Music Memos is an iOS app from Apple that has been around for a few months. I was quick to begin using it, but I didn’t want to review it until I had used it somewhat extensively. I wanted to see for myself if it was a thing that I would routinely utilize and make good use of. Well, it’s been a while, and I feel like I can make some remarks about it. Remember that this is just how the app works for me and maybe how it could work for you too.
First off, let me say that before Music Memos arrived to the App Store, it wasn’t unusual for me to use the stock Voice Memos app on my iPhone to quickly record audio. Whether it was a guitar riff, some sort of drum pattern, a bird chirping outside, me speaking a lyrical bit that had just popped into my head, or whatever else that I wanted to record, my brain instinctively told me to use the Voice Memos app. When I wasn’t worried about audio fidelity, that was my go-to. It’s about as simple of a thing as you can get, and that’s all I wanted. If I wanted to send a recording to someone via iMessage or an e-mail, it was just as fast to do that. If I wanted to get the recording to my computer, I would e-mail it to myself. The recordings were in .m4a format however, so I always had to convert it to .wav before I could use it in a musical project. That was kind of a pain, but it wasn’t the end of the world.
Nowadays, I don’t use Voice Memos. And that’s because Music Memos does everything Voice Memos does and much more. You can set it to automatically begin recording when it “hears” something. I don’t always use that function, but there have definitely been times when it assisted in the recording process. Depending on what I’m recording, I might need to be situated far from my phone, so being able to start recording without actually having to tap a button is awesome.
There’s a guitar tuner feature which, based on my tests, is pretty accurate. To be honest, I tend to use a separate tuner app called Optima Guitar Tuner. But I think it’s more due to habit of using that app than it being better than what Music Memos offers.
It will give you a warning if it thinks the audio is too loud and the resulting recording would end up sounding blown out. On that note, I don’t believe in anything being too loud, so I have no use for that feature. But for those that are afraid of volume or whatever, it’s there.
After a recording is completed, Music Memos offers some other cool crap. For one, it shows you the key the music is in and the time signature. My recordings are generally sort of rough and improvised so for me, the app is neither useful or accurate. But for some people, I’m sure having that information would be very helpful.
Then there’s a thing that I use fairly often, but for me, it’s more of a fun toy than a useful function. You can add backing drums or bassline. It usually does a good job of figuring out the tempo and time signature, as stated above. So based on that, you can add backing instrumentation. You can customize it somewhat, choosing the volume and complexity of the parts. For example, if you want the drums or bass guitar to have crazy fills or whatever, you can make that happen. Or if you want an almost metronome-like beat, that’s doable as well. Again, I have yet to benefit from that feature, but it’s fun to mess with sometimes. I imagine for someone recording acoustic guitar or something, it could be genuinely additive.
On top of all that, you can name your saved recordings, tag them, rate them, send them via text message or e-mail, and even to various external places like Garage Band, Dropbox, SoundCloud, and YouTube. All of that neat stuff makes recording musical ideas in Voice Memos an obsolete practice. It’s very useful to be able to tag a recording as “guitar riff” or “vocals” or something. You can’t do that in Voice Memos.
There might be more functions that Music Memos offers, but I think I covered everything that I know about and/or make use of. It has become a great tool for me, allowing me to painlessly record audio for musical projects. Gone are the days of forgetting a cool rhyme or a guitar riff I came up with. Granted, I could do the same thing with Voice Memos, but I also get a host of a bunch of other features that I mentioned above that makes it a way better experience. It’s a free download on the App Store, so you have nothing to lose to try it. I will say that I have looked for similar free apps in the past, and came up essentially empty-handed. That was probably years ago though. For all I know, there’s something better (that’s free) than Music Memos out there now, but I kind of doubt it. If you know of something that works better for you, let me know.