In­spired by the Brit awards, we look at the apps and gad­gets that can get you mak­ing mu­sic

Gloucestershire Echo - - TECH NOW -

STAND­ALONE ■ Teenage En­gi­neer­ing OP-Z (£529)

TEENAGE En­gi­neer­ing is a very cool Swedish com­pany mak­ing in­no­va­tive and func­tional se­quencers and syn­the­sis­ers.

The OP-Z is both – it’s es­sen­tially a stand­alone mu­sic cre­ation kit. You can play or pro­gram up to 10 songs, con­trol­ling ev­ery as­pect, ei­ther with myr­iad con­trollers on the de­vice it­self, or with the com­pan­ion smart­phone app, which dou­bles as a screen for the OP-Z.

It’s also tiny, mea­sur­ing just 21cm long, 5.7cm wide and 1cm deep.

In­side you’ll find 16 sam­ple packs with 24 sam­ples in each, there are eight syn­the­sis­ers to cre­ate your own sounds, and a range of ef­fects. There’s even a built-in mic for record­ing.

The OP-Z is also great for live per­for­mances, even of­fer­ing con­trol of vi­su­als that can be pro­jected from your IOS de­vice while you play.


IF you want to make mu­sic us­ing your iphone and ipad (and they are ter­rific de­vices for do­ing just that), you could al­ways tap tap away on the screen and use the built-in mic.

You’ll soon hit your head on de­vice lim­i­ta­tions, though – th­ese con­trollers and in­ter­faces will help.

■ Roli Blocks and Seaboard

(Light­pad blocks cost £189.95, while Con­trol blocks cost £89.95. Seaboard key­boards start at £279.95)

ROLI has es­sen­tially re-thought the key­board with its Seaboard de­vice. It will be fa­mil­iar to any­one who can play a pi­ano, but adds a mas­sive ar­ray of new ways to con­trol and ma­nip­u­late sound.

It’s a reg­u­lar key­board, yes – but you can also swipe across its sur­face to bring an ex­tra di­men­sion to your play­ing. Keys are ve­loc­ity sen­si­tive, too.

The Light­pad blocks are touch­sen­si­tive rub­ber blocks with built-in light feed­back – they can be pressed, tapped, or swiped, and can con­trol a vast ar­ray of sounds when con­nected to you ipad or iphone, ei­ther within the Roli apps, or within a wide range of mu­sic pro­duc­tion apps.

You can even add a hard­ware con­trol block to gain rapid ac­cess to items that may be hid­den be­hind on-screen menus, speed­ing up the mu­sic-mak­ing process and al­low­ing you to bring down the bar­ri­ers be­tween you and the soft­ware you’re us­ing to cre­ate.

■ Apogee Mic+ (£249.95) and Jam+ (£149.95)

THERE’S more to mu­sic than se­quencers and sam­ples – some­times you might want to record some­thing that lives in the real world.

Apogee is one of the best in the world at mak­ing mics and in­ter­faces for record­ing, and its en­try-level USB mi­cro­phone and gui­tar in­ter­face will al­low you to record just about any­thing.

The Mic+ is a proper con­denser mic which you can plug straight into your IOS de­vice to record vo­cals and acous­tic in­stru­ments with a qual­ity and clar­ity that can’t be sur­passed at this price.

With the Jam+ you can plug your gui­tar or bass into your IOS de­vice and record them with the same level of pre­ci­sion – bat­tery power de­liv­ers a good sig­nal, which can then be ma­nip­u­lated with amp sim­u­la­tors and ef­fects on the ipad to iphone (if you want to record straight out of your amp, use the Mic+).

■ IK Mul­ti­me­dia irig Keys I/O (from £210)

A cheaper al­ter­na­tive to all of the above, it packs in a key­board, touch-pads, AND a high-qual­ity au­dio in­ter­face in a small and por­ta­ble pack­age.

You can have a tra­di­tional key­board with ei­ther 25 or 49 keys, and both ver­sions fea­ture tap­pable pads to make it easy to lay down your rhythms. There is also a whole host of con­trol switches and knobs with which you can ad­just in­stru­ment set­tings and mix tracks on-screen.

On the back there is a hy­brid mic and in­stru­ment in­put that al­lows you to plug in just about any­thing to record at 24-bit/96khz.

It comes with a load of soft­ware (in­clud­ing Able­ton Live 10 Lite if you want to record on a com­puter) so you can get started right out of the box.


(IOS, Free)

GARAGE­BAND is the most pop­u­lar mu­sic record­ing app on the planet, and for good rea­son.

There are ver­sions for IOS (iphone and ipad), and for Mac, and they play nicely with each other… so you can start a tune on your phone and then bring it into your Mac if you feel like ex­tra work is re­quired.

That’s not es­sen­tial, though – mu­si­cians can and do record mu­sic with Garage­band on iphone which has then been re­leased into the wider world. Ev­ery­thing you need is within.

There are a host of sam­pled in­stru­ments that you can play on-screen, lots of pre-recorded loops to get you started, and some amp sim­u­la­tors and ef­fects for gui­tar.

There are also some nice stu­diostyle ef­fects for vo­cals that you can record with the built-in mic, or via the mic on your Ear­pods.

All this comes to­gether in a multi-track record­ing space, where you can mix and edit. A built-in se­quencer also al­lows those who can’t play to pro­gramme in­stead.

All this is en­hanced by the ad­di­tion of hard­ware such as key­boards and mics. But you don’t have to – Garage­band plays nicely on its own.

■ Walk Band

(An­droid, free with in-app pur­chases) IF you want a Garage­band-style ex­pe­ri­ence on An­droid, Walk Band repli­cates most of the fea­tures and it’s pretty de­cent.

There are lots of in­stru­ments to try and a full-fea­tured multi-track record­ing area, where you can piece to­gether your tunes.

Playable on-screen in­stru­ments and a built-in se­quencer make this a use­ful al­ter­na­tive. But don’t ex­pect plug-and-play from any of the hard­ware de­vices out there.

It’s free to try but ex­tra func­tion­al­ity costs, and you can buy add-on in­stru­ments and fea­tures in-app, with prices from 65p to £4.49.

The Apogee Mic+ is a con­denser mi­cro­phone

IK Mul­ti­me­dia irig Keys I/O

Roli Blocks and Seaboard

Walk Band

Teenage En­gi­neer­ing OP-Z

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