App review: Pocket Audio Tools

As you probably know, we at I CARE IF YOU LISTEN also wish to cover technology and its relationship with music. Dana Wen, our Music Tech editor, has been posting some great things here and in our magazine. With mobile devices possibly becoming the most ubiquitous music tech tools today, we have decided to start reviewing Apps (for iOS and Android).

For our first App review, we’ve picked Pocket Audio Tools for iOS devices, released on August 21 by two audiophile developers: Christian Floisand and George Hufnagl.

Conceived as a “sonic Swiss Army knife,” Pocket Audio Tools currently offers four tools for composers and sound designers…

These four tools are:

  • A Tempo Finder to determine an exact tempo within a region of specified duration and number of beats.
  • An SMPTE Timecode Calculator for adding and subtracting SMPTE timecodes and Frames, used in linear media.
  • A Metric Modulation Calculator to calculate the modulation from one time signature, note grouping and tempo to another.
  • Finally, a Scale Frequency Display, to show the frequencies of all pitches in the MIDI range (0 – 127), which can be adjusted by the A440 tuning and filtered by a variety of criteria. This tool also lets you pick a specific scale from an decent list.

No random metronome or mini-piano here: these tools are well conceived and are here to fulfill real composer/sound designers needs.

User Interface/Experience

In terms of User Interface, Pocket Audio Tools is visually pleasing and elegant. Large buttons allow for a comfortable use, and the different color schemes per tool are well thought. Even though the app doesn’t really use mobile gestures (one cannot swipe to switch between tools, for instance) it still doesn’t feel desktop-ey.

Support and Updates

Help comes in the form or a two-page PDF readable directly inside the app, and that’s totally fine. Optimized for iPhone 5, Pocket Audio Tools is compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation), iPod touch (5th generation) and iPad. Requires iOS 6.1 or later.

Christian Floisand and George Hufnagl have already released a version 1.1.2, adding three new scales to the Frequency tool, among other things, and that’s exactly the kind of activity users like to see in App stores that sometimes look like App graveyards

Final word

The great thing about a toolkit is also the worst thing about a toolkit: the amount of tools. With the current app paradigm being “doing one thing well,” one can wonder how many more tools such an app can or should contain, or if it’s already plenty. Still, for the price (US $1.99), Pocket Audio Tools is a serious app for serious musicians that won’t get in the way of what you like doing most.