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Author Topic: Best portable trackers in 2019  (Read 322 times)

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noobtracker

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Best portable trackers in 2019
« on: August 22, 2019, 00:39:53 »

Hi all, I realise this question has basically been asked before, but I want to pick up some cheap handheld device (Android\IOS\MS\games machine, whatever) just to sketch out compositions when I'm on the go. Preferably supporting the .XM format, have a decent battery life, and which would allow me to carry my entire 10GB sample collection about.

Nitrotracker was almost exactly what I wanted but its lack of effects is a deal-breaker for me. So I thought I would get a Kindle, install Google Apps, and run Milkytracker on it. But then people are saying it's unuseable. And modular trackers like Sunvox really aren't my cup of tea...

So, are there any better options out there? Like I said, any device is fine, so long as it doesn't break the bank.
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Jay

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Re: Best portable trackers in 2019
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2019, 22:21:06 »

Maybe not the answer you're looking for, but I grabbed a 2010-ish netbook (Asus Eeepc) for $30, threw on a barebones Windows XP install, and a whole bunch of composition tools - Schism Tracker, Milky, OpenMPT, DefleMask, Audacity, some MIDI editors, etc. It does everything I want, has actual line in & headphone out jacks, and the tough plastic construction means I can just chuck it into a backpack and drag it where-ever.

I've actually "DJed" shows running two of these through a DJ mixer & fx box. Schism makes a perfect DJ tool if you ask me.

IMHO you'll have tons more fun using trackers with a physical keyboard (even a cramped one) than any kind of touch screen tablet. It's just what they were made for.
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noobtracker

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Re: Best portable trackers in 2019
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2019, 10:41:18 »

Jay, I agree that would be the best option, but I really wanted something that charges via USB and doesn't consume too much battery power, as I want to be able to charge off powerbanks when I go travelling. Also, I've got a 50W solar panel kit (with USB ports) lying around that I want to actually use for... something.  :D

After further investigation, it seems my options are as follows:

Suck it up and use Sunvox (great program, horrible UI.)
Dig deep in my pockets, get an Ipad, and use Vividtracker.
Get an old PDA and run Milky (though I've read FX commands aren't supported in the portable version.)
Get an Android tablet, a portable keyboard, and then I SHOULD(?) be able to run Bassoon Tracker or any DOS\Win9x tracker via emulation.

Vividtracker looks really good, actually: 8CH PT clone, and with the pattern2sample function. But I can't justify the cost of an Ipad, especially knowing that I will end up breaking it within a year (like most phones I've had.)

So the last option looks like the best for my needs. Though I reckon you'd need quite a beefy device to run an emulated tracker on Android; has anyone got any info on this?
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Jay

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Re: Best portable trackers in 2019
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2019, 03:46:00 »

Have you checked out PixiTracker? It's by the same author as SunVox but it's more of a conventional sample-based tracker, and unlike some of the other options, it is made to be usable on a tablet. It's not super powerful, but pretty good for a 'musical sketchpad' IMHO.
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Saga Musix

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Re: Best portable trackers in 2019
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2019, 17:01:44 »

Quote
Jay, I agree that would be the best option, but I really wanted something that charges via USB and doesn't consume too much battery power, as I want to be able to charge off powerbanks when I go travelling. Also, I've got a 50W solar panel kit (with USB ports) lying around that I want to actually use for... something.
From what I know more recent laptops can also be powered through USB, so while an older EeePC might not fit the bill, a more recent small laptop might be able to do so.
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noobtracker

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Re: Best portable trackers in 2019
« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2019, 06:09:53 »

Jay, I'm sure Pixitracker is great for what it is but it's just too simplistic for me.

Saga, I'm not really up-to-date with technology, but I believe what I need is a small netbook with a USB-C port. The problem is that even the smallest device would only let me trickle charge from a powerbank.

Anyway, I've been messing around with Bassoon Tracker on my phone with a keyboard attached. I think I've found what I'm looking for, and so will probably pick up a 8-10" tablet on payday. Too bad I can't seem to get it to work offline though!
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noobtracker

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Re: Best portable trackers in 2019
« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2019, 11:11:10 »

Well, I picked up a Fire HD 8, installed Google Play, and have been messing around with a few apps. Yeah, Milkytracker Android is just painful to use, even with a keyboard. Sunvox is serviceable, but still a bit fiddly. Bassoon Tracker is decent, but a constant internet connection is needed to load samples. I'm starting to think that touchscreens and trackers just don't mix.

But Caustic 3 is excellent: easy to use, surprisingly capable, and a steal for the asking price. Yeah, it's not a tracker; but by just using the sampler and audio editor, you can get a similar sort of sound\vibe, and then easily export your samples onto your main system. Though I can honestly say that, despite a few missing functions I would like (e.g., note panning and a beatslicer), I could write an entire track with this software and wouldn't feel limited at all.

Still, my next purchase is going to be a small Windows netbook that will be used purely as a portable Modplug\FT2 device. Just can't beat entering notes with a nice clacky keyboard.  ;)
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Saga Musix

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Re: Best portable trackers in 2019
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2019, 13:27:33 »

Quote
I'm starting to think that touchscreens and trackers just don't mix.
Quite frankly, optimizing trackers for ease of use with touch screens and avoiding the "fat finger problem" will probably remove 90% of what makes trackers so efficient to work with. The concept really doesn't translate well into the touch screen world.
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noobtracker

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Re: Best portable trackers in 2019
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2019, 08:33:50 »

Quote
I'm starting to think that touchscreens and trackers just don't mix.
Quite frankly, optimizing trackers for ease of use with touch screens and avoiding the "fat finger problem" will probably remove 90% of what makes trackers so efficient to work with. The concept really doesn't translate well into the touch screen world.

Yeah... I guess so. I mean, you wouldn't even attempt to use a tracker on a desktop PC with a mouse and no keyboard, would you? In that context, you'd be better off 'painting' notes in via piano roll.

Having said that, on my 8" screen and using a portable keyboard, FT2 emulated via Dosbox Turbo is certainly useable. Unfortunately, it stutters too much on my cheapo device and most of my samples don't play properly (ADPCM?) So, Caustic 3 will have to do for the time being.

BTW, many thanks for your work on the excellent OpenMPT.  :)
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Saga Musix

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Re: Best portable trackers in 2019
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2019, 19:11:47 »

There's no ADPCM samples in XM/MOD (unless you are trying to import one of those rare abominations compressed with the old ModPlug Player). If the samples don't play properly I would rather guess that it's related to the lack of performance as the output already stutters. If you haven't done so already, configure FT2 to use the Gravis Ultrasound, as that should consume less performance in DOSBox (rather than having to emulate the mixer code that drives the SoundBlaster, DOSBox will natively mix the samples in GUS memory).
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