If you’re in the mood for killing some serious time this bank holiday weekend (or any time for that matter) then check out these cool free synths and drum machines that run, for free, right inside your internet browser. There are loads out there with varying degrees of cleverness and sound quality but for sheer enjoyment here’s my top five in no particular order.
- HTML Drum Machine. Ok this is really three different drum machines because they’re all really good. The first one appeared about a year ago called simply the HTML5 Drum Machine built by Jamthom which looks and works every bit like a Roland 808 but it actually has 5 different kits to play with. But more recently a less copyright shy Teemu Kallio created a fabulously emulated HTML-808 and HTML-909 Rhythm Composer. Your drum machine needs have been met. http://www.html5drummachine.com/
- Orbit Sampler. Staying with Jamthom for moment he also has cool circular sample player which lets you stick in a load of notes and drums to create complete repetitive tunes. You have 5 melodic tracks and 5 percussion tracks and you can sequence away to your hearts content. I’m pretty I just something very similar appear on the iPad recently called “Patterning”. Anyway, the Orbit Sampler is a very absorbing way to spend some time.
- Webmodular. On a bit of a scrappy website we find a nice and simple modular synth, perfect for working out how to wire the building blocks of synthesis together and create some sounds. It has an onscreen keyboard you can click or you can enter a melody in Music Macro Language (MML) and have it play back while you fiddle with wires and knobs. Shame it doesn’t support Chrome’s web MIDI API extension although the developers g200kg are working with an idea called WebMidiLink which allows instruments in different browser tabs to talk to each other.
- Web Synths. If you’d like to try out a bit of Chrome MIDI then the unexpectedly looking Web Synths is a good place to start. It has 137 presets, 3 oscillators, 2 filters and a bunch of effects in these three scrolling panels. There’s a virtual keyboard at the bottom which is totally multi-touchable and the synth is polyphonic. One thing to note is that when you make a change you have to retrigger the note to hear the result. There’s an amazing amount of stuff going on in there even if the looks are less than inspiring.
- AudioTool. And finally, AudioTool has been around for quite a while but it’s still the daddy of web based music fiddling. It has your 808 and 909, plus a 303, a Moog a fabulous tenori style matrix sequencer, sampler, mixers, splitters, crossfaders and then a whole load of rack and pedal style effects. In has an inbuilt sequencer, lets you drop in audio files and samples – it’s just completely bonkers. It reminds me of the Creamware Pulsar DSP platform from many years ago. If you want to save your tracks all you have to do is sign up and it all gets stored in the cloud for you access from anywhere. How genius is that?
- Bonus entry – Launchpad Pro. This came in just as I was finishing off my top 5 and it’s an online browser version of their Launchpad Pro which enables you to mess around with a bunch of preloaded loops from Harry Coade. You have an 8×8 grid to trigger loops and hits and it all works together as a track. It’s a load of fun and looks a lot different in Edge than Chrome but both work fine and it would good to see more of this, or maybe make it available as a new way to offer your own content.
So go, take some time off and play in a browser – I’d recommend Chrome for the most trouble free experience.