Ever struggle to focus, relax, or sleep? This app’s DIY soundscapes have you covered
Price: Free (+optional IAP)
Size: 26.1 MB
Platform: iPhone & iPad
Developer: inookta studio inc.
Update! We loved TaoMix 2 when it launched in 2016, and it won an App Store Award a year later – but does it still hold up in 2020?
So what’s new? Not much has been added in the way of features, but a steady stream of updates and bug fixes ensures the app still works a treat on modern devices. The IAP for extra sound packs is a lot more expensive than it used to be ($48/year to unlock everything) but thankfully the excellent essentials are still completely free – if you can find the tiny ‘x’ button to dismiss the app’s Premium ad, that is. It’s a shame you can no longer buy individual sound packs, but the ability to record your own is a nice touch. We also noticed the welcome addition of an introductory tutorial since we lamented the lack of one in our original review. Oh, and the app now integrates with HomeKit if you want to go all-out and bring your smart lights into the ambient mix!
Revised rating: Still a fantastic create-your-own ambiance tool, though its sound packs are more limited if you don’t want to subscribe. ★★★★
Our original review, written in May 2016, is presented in its entirety below.
TaoMix 2 is a tool for mashing together audio recordings into unique custom soundscapes; a kind of dynamic personal soundboard. Picking from a broad range of noises, the app allows you to build up an interactive visual representation of your ideal background ambience.
Maybe you want something soothing and familiar to help you nod off, or a tranquil accompaniment to meditation or yoga. Perhaps you’re at your most productive working amongst the hustle and bustle of a coffee shop and want to recreate that vibe at home. Or maybe you just want some pleasant audio to mask the noisy neighbors.
Whatever the reason, all the classic background noises are here. From gentle raindrops to buffeting thunderstorms, chirruping birds to yapping dogs, crackling bonfires to roaring fireplaces, the sounds available are varied and consistently high quality. There’s an interesting range of unconventional sounds: ambient drones and colored noises provide low pulsating thrums of audio, designed to promote relaxation.
Sounds are represented by colored circles, which are added and rearranged with a simple drag-and-drop interface. Meanwhile a small white circles bounces casually around the screen, causing each element to fade in or out as it passes by. Touching the white circle allows you to move it manually to hear different combinations, and you can steer its trajectory and velocity by flicking it around the screen. The sounds meld together, dropping in and out of focus. It’s a strange, satisfying way of composing; almost like assembling a collage.
You can resize individual circles by long-pressing and then swiping up or down, a motion much more precise than the conventional pinch-to-zoom gesture. Double-tapping a sound will reveal delete and info buttons, plus a slick color wheel for changing the hue of the circle. These gestures are smart and useful, but not immediately obvious – a brief ‘help’ section or introductory tooltip wouldn’t go amiss.
Lacking inspiration? Hit the app’s shuffle button to load a randomized selection of sounds. Occasionally this will create an unlistenable mess, but surprisingly these random noises often create a pleasant ambience. It’s a nice feature, as is the built-in timer: once set, sounds will gradually fade to silence or snap you back to reality with a gong, depending if you’re using it to get to sleep or for a time-limited relaxation session. Add to that the ability to record your own sounds and compatibility with the Apple Watch and you’ll see this app has a lot going for it.
The sounds included free cover most bases, but additional sound packs are available as in-app purchases. If you long for the soothing sounds of a Japanese garden, a buzzing cafe or a symphony orchestra, these add-ons will be worth the asking price. Individual sound packs are just a buck or two, but $8.99/£6.99 will grant access to every single IAP and any more released in future to boot. It’s a lot of money in one go, but a pretty fair system and good value if you end up using the app a lot.
Ultimately, TaoMix 2 is perfect for those situations when you want some background noise but conventional music, radio or podcasts just don’t fit the bill. Its unique interface looks great and its sound banks sound great, with limitless combinations to play with. Highly recommended if you like this sort of thing!