Uloops Labs Uloops Music Composer
This is a one-stop music-making environment for your Android phone. It's a free download, but there's a $15 yearly subscription to unlock limits on track number, render requests and more. We're reviewing the subscribed version here.
ULoops includes synths, drum machines and an FX instrument called Modulator. You can also record audio from the built-in mic of your device. Add reverb and delay as well as insert effects to realise complete tunes.
The sequencer has a building-block approach: a Song contains a sequence of Loops, and each Loop can contain any number of the instruments mentioned above. Each instrument has a number of presets and numerous parameters.
To make all of this work on an Android device, a little trickery is involved: instead of audio coming from a built-in engine, it comes via a DSP server on the internet. Once you create a Loop, you hit a Render button and ULoops' server renders an OGG audio file and sends it back to your device. Render times were under five seconds for a four-bar loop on the HTC Eris we were using. Obviously, you need an active internet connection (Wi-Fi or phone data) to use ULoops.
Working this way takes some getting used to. For example, the Synthesizer module uses an organ patch that you hear when programming patterns - only after hitting the Render button will it play back with the intended sound. The Drum module does use built-in drum samples: there are 14 kits with 17 sounds that have unique personalities but were often too lo-fi and short for our liking. We also noticed tiny gaps between loop sections.
However, minor complaints aside, stuffing this much power into a single application is an impressive accomplishment - especially for a platform that's not the friendliest for audio. An update should be out by the time you read this, promising sample support, a more robust patch library, and improved latency and audio quality.
Plenty of functionality. You can create complete tracks.
Loops have to be rendered over a network connection. Gaps between looped sections.
Some workarounds are involved, but this is a workable mini DAW for Android users.
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