We can think of a million reasons beyond checking show levels to keep a noise meter in your pocket—not least of which is your hearing health. If you have a suite of audio analysis tools in your pocket, you’ll be ready for (almost) anything. The AudioTools iOS app ($19.99) is a set of professional-grade audio and acoustic analysis apps, including an SPL meter, real-time analyzer, FFT, speaker polarity test, line level tests, and a mono/stereo recorder. Other apps to try: Studio Six Digital AudioTools, Audio Spectrum Analyzer Pro, NIOSH Sound Level Meter, Decibel Meter Pro for iOS, FrequenSee or Sound Meter Pro (above) for Android, or Decibel X for both. (Most of these apps work with your device’s embedded microphone, but adding an external measurement mic will improve their accuracy.)
Tone and Noise Generators
Tone generators are indispensable multitaskers. Most tone generators include sine/square/sawtooth waves, sweeps, and white and pink noise, useful for everything from testing speakers to tuning instruments. A few to try: Signal Generator or Audio Function Generator Pro for iOS, Tone Generator Pro (above) for Android.
Audio Cue Managers
If you work small theatre shows, weddings, or worship services, these simple apps can streamline your music and sound effects cues. Choices include Go Button (above) or SoundCue for iOS, Audio Cues for Android.
Jump-start your day with a hardcore alarm clock like the Alarmy alarm clock app (iOs/Android), which makes you perform tasks like solving a math problem or snapping a pic of a known object to prove you’re out of bed. Once you’re up and running, stay focused with a surprisingly effective Pomodoro timer, which essentially breaks your work time into groups of 25-minute bursts, with five-minute breaks. (Try a free mobile app, desktop app, or browser extension.) If you’re tempted by cat videos and other Internet distractions, try browser extensions that block websites that you define, during hours that you define. RescueTime runs in the background, monitoring the amount of time you spend on applications and sites; the Productivity Owl Chrome extension lets you visit select sites for a predetermined time limit—an owl sits on your screen, counting down the seconds for you, then flies off, taking the page with him.
Banish Brain Block With Oblique Strategies
In 1975, Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt created the Oblique Strategies card deck to break through creative blocks. Each card offers a challenge (“emphasize the flaws,” “a line has two sides”) designed to push through a deadlock situation; some phrases relate to music composition; others are general. Pick up a set of original physical cards, browse an online deck or download a virtual deck for iOs or Android.