In 2007, the music industry was changed forever, even if the music industry didn’t noticably recognize it. It was late June when tech company Apple and it’s late CEO Steve Jobs introduced the world to “an iPod, A phone and a breakthrough internet communications device”.
This device within a few weeks became one of the top selling smartphones in the world. It was one of the first times in history that a device this small and smart was creating billions of possibilities, not only with businesses and tech, but with music.
Initially, the iPhone was used as an iPod, a web browser and a phone. It wasn’t until the updated version of the iPhone (iPhone 3G) became available that recording on the iPhone was possible. It all started with the voice memo app that Apple implemented into it’s future phones. The app is still on the current iPhones and many people and professionals that use this app specifically for quick song ideas or demos.
Initially, the music world hadn’t been affected by this little portable studio device because the necessary element hadn’t yet been implemented into the phone. What was that missing element? It’s known now as The App Store.
The App Store opened a year after the iPhone had been announced in early July, 2008. This is the force that was able to propel the iPhone and it’s incredible potential into the music industry and the prosumer industry of creating music.
Once developers recognized the potential of the iPhones capabilities to be a small, portable studio, thousands of apps started appearing on The App Store promoting endless possibilities of recording music at a very low cost.
At first, most of the music recording apps were very minimal, for example, Yamaha made an app that would record at 44.1kHz at 30 minute intervals using the onboard microphone in the phone.
As the apps became more advanced, more options were available. An App named “Fourtrack” became a very popular way of recording music onto iPhone platforms.
Once these apps took over on the iPhone interface, hardware developers started creating hardware to attach to the iPhone to encourage better quality recordings. These hardware elements enabled consumers to attach MIDI devices, TS and even XLR connections directly to the phone. Below I have included a few of the most popular hardware add-ons featuring the products of iRig.
Currently, all of this technology (iPhone, Apps, Hardware) are easily available at a very low cost while retaining quality of 16bit, 44.1kHz (CD quality) audio. The downside however is that for every -6dB you loose a bit of resolution, so in theory, the quality isn’t actually up to cd quality with only using the phones technology.
In 2011, an Alabama based band called “One Like Son” decided to record their entire 11 track album only using iPhone technology, apps and hardware. They released their iPhone created album “Start The Show” on January 17, 2012. Initially, I was weary of the quality of sound or the depth of the record, however, to my astonishment, the record is a success. Reocrding on an iPhone in theory sounds easy enough however the band ran into tons of issues when putting everything together. The band is quoted as saying
“…recording tracks using only applications was much more difficult than we anticipated.” (Mashable)
Obviously, taking on a challenge as difficult as recording an entire album using an iPhone sounds overwhelming, however, they accomplished it, and elevated the quality expectation for mobile recordings.
Here is a teaser for their record and below that is a making of video for their title song “Start The Show”.
There have been numerous bands and artists that have used the iPhone to create music and Mashable highlighted a couple of the bands and the key apps that “One Like Son” used for their record in their article about recording.
“The band primarily used iPhone applications such as FourTrack, MultiTrack DAW, AmpKit and ThumbJam. GuitarJack allowed the band members to record their music by plugging in real instruments and microphones to an iPhone.
While on the road in the U.S., The Gorillaz also spent time recording an album on the iPad as sort of a music diary. The 88 also recorded popular hit “Love is the Thing” on the iPhone using FourTrack.” (Mashable)
The iPhone completely changed the course of phones, internet, video and music. This invention created the ability for people to create no matter where they are and who they are. It’s a double edge sword though, there are some really talented musicians that now have a medium to get their talent out in front of people, however, on the other side, there are some awful musicians who can now produce their music and send it out into the digital world…which has cluttered the music scene.
This is a very exciting time to be a musician and songwriter, so many things are possible and the technology is so advanced now that we have the ability to have an entire recording studio in our pocket, and here’s the kicker…it’s good quality.
Pan, Joann. “Band Records Entire Album On IPhone.” Mashable. N.p., 17 Jan. 2012. Web. 19 July 2014. <http://mashable.com/2012/01/17/first-iphone-recorded-album/>.