Finally after much delay and anticipation my Antiphon Instrument 1 arrived last week!
‘The Artiphon INSTRUMENT 1 is a single device that can be played as a guitar, piano, drum pad, synthesizer, and many other instruments. By connecting the INSTRUMENT 1 to smartphones, tablets, and computers, people of all skill levels can choose from an always-expanding palette of sounds.’ That was the blurb on the kickstarter page that caused me to back it waaaaay back in 2014. As someone who loves music but isn’t really that good at making it, this really felt like my jam. It’s like a keytar for the 21st century, and I have had the thing a few days now so I felt it was time to share with you all my feelings on my new musical companion.
They raised over $1.3 million from 3,391 backers from over 70 countries which is impressive and is still the most funded musical instrument on Kickstarter to date.
In the Box:
I ordered the gig edition so it came with a handy carry case and strap (which is a must). The box was sleek and professional and everything you would want to get in the post. There is a lack of instructions which could be annoying for some but a quick visit to the website sorts that out.
It felt and looked like the Artiphon was something special, the build quality was good and it doesn’t feel fragile or like anything is going to break in a hurry.
Its important to note I have only tried the app on the iPhone 6s but it works well (even if it is a bit of a battery hog). It’s clear and easy to use, and so far hasn’t had any issues with crashing. It would be nice to have an easier way of sharing and viewing other players custom set ups though – but these are things that can come with time I am sure.
In my hands:
It feels nice, solid and like a music instrument, it’s not too heavy but it does have some weight to it. So far I have had the most luck playing it holding it like a guitar and using the iBow setting; I really want to master the violin style of playing but more practice is needed for that I think!
The speakers do distort if you put them to maximum and play some of the deeper sounds, it’s a little irritating but something that’s easy to work around. I have noticed on one occasion one of the strings/frets sticks, but its not something I have managed to replicate so I am hoping it was a glitch and nothing more sinister in the build. I personally preferred doing all the settings in the app rather than on the built-in dial, but both worked well.
The tone and pitch of the instrument 1 is something really beautiful, something you can’t fault it on is its sound replication. It is never going to replace a guitar in recording sessions nor would you pick it over a real drum kit and sample pad, but what it does allow for is more realism than a standard midi device or a keyboard.
Where the Instrument 1 stands out compared to other MIDI instruments is you can just sit and play; I could happily lose an afternoon or weekend to just making silly music on it.
So far the Artiphon has made its way into two projects that I am working on: a remix and an audio post production for video. I recorded differently for both. In the remix I plugged it in to the desk via the headphone jack to XLR. It sounded good, there were no faults – it was quick and easy; I also tried it with a DI box and that worked really well too. No complaints there.
When I tried using a external mic to pick up the sound it was a little trickier given the location of the speakers, I had to stand very still and very close to the microphone which after a few minutes was a little uncomfortable. But all in all this process was OK and I would do it again if no other option was available.
The Instrument 1 is fun and functional, it takes some getting used to and more playing will have to be done to find the real limits, but I look forward to that journey. My only real niggle is that the carry case doesn’t fit the charger plug in very well which is something that could be solved with a little extra room in the case, but that is by no means a deal breaker for me. I look forward to learning this new instrument (and make no mistake it is a new instrument) a lot more in the future.
Below is the first prototype from 2013, and below that the kickstarter video that got me to part with my cash.