Making music with apps – you ought to know this

Last edited: 15 May 2020

With the VARIO App we would like to provide you with a tool for setting up and controlling the VARIO digital system that is as easy to use as possible. This is meant quite literally: Smartphones, as well as tablets, are used worldwide and have become a familiar and useful companion that many people cannot imagine their everyday life without. 

Wherever possible and useful, we would also like to make digital functions relevant to your piano playing as accessible as possible. This is not only the purpose of our app: thanks to Bluetooth or USB connectivity, the entire system is prepared for just about everything that is possible in digital music.

Many possibilities with music apps & the VARIO

In principle everything that speaks “MIDI” is compatible with the VARIO digital system. MIDI is a very robust standard, established for decades, for networking musical instruments. All VARIO systems, whether VARIO duet, VARIO connect (available soon), or the predecessor system, VARIO classic, support the MIDI protocol.

The range of applications is therefore enormous, just to name a few: 

  • Music-related learning and training processes
  • Exchange with other musicians or (learning) groups
  • Notation, or the writing of musical scores
  • Professional music production
  • Sound generation (e.g. as a supplement / layer to the acoustic instrument)
  • Games in an audio or music context

The VARIO also offers advantages especially for music lessons:

  • The VARIO digital system can also be used as such without muting and pleasantly fades into the background during lessons.
  • The VARIO app (for iOS) offers easy-to-use functions that allow teachers to communicate with their students. Under Android there are individual applications from third party providers available for this purpose.
  • Two headphone sockets can be used on the VARIO duet to practice on the instrument together.

The VARIO App – Features of the iOS version vs. Android

The iOS version of the VARIO app offers “musical functions” in addition to controlling the VARIO:

  • A metronome
  • An easy to use recorder
  • The ability to share recordings of the recorder

There is also a sample-based sound generation under iOS. This makes the piano sound (and some other sounds) available through the mobile device’s speaker or headphones. This function also allows you to share music as “MP3 files” (or more precisely: MPEG-4 AAC; also MIDI SMF1).

Certain functions of the VARIO app are only available under iOS. iOS, and also the Apple operating systems iPadOS and macOS, offer (integrated) functions in their core, which allow professional use of “musical” functions. In our case, this concerns mainly the audio and MIDI functions listed above.

Music applications are very demanding here, e.g. in terms of timing (think of the beat of a metronome). The uninterrupted playback of audio streams, as required when playing back samples, is also a mandatory prerequisite, as is the most immediate playback of sounds (the so-called latency).

Unfortunately, some (not all!) Android devices already fail to establish a stable MIDI connection. 🙁

In addition, there is the following aspect which is often overlooked: the available app landscape is (unfortunately) much less musical under Android than under iOS/iPadOS. Users can choose from a wide range of partly very sophisticated applications in the Apple environment. In addition, the core functions described above often allow an exchange within the music applications. An example: the VARIO app for iOS records data via MIDI recorder, which can then be passed on directly to a notation application or audio editing. This is, in a way intuitive for our target groups, not available in the Android world.

Nevertheless, there are applications for Android devices that you can use with the VARIO digital system. We would like to introduce some of them to you here:

Apps for musicians (beta)