Music production once meant getting into a studio. Portable multi-track tape and later the computer liberated us from that, and the “bedroom studio” was born. When capable Palm handhelds hit the market, musicians imagined yet more mobile means of production, and everything from Game Boys and PSPs to phones, even before the iPhone, have been pressed into on-the-go music-making service.

In all that time, though, the way you actually make music in your palm has been a work in progress.

Intua’s BeatMaker was one of the first applications to demonstrate what might be possible on Apple’s handheld, and a radical new version looks like the new generation it is. A drum sampler, keyboard sampler, mixer, sequencer, wave editor, and effects combine into an integrated “studio” on your phone (or iPod touch, or iPad), and there are features for exchanging files with other apps, your desktop computer, and the Web (hello, SoundCloud). It’s a pocket workstation – maybe even a pocket DAW.

See below for an exhaustive set of features and more high-resolution images of the interface. Cost: US$19.99.

Whether you’d want to use this and nothing else to me is immaterial, novelty aside. If that makes you happy, do it; I’m sure for others, this will be more like a handheld sketchpad.

Intua’s Mathieu Garcia shares thoughts on what kind of working process this application might mean – and reflects on how the platform has evolved, and might continue to improve in the future:

We’re getting quite positive feedback on the workflow. BeatMaker tools such as the Wave Editor, iPod library import, and particularly the Chop Lab, are getting quite a lot of interest. It’s perfect for mashups, remixes, and overall sample-based composition.

Moving audio between 2 apps is still done via the iOS pasteboard, not very optimal, but it’s acceptable, and got better with iOS4 multi-tasking. People seems to consider iphone apps almost as portable DAWs. The market quickly evolved from the “casual” music app, to a pocket-sized version of their studio / setup. One of our featured artist, DJ Shag composed a full album entirely with his iPhone. People are definitely working around the limitations quickly, we are still astonished by what came out of BeatMaker 1.

SoundCloud integration is getting a lot of interest too, which is a must have for every music app, I think. Their API is clean and easy to implement, definitely a plus for software developers. It’s a timesaver for the end-users as the compression and transfer are done automatically. We’re looking into DropBox too (coming on the next update), as it’s just great for centralizing projects, preset and samples remotely.

Everything has evolved so fast in 2 years…. With the addition of OSC/CoreMidi some great controller apps were released. It proves once again that the iOS platform a serious candidate for bigger developers / companies. I will take as an example the Korg iMS20 app: the iPad is certainly getting a lot of interest. Audio connectivity / interfaces are also on the rise, with hardware such as the iRig, Alesis iO Dock Pro, Akai SS25, among others…

We’re implementing CoreMidi, which was recurrently requested in just 3 days. It was already planned when Apple dropped their beta iOS firmware. MIDI learning, velocity and a bunch of knobs will come out handy, that’s for sure. Still, there’s a lot to improve on the mobile / desktop interaction, especially when importing projects done on a mobile device. This should be seamless for people and not to have to manually export WAV, MIDI, etc.

We’d love to hear back from you and other dev’s, let me know what you think!

They also send the full-blown (long) feature list our way:

* FEATURES *

* STUDIO:
- Create multiple instruments with Drum Machine or Keyboard interface
- 10 effects to choose from: Reverb, Compressor, Filter, Delay, EQ, Flanger, Chorus, AutoPan, BitCrusher, Overdrive.
- 3 effect slots for each instrument, unlimited global effects racks
- Customizable Cross Controller for all effects allows you to manipulate multiple parameters at once

* DRUM MACHINE:
- Up to 128 trigger pads: 16 pads over 8 different banks
- Chop Lab: Slice audio loops to automatically create new sound presets
- Control sound parameters on individual pad: volume, pan, mute, output bus, semitone, fine tune, reverse and autoscaling
- Low/high pass filter per pad with cutoff and resonance control
- Choose between various pad trigger modes: one-shot, hold & loop
- Customizable envelope (ADSR) control for each pad
- Exclusive groups and polyphony management
- “Live” modes: trigger, mute, reverse, velocity and tune spreading.

* KEYBOARD SAMPLER
- 128-key keyboard with pitch wheel, double keyboard mode, note display and zoom controls
- Easily create your own instruments from any sample combination with the keygroup editor
- Volume and filter ADSR envelopes
- Low/high pass filter with cutoff, resonance and key tracking
- 2 LFOs with customizable amplitude, offset and rate (synchronizable), controlling volume, pitch and filter parameters
- Polyphony control, with up to 32 voices per keyboard sampler
- Legato play mode with customizable glide
- Keygroup controls: volume, pan, semitones, fine-tune, reverse and one-shot, hold, hold & loop trigger modes

* MULTI-TRACK SEQUENCER
- Create unlimited instrument and FX tracks
- Automations: Record, edit and replay instrument and effect parameters
- Record, draw, arrange and resize patterns along the timeline to build your song
- Compose and modify patterns with a piano-roll interface. Edit notes, parameters, and automations.
- Instrument and effect recording options: Quantize, take or partial undo, pre-roll, Overdub, note erasing.
- Includes multiple handy tools such as zooming

* WAVE EDITOR
- Full-fledged wave editor with intuitive pinch and selection for manipulating samples
- Basic edition tools: trim, cut, copy, paste, with undo/redo back to 8 steps
- High quality time-stretching and pitch-shifting algorithms
- Audio tools: normalize, silence, reverse, fade in and out, cross-fade
- Record new samples from device microphone or an instrument plugged into it
- Loop points and tempo/signature editor

* MIXER CONSOLE
- Realistic multi-track mixer with level meters
- Edit volume, pan, solo, mute and bus routing features for individual tracks

* LARGE SOUND BANK INCLUDED
- 68 Drum Machine presets from all genres
- 111 Keyboard Sampler presets, from synthesizers to realistic orchestral instruments.
- More than 1800 quality samples to choose from

* SHARING & GLOBAL OPTIONS
- Export your songs to Audio or MIDI files
- Transfer and manage your files from your computer using the integrated FTP server
- Import any songs from your iPod library to create new remixes
- Share audio content with more than 20 other music applications using the iOS pasteboard
- User-friendly file browser and manager, with sample, preset and project tagging for quick lookup
- Supports BeatMaker 1 kits and projects
- Fully supports Retina display
- Native iPad version coming soon as a free update

Modularity is an interesting point. On a recent story, iOS developer Richard Lawler made an interesting point:

I too am a big fan of self-contained musical instruments. They are a nice complement to the essential attributes of a mobile device like the iPad. But I have to wonder if the bar isn’t being raised too high for many independent developers trying to participate. It’s also resulting a vast landscape of insular music apps.
Desktop music production has benefited immensely from modular tools and structures. Sure the pendulum swings both ways between plug-ins and buss protocols and then back to integrated suites. But it’s hard to argue that many advances in the state of the art of electronic music production haven’t come from focused special purpose plug in instruments, effects or hosts.
In contrast, modular music software is pretty much impossible on iPad unless you make the jump off of a single device. At that point a lot of the advantages of mobile devices get lost in a maze of cables and protocols. We are left with is less-capable copies of what has been possible for many years with TablePCs and Lemurs.

On the other hand, when you look at the popularity of some tools in both hardware and software, specialization – with a payoff in simplicity – can often be an advantage. In that event, it’s really a question of whether these mobile apps will be able to be modular in the way these other tools have. That raises lots of questions in engineering and design, but they could be engaging questions, whether you’re build an iPhone app, a desktop plug-in, a hardware synth, or an effect pedal.

With these questions about, you know, actually making music in mind, if you’re using BeatMaker 2, we’d love to hear from you. The novelty or popularity of one platform or another has never been nearly as interesting to me as discovering the different ways in which people use the tools to be creative.

  • http://Www.holotropik.com Holotropik

    I have been using Beatmaker 1 for a while now. It has a great workflow for creating samples that I then load onto the ESX.

    I was using it recently and wondering if this mob were going to bring an update…here it is. I will get it and use it. Looks more creative due to the inclusion of instruments.

    Having no instruments to create sounds ithe first version made it limited for me to be able to sketch out original ideas.

    That is the problem of most of these iOS apps. The inability to create original sounds. Manipulating samples is boring.

  • http://www.colddivide.com Dave

    Is there some specific reason why none of these developers have thought of providing an option to record audio tracks along side the programmed patterns in the sequencer? Is it even possible on the iphone? 

    Until this happens, at least from the way i would like to use it…these apps just wont be useful (i have BM v.1 & nanostudio).

    I would like to be able to record vocal ideas over beat/melody ideas! 

  • Lazors

    This looks really good for what I want to do with a DAW on an ultraportable device, and the price is hard to beat.

    BUT I'll wait for the native iPad version. My iPhone screen is OK for simple activities, but irritatingly small for anything complicated IMO. Would have been an instant purchase otherwise.

  • favomodo

    About that small iPhone screen. I've been wondering why Apple doesn't allow iPhone 4 resolution apps to show at their native resolution on an iPad (so 960×640). That's should be a lot more acceptable than the 480×320 (and the unusable x2 button)!

  • http://prettyextreme.com Josh

    I've been using BeatMaker V1 for a year now and was starting to wonder, like Holotropik, when I might see an update. Imagine my surprise at being surprised to discover it just 2 days ago: "How did I not know about this? I read CDM EVERY DAY."

    I don't use BM1 for serious work. All of my projects are named clever things like "Flight to SF", "To Seattle Xmas 2010", or most indicative of the speed with which I can make something cool: "Subway to Williamsburg." I've been really pleased to create some groovy beats, but haven't taken the time to export anything into what I'd call a real project.

    I've lamented the lack of melodic control since I began using BM1. There's the basic pitch control for individual samples, but the workflow for working out melodies is sub-par. 16-half-step range? Atypical. So I'm really looking forward to sinking my teeth into BM2, but it might have to wait until the next flight to CA.

  • rondema

    BM2 brings some really nice tools for the sample based musician. BM2 sequencer borrows very heavily from Nanostudio. Hmmm.

  • Bhakta Billy

    Novelty value aside: in 2011 if you want to make music you have more functionality in your pocket for $200 than you could in 1995 for $2000.

    With everyone being able to produce with a phone then upload to the internet, isnt the world cluttered with lots more music that sounds relatively the same? I do not claim to be the next big-thing but shouldnt our culture be about the CREATION of music? What about advancements in DESIGN or CONTENT? Doesnt that come from inside? (not inside a machine, or on staff paper)

    The important discussion that our "techno-savvy" generation should REALLY be having is about HOW to create our own music that MATTERS (and questioning of our elders about their inspirations and motivations and sonic artistry) vs. basic advancements in form to genres that barely go beyond what was created 15 years ago.

    Beatmaker V2 + filtatron + NanoStudio OR BUST!

  • Legs Mechanical

    I haven't touched my maschine since getting this app. not that this does anywhere near as much as maschine does, but i'm really into a boom-bap vinyl chopping phase, and this does all of that stuff brilliantly and quickly. somehow reminds me of my mpc1k more than maschine does, in fact… workflow is super-quick.

    BUT: This thing needs SoundFont support. To include a full-fledged keyboard sampler with unlimitted key-ranges and not have it support a generally adopted (if ancient) format doesn't make sense.  SF2 support would blow the keyboard wide-open, as well as dramatically improve the available sound-set. Checkout the keyboard sampler in the app and you'll see what I mean… its essentially already a soundfont player and editor.

  • Spazmatron

    I'm also wandering when we'll get something like this + audio recording(like 4track or irig). I wouldn't think there is a hardware limitation since they both already exist separately. 

  • Legs Mechanical

    @spazmatron blip has definitely (and i believe intua has as well.. ) commented that they are aiming for that sort of integration. as it stands now,  i think of bm2, nanostudio as being like reason with no rewire. get the instrumentation down, render it, and export it to an audio app (which pasteboard makes very easy). then you can edit it all you want and continue to add audio tracks on top of it… the down-side, of course, is that you lose control over all of the individual instrumental tracks..  nano-studio will, however, export all of your tracks as stems, which makes this possible. 

    More-over, you can sample in bm2 (and nanostudio… i think…) while listening to playback.  So, you can put an entire (long) audio recording on a pad within the program and trigger it within the sequence. I do this a lot with guitar parts in bm2 and it feels less like an obnoxious work-around than you'd expect.

  • strata189

    This article/interview sort of tap dances around Nanostudio without ever mentioning it. I can understand you not wanting to take sides, but NS was the first app I considered to be DAW-like, in any real sense. I think competition is a very healthy thing for the developement of apps, and I look forward the the continuing evolution of hand-held music.

  • flying lotus

    BEATMAKER 2 is the best iphone/portable music software out. It has the power to do everything Id do in my home studio.

  • Random Chance

    Not only in music world but apparently everywhere it's iThis and iThat. It's hard to believe that two devices could spur such a flood of "news" and discussions. To me it seems that we're fast approaching a monoculture in which almost everything is reduced to iOS devices. Is there still a place on the net where people don't talk about iOS hardware and software? Even the venerable Analogue Heaven mailing list has had its share of discussions about software from the app store. When will the hype end so we can all go back to business as usual?

  • rondema

    Random Chance – it just happens that Apple lead the field in handheld devices at the moment. The 'game changer' is ultra-portable computing and the new workflows  liberated therein, not purely the output of one manufacturer… (and thousands od developers!)

  • rondema

    of

  • Leslie

    Well, where do I start… there is a hefty bank – 700MB of rather lame samples included and demo tracks are just terrible, 

    There is no CoreMidi support, file management is bad, FX routing is flawed, mixer is flawed – no FX send amount and no master fader, there is no iPad version – I know INtua said "coming soon", but "soon" in INtua speak means 6 months and last but not least – there is no audio track recording and BM2 has memory management issues as it crashes every 30 minutes or so…

    Still, if they sort all those problems, BM 2 may become an useful app instead of being just another toy for iPhone/iPod  only users.

    As it is, I find much more use from highly underrated iSequence for iPad.

  • http://jasonrkramer.com kramer

    poo poo for the paid update, and poo poo for no reduced upgrade pricing. i woulda liked to check this out but i so rarely use the bm1 that another $20 juss ain't worth it.

    that said, i'm a huge fan of beatmaker.

  • doclvly

    @Kramer

    they rebuilt beatmaker from the ground up. They couldn't offer it as an upgrade. It's worth it honestly.

    @Leslie

    Yeah im with you on some of those. I have to say tho, BM2 already works on ipad, it just isnt pretty. I'm sure you can get over that.

    FX are being fixed in the next update they are working on currently. Yes they take forever with updates, but I'm thinking things will finally speed up. They weren't going to get everything perfect the first time around, but theres so much packed in how can you complain.

    Beatmaker hasn't crashed yet for me, thats unfortunate. Try closing some of your other open programs homie.

    oh and who the hell relies on library sounds, if your serious about things get your own or learn to layer eq and resample them.

  • http://twitter.com/seedoflife seedoflife

    BM2 centralizes a lot of existing apps while not providing the quantum jump beyond what is already available.  

    Developers still have to remember that the competitive environment still includes apps on the desktop, laptops, and the various OS.

    I'm sure that I will still buy BM2 for those yet hidden, improved nuances and allow curiosity to complete its assigned hit on the cat, but I will take my time in doing so at the same rate.

    I do agree with the earlier comment about the lack of some type of special offer to upgrade.  Goodwill preservation never goes out of style.

  • http://noisepages.com/members/thomaspiper/ Thomas Piper

    I have the first beat maker does this one have a metronome hmmm

  • Leslie

    PS; I forgot to insert a link to iSequence for iPad, so here it is:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oS0_AB7alu8
    BTW; This is rather old vid., iSequence for iPad now supports CoreMIDI and Sampling as well – for easy integration with your computer based DAW.

  • Sleep

    BM2 definitely has some bugs and stuff to be worked out. I'm hoping Intua is quick with the updates and begins being more vocal as a company than they have been in the past. Maybe they'll start to attract genuine producers and others sincerely interested in making music on their mobile devices, instead of being saddled with the distasteful riffraff that tend to fill their forum.

    I think fans of MPCs will definitely like BM2. The inclusion of features like time stretching and pitch shifting, which no other iOS app features, are a boon to sample-based composers. The WAV editor and chop lab are both more full featured than any other app.

    NanoStudio is quite good as well and I expect it to get better to compete with BM2, but right now BM2 is on top and I hope to see many people composing great tracks with it.

  • Lesle

    NanoStodio is THE only iPhone app that I have installed on my iPad and actually using it…

  • foljs

    In contrast, modular music software is pretty much impossible on iPad unless you make the jump off of a single device.

    Actually it could be quite possible, if there was one company / organization making a modular host, and having developers submit devices etc, for in-app purchase.

  • http://www.bloomingtonelectronic.com Mark Kunoff

    To Dave (2nd from the top):

    You can record your voice over the top of beats and melodies with iSequence and even though it's more about loops, StudioHD can do this as well.

    As far as upgrade pricing goes…

    If a dev has to start over from scratch, it's not the customer's fault that they didn't get it right the first time. They should thank the early adopters for supporting their efforts. Charging loyal customers the same price as newcomers is shameful. I wont be giving them my money. It's too bad, I'd love to have the sample chopping. I'll just have to wait for another app which brings this same functionality – which wont be long!

  • http://www.bloomingtonelectronic.com Mark Kunoff

    I love reading this blog, but it irks me to no end how people make absolute statements such as, "like time stretching and pitch shifting, which no other iOS app features". Looptastic and Studio HD have time stretching. Although it's not a DAW, Sylo Synthesizer does live time stretching too.

  • Sleep

    @Mark Kunoff: The time stretching in in Looptastic and Studio HD are pretty low quality and introduce artifacting rather quickly, so I did not feel the need to mention it here. It's really meant for on-the-fly beatmatching, whereas the time stretching in BM2, while not pro level quality, provides higher quality offline rendering.

    I've not heard of Sylo Synthesizer till now, but it looks interesting. I'll check it out.

  • KDan

    This looks like a really fun and surprisingly versatile program. As an Android user, I'm really jealous of the music-making apps on Apple devices. Android's got a long way to go when it comes to audio apps. Open source is cool though…

  • http://murderlazer.blogspot.com/ bridgealantee

    Can't say enough about chop shop!  

  • loopstationzebra

    Most. Overrated. App. Ever.

    Honestly. To have waited this long and not have either an iPad version, or CoreMIDI support.

    Jesus Wept.

  • Oliver Sumpton

    man that looks sweet. though sure does crib a lot from NanoStudio. side note: Nanostudio is AWESOME!

  • Halalstyles

    Please fix the issue on the iPad 2.  Thank u.  This app is the best.

  • Fixx

    This program is def awesome! Big thumbs up….the only complaint i have is it has crashed on Me twice and erased 2 beats…frustrating ….I can only hope they updates fix these problems. 

  • Tom

    I recently purchased BM2 for my iPod touch – it was on promotion for $10 so I thought I'd give it a try. Perhaps I was just too quick and should have read the specs – apparently the app "is not compatible" with my device. There was a time when compatibility was not a consideration when purchasing on the iTunes store. I suppose those days are gone. Unfortunately, the intua website is down. I wonder whether this is a temporary thing or whether this augurs poorly for the company?