TableDrum ($0.99) by Dohi Sweden takes a unique approach to virtual drumming on the iPhone.
Rather than giving users a pixelated representation of a traditional kit, or even a modern beat pad, the app lets players trigger realistic drum effects using the objects they have laying around.
Instead of letting the user tap their way to groovy beats, TableDrum allows for the creation of audio-based sound triggers. Wannabe drummers must hold down each of the four drum pads, and then tap, slap, or strike nearby objects until the pad lights up like your Christmas tree.
Once finished, TableDrum will interpret each tap as a drum hit, producing the associated sound as if the user were playing a genuine kit.
It’s a unique concept, and one that makes drumming a breeze on the iPhone. TableDrum will even adjust sound output according to tap dynamics. This means if you slap the table very hard (and have that sound associated with, say, the snare) the app will sound the drum to match. This creates a very organic feel, and a fluid way to produce beats on iOS.
TableDrum comes stock with eight classic rock drum presets. It’s a fair number, especially considering the app can only handle four open pads at a time. That being said, users can also expand their sound repertoire with the Ethno & Jazz and Electro and Glitch kits for $0.99 each.
All in all, TableDrum is a fun and creative way to package a drum synthesizer on the iPhone. When it worked, I found it incredibly easy to tap nearby objects to create complex patterns. I was even impressed with the sound quality — TableDrum’s included drum samples are truly top-notch, and certainly studio ready.
However, I did have a lot of trouble getting TableDrum to hear my taps, slaps, and slides. Sound recognition was hit or miss, and very often I’d trigger the same pad with different hits. I even had the problem of the app interpreting my voice as a drum hit.
I found the best way to compensate for the audio ambiguity was to have several, completely different objects sitting about, and to hit them in ways that sounded as dissimilar as possible. Even then, though, it was a real challenge to set-up and play all four pads effectively.
I also found myself yearning for a bit of audio copy and paste. Assuming one can arrange and play the app properly, there’s a lot of potential for natural sounding orchestration on the iPhone. It would be a tremendous advantage to take those patterns outside of TableDrum as recordings, and drop them into apps like studio.HD, or GarageBand.
At the end of the day, TableDrum is a unique concept that comes at a stellar price — clocking in at $0.99 in the App Store for a limited time only, the app is an absolute steal. The quirky mechanic is worth checking out, and though it’s too finicky for use in the studio, it’s still every bit as fun as it sounds.