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A Closer Look at Yamaha's Mobile Music Sequencer

I was pretty harsh on Yamaha when they released the Mobile Music Sequencer on Thursday, so I wanted to share this user video from Nakano Syun for balance. Some thoughts and crow eating below the video.

Buy Mobile Music Sequencer - US on iTunes: $9.99 (On Sale, Intro Price)

As regular readers of the site know, I do not regurgitate press releases. In fact I try to discourage people from sending them at all. That just isn't something I want to do. So everything on the site is written from the 1st person perspective; my perspective. Sometimes I will be wrong, and I am aware of that. I welcome you guys telling me about it when you think I am! All but one of the comments in the original article did an excellent job of doing so respectfully.

My awareness of my inevitable wrongness leads me to write very cautiously. I don't want to be overly enthusiastic and end up costing you guys money, by encouraging you to buy apps you don't need. I've seen that happen way too much in Video Game blogs. I will be wrong, so I'd rather be wrong in the other direction! It is easier that way.

If I discourage you from buying a good app, you can always go and buy that app later when we all realize how wrong I am. It is much harder to undo purchasing a bad app! I even try to discourage you from buying apps that I am personally excited about, if I think that a majority of you will not enjoy it. BitWiz is a great example. I love the app, I think it is amazing, but it isn't for everyone. Even when it was a sponsor I tried to convey a sense of, "Hey wait a minute, you want to take a close look at this before you hit that Buy button!"

I'm still undecided on this app, but from what I've seen it does look like a step up from Yamaha's last goofy camouflaged mess.

Reader Comments 41

This one made me think a minute Tim. There have been a couple times I thought: "What the hell was he thinking?" about an app...but it was always about something I liked more than the review. I've bought several things based on your recommendations and I've never gotten stung by buyers remorse.

A damned fine policy well executed.

Thanks :-)

January 26, 2013  | person_outline rbh

So glad you've seen the light on this one Tim as there is a hell of a lot hidden behind the tactile interface - love it or hate it. Considering Yamaha's recent apps and on first impressions this looks just the same but it definitely is NOT. It is extremely flexible with loads of features and once you grasp its functionality then programming is a dream. It sounds pretty damn good, communicates well through virtual MIDI, and in almost every department dwarfs Cubasis at a fraction of the price. Suffice to say, I like it.

The funny thing is I purchased fabfilter pro c and l and this at the same time. Was I in for a nice surprise.

January 26, 2013  | person_outline Trueyorky

In terms of workflow, this is the iOS sequencer that gets closer to Ableton Live (together with Electrify, to a certain extent). Too bad it does not support real time song recording, however.
Arranging a song is clearly more intuitive than on a linear environment as one can drag and drop sections at will and then reorder the phrases, but it still requires decisions on duration to be made while the song is off.
As far as the sound library is concerned, I find it poor, predictable, dull, uninspiring, plain. Very similar in this regard to what 4Pockets offers in their apps, which are otherwise really well thought.

January 26, 2013  | person_outline Nuno Zimas

this app should be on the output end of AudioBus so you can take quick samples and then come back and sequence them correctly.
It does look like a Live sequencing env but ..but...again , the UI does suck. I dont understand why it the same looking pannels and layout that was for hardware devices and desktop software. There is so much more that can be done in the layout and workflow area with the new touch devices.I dont want to squint and read and poke buttons on these newer devices :-(

January 26, 2013  | person_outline Pat

I just have one question. Can you get your own samples or loops into it?

January 26, 2013  | person_outline Duke

Haven't seen any import options.

January 26, 2013  | person_outline Nuno Zimas

Ok, I went mad and bought the thing. Now, where is a fucking manual?

January 26, 2013  | person_outline Duke

The manual is in the app.

January 26, 2013  | person_outline Trueyorky

It definitely looks interesting.. .like the old hand-held Yamaha sequencers of old, almost. Google Translate wasn't much help, though. All I learned is that the app is "not organized and I guess it is useless for chitin-based (sweat)."

January 26, 2013  | person_outline victor

Hmmm, I looked in there and didn't find it, thanks will look again

January 26, 2013  | person_outline Duke

Tim, I appreciate your policy. It's nice to hear someone say what they think once in a while. Everyone is so afraid to offend people, at the cost of hiding their true feelings. As you said, if I wanted to read the BS, the press release is fine. If I want an unbiased opinion that I've grown to trust, Discchord is doing the trick for me. Keep up the great work my friend :)
And two words on one of the comments that said something like "Why don't YOU give us an actual demo..." : HEY YOUTUBE!
All the best!

January 26, 2013  | person_outline AfroDJMac

"Hmmm, I looked in there and didn't find it, thanks will look again"

- system / other / manual :-)

January 26, 2013  | person_outline Trueyorky

Tim... regret your "volte face" , my experience in a long life is that first impressions are usually right and I believe you were right in denouncing this once prestigious & innovative company for spewing forth these so called music - creation apps. They are not even on a creative par with a "Paint by Numbers" set I was given for my sixth birthday - to use a somewhat tired but useful analogy. The reason I so enjoy visiting this site is that I can usually rely on unbiased , honest & sometimes deservedly offensive (yet humorous) editorial that transcends the increasingly, insinuating Quick-Fix mentality these apps are a by-product of.
IMO there was no need for a "Closer Look". You got it right first time round.

January 26, 2013  | person_outline Ludwig

Earlier it was mentioned it does not have real-time recording. Is it all preset patterns and input only in the piano roll? Am I able to record MIDI and playback my hardware synths? This looks like it could be a good pattern-based sequencer, but am still trying to figure out what it can really do.

January 26, 2013  | person_outline SSquared

Thanks Trueyorky, I got it, in the infamous OTHER -). I will be crossing my fingers when I start exploring the app. as I fear disappointment. Perhaps the redeeming feature for me will be using the midi files output.

January 26, 2013  | person_outline Duke

I love Nakano Syun. All the other videos have the Yamaha app playing cheesy musak but Nakano gets it sounding freaky and weird. His videos are great.

And Tim - don't be too harsh on yourself. Initially I thought the same thing as you: "here's another closed and limited app from a company only interested in selling you their hardware". But as more videos and info came to light during the day my view changed about the app.

Anyone reading Discchord knows that it isn't a pure news site that claims to present a "neutral" view - it is a site run by one person who presents his views on what's happening in the music app scene.

January 26, 2013  | person_outline Simon

So Duke does it do samples or not, sampling minds want to know!

January 26, 2013  | person_outline Kid pocalypse

+1 for "keeping it real," Tim. Who's to say that your grumbling hasn't had an impact on Yamaha's strategy (if they're smart, and I think they are, they'll pay attention to what the user base is asking for).

Ultimately, the users want great apps, and the developers want to create them. There's no benefit in blowing smoke up anyone's lighting bolt port, or hyping an app that's actually junk.

January 26, 2013  | person_outline Fessaboy/Secret Base Design

Sorry Kid I was out and won't be able to really get into it out for a few hours yet, but my quick glance tells me no.

January 27, 2013  | person_outline Duke

Oh hey Tim, one of your favorite features is in this app. The fucking sounds are copyrighted and not free to use except for personal use. WTF. Upon discovering this (the first line in the fucking manual) I'm thinking your first impression my have gone too easy on Yamaha!!!!

January 27, 2013  | person_outline Duke

A license like that would be void unless the seller shows it before any transaction takes place. Haven't read the app description completely, is there anything mentioning not being able to use the samples? If not, I'd say don't mind that manual.

January 27, 2013  | person_outline ChrisG

There is no mention of it in the app. description so I'm sure your right ChrisG. But don't you think it's sort of like giving a gift " it's the thought that counts"........ The intent, the mindset. I want to like this thing I really do. The only patterns available without IAP are in the categories of rock/pop and jazz/world......

January 27, 2013  | person_outline Duke

I'm only posting things relevant for my personal work flow (and perhaps others) at this point. The only way to transfer midi data out is through iTunes file sharing. There is no way to input sample or loop data.(other than the piano roll editor if you consider that loop data which I don't). However having this editor is a big plus over Yamaha's last app, so that's a good thing). There is automation, such as pitch bend, velocity, filter, the basics, so this is good. Also they have remix algorithms per phrase ( loops to normal people) which apparently re-arrange the note sequences in various ways, which I have not explored but could be a significant thing. Sample manipulation is basically the same as their last app, synth and drum thing, which is fairly minimal.

January 27, 2013  | person_outline Duke

Last question duke I promise, if your ip is jb is it possible to replace the drums with your own samples with something like ifile, and are the drumsampler in the app just re wav files?

January 27, 2013  | person_outline Kid pocalypse

+1 to freedom of opinion!

Great to see honest opinions being discussed with differences in said opinions on this app being listened to and not causing apoplectic rage on both sides! Very civilised for an Internet based community discussion!

As for the app itself, after listening to what is posted above Yamaha ain't getting my hard earned coins. Not yet at least.

January 27, 2013  | person_outline ISM

Scrap that!!!! Not available in the uk???????



January 27, 2013  | person_outline ISM

No worries Kid. I see no way to replace samples, but you can clock out midi to drum apps like Funkbox for example.

January 27, 2013  | person_outline Duke

There are two versions, one for US and one for the rest of the world so the above link won't work. Dunno why some companies split it like that tho except licensing related stuff?

Duke: yea it's silly. Is it only patterns that are locked behind IAP or samples too?

January 27, 2013  | person_outline ChrisG

If there are saving graces they are the piano roll which alloy you to make any loops you want given the instruments available and the remix options which randomize the notes per phrase that you have. I have created a few pretty good beats and riffs , I just wish I could midi them out without using iTunes -(.

January 27, 2013  | person_outline Duke

Write what you want, its your blog, no problem!

January 27, 2013  | person_outline Yak Nepper

I believe samples also

January 27, 2013  | person_outline Duke

Okay, I have reread all of it... Still sounds crappy???

January 27, 2013  | person_outline ISM

Regarding the copyrighted material concerns .... the way it reads is confusing to me ... "copying of the commercially available music sequence data and/or digital audio files is strictly prohibited except for your personal use" .... they use the word "copying", not something more like ... used within a music creation. I could argue that when I use one or more of their files as part of a completed song, then I haven't copied a file to sell commercially ... I simply used it as part of my original mix. I'm confused because it could read that they're just trying to stop people from copying files and reselling them, as many programs state in their EULA, and this is just a Japanese to English translation misunderstanding. Besides that ... I really find the app creative and fun ... worth the $9.99 for sure.

January 27, 2013  | person_outline Marlene


That was my thought as well. Or the other scenario where someone remixes or simply releases the demo songs commercially themselves under their own name.

I can't be sure, but I had the same basic impression you describe.

January 27, 2013  | person_outline rbh

For apps, Yamaha reminds me of a AAA version of Strange Agency. The apps are decent and interesting on first glance, but there always seems to be a few key features omitted that would really set things off.

January 27, 2013  | person_outline Chris

Marlene and rbh, just the fact that we are trying to figure out what they mean is not a good thing. At this point I would tend to agree Marlene that its a fun app although I have not used it enough to review it overall. Btw, you must be the same Marlene that used to post on Palmsounds. How is your dog? -)

January 28, 2013  | person_outline Duke

@Duke & rbh

NO doubt it's not clear but what I DO doubt is that I'll be creating anything with this app that I'll sell commercially, so I'll just enjoy it for what it's worth :)
And yes .. I am the same Marlene with the Pitbull in my face ... she's doing great ... love that dog :)

I haven't been doing much posting lately ... just a lot of lurking. I tend to hang out here more than anywhere because I love the interaction of the comments from Tims articles and videos ... although they're very good and I read all the posts there's not much happening with comments at the other sites. I'll try to be more active and step out from the shadows now and then.

January 28, 2013  | person_outline Marlene

@Marlene...............very good

January 28, 2013  | person_outline Duke

Not that anyone is looking at this post anymore, I would just like to say that this app, is pretty cool for having fun with music construction. Not sure how serious it is, but it is fun, and perhaps with more exploration serious music can be accomplished with it in a supporting roll. Heyyyyyyyyy .......as I hear an echo........hyyyy......hyy.....hy

January 29, 2013  | person_outline Duke

The echo of tumbleweed perhaps?

I think the apps fun tho, a couple of tweaks to make it easier to get midi in and out would be nice though.

January 29, 2013  | person_outline Bianca

there is definitely a learning curve but, sounds like someone (not me) has a pretty good handle on it already.

January 29, 2013  | person_outline a1

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