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Pocket Jam review

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It’s one thing to be able to tinker with ringtones on your Pocket PC, it’s another to turn it into a full-fledged musical instrument, which is what Pocket Jam tries to do.

It’s like a recording studio, mixer and loop station in one, and allows you to create original pulsing dance tracks from a range of onboard sources. There are two virtual analogue synthesisers, which give you the scope to create a wide variety of sounds and effects, including note slides. There’s also a multi-timbral, polyphonic drum machine that lets you control up to ten percussive instruments, including drums and cymbals, claps and other sounds.

It opens into the ‘pattern’ mode, with 256 different patterns available, each of which plays in a constant loop. These sound like basic pulses which can then be adjusted and added to in real time to create all sorts of squelchy house tracks.

You can tweak them ad nauseum with the busy array of parameters, adjusting BPM, instrument sounds and effects with the huge array of buttons and knobs (you can even turn the knobs, though you’ll need your device’s stylus to get any sort of accuracy). There are also digital delay units for each instrument, including the drums and percussion, which allows you to create some professional-sounding effects.

Once you’ve set your pattern you can adjust the melody and percussion via the matrix mode. There’s a different matrix for each of the synths and the drums and they allow you to input melody lines and rhythms by tapping them into a grid – you don’t need to be able to read music, all you need is your ears. Once you get the hang of it, it’s very easy to adjust your loops in real time as they play.

You can also edit different patterns together so you can change rhythms and melodies to create full tracks. You can send these to other Pocket PCs as ultra-compressed .JAM files or you can export them as lossless .WAV files which can then be converted to MP3 or whatever music format you choose.

As well as being great fun, it’s also useful for musicians to jot down and store riff ideas that they can come back to at a later date – well, it beats humming them onto your phone’s voice notes.

This is a busy and complex app that’s easy to pick up, but also offers endless permutations as you develop your skills. It’s a lot of fun to play with but is also a genuinely useful tool for musicians on the move.

Pocket Jam info

Ease of use: [[{“type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”thumbnail_60x60″,”fid”:”21621″,”attributes”:{“alt”:””,”class”:”media-image”,”height”:”60″,”width”:”60″}}]]
Value: [[{“type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”thumbnail_60x60″,”fid”:”21621″,”attributes”:{“alt”:””,”class”:”media-image”,”height”:”60″,”width”:”60″}}]]
Features: [[{“type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”thumbnail_60x60″,”fid”:”21622″,”attributes”:{“alt”:””,”class”:”media-image”,”height”:”60″,”width”:”60″}}]]
Overall [[{“type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”thumbnail_60x60″,”fid”:”21622″,”attributes”:{“alt”:””,”class”:”media-image”,”height”:”60″,”width”:”60″}}]]

Platform: Windows Mobile

Price: £23

Developer: SiliconMachines

Website/Demo: Handango website

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