An Ever Changing Process

UPDATED 4/18/13

Recently I have been going back to doing most work through Audiobus to Auria. The below experimental process has more or less become a bit too tedious. As I described below, I was working what really has begun to feel like a double process. Read down for details. Now I am skipping the multi step process and simply running my audio through Audiobus to Auria where I arrange, mix, automate and master. So much faster. I’ll still use Cubasis for sketching and where certain apps don’t work with Auria through Audiobus. Apps like Addictive Synth, and Grain Science. In those cases it’s not much extra work to give them a run through to Cubasis first, then once recorded in Cubasis I’ll put that in an Audiobus input, and send those recordings to Auria. Really any number of adjustments and options are available to work around any road blocks.

iOSMusician.com has invited me to do an interview focused on my process. Good timing as I’m settling into a more streamlined flow, and I find it much easier to explain it when asked direct and specific questions. Otherwise I just ramble trying to cover everything.
No matter what comes of any of this, the only good process is the one you discover. Possibly taking a few cues from others, but a carbon copy is never universally accepted. Part of the beauty of iOS music is the numerous variations of options that can lead to as many work flows. Nobody has “the” workflow for everyone.
If I don’t detail enough of what I do, then just ask me. Pretty simple. Send me an email: SmiteMatter@comcast.net I sincerely do not mind. I get plenty as is, but never feel bothered by receiving more. Plus I’ve used or tried pretty much every single music app around, minus the novelty apps. As for iDAW types, I started with NanoStudio, then Studio HD, and the rest now and then like MultiTrack DAW, BeatMaker 1&2, Music Studio, FL Studio, Meteor, and others I’ve probably forgotten about. So I might have an answer, but I don’t know everything.

Original Post Below

I thought I’d share some of my process, since it is something I am asked frequently to do. Much of how I’ve made my music with iOS over the last 4 years-ish, has been in a constant state of change. Thanks to Audiobus, much of the labor has been eased. I still appreciate the uses of AudioCopy/Paste, but I haven’t used it much at all since Audiobus came out.

My main iDAW is Auria. It is the only iDAW currently available with solid high end, FX, and mastering tools. Tools that are absolutely essential in what I do. Far from perfect, Auria has the very best capabilities for creating a well polished mix. The GUI though is a bit unforgiving if not sometimes a flat out pain. I’m sure that will be improved over time. In addition to its superior FX, Plug Ins, EQ, etc, the full automation capability is also very important to me.

Now that I have Cubasis ( an accidental download while juggling my coffee, cigarette, iPad, and some other app downloads ) I’m finding ways to make the best of the two combined. Cubasis has an outstanding GUI. Its very smooth, and reliable. Virtual Midi is becoming more important to me thanks to Cubasis.
Its Audiobus integration is one of the very best Ive seen so far working on iPads 3 & 4. Mixing, arranging, editing, and all that is a great pleasure. Like Auria, Cubasis has its strengths and weaknesses. The EQ in Cubasis is a prank at best. The FX are low quality. No automation, and in my opinion grossly incapable of mastering at even a average level.
But, that’s OK for now. However I wish I knew why developers can’t seem to put the best of both worlds into a single iDAW app? Whatever the reason, I can’t dwell on it, and have to make the best of what I have available to me today.

How I use these two iDAWs with polar opposite and equally different strengths is something of an unusual workflow. Maybe, maybe not? Its certainly experimental.
In short I begin work setting up Cubasis at the Audiobus Output spot. Then use my various synths, and other music apps at the Input. In order to preserve as much device power as possible and reduce chances of problems, I try to use only one or two inputs at any given time. Sometimes a FX app occupies the Audiobus FX spot.

20130324-180436.jpg

Ill do all the initial recordings to Cubasis. Then edit, measure, and arrange. Avoiding FX, and keeping the tracks “dry” for the most part. They are useless to me and, I’m not going to need them anyway.

Again, much of what follows is still being worked out and may change depending on what I discover or decide to alter. I’m experimenting.

After I have my rough, dry mix all arranged and set how I like it, Cubasis reverses its Audiobus role. As seen in above screenshot. Now its in the Audiobus Input spot, and Auria is the Output.
I could just mix down or send the entire project to a single Auria track. That probably would be quicker, but defeats the end goal of having fully separated, individually mastered tracks. So I haven’t even experimented with that. Can’t make sense of it.
Instead I have chosen to go the painfully tedious route.

20130324-181251.jpg

I “solo” the Cubasis tracks one at a time and Audiobus them to Auria. One at a time they are recorded in Auria set at the same positions as they were in Cubasis. Kind of mirrored. This almost always ends up needing a bit of a manual tweaking to adjust and sync everything as well, in Auria.
Eventually everything is in place in Auria. Then I disengage Audiobus completely, and shut down all other previously running apps, except Auria. Out of Habit I might fully shut down and restart my device also. Either way it works out.

20130324-181746.jpg

Now with only Auria running, I am free to start adding FX, and plug ins to each necessary track. Ill also work on various automations, freeze tracks at any opportunity, and put my polish on the overall mix completing the mastering needs. That’s pretty much all there is to it.
Something of consideration is project size. Since I’ve solo’d tracks into Auria from a full mix I expect rather large project files. So far its not been too big a deal. It remains to be seen if that’s going to be a problem. I’m still experimenting with all this. So far so good.
I’m getting the best of both worlds, and the results are promising. I do not expect or even recommend my experimental process to catch on. Not at all. It may sound insane to some people, and overly complicated? Maybe it is? It works for me. I’m maximizing the strengths of two amazing apps and happy with the results. What I get out of it, is not presumed to be universal.

In the end, its better for me than the old days of having to copy and paste parts. There’s always going to be some guess work and a search for work arounds. At least until someone develops a single iDAW that does everything right, or one of these two progress into that single iDAW of my dreams. For now that’s my new, and experimental process in a nut shell. Or from a nut out of his shell.

PS Coming up: A full Cubasis review. Then a review team up I call: “Remarkable Or Regret”. PantsOfDeath (known to most) and I, are going to put a review together and share with you. It should be fun. We have completely different workflows, needs, wants, etc. Maybe even polar opposite?
Plus we have very different music styles. A couple things we do agree on is our passion for iOS, and love of creating music.
We hope this coming review will be helpful in showing two different perspectives in a fair manner reaching a wide variety of iOS music makers. What will we be reviewing? You’ll see.

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11 comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your process. Would you mind offering a couple of examples of tasks / activities which are easier to perform in Cubasis than Auria? (I don’t own the former so look forward to your review.) If you couldn’t use Cubasis, would Beatmaker 2 (which I do own) be still be superior to recording / organizing in Auria? Just curious.

    I am excited to see what you and PoD cook up in terms of collaboration.

    1. Thank you. I will expand a bit more on the strengths of Cubasis in my full review in the next few days. In short, Cubasis has a much easier, and reliable Audiobus integration & GUI. IMO. You can record Vritual MIDI in Cubasis as well. The waveform editor is in a sub screen on the lower half of the view to work on the wave outside the track, but affects the wave in whatever track it occupies when edited. It and all recordings can also be saved neatly in the Media section to keep organized.
      Also being able to quantize, transpose and edit individual notes or beats is very handy. There is also a customizable section of pads with variable velocity control. You can make chord assignments to pads or small buttons however you wish. Can’t do any of that in Auria. Of course the note editing & quantize only applies to MIDI or the internal Cubasis instruments, but still very nice. Moving, copying, arranging and looping throughout the tracks works much more smoothly than Auria. However as I’ve pointed out, Cubasis has virtually no capability of mastering anything, and the FX stink up to high heaven. Auria has Cubasis beat mightily there. As does Cusbasis where GUI is concerned. Both are sure to improve. This is all based on currently available production versions.
      BeatMaker2 is on the table for an in depth review. Now that I have all the iDAWs available I intend to look at them all, if not already. I haven’t installed BM2 for a while. If it supports Audiobus input, then it theoretically could work the same in place of Cubasis in my process scenario. I haven’t tried it.

      Whoa, that wasn’t so “in short” as I intended. Hope it helps? More coming in the reviews.

      1. I look forward to your review of the main DAWs out there. I don’t own Cubasis so look forward to learning what it does which makes you go through the bother of recording into Cubasis and exporting into Auria. From the screen shot above it looks like you record audio from some synths, and use the internal Cubasis MIDI / instruments for others.

        Music Studio seems similar based on this to Cubasis, but its main limitation in my experience is one audio sample per track. It also probably lacks the effects you like.

        Beatmaker 2 seems more complete, but the GUI is non-intuitive to me, though people who use it daily probably get used to it. More of a problem is that Beatmaker 2 causes Sampletank to crash / distort audio. Just opening Beatmaker 2 without enabling MIDI causes havoc.

      2. I will do my best to dig into my Cubasis review, thank you.
        Don’t read too much into the screenshots as they were just random files placed in tracks just for example. However I do like the Cubasis instruments well enough to use some, but I much prefer to bring in my own synth sounds from my many synths. Either way it works out. I’m fiddling with the virtual MIDI part more. Its working well. The GUI of Cubasis compared to BeatMaker 2 is better in my opinion. The FX are equally subpar to me.
        At $50 Cubasis & as you pointed out it looks and works a lot like much of what we’ve already seen in general. Ill say this in advance of my full review, I do feel Cubasis is not remotely worth $50. Its a very good app.
        Its not breaking any ground or doing anything so well, or different than anything at half its price. You’re paying for the brand more than anything else.
        Cheers

  2. very useful and fun, as usual, thanks for sharing
    i don´t have Cubasis, but wouldn´t it be so much more reliable, simple and faster to audiocopy every track in Cubasis and then audiopaste in Auria instead of recording in realtime each?
    that´s a process I do, i.e., with Multitrack DAW or Nanostudio (much better, because it does it all in a single command) and Auria

    1. It may very well be faster to ACP. I don’t know about it being anymore reliable though? There is no benefit either way as far as audio quality is concerned. Audiobus and ACP are both 16 bit 44.khz, so it makes sense. Really with electronic music a higher rate is a waste of CPU, memory etc. No problem there. No human ear on this planet can detect the difference anyway. So it would be exactly the same in that respect. I just prefer to go the Audiobus route. I’ve sampled both processes, and haven’t found one to be any better than the other. I’m just sick of ACP. I’ve been stuck with it for years, and don’t want to use it anymore. Its a personal preference thing is all. My whole musical world revolved around ACP long enough. 🙂

  3. i am using a similar process only with Beatmaker2 in tandem with Auria instead of Cubasis. I can’t bring myself to spend $50 on something that isn’t the best at something in the ios music realm. I can easily drop $50 on Auria because it does things no other app does and I can access full VST plugins like FabFilter for splice 20% of their regular cost. Didn’t Steinberg create VST? I know it does some things well, but I think as it currently stand that thing is a joke and they are ripping people off and seeking an app on what it might be, not what it is.

    1. Honestly, I feel much the same way. I really wish I hadn’t spent the money. It was a tragic accident. So I’m trying to get something from it and make the best of it. Auria is far more advanced sonically, just not the greatest workflow, but its getting better. Cubasis is real nice where workflow is concerned, decent instruments, and Vmidi, but not any leap in any direction overall. It’s a lateral move. Doing as well as anything else has, but not pushing anything further. Safe.

  4. Beside of the mediocre reverb and the poor EQ (it has been already teased that a full parametric EQ is on the way), I think the Cubasis FX section is okay for the beginning. The FX routing in Cubasis is both easy to use and complete, which is a good requirement for upcoming FX. Steinberg owns tons of excellent FX algorithms, so it’s a question of time when we will see more sophisticated stuff in this area. With other words: Auria has much more better FX now, but it is much more difficult to improve an existing user interface and adding new elementary stuff like MIDI tracks/editors than adding new FX algorithms. I think, in the middle-term Cubasis will be the winner. Anyway, my biggest hope is a new DAW from Apple, call it Logic Lite or GarageBand Pro. I’m sure this would be a game changer. Imagine, that you have in GarageBand more tracks and all of those cool instruments and FX would be editable. The sky would be the limit 😉

    1. Good point. I don’t think Aurias GUI is a difficult area to improve upon. I think part of the point I was trying to make is about a safe release that shows nothing that sets a new benchmark is old hat. Auria released with options never seen on iOS at a high end. The GUI, needs work, but nothing that can’t be done. Then Cubasis comes out, but does nothing new, and doesn’t set any new benchmarks separating itself from the pack. Plenty of teases of upcoming improvements are nice, but again, nothing big, that’s an abused tactic. One I’ve been a victim of having false hope for over and again without satisfaction. For $50 I do expect something truly special and unique with the things I need. I really hope you’re right and Steinberg ups its game with Cubasis and fast. Thank you for joining the discussion, I appreciate your input.

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