Soundbeam Looks The Part, But Is It Really Any Use To Anyone? [Review]

Soundbeam Looks The Part, But Is It Really Any Use To Anyone? [Review]

That’s me saying “Cult of Mac” that is

How often do you want to know what sounds look like? I’m guessing not very often, unless you’re a musician. But if you do want to know what sounds look like, and you want to know it in the most stylish and good-looking way possible on iOS, you can’t go far wrong with an app called Soundbeam. It’s just beautiful.

Soundbeam calls itself an “audio analyzer,” displaying a visual representation of whatever it hears in real time on your iOS screen.

Plug in earphones or a musical instrument and it will playback what it hears from them. Otherwise, it will simply use your device’s built-in microphone.

Sounds are displayed in two modes: spectrum and waveform. You can flick between them whenever you like, and use pinch gestures to zoom in and out. Assuming the waveforms mean anything to you, this might be useful.

As you mess about with controls, you’ll find yourself exploring the world of sounds around you. A barking dog, a snoring spouse, perhaps a humming household gadget. They all make their own unique shapes. And if you’re quick enough with a tap in the right spot on the screen, you can capture those shapes and send them to your device’s camera roll, or direct to Facebook and Twitter and so on.

One small bug: sometimes, nothing happens. The app is running and all the controls move and click and flash, but no waveform appears. Force quitting the app and restarting it seems to fix this problem, which we saw only rarely.

Soundbeam Looks The Part, But Is It Really Any Use To Anyone? [Review]

The “back” looks better than the “front”

Soundbeam is priced at $2, and I’m in two minds about it. There’s no doubt that an enormous amount of work has gone into producing very high quality visuals. The design of both the front and rear views is incredibly life-like. The textures and lighting effects are spot-on. Scott Forstall would love this thing.

On the other hand, though, I wonder just how functional an app like this can be, which in turn makes me wonder who it’s really for. Musicians and audio professionals, perhaps? Sharing screenshots of waveforms to social networks is neat and everything, but is that what people who listen for a living really need? I can’t say for sure, because I’m not one – but I suspect the answer is no. (If you know otherwise, please say so in the comments.)

So Soundbeam gets points for style and presentation, and even makes an interesting diversion for a short while. But I can’t figure out who, if anyone, really needs a thing like this, and that makes me think that at this price, customers are going to be few and far between.

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About the author

Giles TurnbullGiles Turnbull is a freelance writer in England. He also writes for the Press Association and The Morning News. You can find out more at his website, and follow him on Twitter @gilest.

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