Perhaps the most eagerly anticipated music-related software of the past few years is Bitwig Studio, a full-featured DAW (digital audio workstation) designed by former employees of Ableton, the company that made the popular program Ableton Live. It bears more than a passing resemblance to that application, with a slew of additional enhancements and unique features to clearly differentiate it and make it a viable tool for live and studio work...
It's hard to imagine now, but iTunes started out as a simple audio player. It didn't try to sell you anything, nor did it support movies, TV shows, books, or apps. Depending on whom you ask, iTunes has grown either more feature-rich or bloated over the years. But in this multimedia world, what if all you want to do is play music from your computer? Then Vox 2.0 might be for you.
Given that a vast amount of music enjoyment happens in the privacy of a comfy pair of headphones (or less-comfortable Apple earbuds, unfortunately), we’ve always wondered if there was some way to give the overall experience a bit more of the sonic “space” created by the physical phenomenon called “crossfeed.” That is, the acoustic energy typically associated with the temporal characteristics of how each channel of a stereo audio signal reaches your ears through open air. CanOpener promises just that, and thankfully delivers in many respects.
With the deluge of cool audio and synthesis apps on iOS, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stand out from the pack—but the long-awaited iVCS3 is raising eyebrows and potentially blowing out speakers across the land. While it’s billed as a software simulation of an analog synthesizer that found favor with bands like Pink Floyd and The Who, iVCS3 is really a virtual laboratory of sonic mayhem and aural outrageousness. It’s not useful for playing standard musical riffs, but is infinitely capable of generating insanely complex, dynamic, and downright chaotic soundscapes that will amaze, delight, and terrify, all at once.
Even if you have no musical abilities, your iPhone gives you the tools to create lush, multi-layered tracks in an instant, thanks to the proliferation of simple, speedy interfaces that require neither practice nor patience. Crossfader might be the best representation of this fact to date. With a brilliant concept that uses the iPhone's accelerometer to mix and mash popular tunes, the app won't teach you how to be a world-class DJ, but it will get your next party started quickly.
Sector is a totally unique, vastly powerful, and well-designed beat manipulation tool for iPad that stirs together audio and math in a way that astounds and delights. The description of a “stochastic sample slice sequencer” might scare some off, but fear not: this is a beauty of a beast. Imported audio files are mapped into a circular, looping display, and sliced into a specific number of sectors, or segments (from two to 32 chunks), each with its own color.
Tablet DJs have long been happy with the two primary players in that sandbox: Native Instruments’ Traktor DJ and Algoriddim’s djay, the latter of which launched a stellar sequel not long ago. Both are digital spinning powerhouses, but carrying around a large library of music has always been a limiting factor for covering all potential sonic bases. That’s where Pacemaker is trying to carve out a unique niche: it’s the only iPad DJ software that comes with Spotify support.
Venerable music gear maker KORG has already brought some very cool audio apps to the iOS universe, and it continues the onslaught with Gadget, a slick, lovely-sounding iPad app with 15 synth devices — each capable of some true sonic mayhem, and all wrapped into a productive sequencing environment. It’s not hard to quickly whip up some pounding electronic dance music (EDM), especially once you get the hang of the interface, but there are significant holes in the slick veneer.
Music discovery continues to be a conundrum in an era of homogenized radio, the disappearance of music on so-called music television stations, and a seemingly endless array of new artists to fit every taste. Streaming music services have attempted to fill the void with increasingly impressive recommendation algorithms, and Beats Music — which features the branding of the popular Dr. Dre-backed headphones — is the latest such offering, serving up more than 20 million tracks with a heaping helping of music expertise on the side.
Ever since Apple revolutionized digital music with the iPod, we've been looking for faster ways to navigate our ever-expanding music libraries. Even with its iOS 7 overhaul, Apple's Music app still offers fairly basic controls, forcing us to focus on the screen and tap tiny buttons when we're on the road or out for a run. The aptly named Listen thinks it has tapped into a better method. With a buttonless interface that eschews digital controls in favor of simple gestures, the music player looks to change the way we listen to music on our iPhones by relying less on our eyes.