Meteor MultiTrack Recorder Hits Earth: Review.

UPDATED REVIEW: 7-24-2013

So much had changed with Meteor since I first wrote about it when I first started blogging. Lots has changed for me as well. This iDAW has grown quite a bit. Now Meteor has 16 tracks that can be upgraded to 24 tracks via IAP. Full Audiobus support. Expanded and improved MIDI options, you can buy. New instruments via IAP. Solid FX. Its still got a lot of menus. Meteors workflow might grow on you, but I cant honestly say its grown on me. There are tons of helpful features included to help you make the most of your music projects. Somewhere.

There’s a few things that bug me about Meteor preventing me from falling in love with it and despite my initial joyous feelings, I just don’t get Meteor today. Maybe its me?
The U.I. is all about menus. Sure everything you need is somewhere in one of them, but its just too much for my taste. There is still always noticeable clipping when loops meet. Unlike every other iDAW I’ve used, Meteor has some quirk with playing a succession of copied loops back to back in a track without an audible click at every single meeting point. WHY? Is there a “Knock that shit off” setting somewhere that I can’t find? Every other iDAW I have used plays perfectly without any clicks in the exact same scenario without any fuss. Its beyond my patience level having to find the cause, when it simply shouldn’t be there to begin with, like every other iDAW.

They charge extra for the EQ. WTF?
No iDAW should ever sell without a decent EQ included. Its a primary tool. Adding a much more powerful EQ like a 10 band and selling that is fine, but to not include a basic 4 band parametric EQ or Graphic EQ is lame in my opinion. That being the case, and unless 4Pockets comes to their senses, I don’t recommend buying it. Get the “Audio Mastering” app instead. Its a better option anyway, so since you have to pay either way, you may as well get the best you can.
Meteor is pretty sophisticated, and powerful with complex tools. It seems to be more of a MIDI oriented machine which could be why I am unable to bond with it? Speaking of MIDI you can record and play MIDI, but not do any editing without buying the MIDI Editor upgrade. Really? There’s just too many hoops to jump through to get simple things done for my taste. I’m not saying Meteor is bad. Not at all. Its just not my cup of tea. Maybe it will be yours?

——-

UPDATE Fall 2011- Paul, From 4Pockets, makers of Meteor sent me the beta with many of the new features that will be in the next app update V1.1.
Most notable new features are that STEREO recording and STEREO tracks with “Pure Stereo Importing” are going to be added. The Editing suite has been upgraded, and so have the FX for stereo inserts, and channels. I love this!

Several additional improvements will be made to the menus, custom color selection for song parts. Midi capabilities like record and playback midi tracks with easy syncing via midi clock with other hardware.

I want to Thank Paul at 4Pockets for sharing this great news with me.

Original Review from June 2011 follows.
In a sea of 8 multitrack recorder apps for iPad, finally someone offers a nice 12 tracks. I should start right off with saying though I love Meteor, those 12 tracks are all MONO. Now before anyone flips out like I did, this doesnt mean everything you do in Meteor has to be MONO. Ill cover that more later in this review.

Meteor is setting itself apart by offering a number of features including a very robust FX collection. It comes with Stereo Reverb, Digital Delay, and Chorus Flanger. Applying these via the 3 global send FX bus’ is where the best capabilities of the FX shine above most any other similar multitrack apps.
You are not limited to only global FX, and can insert (mono) FX effecting only the selected track. They’ve added a nice little “FX Freeze” feature for adding multiple FX to various tracks that while in use reduces what would otherwise be a huge CPU killer.
This is a big deal, as many of the other studio multitrack apps dont really have a solution to this issue. Thus they are more limited in the quality of their FX. Its tough to even find a decent Stereo Reverb, but finally Meteor brings us a fantastic Stereo Reverb without causing the iPads CPU from exploding.

In addition to the 3 excellent  FX suites that are included, there is the option to purchase more FX units via the in app store at a modest price around $3 each. This helps keep the cost down and if you really need or want more you can add them anytime.Those additional FX are Compressor, Graphic Eq, Distortion, and Video Import. More are on the way.
But Meteor doesn’t stop at offering just great FX, it also has a 12 channel integrated mixer to tweak and fine tune every detail track by track. 2 Level indicators at the top help avoid blasting out speakers by showing you in real time how much sound is being pumped out. Of course you have full comand of pan, volume, mute, solo, all 3 FX send bus levels here.
By the way the mixer and FX can all be automated. Nice.
The Integrated Sample Editor does all that one would expect. Slice and dice imported audio files, insert silence, fade in or out, tweak FX, Normalize, numerous quantize settings, and create new clips in a non destructive environment. Of course you can also record audio directly from the iPad internal mic, or use any other compatible microphone such as the iRig Mic that I use with monitoring toggle.
I could spend a lot of time talking about every little feature but Im going to stick to the more important things in my review. I will note quickly some other critical and/or desired features. Meteor has full pasteboard support allowing copy/paste in or out between other compatible apps. Theres a Metronome with various settings to suit your needs, automatice delay compensation, and iPod library importing of songs, or samples from your iPod, and exporting compressed .CAF or non compressed .WAV file formats.
The overall user interface takes full advantage of the multitouch capabilities of the iPad, and is laid out logically and intuitively. I find nothing to be complicated or confusing. This interface brings a pleasant work environment that promotes an even more pleasant ease of work flow. All menus and drop downs are easy to find, and if you do find yourself lost at any point there is in app Help, and even further support via the 4Pockets.com video tutorials.  
Now on to my concern about MONO tracks. Personally I prefer and need stereo tracks. After some email exchanges with Paul, the big brain behind Meteor, I have come to appreciate why he chose MONO over Stereo.
You just cant have all the high quality FX and Stereo tracks at the same time. It would literally crash the CPU. Its just one of the limitations of the iPad so far. Paul did mention without promising anything that he will try to figure out something to provide better stereo systems or whatever, I am no tech expert. So for now Meteor is kind of a 6 stereo track recorder. I mean that in order to get the stereo effect you need to place the same audio file in two tracks running simultaneously. Yes, this does eat up tracks very fast, but thankfully he thought of that and the solution is a mix down facility to turn those two tracks into one. It’s quite easy, and it works great. No compromises in audio quality. However it is a slightly tedious extra step to consider that doesnt really fit in the desired workflow perfectly.  I am very interested in seeing what solutions he comes up with to eliminate this issue.
Overall Meteor Multitrack is an elegant design that proves to be highly capable despite device limits. Its proof that creative app engineering can bring consumers a very potent audio work station that covers most of the major functions you find in some desktop DAWs. While nothing on iPad is close really to competing head on with any desk top DAWs, Meteor shows that we are nearing a new era of music production in an entirely new way. In the end its all about audio quality. Does what I make on my iPad sound as good as anything else? I think the answer is yes. Meteor is a considerable leap forward, and I say should be part of any iPad musician’s arsenal of music apps. At $19.99 it’s certainly an excellent value, all things considered. Plus, you are not only getting a fantastic music production application, but are also buying from a developer who cares deeply for his products and design. User input is encouraged, acknowledged, and in some cases implemented. Customer service is stellar, and that’s important. You dont want to get anything and then find your concerns being totally ignored. It doesn’t feel right, and fails to inspire confidence in the product you paid good money for. That is something you will not worry about here.
Thumbs Up…5 Stars…Buy it. Use it. Love it.
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5 comments

  1. Wow…that seemed pretty quick? Stereo tracks you say? When will we see this update? I was worried they might not actually bring in stereo tracks, or that if they did it would be a much longer wait. I saw kinda the same news on Palm Sounds but they called it "exclusive". How is that if you have the very same info from the developer also at about the same time? Not trying to stir anything up, I just wonder why PS called this news "exclusive"? While it isn't really? ThanksJerry

  2. I don't know when the update will be available. Wish I could answer that. I don't think it's far off tho? Regarding the "exclusive" thing, I can't really answer that either. I don't think it's any thing to be concerned about.

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