Xewton Music Studio - Your little Garageband in your pocket

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. 

The tracks section is the one that reminds most of Garageband and what I enjoyed most. Fist of all, you can edit the notes you have previously recorded. It is not easy for the beginner to get it right in a multitouch keyboard, and here you can tweak to make it match perfectly. I would like to have more tempo options here, since you can be limited by the presets. You can copy, paste, delete, undo, double, move, listen a single track,… You name it. Again, to do all this fast with your fingers you are going to need to need some practice, but most of the times the results are jawdropping. The dev is very responsive and more instruments are coming with future updates. 

 

If you are a music fanatic, this is a nice app to play with. For music makers Music Studio offers the possibility to compose on the go with your iPhone. I hope everyone understands that it is not the perfect solution, but I see it as a great companion for your home or office workstation. Using the app I can clearly see how some creatives can benefit from its functions as a portable DAW. It is not only about keeping your ideas neatly organized, but you can input and mess around with them before you get to work on them transferring them wirelessly to your big machine. It has a premium price, but it justifies the purchase of an iPod Touch if you're really into it.