Posts Tagged Music
iOS’ devices volume settings are anything but straightforward, what with the different volume levels, switches, and inconsistent rules of what plays sound and what doesn’t when it should be silent. Hopefully this guide will make controlling the volume more clear, so as to understand why some things are loud, and some things are not!
There’s two different volume settings to be aware of: the ringer volume and the sound volume. The ringer volume controls phone ringtones and notification sounds. The sound volume controls the output of sound from games, videos, and music.
Now, it’s possible to control the ringer volume either manually or to have it set to a specific volume. The latter might be handy for those who don’t want to accidentally make their ringer quiet, or just like to have one set volume. Go to Settings->Sounds. Set Change with Buttons to off. Drag the volume slider to your desired setting. Disable Change with Buttons to make the volume buttons always control the sound volume.
Now, music and especially videos run into a fairly annoying problem: they don’t respect the iPhone’s mute switch for playing sounds. Sitting in a meeting, and suddenly that baseball game’s sound starts playing? Awkward! The prevailing thought on Apple’s side seems to be that by playing one of these despite having the silent switch on, that the user wants sound to play. For music, sure, makes sense. For videos, especially live streaming of sports? Nope. Be careful: ensure that the sound volume is muted as well as the ringer volume before starting.
If you want to ensure that you are lowering the sound volume and not just the ringer volume if you have the volume buttons set to control both, double-tap the home button and swipe to the left until you see the volume control. This takes two swipes on iPhone and iPod touch, one on iPad.
This all gets especially confusing considering that the iPod touch and iPad have a virtual mute switch that is all-encompassing, meaning it will quiet music and videos as well. This is available from the multitasking bar as well by double-tapping and swiping left. This is not available on the iPhone, and it will not display on the iPad if your side switch is set to mute. You can configure what the side switch does in Settings -> General.
Finally, the Music section of Settings has some additional olptions for the built-in music app and volume. Sound Check will attempt to level the volume of all songs. Volume Limit will set a maximum volume for listening to music so as to ensure that you don’t blow your ears out with your headphones!
This should hopefully demystify what the different sound settings do. Turn it up to 11! Or don’t.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
The latest Spotify updates give you a different way to find new music to listen to with the new Discover option. Also, the updated iOS version features a brand-new Now Playing view that shows what’s up next in the queue. Spotify also improves and fixes a number of other things, like search tabs, menu button locations, editable playlists on your iPhone, and more.
Start rocking out with these awesome new features!
OneTrack is a great app for musicians who want to take their performance to the stage (review). Here’s a quick guide to help those bands get started.
First, bounce live versions of the songs down for play. The best way to do this is to mute the vocals and any other elements that will be performed live, such as guitars or synth parts. Drums are best left in, but much of that depends on the drummer’s skill level and how much control they want over their sound. For most drummers, it’s best to leave drums in as is, especially if the music relies heavily on loud 4/4 kick beats (at the very least, leave the kick drum in). This is all done in the DAW (digital audio workstation) and depends highly on the software the band uses to compose and record music.
It’s also nice to give the drummer a separate click track to help them stay on the beat. An off-beat drummer will completely ruin the show. This is done in the bounce stage within the DAW, and depends highly on the software the band uses to create music. The person responsible for bouncing the live tracks will have to hard pan the click to the left and the music to the right.
The right channel will feed directly to the PA. This is what the audience is supposed to hear. The left will feed to the drummer’s headphones. This helps them keep the beat and lead into each song.
After bouncing all live versions of the tracks, the next step is importing the songs to the iOS device. Add all the songs to iTunes and sync them to the iOS device as if adding any artist or playlist to the iPhone or iPod touch.
It’s best to add all of the band’s songs to the device. Once imported, the band can decide on a playlist for the show. It’s always cool do make a few playlists in the app.
The screen below shows the OneTrack playlists screen. The example below shows a sample playlist in progress. The top-right corner shows the total playtime so far, which is 12-minutes in this case.
The “Austin Show” was a special show, so it had its own playlist, but it’s good to make a few playlists. Perhaps two 30-minute variations, a 45-minute one and a one-hour set.
Hit the plus sign on the top-left corner and name the new playlist. I would likely go with “30-minute set – 1.”
Select a few great songs for the band to play (30 minutes isn’t a lot!) and tap the plus sign on the right column. Selected song titles will fade to grey:
There is room for several more songs. Do keep in mind that it’s worth adding a count-in to songs (below):
The count-in is basically the quiet space between songs (It’s most useful if the band doesn’t want to be tethered to the iOS device to queue up the show track-by-track). For instance, a five- to 15-second count-in time is ideal. Don’t go too long, or there will be a long, awkward silence between songs. On stage, a few seconds can feel like a long time. It can also add unnecessary dead air to and otherwise great live performance. It’s best to make count-ins just long enough for the band to introduce the song, “This next one is called …. ” and take a sip of water if needed.
When at the venue, and ready to set up, plug into the mixer. IK Multimedia has a couple of cool cables for this: RCA Output Adapter (right) and Mono Output Splitter (below). Anything similar should work. I carry both, because I never know what the venue will be equipped with.
The mono output splitter looks something like the one below.
A very basic setup should look something like this:
Turn on airplane mode if using an iPhone!
I prefer for the drummer to control the backing tracks, because they are sitting in one spot for the most part, and the drum set kind of covers them. This helps keep the iPhone or iPod touch out of view. It’s not a bad thing, but it kind of takes the audience out of the show for a second if they see the band queuing up the next song.
It’s important to keep in mind which channel is which as to not accidentally feed the click track to the PA system. Otherwise, the band’s epic show will kick off with “click – click – click – click.” Not a good first impression. Check, and double-check. Ask for a soundcheck if possible (before the crowd arrives) and leave things plugged in as is after soundcheck. Bands don’t always get to do this, but it’s nice to make sure things are running smoothly. I usually have a cheesy TV theme song intro, so that the front of house person can adjust levels before my music starts.
Once the music starts blaring through the PA, the show is on. Have fun, and don’t mess up too badly!
Most digital music nowadays sounds slightly worse than it does on CD, thanks to audio compression. This is great for quickly downloading music, but not best for audio quality. If you want to listen to music on your iOS device without that pesky compression, and are willing to give up some additional storage space to do so, we have just the guide to do so.
The easiest way to listen to lossless audio on your iOS device is to use the Apple Lossless Audio Codec. ALAC files can be played by the built-in Music app, providing the best support, and the format can be handled by iTunes.
Now, FLAC exists as another alternative. It’s the most popular lossless music distribution format on the internet largely thanks to its open source nature, though ALAC is now open source as well. Bandcamp artists frequently offer music in FLAC format, though ALAC is also an option.
Converters exist for going from FLAC to ALAC – as both codecs are lossless, there’s no degradation in quality in converting, but for using FLAC, a third-party app with iTunes file transfer must be used. The only real difference between the two is at a technical level. I’ll let the audiophile super-nerds fight this one out, but for iOS users’ convenience, ALAC is the better choice here.
Now, you’re going to want to start with your music in a lossless format. This means ripping from a CD, or finding FLAC/ALAC files. Converting from a compressed format to lossless is just pointless.
If you already have ALAC files, then just drop them in iTunes, and put them on your device. ALAC is natively supported.
If you have a CD (they still make those) that you want to make into ALAC files, just load the CD onto your computer and open it up in iTunes. Go to Preferences, and Import Settings on that first page. Set the Import Using dropdown to Apple Lossless Encoder. Now import the CD. It will be added to your library, which you can then add to your iOS device the same way that any other lossless audio file can be added.
If you have FLAC files that you want converted to ALAC, there are plenty of conversion software titles out there. Consider XLD for Mac, which has a drag-and-drop interface, and the cross-platform fre:ac.
If you just want to play the FLAC files on your device directly (such as if you have a large collection you don’t want to convert), then there are plenty of apps that will play FLAC files. Some free options: FLAC Player+, TuneShell, and MoliPlayer.
You should now be on your way to enjoying your music exactly how the creators intended it to be heard!
Today at the EA event, we got to see a slick new game that’s part music creation, part social free-to-play game, part music mashup engine. Called Zya, it lets you pick beats, bass lines, and sing melodies, choosing from a wide variety of professional sounds and performances from all different types of music, including a bunch that you’ve heard on the radio recently.
Halfbrick (Jetpack Joyride) gave us an early look at its new Game Dev Story meets Rockband game, Band Stars. Choose a genre, band members, and lyrical topics to create hit songs and build your following. Train musicians, keep them well supplied with energy drinks, and you’ll have a dream team rockin’ in no time.