After I posted about Echo Guitar Lite I wrote to the developer to ask about the differences between it and the Pro version because I just wasn't clear from the descriptions on the App Store ( though I just looked again and it seems pretty obvious. Maybe I got confused!). I was mainly concerned with the number and customizability of the chords on offer. Quick as a flash he responded that indeed the Pro version has got more chords ... and he very generously provided me with a download code. So full disclosure, I was provided copy of Echo Guitar Pro for free but with no expectation of a good review! I'm excited because let's face it these guitar apps are a niche within a niche and I'd love developers to play a part in our discussions! I think we'd all buy more!
So what did I find? Well firstly Echo Guitar Pro is exactly the same experience as Echo Guitar Lite. Same guitar sounds ( Classical Acoustic, Steel String, Clean Electric and Muted Electric ), same GUI, same feel, same finger-picking patterns ... indeed for a free app it is very well appointed and completely representative of what to expect in the Pro Version. The really big difference in the Pro version is that it can be turned blue. No, seriously ... it can be turned blue... but there's more to it than that!
For me the expanded chord library is everything. In Echo Guitar Pro the player can tap and hold a chord pad and a selector will pop up allowing a choice from a vastly improved library than that offered in the Lite app.
So right off the Bat Echo Guitar becomes so much more useful. With the chord pane fully opened, up to 32 chords can be played by strumming, tapping or using the auto picking patterns. And speaking of the patterns, there is also a nice pattern editor which permits each picking-pattern to be edited to a great degree. A pattern can be set for 2/4, 3/4 or 4/4 time and notes added with quantizing ( i.e. on the beat ) or in a free position mode which lets things get all kinds of out-of-time. Almost like I'm really playing it! The default pattern can always be restored so no worries there...
Of significance to me is that the App outputs MIDI nicely with an easy to find MIDI Control Panel labelled 'MIDI" ! ) complete with a slider to define the note-off time so any receiving app doesn't end up endlessly playing a single note! Performance recordings can be made and saved to an internal library or exported as a MIDI file too. AudioBus works well ... I had Echo running through AmpOne and Bias with no issues.
And finally the Echo Guitar Pro has a fully functional sliding Capo which can be used while playing or on playback of your recordings. Nice!
Because the Pro version was much more fun to play with I also discovered a couple of subtle things which are really nicely implemented. The dynamics of the guitar are controlled by where the player strums on the neck. The further to the right ( over the sound hole ) the louder the notes played. This works while the finger picking is going too. So tapping the position of each picked note to alter it's volume can really bring a pattern to life with a bit of feeling. While messing with this I also stumbled onto the fact that tapping a note at the extreme tight of the interface ( where the bridge would be ) produces a cool little slide into the played note! Well played sir!
When the large chord pallet and Patterns panes are hidden Echo Guitar has a Fretboard which allows the player to tap individual notes while playing chords. This is my holy grail ... passing notes, little solos all while still having access to chords... if its implemented properly. Alas Echo Guitar stumbles here since it lacks any ability to slide between notes or even bend them Which is weird because the GUI animation shows strings bending! But it is very close ... i'd also love to be able to alter the note labels to show various keys and scales!
My only other major gripe is that the strumming action just isn't responsive enough to catch rapid strumming. It seems the App's mechanism is to detect when a finger touches a string or note and then play it as the finger leaves ( strictly speaking I guess a guitar string actually does that too ). However if the player starts to strum rapidly Echo Guitar quickly gets left behind, which in practice means your playing will tend to get stuck in the low to mid tempos. It's a limitation not suffered by OMGuitar or Guitarism.
So is Pro worth $7.99? Of course it is. It has features others haven't broached ( the Fretboard in particular ) and for heavens sake, it lets you get rid of the terrifying Pink color. Though the Blue is scary too...