Take 2 doses of Naturespace from Holographic Audio Theater and don’t call me in the morning; you won’t need to. Actually Naturespace is its own company under the umbrella of HAT but I digress. There’s a wide selection of audio-based relaxation apps out there but Naturespace stands out and not just because it’s free so read on! What they’ve done is play around with audio imaging to create a surround-sound, 3D experience, even with the crappy Apple earbuds. In fact, they’ve put special effort into supporting low-fi buds with a unique ‘earbud optimization’ option. Certainly a high-end set of cans is best for ‘full spectrum’ mode but it’s great that they addressed the fact that like it or not, most people probably do use the plain old Apple earbuds. They also have you covered with great suggestions if you want to upgrade your stock buds.
Onward to the audio tracks themselves; you get 5, each between 10-25 min long and seamlessly looped: Summer Mountain Valley, Ocean Waves, Riverwind Dreaming, Rain Into Water and Night at Lake Unknown. 3 of these are full-on ‘being there’ audio experiences and 2 add a subtle electronic overlay that make them just a touch more ambient. The quality of these tracks is stunning and the positional effect a joy to behold. For example, waves clearly break and dissipate from right to left in ‘Ocean Waves’ but it’s not just stereo as while you could picture yourself strolling parallel to the ocean (kicking up little sand divots with your toes), you could just as easily be convinced you’re standing still with the ocean at your back; it’s just all around you. Additionally, there’s something called ‘The First Steps’ included with each track that gives you calming instructions to assist in mental visualization and enhance the particular track.
I tested the app with (of course) the Apple earbuds, an old set of Koss Sportapro’s and my higher-end Sennheiser HD 580’s. The Apple buds were better than the Koss which are too bassy (great for music, lousy for ambient) but of course the Senn’s in full spectrum mode were the best. Still, I was duly surprised at how good the Apple set was with this app so well done Naturespace!
Couple things of note: you can’t play all tracks in playlist format (1 track at a time) nor is there a timer (though instructions are provided for accomplishing this with the default clock app). One thing I hope they fix in an update is that the app always defaults to earbud optimization mode on which is annoying if you want full spectrum.
Overall an incredible audio app for free; right up there with my all-time favorites in this category, the AmbiScience series from Tesla Software. It doesn’t stop there either as you can purchase many more tracks directly from the Naturespace website. If you appreciate a sensational audio experience, get this app now.
version reviewed – 1.0
reviewed on – iPhone 3G 8GB 2.2.1