September 16, 2011 at 7:06 pm

This Week In Music Apps: Sampling, Better Volume Control, Saving Your Scalp

samplewizBesides marking my return after a little “me time,” this marks our 15th installment of This Week in Music Apps in four short months.

Some other things you could do in four months: Make a one-way trip to Venus; age a wheel of mild gruyere; or grow a sweet bell pepper.

We’re happy to have spent that time keeping you up to date on the latest, greatest music apps for iPhone, Android, and your web browser. Using your internet time machine, you can catch up on apps you may have missed in our back issues.

We have some great picks this week, starting with a round-up of recent app reviews.

The Week In Reviews

Now, at the risk of exceeding your doctor’s recommendation, here’s a heavy dose of app suggestions for iPhone, Android, and your browser.

Apple iPhone

MadPad ($1): If you like the idea of remixing videos for fun or making music from found sounds, you can’t go wrong with MadPad. The app, created by legendary app developers Smule, records samples from any sound that inspires you with your iOS mic, and lets you trigger them on your own custom sample pad. The coolest part? It also records video with your iOS camera. Yes, the app plays the source of the sound as you trigger it in an easy-to-use visual instrument. It’s also available for three bucks in HD iPad edition. Intrigued? Check out this video demo of a beat programmed entirely from the sounds of a ’91 Honda Accord.

Guitar Sight Reading Trainer ($3): Convincing guitarists to sight-read music is like requiring U.S. 16-year-olds to drive on the British side —  both are useful skills if you want to consider yourself “well-rounded,” but many don’t consider it necessary. We guitarists often get by on simplified notation systems like tablature. But if you do find yourself on the opposite side of the street, musically speaking, whether learning a jazz standard or picking your way through a classical piece, you could probably use a crash course in reading traditional sheet music. If any of that sounds like you, this iPhone app offers a solution for less than five minutes with a private instructor would cost.

SampleWiz ($10; pictured above): Creating and playing your own samples is just plain cool. For ten times the price of MadPad, SampleWiz offers more flexibility and too many extra features for recording, editing, and queuing your own home-brewed samples for us to list here. Created by keyboard legend Jordan Rudess of Dream Theatre, this one is worth every penny for people looking to make new sounds on their iOS devices, just like its sister app MorphWiz.

 Google Android

Audio Speed Changer Pro ($3): If you like marching to the beat of your own drum, literally, you might appreciate this app that plays audio up to 200-percent slower or faster. This one’s not just for musicians learning parts; it’s also helpful for churning through podcasts and audiobooks, or if you intend to make it through anything by Dream Theatre in a reasonable span of time. The app can also transpose and loop sections, which does come in handy when learning or transcribing songs. Skeptics and bargain-hunters can try the free, ad-supported version.

Fine Volume Control (free): Digital volume controls can be frustrating, because they turn the volume up and down in big chunks, and sometimes, your desired volume falls right in the middle. Fine Volume Control lets you dial in your output with a colored wheel that offers much more precise adjustments than your Android phone’s default controls. For even more precise control options, you buy the unlocker for a buck fifty.

Visualisator 5000 Free: This app would almost deserve inclusion here on the strength of its name alone, but it really is neat. Who doesn’t like a little visual enhancement to their favorite playlist, or even the sounds around them (using the microphone)? The app is available free with ads, or with a $2 ad-free upgrade – and if commenters can be believed, holds up to dubstep.

Web Apps

Tekiki (invite-only beta): If you’re fed up with the rampant up-selling and service fees that have become an inseparable part of buying most tickets online, you might appreciate this startup, which aims to ease wallet strain. Tekiki is still a wee app-ling, but claims to offer concert tickets with zero service markups beyond your Paypal or credit card transaction fee. It does this by letting hosts (assuming they have heard about the service and decided to use it) sell tickets directly from their Facebook page or their own website, saving money and potentially putting more cash into artists’ hands. It’s still in beta, but you can request an invite here.