With automatic level setting, an omnidirectional condenser, and a pair of phantom-powered XLR inputs, iZotope's latest puts a lot of recording power into your iOS device.

It just ... works. Very good mic. Easy to setup.

App is iOS only.


iZotope Spire Studio (2nd generation)


Since COVID upended the world, nearly every serious musician I know has become at least slightly better at recording. And that uptick in engineering interest may make iZotope's second iteration of the Spire Studio portable multitrack recorder worth checking out for those looking to strike fast when they're inspired. I was up and tracking less than three minutes after unboxing the unit.

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This handy practice tool walks you through some important concepts.

At some point, most inquisitive guitarists confront the intricacies of modes. Ninebuzz’s Modal Buddy is an iOS app that breaks down modal theory and lets you practice modes in context. The beautifully designed app has two main sections: learn and practice. The learn section walks you through six chapters of examples that explain how modes are created and why they work with specific chords. Some of the Q&A information is questionable (like the suggestion that a Mixolydian scale works well over a major 7th chord), but most of the info is pretty solid.

Once you get the concepts under your fingers, the practice section provides various backing tracks for working out modal ideas. Each example shows the five main fingerings—based on octave shapes—and offers a vamp (in the relative key of G) to solo over. Unfortunately, the vamps are only available in one key, and most of the theoretical info is available for free online. (Plus, at five bucks, Modal Buddy does far less than other comparably priced apps.) Modal Buddy isn’t something you’d want to break out on a gig, but it’s a well-designed practice tool that may help guitarists get past important theoretical hurdles.

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