After all the holiday season with all the games frenzy I'm back to app reviewing. If nothing major is released or sent in, I the next ten reviews are going to be apps. Enough gaming! I had postponed what I think is a good line up of music apps. Out of all the categories in the AppStore, the Music one is full of very technical tools. For this time, I'll be counting with the help of London DJ, who is a classic disco and tech freak himself. The goal here was to find if there is any app that a DJ could use in the creation, production or performance at a club. After one month of dubiously scientific research, we have the results.
If you know the Mac software Garageband this one will be familiar. Garageband lets you compose/import tracks for every instrument to later on blend it together. Xewton Music Studio [iTunes Link] by Alexander Gross uses the same logic allowing the user to enter sounds using the built in midi keyboard to edit them later.
The app has different parts differentiated making easier to create a workflow to get the maximum of the app. Every section is good on its own. Both reviewers agreed that every section of the app independently could beat Xewton's competitors.
The app is bundled with a lot of options and to pack all the features the developer had to compromise a bit the usability. It takes a while to get used to find everything, but then it feels natural. The app includes a video guide, but it is advisable to jump the quickguide and FAQ It all starts with the multitouch midi keyboard.
You can choose how this is displayed and reacts, being quite impressed with sustained notes. Since the app acts like a real music studio, I found most useful to get the keyboard big and easy to hit, play over and over the same section to edit and tweak it later. You can also use the keyboard to play along with other instruments, which is cool. With this method and with no music experience at all, in two hours I managed to put together a decent acoustic version of Sigur Rós' Hoppipolla.
The instrument section allows the user to choose from 21, 16bits, 44kHZ instruments. The amount seems quite decent but sometimes the range you're offer doesn't fit your needs. You can choose a similar instrument or tweak the attack and release of it, but one of the main criticisms of the app is that it's only got a basic set. I'm sure some users would appreciate more variety, since in other desktop apps we tend to choose a different instrument sample if it doesn't sound exactly as we want.