Product Gear4 Pocketloops
Specifications Works with Iphone 3G/3Gs, all but the first generation Ipod Touch and Iphone 4/4S, dock adapters included
PERIPHERAL MAKER Gear4 has spent a good number of years pushing a line of dedicated and unique accessories for some of the most popular mobile devices on the market, the Ipod and the Iphone. With docking stations, protective covers and other comical add-ons, the firm has started to branch out into more 'creative' domains. Enter Pocketloops.
Pocketloops is a keyboard dock that turns the Iphone or Ipod Touch into a DJ station. By downloading the Pocketloops app from the Apple App store, users can create sample tracks, or "loops" crafted from bundled sample kits that include sounds from genres such as hip-hop, rock, dubstep, house, electro and reggae.
With Pocketloops being a recent but not brand new release by Gear4, the accessory is not able to connect to Apple's recently launched Iphone 5, so we tested it with the Iphone 4S instead.
Design and build
Unboxing Pocketloops proved slightly disappointing. Despite the flashy box, the keyboard itself appears quite cheap. For £50, we weren't expecting it to have such a flimsy feel. The keys almost rattle around inside its casing and when pressed, feeling far too light and toy-like.
Also in the box you get four connectors so that an Iphone 4/4S, or a second, third or fourth generation Ipod Touch can be docked, so at least Gear4 has catered for most Apple product owning music fans here.
In our tests, the Iphone 4S was very easy to connect and slid into the Pocketloops' connector nicely. Powering up the app, the keyboard begins working right away.
The Pocketloops app is well designed and fairly easy to use. After around five minutes of playing around with it and being far too stubborn to watch the tutorial, we had pretty much figured out how it worked.
Once you've slotted in your Iphone or Ipod Touch and starting up the app, you hit "New Song" to start creating your master mixes.
You have four vertical bars where four different genre's sample sounds can be added. Genres range from House, Drum and Bass and Hip Hop to Electro, Rock and Reggae. There's also a "Upright Piano" mode in case you just want to use Pocketloops purely as a piano.
You can then layer the sounds up. You'll find each individual key press initiates a different sound within whatever genre you are recording at the time.
Once you've set down your sounds you can also add effects to them, choosing from three built-in effects: Echo, Chorus and the XY Filter Pad. This aims to make your tunes more dynamic by changing the tone, pitch and speed.
To make a more complex loop, you can then layer the sounds up, choosing from different genres as you progress until you create a tune you are happy with. Once thing we noticed though was a lack of voice recordings to add to the loops. A "ooh" or "aah" would have made it just that much more fun.
Nevertheless, the sounds that are available on Pocketloops ensure you can have a fun time mixing up different, unique tracks. The sounds can then be recorded and shared amongst friends on social networks.
Despite being lots of fun, Pocketloops has a pretty short life span. Once you've had some fun with it - we'd say an hour, maximum - you'll probably put it back in the box and not open it again for a good few months, if ever.
However, Pocketloops could get quite addictive for the more musically inclined among us. And for that reason, we think Pocketloops is only really useful in the long term for someone who knows a bit about music creation, and knows what they are doing. Those who, like us, have no real clue about how to remix music likely will have a play with Pocketloops then quickly lose interest and move on to something else. µ
Fun, sharing capability, ability to mix up sounds from different genres.
Lack of vocal samples to add to tracks, short life span.
Plastic, cheap feel.