I've been meaning to write a review of Griff for ages, and a recently I've been wondering exactly how to make it work. There are some excellent reviews of Griff, such as the Sound on Sound review written in May 2003, or the excellent one in Computer Music Tutorials, and I am sure that there are others.
Of course, I could give you something of a crash course in Griff, but the lovely people at Cobwebb Communications have already provided a fantastic tutorial online, and in fact they emailed to remind me just the other week. So what is there left that I can add?
Well, after much thought, I thought I'd write about why I started to use Griff, how I found it and what I like and don't like about it, and I hope that'll be useful.
Griff was in fact the only reason I ever bought a Pocket PC. Before then I had been a devoted Palm fan, and had avoided the Pocket PC platform (I quite like it now). I bought an HP Jornada 568 off eBay and it served very well indeed up until recently when I upgraded to a Dell Axim.
I started by just buying the main application and then moved slowly to buy all of the plug in applications. For now I think I'll just cover Griff and the plug-ins it comes with, and perhaps we'll move on to the other plug-ins at a later stage.
Griff Music Studio
Let me start by saying that I think that Griff is an excellent application and well worth trying especially if you're already a Pocket PC / Windows mobile user. It was one of the first portable music studio applications, and remains one of the best available. One thing you will notice about Griff is that the user interface is very graphically rich, and I've always liked that about Griff. It isn't just functionally rich, but great to look at too.
In term of the application's features it has all you'd expect from a music studio application. All of the mix and instrument parameters can be automated. The mix facilities are very user friendly, and according to the tutorial you can even go up to 32000 channels on the mixer, although I dare say that the response times would not be great.
There are many good things to talk about with Griff. One of my favourites is the fact that Griff supports plug ins. You can purchase 8 instrument plug ins and a couple of effect plug ins too. The plug ins really extend Griff especially with soft synth instruments. My two favourites are mda Organ
All the others are worth a look too. But that does bring me on to one of my complaints about Griff, and that is the fact that Cobwebb never (or at least never as far as I am aware) made a specification or SDK available for others to develop Griff plug ins. Maybe one day, but who knows.
So, as I've started on my list of minor issues with Griff, I'll let you know what the rest are.
Whilst I acknowledge the need for developers to secure their products with registration codes, there must be a better way with Griff. My problems with Griff registration is that when you have multiple plug ins all with different codes and then you need to change device, it takes ages to enter all the codes again.
No midi import
I think that Griff a MIDI import would have been an excellent addition to an already excellent application.
Griff costs £40, which is quite a lot for a mobile music application. Not that I mind that at all. However, if you add on the individual costs of all the plug ins you can end up with a total cost of just under £125. Which is a lot. I think that there could have been a bundle price or something more creative around pricing, which may have encouraged people to buy more plug ins anyway.
So, minor complaints out of the way. My verdict on Griff is that it still remains one of the best music applications for PocketPC and Windows Mobile. I wish that Cobwebb were still developing for it, but at least they continue with the Griff forum and that is very welcome. I think I will be a user for years to come and I suspect that more users will gravitate towards it as they have been doing for a long time.
Give it a a good look if you're already on Windows Mobile.