In the '90s, Allen Sides created a CD-ROM featuring his extensive Ocean Way Recording mic collection. Jump to this year, and guitarist extraordinaire Steve Vai went back and produced an app based on Allen's CD-ROM (seriously, did anyone ever use or buy those things back then?). What is the Ocean Way Microphone Locker? It's an informational app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch featuring basic notes on 66 microphones and 33 instruments (no vocals), and it also presents combinations of mic and instrument with audio clips. Are these clips helpful? I'll just say that there are some instrument/mic combos that this app immediately made me wary of! It's interesting how one mic can capture a particular instrument so much better than another, but I'm sure the more seasoned of us already knew this. The basic mic stats and knowledge would be a help for someone starting out in recording for sure, and having audio clips is a bonus over text-only content.
I wish the app made available more of Allen's opinions on mic/source combinations. When we get them, they're candid and thoughtful. When we don't, we wonder if he doesn't like the mic on the source, but we don't know. Some notes will tell you the mic'ing distance he prefers, and others don't. And amazingly, the credits don't tell you who the musicians are, but I did see Hal Blaine playing claves in a photo. Also, any notes on mic preamps used, and even Steve Vai's production credit, are missing.
But for all the potential that this app offers, and the fascinating glimpse into a collection of wonderful mics, the most disappointing feature is that this app appears like it will never be expanded on or updated. You get 66 mics; I own over 100 mics, most of which are not included here, and I doubt they ever will be. What about those of us that don't have a vintage AKG C 12? Over at recordinghacks.com, there are nearly 1400 microphones profiled. I'd love to see an app resource that tacked something larger, or at least grew over time, and yes, I'd pay more for it, or I'd pay for updates. Don't get me wrong, I love the concept and general execution of this app, but it also feels limited.
(Technical note: I know how much work, time, and money goes into producing a quality app, and how frustrating it can be when everything doesn't work as planned, but Mic Locker crashes on the iPad 2 when you try to play Allen's intro video, and many of the audio clips have obvious pops and clicks in them. That's pretty frustrating.) ($9.99; www.oceanwayrecording.com) -LC