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zplane deCoda Review at Audio Plugin Guy

A product from

deCoda is the recently released standalone program from zplane which will break down a song’s structure to help you learn and practice playing it. 


  • Accurate song analysis
  • Quick and easy to use
  • Helpful features for practising


  • Doesn’t convert to MIDI (not really a dealbreaker though)
  • Struggles with more complex material

APG Score

  • Ease of use - 4/5
  • Interface - 3.5/5
  • Value for money - 5/5
  • Campfire Cool - 5/5

Overall Rating - 4.5/5

That Guy

I have to admit, in my youth, I was often “that guy” at the festival or house party who had an acoustic guitar and felt the need to knock out a few ‘classics’ despite no-one actually asking me to. We didn’t have tech like this back then… we didn’t even have the internet in any useful form. So I would have buy tab books or work out how to play songs myself.

Because I couldn’t afford that many books and my chord recognition skills weren’t that hot, my repertoire mainly consisted of; the intro to Nothing Else Matters followed by the strummed version of the rest of the song, Polly by Nirvana and Save Tonight by Eagle Eye Cherry.

My singing wasn’t great either…

I was very popular, as you can imagine. If only something like deCoda had been around back then, I could have been showered with even more admiration for my unrequested serenades.

deCoda? I barely knew her…

Indeed, deCoda is the answer to any campfire guitarist’s dreams. If those dreams consist of being able to play pretty much any song you can find an MP3 of.

It is a standalone application for Mac or Windows. The first time you load it up you are greeted with a list of tutorial links that take you to YouTube videos showing you how to do various things. Most videos are around a minute and very clear, so it won’t take you long to learn.

To get started you simply drag-and-drop the file for your song into the app and it immediately gets to work. Within a few seconds, it will have worked out the key, tempo, chords and structure. From here you can simply play along, reading the chords from the screen, or take advantage of further features to help learn and practice.

Go on now close the curtains…

You can focus in on specific parts or a set number of bars and play those on a loop. You can also change the key and tempo in case the song isn’t quite in your range or you need to work on it before you can pay it full speed. There’s even a feature that’s intended to let you remove an instrument or vocal part from the song so you can replace it, though in practice this isn’t 100% effective as it is essentially based on a mid/side EQ filter that you draw onto a spectral display. Seeing as many songs will have parts that overlap or take-up wider parts of the stereo image, it’s difficult in most cases to completely remove any single part. However, often you can get close enough. If you have a vocal that’s dead-center, for example, it can be quite effective.

When I read that deCoda had MIDI export I thought that would be an incredibly useful feature… being able to covert a song to MIDI parts and recreate them with any instrument I desired. However, and this is mentioned clearly on the site so there’s no attempt to mislead us, deCoda won’t actually convert the audio to MIDI for you. Instead, it has a piano-roll view of the audio with the ability to add the notes yourself. This allows you to basically ‘trace’ out a part, which can then be exported.

To be fair, for the price, the ability to completely convert a song to MIDI would be quite a lot to ask! The trace-and-print function included can still be very useful for transcribing melodies in other applications.

So close, no matter how far…

I’m really glad I picked this up, especially for the intro price of just $29 (on until February 3rd 2020). It’s very easy to use and does a great job of breaking down songs that aren’t too complex or atonal. Sometimes it throws in a wrong chord, but you can change that if you’re confident you know the correct one. This tends to happen when it’s not entirely clear if a chord is major or minor, or when passing melodic notes create the illusion of a new chord that isn’t actually played.

You’ll also get some odd results if you throw something weird and complex into it, like a track from Mr Bungle’s Disco Volante, for example.  Ultimately, it’s most effective for clearly “chord progression” based songs. And faster than working it out yourself, in most cases.

If you’re an actual professional performer of covers (not just an annoying wannabe busker like I was) then this would be a very valuable investment. You could literally use it to work out how to play a request you’ve never heard without missing a beat! Another use could be to pull out and transcribe moments of perfection from massive jam sessions.


A great app that does exactly what it’s supposed to with a high success rate. Grab it in the intro sale and use it for the rest of your life!

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Try before you buy

Download deCoda trial version for free!

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