I’ve said it before, and made myself a liar. I was ending a hiatus or “break” at some point in the near future. I didn’t. I just ended up forcing myself to make promises I wasn’t truly able to keep. Not because of any malicious intent, or purposeful irresponsibility. I just didn’t know what I needed to do. Ever feel like that? Like you should do something, and end up saying you were going to do it, but later regretted promising? Truth is I was dishonest with myself. Things in life got wonky and I didn’t know what I should do?
Instead of trying to communicate the nature of my life’s wonkiness, I tried to pretend everything would be fine by a certain date or time. No way that was possible. I also didn’t want to tell everybody about personal problems. Not again. I did that, and I received incredible support and help that kept me and my family from being buried alive. I can’t ever fully convey how much my family and I appreciated that help. It made such a huge difference. Unfortunately it didn’t resolve everything completely. I couldn’t possibly ask again, or even appear to be hinting at it. I knew I couldn’t even let on that major issues remained. My reasoning was that it’s my problem, I got a lot of help, amazing support, and there are things I just couldn’t bring myself to put back out in the open. I had to deal with the remaining obstacles myself. I’m very sorry to have done it so mysteriously without even telling people I consider friends. Didn’t want to bother you, you all have your own things to cope and deal with.
Anyway, for what it’s worth that’s my thought process on it all. More or less. :)
So what happened? Ugh. It’s a long story, but let me assure you (if you happen to care) it was just the way it goes sometimes. Life happened. I took the time I needed to confront it, and for the most part, resolve it. Cleared my head, tackled the challenges, hit it with everything I had. Now I am feeling stable and balanced. Happy and encouraged. Not without challenges, but not overwhelmed by any. Back to being me. If you’d still have me, I’d like to get back to being part of the amazing iOS music community.
Thanks again for the great support. Sorry if it seemed like I just gave up or abandoned everything. I just had to sort things out.
3 Incredible special effects apps combine to astound us!
Big tough words right? Well, I’m serious. I’ve had some time to really sit and dig in to 3 relatively new effects apps from 3 of my favorite developers. Time enough to discover that there’s not enough time to discover it all.
Individually, each is simply marvelous in their own right, but combine them and you have a massively exciting audio trilogy of sound effects goodness.
apeFilter by http://www.densitygs.com
AltiSpace – Convolution Reverb by http://audio-mastering-ipad.com
csSpectral by http://www.boulangerlabs.com/products/csspectral/
These incredible effects apps each have uniquely outstanding qualities that by themselves would be fantastically satisfying and hugely time consuming.
Plenty of joy will come from each one, offering loads of creative experiences.
It’s when they are placed together, working in harmony through Audiobus, that they stand together like a trio of god-like rock star band mates ruling the heavens of audio special effects. Special effects gone totally bananas.
Choose your Input > Effects > route and run them all into your favorite iDAW (or Output) app to capture the sonic sundae.
Typically I use AltiSpace in the middle, between aprFilter and then csSpectral, however this combo is not only excellent but also demanding on your device. I’d not recommend anything less than iPad 4 and preferably iPad Air. Depending on your device and needs, 512 latency should be fine.
I load up my sample with apeFilter and make initial filtering adjustments. apeFilter has excellent sample and frequency control both backward and forward which can be manipulated in real time, any time.
The interactive GUI is perfect for controlling up to 36 peaks filters frequencies. Packed with high quality common filters (Lo/Hi and band pass, notch, and Hi or Lo shelf) and some post effects like delay and compression apeFilter is perfect for shaping your samples.
Next I have AltiSpace Convolution Reverb in the effects part of the chain. This is the first stand alone convolution reverb unit for iOS. In case you’re wondering what a convolution reverb is, it is a form of reconstructing the reverb effect of other reverb effects units. Taken from actual impulse response recordings or real world acoustical reverberations emulated digitally. It’s a lot of complicated math I won’t pretend to understand, it’s just really good. AltiSpace recreates some of the best reverb units made.
Something you might notice that’s very different from algorithmic reverbs is the convolution reverb doesn’t have all those parameter controls you might be used to. Controls like tail, width, and swirl etc. Instead of tweaking various parameters, you just select a different IR or impulse response. With 250 loaded IRs there’s no shortage. Plus you still have basic parameter controls including some EQing and a super cool reverse option. I love the reverse part.
In the last or output spot I use csSpectral. A Csound based multi effect processor. This thing is amazing. Nearly every parameter of each effects unit can be randomized and automated. There are 7 FFT (fast Fourier transform) based algorithmic spectral types. Including a Phase Vocoder, spectral blur, spectral re-synthesizer and more. There so much you can do with any one of these and you’re still only just getting started with this app.
The 12 total variations of the DSP effects bring a truck load of sound effects goodness to the table. Basically there’s 3 variants each of the 4 effects units.
Multi-Mode Filter, Stereo Glitch Delay, Micro Cutter, Phaser Reverb, Modal Resonator, LoFi Delay, Bouncer (Cutter), Ball In The Box Reverb and more. Each have something special to offer. csSpectral is a big scary beast.
It’s just too much fun to play with sound in this.
Recording and editing the resulting samples are a cinch.
There is no rule you need to follow here. Like I said each app stands alone with its own greatness. I just happen to think altogether they make an impressive team.
It’s all going to be in how you use them, but the capability is there. Only the users themselves are responsible if they end up having a disappointing experience.
It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed anything related to iOS music production. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been exploring and expanding.
It’s not always just about apps. We need other things to help us make the magic happen. Being mobile we tend to want things that are compact and easy to carry around, but not lose on quality.
They gotta be reliable, easy to use, fun, and compact.
Our devices sadly have limited memory storage. Once you make your choice on the device with the storage capacity you think will be enough, that’s it. No going back, and it seems like its never enough.
So what do you do? No USB port, and syncing with the PC is not always a practical option.
You need portable mass storage that can be accessed wirelessly, anywhere you are without needing to plug in.
This is where the iUSBport comes in.
This handy little device allows you to have a mobile WiFi hotspot.
With a rechargeable battery that can also provide power to a connected USB device like mass storage drives, you’ll have all your data saved with you anywhere you go.
I’ve attached mine to a USB mini hub with multiple ports. So I can connect not just my mass storage device, but also my key chain memory stick, or whatever. Mix and match, just beware of how much powers being drawn from your iUSBport. Depending on how much you plug in you can keep it all going about 4-6 hours before needing to plug in to recharge.
The iUSBport is easy to use, just skip their app and use your browser though. Unlike other similar products saying they do the same thing, this has a very handy screen which reads out and informs you of pertinent information. So you know what’s going on and don’t have to guess.
It just works. It also has the capability to connect to existing wifi networks simultaneously (with your Ad Hoc) when it is plugged in at home you can connect and move files among your connected storage units and cloud based storage services like Dropbox. Neat! Always have access to your files, save, move among your apps, devices and do it anywhere.
This is something I really don’t leave home without when I want to work on some music away from it all.
This is honestly a bit outdated as HyperDrive, makers of my original iUSBport have introduced an even better version with the iUSBport 2. Gotta love sequels.
So check this cool gadget out at href=”http://www.hypershop.com/HyperDrive/”>HyperDrive and all their other cool new stuff.
While I’m at it and speaking of mobility, how about something with great on the go sound? Not headphones, but a speaker that brings the boom in a pint sized and manageable wireless, rechargeable package.
IK Multimedia iLoud.
This 40 Watt audio monitor delivers amazing sound quality and packs a punch.
I’ll make this easy. I tested out several similar portable monitors that came highly recommended. iLoud outperformed them all. None reached the levels of the iLoud by a wide, noticeable margin.
For the record I only use it as an audio monitor connected to my iPads. It can be used as an amp (with supported apps) and it also supports Bluetooth.
I don’t care about or use either. I just wanted a excellent mini monitor for my music productions that sounds great and goes anywhere.
That said, I’ve heard from others who complained about “hiss” when used as an amp. The Bluetooth has too much latency and compromises audio quality so I just haven’t bothered.
It’s about the sound, and iLoud does it very nicely. Even when the natural acoustics suck, it still pumps out great sound. I recommend this wireless rechargeable sound monster highly.
Last on the list of cool new gadgets I’ve been spending my time with is the highly anticipated Jamstik.
This is less review and more first impression after having very recently received mine.
I just pulled it out of the box a few days ago. With giddy childlike excitement, I tore that box open.
I didn’t really know what to expect?
Well, it pretty much explains itself, so….anyway.
It feels like a tiny guitar that is honestly at first glance a little cramped. If you play guitar, it’ll probably feel uncomfortable at first. Spending some time with it to acclimate should lead to that discomfort becoming a memory pretty quick. I felt comfortable with playing this rather fast.
It’s just stupid, crazy fun!
With a built in pocket in the Jamstik housing, there inside it with the rechargeable battery is an Allen wrench, you can use to adjust the action on the compact fretboard. It’s pretty high out of the box, so adjust it however you need it. Easy.
The neck feels about right and familiar being in scale with full sized guitars. Just shorter is all.
Plus strings can be replaced and trimmed as you prefer.
It comes with a decent adjustable strap, two picks, and charge cable.
The weight feels a little light for obvious reasons, but not at all bothersome. In fact it felt like it hung just right for me.
It connects via a simple proxy app that runs in the background through its own wifi network. You change to the wifi network from your device network settings. Just like when you switch networks anywhere. Then open your favorite guitar app and jam away. Sweet!
Again since I’ve not spent a ton of time with my Jamstik, there are things I have yet to fully experience. One concern I had was if there’d be any latency over wifi. It seemed OK. This is something I need to spend more time with.
It does far more than act just as a cool mini guitar. It does that very well. You can use Jamstik like any MIDI controller to trigger multiple loops across the 6 strings and all the frets. It quickly can become a one man band control unit. I’ve only scratched the surface, but holy Schmidt is this thing fun.
I’m very impressed with this sweet device.
The world of mobile music production is going strong, and evolving with some uniquely mobile and practical new quality tools.
Onward music pioneers. The trail is seeing traffic.
We have finished moving and are sorting through boxes trying to get settled in our new home. This means that I can finally get back to doing the things I enjoy. Making music, and writing about the music apps I like.
I’ll get back to reviews very soon. The only issue is that having been away for a couple months my back log has become scary in size. So many apps came and went while I was trying to figure out where the heck we were going to live, I just don’t know where to begin?
AltiSpace, Caramel, Crystaline, MitoSynth, B-Step, Dot Melody, Bird Stepper…and oh man so many others. Not to mention plenty of updates to several of my long time “go to” music apps. Plus I have some gadgets to review like the iUSB Port, iLoud…and if it ever arrives “JamStick” is is nearly on deck too.
Well, I gotta start somewhere. I suppose I’ll throw a dart and go from there?
I’d ask for requests, but for some reason very few of you ever leave comments. Must be too labor intensive or something? ;)
Stay tuned and thank you for the support. You have all been great, and I appreciate that immensely.
Hey there mobile music makers.
Sorry I’ve been on hiatus for a couple months. Our living situation had become rather urgent and changing moment to moment.
Short version is our slum lord who owns the house, that is basically sectioned off into 5 studio type apartments, stopped paying the utilities he was responsible for. That led to water being shut off for 10 days in March, and lots of headaches for us ever since. To top it all off, he has decided to just let the bank take the property.
Skip ahead to today (and removing the dramatic details) and we are on the verge of getting a house.
However time is running out fast. We only have until August 1st to find a place to live.
I hated to do it, but in the interest of sparing my wife and son the discomfort of just taking anything we could afford (which is nothing really) I swallowed my pride and am accepting my fathers enormous help. It pretty much adds up to receiving an early inheritance, and nobody has to die, yay!
I’d much rather have done this all myself. I’m no fan of not earning what’s mine. I’m doing this for my family.
Hopefully we will close on a nice little house not too far away. It’s an old house, which we like a lot more than those new cookie cutter yuppy houses that seem to pop up all over like so many silver SUVs and wannabe high rolling twenty something’s fixated on material wealth and appearances.
Fuck that. Excuse my French.
The house we are close to closing on is just right. Plus it has a huge basement that’s already partially renovated for me to set up a full on studio slash work space. A Smite Office, if you will.
Aside from all this I’ve been working on some new music. I’m making very chill ambient soundscapes with melodies and interesting textures. No drums. Lite percussive accompaniment might appear, but no in your face drum beats.
As usual I’m creating every sound from scratch myself using only my iOS music apps. So despite how much I love hearing Alchemy, it is once again pushed off the table.
At least it was, until that latest update arrived that seems to allow custom sound designing by importing user samples. I may have to reconsider and give that some thought. Is Alchemy now actually a synthesizer, instead of a cool preset morphing player? This is the one thing that’s held me back from using it seriously. Don’t get me wrong, it sounds amazing. Problem is, the sounds are recognizable and clearly presets made by someone else. Not that it’s a bad thing, I mean who expects everybody to always create every sound themselves? Its pretty unreasonable to demand or expect. I just happen to personally prefer making my own synths. I’m crazy like that, and I’m not judging.
So maybe this new import feature will open things up?
Well, back on track. Alchemy may be part of this new music. Several new apps I’ve received and or bought since March will find their way into my project.
Some new, some old. Some need to be reviewed.
I bought and tried to love Looptical, but ended up irritated by it so much that I just deleted it in a fit of rage. Money wasted. What a pain in the ass that app is.
I get it, people love it. That’s cool. I personally can’t freaking stand that thing.
Cubasis is forever removed from my workflow. Ironically right when they finally added automation.
The FX are still crap, the instruments sound cheap, and I’d never use them so why would I care to automate a bunch of cheap crap? I don’t. Later Crapbasis. Too little too late.
Before this turns into a big rant of apps that piss me off, I’ll switch gears.
Oscilab, now with Audiobus support has become a new favorite of mine. It’s such a nice app. Great and clever on all counts. Fantastic sequencing with a cool twist. I really have been enjoying Oscilab thoroughly.
MitoSynth really sunk it’s teeth into me. Wooji hit a home run with this new synth. I love the novel interface and all the automation options. It took a few minutes to get comfortable with its design, but it wasn’t long before I looked up and several hours had gone by. What a joy to use.
Only thing I don’t like about Mito is the limited scales, and no assignable key conveniences. Sure, I should just know when I’m in tune, but having the option to just set the playable notes to all be in key is a very nice short cut.
Alright I’m a bit lazy there, so what.
Among those I’m also wearing out Z3TA, microTERA, CubeSynth, AudioReverb, Crystaline, iVCS, Samplr, iPulsaret, and several others.
Auria is now my exclusive iDAW. It simply can’t be beat as far as I’m concerned. Best on all counts in ease of use, quality, and functionality. On my iPad Air, I can work it harder than ever. I hardly ever use midi so it’s perfect for me. I just don’t have any problems with it.
Audio Mastering App will continue to be my “goto” mastering suite. It does everything I need it to do. Hi/Lo shelving, 3 band stereo imaging, gentle reverb, EQing, Compression…and it’s just easy and reliable. It fits me.
I have Final Touch, but it’s Stereo Imaging is pretty awful. The rest of it is alright, but a little contrived for my taste.
I think I’m done for now. This run on letter that was to be a small update on what I’m doing has gotten long enough.
If everything goes as planed, and we are settled in to our new home come August 1st, I’ll return to writing reviews.
Until then I have to choose how I use my currently limited hours each day, and making music takes priority over telling you what apps I think you should buy.
Wish me luck. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you soon.
PS- We just got news that the house may very well be ours to move into as soon as next Friday, or shortly after. Yippie! Out of this dump, and into our own house. So close now.