Apr 21 AT 11:22 PM Guest Blogger 18 Comments

Ethereal Dialpad: A music app where you make the music


The majority of music creation apps for Android are digital reproductions of real instruments. However, they can’t seem to capture the real feel of the object they mimic. Ethereal Dialpad, on the other hand, takes a radically different approach by emulating a synthesizer.

When you first start the app, you get a choice of 4 “dialpads” and their description. You can enter any of these and start playing, the only difference being the onscreen graphics. While the first 3 are just pretty colours and cool animations, the last dialpad actually has the notes overlaid and color coded so you know what you’re playing. Once you choose a dialpad, the fun really starts and you get to control the pitch of two synthesized voices/instruments by moving a finger on the screen from left to right or up and down. The sound quality is above average and really soothing.

The fact that the graphics change and react to your touch takes the app to the next level. You can exit a dialpad at any point by pressing the Back key. By pressing the Menu key from the main screen you get the option to go into the Synth preferences or get more dialpads. While dialpads change the graphics, in Synth preferences you will get the chance to modify the sound by changing the pitch quantizer (basically what kind of scale to use if any), how many octaves are on the screen at one point, echoes, sustain and timbre options. This is also where you select whether you want to control one voice and it’s volume, or two.

The good:

  • Beautiful graphics and sound
  • Makes it very easy to get something that sounds decent
  • Uses a simple interface to control two instruments at the same time
  • Promises to be extensible by adding new dialpads
  • Extremely lightweight (a 35kb download)
  • Free in the Android Marketplace

Improvements I would like to see:

  • At the time of writing there is only one other dialpad available for download and it isn’t free
  • Too many octaves on the screen at the same time are difficult to control
  • When controlling a single voice you can’t choose to do it left to right, only up and down

The Bottom Line

Ethereal Dialpad is a nifty little app that knows better than to try to rip off a real instrument. It’s it’s own unique thing, and you have to download it for that alone.

Note: This review was submitted by Alexandru-Ioan Dobrinescu as part of our app review contest.

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  • http://Website ttw182
    • http://Website JoshG

      I fail to see how the above comment has anything to do with the above article.

    • http://Website Alex

      And the fact that there are people who will get multitasking on their iPhone 2Gs by running Android (since iPhone OS 4.0 will only support it on the 3GS) is just awesome :))

  • http://sweeterskins.net Lemon

    Ethereal pad seems really cool. I’ll be messing with this a bit. Be cool if it had poly/multi touch.

    • http://Website rndmcnlly

      It does! There is a separate dialpad plug-in called NightSky that adds this. It is separated from the main app so that pre-Android-2.0 users can still use the app while their 2.0+ friends can use multiple fingers.

  • http://Website JC13

    Wow, this is very addicting… has a lot of options to change that generate different sounds

    • http://twitter.com/xau xaueious

      oh but there are advanced settings :)

  • http://Website Matt

    Haven’t been able to put this app down since d/ling it a few weeks ago. Went ahead and purchased the Gravitone dialpad as well and it’s pretty sweet. Instead of moving your finger around on the screen it uses the gravitational sensor so tilting and twisting adjusts the tones.

  • http://Website Ramon

    Now I really see how bad the nexus one multi touch screen is it. Just try crossing two fingers with the app. Really embarrassing.

    • http://Website rndmcnlly

      I almost left out the display of the finger location when I saw how strange it gets (often seeing same results on Droid/Milestone). There’s a reason why nearly every other app only uses two-finger touching as a combined gesture instead of independent fingers. And now you’ve seen it.

  • http://Website Everpianoman

    This is just like Bebot for the iphone. I’ve got the Droid and I’ve been looking for an app like this forever. This is pretty sweet.

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  • http://Website Lactose The Intolerant

    Fun stuff… should be named “Kitaro” or “Jarre” =)

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  • http://Website S3nd41

    C’mon… what the hell is this application? Give me decent music creation tools with synths and sequencers and such. There’s a total lack of decent music creation tools on Android compared with the Iphone, why don’t the devs port some of them over or why isn’t the android dev community betting on developing them from scratch?

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