The iShred LIVE app is one of the first amplifier/FX simulators I became aware of when I first discovered it was possible to play guitar through the iPhone. It was also through this app that I discovered the GuitarConnect Cable (the first guitar/iPhone interface I purchased). I mention that because of the interfaces I currently own, only GuitarConnect Cable and AmpKit LINK work with iShred LIVE. GuitarJack does not.
One of the things I still like about this app, is that it’s free. You need to purchase the effects that you require from inside the app, but it comes with enough for free to keep anybody playing for hours. Like I’ve done for a day.
So let’s get straight into it with my usual black and white imagery. Full colour graphics available at the developer’s website.
When you get to the front page of the app, you see the base of the amplifier at the top of the screen with all the possible effect pedals on the floor beneath it. It’s just like looking down on the floor as you play guitar in the real world. Very cool.
Just like in the real world, effect quality and sound will differ depending on pedal placement. Luckily, you can drag and drop the effect pedals to any location you prefer. If you’ve ever tried to put together a pedal board, you’ll know the placement you see in the screenshot above is not the best in regards to overdrive/distortion placement. So I edited that.
If you want to edit the effect settings, you simply click on the pedal (top section) to bring that effect into focus. Clicking the bottom of the pedal turns it on/off. Just like on a real effect pedal.
The Delay Unit pedal comes with the app for free. You used to get a Noise Gate pedal for free, but it’s been moved into the More section of the app. Still free though.
Before we move further into the app and its sounds, let’s look at the amplifier itself. To view the amp you simply click the bottom of it on your main screen. This brings it into focus.
You can choose from the Clean or Overdrive channels of the amp and adjust the amplifier’s volume with ease. You can also adjust the Overdrive level (which goes to an amazing 11!)
Once you are back at the main screen (the big X button takes you back there) you can easily continue with your exploration of the app. I’d like to point out that on most screens of this app you’ll see the Information icon (i). Clicking on that will bring up advice specific to the page you’re currently on. I think this is one of the most intelligent features I’ve seen in any of the apps tested so far.
Once you’ve had the opportunity to test the effects pedals and the amp settings, its time to move onto the presets. There are several to choose from and multi-coloured screens for you to save your own presets to.
Adding your own presets is very simple. Place the effects where you want them on the first screen, change each effects settings to suit your preferences and then come to the Presets screen. You can overwrite an existing preset or you can save the preset into one of the other spaces the app provides you with (there are 48 in total).
Once saved it’s an easy step to name your preset. Once again, click and hold the preset you just saved.
It’s worth pointing out that each line has a character limit. You’ll need to type into each line individually. I’d have preferred one text area that allowed for greater flexibility, but I understand the limitations—there is a pre-defined area to work with in each button.
One thing you may have noticed in some of the screenshots below is the Share button. You can currently email your presets to people from within the app. This is one seriously cool feature. There are apparently plans in the future to create a public repository of iShred LIVE sounds. That I imagine will be equally cool.
Moving on into the app you get to the Tuner screen. The tuner is very basic, but works a charm. It’s what a tuner should be.
The next screen in the app is the Recorder screen. You need to purchase this feature (for $1.99). Seriously … That’s it. It’s a bargain.
You have options here. Option one is play and record. Pretty simple. Option two is turn on the metronome, play and record. There’s more to it if you want there to be, but otherwise, it’s that simple. If you do want to use the metronome, you need to go to the More page, select Metronome and adjust the speed to suit your song. More on the More screen later.
With or without metronome, recording is as easy as hitting the big REC button and playing until you’re finished. When you’re finished, hit the REC button again to turn the recording off. If you did turn on the metronome first, you were lucky to have the metronome count you in at speed for a bar prior to recording. This is another awesome feature of this app.
Once recorded you can either save the song, undo/delete the song or play the song back. Or if you want to, you can record over it and create your own layered recording. It’s pretty awesome.
Before you do that, you may want to edit the name of your song. To do that you click on the song title. You’ll then be given the opportunity to edit the song’s title.
If you’re wondering how I started with the song title in the first place, don’t despair. I’d simply added a new song to my saved catalogue by clicking the + button you see on the Recorder screen. It’s easy to do and on that screen you’ll see all the recordings you’ve saved to date.
Once you’re happy with your recording you’ll no doubt want to share it with people. This is perhaps where iShred LIVE stands out from several other apps in this quest for amplifier/FX simulator greatness. Clicking the Share button allows you to email the recording, send the recording to iTunes or upload directly to SoundCloud. I tried two of those techniques for this review. You’ll hear them later.
As mentioned, you can also upload directly to SoundCloud. If you choose that option, you’ll see the file uploading to your linked account (you need to authorise the app with SoundCloud first) and you’ll then see the file successfully uploaded. Awesome and incredibly simple.
But there are other ways to get your recordings out of iShred LIVE. If you click on the Manage Songs button (it looks like three horizontal lines to the right of the song title) you’ll see the recordings you’ve saved to date. From this screen you can select the recording and use the Copy tool to export to an app such as FourTrack. You’re now able to build a song using your iShred LIVE recording.
On the Audio Tracks screen you’ll also notice the WiFi button. This allows you to wirelessly connect your recordings to your home PC. You click the button for the selected recording and click the WiFi button. You’ll be shown the URL to point your PC browser to to get the recording.
So many ways to get your recordings out of the app. Awesome.
But the app still has more. We know this because there is a More screen!
There’s the metronome I mentioned earlier, the Music page, the Noise Gate page and the Settings page. The metronome allows you to manually edit the speed by using the -/+ buttons or you can tap in your own speed. You can also alter the beats per par. If you’re using the metronome for general playback, you need to turn it off before you start the recorder. The metronome can only run in one location. But the app is smart enough to tell you this when you click the Metronome button on the Recording screen.
To return to the More screen, you simply click the More button from the metronome (or any other screen from within this section). You’re back on the More screen.
The Noise Gate screen is essentially a Noise Gate pedal (which used to appear on the main pedals/amp screen as mentioned earlier).
The Settings screen allows you to to enable/disable sound effects for the buttons in the app as well as alter the background colour/texture for the main screen of the app. It’s hard to make out in the screenshots on my site (on account of the ‘no colour’ rule), but you can choose between a wooden texture, metal texture or a frog texture.
The last section to cover is the Music screen. It’s not saving the best for last, but it’s close.
Like other apps in this category, iShred LIVE allows you to play along with tracks in your iTunes catalogue. It also allows you to select from your own recordings. You click on the song title to choose from the recordings you have on file. And you’re not forced to play along with the entire track either. You can select the start and end points of your favourite section and have that part loop. More awesome.
You can of course play along with professional recordings you have on your iOS device. Technically speaking of course. I can not play Sudden Death by Megadeth though. Not a chance.
To prove it, I’ll share what I did record with the iShred LIVE app. One acoustic track (exported to iTunes then uploaded to SoundCloud) and one fuzz driven track (uploaded directly to SoundCloud from iShred LIVE). Hopefully you’ll get the idea and try the app for yourself.
Enjoy. I’m off to ask my family Santa for an iTunes card so I can by more of the in-app pedals.
iShred LIVE recordings
Exported to iTunes, then uploaded to SoundCloud.
Exported directly to SoundCloud.