Griff review

I’ve been meaning to write a review of Griff for ages, and a recently I’ve been wondering exactly how to make it work. There are some excellent reviews of Griff, such as the Sound on Sound review written in May 2003, or the excellent one in Computer Music Tutorials, and I am sure that there are others.

Of course, I could give you something of a crash course in Griff, but the lovely people at Cobwebb Communications have already provided a fantastic tutorial online, and in fact they emailed to remind me just the other week. So what is there left that I can add?

Well, after much thought, I thought I’d write about why I started to use Griff, how I found it and what I like and don’t like about it, and I hope that’ll be useful.

Griff was in fact the only reason I ever bought a Pocket PC. Before then I had been a devoted Palm fan, and had avoided the Pocket PC platform (I quite like it now). I bought an HP Jornada 568 off eBay and it served very well indeed up until recently when I upgraded to a Dell Axim.

I started by just buying the main application and then moved slowly to buy all of the plug in applications. For now I think I’ll just cover Griff and the plug-ins it comes with, and perhaps we’ll move on to the other plug-ins at a later stage.

Griff Music Studio
Let me start by saying that I think that Griff is an excellent application and well worth trying especially if you’re already a Pocket PC / Windows mobile user. It was one of the first portable music studio applications, and remains one of the best available. One thing you will notice about Griff is that the user interface is very graphically rich, and I’ve always liked that about Griff. It isn’t just functionally rich, but great to look at too.

In term of the application’s features it has all you’d expect from a music studio application. All of the mix and instrument parameters can be automated. The mix facilities are very user friendly, and according to the tutorial you can even go up to 32000 channels on the mixer, although I dare say that the response times would not be great.

There are many good things to talk about with Griff. One of my favourites is the fact that Griff supports plug ins. You can purchase 8 instrument plug ins and a couple of effect plug ins too. The plug ins really extend Griff especially with soft synth instruments. My two favourites are mda Organ

and pSyn

All the others are worth a look too. But that does bring me on to one of my complaints about Griff, and that is the fact that Cobwebb never (or at least never as far as I am aware) made a specification or SDK available for others to develop Griff plug ins. Maybe one day, but who knows.

So, as I’ve started on my list of minor issues with Griff, I’ll let you know what the rest are.

Whilst I acknowledge the need for developers to secure their products with registration codes, there must be a better way with Griff. My problems with Griff registration is that when you have multiple plug ins all with different codes and then you need to change device, it takes ages to enter all the codes again.

No midi import
I think that Griff a MIDI import would have been an excellent addition to an already excellent application.

Griff costs £40, which is quite a lot for a mobile music application. Not that I mind that at all. However, if you add on the individual costs of all the plug ins you can end up with a total cost of just under £125. Which is a lot. I think that there could have been a bundle price or something more creative around pricing, which may have encouraged people to buy more plug ins anyway.

So, minor complaints out of the way. My verdict on Griff is that it still remains one of the best music applications for PocketPC and Windows Mobile. I wish that Cobwebb were still developing for it, but at least they continue with the Griff forum and that is very welcome. I think I will be a user for years to come and I suspect that more users will gravitate towards it as they have been doing for a long time.

Give it a a good look if you’re already on Windows Mobile.

The Basics: Platforms

Handheld platforms are changing quite rapidly now, and more platforms are becoming available as more devices become available. There was a time when selecting a PDA was a simple choice between Palm OS, and Pocket PC. However now there’s much more choice both in terms of device and operating system.

Palm OS
In the past Palm was one of the few mobile OS’s that had any kind of music applications available. Of course, some of the best apps are on Palm OS. Such as Bhajis Loops, Microbe, NotePad, BeatPad etc

Windows Mobile
Windows Mobile is perhaps one of the strongest mobile operating systems these days. However, when choosing a device be careful not to choose a Windows Mobile smartphone devices, as this will mean that you can’t make use of many of the best music and audio applications. Of the many applications available for Windows Mobile there is of course MeTeoR, the 12 track multi-track audio editor and Griff, the music studio with numerous plug-ins. Of course the other thing to keep in mind is that if you want to run palm applications on a Windows Mobile device you can using the StyleTap emulator.

I know very little about Symbian, except to say that there is a tracker application available for it, and that now StyleTap are supporting a version of their emulator that will allow you to run Palm OS applications on a Symbian device.

Nintendo DS
Not so much of a PDA platform really, but it has not only a growing number of homebrew music applications, but also a number of excellent commerial applications, such as Electroplankton and Jam Sessions.

iPod Touch / iPhone
The jury is out on the iPhone platform at the moment, we’ll have to see what the SDK brings in 2008 and how developers respond to it.

Palm OS II
Again, this new platform from Palm promises much, but is as yet to surface. If you believe Palm then you’ll be able to use their new devices running Palm’s OS II to run current Palm applications and also do all manner of new things. Who knows what it will mean for developers.

Nokia Internet Tablet
The Nokia tablet runs a linux based OS and the nice people at Access (previously know as PalmSource) have made a Palm OS emulator for the device. Ok it is currently in beta, but it does have potential. However, if you’re looking to choose a device for mobile music, don’t head straight for the Nokia as it has no native applications for music.

Last of Google’s forthcoming Android mobile OS. No one knows what it will mean as yet. However, one developer (Daniel from Griff) has commented that as the SDK is Java based it will be no good for mobile music applications. I guess we’ll have to wait and see,

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