Gear 4 Pocket Loops
The Gear 4 "PocketLoops" measures 35x13.5x1.5cm and weights 330grams without the iPod inserted. It consists of a two octave keyboard with a dock at the left end for the iPod. The keyboard itself is totally dumb and also completely soundless, it is just of inputting notes into the iPod it has no power of its own any everything is drawn from what it outputs to the iPod.
The software provided (via a free download) is powerful and even the total novice can manipulate the samples to create their own masterpieces. This Gear4 Pocket Loops turns the iPod into a mini multi track synthesiser.
If you are relying on the iPod speaker for sound output, it will not be great, a decent pair of headphones is better but plug a reasonable speaker system and you see what is possible, for part of the review I used the recently reviewed Bayan 3, even my basic musical knowledge – with the aid of the software – gave excellent results.
Each key is 9x1.5cm with the front 4.5cm being available even when the black key takes the rear 4.5cm of space.
It comes with several fitments to hold your iPod Touch – that I used, or, iPhone correctly in position to the left of the keyboard.
As both the iPod Touch and iPhone communicate with the outside world it is possible share your masterpieces with others.
While the main part of the product is the mixing desk, it allows a basic musician to lay down beats and riffs in a range of instruments without them even having to own a single one. While some ‘Instruments’ listed sound – to say the least experimental – others are far more straight ahead and their sound through decent output is fine.
As an example set one of the demos running and then change the instrument. The options Space Burglar, Stevie Keys, Tiny Blip, Dr Evil, 80’s Night, Bass Overdrive, Air Synth, Wob, Good Life, Bass Organ, Synthesizer Patel, Electric Piano, Upright Piano, Songwriter Kit, Reggae Lit, Rock Kit, Electro Breaks Kit, Hip Hop Kit, Drum & Bass Kit and House Kit give you an idea that the main focus is setting up a back sound.
The basic loops for all the samples can be either a single bar or a four bar length. Below this on the iPod screen is the option for it to be focused on instrument or effect, the latter allows you to touch Echo and or Chorus along a slider bar so the same beat can be near infinite in an experienced users hands you can also place a circular disc at any point along a four square area which alters the sounds in yet another way, very powerful.
This tool is aimed at the young, with pop, heavy metal, house, hip hop, drum and bass and even dub step the last one I have never even heard of. However for someone like me who is far more conventional I can see its use. The maximum input is 16 loops but far less will provide great tunes.
Of course the software is the important tool the dumb keyboard the method of entry but the brain is the iPod or iPhone.
Doing my Internet searches found the Gear4 Pocket Loops for £49.99 with free delivery from the first link below. This link also has a video of Pocket loops in action.
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