Friday, 27 February 2015

SAMSUNG SOUNDCAMP REVIEW SYNAPSE CIRCUIT



Above: The acoustic drum kit can be swapped out for 3 electronic kits. I wish there were more kits and more to a kit i.e. 16 percussion instruments instead of 8 (as shown). 
SYNAPSE CIRCUIT
SAMSUNG SOUNDCAMP REVIEW

Goodhour, Synapse Circuit Readers! How goes it? I hope that all is well with you and yours! I also hope that there are no glitches in your tech!

That’s right, you read it correctly: ‘Soundcamp’. No, I’m not referring to my light lisp. Soundcamp is a digital audio workstation (DAW) for the composition of music. The only catch, at the moment, is that Soundcamp is only available on the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. It has taken me a little while to take a proper look and now I can let you know what I think... Read on!

#Samsung #Soundcamp #GalaxyNote4 #GalaxyS6 #GalaxySEdge #GalaxyS6Edge

UNDERSTATED
It’s funny... ...yesterday I wrote a piece on Samsung’s ability to market its products. Soundcamp is one aspect of Samsung that is shouting out for a bit of exposure. I have feeling why that Samsung is keeping Soundcamp on the down-low (these odd street expressions).



THE BAD-ISH NEWS
Apart from being an application that can be, for now, found solely on the Galaxy Note 4, the Soundcamp interface works backwards to the way I (and most computer musicians) compose. What I mean by this is that you have to record manual playing on a selected instrument such as the Keyboard, Drum, Heat Synthesizer and a few other instruments. So, you hit the ‘record’ icon on the instrument interface and you play away – if you have manual dexterity. I do not! From there you can go to the track interface and double click on the ‘recording’ produced. In case you aren’t familiar with how a DAW works what is usually recorded is note information (MIDI). Therefore you can go into the track and edit the note placement which is quite easy to do. Oh, you can add an Audio Track too!
















Above: Shows the recording of my inept manual playing on the Drums (and Keyboard) interface(s). Then by going to the Tracks part of the interface I double click on a track and then can edit the beats (in the instance of the Drum recordings). Using the Keyboard you are then presented, naturally, with keys that correspond to the notes of the piano keys played. Of course, you can then change the key / notes to suit when editing.

You can also edit the velocity of a note or beat. As you can see you can change the intervals i.e. 1/8, 1/16 and so on. It works very, very well as a DAW (digital audio workstation). One of the best interfaces I have seen on an Android app that is very close to what you get on a PC or Mac.



Above: Save your projects and go back and edit to completion. 

What I would prefer is to be presented with a few empty tracks and to add instruments as and when; upon adding an instrument the MIDI Editor pops up so that I can input notes / beats in step time. And I would like to also to double click on a bar measure, fill it with notes / beats and extend the bar to as many bars as I wish or to double click on a bar anywhere on the track and be able to keep the tracks separate from other edits within the same track.

The next thing I would like is to be able to add at the very least 16 instruments and at the most as many as the CPU can take! You can only add up to 6 instruments at a time which is still pretty good.

Compared to other DAWs currently available for Android Soundcamp could do with a little reworking.

PRO AUDIO & INSTRUMENTATION
Another thing that Samsung keeps quiet (no pun intended) is that it has a professional audio system that allows for USB audio devices to be connected and to keep latency to a minimum. I would like to see Samsung do ads that showcase the strong audio capabilities.

You can download free and paid for instruments. You get a free version of AmpliTube effects unit to enhance tracks. There’s a version of AmplitTube that you pay for that extends the capabilities and that will cost you £13.99! AmpliTube is by IK Multimedia and is renowned for professional software and hardware on the PC, Mac, iOS and now Android. You can purchase an iRig HD guitar interface to connect your guitar or bass for direct recording into the Soundcamp and other compatible DAWs. Also check out iRig Recorder for recording vocals, etc. There’s also a microphone that fits into the headphone jack for a more professional recording. You also get EZ Voice from IK Multimedia made specifically for recording vocals.



Above: The Galaxy App Store showcasing other apps to download for use with Soundcamp. Some of these applications will only work with Soundcamp. 

There’s also a guitar app, Guitarism – Pocket Guitar by Rhism LLC that costs £3.27 that adds acoustic and electric guitars.

VERDICT
I would say that Soundcamp has great potential; it is usable once you get to know how it works. A musician with manual dexterity i.e. he or she can play an instrument or used to playing into a virtual instrument interface will find it immediate. But those, like me, who prefers step-time input can work with it but would like to be presented with the MIDI Editor in the first instance.

I hope Samsung continues to develop this brilliant application and possibly add support for VST instruments and effects – that would be something! VST stands for virtual studio technology which has been created and developed by Steinberg of the famous PC DAW, Cubase! Anything is possible!

I would advise the Samsung developers to take a look at something like Caustic 3 for Android, iOS and PC by Single Cell Software to get an idea of how excellent a music interface can be. I would like to see a mastering suite of effects such as a compressor, stereo enhancer and so on.



Soundcamp has a great looking GUI (graphical user interface) that mimics the recording studio environment very nicely! Just look at the image above!

Samsung are on to a winner!

SCORE
3 / 5
A SYNAPSE CIRCUIT SOLID SILVER



With a bit more development Soundcamp can be another unique selling point for the Galaxy Note 4 and other premium Galaxy handsets – hopefully! I am also hoping that Soundcamp will be also available for the forthcoming Galaxy S6 & S6 Edge. Roll on, Samsung!

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