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Monday, September 6, 2010

Mobile Recording

I've included a list of what I consider "serious" equipment over on the sidebar. What I haven't given, however, is a run-down of stuff I find useful (or hope to find useful) for taking musical "notes", recording ideas and so on.

Followers of my old blog, "the Fillmore Five Project", will know that in a pinch, when in need of a drum machine during rehearsals, I've used my iPhone as a sub. In terms of Apps, I've used iSequence, Instant Drummer and iDrum interchangeably. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. Overall, as a plug-and-play solution, I'd say that Instant Drummer has been the most user friendly.

The other piece of kit that's been invaluable during rehearsals has been my Tascam DR-1 personal digital recorder. You just click record, set it down and Bob's your uncle, it records your session. Well, as long as you remember to check the batteries, that is [cough].

Historically, on sunny days (in London!?!) I'd pack up one of my electrics and take myself out to a park for a jam, using a VOX Classic Rock Amplug. That was okay for solo w**king in public but wasn't much use as a songwriting tool.

A few weeks ago I saw an advert for the AmpliTube app and iRig guitar connector and I decided to treat myself. The concept is a hardware/software solution that lets you plug your guitar into your iPhone via an adapter then rock out using virtual amp modellers and stomp boxes. Like the Amplug, it's fun and cool but it's not that useful in the real world as there's no facility to record.

And then I had a "Eureka" moment. Back when I first got my iPhone I forked out for an app called MultiTrack, a decently featured DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). The potential to record and manipulate multiple channel on the go was what attracted me. The big problem, however, was getting the signal into the iPhone. Apple's clever little baby comes with a neat "is it a headphone or is it a line-in" socket. Unfortunately, it's wired up strangely, meaning that you can't just plug any old mic into it. Because of this, MultiTrack was pretty much useless to me.

Then I realised that with the iRig adapter, I could now access the input to the iPhone and hence use MultiTrack! I had a brief play, using my electro-acoustic and Bingo! It worked.

Granted the quality isn't great, but as a songwriting or portable demo-making tool it has potential. For more on MultiTrack, check out Harmonic Dog's website, here.

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