Once upon a time, I was a podcaster. I used my first portable digital audio recorder, a clunky 2004-era iRiver iFP-890, to make recordings out in the field. In order to push my recordings out to my listeners, I had to first connect my recording device to my computer using a USB cable and transfer my recordings to my machine. If I wished to add sound effects, I had to import my audio into an audio production application in which I could then insert sounds or a music bed. Then I had to export the audio from the application, making sure to compress the audio into a format that podcast listeners would be able to receive. Then I would have to open up a Web browser or an FTP program in order to upload my audio to a hosting server such as Liberated Syndication.
It was quite a process. If I wanted to reduce the number of steps it took to record and mix my audio, I would’ve had to use a mobile setup that would’ve involved carrying around a briefcase full of portable audio equipment. A laptop or one of the few smart phones with 3G would’ve also been required in order to push the resulting recording out to listeners. You had to be seriously dedicated, and somewhat wealthy, in order to follow this method.
We’re a long way from 2004 now. Many of us now hold in one hand, literally, a device that enables us to perform all of the tasks I’ve described above. Audio production on-the-fly is now possible using simply an iPhone or iPod touch — and an iOS app called Bossjock Studio.
Audio Production in Your Hand
Bossjock Studio is an iOS app that combines audio recording, mixing, monitoring and mastering into one neat little process. Anyone familiar with audio production will understand the amount of time that goes into even the simplest of recordings. With Bossjock Studio, the process becomes trivial. Audio producers simply need to tap a Record button to begin recording at any time. Then simply tap a microphone button to record from the iPhone’s internal microphone or trigger sound by tapping one or more of the app’s carts. (“Carts” are the virtual equivalent to the audio tape cartridges once used by radio broadcasters.)
The app takes care of ducking while you’re speaking or recording a music instrument, and sound effects fade out as quickly or as slowly as you prefer. If you’re recording a podcast, it’s a simple matter of triggering a music bed and then the mic in order to record a viable podcast recording. You can adjust the microphone, cart, or mix levels using a tap-friendly fader, which is always present on the screen.
When I was podcasting regularly, the closest I could come to this type of simplicity was using my candy bar Nokia to dial a recording service which recorded my voice and automatically posted the recording to my blog. The best way to add sound effects to those highly compressed recordings was by emulating a human beatbox. Passing cars typically provided my sound bed. On-the-fly audio production simply wasn’t possible.
The app has a simple and intuitive interface, displaying six sound carts, a fader, and a microphone button while you’re recording. There is also a slider at the very bottom of the screen that allows you to pause your recording. (This slider only appears while recording and is replaced by three tabs when not recording.) This is the Studio tab; two other tabs are available: the Settings tab and the Recordings tab. Tapping the Settings tab displays a HighPass Filter toggle, Ducking settings, and a Cart Fades setting (to adjust how long it takes for music or a sound effect to fade out). There are also buttons for sending feedback to the developers or for getting more information about the app. The third tab displays a list of recordings you can either play or export from the app.
Gather Sounds from a Variety of Sources
So how do you fill up those carts with sound (or music)? Bossjock Studio allows you to load sounds from a variety of sources. Tapping any of the cart icons brings up a menu from which you can pull audio from your music library, from recordings you’ve previously made, from Dropbox, via iTunes Sharing, or by using Audio Paste. Most audio producers using iOS devices are already familiar with the GarageBand app. Loops made with GarageBand can be imported into Bossjock Studio and set for looped playback. This is one easy way to create an original soundtrack for your recording. Truly, audio production can’t get much easier than this.
Easily Export and Share Your Audio Production
Audio producers ultimately want their recordings to be enjoyed by others. In addition to its audio production features, Bossjock Studio provides the ability to export audio and share it to a variety of destinations, both locally and to the cloud. Recordings can be exported to the most popular formats for distributing as songs or as podcasts, such as MP3, WAV, AIFF, or M4A. Podcasters most often find it easiest to upload their recordings to a podcast server via FTP, so sharing your audio via FTP is included in the app, but you can also share your recordings via email, iTunes, Audio Copy, SoundCloud, and Dropbox. Bossjock Studio exported my recording to all of the available formats quickly and I was able to share the result using all of the available methods.
Developer Dave Mansueto tells me that future versions of Bossjock will “have more carts, iPad support, and better compatibility for VoiceOver users.” In the meantime, he and his partner Ed Filowatt are seeking as much feedback from their app’s users as they can get. Throughout my own testing of the app, Mr. Mansueto was exceptionally responsive to my inquiries. I had one hiccup that was swiftly resolved, and now I’m able to confidently use and recommend the app to anyone who wants an easier audio production process for their podcasts or other recordings.
Download Bossjock Studio for audio production in your hand today!
Have you used Bossjock Studio or anything quite like it? Leave us a comment and let us know about your experiences.