Thursday, September 18, 2014

Review: Practice Plus iOS App

Practice Plus (Practice+) is a new iOS app by Dynamic App Design described as "a complete practice and performance toolkit for musicians".

The app features a tuner, metronome, the ability to record sound, save metronome settings and a drilling mode. It is designed around a beautiful UI that is clear and easy to navigate. Each section is represented by obvious icons, and the settings are accessed by swiping right anywhere on the app's screen.

Watch the video demonstration or skip ahead for an extended look at each tool.

The Metronome

You will find all the familiar options you need from a metronome here. A choice of sounds, accenting beats, time signatures and subdivisions. The app lacks more complex features of dedicated apps and you will be limited to quarter, eighths & sixteenths notes as well as triplets.

Changing the tempo is easy and can be done a number of ways: either tap the plus and minus sign at the bottom of the screen, tap your desired tempo or use the bottom circle, where the tempo is displayed, as a scroll wheel.

There's a nice and big pendulum moving left and right at the center of the screen and you can also decide whether you want to turn screen flashing on or off.

The Tuner

This section of Practice + is both a tuner and tone generator. It seemed very accurate during testing. It will automatically adjust to whatever transposition you set in the options which is a nice feature. The display, a simple vertical bar with a trail, is very easy to read. You can set needle damping levels in the settings depending on what instrument you're tuning and the sensitivity that works best with it.

Recording Yourself

When you navigate to the recording screen, just press the "Rec" button and the app starts recording right away. At the top of the screen is a VU Meter that lets you keep an eye on recording levels. When you stop the recording, the app pops up a prompt to name it. A small improvement here would be that Practice + would let you set a format that would automatically name your recordings (yyyy-mm-dd for example) instead of having to name each one or be left with dozens of "untitled" tracks.

You recordings are displayed in a list that is easy to share from (see the "share" icon in the screenshot) however, there is no mass export available which will make the process tedious if you need to record yourself a lot and would like to do frequent backups.

Drilling Mode

This section of the app lets you practice playing along the metronome while it speeds up by increments. You can set by how many points you'd like the metronome to increase in the left box, and the frequency it should do so in the one on the right, then it's all automatic. This feature is going to be very handy for anyone practicing technical passages, scales, fingerings and so on.


Here you can save metronome settings: bpm, subdivision and time signature. This is a great addition whether you are practicing playing something faster over the course of a few days, need to keep track of tempi in rehearsals, etc. Saving settings is as easy as tapping the "+" sign and writing a title.

Wrap Up

Practice + is quite an impressive app. Although each tool may not be as powerful as apps dedicated to them, and there is room for improvement here and there, if you need one app that does it all, and well, Practice + is the one you should get. The "drilling mode" alone is worth paying for. As it's just been released, Practice + will surely evolve over time, add features and make itself even more indispensable.



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