Why I’m really getting into Studio Amplify’s KRFT

I saw this post from Discchord and thought I’d add a few comments and thoughts into the mix.

I only started playing with this yesterday, and only briefly, but I can echo the comments that Discchord quotes: “You start with a blank Surface and add your own elements to create up your jammable track or instrument. There’s no social, login etc; it’s purely for music making.”, Or as Klaatu puts it, “This is what they were talking about in the first place and it’s like lemur with synths and samplers built in. With the keyboards as well as piano roll and pads for the drums it’s getting there.”

KRFT is in beta right now, but as Klaatu puts it above, it’s like Lemur but without the complexity. It’s like building not only your music, but the way you want to make it at the same time.

I love the idea, and so far I’m loving the execution too. Well done Studio Amplify, From Junglator, to NOIZ, to KRFT. It’s good stuff.

n-Track Studio 8 arrives with amazing new features and a very different model for iOS music making

It’s been a big day today, firstly seeing the arrival of Cubasis 2 (plus the LE version), and now with n-Track Studio 8 arriving too.

This is a big and very significant shift for n-Track is a lot of ways.

  • Firstly, this is a big update with a lot of new functionality in it so it’s well worth reading all of the detail below.
  • Secondly, n-Track 8 is now an AU host, which makes it one of only a few in that category
  • Finally, and this is really different, n-Track 8 is free, but is using a subscription model for pricing. This is a real shift for mobile music and needs a little thinking about.

So what do we think about subscription models?

Well firstly I’d like to point out that this isn’t something entirely new. In actual fact when Sunvox first arrived on Palm OS is used a subscription model. Not many people will remember that at all (I’m looking at you Jo), but it worked like that for a while. Secondly, this kind of model is actually starting to gain ground in the desktop world, with Splice launching their ‘rent-to-own’ model recently.

Personally I think it’s a model that’s worth exploring. If you’ve got a project that demands the pro features in n-Track 8 you could use those for a month or two then scale back. If anything it’s probably more flexible than paying up front for an app where you’re not going to use all of the features, or indeed buying an IAP only to find that it doesn’t really suit you.

It’ll be interesting to see how this is accepted by the wider community, but I’m positive about it, and if anything, I’d like to see a few more apps go down this route. For now, take a look a the new app’s description, grab it (it’s free and universal) and tell me what you think of the model.

n-Track Studio 8, all the detail you could want!

n-Track Studio 8 turns your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch into a complete recording studio. Record and playback a virtually unlimited number of audio and MIDI tracks, mix them during playback and add effects. Edit your song and share it with your friends, or join the Songtree community and jam with other artists.

Record a base track with the built-in mic or an external sound card, add other audio tracks or create a melody using the internal keyboard or the built-in virtual instruments.

Import a groove or create it using the step sequencer, use the mixer to adjust levels, pan, apply equalization and add effects, save or share the recording directly from your device to your friends


  • Stereo and mono audio tracks
  • Virtually unlimited number of tracks (max 11 tracks without in-app purchases)
  • Group and Aux channels
  • MIDI tracks with builtin synth featuring 128 General MIDI instrument sounds
  • Pianoroll MIDI editor
  • Step Sequencer
  • On-screen MIDI keyboard
  • EQ with 2D and 3D Spectrum analyzer + chromatic tuner*
  • Import existing tracks from your iTunes library
  • Reverb, Echo, Chorus+Flanger, Tremolo, Pitch Shift, Phaser, – Tube-Amp and Compression effects can be added to any track and master channel*
  • Automate track volumes and pan using volume and pan envelopes
  • Supports the new AudioUnit plug-in standard: open 3rd party effects and instruments inside the app, without switching to another app*
  • Audiobus input and output: you can send audio from other apps to n-Track, play your favorite instrument app and record the output inside n-Track alongside the device mic/line input. Each Audiobus app can be recorded to a separate track*
  • Interapp audio: receive audio from instrument apps, use other apps as effects or host n-Track inside another app*
  • Share your recordings on Facebook
  • Collaborate to create music with other musicians with the integrated Songtree online music making community
  • Quick one touch drums and bass grooves tracks
  • Built-in metronome


  • 64 bit double precision floating point audio engine*
  • Internal audio routing
  • Support for multichannel external audio devices on the iPad: record 4 or more tracks simultaneously from pro-audio devices such as the RME Babyface, Fireface, Focusrite Scarlett etc.
  • Support for multiple audio output when using compatible USB devices*
  • Record 16, 24 or 32 bits audio files*
  • Set sampling frequency up to 192 kHz (frequencies above 48 kHz require an external audio device)
  • Sync with other apps or external devices using MIDI clock and MTC sync, master & slave*
  • Choose microphone on multi-mic devices and set microphone polar pattern (e.g. cardiod, omnidirectional)
  • Allows monitoring and processing live audio input with near-zero latency
  • AudioCopy 2.0 allows transferring audio files between compatible apps
  • Support for DropBox and SoundCloud

Some features require one of the two available in-app subscriptions levels:

Standard edition:

  • Length: 1 month
  • Price: $0.99 for 1 month
  • What you get:
    • Unlimited audio and MIDI tracks (Free edition is limited to 8 audio tracks, 1 MIDI track and 2 step-sequencer tracks)
    • Unlocks all the available effects (Free edition has Reverb, Compression, Echo and Chorus)
    • Unlimited number of effects per channel (Free editon has up to 2)

Pro edition:

  • Length: 1 month
  • Price: $1.99 for 1 month
  • What you get:
    • 64 bit audio engine
    • Export in 32 and 64 bit uncompressed (wav) format (the Free and Standard edition are limited to 16 or 24 bit wav)
    • 3D frequency spectrum view

Get n-Track Studio 8 on the app store now:

Dear SoundCloud, exactly what is going on?


It’s only fair to say that SoundCloud have not been quite as popular over the last year or more with the iOS mobile music community, or indeed creators of audio anywhere. From my own perspective I’ve kept a Pro account, but I’ve not been impressed by SoundCloudGo, or indeed their approach to musicians. The strategy seems confused at best and the latest set of news about SoundCloud doesn’t help at all.

I’ll start off with SoundCloud Groups

I got this email from them a week ago …

“We’re constantly looking for ways to make it easier for you to share your work and connect with new fans. As well as adding new features and updates, we review existing features to see if they’re still beneficial to you.

As we dug into the best ways for creators to connect with fans, we found that Groups aren’t helping creators find an audience as well as reposts, curated playlists, or track recommendations.
With that in mind, we’ve decided to phase out Groups on Monday, August 22nd to make room for future updates. Until then, you can collect, like or repost the tracks you would like to save, and connect with your fellow Group members.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on how we can continue to improve your experience on SoundCloud. Send your ideas and feedback by replying directly to this email.”

This is a major issue as far as I’m concerned. Groups were a great way for users of different apps to collect work together. Some had been incredibly successful like the Figure Addicted group. I can’t understand SoundCloud’s reasoning for removing groups, and what they say in their email I don’t agree with. It’s poor and, in my view, will force more users away from their platform.

But they have added ‘albums’

I’m not sure just how this is different from playlists aside from the name. I’m not sure what it adds in reality, and, given that they’re removing groups, it doesn’t compensate at all in my view. You may think differently. If you do I’m interested to know your reasons.

Finally, they’re up for sale

If nothing else this makes me think that they’re going to end up as part of a bigger service and forget about people creating audio altogether, and more than likely just be swallowed up and disappear. That is of course if they even find a buyer. According to this piece at hypebot their valuation is $1bn, which is, in my opinion, ridiculously high.

I think they’ll struggle at that high a valuation and have to drop down. If they do get sold they’ll have to adapt to a new master and that won’t be good for any of us at all.

So, what now? What next?

I’ve posted before about alternatives to SoundCloud, and I think that these are going to become all the more important in the coming months. Personally I’ll be looking for more and more ways to move my audio to other more artist friendly platforms, and I’ll be sharing possibilities with you regularly.

Also there are a few new platforms and technologies that I’m working with that I expect to be useful in taking up the slack from SoundCloud’s slow withdrawal from supporting artists. I’ll be talking about those soon I hope.

I read this post at disschord and it made me think

If you haven’t seen it already then you might want to read this post over at Disschord about how that site is changing. It’s nice to see that Disschord is developing. But it makes me ask a question, and that is, why do our mobile music sites struggle to make ends meet? It’s a shame really. Is the market so small? Are there so few of us? Maybe, but I doubt it. This market is big enough to support some huge app makers so why not the blogs and sites that support them?

I don’t have answers, but I wanted to ask the question, and I’d like to know what you think.

The bots are coming! So what does it mean for mobile music?


So you may well have noticed that bots are big. Facebook announced this week their new messenger platform, and that means bots, and bots are big. Microsoft’s CEO has said that bots are the new apps. I’m not sure about that entirely, but I do think that bots will be big, possibly not as big as apps have been, but they’re going to make a difference, that’s for sure.

Of course bots are not new. We have them now for music, but not necessarily inside music making apps. Some of you may know ‘Graphic Score Bot‘, which is a twitter bot run by my friend Deerful (remember my review of her gig? And she’s a part of School of Noise too). Her Graphic Score Bot will be demonstrated at Abandon Normal Devices this weekend and I’m sure it’ll be fun. Come along if you can drag yourself away from record store day anyway. I’m planning to be there too.

There’s my RandomBus bot too, which you’ve almost certainly heard of too. It suggests random Audiobus setups for you. But twitter bots like these are just the tip of the iceberg and of course they don’t integrate directly into your mobile music apps do they.

With bots coming to messenger what will it mean for mobile music, and how could they make creating music better?

I think that there are a lot of ways actually, but two things immediately jump out at me. These are:

  1. How musical bots can be integrated into existing platforms, Messenger for a start and others as there will certainly be others
  2. How musical bots can become a natural part of existing apps

Let’s start with the first one, musical bots inside of of platforms like Messenger. How would that work then? I’ve got some ideas but first I’d like to address why this is important as you might be thinking “Why bother?“, and that’s a very reasonable question to ask.

So let’s list out the reasons why it would be good to get some little musical bots into Messenger …

  • Messenger has around 900 million users. When bots start to appear there’ll be a lot of users who want to try them out.
  • Whilst lots of these initial bots will be about news and providing services, but, at its core Messenger is about communicating, and not just communicating with text but in lots of other engaging ways. That’s why there’s emoji, stickers etc. Sound and music is a natural extension.
  • If a handful of musical bots can capture the imagination of Messenger users then it could spark an interest in some of the excellent ‘casual‘ music making apps that are on iOS.

So, to summarise, the proposition is simple, get people interested in making music through a popular messaging platform. Makes sense? Ok, you may or may not agree with me so far, but consider some of the possibilities …

How about these …

  • Imagine having Wotja (the excellent app from Intermorphic) inside Messenger, so you could not only communicate with text, but send that as a tiny piece of music too?
  • In fact, I can see a lot of text to sound / music applications, perhaps genre based, perhaps instrument based, such as something that turns your text into beats?
  • Or how about, when sending images, you could have a bot that converts your images to sound at the same time. I think that could be really awesome, or is it just me who thinks that?

Actually I think that there are loads more possibilities and I’m sure that whatever people come up (and I really really hope that they do) I’m sure that they’ll be truly inventive.


Moving on to the my next bot topic then … Bots in music apps …

This is possibly a more difficult subject. I’m not sure that there’s anything quite like a bot inside a current music app. Sure there are features in apps like randomisation, and it works very well in apps like Mixtikl and Elastic Drums, but these are randomisation options and not anything like an AI type option inside an app. However, I think that this sort of thing could work, and work well too.

Let’s imagine for a moment that you had something like RandomBus sitting inside Audiobus itself? Or, if you could have Graphic Score Bot inside an app to make useful suggestions when you’re struggling with a lack of inspiration? I think that concepts like this could work well in a whole host of apps, a bit like having a Siri inside your app that helps you to make music when you’re a bit stuck.

Personally I don’t find this problematic at all. I mean, we already have a bunch of apps that make music creation easier and there’s nothing wrong with that at all, in fact it’s a massive plus for mobile music in that it helps to engage people’s creativity. I think bots could be a fantastic extension to that and could have the potential to draw more people into making music and in even more fun ways.

So that’s my take on bots, for now anyway. I’d like to see how things develop with Messenger, and on other platforms too. But more than that I’d like to hear your views too.

Let me know what you think.


Why apps like Blocs Wave are so important for every part of the mobile music ecosystem

It was only last week that Blocs Wave arrived, it was a real surprise that Novation had created a new sub brand for mobile apps. It’s great to see this kind of focus come from an already well established brand. It’s an interesting strategy too and sends a message that mobile is really important.

If you remember their initial video about Blocs, Wave is just the start.

Their intent is to get more people making music, and that in itself has to be a good thing, a very good thing.

Blocs Wave is a great start, and I think it’s important to applaud any company that specifically launches a brand to get people into making music. That’s not to say that this is the first time it’s happened of course. Figure was (and of course still is) a brilliant app for getting started with music making without having an musical experience or expertise.

Why is this so important though? Simply because the more people we get making music the better. I’m not going to go into all the benefits of music in so many areas of life, you can find out all that stuff for yourself, but just suffice it to say that it’s a good thing, and I guess I’m preaching to the converted for the most part here.

Blocs Wave is one of those apps that I can see going down very well in schools and kickstarting music education with kids who have no interest in traditional instruments, but for whom digital music making is going to be big. The more apps like this that we have the better. The more tools we have like this the better.

So I’m glad to see Blocs Wave arrive and I’m keen to see what they do next.

If you don’t know it, then go take a look at Blocs Wave on the app store:

So that was valentine’s day, thanks for watching!

Well that was fun. I always enjoy tell you all about what apps I like using and which devices work for me. But whilst I was going over which devices I do like it did occur to me that there is a real gap in this market. A gap for a device like a QY-100. Something that I thought that the KDJ-1 would fill, but of course it hasn’t arrived as yet. It’s late. Very late.

The other possible contender to fill that space might be Arpeggio, although not as good a fit as the KDJ-1. Sadly I think that a lot of manufacturers have stopped thinking in this space and stopped exploring it as iOS (and Android to a lesser degree) have pretty much tied it up, or at least developers have anyway.

But that makes life a bit limiting doesn’t it. Yes, there’s the OP-1, and at some point in the future the OP-Z too, although it isn’t clear just how that’ll work without an app or other device to work with it.

I don’t have a solution for this, but I think there should be one. I think it would be good to have some more options. Not that iOS, or Android for that matter, are bad choices for making music. It’s just that having something else would be nice to.

SoundCloud in trouble?

Well it certainly seems that way anyway. According to this piece at Hypebot their most recent filing is not in the least bit positive. Stating that the business faces “material uncertainties”, whatever that means? And, whatever it does mean, one things is probable, it isn’t good.

It seems that there hasn’t been any good news or positivity from SoundCloud in a while, or at least that’s my take on the news. For a long time it feels like there’s just been uncertainty about their future, and that uncertainty seems to be deepening.

That was 2015, and now where do we go in 2016?

Welcome to 2016! I haven’t posted for a few days and I’ve been spending that time thinking back over 2015 and also wondering where we’ll go (the mobile music community that is) in 2016. I’ve also been reading with some interest the thoughts of other commentators in the field. Tim, from Discchord and John from the Music Apps blog. All good stuff and well worth reading if you haven’t already.

Also, there’s Jakob’s top 10 apps from 2015 (video below), which make for interesting watching.

If you remember from just before Christmas (I know it was a long time ago), but I posted a couple of pieces on my 24 devices and my favourite posts from 2015, but what I didn’t do was post a list of favourite apps of 2015, and there’s a reason for that. What’s the reason? I’ll tell you. The simple reason is that I firmly believe that mobile music isn’t just about apps, and certainly it isn’t about iOS alone.

So what do I think will be important in 2016? Well, here are my predictions (for want of a better word):

  1. Ableton’s Link technology will gain ground and almost certainly become the defacto standard for getting apps to communicate between mobile devices and the desktop. What will be really interesting to see will be if other desktop makers bring Link into their DAWs. Possibly even more important will be if hardware devices bake Link into their own firmware or OSs. That would be a big signal that Ableton have cornered the market in linking devices and software.
  2. 3D touch will get bigger. So far I’ve been disappointed with the take up of 3D touch by app makers. For two reasons, the first is that I don’t think that enough app makers have seen the possibilities of 3D touch, secondly, and much more personally, is that I haven’t had the ability to use it as I don’t have a capable device.
  3. We will see more experimental hardware and that can only be a good thing. What do I mean by that? I mean devices like the Mute Synth II, and the Olegtron 4060, which could quite easily have become abandonware, but instead is moving forward with the new module they’ve talked about recently. Apps can take you so far, and then you need to get your hands dirty, and these kinds of devices (and there are plenty more besides the two I’ve mentioned) will let you go further.
  4. Crowdfunded devices will continue to show up and allow start ups to get their ideas into the real world. We’ve seen some great devices come up in 2015. Devices like the Artiphon Instrument 1, and Tangible’s Arpeggio too. There are others of course, but both of these share a very interesting and very relevant feature, relevant to something I mentioned in point 1 above. Both of these will have companion apps to expand their functionality. More of that in a moment.
  5. Crowdfunding start ups will move from product and reward crowdfunding to equity. This has already happened with a couple of companies, Patchblocks being the most notable. But also Chirp.IO, who started with their app, Chirp, and are now doing some really interesting things (more of that another day), but to finish on Chirp, I’m very glad to say that Patrick, their founder is an awesome chap and a friend of mine and PalmSounds. I’d like to see more companies enter the equity space as I think it’s both a very useful way of supporting companies like this and gives users an opportunity to put down hard cash and be a part of the journey.
  6. Going back to point 4, I think that we’re going to see more and more hardware and software (apps or otherwise) connectivity. I don’t just mean patch editors and the link (there’s nothing wrong with those at all though), but apps or software that expands the capabilities of hardware itself and vice-versa, and not just hardware to desktop, but to mobile and even to wearables!
  7. The continued rise of modular. In 2015 we saw some truly ground breaking modular apps arrive on iOS, Audulus 3, zMors Modular, and AnalogKit. I hope to see these all continue to develop and grow in 2016, but I think we’ll see more, and taking some of the previous points on I’d like to see some of the modular hardware makers start to bridge the gap between their formats and mobile. I also think that there’s a big gap for a mobile modular device a bit like the TinySizer, but smaller. I wonder if anyone will enter that space?
  8. Mobile music will continue to split itself into two distinct camps. What do I mean by that? I mean that for the last few years we’ve seen two movements emerge. One typified by point 7, the complex modular environments which are increasingly about developing your own instruments and processes for creating sound and music, and a second around making music more accessible to non-musicians. This second camp is exemplified by apps like Auxy, especially their latest iPhone app. Whilst I’m a keen watcher of both camps my own practice is quite firmly in the second with my SoundLab project (see the tag SLPS for more). I think that this is such an important area, it’s critical to encourage more people to discover their creativity.
  9. Finally, and probably far more out there, I’d like to think that we can see mobile music moving from the device to the wearable and to the IoT device as well. I know that this is less likely, even though we’ve seen a few apps move to the Apple Watch, like Intermorphic’s Wotja, and also djay, Secret Base Design, and also Apogee’s MetaRecorder. It hasn’t caught on in a big way as yet, but I think it should. It is after all, mobile, about as mobile as it gets. As for IoT, this is understandably more difficult, and obviously, far more esoteric too, but I can dream right?

So, there are my thoughts on 2016 for what it’s worth. I wonder if they’ll be proved right or wrong. Probably somewhere in between if the truth be known, and, for that matter, how important is it to be either right or wrong?

As ever, I’m very interested to know what you think, so, over to you.

My favourite posts of 2015, some thoughts, and a Happy New Year too

I thought I’d end off 2015 with a round up of my favourite posts of the year. Now the easiest thing to do would have been to simply direct you at the featured tagged posts, but that seemed like a bit of cheap way of doing it, so instead here’s a more considered list of my favs this year.

Let’s start off with music as an app, that still is an interesting idea and one that people still struggle with and don’t really get right. This was a great step towards getting it right in my view. Music tech funding is an odd area and one that is hard to understand, this post aimed to try to clear up a few things and ask some questions too. Speaking at Abbey Road Studios was probably one of the most amazing and also important things I did this year and this post is about just that.

But even though that was quite important it doesn’t mean that everything has to be so serious does it? I posted this in an attempt to make the point that creating music doesn’t have to be so serious and needs to be fun too.

Mobile music has become about apps in the main, so here, in this post I decided to point out a few of the things I thought were important in an app. Just 10 things to consider, but important things and all of it still stands in my view, but I would say that!  On a similar note, I had to ask if there were too many synth apps in the iOS world, and, if anything, that question is more salient now than then! If you’re interested you can also read my top 24 apps for 2015, which probably isn’t the list you expect.

Staying with the apps theme for the moment, I thought it was interesting that Korg’s latest two apps were both iPhone versions of existing apps, one from their iPad collection, the iElectribe for iPhone, and of course the iDS-10 for iPhone. This is important. I love that more apps are coming to the iPhone now, it saying something about mobility and the iPad and where the iPad range is heading.

Also on apps, Modular has been big in 2015. First we had AnalogKit modular and then Audulus 3 of course. Modular is not going away and I think both of these apps, and of course zMors modular too are really important. I did ask the question here about whether modular was actually right for mobile. You make up your own minds. Either way I think we’ll see more of this in 2016 especially considering what’s happening in Pd at the moment.

In terms of mobile hardware 3D touch is, for me anyway, a really big thing for mobile music, although it doesn’t seem to have been adopted nearly as much as I’d expected so far and its potential is, in my opinion, huge! Although one notable adoptee is Roli with their Noise 5D app, and I hope that there’ll be lots more soon. I’m hoping that this will change in 2016. But what seems to have happily eclipsed 3D touch is Ableton’s Link technology, which I expect will roll out to even more apps in 2016.

I also expect that we’ll see more crowdfunded (Kickstarter or Indiegogo) products in 2016. Aside from the fact that I’m waiting for a bunch of them myself it seems to be becoming the defacto way to get a good idea going these days. One of the best examples for me in 2015 was the Arpeggio, and I think it’ll do really well as it will connect to its own iOS app.

Finally, one of the most important things I did this year was to help to run the SoundLab Play Space. You can read all of the posts about the Play Space here, but it was amazing to be a part of such a brilliant event and work with such great companies.

So that’s a whistle stop tour of 2015. I’d like to say a quick thank you for everyone who’s read PalmSounds, commented, tweeted etc in 2015.  Here’s to an even better and more mobile 2016!