR input jacks. (Okay, the ProTrack does have XLR’s, so this is getting a little more interesting.) In other words, I’m not sure I’m giving up on dedicated recorders in favor of one of these yet. It’s still handy to have, though – and who says you can’t use both, given how essential it can be to have a backup recording in many situations?

Paul Van Dyk’s DJ Tools

This one was a bit of a surprise: Paul Van Dyk has released a DJ app, but it’s not just a quick, attention-grabbing, “DJ on your iPhone” gimmick. It’s more like a utility belt for DJs. I’m surprised to see that as a result it’s actually gotten some criticism. To me, finding some genuinely useful stuff you might want to have on your mobile device is the whole point.

What’s in there?

  • BPM counter
  • Frequency analyzer
  • Noise level (the “NYPD Application”), with an oddly beautiful visualization
  • Seismic reader (for testing your turntable, not for telling if there’s an earthquake happening – that you’ll probably figure for yourself)

And then some silly stuff, too – glow stick, anyone?

Not yet available – coming late May 2009

Nine Inch Nails App


NIN, of course, had their app become available on 4/14. There’s been quite a lot written about it – so much, in fact, that I feel like the whole thing is a bit overhyped. The basic development here is that NIN is taking all their fan data and making it location specific. On the upside, this is a lot more than many high-profile bands have done with iPhone development. But then, these guys should be doing more – they have the budget to hire real developers. I do like the idea of fans being able to interact on their mobile device; that clearly makes a lot of sense. But few artists will inspire the kind of loyalty NIN does, which means the real question is, will someone be able to build a platform for everyone else? And if you are a more obscure artist, what should you be doing?

The app is free, so just a conduit for fans, really.

iTunes link

Gestural Beat Sharing, Celebrate Cinco De Mayo

ZoozBeat is the application I looked at in the fall: the idea is to make musical improvisation more accessible by allowing people to use fun gestures, taps, and the like to assemble beats. The software is not only for iPhone, but the powerful Nokia N95, too.

That story is worth checking out from the perspective of gestural music in general, not just iPhone or mobile apps:

Gestures, Mobile Music, and the “Low Floor” for Novices: ZooZBeat on iPhone, Nokia

The latest news: the guys have gotten funding, for one. More importantly to end users, ZOOZ Mobile is adding a sharing component, much like what we saw with Smule’s Leaf Trombone. New upgraded software adds a Latin component with Samba and Tejano rhythms and is ready-to-go for Cinco de Mayo. Sounds great to me – and the Latin market has been oddly ignored by a lot of musicians and developers. There are also new Pop, Hip-Hop, and Techno beats.

Unusual Instruments


You’ve got plenty of faux-808 apps for the iPhone now. Our friend Henry Lowengard is taking a very different tack, with drone-friendly creations and detuned pianos. He describes this as well as I could, so here’s what he writes to tell us about.

Imagine a piano in a summer home on a small lake, far in the north of the Northeastern United States. Imagine the piano sitting there for 60 or 70 years, untuned and unmaintained.
The naturally prepared timbres of the Lake Piano are now here for you, each missing felt, each individual nuance of the key action and character-filled tones. Briskly recorded one summer in lo-fi, these samples also contain sounds of children, cats, screen doors, and the summer breeze.

The first version of Lake Piano is relatively minimal, Henry says, played as a double row of scrolling piano keys and the ambient sounds stolen from a videotape he recorded. Henry promises more playability and more ambience in an upcoming upgrade, but you’ll get that automatically when it’s done, so you can always go play now.

Palm Recorders

Edirol R-09HR Including Free 4GB SD Card

The R-09HR is a professional, high-definition recorder that travels light and performs like a heavyweight. With crystal-clear 24/96 fidelity, the R-09HR is the new flagship of EDIROL’s award-winning R-series recorders. Features 24-bit/96kHz linear PCM high-resolution, low-noise recording and more! View details…

Line 6 BackTrack + Mic

Great songs begin with great ideas. Capture all your revelations, epiphanies and inspirations the moment they strike. Inspiration Insurance Inspiration is spontaneous, and BackTrack™ + Mic is your guitar’s instant replay button. Easy to use, BackTrack + Mic captures everything you play without ever hitting record. View details…

Zoom H4 4-Track Handy Digital Audio Recorder

The palm-sized Zoom H4 Handy Digital Recorder is ideal for recording live musical performances, interviews, podcasts, meetings, classes and seminars. The Zoom H4 records linear PCM at up to 24-bit/96-kHz sampling rates or compressed MP3 format at up to 320kbps bit rates. View details…

Zoom H2 Handy Recorder

The H2 will record via the integral one point stereo design microphone, and achieves the Mid/Side (MS) Stereo technique by using a 3 microphone capsule configuration and digital signal processing. Affordable and very versatile!  View details…

Yamaha Pocketrak 2G

There are so many compelling reasons to record band rehearsals or music lessons for later review that a portable recorder is an essential item. Recording conferences and meetings has become a matter of course too. Naturally, the smaller and lighter that recorder is, while delivering top-class sound quality, the better. View details…



SXSW: Find the Best Gigs With These 5 Essential iPhone Apps

March 20, 2009

SXSW_2009AUSTIN, Texas — The South by Southwest Music festival, which starts Wednesday night, is an all-you-can-eat buffet of live rock and roll. There are hundreds of shows stacked up over five days, and it’s impossible to see them all.

Luckily, there’s a wealth of tools available for the iPhone to help you plan your social schedule so you can catch the hottest bands and hook up with your friends at the same time.

Before you hit the streets of Austin, load up your iPhone with these apps and save some bookmarks for these mobile sites on your phone’s home screen. As long as AT&T’s network stays up, you’ll be able to keep the groove going.



This free iPhone app shows you a map of nearby gigs in whatever city you’re in. If you have a 3G iPhone, you can let Bandloop sniff your location with GPS and you’ll see a map overlaid with markers for nearby clubs. Tap the marker to see the name of the venue and who’s playing, and tap again to see more info about the club and each artist on the bill, including photos, descriptions and website links. You can toggle between today and tomorrow, so listings are only about 48 hours deep. But it’s helpful to have that filter since you probably just want to decide where you’re heading later tonight. The map-based interface is a nice touch, especially if you want to zoom in on a particular area to see what’s happening within stumbling distance.

One feature Bandloop lacks is social sharing — you can’t invite your friends to join you at a show, but at least you’ll have enough info to fill a tweet or an SMS.


Jambase The popular concert listings website has scored a winner with its free iPhone app. The app is basically an extension of the website, where, if you get a free login, you can filter JamBase’s massive database of live shows to see listings of when and where your favorite bands are playing. If you have a 3G phone, tap the location finder when you touch down in Austin and you can see where all your favorite acts are playing during SXSW. Tap the toggle button at the top of the screen to display all events and you can browse every single show by every band.

Of course, if you don’t have a JamBase account, you can still use the app to browse all the shows. Just prepare yourself for a flood of listings, ’cause JamBase has them all. When you find that can’t miss gig, tap the listing to see a map and e-mail the details to your friends.

Lastfm Just because it’s a British company doesn’t mean isn’t hip to SXSW. The music site has created a tool called SXSW Band Aid. Enter your user name, and you get a personalized list of recommended SXSW shows. The list is built from both your Scrobbled plays and data from the site’s recommendation engine. Once you get your list, you can go through each event and add the ones you want to attend to your own personal calendar. You can comment on the show, e-mail the details or invite your friends, too.

Once you’ve loaded up your calendar, access your schedule via the “Events” section of’s free iPhone app. If you don’t have the app (it’s free, so what are you waiting for?), you can also access your events through the mobile version of the site. Better yet, lets you export your list of shows to iCal or Google Calendar and browse your schedule that way.

Sched This webapp was born last year at SXSW from the same minds who brought you Hype Machine. It’s proven to be a huge hit during the 2009 edition as well. Surf to for an unofficial listing of everything happening at the massive festival. You can filter listings by date, and you can view parties, music events or unofficial concerts separately or all together in a color-coded list. Curious about a band? finds free MP3 downloads for you.

If you take the time to create a login — no profile or verification required, just choose a name and password and you’re done — you gain the ability to build a personalized schedule. You also get a unique URL you can pass around to your friends. Each event’s page also lists other Sched users who are planning to attend, so you can search by user name to see where your friends (or that hipster in the T Rex shirt you’re stalking) are going to be next.


Sonicliving There’s no iPhone app for this concert listing service, but there is a truly awesome iPhone-optimized website. The company even added a special SXSW section to the mobile site’s main navigation. You can browse today’s shows by time, artist and venue. You can also jump ahead to see any shows happening on any specific day during the festival, or one massive list of all SXSW shows (again, not for the faint of heart). Logged in users get the added benefits of being able to build their own schedule by adding shows from the SXSW listings with a single tap. They can also view the schedules of their SonicLiving friends and coordinate together by inviting each other to shows. Oh, and every venue, band and showcase is searchable.

One fun little addition — at the very bottom of the iPhone site, you’ll see an item labeled “Need a cab?” Tapping it loads up the App Store page of Applandia’s free Taxi app, which you can use to conjur up a ride. File this under more cute than useful — an empty cab at SXSW is about as scarce as a sober frat boy in a Phish parking lot.



Wireless MIDI on your iPhone: Open Source Motion Control Talks to Nintendo DS & any Computer

February 25, 2009

The Cupertino-Mushroom Kingdom gap has been closed: you can now mix and match DS and iPhone/iPod touch for wireless control of music and visuals. DSMI, the homebrew library that has enabled wireless and serial MIDI connections from the Nintendo DS, has come to iPod touch and iPhone. That means anyone building instruments and controllers on the iThing can now add wireless MIDI controllers that talk to computers – or other mobile devices, including the DS. It also means that DSMI’s acronym standing for “Nintendo DS Music Interface” has only one word that describes all the things it does.

If you’re a developer, you can grab the open source (LGPL-licensed) code. If you’re a user, apps are already supporting the new wireless features. There’s MIDI Motion Machine, which provides tilt and 16 triggers, and iXY, a 99-cent app for KAOSS Pad-style X/Y touch control. The MIDI Motion Machine author, TheRain, takes an interesting approach: there’s both a free and pay version, and the free version has source code.

iXY has one of the cleverest interfaces I’ve seen yet for something as simple as the trusted X/Y pad controller. Who says there isn’t still some room to refine interfaces?

Tobias Weyand, DSMI’s original co-creator along with TheRain, writes:

My friend TheRain has ported DSMI to the iPhone! This enables iPhone deveopers to easily integrate wireless MIDI in their applications, making it possible to control any MIDI application on the PC with the iPhone. The Wifi-to-MIDI bridge is the same DSMI server application that is also used for the DS, thus it works with Windows, OSX and Linux.
Also, like on the DS, both OSC and MIDI are supported!

DSMI for iPhone is available from our Google Code site ( together with an open source example application called MIDI Motion Machine that is a tilt-based xy-controller.

The cool thing is that this library takes away all the hassle of communicating MIDI messages to the PC and makes development of MIDI controllers very very simple. So, we hope that people will use the DSMI to create a lot of innovative iPhone MIDI controller apps.

Pretty cool, isn’t it? 🙂

By the way, if you’re a loyal Nintendo DS developer and think this whole iNonense thing is useless, the main library for DS also got a lot of improvements, cleaner coding, and collaboration on Google Code.

What about using OpenSoundControl instead of MIDI? On the iPhone/iPod, it’s a non-issue: OSC is a networking protocol, so it’s already wireless-ready. On the DS, DSMI’s source includes an OSC example, and unlike the MIDI in DSMI, you don’t need a piece of software receiving on the computer end.

Now, any suggestions for how to broaden the acronym DSMI so it’s more accurate? Digital Signal Multimodal Interface? Digital Sound and Music Interface? Damned Sweet Machine Instrument?

Or, to go recursive: DSMI Sure Means Ideas.

DSMI Official Site
CM Software Designs (home of iXY, MIDI Motion Machine, more apps and tutorials – must-visit)
DSMI at Google Code

By Peter Kirn


Touch Mix iPhone deadmau5 DJ-Remix App, from Future Audio Workshop

February 17, 2009

Touch Mix is a simple music app for the iPhone and iPod touch that lets you play, mix, and remix ten exclusive tracks by producer deadmau5. Now, of course, you’re unlikely to grab this in order to DJ nothing but deadmau5. (The all-deadmau5, all-the-time approach?) But the app demonstrates that iPhone-only artist releases can be a whole lot more fun than just a few tracks and some static album artwork. And it also shows off what a handheld DJ interface could look like, with a pretty efficient one-screen-per-deck design that doesn’t overwhelm your fingertips.


  • Two players, two sets of playback controls
  • Interactive display warns you as the next track is queuing
  • Separate crossfader, volume
  • Effects: loop, filter, flange, delay
  • Adjustable speed, bpm
  • Scratch, back spin by touching live waveform

Yes, that’s quite a lot more than simply plopping in some static content. Just guessing, but I imagine we could see this app applied to other music, as well. (What you can’t do — yet — is bring in your own waveforms, which would make all the difference.)

Touch Mix is the work of Future Audio Workshop, the folks who brought us the lovely drag-and-drop, OpenSoundControl-compatible Circle synth. FAW’s Gavin Burke had a chat with us about how he thinks about design. (If Touch Mix isn’t meaty enough for you, you can use your iPhone or iPod touch to control Circle in real-time; you’ll find an app that works with the popular TouchOSC to ease setup.)

Visit Deadmau5 Profile here

from Create Digital Music


A Great Christmas Gadget: The Singmaxx 520!

December 17, 2008
Singmaxx Karaoke & mp3 player
Singmaxx Karaoke & mp3 player

Aah, Gadgets. We all love them, don’t we? And there’s no better time than xmas to pamper yourself or you beloved one with a nice little gadget.

The best one we discovered this year is the Singmaxx 520 Portable karaoke player, which not an awful lot of people in the UK know of, but which is really good. It’s already quite popular in Japan, it seems.
It’s basically just like any other video karaoke which you can connected to the TV, and comes with two microphones.
But it’s much more…a bit like a “super iPod”! It’s a MP3 player; you can store photographs; it’s a voice recorder AND also cool for gaming (built in GBC, NES emulators, supports ni games)

Small, stylish and very versatile!

The SingMaxx Karaoke (about the size of an iPhone) can be taken to office parties, camping adventures, anywhere!

It’s a great present for kids…or for your girlfriend who loves singing! If you’re looking for a karaoke player or an mp3 player this Christmas…you might as well get the SingMaxx – which is both things…and more!

If you want to find out more about this amazing gadget, check the product page!


Korg DS-10: Pocket Analog Synth

December 3, 2008

The Korg DS-10. Right off Musikmesse 2008. This is a Korg software synthesizer running on a Nintendo DS hardware. How long before they port this to the iPhone/iPod touch?

This could well be the first in long line of portable music making devices incorporated into our already excisting devices. Im very excited!

The KORG DS-10 is a music-creation software for the Nintendo DS that combines the superior interface of the Nintendo DS and the design concept of the famous MS-10 synthesizer. The sound sources in the KORG DS-10 come from KORG – one of the world’s top musical instrument producers – and no effort was spared in creating these ultra-high-quality sounds. The Nintendo DS’s dual-screen touch panel is used to the fullest to provide a feel and operability that is unsurpassed, and combined with the sensory input mode at the touch-control screen, this unit can be appreciated by the complete novice as well as the seasoned professional