DM1 Drum Machine For iPad/iPhone– What does it do, and how good is it at doing it?

Image of a DM1 Drum Machine with an iPhone

Kingdom of Beats

You'd be a fool to think that upon the invention and propagation of the iPad and iPhone there would be some sort of mobile music-making revolution; this simply did not and will not happen. Those that believed the iPad (or any mobile device for that matter) could possibly serve as a substitute that would even allow us to do half of what we can do with proper studio-level production equipment are in denial about the iPad/iPhone’s hardware compatibility, as well as the fact that it lacks input ports (firewire, for example) that are required for comprehensive music production. There’s no reason that the average rock musician can’t make use of the innovative design and relatively powerful piece of software that is the DM1 Drum Machine for iPad and iPhone however: this is a piece of drum sequencing software that could very well allow you to be the master of your very own kingdom of beats courtesy of Fingerlab.

Rhythm Machine

The demo video for this app takes you through its various features such as the manual beat-making drum pads, the mixer, special effects, the step sequencer to lay down the specific rhythms you desire, and also song information, all with a series of funky beats (no doubt created carefully with the DM1 Drum Machine app itself) playing over the top as hands swipe at the wonderfully-designed app to utilise its many features. And this is what I first noticed about this app, which was that this is no entertainment-based drum game in the same vein as the Nintendo Wii’s Beat the Beat drum game: on the contrary, this is a serious app geared towards the most professional beat-making experience available on mobile devices.

The textured nature of the interface and largely neutral colour scheme highlight the app’s professionalism and reminds you that it isn’t here to flash bright colours at you or entertain you and a group of your friends in the way that Guitar Hero does with its specialised Metallica version. No, this is a serious app with a highly intuitive interface that incorporates a variety of features that combine to make what has to be the best drum synthesiser app available today.

The features that comprise the app’s usefulness for giving birth to some great beats begin with step sequencer. There is a great collection of drum kits available, with 64 to choose from in total including electronic drum kits and fantastic acoustic kits as well as a choice of synth sounds that add some melody and depth to what would otherwise be some straight-up beats. The kit is split into nine parts (kick, snare, hat open, hat closed, etc.) with melodic instruments welcome for insertion into any of these sections. The step sequencer has a 16 and 32 mode, depending on your desired length of drum loop.

If you prefer to actually play your beats instead of sequencing them, the app has a drum pad which you can use to manually play beats along to the quantized recorder in order to get a bit more creative in a real-time fashion. The mixer also allows you to edit each part of your drum kit individually with a wonderful Moog-style interface, letting you fiddle with the various sounds of your kit, change the levels, and generally be in control of how each aspect of you kit sounds.

Perhaps one could be a little critical of the app’s relatively rough appearance due to the fact it actually doesn’t take advantage of the iPad’s retina display. This visual aspect of the app is really the only thing that can be criticised since its functionality and usefulness for rock (or any kind) of musicians is unquestionable. This is without a doubt the most powerful and intuitive piece of drum software for the iPad/iPhone. More melodic options would have been nice to make this app more powerful and useful as a general music-making tool, but as a drum app with melodic options, this is as good as it gets.