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Four Of The Best New Music Apps From Q1 2014

March 18, 2014

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

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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.

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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.

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Whether you prefer heavily distorted leads that bash through your ears or silky smooth pads that exude living personalities, microTERA does it.
Just another remarkable synth offering from VirSyn.

Next up is Sliver by Alex Matheu

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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”!

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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.

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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.
Awesome!

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.

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6 Comments
  1. Are you using a different version of Sector than I am? I’m seeing all sorts of new UI elements on your screenshots. Maybe there’s an iOS7 update that I’m not getting on iOS6?

    • Oh you noticed! I was wondering if anybody ever really looks at those shots. So I posted pics from the beta (which will be available soon) as a little teaser and to see if anybody was paying attention.

  2. Something I have noticed lately, is that the App Store is not handling the independent app reviews very well at all. Some seemed to have vanished, and the updating is sketchy. Also, if these apps are going to get the recognition they deserve, users need to be a little more pro-active about rating them and writing reviews not only on the things like iPad Musician on Facebook, Discchord, etc., but also on the App Store! Get over there guys! More sales, and good, honest reviews from musicians will help add to the credibility and development of our faves! Don’t be so complacent, lol! That was me in a scolding moment…sorry. If I truly love an app, I go out of my way to review it in the store…

    • I completely agree! I wish they’d let all app owners write iTunes reviews. Since I get most by promo code or betas, iTunes forbids me to write a review unless I pay them. Which if I had the money I would gladly do. I always hope that anybody who buys an app in part because of my review, will write their own iTunes review.
      Those iTunes reviews are very valuable to the developers and more of us should be writing them.

  3. Chris Catalano permalink

    Sorry if I am off topic, but you reviewed Vosis, just wondering if you ever got around to Virtual ANS? God, I love that app…I ended up overusing it a bit, but so spooky! I got a few folks stirred up by suggesting it was a hoax app, but I meant it in the best possible way…

  4. Great work. I’m a new subscriber to your RSS feed. I saw your writeup on Bip and am willing to take a chance on it. What exactly is a rhythmic tracker as Bip is described? I hear the great sounds coming from it but really can’t tell what’s going on.
    The pink floyed instrument-based app is incredible! I already own it and even at $14 I paid I know I stole something special. I’m a big dark side fan and wasn’t aware this was used!

    Sector 6. I too love that developer. I’ve talked with him a bit on mastering music on iOS and his apps are solid. But this one confuses me. I’m not exactly sure how to go about it to get the best sound or even what the best sound sounds like lol. Meaning I don’t know it’s limit. Is “xyz” all it can do? OR am I just not knowing how to push it. I wish I knew better how to use it. Still these things, over time, begin to click in my head and will make sense. I am a real guitarist and songwriter and many iOS apps are far from anything I might learn when studying music theory, modes, scales and more. Nevertheless I don’t want to limit myself to guitar when all these new sounds are available. Thank you for what u do. U do a good job. I imagine I’ll be doing a lot of music app shopping this week since I found ya. Lol.

    AnemicMe
    San Diego

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