It is subjective for sure when anyone proclaims anything to be “the best” in any category. I’ve given this much thought and sincerely feel the following new “must have” music apps released in this first quarter of 2014 are: Sector, microTERA, iVCS3, and Sliver.
In a way this is also a group review in addition to praise.
Let’s start with microTERA by VirSyn
VirSyn has always offered excellent synth apps. microTERA is yet another to get excited about. In case you don’t already know, wave shaping synthesis is a distortion synth style with finely detailed spectra; bringing a sort of controlled chaos.
This wave shaping synth is not unlike Cakewalks Z3TA. However in my opinion, this one has a better interface and also a superior arpeggiator. Sound designing is very strong with its 3 adjustable sine oscillators, 4 LFOs, 4 (EG) Envelope Generators each with 64 time/level segments, 16 voice polyphony and of course monophonic. Exceptional modulation customization with all relevant routing possibilities.
Also included is the 32 step programmable arpeggiator found in VirSyns other iOS synths.
This synth also has a collection of outstanding built in FX.
The range of sound types that can be created are as wide as one should expect. The results are often even better and if you’re in a rush or whatever and just want something random just touch the dice until you hear something you like.
It doesn’t have any significant weaknesses and performs well with Audiobus, and IAA.
Next up is Sliver by Alex Matheu
Here we have a soundscape maker with four by four real time, resizable clip based segments that, depending on your preferences, alter the imported audio. Or the preset audio samples as well.
Each of these 8 total segments or “Slivers” can be automated and placed however you wish.
The filters, size, and FX are each controlled with independent X/Y boxes.
Since everything can be automated in real time Sliver offers some amazing fluid control of the textures. Scrub out new soundscapes with truly expressive results.
It’s basically a hyper creative playground for creating unique new instruments which you can also play out with the built in keyboard.
Sliver is endlessly fun and inspiring.
Shatter up some new sounds with Sliver. Sample and resample. Record, copy, paste, and send to AudioShare. Sliver supports MIDI and Audiobus input.
I can easily see this innovative app being used to live trip-out all within earshot. Bravo!
3rd up, (and this is not in any significant order by the way) is iVCS3 by apeSoft
apeSoft, makers of the incredible iDensity, iPulsaret and more, has gone and done something special with iVCS3. This is an emulation of the old hardware arguably made famous by Pink Floyd back in the 70s. This tops my “Holy S#@!” list of cool things.
This machine was largely responsible for the wild sounds and eerie textures heard in Dark Side Of The Moon. It was also seen in Pink Floyd’s movie/video “Live At Pompeii” where Roger Waters was exploring this thing’s sonic capabilities.
iVCS3 was created in 1969 and is considered the first portable synth. Largely used as a sound FX generator (Dr.Who fans know this) without a keyboard, it was later expanded with a (KS) sequencer and (DK1) keyboard connectivity.
This modular synth is gorgeously recreated and emulated perfectly. That may just be my opinion since I’ve never touched a real one, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say it anyway.
This soft version is complete with not only all the original capabilities, but also loads of new modern uses for us to enjoy on our iPads; unlike anything Roger Daltrey could have imagined back in the day. Built-in dual samplers, MIDI, full Audiobus and IAA support, background audio, Dropbox, really just a huge list of features.
This even has 6 different reverb types including a spring convolution reverb, Quadratic Ring Modulation, delay, and noise generator. The features and specs go on and on.
All (or almost all) parameters are fully customizable right down to the color of the knobs.
The same old-time twist and plug routing exists such as the Trapezoid envelope controlled by a virtual joystick, and the modulation matrix with BattleShip-style pin placements instead of cables. So much to see, do, and hear with iVCS3!
It can be a little confusing at times, but there is a full instruction manual included within the app to guide you on your journey. A spectacular “Must Have”!
Last, but not least is Sector by Kymatica
Kymatica is another one of my personal developer favorites. You can always count on something innovative coming from this guy. We all know and love his AudioShare app and AUFX series, and now “Sector”!
Sector is a 32 bit sound engine, Stochastic, sample, slice, sequencer with markov-chain connections.
A 32 step sequencer with adjustable routing and wild probability sample, and slice order or chaos.
Creating glitches, and bizarre time warped sequences in Sector is crazy cool and fun.
It’s not all just about flipping a coin to see what happens, there is also full standard sequencing control as well. Just tap and map out whatever sounds right to you. Countless musical possibilities abound.
It never gets old.
I think the sporadic randomness is the best part, but all together Sector is a mind-blowing new app that defines innovation.
Sector will have a built-in recorder soon, and of course you can bring your own samples in via the Open In function from other apps like AudioShare. Support for Audiobus and IAA are currently available now, with more MIDI connectivity coming soon.
To wrap this up, you may have noticed a slight trend with these apps. If not that’s ok. I see each if these as being a great representation for the innovative nature of their development.
We have loads of common emulations and even new things that, as great as they are, don’t really push things very far from what most think of as being conventional. iOS music is not just an interesting way to explore making music and having fun doing so. It is an opportunity unlike no other to find ways of being extra creative with the apps that can be made, where they otherwise can’t be.
If you want some new music apps that offer you huge musical inspiration, fun, and a different creative experience, then these are 4 of the newest and best. There are of course others, and there will be more. Check them out. Support great development.
I have a bunch of apps that I’m sitting on waiting for some updates to come.
I’m sure a lot of us share this dilemma? Apps that we got and for whatever reason can’t or just won’t use them. The reasons may be arbitrary, but to each individual they are important.
Still there are a few I have sitting on my iPad that I see having potential for excellence.
Usually I’d just delete a high potential app that I can’t or don’t want to use. The 3 I still have installed are each something I think can be very good. Unfortunately at the moment and for reasons I’ll explain when I get to the app specifics, they are missing key elements or have flaws making them (fair or not) little more than a virtual paper weight.
Voice Of Sisyphus Image Sonification. By Ryan McGee
This is really a unusual and creative synth app. Simply put it makes sound based on a picture. You load a photo then touch and drag on it to hear the sound that VOSIS translates from the greyscale pixel data. Interesting no?
It has basic synthesizer parameters like ADSR, some filtering, and so on.
Multi touch, reverb, image adjustments relative to the sonic properties, cutoff, and other parameters are included to bring photos (and live video!) to audible life.
This innovative and just damn interesting synth is sitting highest on my list of potentially great apps.
It could use some stability improvement, LFOs, and allow deeper routing parameters to modulate things. Basically I’m saying I’d like to see more traditional synth tools added for more control over the sound.
It supports Audiobus now which is a big move forward. I’d also really like to see IAA input supported.
All in all VOSIS is already capable of doing some cool things. Almost there.
Xynthesizr By Yuri Turov
Mr. Turov sent me a copy of this app a while ago. I was a bit preoccupied and couldn’t get to it when I had hoped to. I wish I had though.
This oddly spelled app is a sleek 32 step matrix sequencer, synthesizer with generative properties. Highly musical and strait forward in design.
This iPhone only app (works but not native to iPad) is easy to use and instantly pleasing. It has most of what one might need to quickly tap or draw out some beautiful melodies.
It has a 32 bit float sound engine, MIDI, AudioCopy/Paste and support for AudioShare, SoundCloud, email, and iTunes File Share.
Its a stronger app than what I had initially expected. The developer is very attentive and clearly eager to make this something everybody will want to use.
Although it has Audiobus support its missing IAA support. It also only can be used in portrait mode. Add supports for those, allow landscape orientation and make it iPad native so it can fit in more common iOS workflows would do the trick for me. Fingers crossed.
MultiTrackStudio By Giel Bremmers
This is an ambitious new iDAW that by looking at its specs appears to be what a lot of folks are looking for.
16 Stereo tracks, automation, numerous effects, sequencing, editing, and mastering tools. Its also packed with a bunch of built in instruments. Synths, drums, sound FX, and emulated instruments. It’s got a lot of good things going for it. Edit by piano roll, score, drum, audio etc. Comprehensive MIDI support, ACP, iTunes File Share and the list of features goes on looking quite impressive. But…..
…..MTS regarding routing IAA input apps suffers from one of the worst workflow designs I’ve ever had the displeasure of trying to use. It supports IAA but not Audiobus. Could be a big deal for those without iOS7.
The way routing IAA instruments is done here just doesn’t make any sense. No problem with routing IAA Effects though. For some reason its designed so you must create a MIDI track in order to be able to select any IAA audio instrument. This is far from intuitive and it doesn’t always work as expected.
Several times I followed the instructions so I could get an IAA instrument to connect with MTS and all I got were the apps internal (MTSi) instruments. What the f…. ?
So frustrating! I tried and tried to find a comfort zone with this app so I could start recording and seriously explore this app, but the routing is so frustrating I just stopped. I’m not exactly a rookie here, I know how to operate DAWs. I have all the iOS DAWs and none of them are this painful.
It’s very difficult to appreciate this app when just getting started succeeds only in causing fits of rage.
Its a real shame too. It looks like it can do most of what I want it to.
Until the workflow is redesigned to be legitimately intuitive I just can’t say whether this is good or bad? So it will sit in my “Potential” folder until that day comes when MTS is a pleasure to use rather than a sources of frustration. That potential is surely there.
One to watch out for.
These are just a few that I think have potential. Obviously its subjective and you very likely have some of your own. I’d be curious to hear from you, so leave a comment sharing your thoughts about another app you think this way about.
I admit it, I’m no expert on drums. I’ve always gotten by just fine with various digital emulations of many drum machines.
You don’t have to be an expert drummer to know what sounds unrealistic or unnatural.
The aptly named DrumPerfect is the first iOS app made to truly emulate the human drummer and recreate natural sounds.
DrumPerfect delivers a simple environment to sequence your kits with up to 16 samples, and 64 patterns. 4 great kits come packed in to start you off. You can also import your own samples to custom build new kits. Also included are some pre-made patterns to get the ball rolling and the juices flowing.
The step sequencer has some common and unique parameters to adjust that relate to human capability. Hits can be entered by step, or recorded live via tapping them out on the velocity ramp pad. The ramp pad is a little small, but responds well.
Every single note or strike in the sequence can be adjusted and tweaked by the relative sliders. Make subdivision and time signature adjustment for each pattern, move probability settings between two different velocities over each note. Humanize, and simulate two handed play naturally. I mean its nutty how much control you have over each stroke. Link certain events or let them fly freely. It all makes for some intricate coordinated sequences or wildly unpredictable and chaotic madness.
No human drummer can play every instrument simultaneously. Skilled as some may be, there are just certain physical limitations. This is the first app to really nail down those realistic moments and nuances.
When they say this has “extensive editing” it’s not an exaggeration.
The details available to dig into are vast. Despite all the different timings, tempos, left or right hand, volume, soft, loud, and various possible setting combinations made for each step, the patterns are played out preserving the differences throughout. This is ingenious and must be experienced to believe it.
DrumPerfect simply sounds perfect. Just as we hoped and expected. This is innovative development at its finest. Its ready to fit right in to any iOS workflow with Audiobus, IAA, AudioCopy2, Dropbox, SoundCloud, and AudioShare supported. MIDI start/stop and clock sync also round it out.
Where it matters most DrumPerfect delivers. Its about realism and natural sound. The interface leaves some to be desired. It looks a bit basic and could benefit from some adjustments and improvements. Especially BPM adjustments. I’d like a way to touch the BPM to adjust incrementally, or even plus and minus arrows would be an improvement. At the moment you either have to bring up the keyboard to delete the current BPM and type in the one you want, or tap it out yourself. I don’t think its a big deal myself. Its all functional, intuitive and serves its purpose.
Remarkable and recommended.
A personal note on the making of “Chapters”
I had intended to have this prepared in time for the release. Unfortunately I didn’t prepare well for just how many uncomfortable memories it would dig up. Coping with the memories over a longer period of time during the production, one at a time, was a little challenging but to confront them all at once proved to be more.
I have written this “Album Description” several different ways in recent weeks. Each time I ended up deleting what I wrote. I’m honestly not sure why? Maybe it was too personal, too painful, too long? I don’t know.
I wanted to be completely honest, sharing every detail. Too many details I guess. Then I felt finally that I could still share details honestly but without putting too much of myself in full view. So by personal right I choose to convey the honest meanings without extremely personal details. Those are mine, and I lack the skill to properly place every single piece in the light avoiding where it could not be misunderstood. So you still get the descriptions but not necessarily every single detail. Besides, it would end up prohibitively lengthy.
To start off I’ll repeat the general concept that is “Chapters”. This album is a collection of songs that each have a special meaning to me. They were created based on memories of people I’ve known, the times and places I’ve known them, and how they affected my personal growth. Each track is placed in chronological order. Some spanning years. Some overlap. An “Audio-Biography” of sorts. Far from being a full and complete biography as it begins at age 13.
Track One – Lie Of The Cook
When I was a child of 13 years, on April Fools day I experienced the most traumatic event of my life. I was accused of something I did not do, something terrible. I was punished in ways that would drive most to suicide or worse. “Cook” is the name of the person who invented the false accusation. All for reasons I’ve never known or understood. It was a horrifying event for me. It did in many ways lead to how I see and trust people throughout my entire life. It is why I will guard my word with ferocity. To this day I have zero tolerance for false accusations, or distorting the good truth for some feeble minded twit’s personal gain or desire for attention. It is why when I give my word to a truth I state, it is nothing more or less than the truth. I am only as good as my word. I never received justice for the lie Cook told. Only a very harsh lesson on the cruelty of some.
Track Two – Canyon De Chelly
I was 21 and on a road trip with my then-best friend Dean. It was a whirlwind tour of some of the most amazing natural wonders found in Arizona and Utah. My first real road trip ever. We drove around listening to music from one cassette tape to another picked from plastic bags full of tapes.
My friend and I were having a grand time exploring canyon rims, unusual rock formations, arches, monuments and local towns.
It was all very memorable, but one day in particular was special.
We found ourselves at the visitor center for Canyon De Chelly. That visitor center was where we first learned how to pronounce the canyon name. “Canyon Da Shay” would be the way. Not Dee Chellee, or Shelly. We laughed.
We visited a spot called “Spider Rock” a huge towering stone column hundreds of feet high but at eye level from our vantage point. Dean burned incense and we smoked some… Um… Natural botanical.
Listening to some music I’d never before heard at the time by Bernd Kistenmacher. I think that’s how to spell his name? It was perfect. Dean was constantly roaming around and demanding I share his experience the same way. He wouldn’t leave me be until after I said, “This experience is mine and not subject to your approval or satisfaction. You enjoy yours where you are, and I’ll enjoy mine where I am”. Or something like that.
It pretty much summed up our friendship. Me always trying to follow along with whatever he said, and he always passing judgement on me for things he utterly failed to understand. I loved my friend, I learned a great many things thanks to him, but one day not long ago he just abandoned me. There were one too many of his absences, and failures to follow through on promises for me to tolerate anyway. I don’t hate him. I miss him in fact. But he only lives for himself leaving nothing but broken promises in his wake as he passes irrational arrogant judgements on others he has no right or real understanding of. Nevertheless, I hope he lives well and long.
Track Three – Cecelia Ran Away
Not her real name. She was Hilda. She was unimaginably beautiful like something from a dream. My first great love. My first wife. My first loss. We met at a bowling alley shortly after my 18th birthday and were together from that day until shortly after and to the very same day exactly 9 years later. We were young and in love. Later proving me more than her.
We ran away together. We lived and shared things only she and I will ever understand. Then one day she ran away from me. My own fault. I was young and stupid taking her for granted. It was inevitable. She refuses friendship today no matter how I try. Something I don’t understand. I’ve only heard through others how she is today and the things she thinks of me. Many incorrect. Oddly the most bothersome thing she thinks is that I like Rush Limbaugh. Absurd. I’ve never “liked” him or anything he stood for. Dislike intensely is more accurate. I did say to her once that I thought he was “funny”. Far from a liking notion. Anyway, she’s always had a penchant for deleting people from her life without hesitation. A form if cruelty maybe? Or a form of mercy perhaps? I’ll never know.
Track Four – Once Had The Will
This track more than anything is about a time and collection of people. It’s the time after “Cecelia Ran Away” where I was utterly lost and hopelessly alone. I lived off of misery, beer, and fast food. I had no will to live, and less courage to die. I nearly did die on purpose several times. I had some fun too. I met a pretty blonde girl with a figure putting swimsuit models to shame in the earliest months of this despairing time. Carey was her name. She dumped me of course, but it was the single thing that gave me a tiny shred of hope. The hope I might one day come out of the hole I dug and find happiness. It wouldn’t be with her, and probably for the best. Through all those months of drink, self pity, self loathing and death wishing, having met her was the only evidence I had that I might not forever be alone. She did save my life, and she has no idea.
Track Five – Chapters
The title track marking the beginning of hope. This is the chapter for my wife Tina. After a couple years of heavy drinking and drug abuse I met her. My pretty green eyed lady. Her powers of seduction were very quickly understood from the start. If only I could share that. Let’s just say when we were dating her strategically placed bed sheet in some mornings were responsible for numerous late arrivals to work.
We married quick by eloping to Reno. It was bumpy as all hell at first. Very very bumpy. I was nearly thrown a few times.
Together we have experienced trials and tribulations not uncommon, but still uniquely ours. The good and the bad has brought and kept us together 14 years and counting. I’ve seen her change a radiator while 8 months pregnant. That’s my kind of gal. We aren’t rich, but we care for each other and complement each other. I do love my wife. Truly to death do us part.
Track Six – Colors Of Choices
It would seem that so far this has all centered somehow on a woman and or tragedy. This next track is again about a woman, but much different. This is for Grace. Tina’s child from before we met, but my daughter. Grace was 5 when I met her. She might be why Tina kept me around? I say that in jest, but also because she told her mother once “I like him because he is crazy”.
Too true. Grace is 19 now and in college. I wasn’t always there for her, and that damaged our relationship. It doesn’t make me love her any less. She is right for the most part, and where it matters. I should’ve done better. I’m sure she will. Her voice is what you hear speaking in French on this track.
Its about the choices I’ve made and the many ways to color them. We can focus on the good, or live in the past. It all depends on your favorite color when painting your memories.
Track Seven – Orbiting The Son
No this isn’t a spelling error. This is for our son Jacob. Much has and does revolve around him. When he was still in his mother, I would make up silly songs to sing to him from the world outside. I can still feel his strong kicks on my hand. I called him shaky Jakey because he was so restless in there. I was the first to hold him when taken from the womb. A perfect baby that slept through the night. A gleam in his little eyes all the time. He grew and grew from adorable toddler to the big boy he is today. Still growing I might add.
A funny, silly and smart boy of age 10 now, he remains the center of my existence. My funny son.
Track Eight – The Park Of Things
Here is another that is more about a collective experience. This marks the time when I began to find my way into music. Not just hearing, but making.
This was one of the first tracks I ever made on my old iPod Touch.
I was at a local park with my then 5 year old son Jacob.
Oh what gorgeous day it was. Jacob can be heard playing some large wooden percussion instruments in the background. It may sound like a glitch, but there is a ball being lazily bounced on the concrete that begins close by, and moves further away. I recorded that and the laughter of the children having a grand day at the park. Of all things it was the day at park that made it memorable. It reminded me to cherish moments and not take them for granted. It also was when I discovered the joy of making music anywhere.
Track Nine – No Longer Normal
The title may sound less than encouraging, but it does mean something positive. For a long time “normal” for me was popping pills and drinking. I would easily swallow 15 vicodins during any given day. I popped pain pills like they were M&Ms. I shouldn’t be alive. I didn’t want to eat so many pills so often. It is my chronic pains that led to the addiction. It was my lack of strength that kept me on them.
On March 18 2010 I had enough. I decided I needed my liver and kidneys.
I quit everything. Well except cigarettes. Lungs be damned I guess.
I went and got treatment for my addiction and since that day I’ve not once cheated or broken the continuous string of days, months and years completely sober. No drugs or drink. No pot even. Not even a single beer or glass of wine despite a stupid, careless, and entirely imagined rumor by some tiny man bent on harming my name. I am completely sober and committed to remaining so. Remember, my word is absolute.
Today I’m pretty boring, compared to some friends memories of me. Just routine medications I need are all I ingest. What was once normal is no longer and I’m better for it.
Track Ten – Phantomhive
A ghostly title. It’s not about ghosts though. Not really. This is about you. All the people I’ve met, but not really met. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate everyone I meet no matter how. The point is this is about all the amazing people I’ve met online via Twitter, Facebook and the likes. Most I’ve never seen face to face as though they are phantoms in some far off place. All of the same growing hive. Not hive minded, but in spirit sharing the same passions. This is for all the people who supported, encouraged and became friends. Not just with me, but with each other. All very real and except for maybe a couple rotten apples, all very good.
Track Eleven – And Then It Was
Today. This ends the album with some music inspired by a lifetime of memories. The good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly, the joy, the sadness and everything in every combination. All for today and all days we are fortunate enough to see come.
Less about memory or even a person, this is for the future. Every step forward comes with every sunrise. We don’t know what tomorrow will be, or where we will be. I do know that speaking at least for myself, I’m looking forward to it.
To conclude this album description I will offer some brief insight about what and how I made this album.
All the music was made using only iPads (3,4, and the last track on my Air)and iOS. Music apps.
Most work was done in Auria and Cubasis. All were touched by AudioMastering App.
I used Audiobus a lot to bridge the apps. I also used Inter-App Audio a lot in the more recent ones.
I worked on each only while having the relative memories they were based on in mind. This album would’ve been finished about 6-8 months ago were it not for a tragic data loss disaster. That disaster led to the destruction of 7 tracks I had been working on for this album. Talk about having a do over.
I used so many different apps. I made so many sounds from scratch. I tried to make it a point to not reuse any one sound outside the one track is was designed for.
The iOS music apps I used to make Chapters and in no particular order will follow. This doesn’t include the already mentioned apps above.
DM1 The Drum Machine
Additional things I used at some point. All fits into one bag and can be used anywhere I go.
Buffalo 500 GB Mass Storage
…..and that’s about it.
I hope this was worth your time reading and makes more sense out of my concept album Chapters.
More to come.
The following is taken largely but not entirely from the One Sheet by Apptronica
SmiteMatter – Chapters
Release Date: 24 Feb 2014
Lable – Apptronica
SmiteMatter – Chapters
Chapters is a collection of songs inspired by the artist’s most vivid memories throughout his life, marked also by a specific person he has known – an “audio-biography” or concept album of sorts.
“I took this concept and put my deepest most intense memories of places and individuals who, for better or worse (or both), had great impact on shaping who I am today. I translated each as music that best represents the feelings I have for the person, place, and time. My greatest joys, hardships, loves, treasures, and nightmares are all equally cherished; all of the emotion transformed into sound.”
Chapters is the second album by Apptronica artist SmiteMatter, produced entirely using iOS apps and devices.
David Israel, known to most as SmiteMatter, started in 2009 with just an iPod Touch and some early music apps and was instantly hooked. For SmiteMatter, the concept of being totally free to autonomously create music anywhere with no need for anything else was extremely habit forming. A purist from the very beginning, SmiteMatter now makes his music on a couple of iPads.
Chapters Album Track List
1. Lie of the Cook
2. Canyon de Chelly
3. Cecelia Ran Away
4. Once Had The Will
6. Colors of Choices
7. Orbiting the Son
8. The Park of Things
9. No Longer Normal
11.And Then It Was
Special thanks and acknowledgments:
My wife Christina, with love, for tolerating me with my nose in my iPad every day and night, and having to hear everything over and over and over and over.
My son Jacob who is my greatest collaborative effort.
My daughter Grace. Still my little girl. I’m sorry I didn’t do better.
Clif Johnston for believing in me, and being a good friend.
Bruce Gall, who has been so incredibly supportive with so many spins on his shows ARFM SundaySynth and Atmospheres.
Christian Augustin who on more than one occasion generously pulled me out of the fire.
Neal Murrell AKA Ithaca Benesh. Our short lived friendship meant so much to me, & I miss you. I’m sorry this is so late. I hope you’re listening wherever you are R.I.P.
Marius C Hammerich AKA Kikai Kikagu for the great help getting the polish done. You taught me valuable lessons.
The iOS Music Community and Artists. So many incredible, talented, and hilarious people who have in their infinite kindness supported me and inspired me in countless ways no matter how tough things got. All proving what can be done, where ever they are.
iOS Music Bloggers for supporting my efforts with links, and numerous supportive gestures.
iOS Music App Developers for all the codes, early looks, and for your clever innovation and designs inspiring a growing collection of creatives to shine.
Say no to wires.
A follow up post is being drafted with track descriptions and some detail of how they were made.
Clif Johnston Phone: +1 270-970-4766 Email: email@example.com