Review: Glitchbreaks for iOS

Take a tour of Glitchbreaks for iOS with Mike Watkinson. Find out if this nifty app is the ideal way to cut, glitch and loop your beats on your favorite Apple mobile devices.  

Glitchbreaks is a universal iOS app for cutting, glitching and looping 'breakbeats'. Samples can be pitched up or down, you can jump between any of four loaded samples, and record your performance as a new sample. What's not to like?


Along the top of the window are the transport controls. Pressing 'Play' starts the currently selected sample, which plays back at the project tempo. To change pitch/tempo (Glitchbreaks changes both at the same time just like a record deck) you have two options:

  1. Change the project tempo
  2. Move the pitch control

Glitchbreaks' main window.

Glitchbreaks' main window.

You can reset the pitch slider and return to the project tempo by tapping the reset button on the transport.

The 'Diskette' button gives access to the file browser. Here you can load new samples to each of the four sample trigger pads. These can be from either the built-in library of loops, recordings you have made in Glitchbreaks, or from other apps imported via the Sonoma AudioCopy/Paste clipboard.

The file browser window.

The file browser window.

Pitch, Cut, Loop

The real magic happens when you interact with the currently playing sample using the three performance pads. The loop modulation pad allows short loops to be activated within the sample. Start point and loop-length are determined by where you tap on the X and Y axis of the pad.

'Cut' activates one of four cut patterns that are set up by tapping the Settings button in the transport. An easy way to get to grips with this concept is to create a cut pattern with the first and ninth step of sixteen selected. When activated this will allow only the first two beats of the current sample (i.e. eight 16th steps) to play, because the cut pattern is allowing the first eight steps to play, followed by another eight steps starting again at the top of the sample. A total of four cut patterns can be set up and activated in this way.

'Glitch' allows four different very short cuts to repeat while you hold the button.

Editing a Cut Pattern in the Settings window.

Editing a Cut Pattern in the Settings window.

Stay in Time

For inexperienced 'glitchers' like me, a great feature that has recently been added is 'Index Tracking'. When activated in Settings, index tracking allows the sample to jump to where it was supposed to be before you started glitching, cutting or looping, so your performance always stays in time. This is particularly effective when using the Reverse button!

Another nice performance features is 'Quantize' which allows the user to set a value which determines the point at which a tapped performance button actually takes effect. Setting this to '1' for example means that changes will only take effect at the beginning of a bar, ignoring the point at which you actually tap the button.

Mix faders enabled.

Mix faders enabled.


One feature I would really enjoy would be the ability to interact with the waveform directly by tapping on the waveform display, but as this display is only visible on the iPad is might be something for a future iPad-only version?

The first version of Glitchbreaks I tried did suffer a couple of operational errors while I was using it. The Cut button stopped functioning, during a particularly intense glitching session, but having reported this to the developer the bug was sourced and sorted, so you shouldn't have this issue - now that's customer service! The other issue turned out not be a bug - the inability to remove a backing track once added in the Settings, but this will also be addressed in an imminent update. Great to know these guys haven't just created an app and left it to wither on the App Store vine, to concentrate on their next project!

Overall, I had a real blast with this app and quickly became adept at creating crazy glitched and cut jungle-style drum patterns, something I would find very hard to do in any other app, which I could then copy and paste into a composition project in an app like GarageBand via the clipboard. Highly recommended!

Mike has been obsessed with music software since he first saw Fairlight's Page-R, and has tracked its development through his work as a performer, composer and producer. As a writer he has contributed articles to Sound On Sound since 1999, and currently writes their Apple Notes column. As well as being a certified Logic Pro and Pro Too... Read More


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