Beat Maker 2 – a great app for musicians on the go, says Mat Langford.

As a musician, specifically a drummer, I’m constantly tapping and drumming on tables, keyboards, anything that’s in front of me at the time. It’s a small quirk I’ve had since I started playing music long ago. So, naturally, since you can find an app for everything now a days, I’ve been looking for an iPhone app that I could use to create simple rhythms and grooves, something to use on the subway, or just to waste some time with. Despite my efforts, I could never find something that addressed all of my needs. Finally, my search finally ended when I found BeatMaker 2.

Although the name implies that the program only allows you to create rhythms on the drums, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, it is one of the most complete pieces of mobile music making software I’ve seen. You can literally sit and compose an entire instrumental song on the commute home, and then export it to your ipod to listen to later. All of the sounds are extremely high quality, and sound great on my new Bose MIE2i ear buds.

When you first open the program it seems a bit daunting. There are a lot of options, and it can seem a bit overwhelming at first. Once you play around for a bit, it does start to feel a bit more intuitive. You can do all of the things that you would be able to do in the standard desktop music authoring software. This is where the scope of this program is revealed. It’s a mobile app after all, but you have a TON of options. You can multi-track, you can tune instruments to specific notes, there are a wide array of synthesizers and effects…it really is impressive for a mobile app.

There are a ton of options in this app.
There are a ton of options in this app.

Start out with a simple drum loop, created by tapping the pre-installed drum pads. There are a seemingly endless selection of drum collections, everything from hip-hop, jazz and techno to house and funk. Once you’re happy with it, you can add some reverb, or even compress it to give it the desired sound. Then it’s up to you as you layer keyboards, synths and bass over it, creating your masterpiece! After you finish your first composition, it becomes much easier and familiar to move around the many menus of the app. You can over dub to get things just right, and even quantize the hits to a specific time signature, making your finger taps and keyboard strokes groove in perfect 4/4 time.

The only problem with this app is the price. I had heard good things about it from other musician friends of mine, so I kind of knew what I was getting into before buying it, but to an unaware buyer, the $19.99 price tag for a mobile app can be very off-putting. There aren’t many apps on the app store that hit this price plateau. After playing with it for a few days, I would say that this app has been a great investment, but it isn’t something that I would recommend to someone who hasn’t had some previous experience with a desktop version of a music creator…something like Reason, or Fruity Loops. I would say that, overall, BeatMaker 2 is a pretty solid program for anyone looking to make some music on the go, even if the price is a little steep.

If you’ve tried it, or have another program that you like to use instead, let us know in the comments!

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