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We’re reaching the point where there's often more than one tool for any given task on your iPad, and in the audio recording arena, we suffer with an embarrassment of riches – from GarageBand to Auria and plenty of options in between. Into this crowded arena falls Master Record, with a few tricks all its own. We’d love to see it add some more editing options, but overall, it’s a strong (though perhaps slightly overpriced) debut.
The Master Record overall interface is sparse and highly usable – the whole idea is that it's a stereo recorder with tools designed to impart some analog-style warmth and character to digital recordings. It can be used for any type of source material, but it’s clearly meant for music recording, and is best appreciated through decent headphones or speakers. You can record up to two simultaneous tracks (for stereo), or you can import existing sound files to run through the analog-style signal processing.
It works in either 16- or 24-bit depths, which is a really nice touch for audio pros, and Master Record even has a decent dithering process for converting 24- to 16-bit, which is a rather potent ability in a $10 app. There’s also an input limiter function, which will ensure that you don’t accidentally overdrive the recording and create clipping distortion – a totally useful feature for live field recording.
The real mojo of this app is in the subtle processing power of the analog simulations. Presets with titles like “worn out Walkman”, “warmth tubes,” and “reel master” give you an instant idea of what this beast is capable of, and while the differences in settings are subtle, that’s exactly what we’d expect from a pro-level audio processing tool. The waveform editing window is nice, with excellent level fading options, but the lack of some basic cut/copy/paste editing functionality in this view is perhaps our single biggest gripe, and we hope it’s added in a future version. The Audiobus compatibility makes Master Record a perfect effects processor or target recording app, though; if you use Audiobus, you should seriously consider adding Master Record to your toolbox.
The bottom line. For audio pros, Master Record is an excellent utilitarian recording app, and the addition of the warm analog touch makes it a standout. Lacking editing tools hurt its appeal, but if those are added, this could be a serious contender.
iPad running iOS 4.3 or later
Streamlined interface. Excellent analog-style sound. Includes 24-bit processing.
Lacks basic audio waveform editing tools. A bit pricey for utilitarian approach.