MIDI

MIDI Controllers

Effectrix – Review

Effectrix is made by Sugar Bytes
Available in The iTunes App Store

“A professional multi-effect sequencer for iPad”

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Like many of you I have and enjoy Sugar Bytes other iOS apps. Turnado, WOW Filterbox, and Thysis each having some great things to offer.

Effectrix is uniquely it’s own breed. While it does contain similar effects found in their other apps (minus Thysis) it is not just another effects app.
The 14 “intelligent” effects are thrown onto a sequencer matrix for some unusual and sometimes perfectly chaotic looping sessions.

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Fun is an understatement. Sugar Bytes does have a way with creating interesting and useful apps that promote creativity. They also have a unique talent for making their programs ridiculously fun.
Effectrix is something to get blissfully lost in as you explore the infinite combinations of effects sequenced to your specific liking.

It’s a perfect interface for making sequences and easily applying any combination of the 14 FX, or all.
The familiar randomizer or “Dice” are present and accounted for.
Plus a large collection of presets that suit most any event. From weddings to witch burnings, and everything else.

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There is a bit less specific or detailed FX controls such as found in Turnado, but these aren’t stripped down effects at all. The most important parameters are there for your tweaking needs.
2 assignable modulation parts per effect allow quick and easy automation of the selected options. Full expressive control is standard.
Apply the effects on the matrix by touch, and or drag along its open bar through the width of it.
Easy!

Effectrix fits any iOS workflow with support for Virtual MIDI, Network, Clock Sync etc. Inter-App Audio, Audiobus, and AudioCopy/Paste all here.

Want to have some fun with music from your iTunes playlist? No problem, a integrated audio player and recorder come with Effectrix too.

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This app brings a new form of effects sequencing to the table and should not be missed. There isn’t a whole lot one can say about this. It’s just damn good.
Winner.

Arctic ProSynth – Review

Arctic ProSynth is developed by: One Red Dog Media

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One Red Dog Media has been delivering excellent music apps for years now. Arctic ProSynth arrives offering a modern subtractive, 4 voice polyphony, synth, vocoder, arpeggiator, and sequencer all wrapped into one neatly designed package. Arctic ProSynth isn’t trying to be anything but itself. A powerful in your face synth that can get loud and rude. Like your crazy old ex, but this is in a good way!

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As you can see from the above screen shot the GUI is clean and uncomplicated. All parameters are tucked away in their respective categories noted on each of the buttons taking you to each screen. Moving between screens is fluid without delays. Quick and responsive, are good words to describe navigating Arctic Pro. Nothing flashy or gimmicky, but don’t be fooled. Arctic Pro has a lot of options available for you to create some big and complex sounds. The type of sound designing Arctic does best are big, brash, and fat.
It wouldn’t be my first choice for pads or delicate types, but that’s not what its about anyway. This is your goto synth for heavy, gritty and blasting sounds.

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To achieve these thick sound types Arctic Pro has 2 “Hyper” Oscillators for you to add increasingly dramatic “oomph”. These things take it up a notch that you don’t see a lot of elsewhere. With the adjustable ADSR envelopes, 2 multi-mode resonating filters, sub oscillator, and 2 LFOs with 3 wave shapes, independently sync-able destinations, and all the usual synth parameters with these unique Hyper oscillators, there is no shortage of creative possibilities. I’ve been enjoying using this to make some vicious bass-lines and leads. The usual scrolling keyboard is present along with a nice selection of scales to set.
I’ve only hinted at the specifications. If you want the full list visit One Red Dog Medias Website or check the iTunes App Store for more details.

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Want to do an arpeggio? No problem. Arctic Pro comes with a 4 octave arpeggiator. Nothing special on this page, but for simple arpeggios it gets the job done. If you want to really get into a detailed sequence, try the built in 4 track 16×4 gated step Sequencer.

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This will allow you to make some more complex arrangements with much more control over the notes and how each plays out. It should not be underestimated. It can be MIDI synced, and has multiple modulation destinations.

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A variety of FX are included for expanding further on whatever you can imagine. There are a delay, reverb, chorus, distortion with 6 types, phaser, 3 band EQ, and the killer vocoder. The FX in general are functional, but not exactly the best I’ve ever heard. To be honest I find the reverb and chorus to be particularly weak. What is cool about the FX is that they can be easily set in any order you like by simply holding the FX named button and then drag and drop. Choosing the order of course impacts how they will sound.
It’s the vocoder that stands out from the rest of the FX.

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Don’t try the vocoder with your built in mic, it’ll sound terrible. Plug in an iRig Mic or whatever you prefer, and then start using your voice to perform. Really, you gotta try it. Its a blast.
Speaking of performing, Arctic is well designed for just that. In addition to the adjustable keyboard you can choose to use the two X/Y pad. They can be routed however you like and add a lot of dimension.

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All in all Arctic ProSynth might not be the most versatile synth, but it is suited very well for those thick sounds. It gets big and loud like few others. There is always a place for a synth like this that specializes in doing something special, and doing it well.
It supports AudioCopy/Paste, Audiobus, and MIDI in&out! Inter-App Audio will be on its way soon.
Don’t let my observation of this being a distant choice for pads or the likes as Arctic is a fully loaded pistol ready to blow your head off in a way that just makes it a joy. We have seen far too many vintage analogue synth emulations or copies of things we have more than enough of. Arctic is different, and its the kind of different to be happy about.
I say get it. Why not? Different is good.
Available In iTunes

Here are some more screen shots.

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Thor Polysonic Synthesizer

Thor Polysonic Synthesizer
Made by: Propellerhead Software

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Remarkable, beastly, outstanding, monstrous, unearthly, incredible, you should get this synth.
That was the easiest review ever. Not enough? What? You want me to elaborate?
Oh, alright.

Every time I see a new iOS synth I get very excited. Don’t you? Well you should. Thor is no simple or run of the mill synth. Its a port of course, but a port that still has stones. Instead of a single synthesis type, Thor has 6 oscillator types! What? Yes 6. Analog, FM Pair, Wavetable, PhaseMod, Multi Oscillator, and Noise. Its can make for some nutty but thunderous combinations depending on how you apply them to the 3 available slots.
Add to the incredible selection of synth types, there’s 4 filter types for 3 slots. Then there’s a whole mess of routing options and modulations to dig into. It is a mind blowing collection of options that can lead to some of the most creative synth sounds imagined. Thor is godlike.
Kind of getting ahead of myself here, so ill expand in the order of the interface screens next.

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The functions and parameters that all make up Thor being numerous and complex, are thoughtfully contained in 3 main screens with collapsible and expandable sections. It might seem at a glance like there’s too many hoops to go through in order to make an adjustment, but what’s the alternative? Ive seen some complaints about this. When you think about it and understand how much stuff there is packed into Thor, those complaints boil down to being just nit picky, and painfully trivial. If everything were visible without consolidating, the interface would be a big mess full of tiny buttons, knobs and itty bitty text. What Propellerhead did to keep everything neat, clean and accessible works out nicely.

First is the “Keyboard” screen.
Pretty strait forward and self explanatory. This is where the performing is done. Select Mono or Polyphonic with adjustable portamento. There are 2 assignable rotary knobs and buttons. Adjustable pitch bend, modulation, and strum sliders reside on this screen. The Strum slider is fairly unique to synths & works as you might think. Hold a key or keys and strum away or tap “Hit” for a stab. It all can make for some unique play styles when applied together during recording or performance.
Also on this screen is the “Assist” function which is used to select scales and keys.
It all comes together smashingly for a very satisfying experience.

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Next we have the “Knobs” screen. This is where the magic happens. As I mentioned previously, you have 3 slots to apply any combination of the 6 oscillator types. 3 filter slots for the 4 available filter types, a “Shaper” unit with 9 shapes, a mixer, and all the routing. Plus there are 3 envelops and 2 LFOs.

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You might think it could get pretty crowded with all of these tools, and if it weren’t for the “Expand” function to help control space it would be.
Each piece has additional options for waveforms, speeds, types, in the form of drop down menus neatly contained within each unit. The sound designing capabilities are astronomical. Nothing has been diluted or compromised here at all.
With so many synthesis types available to combine with one another it could seem like Thor is a student of many but master of nothing. That would be an error. Each type can be controlled in great detail. The WaveTable for example is loaded up with many wavetable types for you to select from. No you can’t make your own wavetable, but there’s plenty to choose from. The 4 filter types Comb, LoPass Ladder, State Variable and Formant can be used in any combination (like the oscillators) in 3 separate slots. How you combine and route each of these will offer some sonic dimension that few synths can approach. Thor’s FX units are Delay and Chorus, and pretty darn good to boot.
All of your Thor creations can be moved to or from the Reason version of Thor.
The over used “playground” description seriously applies to Thor in the most sincere ways. This is really not just a playground but more like the Disneyland of sonic realms.

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The 3rd and final screen is called “Routing”. Here we have a comprehensive matrix for some massive routing and modulation options. Tweak signal flow and directions of each parameter with fine adjustments to just about anywhere. Its a relentless range of depth and possibilities. You can be as complex or simple as you wish with your routing. Additionally a micro keyboard is always available on the bottom of the “Knobs, and Routing” screens for you to audition your creations.

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In addition to the matrix on this Routing screen is a 16 step sequencer. One of the more detailed I’ve seen in a synth allowing fantastic control over each note, 2 curves, velocity, gate, and step durations. Select the order, skip notes, change direction, and speeds etc its all there. Super slow 16/4 to light speed 1/64 speeds.

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Thor is a class act. This synth is ridiculously rich with features and capabilities. Obviously I’ve left out a lot in order to keep this all at a decent length. Check out the Propellerhead Software site for more details.
Thor supports Audiobus Input, MIDI, and background audio. It works great with my iRig Keys. There doesn’t appear to be any ACP support, and no built in recording. That will be a disappointment to those who still prefer to do things that way.

To sum it all up I’d have to say that Thor on iPad is a monumental addition to the ever increasing library of pro quality options being delivered to iOS. Thor is complete, playable, and insanely deep. Creating synth sounds with loads of character and life are just the beginning. -(*edit) In case I’m not making myself clear, the resulting sounds can be amazing. Ive been enjoying the strong sonic capabilities Thor puts in my hands. Making thick, evolving pads that breath are my favorites, but any types can be made and sound great. You get out of it, what you put into it.- With over 1000 patches built in there’s plenty of inspiring sounds to mess with, but building from the ground up is where its at. The tools are there, its up to you to make it however you like. Experiment and have fun with it. The only thing that bugs me is there’s no way to share custom patches by email, and the color scheme of GUI is drab to me. Then again I am color blind, so maybe its delightful to others?
This is the kind of synth that will keep you hooked and coming back over and over to design sounds like no other. Its behaved well for me on my iPads 3&4 with no stability issues at all. Its recommended for iPad 2 and up. Sorry iPad 1 owners.
It is a legend born from Reason and having this on our iPads is a dream come true. Synth lovers rejoice! At the time I wrote this Thor is selling for $14.99 (USD) and that’s a bargain for what you’re getting here.

Thor is available in iTunes HERE

Couple extra screen shots:

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Galileo Organ – Review

Galileo Organ
Developed By: Yonac Inc

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Organs in general don’t usually pique my curiosity, much less much interest. Don’t get me wrong, they can bring something special to music, and many classics like Pink Floyd have immortalized the sound. I’ve tried some emulations on iOS, but haven’t ever felt like they offered much, and besides with a little effort most Organ sounds can be made in some of my synths.
Galileo Organ is a whole new ball game. For the first time in my life, an Organ made for iOS has knocked my socks off. This Organ is made by Yonac who also created the monstrous Magellan Synth, so you know its going to be good.

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Galileo is a professional virtual analog Organ design able to flawlessly emulate realistic Tonewheel, Transister, with “leakage”and other styles. It is complete with 3 rotary cabinet types, at 32bit DSP.
Officially it has 11 Organ types, but with some tweaking of the many parameters it is capable of emulating pretty much any Organ in existence. I think?
Somehow they managed to squeeze 3 configurable manuals with their drawbars (Hi, Lo keyboards and Pedals) all on to one screen.
Galileo has 48 polyphony, (I’m going to need more fingers?) brake/speed & slow/fast toggles.
Configurable rotary acceleration, brightness, drum to horn balance, and stereo mic separation.
They threw in just about every Organ related bells and whistles around.
I’m not an expert on Organs so a bunch of the Organ speak, is new lingo to me. I trust my ears, and what I am hearing with Galileo sounds beautiful.

Theres tons of technical specs here, and as usual to save space I suggest you check out YonacSoftwares Blog for the whole rundown.

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Packed with 240 carefully designed presets including a bank by Sunsine, have most bases covered for whatever Organ sound you’re looking for. Does Galileo do Hammond? Yep, and like I said above, pretty much every other as well.
Patch making is where I get the most giddy, and there is plenty of room here to create and save custom patches. Banks can also be shared. Which is very nice of you want to take your creations from one iDevice and put it on another.

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Galileos arpeggiator will feel right at home to Magellan users. Even if you haven’t used Magellan (are you insane?) you’ll find this arpeggiator intuitive. You can run simple patterns, or customize your own. You have control (dedicated note buffer for each of the 3 manuals) over the Hi,Lo, keyboards and Pedals in your Arps. Gate, Octave, Swing and note repeats are also under your command.

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The FX are of a breed that you might not find in most synths, which of course should make sense as this is an Organ. Some are familiar, but others are unique to Organs. They are split into 2 FX screens.

• 4 types of Wah-Wah with adjustable sweep range & emphasis
• Autowah module w/ 5 sweep curves, 3 follow modes, velocity tracking, settable rate, phase and bpm syncing
• Ring Modulator / Tremolo with fast & slow modes and adjustable depth
• Delay, Reverb & configurable FX signal path
The signal path mentioned is a slick touch, drag, and drop window.
The FX all sound great, and I have had an especially grand time messing around with the Wah-Wah.

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Recording and managing files are well done, and again designed in a familiar manner. The “Tape” screen is swiftly navigated making it a painless experience to record, and manage. Adjustable count in, record on touch, fixed record lengths, and all your importing and exporting is done smoothly here.

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No iOS music app would be complete without Audiobus, standard sharing, and MIDI supports.
Galileo is complete with Audiobus Input, and FX slot support. General and Sonoma AudioCopy/Paste.
The MIDI implementation is robust with 3 IO channels, over 130 control destinations, keyboard splitting, sustain and expression supports etc.
All the MIDI stuff is accessed from the “Pref” screen, where you’ll also find 50 or so scales to assign whatever key you wish.
Yonac has done another bang up job with offering yet anther full and complete new music app to enjoy.

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Having enjoyed YonacSoftwares MagellanSynth for a while, it is no surprise to me that Galileo would be of the same high caliber. Its stable, clean, and sounds so damn good. I really can’t find anything to complain about. I am suddenly now a fan of Organs thanks to the sublime design and execution of this app. If you’re a die hard Organ lover, I dare say you won’t be disappointed by Galileo one bit. Even folks like me who would normally be apathetic to such instruments would find this worth a very close look. You’ll likely start looking for ways to incorporate Galileo into your music.
Its just that good.

Highly recommended. Must Have!

Turnado – Review

Turnado
Developed by: Sugar Bytes

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UPDATED REVIEW 5-26-2013
Just a little one, but Turnado now supports landscape as well as portrait.

It sure would be nice if there were a really good multi/real-time live effects unit with tons of modulation parameters and full customization. If only I could find something like this that does a good job on my iPads…
Wait! What’s this? Well, here it is! “Turnado.” That’ll do very nicely.

A massive live effects rack focused more on tripping out beats, but just as awesome for any sample to mangle.
This thing is ridiculous. Insane. Massive. Insert your favorite exclamation of joy . Easy & packed deep with very interesting effects of all kinds.

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This cavern full of effects fits nicely on the iPad in portrait view. Understandable at first look. Not overly complex. Its deceptively simple, with a wild multitude of adjustable parameters to lose oneself in a bottomless pit of effects possibilities. I mean this thing is deep!

Getting started is a snap. Just tap the presets menu and select one, or tap the dice ( die ) to randomly generate 8 different FX that you can control simultaneously with either the 8 associated effects knobs, or the 4 X/Y pads controlling 2 FX at a time correlating with those knobs. Select a factory sample, loop it, and just boogie with the 4 pads live. You can also drag FX units from the list of 24 professional grade algorithms, and drop in whichever slot you like. Great also for quickly replacing something.
Turnado is immediately satisfying and crazy fun. This is only the beginning though. Beyond the easy start, you can dig way further into each of the effects to make some very cool sounds. This is modulation tweaking paradise.

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Some of Turnados features:
Turnado supports Audiobus input and effects slots. Import your own samples via ACP (audio copy paste), iTunes File Share, and music library. It is also compatible with “Jack”. Full MIDI support and clock sync. Adjustable buffer down to a speedy 64! Background Audio capable. Its all ready and waiting for you. There’s way too many specs and features to list. Visit Turnados Web sight for all the details: HERE
As good as the factory samples are, nothing beats your own.

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Loading from the many FX carefully designed presets that fit pretty much any occasion is sweet for a quick run. Where Turnado really shows itself off is in the individual FX “Edit” screens. You’ll notice that each of the FX units have a little “Edit” button on them. Go ahead, tap it!
Whammo! Adjustable parameters galore. Welcome to the modulation candy store.

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Now you have all the pieces that make the effect live and breathe. You can easily end up in a vortex where time stands still with the amazing amount of sound options here. Imagine it, tweak it, and experiment with it all. I’ve spent many hours in this screen creating numerous presets of my own. There is so much to discover. Once you find and hear what you like save it to call up from the user list.

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The portion of the screen where all the editing is done can feel a bit tight, and small. No problem, double tap it and it zooms in. The zoom can also be disabled if you wish.
The FX are pretty amazing. As I mentioned already they are high quality, and focused on beat manipulation more than anything else. You’ll find numerous filters, slicers, loopers, wobblers, and so on. No worries if, like me, you would like to use Turnado for more than just beats. It is complete with excellent delays, and reverbs to boot. Sugar Bytes thought this through offering so many FX types, styles and options.

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They created a fantastic controller called “Dictator” that can control each of the 8 FX knobs and countless parameters with a single slider. This is a real treat and leads to some monstrous sound designs. Again, the Dictator is customizable and offers lots of preset configurations. Its unique, powerful and just plain crazy.

I can’t find anything terribly serious to complain about. The only issues I experienced using Turnado on iPads 3&4 were with the edit screen. It has during playback caused unwanted skipping or stuttering with each touch of that screen. A few times when I was really pushing Turnado hard by working all the FX at once, I temporarily lost audio. Only one crash on my iPad 3. These could be a problem in a live performance, not so much in your studio. Its early yet for the iOS version of Turnado.
I don’t expect these to linger. Sugar Bytes is quick to make fixes as demonstrated with a recent update already fixing some minor bugs. I’m not worried, and it doesn’t effect my feelings on this incredible app.

Highly recommended! Buy Turnado from iTunes HERE

You will definitely have lots of fun.