Audiofile Engineering have a few handy little apps to make musical tasks easier, or you better at them – we take a look at one of the latter in our Quiztones Review!
Genuinely useful mobile apps for music production quite often seem to be utilities, and Quiztones is no exception. If you need to sharpen up your pitch recognition, it’s a simple, well designed app that’ll do just that. A couple of areas could do with being even tighter, but the pros outweigh the cons here – check out the full Quiztones review now!
Pricing: Mac £13.99, iOS £2.99 + £1.99 in-app purchase, Android £1.25 (feature differences below)
Available for Mac, iOS, and Android operating systems (no Windows love, unfortunately), Quiztones helps to train your ears to pitches in two ways; you can either select a simple multiple choice quiz, listen to a tone and then select your answer, or the pretty ingenious EQ mode that allows you to select from a range of source material (or better yet a track from your own music library, although this feature isn’t yet available on Android) and select which frequency is being boosted or cut. Each quiz lasts ten rounds, and there’s 100 points on offer for getting the answer right first time, 50 for getting it on the second go, and 25 for third time lucky. In fact there’s a third way; a gain level quiz is available as an upgrade on iOS or included as standard on Mac.
The most important thing about any mobile device app is the ‘one more go’ factor, and Quiztones has it in bucketloads. A series of near perfect scores wasn’t good enough for me, but even when I’d hit the pinnacle of pitch recognition perfection I still wanted to start over to try and get three in a row. It really works too; when I started using Quiztones it turned out my ear wasn’t as good as I thought, as I scored in the 800-900 range for the first few goes, but after 15 minutes I was clocking up 950 after 950 rounds in the chase for the elusive 1000. Now, relative pitch training is only as good as your dedication, and tomorrow I fully expect to be back down to 900 again for a few minutes. Play a few rounds of Quiztones a day, though, and I think things will start to stick pretty quickly.
The pricing and featureset varies across all platforms, with the biggest price going to the Mac version at £13.99. It does contain all the features of the ‘Pro’ in-app purchase, as well as scorecard memory, but the iOS version is £2.99 with a £1.99 upgrade which unlocks the gain quiz and 1/3 octave options in the EQ quizzes. The Android version is just £1.25, but there’s no way to use your own audio for the EQ tests yet and there’s no upgrade available. Realistically, the price difference between Mac and iOS doesn’t really warrant score card saving, so if you have both systems iOS is perhaps the way to go. Value wise I think for its usefulness combined with its pretty sleek user interface Quiztones for iOS is a really heavy hitter, but it’s perhaps a little rich on the Mac.
Room for Improvement
Quiztones is a simple app that does what it does really well. I would really love to have had an option for switching to note pitch values, because whilst Quiztones is a great app for ear training from an engineering perspective, just that simple tweak could make it just as good for musical pitch training. Another thing I’d like to have available is some kind of statistics page, because I noticed that there seemed to be particular frequencies I mixed up even though they weren’t remotely similar, and it’d be interesting to be able to take a better look at where I’m obviously short circuiting and see if I can tune up a little bit in that specific area. There is a score log on the Mac version though.
Quiztones is definitely a recommended app for anyone that wants to tighten up on their mixing abilities. If you’ve ever sat in front of a parametric EQ and dragged the frequency around until, hopefully, you find the range you want to mess with, a few minutes with Quiztones a day will go a long way to sharpening you up to the point where (fingers crossed) you’ll be able to listen to your mix and intuitively know where things could do with a little boost or cut. The iOS version is my favourite, and it’s definitely a more productive way to spend ten minutes waiting for a bus than trying to beat your high score on Doodle Jump.