iPad Apps Expand Amateur Recording Options - Rolling Stone
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iPad Apps Expand Amateur Recording Options

Tabletop and MadPad offer new mixing opportunities


While a multitude of music-making apps exist for the iPhone, iPod and other Apple devices, portable recording offerings that specifically utilize the iPad’s enhanced power and screen real estate are rarer. But two recently-released applications for the tablet PC aim to do just that, making strides towards realizing the promise of putting a fully-featured studio in your messenger bag.

Tabletop for iPad scores with sheer variety, attempting to recreate the complete electronic music studio experience by cramming virtual renditions of over two dozen instruments (plus remix and effects-adding capabilities) into a single download. It is temporarily selling for $0.99 and users can tap into a complete range of touchscreen-controlled instruments, including turntables, stereo keyboards, sequences, samplers, mixers and drum pads. It provides a comprehensive suite of tools for generating compositions in myriad genres from electronic to dance, prog-rock to hip-hop. Beyond customizable on-screen studio layouts, owners can expand their collection, which starts with 11 pieces of simulated equipment offered out of the box through optional in-app purchases. Possible upgrades include additional sequencers and drum machines for prices ranging from $1-$7, with more new introductions being added steadily.

As a complete virtual workstation that can be manipulated via motion-sensing controls, its associated costs can quickly add up. But between external instrument inputs and support for song enhancements such as looping, layering and reverb – plus easy output and sharing to popular file formats – musicians could find it an affordable alternative to physical setups. From building beats to mixing mash-ups or idly toying with random musical samples, users will find functionality far-ranging. Whether the software’s worth the ongoing expenditure depends entirely on personal need, though, with individuals requiring access to a broad hardware range with complex capabilities – e.g. acting producers and ardent hobbyists – the most likely admirers.

Moving beyond traditional music composition and playback, developer Smule’s MadPad HD for iPad allows amateurs to record and transform ambient everyday sounds into head-nodding ditties. By capturing everyday noises (archived as brief film clips) with the iPad’s camera, users can create a grid of twelve video squares that can be tapped for instant audiovisual playback. Prodded in time to personal rhythms, micro-sized snippets of conversation or beeping alarms become original beatbox creations, with users able to loop sequences or adjust volume, pitch and playback speed on the fly. Once built and recorded, both full creations and sound samples can be saved and shared on your device or with other users via Facebook, Twitter or email.

Available for $2.99, the application cleverly exploits the iPad’s multimedia features and supports more dynamic complex touch gestures than other devices. Albeit similar to existing solutions such as CamBox and VidRhythm, it nonetheless presents yet another compelling excuse to immortalize mini music video creations or quirky, noisemaking friends and family members.

January App Roundup


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