There are few online services that truly make us gasp these days. Apart from one or two you can only access with a credit card. When it comes to free services then, Audiotool is pretty special.
Powered by Flash, the free site offers an experimental set of music production tools. In use, it reminds us a little of Propellerhead’s Reason – albeit in a very truncated form. Like Reason (and Rebirth before it), Audiotool mimics a hardware studio setup. There are four categories of components. Drums and synths are the main generator elements. Then, in the Tools sections there are several mixer and router types. Finally, there are a generous number of effects.
To use them, you select a component and simply drag it to the main document area. A simple Audiotool amp emulator controls the entire setup. In order to hear any output, components must be chained together using virtual cables. In this way, the output of the musical components can be routed through mixers and effects.
The tools are pleasingly rendered as graphic representations of their real world, vintage hardware equivalents. Some of them will be recognised by hardened musos, used to punching buttons in the pre-PC days. As for results, it’s capable of some complex and impressive music generation – on par with Rebirth, at least. The service is free to sign up and with an account you can save tracks publicly and works on tunes collaboratively too.
By the time you read this, the site will have rolled out several more new features we’ve yet to test, including a cleaner site and the ability to output tracks in MP3 format. As free creative tools go, Audiotool is about as good as it gets.