The days of passive music listening are over. That is, if you want them to be; I mean, if you're happy to flip a virtual switch and let the music play, by all means, be my guest!
However, if you're a smartphone user and like making your own music, check out a little app known as Audio Evolution Mobile. Many, many more details after the jump.
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|Reviewed version||Latest version|
Features & Use
Test device: Samsung Galaxy Note
Android Version: 4.0.3
The application is about 2,21 MB once it's been installed and the permissions seem to be limited to what is necessary in order for the app to run.
The Audio Evolution Mobile developers describe their app as a 'multi-track audio recorder on Android packed with features like non-linear editing with (...) real-time effects'. Users who are not familiar with music hard/software may find this explanation somewhat confusing, so here's a break-down for you: principally, it means the app can be used to record, edit and play several audio tracks at once. This allows for creating music sketches, samples for post-production as well as:
- Multitrack audio playback
- Audio recording (while playing back other tracks)
- Loop playback
- Latency correction
- Import of WAV, AIFF, FLAC, Ogg/Vorbis audio files
- mport of mp3 (requires an optional download due to patents on mp3 if applicable to your country)
- Mastering to stereo WAV, AIFF or FLAC file
- Each track has controls for volume, panning, mute, solo, arm, 4-band EQ, 3 insert effects and output bus selection
- Unlimited number of tracks (*)
- Unlimited number of groups (*)
- Real-time effects include: chorus, delay, dual delay, reverse delay, reverb, bandpass, highpass, lowpass, flanger, noisegate and tremolo (*)
- Offline effects: fade in/out, normalize, reverse, pitch shift
- Non-linear non-destructive editing with move, trim, split, cut/copy/paste, remove, range editing
- Unlimited undo/redo for editing facilities
- Several grid options for aligning your samples (with tempo and time signature settings)
- Repeat samples with several options to create loops
- Add markers and quickly jump to them
- Load/Save projects including loading projects from our desktop DAW Audio Evolution 5
- Can use ES File Explorer to select samples for import
Our colleague Kamal from the German team is a recording artist and tested Audio Evolution Mobile for you in depth. You'll find out what he has to say in the next section.
Screen & Controls
I have to be frank and say I found the whole thing to be tricky at first. As a musician, I use a lot of programmes and am familiar with using audio sequencers, but it always takes a getting-to-know period to use these types of programmes successfully. This goes double for when said programme has been reduced to fit the size of a smartphone display.
The app requires
- 800x480 screen minimum (in landscape)
- Android 2.2 or higher
in order to run.
I used my own Galaxy Note to test this app and must say that the requirements listed in regards to screen size strike me as being somewhat optimistic. My device's screen has a 1280x800 resolution, and even on this large screen (for smartphone technology standards) I found controls to present a bit of a challenge at times. I honestly cannot imagine working with the app on a smaller screen. Fortunately, the Note comes with the S-Pen which proved to be a real game-changer in this case. With it I was able to edit tracks and use effects a lot more effectively than when using my fingers. And the app will only run in landscape mode (save for when in the settings menu).
So, in conclusion: the larger the display you have to work with, the better.
Individual tracks can be enlarged via vertical pinch to zoom. Use horizontal pinch to zoom to enlarge or shrink the time axis.
In order to playback or pause tracks, look on the bottom left. This is also where you can start recording. The four little squares next to this control station allow you to use various features for a given track. Square number 1 = panning and volume regulator; square 2: = switch via which you can choose a track to record, play back in solo or mute; square 3 = harbours four levers for various frequences that can be changed; square four = 12 effects that can be applied to a track. Up to three effects can be combined, and you can set parametres when using them. Please note that you can only access this menu when a track is not currently being played back.
Options for editing, moving and deleting tracks that you've recorded or imported can be found at the top. I'm not crazy about the design here, the icons aren't as sleek looking as elsewhere in the app.
The delete/reset button (red X) is a bit of a head scratcher at first: it can't be activated until you've selected the edit mode. A green arrow situated in the top right corner leads you to the mixer overview. Click again and you'll land in setting for the master channel.
To save a project, hit the disk icon in the upper left corner.
The app has lots of basic settings that can be played around with. To access these settings, hit your device's menu button. You will then see the following options:
- Projects: load, save or delete in order to create a mix-down
- File: import and save audio samples. I don't love the file browser as it isn't very straight forward
- Track: add audio tracks manually to a project
- Misc: copy, cut or insert select sections of a track
- Options: this features misleadingly harbours infos related to the app and the help section (internet connection required)
- Global refs: basic settings can be found here, including changing the UI and audio settings
For the moment, the Audio Evolution Mobile menu is available in English only.
As mentioned, it takes a short while to get into and used to Audio Evolution Mobile in order to then get the most out of the programme.
It's a great alternative for when you're on the road without a lap top and want to create sketches, recordings and more. It's a bit more fine finger work than when using a computer, but overall it works out nicely.
The results for both recording and importing audio files is absolutely satisfactory.
Again, a large format screen is essential
I wasn't crazy about all the design aspects, but found it to be okay for the most part. Plus the spectrum of available features is more than impressive. And if that's not enough: the devs have announced several updates (crossfader, automations, midi sequencer, direct upload to SoundCloud and more). Our interest is piqued!
Speed & Stability
Audio Evolution Mobile runs quite well, though I did experience a few hiccups. The icon bar disappeared twice after the device had gone into sleep mode. Re-starting the app brought everything back to normal, however.
There were also two blackouts (i.e. the display just went completely black). There might be some correlation between the blackouts and the fact that I just recently updated to ICS, but I'm not sure. Comment below if you know of anything.
BTW: Should you be having any trouble installing the application, the developers recommend clearing the Play Store cache on your smartphone. I didn't experience any trouble, so I didn't bother.
Audio Evolution Mobile costs EUR 5,99, which is hefty but more than fair in light of what the app can do.
Some good news to start off the day: it's our app of the week and going for a special rate of only EUR 2,99 until Sunday at midnight.
A free demo version is also available.