Inspector Sands Sound Recording

The enigmatic Inspector Sands is sometimes heard on the public transport system in the UK, but often not for long enough to record. This morning there was a good opportunity to fire up my recorder and capture over a minute of this announcement.

The announcement can be made for a number of reasons, and is used to alert transport staff to an incident without causing panic in what are usually, crowded and congested areas – the last place you need a stampede.

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Wikipedia has an interesting article on the subject here.

Aircraft Sound Recordings By Engines

I’ve updated my aircraft recordings site with a list by engine type. Look no further than http://www.field-recording.org.uk/aircraft-engines/ for sounds of Merlins and Griffons!

Numbers Station Changes

Numbers Stations have been a personal fascination since I first heard the recordings archived by The Conet Project some years ago. One of the features of a Numbers broadcast seemed to have been its regularity in broadcast.

Now one has changed.

The output of one particular station that broadcasts from near Povarovo, Russia (callsign UVB-76, AKA “The Buzzer” by its listeners ), has increased dramatically. It’s only deviated from it’s signal three times previously – in 1997, 2002 and 2006.

Wired reports “In early August, a garbled recording of a voice speaking Russian was heard by listeners. A few days later, on 23 August at 13:35UTC, a clearer voice read out the following message twice: “UVB-76, UVB-76 — 93 882 naimina 74 14 35 74 — 9 3 8 8 2 nikolai, anna, ivan, michail, ivan, nikolai, anna, 7, 4, 1, 4, 3, 5, 7, 4″, before returning to its normal broadcasting.”

http://cdni.wired.co.uk/674x281/o_r/radiomast.png

Obviously this is a brilliant reason for speculation by conspiracy theorists. If you want to get some of that, more from Wired here.

iPad Audio Discussion Forum

I’ve not yet come across anywhere that discusses just iPad audio apps so I’ve created one!

Go to the iPad Audio Forum

Tenori-on on an iPad

For those who can’t yet afford a Yamaha Tenori-on but can strangely afford an iPad, there are a few options for getting on a Tenori-on with a small amount of cash.

These are some first impressions of a few I’ve tried so far.

TonePad

This is an iPhone app and scales up to fit the iPad screen well enough.

It features a single block of notepads that are activated in the usual left to right fashion.

You can change the colours but not the sounds. Limited but has possible uses if you can do something with the sound output.

This was a free app, therefore no complaints.

Beatwave

A more advanced app than TonePad but with more advanced features that provides 4 layers in a single repeatable layer.

The app comes with 3 sound ‘banks’. Each bank sounds like its made up from more than once instrument (the usual selection of synths, samples, pads).

As well as saving your work, you can save blocks which can be called from a palette at any point, so while there is no song mode for assembling a series of blocks, it could be used in a performance context.

Other controls affect the sound; Tone – which should be ‘tune’ and does just that, tempo, layer sound levels and panning and a master reverb. For these settings dull numbering is ignored and replaced with a nice multicoloured slider – a nice touch I think.

A very good feature on this app is the Grid Morpher. Each layer can be configured to allow random generation of new and replacement notepads with 3 parameters to twiddle; strenght, speed and multiplyer.

This was a free app and pretty good.

Aurora HD

This is a real beast of an app and could be reviewed in depth over a long post later. I’ve spent hours on this already and just scratched the surface. This is also probably one of the most expensive apps currently available and it took me some time before buying. I’m glad I did, but I’d disagree with the developers that anyone can pick it up and use it well – initial results are very disappointing – perseverance is well rewarded, results not instant.

BeatWave for iPad

BeatWave for iPad

TonePad for iPhone on iPad

TonePad for iPhone on iPad

iPad – Mixtikl review

Mixtikl is a generative music/sound creation paid-for application for the Apple iPad. It is also available on a variety of other platforms and handheld devices.

I’ve been looking at this for a while to go alongside the other sound creations apps I currently use on the iPad.

Mixtikl iPad interface

Mixtikl iPad interface

It does take a bit of getting used to; I can’t say that the interface is like anything else I have used. I think that it’s simplicity is not reflected in the interface which is at some moments, counter intuitive. The interface works OK on iPad but it looks as if it has been ported from an iPhone app without doing anymore than stretching the UI and moving a couple of icons.

The default setting of 60bpm gives a clue to where the majority of the sound works; slow ambient, atmospheric, sparse piano – that sort of thing. With some experimentation, increasing the bpm provides mixed results – the ‘tribal’ pack provided with the app ‘scales’ well. Some of the provided sounds sound to fit their preferred bpm and for some of the sample based sounds, sample start and end clicking is apparant.

Audio effects

Good control over effects are provided but as you cannot skip sections or sound passages meaning you can’t get a good overall view of what is needed to account for all passages which makes a good effects mix difficult to achieve. A nice feature (once you have worked out it is there and how to use it) is to be able to chain a series of effects together with some rudimentary control elements for triggering or controlling effect parameters. Careful with the control blocks, these can have very unpredictable and loud results. Export to a DAW if you are fussy about that.

Online documentation comprises a couple of videos hosted on YouTube that appear to use a different version to that used on the iPad.

Once you get used to the interface, the results are good although as the sound is generative it can sometimes seem like quite some time (many seconds thinking “is it working?”) before anything happens. This also has an impact in that if you export a mix and edit in a DAW, there can be a delay between the DAW timeline start and the start of any sound in your sample.

What does it sound like?

The first sound sample is from the built in sampler that uses the iPad microphone. As the microphone doesnt have any controls for recording levels, this is probably much the same as any other app that uses it.

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Audio sample one – from a selection of the Mixtikl ‘packs’

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Audio sample two – a bit more ambient. Mixtikl has some interesting generative piano sounds.

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Recording your efforts can be a bit hit and miss. When you record, you specify the amount of bars that the app will record, not based on a time period, then you must wait in realtime while the sound is rendered.

Once you work out how to access the export utilites (via ‘Share’ not as would be intuitive, the ‘Export’ dialogues), exporting the sound is via an in built web server (many apps provide this as a way of getting round the iPad’s locked in, no file system concept) which is basic and is prone to crashing (around 25% of the time for me). When the app crashes it does not recover your last workflow point, so frequent saving suggested.

The final results

I took a quick render from Mixtikl and uploaded into iSequence and then rendered that back out. This is the result.

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A couple of demos using iSequence on iPad

Despite a few niggles I am really enjoying iSequence on the iPad.

Here are a couple of demos so far. Things are a little harsh with iSequence and there’s no eq to use so too much playing with the effect filtering can produce harsh results.

First one is the raw output from iSequence (LAME Mp3, VBR7)

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Second has a touch of compression and some eq to try to deal with the harsh mids (or could be my new monitor headphones not yet broken in).

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Not the best but still getting to grips with the workings. I used a couple of field recordings from a train journey recorded directly onto the iPad while creating the track.

Recording problems using iSequence for the iPad?

I’ve been using iSequence on the iPad to do a bit of tracking and sequencing and it’s a fantastic application – the iPad I’m sure will revolustionse alot of audio produciton work – and had some problems using the built in sound recorder.

If you too are getting distorted recordings I’ve found a workaround.

  • Power off the iPad (hold down the power button and swipe off)
  • Restart the iPad
  • Start iSequence and record sound – result is distorted
  • Shut down iSequence
  • Start iSequence and record sound – sound is good to go! (within the limits of the hardware)

The iPad isn’t very configurable for recording yet and I don’t see any devices on the horizon to support plug in microphones however for rough and ready instamatic sound snapshots in the right environments, it has interesting possibilities.

iSequence Record

iSequence for iPad Record

UPDATE – 5/8/10

A new update to this app is now available with a fix to the recording function, so I’m pleased to say the developers were listening!

Classic Aircraft Sound Recordings for iPad

I’ve created an iPad and iPhone friendly site for listening to the most requested sound recordings at field-recording.org.uk.

Aircraft Sounds on Mobile website

Aircraft Sounds on Mobile website

The site is available from Aircraft Recordings on Mobile

“Optimised” for iPhone OS but should work on everything else too.

Let me know what you think!

WordPress iPad App

I had wondered why there was an app for using WordPress – as far as I could see, the only bit I would miss by using a web browser would be Flash based stats presentation and the Flash file uploader (which I could never get to work).

The killer seems to be the content/post form is not recognised by the iPad browser as editable!

So this is via the WordPress app – still a bit buggy on presentation (has some real issues with the keyboard drawer and redrawing the post area) – the spellchecker is nice though.

Tomorrows challenge will be using the iPad at work – luckily I have the kind of job where I can try to make that happen.