The app triqtraq, a "jam sequencer" groovebox from Zaplin Music, has been around since 2012 on the iPhone. But just recently it was updated to be universal, as well as getting Audiobus 2, IAA support and iOS 8 support. That's the kind of update that is going to get some attention. It got mine.
I should start off by saying I only make music using my iPad. I have an iPhone, but I've never gotten comfortable using it for any serious music making. I just prefer the larger size of the iPad. Sure, iPhone-only apps can be used on an iPad in "2x" mode, but I find that the interface doesn't usually take advantage of the full iPad capability. Long story short, I had never really looked much at triqtraq until Sebastian Schatz, one of the developers, reached out to me to advise that it was now universal. After watching their demo video, I knew I wanted to take a closer look.
Anyone who has read a few of my previous reviews may remember that I'm just not an EDM type of guy. I like guitars, big loud guitars. I don't spend much time "waiting for the bass to drop". But since getting into iOS music, I've started to expand my horizons a bit. Apps like Oscilab, KORG Gadget and Stroke Machine have encouraged me to branch out a bit. And I have to admit, I'm having some fun with it.
But we're here to talk about triqtraq (note to developers: This trend of naming your apps with a lower-case letter is KILLING me. I can't start any sentences with the name of your app! My college English teacher would kill me. Anyway, back to the review). If you didn't get it from the demo video above, triqtraq has four tracks on each of the 16 steps in the sequencer. Additionally, you can create up to 16 unique patterns. So, even though you've only got the four channels to record on, there's a ton of room for variation.
As far as those tracks go, you can load up and of the 350+ included samples into any of the 8 pads per track. These samples do lean heavily towards electronic sounds, but some of the "analog" sounds are really sweet. There's some nice sounding bass notes, some piano, and even some strings. But yeah, a lot of bleeps and bloops here as well. Nothing wrong with that. But it doesn't stop there. You can record in your own sounds using the built-in mic (super easy to do), or use AudioCopy or iTunes sharing. So you can certainly, through a series of just a few steps, record a beat or riff from your favorite iOS app and Audiopaste it right into triqtraq.
Creating a song is really easy, once you get the basics figured out. Admittedly, I kind of fumbled around a bit here, as you need to keep an eye on the 'record' button on the bottom of the screen. You can either enter them in real time by tapping the pads in time, or you can use the 'step edit' function to add them into the sequencer. Considering that my sense of rhythm is worse than George McFly, I almost exclusively used the 'step edit' function.
Even if triqtraq stopped there, you'd have yourself a mighty fine app. With all of those samples, a 16 step sequencer, and 16 patterns that you can switch to on the fly, you can create some monster jams. But where I think triqtraq really sets itself apart is in the effect automation. Pan, level, decay, filter and delay can all be automated for each track, or for all of them at once. This is super fun to play around with. And it just works flawlessly, too.
The other automation that I didn't mention above is the pitch automation. When you bring up the pitch automation window, you'll see both a piano layout and a vertical slider. You can use this to essentially program the pitch of each note, or you can use it as an LFO-type of effect when you choose the 'glide'. You can get some straight up record scratching sounds when you use the glide.
Another sweet feature that will surely please live musicians is the 'loop pattern' function. Here you can isolate a certain individual beat or group of beats, and loop those. Simply set the length sliders for the length you're looking for, and the play head will loop back and forth there. So, you can loop an individual hi-hat for instance, or a four step sequence for effect, jus as examples. I could see this being incredibly useful for a live jam. Check out the demo for a better look:
It is easy to look to compare triqtraq to other iOS apps. Figure by Propellerheads and Oscilab by 2Beat are probably close. All of these apps offer that immediate impact, taking virtually no time to have a track built. Sonically, they are a bit similar as well. But where I really liked triqtraq was when it came to depth. On the surface, it seems simple. But once you start digging in to the automation, and start chaining patterns, you've got a full track that really move.
The developers have done a remarkable job of providing YouTube tutorials for triqtraq. Check out the whole list of them here at their website. They've also got a considerable number of Soundcloud demo tracks available. I've provided their playlist below.
A couple of technical details about triqtraq. As mentioned at the top, it is now universal, and the iPad layout allows you to have access to all of the patterns right on the main screen. It is Audiobus 2 and IAA-compatible, and has been updated for iOS 8. One thing that might bug some of you is that the app is portrait-only orientation.
The app is very, very reasonably priced for the amount of power it contains. And, I keep saying it, but it's really fun! I lost a few evenings just scrolling through the preset sounds. I barely even got into recording my own sounds, which for me will open this app immensely.
I'm not a dance music guy. Not a big fan of EDM. But this app is so easy to use, and so versatile, that it couldn't help but enjoy it. It's really well put together, and the sounds are tight. I'm really glad I had the chance to test-drive triqtraq. I'm pretty sure many you will find this to be a "no regrets" purchase as well. Check out their awesome YouTube tutorials, listen to the demo sounds, and go pick this one up.
If you're thinking about buying triqtraq, please consider clicking through our App Store link below. Thanks!Triqtraq - Jam Sequencer: music making on the go
Developer: Sebastian Schatz