Quiztones is a small app that helps audio engineers and producers train their ears. After all, the best place for improvement is not in gear or software, but in yourself. In this case, you’re investing $19.99 for Mac, or $4.99 for iOS, to improve yourself.
The app works by providing tones and audio samples in a quiz format. In tone mode, you press play and listen. You get four choices and you pick what you think you heard. Depending on the difficulty, you get a decreasing frequency range to choose from. In EQ mode, you get a choice of a variety of sound samples from strings and acoustic guitar, and even music from your own iTunes library, and the difficulty is based upon levels of boost or attenuation of certain frequencies in the sample. You then guess which frequency has been boosted or cut.
Having a variety of sources to practice with is awesome. You can train yourself on a variety of sources and while you may be terrible when you first start practising with Quiztones, you can only get better as you keep at it. I like the super simple interface, and the focused nature of the program. There’s not much to it besides the just diving in and trying your hand at the tones or audio samples.
Quiztones is a very cool app, and if anything there are only a couple things that might be nice to have. One would be an example of the clean audio sample so you can use it as a baseline. Because Quiztones immerses you in quizzes right away, there are no unchanged samples to compare to. You just don’t know what the “ideal” sound you’re comparing the boosts or cuts to is. This isn’t such a big deal though because it only really takes one or two samples to get an idea, but especially for those that haven’t tried this type of training before, hearing the clean sample at least one (perhaps before the quiz is started) would be helpful. UPDATE: Dan from Audiofile Engineering let me know that there is an EQ button that allows you to toggle the effect on and off. Don’t know how I missed it! There will also be a hint sheet in an upcoming update that will help explain how it all works.
Another “would be nice to have” is a portion that coaches you. Now this doesn’t necessarily have to be an explanation of what you should be listening to after each quiz question, but if there was a little “training manual” of sorts that you could read for ideas on what to listen for, I think it would help those that are floundering around and guessing and testing. I understand that it’s pretty hard to articulate these listening skills though, so I’m not sure if this could be done in a meaningful way.
When I first heard about Quiztones I was pretty excited. The iOS version is a pocketable app that you can use to improve your listening skills when you have a spare moment waiting for the bus, or sitting in a coffee shop. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any iOS devices to install the software on, but with the release of Quiztones for Mac, the software has pretty much lived up to my expectations. I would say though, that the Mac version has convinced me that the iOS version (which provides similar functionally although some extra features in the Mac version are available as in-app add ons) would be even more useful.
So if you have a Mac, Quiztones is a great app for training your ears. If you have an iOS device, I’m guessing you’ll find a lot more time to practice Quiztones while on the go.
Here’s a short accompanying video review: