Sampling RealBeat On Your iPhone: Getting The Big Picture

by chip on September 20, 2011

RealBeat is a fascinating iOS app that allows you to quickly capture snippets of sound from the world around you and turn it into music. While there are many sampling apps on the market, RealBeat simplifies the sampling process by grabbing only the audio you need and tweaking it slightly to fit into your mix. From there, the app inserts options for shaping the sound even more. It leads to a unique sound on so many different levels – you’re simply not going to get the same type of sound in another app that RealBeat delivers easily and quickly. Most importantly, the sounds are going to be distinctly your own products – a fact that you can’t say about the sound you pull from most apps. Over the next few days, we’re going to look at RealBeat closely and check out some of it’s cool features. Today we’ll provide an overview of the RealBeat work space.

Put Your Samples In Tracks
Upon opening RealBeat, you arrive at the main screen, where you capture your individual sounds. The eight numbered boxes at the bottom of the screen are the storage spaces for each of our samples. Press the red button to pull up another screen where you record your sound. Once you’ve captured a sample, a red squiggle appears next to the number that signifies a loaded sample. Tracks without a red squiggle signify an empty track without any embedded sounds. These are the building blocks of your musical material, so you do want to take some time filling the tracks with interesting sounds.

Placing Samples Into Sequences
In the upper left hand corner of the screen, a grid lays out all of your sequences that you’ve programmed with original samples. The grids with a myriad of dots have programmed sequences in them, while the empty squares relate directly to empty sequences. The currently selected sequence is highlighted in red; simply tap a different square to move the highlight and select another sequence. The highlighted square is the pattern that will sound when you press the play button. Double tap on one of these grids and you’ll be taken to the sequencing window, where you can create your original patterns based upon your samples. With the ability to quickly copy and edit each sequence, you can program a total of fifteen different cells in each file.

Effects For Your Sequence
The upper right hand side of the screen holds a pad that allows you to place several different effects upon the playback of your sequence. Press the play button and as your sequence repeats, drag your finger within the pad – the sound will be altered based upon the effect that you’ve chosen. You have an option of three different effects – the numbers above the pad let you switch between a filter, the crusher (distortion), and an interesting remix feature. These effects are fantastic for playback, but unfortunately, they don’t stick to the sequence; as a result, they do have limited practicality for composition.

Gaining Control Over Your Work
Sitting along the top of the screen, you can find a row of buttons that open options to do some rough mixing on your samples, export to a series of audio formats, save and load projects, as well as adjust your settings. The black box with red lines on the left opens a series of faders for changing track volumes, making pitch adjustments, and altering the attacks. The arrows facing up and down let you name your project, load older ones, and send your mixes out to other places. The gear near the right opens the settings, with possibilities to auto samples and adjust the recording volume. These buttons allow you to work with the sounds in a flexible way and gain some additional control over your work.

Recording Your Sample
When you’re ready to capture your audio, each channel has an individual window for recording and shaping the sample. Press the red button above one of the track numbers and a record window will pop up, starting the record instantly and ending when you hit the “Sample” button. The initial recording of the sample does some quick “smart” editing, deleting any excess silence on either end of the sample. You’re left with a core waveform that is primed for musical creation and clever alterations.

Playing With Individual Samples
Press the red squiggle next to the channel number and you’ll get the edit window. You’ll see the waveform on the upper left hand side of the screen, giving you some idea what you captured. On the right hand side of the window, you’ve got faders for volume and pitch that provide some dramatic changes immediately. Underneath the waveform, you’ll find a series of eight buttons that allow you to make some interesting changes to your waveform through effects. You can add reverb, insert a fade, reverse the audio, increase the volume of the clip, normalize the volume, or add distortion. There’s a lot of power packed into the editing window, that allows you to truly personalize the sound.

RealBeat provides a lot of music making power packed into a solid app, always giving you results that resonate with originality. It’s worth spending some time with the app and experimenting with the sonic possibilities – you’ll be pleased with the results. Come back tomorrow and we’ll dig into the actual act of recording samples and creating a sequence with RealBeat.


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