by Robb Romero
November 16, 2010
Overview Reactable mobile is a music-making app from Reactable systems, the creators of Reactable Experience, Reactable Live! (a more portable experience), and, now an even more portable experience. Reactable mobile for iOS is both a synthesis instrument and piece of software for making electronic music. Be sure to check out the Reactable Mobile FAQ on Reactable's website, where you may want to read into the depths of its many features. Features Reactable mobile has 20 virtual objects seperated into four types: generators, which create sound; effects and filters, which affect an input; controllers, which send control data to their closest object; and global controllers, such as volume and tempo, which affect the entire table. These objects can also be mapped to the device's accelerometer. After dragging your objects onto the table to activate them, and by editing their interior paramters or double-tapping-and-sliding, one may find themselves no longer adjusting parameters but making a song. With iOS, this app makes importing your own sounds fairly simple, and the same goes for downloading other users' tables. Users can expand their table collection with the built-in web server, importing via iTunes, or by following the safari link provided and opening the .RTP file in Reactable mobile. This gives users a great connection to other users, where they can exchange ideas and learn from one another. Users can also record their Reactable performances and paste sounds into the app. The Good Reactable mobile is an elegant, visual approach to creating electronic music that is immersive unlike any other software instrument. In little time at all, I was able to make a song sampling Carl Sagan from YouTube (using StudioTrack) and pasting the sound into the Reactable. With a bit more guided effort, I was able to load iElectribe beats and samples from Bassline, and soon enough Carl Sagan was bumpin' to the music; but now with a slower, pulsating voice with ever-changing echoes, and laid over some hastily-created acid-bass grooves. The song was far from perfect, but few are the first time they're played. After revising my table and spending more time with it, I've enchanced it creatively, but creating serious music takes time and revision. Those who are willing to commit the time to learning the Reactable are in for a completely new way to interact with music (unless, of course, you've played a Reactable). The Bad Reactable mobile offers much more than 20 visual symbols can convey, and it will probably be overwhelming to users at first, unless of course they read the manual, in which case, there is still a learning curve. Musicians familiar with synthesis will feel at home, but to really explore the depths of Reactable mobile to their fullest, reading the manual will most likely still be necessary. This is not to say that Reactable mobile is difficult to understand or counter-intuitive to use; they have just packed so much content into this app's intuitive interface that it would be easy to overlook without reading up on it's full features. Though this review used iPad applications, it is a universal app, so it is compatible with some of the smaller-screened iDevices. But without the larger screen, the app loses some of the "table" and seems a bit more cluttered, but still usable. When objects do start to get cluttered on the table surface, even on iPad, sometimes objects do not snap to the objects one intends and must be repositioned, which can be easily done. The Verdict Reactable mobile is one of the most innovative ways to interact with, and create, your music. Combing an incredible interface with tons of ways to interact with your own sound and others', Reactable mobile should provide motivated creatives with an incredible synthesis and sampling instrument unlike most anything else out there. For seriously innovative mobile music-making, Reactable mobile is an App Advice Must Have, even if that means reading the instructions more than once, because this review won't tell you how to use your iPhone to control the app on your iPad, only that you can. Did you read the manual yet? Did you not read the manual and compose some bumpin' house tracks anyway? We'd love to hear your thoughts, and especially your Reactable files. Share 'em if you got 'em, and thanks for reading.