iOS / iPad Music Production App Roundup: Beatsurfing, Ninja Jamm, Soundbeam, NodeBeat HD

This month in our iOS music app roundup we check out a new MIDI control surface app called Beatsurfing, a free oscilloscope app called Soundbeam, a remix app from Ninja Tune, and some new updates to NodeBeat HD’s generative music sequencer


One of the most exciting applications to hit the Mac App Store this month is a new spin on the MIDI control surface concept called Beatsurfing, which allows you to create unique custom interfaces for your Mac MIDI applications. It has been in development for some time now, appearing frequently on design and tech websites such as The Creators Project (who called Beatsurfing “the music production interface of the future”). The app is a product of collaboration between Vlek Records and Herrmutt Lobby, and it’s based on concepts that Herrmutt Lobby’s members developed for hardware MIDI controllers like the Beatfader and various MIDI turntable scratch setups.  The creators explain a bit about how the application works:

“Beatsurfing allows you to draw a 3-dimensional controller and use it in two different and complementary ways. You can tap it like you would with your regular MPC or any other beatmaking device, but the best and most innovative use you can make of it is definitely by surfing your fingers along routes, colliding with objects, triggering samples or effects. It’s all about movement, and bringing back this intuitive way to make music. It can control any MIDI-enabled device (Software, Hardware, or even selected iPad apps through Virtual MIDI), features a very intuitive in-app editing system and integrates seemlessly in any existing Studio or Live setup. Objects Behaviours can be set to link objects together and multiply the available commands on the surface of the iPad.”


Developer Evil Window Dog‘s new Soundbeam application is a free program that reads the frequency spectrum of audio and visualizes the information in an old-school oscilloscope-style display. Simply plug any audio device into the 1/8 inch mini jack on your iPad/iPhone and the app will deliver accurate readings of your frequencies in both spectrum and waveform views. While in spectrum mode you can pinch the monitor vertically or horizontally to change the frequency range or intensity level respectively. In waveform mode you can similarly adjust the intensity level.

Ninja Jamm

Ninja Tune’s new iOS application, Ninja Jamm, has not yet been released to the public, but it’s been getting lots of attention by way of the video above, which features Coldcut’s Matt Black explaining it to Amon Tobin. Ninja Tune has been very tight-lipped about the application’s features, showing only bits and pieces of what it’s capable of so far. From what we can deduce from the video, it appears that the application will feature tracks from Ninja Tune artists broken down into separate parts that users can edit and remix, and then will allow them to upload their mixes to Soundcloud straight from the app. As Amon Tobin notes in the video,”It’s quite nice to be able to work with a track you really like, and just get a bit more involved in it than just mixing it.” Ninja Jamm is due for release this summer.

NodeBeat HD

NodeBeat HD is an experimental node-based audio sequencer and generative music application with an engaging visual interface. We actually covered this app last year when it was first released, but it’s worth having another look at it now as the company has continued to develop and refine the program’s features. The latest (and possibly greatest) change to NodeBeat HD is the addition of CoreMIDI support, allowing you to route MIDI from NodeBeat to other iOS applications or outside sound sources. If you’ve never experienced NodeBeat before, the interface is reminiscent of Reactable Mobile and easy to learn. You can control generators, nodes and notes by simply dragging objects onto your screen and allowing them to interact. The end result is more generative than composed, but we found it to be a great starting point for ideas. NodeBeat HD is available for iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad.

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Dubspot blog editor Michael Walsh is a  journalist, DJ, music producer, and Dubspot instructor. He believes in open-source ideas and advancing the evolution of music by sharing ideas that push technology in new directions. As a catalyst for of electronic music’s growth, Michael was co-founder of the Ritual Recordings house imprint, helped develop numerous club nights and events, and has curated music for corporate events with clients such as Nokia, Puma, and Betsy Johnson. Michael has been a professional DJ for over two decades and produces house and techno music under a number of aliases.