Author Topic: A good handheld/app for tracker composition on-the-go?  (Read 6192 times)

Offline LDAsh

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A good handheld/app for tracker composition on-the-go?
« on: April 26, 2013, 11:56:35 »
...(A list of handheld (preferably free Android) tracker apps for composing MOD/XM/IT/etc. with _custom_ imported samples (_not_ MIDI/soundpads/drum-machines/etc.):-
----------------------------------------------------
...(paid):-
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.imageline.FLM  *(extremely pricey, may not save the formats?)
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=nightradio.sunvox  *(another paid app, also can't save correct formats?)
----------------------------------------------------
...(free):-
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.milkytracker.sdl  *(extremely difficult/slow to use)
----------------------------------------------------
...(to-check):-
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=mod.sequencer.arthur.hanna
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.xewton.musicstudiolite  *(this screwed my player apps when I installed it last time...)
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.singlecellsoftware.caustic  *(can't save in free version, unknown formats...)
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.banpjeapps.ProSongsMaker  *(can't save any editable formats, only WAV/MP3?...)
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.groovemixer.tiw  *(can't save any editable formats, only WAV/MP3?...)
----------------------------------------------------
...(players):-
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.helllabs.android.xmp
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=de.illogical.modo
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ssb.droidsound
----------------------------------------------------
...(other):-
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.radiantmonkeysoftware.impulsetrackerlottery  *(Impulse tracker!!!  oh wait... wut?!)
----------------------------------------------------
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Sorry if that has already been discussed, I've only briefly looked around.

I'm wondering if anyone can suggest a good handheld for composing complex XM/IT music?  Something that can be brought into OpenMPT and enhanced with bigger samples (a broader sample-map), more unique patterns, more controls, etc.

I've been using NitroTracker on NintendoDS for a few years and I've really loved it, but these days it certainly has its limits and sometimes is not very stable, and sadly I've lost stuff due to that, plus it's hard for it to keep up with my ever-expanding library of samples.  I'm devoting a whole 2GB microSD to it these days, but eventually sometime soon I would like to move onto something more powerful finally.

So some requirements would be an extremely good battery life (preferably easily changeable batteries), touchscreen keyboard, excellent audio hardware and expandable memory like SDHC microSD support.

Thanks for any suggestions!
« Last Edit: June 17, 2016, 01:55:50 by LDAsh »

Offline Saga Musix

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Re: A good handheld for tracker composition on-the-go?
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2013, 12:04:07 »
The most usable thing you could try would be a smartphone or tablet running e.g. SunVox. Apparently someone has also recently succeeded in building SchismTracker for the iPad, but I imagine that to be rather complicated to use, since its UI really isn't made for touch screens. MilkyTracker was also made with the now slowly dying PocketPCs in mind. I don't think you can expect anything like "excellent audio hardware" on any of these platforms, though. If you want that, grab a laptop and an external audio interface.
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Offline LPChip

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Re: A good handheld for tracker composition on-the-go?
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2013, 15:35:51 »
SunVox cannot export to XM/IT modules, only import XM. Its a great tracker though really hard, but you'd be limited to making the music on sunvox and then probably export to mp3.

My first suggestion would be NitroTracker, but as you already use that....

The only alternative I can think of is a tablet running windows 8 that can run OpenMPT. Or a laptop would also work, but then you would have to look in say... an EEE PC (small laptop) and I'm not sure they make it anymore, plus its not actually a handheld.
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Offline LDAsh

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Re: A good handheld for tracker composition on-the-go?
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2013, 03:47:15 »
Thanks for the replies!

I really had my heart set on something that could fit into my pocket much like the NDS.  If I can't actually get the XM/IT files back off the device then that kind of defeats the purpose too.  I assumed there might be some Android device out there with a touchscreen (keyboard) and powerful (swappable) battery that had some tracker software available for it.

At the moment what I do on the DS is use C5 versions of all of my samples, 16bit @ 11KHz, then when I open the XM in OpenMPT I convert to IT (MPTM) and replace all of the 1-sample instruments with a 4-sample (C2-C5) sample-map instruments 24bit @ 44KHz.  This increases the quality of the music significantly, especially for the lower octaves, while retaining the composition.  Then I can continue to articulate the notes to sound more natural and double many of the instruments to make them sound broader.

The problem with NitroTracker is that you can't really bend notes around or use effects like phasing/bandpassing.  It just plays the sample as it's called in and there's pretty much no effects to use at all.  Calling in a sample with each note instead of being able to transpose a sample that's already playing, or bend the sample up or down to the next note, that's really a huge part of what I wish I could do on the handheld during the actual process of composing the music, instead of needing to wait until I get back to a PC to do it.  I don't know how to explain it properly but I get a bit lost by that point, trying to locate each note that needs such treatments.  I think it's something we should be doing as we're actually composing and not wait until later in what should be moreso called the 'articulation' (/mixing) part.

Hopefully there will be better handheld options available soon.  It's just a bit difficult to keep up with the latest handheld technology sometimes these days. :P

Offline SketchMan3

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Re: A good handheld for tracker composition on-the-go?
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2013, 08:26:34 »
MilkyTracker was also made with the now slowly dying PocketPCs in mind.
MilkyTracker has been ported to Android. The interface even has a virtual keypad and numberpad for entering effects and such, and you have the option of bringing up the Android system keyboard. But, because it's touchscreen it's still pretty awkward to use. I haven't really gotten used to it yet, and have only used it for tracking a simple idea or two. I run it on a 4.3" tablet and a 7" tablet. The bigger one is much more user-friendly.

I imagine it'd be much easier with an actual smartphone with an actual physical keyboard (do they still make those?) or an external keyboard attached via dongle or bluetooth or whatever, but that kind of defeats the purpose unless you have a mini keyboard or something. hmm...

Offline Saga Musix

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Re: A good handheld for tracker composition on-the-go?
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2013, 12:20:55 »
Yeah, there are smartphones with keyboards, though most of them are probably more in the "professional" (business) range - such as BlackBerry phones, which aren't based on Android, unfortunately.
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Offline HereticBeats

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Re: A good handheld for tracker composition on-the-go?
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2013, 14:42:41 »
The MilkyTracker port for Android is both unofficial and awful! SunVox is a much, much better and more complete Android tracker - just to bad you'll have file format problems using OpenMPT/SunVox.

If you do decide to use SunVox on an Android smartphone, then remember you can change its resolution under 'configuration', so you better can see everything. Not necessary on tablets.
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Offline LDAsh

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Re: A good handheld for tracker composition on-the-go?
« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2013, 13:08:22 »
It's a real shame that SunVox won't save to at least XM.  I've checked it out and seems like pretty decent software, not too confusing and looks pretty nice, but if it won't save to a useful format then I'm not interested.  If there were at least some reliable convertor I could use, that would sway me, but for now it seems like there's no such thing as anything better than NitroTracker for the NintendoDS, which I'm still enjoying, despite the limitations.

Just need to cross my fingers that developers will think of us trackers when tinkering around with handhelds...

Offline LDAsh

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Re: A good handheld for tracker composition on-the-go?
« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2015, 11:33:41 »
I thought it might be time to try to give this topic a bump...

I tried MilkyTracker for Android, and yeah, it's not a very enjoyable experience, even on a bigger display.  I feel like everything is taking 10X as long as it did back when I was using NitroTrackerDS, simply because of the UI and how precise I need to be with my fat fingers.  The one thing about the DS is that, even though the resolution was low and screen was small, you could be very precise with a sharp stylus.  It was nice for such a tight UI.  On these smartphones, though, it's a nightmare of a puzzle game.

Looking at the PlayStore, I can find stuff like "PMS tracker" to remind me when I'm going to have my next period, great, but not much in the way of composing music.  It's not something a lot of people do these days, is it?... :(

Offline Saga Musix

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Re: A good handheld/app for tracker composition on-the-go?
« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2015, 12:42:43 »
Couldn't you just use a stylus on a smartphone or tablet as well? I mean, some of them ship with a stylus and maybe the other devices that don't ship with one could use it as well?
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Offline LDAsh

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Re: A good handheld/app for tracker composition on-the-go?
« Reply #10 on: November 16, 2015, 16:20:36 »
Both of the devices I have in my possession have a hard glass-like touchscreen that sharp hard styli don't have any effect on.  I have a rubbery "stylus" (or "touch-stick", rightly named) that is slightly smaller than my pinky, but doesn't always register as a touch, I think because the angle needs to be pretty much perpendicular, which isn't always comfortable.  So, short of getting a device specifically built for very precise touchscreen input using a hard sharp stylus, another app that is built with workarounds to these precision issues (such as "dedicated mode" screens (piano keyboard with pattern editor, etc.) as opposed to trying to jam everything onto 1 screen) would be ideal.

Offline LDAsh

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Re: A good handheld/app for tracker composition on-the-go?
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2016, 01:04:08 »
Back again, one last time, after 3 years, still looking for a successor to my beloved NitroTracker and "pocket-companion" to OpenMPT.  My NintendoDS is pretty much royally busted now and I am carefully considering buying yet another one, JUST for NitroTracker...

I updated the first post and made a list.  Not much has changed, just a few extra things worth looking into, but overall not very promising.  I feel very depressed about it.  There are a lot of DJs out there and people who like to play with drum machines, etc., but really almost nothing for "actual composers" like us, dare I be so arrogant about it. :P

I won't keep bumping this anually because I don't want to be annoying about it, but I will update the first post as I look through apps, and if I find anything amazing I will let it be known.  I hope, if anyone discovers or knows of anything, they will let me know here. :)  I would deeply appreciate it.

In the meantime, either I will buy another DS (maybe 3DS) or save cash for something that can just run "real software"...



Offline Saga Musix

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Re: A good handheld/app for tracker composition on-the-go?
« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2016, 01:16:57 »
Since you brought up xmp in your updated post, one should of course also not forget about Droidsound (Android) and Modizer (iOS), which use libopenmpt for playback.

Quote
extremely pricey, may not save the formats?
FL Studio is not a tracker, so yes, it will most definitely not load/save module formats. Not even the desktop version does. You can safely cross that off the list if it's supposed to be trackers-only. ;)
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Offline Brozilla

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Re: A good handheld/app for tracker composition on-the-go?
« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2016, 07:19:48 »
With FL Studio you can export your project as a MIDI and/or convert the MIDI to a tracker format. However the software (as mentioned) is NOT a tracker and doing so is a bit of a roundabout way. MilkyTracker, even though it was mentioned, is the only software I can think of. On a PC for my needs it works great but everyone is different and likewise you already gave it a shot.

At the moment what I do on the DS is use C5 versions of all of my samples, 16bit @ 11KHz, then when I open the XM in OpenMPT I convert to IT (MPTM) and replace all of the 1-sample instruments with a 4-sample (C2-C5) sample-map instruments 24bit @ 44KHz.  This increases the quality of the music significantly, especially for the lower octaves, while retaining the composition.  Then I can continue to articulate the notes to sound more natural and double many of the instruments to make them sound broader.

Hopefully there will be better handheld options available soon.  It's just a bit difficult to keep up with the latest handheld technology sometimes these days. :P
24-bit? Where do you get your samples  :o
Are they nominally 44Khz or upscaled? Space-wise, in the case of the RAM limited devices (NDS), it's probably more efficient to use variable sampling rates. Sometimes you're able to trim unusually long samples. In cases of maximum quality usually I just leave it (and not put forth the effort lol) but when targeting certain hardware (SNES in my case) it's critical to ensure the sample length is as short as possible. Usually I end up with a "cut-down" sample library on the side. To say the least bass instruments such as an electric bass is less likely to suffer from "quality loss" compared to a more treble/percussion such as a glockenspiel. 

Of course if you upgrade your hardware then it's unlikely you'll need to worry about stuff like this.
44.1 vs. 48khz sampling rate

Offline LDAsh

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Re: A good handheld/app for tracker composition on-the-go?
« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2016, 13:22:05 »
I mean to say that all of these samples are originally 24bit@44KHz, and they are "downscaled" to 16bit@11KHz (my tests showed these use less RAM than 8bit@22KHz, despite being the same filesize) and I just set the default to 24bit@44KHz as I record it.  Now, what's coming through the microphone, through the cables, into the soundcard and into the software, I have no idea about the deep technical aspects, to be honest.  Maybe 16bit@32KHz is plenty, I don't know.  I probably should learn about it, but I focus more on composition for now.

I'm not trying to target the NintendoDS with MOD files or whatever (anymore), I'm trying to use the DS to compose as much as possible while I'm "AFK", then bring the XM files back to a PC to swap the samples out (thanks to the generous Saga Musix, this is extremely easy now - http://bugs.openmpt.org/view.php?id=608) and continue composing on a more powerful desktop.  I hate it when I'm out somewhere and get an idea in my head and can't remember it by the time I get home.  My only option is to try to hum it into my phone or MP3 player like some insane idiot.    When I'm travelling or stuck somewhere outdoors, normally that's _exactly_ when I want to compose some music and get something decent into my head, exactly when I can't do anything about.  I'm sure I'm not alone with that.

I would consider MIDI if there was some way of easily converting to something that can use custom samples, but a big problem I face is that I use custom samples per-octave, not just 1 sample for 1 instrument.  Best I can imagine, I really need to stick to that convention to avoid hours of tweaking notes up and down and changing the correct octave-samples.  If MIDI or MOD/XM/IT were text-based formats this might be possible.

BTW, I'd be keen to listen to any SPCs you might have done, I've been listening to SNES music almost every day lately since my MP3 player supports SPC format, I have 1000s on there. :D