Category Archives: : opinion & comment :

:: New Vox Mobile App – Bummer! ::

Woke up to an email announcing the new Vox Mobile App…excited to try out a new guitar amp modeller, but it was nothing but a mobile catalog. Bummer. I was expecting a virtual tube-based amp App. I guess I have plenty of that stuff already around.

I have tried almost all of the amp and effects apps available, and I keep coming back to iShred Live. As far as I know, it is the only guitar effects app to support ACP, though this feature is only available on iPad and iPhone4 as far as I know. Decent sound, iPod library access, and the ability to record and export your audio. I splurged on Stompbox, but at $20 it is a bit pricey, and sounds a bit too harsh and digital to me…reminds me of my vintage digital effects rack from the 1980’s, not necessarily my favorite era for tone and effects. The Amplitude or Amplitube series of apps is just too confusing, at this point I would rather pay $40 for everything at once and have it a universal app. I do like the sounds though.


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:: Multitrack DAW: Best in Class? ::

I have tried almost all of the available multitrack recorders available for ios, from Studiotrack to Studio.hd, and have arrived at the decision that Multitrack DAW is the best available App for multitrack recording and editing.

Early on I purchased StudioTrack, expensive and feature-poor at $39.95. No waveform editing, no visual cues, so you are recording and dropping in blind. StudioTrack just seems to have a bizarre workflow, and the developers never replied to any of our emails.

I also tried Studio.HD, which had more features, and tons of effects, but unless you are using nothing but Studio.HD and Looptastic, it is not a versatile App. For one thing, you can copy audo in, but not out, severely limiting what you can do with it.

By far my favorite, Multitrack DAW is affordable, $9.95 for 8 tracks plus bins, and you can upgrade to 16 tracks for another $7.99, or 24 tracks for an additional $15.99. It is stable, intuitive, easy to use, and while it lacks basic effects, it is by far the best out there. Input monitoring, stereo and mono tracks, panning, volume, bins, copy and paste, they are all featured. You can export through SoundCloud or email, or with ACP.

It is not perfect, I am not a fan of the strange multitouch controls, and wish it offered at least some reverb or compression, but you can always copy the audio to another app to add effects and paste it back in. But one purchase and it runs on my iPod Touch and at native resolution on the iPad.

The base price of $9.99 includes 8 tracks plus bins, which are like having multiple takes for each track, providing plenty of room for experimentation. You can record in stereo or mono, each track has level and pan controls.

Multitrack DAW is a bargain, and until it’s competition updates their apps, or something new comes along, it is the only choice for the practicing musician.

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:: Essential Gear for the ios Musician ::

What fun is life without gear? The ios musician is going to need a few basic pieces of kit, and I wanted to include a few pieces of gear I haven’t personally tested, but look forward to trying out soon. So, here is the basic list, though I reserve the right to add or edit…

1.A case and screen cover. That iPad or iPhone won’t do you any good if it is broken or all scratched up – learned this lesson the hard way with my two week old Android phone. Bought a cheap slide-in neoprene case, the lock switch kept catching. Just upgraded to the Apple iPad case, and really like it. Feels well-built, and can sorta double as a stand.

2.For iPad users only – for now, hopefully this will work with iPhone/iPod soon* – the Apple Camera Connection Kit. Use that USB dongle, and the world of Midi and USB audio awaits.

3.Inline Mic or headset/earbuds with Mic. I have a cheapo MonsterCable inline Mic that I like alright…the quality is OK, usually good enough, and has a jack so you can use whatever headphones you like. Some sort of outboard Mic is essential for quickly capturing sounds and ideas.

4.Great Headphones. Great Earbuds. Great Speakers. Great Amp. Enough Said.

5.Guitar Interface. Either homebrew from an old AV cable, or something like iRig. Super handy, iRig and other store bought dongles at least eliminate the crazy tangle of wires from the homebrew version, and are less noisy. I have only tried the iRig, and like it just fine.

6.A nice collection of cables and adapters, but you probably have this stuff laying around anyway.

7.A midi interface. To me, the Line6 looks like the way to go, the versatility being the key benefit. But, there is something to be said for the simplicity of the Synthstation25, even though the SynthStation App is clunky and miserable in actual use. I have a cheapo USB Midi Cable adapter thingy, I think I bought it at Radioshack a couple years ago. It works with a few Apps through the Camera Adapter on the iPad now that I am running ios4.2, I just wish it would work with more Apps. Also, a side note, ignore those “Device Not Supported” messages the first couple of times you see them. I had the same trouble with a USB keyboard for typing with, and after a couple times the messages go away and you are good to go. However, if the device draws too much Bus Power, the messages might actually be accurate. Sorry.

8.Toss up here. USB Mic like one of those Samson things, or one of the Snowball Mics – these are on sale this week at CompUSA for $45 or so, everything from Snowflake to Snowball reduced! – or possibly a USB sound card. I have yet to try these out, because I am cheap and lazy, and also I tend to go direct in. I usually just use a shitty headphone Mic, but I am not big on vocals….if I were, USB Mic or sound card with a fancy Mic.

9.Gig Bag & Stand/Rack – carry that gear in style, stay organized, and feel like a million bucks. Swagger is a necessary evil in a musician, so look like a Pro and feel like one. I bought a Louis Vitton shopping bag at a thrift store for $1, and use it for laundry. Filthy lucre = Rock Star! Also, great conversation starter for that hot A&R rep…and remember, all A&R reps are hot – at least make them feel like they are. Don’t be too easy though, we all want what we can’t have. If the A&R rep is gay, you are Bi. If they are single, you are separated. If they are married, they won’t be for long, so make them feel sexy. This also applies to lawyers, promoters, your boss, teachers, cops, and judges.


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