Mathieu Garci of Intua answers some questions we had about features in BeatMaker.

CDM: What about MIDI export? A lot of us want to be able to compose something on the road, then save MIDI patterns for use on our main computer.

Mathieu: BeatMaker v1.0.0 (current AppStore release) does not supports MIDI. We have v1.0.1 almost ready which adds small features and some bug fixes. BeatMaker v1.0.2 will certainly includes MIDI export. Our audio framework is actually using MIDI [data], we’re just not saving them [at the moment]. Exporting the MIDI files will be done with BeatPack (coming very soon).

CDM: Would it be possible to add audio input / mic recording, to truly make this a sampler?

Mathieu: Audio recording is not yet possible. The only concern right now is the very poor quality of the iPhone microphone.

Mics out there?

Mathieu did add that he had seen some DIY mic and line connectors in the dock port. Anyone tried this on your own? How well does it work? It’d be great to see this added to iPhone apps – and I imagine if you pull it off nicely, it could compel Intua to release this feature.

We’ll keep you posted on any developments.

Video review

iSmashPhone must have really been excited about this app, as they’ve posted a full review and video hands-on today:

You can see how elegant the design of the interface really is in a way screenshots don’t do justice. You can also, on the downside, see that touchscreens don’t always work as well as physical faders. Then again, I’m guessing you don’t have pockets large enough to carry step sequencers, drum pads, and effects units. (Well, maybe if you wear overalls or lederhosen or something.)

Nonetheless, the app really does look well done. It’s worth a look, if nothing else, to see how UIs are evolving for touchscreens, which we’re likely to see on notebook computers, too. Thanks to Mathieu and Intua for this!

  • Jason

    If the "only concern" about adding audio recording is "audio quality", that's our problem. Bring it on!

  • Nick Inhofe

    If this had a piano roll sequencer, I'd buy it in a flash! It still looks really awesome.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @Nick? Really? With only my fingers tapping, and no device input, I think the step sequencer is just fine.

    Now, obvious 2.0 feature: arpeggiator. Mmmmm. Would be perfectly suited to touch apps, and you could use it to generate on-the-fly rhythms, etc.

    But this is hefty already. I think with MIDI export and hopefully eventually mic input a lot of people will be happy.

  • Nick Inhofe

    I didn't mean for live use, but rather simply placing notes on a piano roll with a simple synth/sampler for playback. Something similar to the grid sequencer it has but with pitch. Of course, I suppose you could multisample an instrument and use the grid sequencer, but a piano roll would be superb.

    I realize that this is asking a lot of a phone app, but a sequencing app is one of the first things I'd hoped for when I heard about third party support on the iphone.

  • Machines

    @Nick:

    More versatile pitch control would be nice. Maybe even the addition of a simply synth to go along with the sampler down the line. As is, the $20 I spent on this is already money well spent. It's a lot of fun to play with and certainly is handy to lay down a quick beat (again, a dedicated synth would be nice for melodies – though I guess with BeatPack we'll be able to create our own samples, so it may be moot) when on the go. Going to be fun seeing how this thing evolves.

  • http://www.simonsound.co.uk simon

    It does look great and I have to say I'm sold on this.

    But…. its interesting seeing the touch screen in action. It reminded me of using a radio playout system called Enco Dad which has used touch screens for years. Editing start and end points was a nightmare using the touch screen because any small movement (like pulling your finger away from the screen) would make the locations change.

    I'm not suggesting Beatmaker has the same problem but watching the video and seeing him struggle to 'pick up' the faders reminded me of how fiddly some touch screen systems can be.

  • http://nickseaver.net/dilettante nick

    "Here you can control the feedback, the wet mix"

    It sounds like the reviewer doesn't actually know what he's talking about, but is just reading the labels off the screen as he goes. We call that feedback/wet mix thing a "delay." The only part that was actually a review was when he acknowledged that the touch screen response isn't always as great as you'd like; sounded more like an unsufficiently explanatory manual.

    The program is f'ing fantastic though, and I can't wait for the desktop client to be released so I can load my own samples. Also, they ought to add pitch control into the sequencer; it could go right with the groove and velocity editors. Seeing as the built in pad sounds have single bass notes, I would imagine a pitch editor is imminent.

  • bliss

    One thing's for sure, those who are first to market with good iPhone apps stand the best chance of paying off their college loans before the year's out. Hell, throw the car loan in there as well. Millions of users are not required to do that. Just a few thousand.

    And, yes, BeatMaker is one awesome app! MIDI export and audio in/out should definitely be next on the priority list. And as for version 1.5, how 'bout beat slicing? :) I'm glad the picture was not as bleak as PK originally hinted at with Tuner. ;)

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Hey, I just had to point out … if you show up at the buffet and there's just fish sticks and saltine crackers, you want to at least acknowledge it's worth waiting a few minutes for the lobster surf & turf with champagne. :)

  • bliss

    About the video: Was the audio recorded through the iPhone's "low quality" microphone? Shoulda turned that cell phone off as well.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    We've got some volunteers for CDM already to do a better video. But I give props to this guy for getting his video up, like, minutes after the thing came out…

  • bliss

    @ PK

    :)

  • Thomas Cermak

    This is unbelievable. Simply unbelievable for $19 bucks. The only downside I see is the rather small real estate of the iphone's screen – since I'm used to an mpc. I could see myself using this app once apple releases the (much rumored) revision of the Newton (with touch capability).

  • http://www.quoico.com RichardL

    I've found I have to put on my magnifying reading glasses to use Beatmaker. They unnecessarily use very tiny text throughout and often with poor contrast (e.g. gray on pastel color). Style is nice, but usability should take priority. (The screen shots and videos you see here are larger than the actual device due to DPI).

    I think the poor traction you see with the faders in the effects panel in the video is just poor coding or optimization. It really is very hard to make those faders move. Most of the rest of the app's UI is pretty responsive though. Properly done iPhone controls are usually quite responsive. But this is quibbling over some fairly minor glitches.

  • http://evolvingmusic.wordpress.com Sandra Possing

    I wonder where the samples/loops in the program are from? Is there just a preloaded set or can you download more from somewhere? Could you get loops from beatport to use on beatmaker?

  • Jonny Pez

    Using the touch screen isn't as difficult as the video makes it look. I think the reviewer may have been at a disadvantage with the video camera placed directly in front of the iPhone.

    Don't be discouraged by the touch screen. BeatMaker is the best music app out there in my opinion. Definitely the most robust.

  • dom

    I might buy this but im more curious to see what else comes out. there is a bright future for these types of apps on the iphone!

  • http://skull-fuckers.com aidsbot

    I've been using it on and off all day and I'm loving it. The interface is great and very responsive. But it does crash often so save your work after every pattern or change. Once we get the beatpack and the ability to pitch samples like the mpc it will be peachy keen. And choke groups are a must for me for breaks. Please!!!

  • apoclypse

    I love this thing. Like others have said, once a few key mpc features make it to this it will be great. Sometimes I have ideas in my head for beats but have a pretty crappy memory, with this I can just do something quick and in the general ball park and then get to work when I get home. I would like to see a more robust sequencer and quantization strength but that can wait for now. Midi export will be great.

  • http://www.quoico.com RichardL

    The Beatpack program for moving samples into the program on the device and moving exported recordings back to your computer is now available.

  • http://skull-fuckers.com aidsbot

    Just downloaded beatpack. Loving it!!!!! Works great so far. I gotta say I love this program. Now I have to make some kits. So hard to choose just 16 sounds. Must… learn…to…minimalize….

  • http://www.rolandreinke.com Roland Reinke

    This makes me seriously consider switching to the iPhone……

    WOW!

  • anders

    downloaded last night and next thing i knew – an hour gone, took a break and just had to get back on it.

    The sounds are really great and it's awesome that you can add you own samples.

    I am very impressed. This is an amazing app.

  • http://www.radionowhere.net M. Baker

    Just in case the developer is reading comments here, here's another vote for audio recording/looping/sequencing through the built-in mic. That would be the killer app for me – I don't care about the audio quality. For many songwriters, the ability to record a simple song sketch – with beats, melodies and instrumental hook ideas – quickly and easily would be the holy grail of iPhone apps.

  • http://akachicrecords.com Bruno c

    Being currently in the design phase of an iPhone music app myself (quite a different approach though) I must say that I am absolutely impressed with this app. It is amazing… And since this is the first generation of music apps I can only imagine what is in store in the future for the iPhone / itouch as a portable music production platform.

    Fantastic work and kudos to Intua for their efforts!

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  • lu

    The main shock for me was that the sequencer doesn't let you set/change the pitch of sounds. So you need 1 sound for each note in your melody. Which gets kind of cramped withonly 16 pads.

    I'm sure this'll be remedied in an upcoming version. I'm really enjoying the program and convenience of being able to work on music on the train or wherever. I have no problem using the touch screen which is very responsive, and no problems reading the text. if you have poor eyesight you're going to need your glasses. But that's true of any iPhone app with any complexity.

    Comments have been made about this app crashing, but i think that's more to do with iPhone 2.0 than anything, as all the apps are equally reliable… also if you sync to iTunes the phone tends to crash all downloaded apps, just delete a smaller app and redownload it and they'll all work again.

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  • Rasanada

    Does anybody else but me want Midi import?