This FAQ covers questions related to music creating, mixing and listening on Android phones and tables with our apps SPC – Music Sketchpad, RD4 – Groovebox, RoboVox – Voice Changer and Select! Music Player.
If you have a question that has not been answered before, feel free to send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
General Questions related to music creating, mixing and listening on Android
The output audio latency is the time it takes until you hear a sound playing when touching the screen or keyboard or the time it takes for a recorded sound to be heard processed at the audio output. For music making and mixing a preferably short delay between interaction and hearing is very desirable.
Early Android (2.2 and earlier) phones and tablets had a high latency and it was a technical challenge to get a useable audio experience on them. The situation has improved with the introduction of OpenSL in Android 2.3, optimizations of the audio path in Android Jelly Bean and especially with Android devices that support the Audio Low Latency feature, a hardware requirement that guarantees an output latency of 45 milliseconds or less.
Currently following Android phones and tablets are know to us to support the Android Low Latency Audio feature and give the best results in the aspect of audio latency:
- Samsung Galaxy Nexus
- Google Nexus 4
- Google Nexus 5
- Google Nexus 7 (2013)
- Google Nexus 10
- HTC One (Google Play edition)
- Acer Liquid S2
- ASUS MeMO Pad FHD 10 – ME302KL (only the Snapdragon S4 version!)
Yes, currently mostly Google Nexus devices seem to get it done. We hope some more manufacturers get it right in the near future and we can list more devices here.
All our audio apps do support OpenSL, it can be enabled in the preferences, on newer Android versions it is enabled by default. In case you have crackles or audio output suddenly breaks try to change this setting. In general enabling OpenSL should give better results, although on older devices it sometimes has to be turned off because OpenSL was not yet implented reliable by some device vendors and firmware distributions.
OpenSL was introduced in Android 2.3 (Gingerbread). It is a audio interface that supports recording and outputting audio on a lower (native) software level than the default application audio interface (AudioTrack). For a more extensive explenation what OpenSL is read on here.
Which Android phones or tablets can you recommend for music making?
In general we would recommend Android devices that support at least Android version 4.2 (Jelly Bean), have at least a dual core CPU and 512MB RAM, faster is better, as audio processing can eat a lot of CPU power.
Beside performance the availability of a USB host compliant micro USB port is a benefit. It gives the possibility to connect standard USB hardware, for example a standard Mouse or a MIDI keyboard. To connect standard USB hardware an USB 2.0 Female to Micro USB Male On-The-Go Cable Adapter is needed. Be aware not all Android devices that have a micro USB port are USB host compliant, ask your dealer if it supports to be used as an USB host!
Also audio files can get quite large, so for easily upgrading the storage of your device with a rather inexpensive SD card is a plus.
Another important aspect: Android phones and tablets that support the Android Low Latency Audio requirement give far better experience when used as music gear, read more about it here.
How can I transfer files, music, samples from my Windows computer to my Android device?
In most cases you just connect your phone or tablet through a USB cable to your Windows Vista/7/8 computer. If attached the first time Windows will search the drivers for your device. If not found automatically, the USB drivers can probably be download from the homepage of the phone or tablet manufacturer, look in the support area.
With Android 2.3 or earlier the phone will show that it has detected an USB-connection, click in the notifaction and activate the USB-drive and the phone should show up as external drive under Windows.
Android 3.2 and later supports the MTP protocol the device should show up automatically as external drive in Windows. If it does not show up, in rare cases the MTP protocol is disabled, open the Android settings, select the Storage setting. In the upper right corner of the storage overview click on the 3 little rectangles and select “USB-Connection (PC)”, make sure that MTP is checked.
How can I transfer files between Mac OS X and an Android device with Android 3.0 or higher?
You need an extra application to connect a computer with Mac OS X and your Android device with a USB cable because there is no native support for the MTP protocol under OS X. You can download this application for free here.
Do your apps support external MIDI keyboards and controllers?
We are working on MIDI support for SPC – Music Sketchpad and hope to release an update in the near future.
Can I make high quality recordings with my phone? Or, how do I connect a microphone to my Android device?
With a good microphone your phone or tablet can be turned in to high quality audio recording device.
On most phones or tablets the line out 3.5mm headphone jack also works as line-in connector for microphones, for example to connect a headset.
To connect a high quality microphone, which often comes with a 3.5mm stereo or mono plug, a special adapter is needed. The adapter can splits the signals of the 3.5mm phone jack to a distinct connectors for line-out, for headphones or the amp and a line-in, for the the microphone. Something like this: 3.5mm 4-Pin to 2x 3-Pin 3.5mm Headset Splitter Adapter.
We tried a few of these adapters with mixed results, there are subtile differences in the pin allocation of the different connectors and how the line-in is wired as stereo or mono input. If the adapter, phone and microphone match, quite promising results can be achieved.
As a really good and practical solution we can recommend the IK Multimedia iRig Mic, specialy made to be connected to 4-pol 3.5mm jack of phones and tablets. Just plug in and connect your headpone and you can record and listen with high quality sound. It has a three-level gain switch, to adjusted the input gain easily to your device, noise level and distance of the mic to the sound source.
Questions related to SPC – Music Sketchpad
The SPC – Music Sketchpad is the app for sampling, sequencing and beat programming on your phone or tablet.
Which file formats does the SPC support?
You can use your own sound samples with the SPC – Music Sketchpad. Our app supports short samples and loops in the WAV format up to 24 bit 96 kHz. The loops can be up to 8 bars long.
How can I use my own samples and loops with the SPC?
To use your own samples and loops with the SPC – Music Sketchpad, you have to copy them into the SPC folder on the SD card of your device. How to copy files from you computer to your Android Device is explained here for PC and here for Mac.
In the public folder of your SD card there should exist a folder called “SPC”.
Inside the SPC folder there is a directory called “samples”. Here you can copy your own WAV audio files. Audio files located inside the samples folder can be used in the step sequencers to play single notes like drum and piano sounds.
There is also a folder called “loops”, copy here your loops, recorded patterns, voice recordings etc. you want to use, they can be upto 8 bars (about 15 seconds) long.
Audio files inside the loops and samples folder can be organized in folders.
In the browser view of the SPC you can browse and load the samples and loops into the pads to play them in your own scene.
Can I record sounds with the SPC?
Yes, one can record samples and timed loops with the SPC an use them instantly in your songs. Read here how to use a microphone for recording.
Question related to Select! Music Player
Select! is the music player for a smooth music listening experience especially designed for Android tablets.
Is it possible to use Google Music with the Select! Music Player?
No, at the moment third party applications can’t access Google Music. Google is not providing any API for its music service.