Our iPhones have turned us all into amateur musicians. Whether we're composing rock ballads with GarageBand or dropping beats with djay, the apps we tap and swipe have given us the ability to make beautiful music without suffering through hours of lessons. Keezy is not one of these apps. With a ridiculously minimal interface that's as fun as it is frustrating, Keezy turns your phone into a capable eight-track sampler — but you'll have to bring your own beats.
Many OS X plugins and iOS amps offer software-modeled versions of guitar amplifiers, but Bias - Amps! — an iPad-only app from Positive Grid — is the most impressive and totally realistic one we’ve ever heard. It’s so good, you might be tempted to sell your heavy old Fender Super Twin Reverb on eBay and buy a dedicated iPad to run it. And if you’re the kind of six-string slinger who’s not afraid to get under the hood, you can fine-tune your tone in ways we’ve never seen in software.
Over the last week, my work experience has been a much happier place. I’ve listened to my favorite artists and discovered new favorites. The secret to this happiness is Muse, a fantastic little $5 app that does one job—stream Pandora radio stations—extremely well.
It’s been years since Apple updated its venerable Logic digital audio workstation (DAW) software, and more than a few Mac musicians were despondent about Logic's fate. But out of left field, Apple shipped a significant update that has largely restored faith in the future of the application. Logic Pro X is perhaps the best, most refined version yet, with a cleaned-up interface, even more great instruments and effects, and a price that truly cannot be beat.
Tablature is a method of notating music for guitars. Rather than a traditional score, tabs note the string and fret number of each note or chord. Tabular is an affordable Mac application that lets you create tabs by hand. Unfortunately, it does some simple tasks poorly, although some more-advanced tasks are handled well.
There are dozens of audio players available in the App Store to fit any taste, but for the most part, they pretty much do the same thing the original Music app did. Splyce is different. It still plays the songs that are stored on your device, but there's a focus on transitions that puts your tunes in a whole new light, turning the most eclectic of playlists into a mix worthy of being played at the hottest of dance clubs.
As much as we love our mice and trackpads, Apple’s marketing has made us a bit jaded about anything with “magic” in its name. So, when Mimo Monitors’ Magic Touch landed on our doorstep, we were appropriately skeptical.
Soundfreaq's Sound Stack is a bookshelf hi-fi that lets you keep your iPhone in your pocket, provided its no more than 33 feet away. But while built-in Bluetooth adds an extra feature to an otherwise standard high-end digital music system, it mainly serves as a reminder of why many of its peers stick to a dock-only format.
If Jony Ive designed a Bluetooth speaker, it might look like this. Then again, if Jony Ive designed a soup can, it might look like this. The HiddenRadio blends into its surroundings, with no visible buttons or controls. You twist it on its sturdy base to reveal the speaker, and control the volume the same way: more speaker showing means louder music, and you just twist it all the way closed to turn it off. It connects via Bluetooth 2.1 or a hidden aux-in jack, and we got the best results leaving the audio device at around 80 percent volume, and then fine-adjusting by twisting the HiddenRadio.
GarageBand puts its ringtone-creation feature front and center on the welcome screen, but using its complex interface can seem like overkill when all you want to do is trim a song to ringtone length and export it to iTunes. iToner does the same thing, with a simple, almost spartan interface. It even bundles a few premade ringtones, but they may be there solely to convince you that you can do a better job yourself.