Nobody has to remind us how fun it can be to mess around with music apps designed to mimic the formats of days gone by. However, the same instinct that compels us to try them also encourages app developers to build lots of random iPad apps for pretending to play vinyl.
It's an odd concept because of course the iPad doesn't actually play vinyl -- and it can't even reproduce sound at that high of a resolution (analogue formats have no resolution, because they reproduce smooth sound waves without chopping them up). So, essentially, all of these apps are just pretty interfaces with maybe some crackling thrown in at the beginning of the track for that "authentic" feel (never mind that the truly authentic vinyl experience involves a disinterested girlfriend).
If you accept that premise, then you must also accept that for people who nonetheless want an iPad app that pretends to be a record player, one of them has to be the best, and we think we've found it: Vinyl Tap. This $1.99 app painstakingly recreates the vinyl-playing experience, including not only those crackles at the beginning of the track, but the ability to flip records, navigate tracks in the ways of the olden days, and even play tracks at the wrong speed (i.e. 33 1/3 RPM instead of 45).
Vinyl Tap comes with two record player simulators, each of which has been reproduced with as much accuracy as we imagine is possible on an iPad. From adjusting the colour of the pretend strobe light that tracks the pretend dots on the side of the pretend platter, to the faux-auto-detection of singles or albums (on the linear tracking turntable), Vinyl Tap can virtually do it all.
The app plays anything in your iPad's music library, unless it's protected by DRM (i.e. a track you purchased from iTunes years ago).
We herewith announce that we are taking a break from reviewing these apps for the moment, because so many music apps out there attempt to create the future instead of recreating the past. But if you're amused by the concept of playing "records" on your iPad, as we are, Vinyl Tap could be worth $2 on the strength of its attention to detail. Paul Barrick of andBoom, which developed the app, says he's working on adding more record players to the app as well -- but not, we assume on the strength of the two that are included here, until he has perfectly recreated them.
Evolver.fm observes, tracks and analyses the music apps scene, with the belief that it's crucial to how humans experience music, and how that experience is evolving.