Even in the absence of any real musical ability, sometimes it’s fun to bash away on a drum kit. Most of the various application catalogues for smartphones have little virtual drum kits so you can drum away whenever the urge to jam comes on. The HP App Catalog for WebOS (that’s the Palm Pre series, the Pixi and the Veer) has a selection of drum kit apps, so here’s a quick round up of the offerings – Natural Drums, Drummer, Music Instruments and AudioScape.
Natural Drums lays the instruments out as they might be in real-life with a cartoonish top-down view, as you can see from the screen shot. It has the fewest number of kits with only two, switching between acoustic and electronic, coming with 8 instruments in the former and 7 in the latter. There’s no discernible lag between hitting the screen and the sound coming out, and multitouch is supported, so you can hit several things at once. This is my drum kit of choice and the best bit is that it’s free.
Natural Drums - Acoustic
Natural Drums - Electronic
In comparison with the other apps, Drummer is simply a bit dull and not as polished as the other three. The kit is laid out in uninspiring grey 2 x 4 grid and seems to be only capable of two multitouches at once. The simple layout may suit some who just want to get down to making noise. On the plus side, there are three kits available, Acoustic, Synthesized and Warped. Currently on sale in the App Catalog for £0.99 which doesn’t compare well with the free alternatives.
Music Instruments takes the drum kit app and turns it up to 11, with lots of percussion instruments including the infamous cowbell, gong, triangle, tambourine, castanets and xylophone in addition to drums, bongos and cymbals. All the instruments are photorealistic which looks great and works well when there are only one a few instruments shown. However, I find that some of the instruments are too close together on the drum kit to bash with confidence. Multitouch is supported – I was able to test up to four at once and there’s no lag that I can hear. There’s a lot of noise here for no money. More cowbell….
Finally, AudioScape is more of a sound machine rather than a pure drum kit. As you’ll see from the picture it lays out the instruments in a 3 x 3 grid with an abstract background pattern. Not sure if it was just me, but I could only get the first six instruments of any set to work. There is a plethora of drum kits including Acoustic Drums, Bongos & Congas, Distorted Drums, Electro Drums 1 and Electro Drums 2. There are also sound boards for Animals, Body Noises, Electric Guitar, Guitar, Piano, Sound Effects 1 and Sound Effects 2. And you can even make your own sound boards by transferring sound files across to the Pre via USB. Multitouch is supported and I was able to produce four noises at once. Another free bargain.
Overall, Natural Drums is my favourite for a bit of jamming. Good looking interface and an app that does what it sets out to do, and do it well. Music Instruments is pretty cool too, with lovely graphics and an unequalled range of percussion instruments. AudioScope is a good app, but it is more of a sound machine and may appeal more to a younger audience who can never get enough of cows mooing and dogs barking. Bringing up the rear is Drummer which is simply eclipsed by its rivals in terms of both features and price.
Reviews carried out an HP Pre 2 running WebOS 2.1.