Audio Tools

Cubasis 2 – What it should be

Cubasis Mobile Music Creation

Developed by Steinberg

Available in the iTunes App Store

I have had a love/hate, and often hostile relationship with early versions of Cubasis. I make no apologies, there were serious early version issues, missing critical features, and deal breaking problems. This is no longer the case. Cubasis 2 is not the same as those early versions that crashed, or deleted entire projects with a single ‘Undo’ tap for a minor correction. No, not at all. Cubasis 2 is now, what I expected then. A quality, powerful, and smooth iDAW I can rely on. That’s how I would describe it today. I trust this newest version and love it. 

In this review on the new and vastly improved Cubasis 2 I’ll cover the most relevant parts as I experience them. For more detailed technical specifications and complete list of features, I encourage you to visit Steinbergs website.

In case you didn’t already know, Cubasis is a mobile DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) with unlimited audio or midi tracks. It’s packed with many virtual instruments, samples, drum kits, and a decent suite full of basic audio effects. Of course that’s not all. Cubasis is truly packed with content, features, and options to help any creative flow get things done. One of the best things about this is it’s user interface. A very pleasant, smooth design that makes you want to use it. Digging through menus is not something to worry about. Steinberg really paid attention to making everything look easy. Don’t let that fool you, this is not a toy, and the appearance of simplicity is only a comforting mask that when lifted reveals great depth in a powerful workstation.

When it comes to working fast and efficiently, this is the DAW I find myself gravitating towards almost exclusively. Deep midi support is presented in a way that even audio-centric folks like myself, who sometimes resist using midi find it to be more intuitive than others. Those who are midi savvy will appreciate this ease of use as well as its reliability for even complex uses. Routing in general is super clean. Routing Inter-App Audio, or Audiobus is just as fluid as can be expected. 

Mixing looks and feels like you might expect. A simple tap on the Mixer button reveals the mixer board. If you don’t know already, it’s where you go to make  various adjustments to the overall mix, such as levels, pan, effects routing, and set automation read/write. 


Cubasis 2 now has a very nice Channel Strip. It’s a very welcome addition. Now controlling sound in detail for all channels is a option. Hi and Low cut off filter, Noise Gate, Compressor and Saturator tucked neatly into a always accessible pop up. You can really control your sound making the best possible mix. This was something sorely missing from early versions, but thankfully is currently a quality option included with the app. Some might say it’s an essential tool, and I would agree. In the past when there was no Channel Strip, it was simply put a real bummer. This is one more reason to take Cubasis 2 a lot more seriously. 


Another early version absentee was Automation. They’ve gone and added Automation (a few updates back actually) with complete set of easily assigned automation parameters. Finally I can really dig into things making specific tweaks throughout the track or global mix. Without automation it was very difficult to feel like I wasn’t playing with a gutted or lite version of a DAW. It’s such an important aspect and increases the overall professional feel of this app. I don’t know how anybody can take a DAW seriously without Automation as a standard function. I’m getting off track, but the point is it’s now an available built in option that many of us were baffeled by it being MIA in very early versions. I thank Steinberg for bringing this in. Better late than never, right? Cubasis with Automation, yes! 


Again like a broken record I will complain about the standard FX units. There are many standard FX included, and they have improved some. No you won’t have an awesome convolution or spring reverb unit, but for a few more bucks you can get an FX pack with much better versions of some of the built in FX and then some. With each pack you will get new FX units that are significantly better than average. I only have the FX Pack 1. The Stereo Imager came with it and I find it to be indespensible. They also don’t seem to be quite as big of a CPU drain as I expected. If you use them a lot in tracks, especially reverb units, you’ll want to consider using the Track Freeze option to help minimize demand on system resources. It’s not permenant and you can freeze or un-freeze whenever. Nicely done. 

A very recent addition is the Spin FX unit. DJs will appreciate this, but not limited to just them. It’s also pretty fun. 

Still just a 4 band studio EQ, but unless you want to do your mastering here it shouldn’t be an issue.The EQ is certainly good enough for general uses, but if you need more there’s always an app for that. 


Working within Cubasis 2 is very predictable. That’s a good thing. Double tap a waveform to bring it up below for a complete set of editing tools. Fix, trim fade, etc. If it’s a MIDI (or using included instrument and samples) track the same double tap brings of a fully functioning sequencer. Quantize, edit, and compose sequences with great ease. You won’t need much else. 

Cubasis 2 also has a minisampler with some included presets. This was another early feature that was missing. With the mini sampler you now have the capability of creating your own instruments in house. That’s very nice to have and opens up even more creative scenarios to explore.

Cubasis 2 is loaded to the gills with virtual instruments, drum kits, samples, and has a emulated analog synthesizer. The Micrologue synth is a basic analog style and has a growing library of presets. It also affords the usual synth patching parameters to the user to customize unique sounds. A new suite of 76 modern presets have been added. It’s a nice little synth, not bad. Not extraordinary either, but I like it and am glad to have it included.

The Microsonic (also included) offers hundreds of other quality sampled instruments. It now has some cool 60s era TAPE instruments faithfully recreating the iconic sounds of the time. 

Cubasis 2 has brought so many new tools, features and options. It’s hard to catch them all. Another new option is Real Time, Time Strech. Now you can load audio loops and have them match your mix perfectly. 

I’ll wrap this up, knowing I’ve left some things out but with a reminder to check the Steinberg site for all of the details. That said, Cubasis 2 is the new standard for mobile DAWs. It may not be perfect but come on, we are working on iPads after all. What it’s missing pales in comparison to what’s not and can almost always be made up for by another dedicated app. I’m a little sad to say I just don’t even use my AuriaPro much anymore and favor this much of the time. When it comes right down to it, what do I want to use that isn’t compromising my expectations of quality?  The answer is Cubasis 2. 

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Convoluted Spectral Filtering

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.

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apeFilter by http://www.densitygs.com

IMG_0570-0.JPG AltiSpace – Convolution Reverb by http://audio-mastering-ipad.com

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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.

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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.

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Don’t forget the spectral grid where you can finger paint your way through the pitch space using the 4 compilers. Try it out and you’ll see.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

AUFX: Dub – Review

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AUFX: Dub is made by: Kymatica Software
Available in the iTunes App Store

The AUFX series’ second installment is a multi function delay unit Kymatica calls “Dub”.
When I see that word “Dub”, I think of DubStep, or poorly voiced-over foreign films. In this case, I think DubStep is the relevant comparison however, Dub is so much more than a DubStep styled delay, or wobble effect. This really is a full service delay FX app.

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AUFX:Dub is a high quality, 32Bit DSP, delay effects app that also happens to perform DubStep-styled wobbles, and filtered warbles. It is a versatile collection of parameters bundled to enable the user a quick and easy means of crafting some delay types-like the clean digital stereo delay, dirty noisy tape delay, and of course wobbling and filtered DubStep effects.

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Easy is the perfect descriptor of this app, and all of the AUFX series.
A very classy and simple interface of intuitive sliders on a black background. That’s it.
What more do you need anyway? It’s the results and quality that matter, and that’s what you will get. Great results that sound great too.

Dub is Inter-App Audio*, (*IAA requires iOS 7) and Audiobus ready for all slots. Input, Effects, and Output.
Fully MIDI and virtual MIDI controllable, with supports for Background Audio, AudioShare, and Email recordings.

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To make things even easier, Dub is preloaded with numerous preset effects to choose from. Each preset is aptly named and does what it describes. Additionally you can create, save, and share your own concoctions with other users.

This is a simple, but very effective echo/delay FX app that can be used on most any iOS device without issue.
Dub is easy on the CPU while managing to reliably create complex effects without crashing your device.
All at a low cost but without any compromise on the quality. There is nothing cheap about AUFX apps.

So in honor of the simplicity of this AUFX entry, I will keep my review just as simple by ending it in the next few sentences.

It doesn’t take a lot of creative verbiage to get the point across. You don’t need me to write a bunch of paragraphs full of creative words to basically end up saying: this is an excellent app, you should buy it.

What did you expect? A poem?

Highly recommended.

Master FX – Review

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Master FX App is made by iMusicAlbum
Available in iTunes App Store

iMusicAlbum has recently been offering quality audio processing options for iOS music production that are highly convenient for many uses.
Their latest is this live audio multi-effects app for external sources such as vocals, instruments etc. Additionally it can be used in the Audiobus effect and output slots, making this a very versatile app.
Primarily Master FX is intended for use with guitars, vocals, or any other instruments that can be adapted to your device where the app will process desired effects. Recording can be done within the app itself as well as your favorite iDAW.
Sadly, at least at the moment I am writing this, Master FX does not support inter-app audio. This means if you use Audiobus to facilitate recordings of external instrumentation that you are only able to record 16 bit audio. Otherwise apart from that this can record at 24 bits. For electronic music 16 bits is just fine, but for live vocals or guitars it is less desirable.

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Master FX comes with 7 effects modules and limiter at the main output. 6 effects can be run simultaneously.
The built in effects are: Chorus, Reverb, Delay, Compressor, Flanger, Pitch, and a 3 band Parametric EQ.
The order of each module can be customized to fit whatever preferences you may have for the signal order. Furthermore, two assignable pad banks (6 each, A&B) can accommodate your presets for quick FX switching via the “Live” tab.
Add to that independent “left/right” channel recording to capture a guitar and vocals at the same time.

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The effects are not simply just wet/dry sliders, but actual independent modules. This means by selecting the module tab the corresponding effect unit opens up full screen to present you with all of its adjustable parameters.
They are still not exactly “specialized” effects such as what you would find in a stand alone effects app (like Audio Reverb, EchoPad etc) but they are each quite good in their own right. For live situations they are especially handy being all in one app, on one screen.

Several carefully crafted presets are included for certain and specific scenarios or instruments in mind. You can also create and save your own preset banks.

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Recording can be done directly to Master FX, and files are easily managed. If you’ve used any of iMusicAlbum’s other apps like the excellent “AudioMastering” app, you will feel right at home with the same style of file manager. Not to mention the whole design of Master FX is also designed with the same uniform interface as this developer’s other audio apps.

For a full list of specs, video tutorials, and app details please visit iMusicAlbum

Managing files in the app is one thing but moving files around needs to be easy too. Anybody familiar with iOS Music production knows that moving files around between our various other apps or cloud services is a must. No problem. Master FX has the bases covered with Dropbox, AudioCopy/Paste, iTunes Playlist & File Share, “Open In” and WiFi tools for importing and exporting with ease.

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I’ve been testing Master FX mostly as it’s intended, by recording and processing audio captured with my iRigMic. I found no issues or problems at all. Even though iRigMic is mono, Master FX, with the right selection of modules and signal path set, did a great job of giving my recordings body and fullness that resembled a stereo recording with no discernible difference.
I am impressed.
I also tried it as an “Effect” slot in Audiobus and had just as good of an experience.

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For an all in one multi FX app, Master FX does a fine job in each of its possible situational applications.
Stable, easy to use and understand it should make for a top choice.
My only gripe is that it doesn’t currently support inter-app audio, and the Reverb and Chorus could be a little bit better. Nothing bad, they are decent, I just feel they are not this app’s strong point.
This is more of a “student of many” rather than a master of anything in particular. If you’re looking for a particular, highly specialized effect type this probably shouldn’t be the first choice. However if you want a collection of good effects to use simultaneously and packaged neatly in one app for live uses with real world instruments or vocals, then this is a list topper. Check out the tutorial on iMusicAlbum’s website (linked midway and top) for the two channel recording. Many of you should find it particularly interesting.

Audio Reverb – App Review

Audio Reverb
Developer: VirSyn
Available in iTunes App Store

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VirSyn is no newcomer to high quality music software development, yet I was still caught by surprise when I saw they released a new stand alone Reverb effects app. Interesting timing. We just saw two others very recently.
Audio Reverb is very different. Most reverbs are algorithmic types that emulate various spaces and whatnot. In this case we have an Impulse Response type that is from real recordings of natural acoustic reverberations. Additionally classical algorithms are included to recreate their acoustical properties.
The combination makes for some of the most amazing and most natural-sounding reverberation effects. This is currently the very best sounding of the stand alone reverb app types.

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Audio Reverb is packed with a well designed collection of the most important adjustable parameters allowing massive design potential. VirSyn understands the importance of “Early Reflection” and full user control. Our ears perceive these early reflections and basically translate to our brain what sort of room is being heard. Is it big or small, or made of wood or concrete etc.
From those room sizes, and how frequencies are absorbed, to even discerning the materials in the walls of said rooms.
This is pretty dang important and if done right (as I believe VirSyn has here) is what separates good from great to the spectacular Reverb units.
How you adjust the “Early Reflection” parameters will have a big effect on the overall sound being recreated, and with much variety.
It can be complex stuff, and even subtle adjustments can impact what’s heard. With the quality of this app’s design, there are numerous possibilities to stumble upon, or seek out specifically. As complex as this is, don’t sweat it this app has hundreds of very carefully crafted presets to suit most any need ready for you.

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In addition to thoughtful attention to early reflection parameter details, Audio Reverb also contains a sophisticated Tail Equalizer. The “Tail Equalizer” controls frequencies contained in the early reflections and the reverberation tail. This is where you set “color” or “temperature” to a room. It does not filter the direct signal.
With the Hi/Lo shelving filters, and the LoMid & HiMid frequency peaking filters, including gain and resonance controls you can have any “color” or “temperature” you like. These types of filters are relatively common among reverb units, but there is something special about what VirSyn has given us in this app. It makes a difference you can really hear.

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It all comes together and becomes cohesive with the “Room Parameter” section of controls.
Often other iOS reverbs ignore things found in this section. In order to define the reverberation effect best, a well made selection of parameters to basically recreate a room or space is needed.
Tail Delay is directly related to the room size being simulated.
Room Size essentially moves the walls of the room in or outward. Setting the distance between the walls.
The Diffusion parameter controls the density of echos from the reverberated sound and the adjustable range is very effective.
The higher the setting, the more dense the echo is, and will lend to a more natural sound.
The often forgotten Absorption parameter is very welcome. It simulates the surface and air absorption of high frequencies. More absorption affects high frequencies making them shorter than low frequencies. A higher sound will die out faster as this is increased.
Tail Stereo and Reverb Time set the tail stereo width, and the overall length of decay from the initial sound entering the simulated room. An astonishing 100 seconds is the maximum time setting. Sometimes its like the sound just keeps going on and on further and further away. It doesn’t just end (unless you want it to and set a short time) or suddenly peter out in a coarse halt. Its super smooth, and natural. It is as if the sound continues infinitely beyond what you can hear. It’s a quality that adds a feeling of the sound being timeless, figuratively speaking. Really this sounds the most natural of all stand alone reverb options by a wide margin.

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Audio Reverb is of course Audiobus supported at the FX and Output slots. You can record directly to the app through your device mic or iRig Mic (any compatible mic), and is also complete with AudioCopy/Paste. iTunes File Share (Just being a little sarcastic)is also supported for some reason. Furthermore recordings can be uploaded straight to your SoundCloud.

Another cool feature of Audio Reverb is you can play your own music from your iTunes Library. Add some reverb effect to any song. Try Pink Floyd’s “GoodBye Blue Sky” with a cathedral setting. Nice!

After spending a solid amount of time with this and all other iOS reverbs, and testing extensively, I have found Audio Reverb to have the very best sound quality overall. It is flexible, reliable, and has no strange anomalies. This is exactly the kind of reverb we’ve been missing. It’s better than Auria’s Classic Reverb Pro by miles.
The added waveform graphic is not just colorful and appealing, but useful for a visual queue of what’s going on with the sound.
Instead of sounding like an effect laying on top of the sound (which of course is exactly what is happening), it seamlessly blends with it as if it were always a part of it. That’s the good stuff!
As great as this is, there’s some pretty big things missing. Notably there is no MIDI integration to be found as seen in the likes of AD480 Pro or AUFX:Space. That may present a problem to some. On the other hand if like me, you’re focused more on audio and using this through Audiobus, then no problem.
Another missing feature that I was really hoping to find upon first opening this app was no chorus or swirl type modulation. Maybe I am asking for too much, but I’d love to see something added at some point.
It could also benefit from a email option to share user presets.
Its been very stable in all my tests with iPads 3 & 4 through Audiobus, and with other demanding synth apps. This is a powerful reverb that doesn’t get in your face demanding power. I’m sure there is a way to over do it, but in regular to heavy use its not been a problem for me.
If you want a big, natural sounding reverb, don’t mind the lack of MIDI, and have $10 then you should probably get this.
I wish I had Audio Reverb a couple years ago.