When the iPhone App Store was introduced, the cool factor of the iPhone grew exponentially, and I knew it was only a matter of time until there were apps that would help me with my everyday work as an audio engineer.
This holiday season, chances are you've got an iTunes gift card to spend. If you're looking for the top apps just for working musicians like yourself, you've come to the right place!
After a few months of testing, here's a list of my top 5 recording & sound apps. Whether you're a weekend warrior recording your music at home & mixing your band's own sound, or working as a professional audio engineer mixing music for a living, these apps are well worth the download!
1. StudioApp by Krasidy LLCStudioApp is a really unique application for the iPhone; it's a fully-functional four-track recorder and sampler, fully capable of making passable recordings on-the-go. Simply plug in a microphone and go!
StudioApp allows you to work with four recording tracks, as well as an instrumental track; you can download additional instrumental backing tracks, professionally-produced, through StudioApp's supplier. The best part? It's included with your purchase, and you'll receive monthly updates.
StudioApp is available in two flavors, an $8.99 full version (which includes the aforementioned sample updates), as well as free "lite" version which features limited recording time and limited samples.
2. RTA by Studio Six DigitalIf you're mixing your own music, either live or in the studio, or a live sound engineer of any level, you'll want an RTA, or Real Time Analyzer. An RTA allows you to visually see what frequency ranges are in your audio -- very handy for mastering, correcting weird sounding recordings, or making your live show sound as best it can.
RTA by Studio Six Digital is the first truly accurate RTA to be made for the iPhone. It's $9.99 -- a small price to pay considering the cost of handheld RTA devices -- and only available for the iPhone 3G.
RTA combines an accurate read-out, and various modes including octave and 1/3 octave. And if you're worried about the iPhone mic's capabilities, fear not: while it still clips fairly soon compared to a calibrated mic, it has a filter in place to effectively flatten the built-in microphone for accurate read-outs.
Studio Six Digital also plans on releasing a calibrated, reference-quality microphone for RTA.
3. BeatMaker by IntuaBeatMaker isn't the easiest software to use for the iPhone, but it's seriously one of the most powerful. Not only does BeatMaker function as a full-featured sampler and beat producer for recording and live use, it also allows you to edit and manipulate audio in ways previously reserved only for digital audio workstations.
BeatMaker features a large, studio-quality sample library at your disposal, along with 16 trigger pads and audio recording capabilities. You can export songs as .wav files for use in professional recording software, and you can also apply world-class effects.
You've even got I/O routing options usually seen only on fancier programs, and metronome support so you can always stay on the beat.
It's not cheap -- $19.99 -- but it's way more powerful than you'll pay. It's been compared in reviews to Reason, a much more expensive (and professional-grade) software. Personally, I find the quality to be on par with just about anything out there, and remember: if you've got the skill, it doesn't matter what you're using, it'll sound good!
4. GigBaby! by ioMeticsIf you need something simple and cheap for recording and practicing, GigBaby is absolutely idea. A steal at 99 cents, GigBaby! is a four-track recorder, metronome, simple drum machine, and a setlist manager all in one.
Designed with working musicians in mind, you have the ability to record and mix up to four tracks, all while layering in simple drum beats provided within the software. You also have a powerful tap-tempo metronome, an invaluable rehearsal and recording tool.
You also have a setlist management service built-in to GigBaby!, allowing you to organize your song list by name, tempo, and key.
GigBaby! also includes the ability to share your recordings with others -- and to sync easily with other iPhone-toting band members -- via a free transfer utility available on their website.
5. SPL by Studio Six DigitalAs a musician, you should be concerned about your exposure to high sound pressure levels; remember, time + exposure = loss, and once your hearing is gone, it's gone. Whether you're a weekend warrior, a professional touring musician, or a sound engineer in the studio or live, you owe it to yourself, and your career, to keep your ears as healthy as possible.
SPL is a wonderful app that allows you to plainly see how loud you're getting on stage or in the studio. It's also one of the first SPL-metering apps to be accurate. In testing my copy, I found that it was only a few decibels off of my calibrated Smaart rig! Even so, SPL allows you to match the calibration of another device, so I know that when my iPhone is reading 100db, my Smaart rig at FOH is aso reading the same.
Pro-grade features include your choice of weighting (A or C), a maximum SPL readout (resettable), as well as a reference field to capture variances in the room.
SPL is an absolute steal at $5.99; compared to a handheld solution (many of which retail for $50 to much more), SPL is fully-featured without the pro-quality pricetag.