New innovator


Riffstation Software:IF YOU aspire to play the guitar with the skill of Rory Gallagher or Jimi Hendrix, a new software product from Dublin-based start-up Sonic Ladder might be just the help you need.

It’s called Riffstation, and it’s designed to help guitarists of all standards to improve their playing technique.

Sonic Ladder is a spin-out company from DIT’s Audio Research Group. The company was set up by engineers/ programmers Dan Barry, Mikel Gainza and Martin Gallagher, all of whom are enthusiastic guitar players.

Riffstation is the company’s first commercial product and it sells online for €39.99.

At the moment it works with Windows only but a Mac version will be available in about six weeks’ time, with an iPad version to follow.

Load any MP3 track from your music collection and Riffstation automatically generates a real-time chord display which synchronises with the music.

You can listen to the song in any key, slow down or isolate guitar solos and loop the tricky riffs to get them right. In addition, you can also use your favourite songs to create new jam tracks that sound just like your favourite bands.

Dan Barry and Mikel Gainza set up the Audio Research Group in 2006, and have worked on developing a number of specialised audio products that were subsequently licensed to third parties. This includes licensing technology to the giant Sony Computer Entertainment for its Singstar karaoke game on Play Station 3.

Since its formation the audio group has received €2.2 million in research funding from the EU and other sources, and has supported 13 jobs over the period.

Martin Gallagher joined the group in 2007, and the trio founded Sonic Ladder in 2011. The development of Riffstation has been privately funded.

Barry says conservative estimates for the number of active guitar players in the US and Europe is around 44 million, with around 9 million new people taking up the guitar each year.

“It’s undoubtedly a market with a lot of potential, and we had over 5,000 people download our trial version.

“The cost of developing the product was money and a very large amount of sweat equity. Basically the three of us spent every available hour building it.”

Riffstation is the first of a number of different products Barry says his company has plans to develop in the coming years.