Hokusai Audio Editor, App Review

Taking waveform editing to a new level.
Review based on Complete Pro Pack upgrade, version 1.0.1 on iPad 1
I have used many audio editors of excellent quality, design, and packed with useful tools. Hokusai Audio Editor with the Complete Pro Pack has just raised the bar. The amount of available tools and FX is loaded with an astonishing selection. Some might think $9.99 might be an expensive upgrade but I’m here to tell you after much use, experience, and detailed communications with the developer that it’s a fantastic bargain!

I’ll get to the details of these amazing tools and how it all works, but first I want to share some very useful and important information I have gathered from lead developer Canis, at Wooji Juice regarding audio clipping.
I saw some users complain about hearing some “clicks, pops, or crackles” while editing and then playing back their files in Hokusai. This was especially noticeable when applying FX, and normalizing. I also noticed the same concerns myself. So I emailed Wooji, and received some detailed info on what most likely was happening.

Canis from Wooji Juice said :
 “If you normalise to 100%, then apply reverb, and echo, then since the sound started at 100% and you’ve now applied (for example) 10% echo, the sound is at 110% and you’ll clip the limits of the iPad hardware.
However, unlike some editors, Hokusai itself doesn’t clip permanently: although the sound gets clipped as it plays back, the actual sound data is undamaged. This means that if you turn the volume back down (perhaps by normalising it again after applying the effects), you’ll get your unclipped sound back.”
After reading his reply I went back and played with Hokusai some more, but this time went on to copy the edited file, and then paste into my other app where I was mixing my project. No clipping was heard.
I wondered and asked again, “Why is that?”
Canis at Wooji kindly explains, “When you AudioCopy a slice of audio, Hokusai scans the slice to see if it clips. If (and only if) it does clip, then it re-normalises the audio slice to 100% as it AudioCopies it. This is because unlike Hokusai’s internal format, the AudioCopy file format clips permanently.”
A little side techie note on audio copy in general, it’s 16bit signed integer audio format, and Hokusai uses a much higher quality 32 bit floating point format.
 

Back on topic, Hokusai has a very uncluttered, pleasantly minimal design and work area. It might be so uncluttered compared to other editor apps, that it could be momentarily unsettling in that most menus, options, and tools are not in your face and obvious. They are however all there and easily accessible by touch. It won’t take long to really appreciate this design, and maybe become a little spoiled by it.

Having a multi track editor with (mostly) everything visible side by side on screen is a smooth and streamlined delight. It’s all manipulated by familiar touch gestures that are instinctive to most iPad users. Selecting the areas of the file to work with is just like copying text in emails or notepads. Touch with a long hold, and swipe back and forth to highlight the parts you want to edit. Tap the highlighted area once to see a pop up of your various options, including the suite (All found by touching the “More” button on the right of the pop up bar) of FX and various tools.
As you drag you finger over a waveform you can hear the sound under your fingertip. This live scrubbing is quite useful and helps with an audible cue of exactly where your finger is in relation to the waveform including a minutes and seconds timeline relating to where you are touching the file, and or what portion is highlighted for editing. I only wish the timeline would run during playback, without having to touch anything.
Cut, copy, paste, crop, slice etc, multiple tracks of files all on screen, and mix, match, and create whatever you can imagine. Bring in files from other apps with pasteboard support is easy, and always welcome.

You really cant fully appreciate this app with using just the free starter kit.
The tools available in the (via IAP) Complete Pro Pack are what makes this editor shine brightest. Hokusai has everything I want and need to edit, and apply high quality FX to my projects. There are too many to list here, but I’ll run down some of my most used and desired FX. There are 2 types of reverb to choose from, one is a basic Reverb, the other is more advanced with deeper adjustability. Chorus, Digital Echo (delay), Flanger, Bit Crusher, and Gramophone….the list goes on, check out the full Hokusai Audio Editor app description in iTunes.
Purchasing the upgrade also removes those pesky ads.

In my opinion Wooji Juice has really hit a home run with Hokusai Audio Editor. It’s quickly become an integral part of my iOS music studio on my iPad.

5 stars!!!

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5 comments

  1. Well done on a fantastic blog.I am new to creating electronic music of any kind but am relying on the iPad because of the minimal clutter it adds to my life – everything self contained.The only thing I don't understand is why is it necessary to have so many apps? Surely just nanostudio and 1 or 2 others should do the job.I am interested to learn how you having a wide range of apps adds to your music.

  2. Thank you for the comment. So you want to know why I feel it's necessary to have a wide range of apps? In my case I'm making music that I will have published and distributed as a professional. In order to compete I require a large variety of sounds and options. Nano Studio IS practically all one may need with maybe even only a couple more carefully selected apps to compliment the work. It's just not enough for me as I'm competing with people using Logic, Reaktor, Abelton etc. I have unusual techniques using my collection of apps that enable me to create music with the depth that is required to be taken seriously. There are many reason and so much I could explain, but I'm already pushing space in this comment field. If you are really interested in knowing what I do to set myself apart please feel free to email me. Contact info is on the right sidebar section of this blog, I'm happy to share what I've learned over the years as iOS music has developed.

  3. David, thanks for a very helpful review. iOS music apps have changed my life and let me get back to music making in my chaotic life. One key missing piece has been a serious editor, and Hokusai looks like it will be the one. My favorite apps (in order of current importance) are NanoStudio, Multitrack DAW, Nlog, Thumbjam, Argon, DrumTrack8, and iVoxel.

    One important tip for any newcomer to iOS music production: Never buy any audio app that lacks copy and paste to and from other apps.

    1. Thanks Joe! It is a great world of possibilities in iOS music. So many amazing, high quality, and capable apps. I agree audio copy/ paste is crucial. I rarely buy anything without that critical function. I’ve been ranting about ACP a lot. Probably too much? 😉 Check out Auria. I

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