Updated Review

Periodically previously reviewed apps will see significant updates. As often as I can, I will update my review of it.

GeoSynth app review

Virtually Amazing!

Original Review based on use with iPad 1 and iPod Touch 3GS, Additionally used on iPads 3 & 4

 Now available in the iTunes app store:

UPDATED: 7-19-2013
GeoSynth now supports Audiobus! It’s been a really long wait, but it’s finally become far more useful. Geo has been a fine midi controller, but was stymied by having no significant updates for ages. That’s over, and GeoSynth joins the ranks of the best and most useful music apps.

It’s been one helluva push forward for new iOS music apps and Virtual Core MIDI recently. The technology is really a happy accident of sorts. Developers are exploiting some electronic doorways to create a feature that allows us to have MIDI controllers on our iDevices that control other apps running in the background on the same device. Cool huh? No more wires needed. Of course the standard wired MIDI support is featured for those who still enjoy being tethered to their external hardware. GeoSynth is the latest to exploit the Virtual Core MIDI feature (VMC), and brings us probably the most unique of virtual MIDI instruments with a very logical and colorful interface.

Easily one of the more expressive playing surfaces that can be configured to fit your playing styles.
A lot of attention went in to GeoSynth to be a premiere live performance instrument utilizing the touch surfaces of which ever iOS device you prefer. It’s hard to not feel like you’re playing a futuristic instrument from Blade Runner or something. Tapping and or dragging your happy fingers on the cells and anywhere in between, and exploring the wicked pitch bendy responses between notes makes for a grand time. It’s truly a spectacular instrument, and way too much fun to play!

For more information on GeoSynth visit Wizdom Music:

GeoSynth features many of Jordan Rudess’ custom sounds. The team really chose some very cool sounds for the 40 presets covering a fairly wide range of moods and flair. If you aren’t satisfied with those, well, it’s a MIDI instrument so go get your own. No problem. I’ve been enjoying all the presets offered, and exploring Geo as a VCM controller for Arctic Keys running in the background on my iPad1. Very cool, but I found that my iPad1 is grossly under powered. The quality of the experience diminished in result. However with some careful tweaking of the settings, and trying to not do too much all at once, I was able to enjoy the pleasures of VCM, and Arctic was able to record my brief session which I then was able to copy and paste elsewhere.
Which brings me to my next point, and serious gripe.
Being such a technological advance that Geo is, taking great advantage of the newest wireless capabilities as well as supporting standard MIDI connectivity, there is NO recording, or audio copy paste? To me, it’s a glaring omission that defies logic. I might even call it a blunder. It’s quite baffling to have such an advanced virtual instrument that plays and sounds so damn amazing, but utterly fails to include the most fundamental of expected iOS music app features:  record, and ACP.
To be fair if you are already hooked up to an external set up or whatever, don’t care about mobility, and love your cables then rock on, this is perfect for you.
For the rest of us, this lack of basic sharing many of us have come to expect renders the instrument inert. More or less a very cool toy.

I did email Wizdom Music and asked, WTFrak? I received a very nice response from customer support that, and this isn’t a quote, but for sake of being brief boils down to this; development is ongoing, there always remains the possibility of additional features being added to satisfy users. Vague, but not a hopeless response.

Whatever the case is for the future of GeoSynth, and no matter it’s present day offerings, it IS a very nice, highly entertaining virtual instrument with huge possibilities. Geo is ground breaking, and loaded with easy to use, high quality features. You’ll find a nice long reverb, stereo delay, gain control, octave, adjustable 5th harmonics synthesis, easy connectivity to SampleWiz accessing its waveforms, attack, release controls, and low pass filter with resonance. There’s a lot that GeoSynth offers. It does exactly what it says it does, exceeding my expectations as a MIDI instrument that is insanely fun to play!

This is perfect for live performances, and is highly responsive to user input on the fly.

For more information and support visit Wizdom Music

GeoSynth is too cool to pass up.  Be patient.  If you’re like me and feel a tad maligned by its lack of basic recording and audio copy paste features, I believe it’s a safe bet they will address this soon. Fingers crossed.

I’m scoring it twice.
3 Stars for folks like me who are entirely wireless, waiting for Recording and ACP.
5 Stars for those wrapped in wires, and not concerned with mobility.

Either way, it’s pretty damn nice! Now available in the iTunes app store:

Updated: Feb- 17 – 2013

No Update!?!?!?
I thought it curious that despite the developer comments, GeoSynth updates have not been err…updated. What the flip?

* Previously I had entered a lot of my own opinion in this updated review. It turned into some rant. Really I should not have. This is a review not an OpEd. I also suggested this is of no use as anything but a MIDI controller. That was stupid. Of course its used very well as a controller. That’s what it is after all. I made the wrong point while I was displeased with the lack of progress. Sorry to my dear readers for that absurd comment. My point was to suggest that having this developed a bit more for a wider range of uses and convenience is what has been lacking. It doesn’t desperately need Audiobus as whatever it controls (Such as virtual midi) sends the audio from its AB input to record in whatever output. Its just a bit of a hassle not being able to start the recording from within Geo. I would be more forgiving if it hadn’t been so very long without any significant updates.

The issue that I failed to express concern for was about trusting further development. Geo is a great controller. One of the coolest around. The question really is, should it be bought considering its not seen any significant developments for over a year? Part of what I weigh my recommendations on is trust. I think that is important. That said, and despite how much I like Geo, I can’t honestly recommend it as is.

ACP was spurned, then offered as an expected compromise, then forgotten. Audiobus has arrived ending the AudioCopy/Paste debate, and (Thank God!) the need. Will GeoSynth ever grow?

SampleWiz App Review: The Wonderful Wiz Of Ahhs

UPDATED 7-19-2013

Wizdom Music has finally taken this (Including GeoSynth, and MorphWiz) fantastic app to the next level. Audiobus support is here! No more fussing with the time limited recording function. Sorry if you liked that. It’s definitely a very welcome update to a great app that has suffered in many iOS users dust folders of non-Audiobus supported apps. So get to it! Sampling and re-sampling is easier than ever.

Update!!! 9-7-2011
SampleWiz has just seen a nice update that brings us MIDI support, 12 new cool presets. Also added to Sample Wiz in this update is support for AirTurn Pedal to change presets, and function to disable animation, and finger vibrato.
Review prior to this update follows.

OK, corny title, I couldn’t resist.
Jordan Rudess of Wizdom Music brings us a new, fascinating and fun sampler in SampleWiz.
This review is based on use with iPad 1. But it is also compatible with 3rd generation iPod and up.

Right away you’ll notice a colorful and simple interface that is very strait forward and easy to understand.
The design looks cool with some unique visualizations, depending on what you are doing. It lights up under your fingers both literally and figuratively providing a very smooth work flow not to mention looking great.
If you are familiar with Wizdoms MorphWiz you will see right away that this was designed with ease of use in mind. Customers asked for less complexity, and they got it. SampleWiz looks easy but is also quite elegant.

The preset samples are a nice variety of sounds from leads to a friendly thank you from it’s creators. While there is no way to record a performance, there is however a resample feature which allows you to create all new samples created from the presets. Recording is limited though to 10 seconds. When I asked Wizdom Music about this, I received a very logical and satisfying explanation from one of it’s creators named Kevin. He said: “Jordan and I considered adding a recorder for longer performances, but we felt that it compromised the feel of the app and would lead to the unintuitive juxtaposition of the resampling option and another record option.”
Makes sense. It works fine as is. Sounds great to me. I would however like a little more than 10 seconds. Still, this is nothing to be overly concerned with.                            

The playing surface isn’t limited to just a keyboard. There’s 3 playing surfaces in all. In addition to the keyboard (which is adjustable) you can further express you creative juices using the Wave Edit screen, and or the ADSR window.

The sampler has three modes. Classic sampling which is the common method where samples speed up or slow down as you play over or under the samples original pitch.
Granular mode is fun, with adjustable grain size and speed. You can twist up and granulate your samples to your hearts content.  The notes retain the speed they were recorded in.
Last is Modern Mode. A new way to explore sampling  using “Dirac” technology, this automatically adjusts time and formant over a selected range.

For a full list of specs check out SampleWiz in the iTunes app store.

 You will find lots of control over your samples from playing to editing. All the features you expect like trimming, cropping, standard looping, forward or reverse, ping pong (plays forward and reverse in loop). Adjusting and selecting a wide range of scales, BPM selection and lots more. You can have one or two keyboards, and if you choose two both can be set to have it’s own different scale and range of your choosing.

Hold, is a neat feature that allows you to select and hold notes just as it says, and the held notes can have a different synthesis mode. This is very nice allowing even more expression and avenues to explore samples and new possibilities.

SampleWiz sounds very nice. I didn’t notice any compromise is audio quality during hours of use with all the various settings.
As far as FX go there is a solid delay. Really SampleWiz is a big FX unit in a way.
I would like to see some more FX. Adding Reverb, would be great.

Some users were experiencing low memory problems causing their first generation iPads to crash. I didnt experience any crashes myself but they already updated that with a fix. Nice to see such speedy action with a solution.

All in all if you’re looking for a nice, highly capable sampler with lots of possibilities to create unique sounds, instruments, or just have a grand time. SampleWiz delivers. It has appeal to pros and newbies as well. The ever important sharing capabilities are here with MAPI copy paste,(with compatible apps) and iTunes file share, both allow you to bring in (or out) new samples of your own and use them just as well as the presets. SampleWiz looks great, sounds great, and is loads of fun. At $9.99 US, it’s a good buy for all.

PS Occasionally I get various promo codes, so stay tuned. I’m all out of SampleWiz codes for now.

5 stars. Get it.

Meteor MultiTrack Recorder Hits Earth: Review.

UPDATED REVIEW: 7-24-2013

So much had changed with Meteor since I first wrote about it when I first started blogging. Lots has changed for me as well. This iDAW has grown quite a bit. Now Meteor has 16 tracks that can be upgraded to 24 tracks via IAP. Full Audiobus support. Expanded and improved MIDI options, you can buy. New instruments via IAP. Solid FX. Its still got a lot of menus. Meteors workflow might grow on you, but I cant honestly say its grown on me. There are tons of helpful features included to help you make the most of your music projects. Somewhere.

There’s a few things that bug me about Meteor preventing me from falling in love with it and despite my initial joyous feelings, I just don’t get Meteor today. Maybe its me?
The U.I. is all about menus. Sure everything you need is somewhere in one of them, but its just too much for my taste. There is still always noticeable clipping when loops meet. Unlike every other iDAW I’ve used, Meteor has some quirk with playing a succession of copied loops back to back in a track without an audible click at every single meeting point. WHY? Is there a “Knock that shit off” setting somewhere that I can’t find? Every other iDAW I have used plays perfectly without any clicks in the exact same scenario without any fuss. Its beyond my patience level having to find the cause, when it simply shouldn’t be there to begin with, like every other iDAW.

They charge extra for the EQ. WTF?
No iDAW should ever sell without a decent EQ included. Its a primary tool. Adding a much more powerful EQ like a 10 band and selling that is fine, but to not include a basic 4 band parametric EQ or Graphic EQ is lame in my opinion. That being the case, and unless 4Pockets comes to their senses, I don’t recommend buying it. Get the “Audio Mastering” app instead. Its a better option anyway, so since you have to pay either way, you may as well get the best you can.
Meteor is pretty sophisticated, and powerful with complex tools. It seems to be more of a MIDI oriented machine which could be why I am unable to bond with it? Speaking of MIDI you can record and play MIDI, but not do any editing without buying the MIDI Editor upgrade. Really? There’s just too many hoops to jump through to get simple things done for my taste. I’m not saying Meteor is bad. Not at all. Its just not my cup of tea. Maybe it will be yours?

——-

UPDATE Fall 2011- Paul, From 4Pockets, makers of Meteor sent me the beta with many of the new features that will be in the next app update V1.1.
Most notable new features are that STEREO recording and STEREO tracks with “Pure Stereo Importing” are going to be added. The Editing suite has been upgraded, and so have the FX for stereo inserts, and channels. I love this!

Several additional improvements will be made to the menus, custom color selection for song parts. Midi capabilities like record and playback midi tracks with easy syncing via midi clock with other hardware.

I want to Thank Paul at 4Pockets for sharing this great news with me.

Original Review from June 2011 follows.
In a sea of 8 multitrack recorder apps for iPad, finally someone offers a nice 12 tracks. I should start right off with saying though I love Meteor, those 12 tracks are all MONO. Now before anyone flips out like I did, this doesnt mean everything you do in Meteor has to be MONO. Ill cover that more later in this review.

Meteor is setting itself apart by offering a number of features including a very robust FX collection. It comes with Stereo Reverb, Digital Delay, and Chorus Flanger. Applying these via the 3 global send FX bus’ is where the best capabilities of the FX shine above most any other similar multitrack apps.
You are not limited to only global FX, and can insert (mono) FX effecting only the selected track. They’ve added a nice little “FX Freeze” feature for adding multiple FX to various tracks that while in use reduces what would otherwise be a huge CPU killer.
This is a big deal, as many of the other studio multitrack apps dont really have a solution to this issue. Thus they are more limited in the quality of their FX. Its tough to even find a decent Stereo Reverb, but finally Meteor brings us a fantastic Stereo Reverb without causing the iPads CPU from exploding.

In addition to the 3 excellent  FX suites that are included, there is the option to purchase more FX units via the in app store at a modest price around $3 each. This helps keep the cost down and if you really need or want more you can add them anytime.Those additional FX are Compressor, Graphic Eq, Distortion, and Video Import. More are on the way.
But Meteor doesn’t stop at offering just great FX, it also has a 12 channel integrated mixer to tweak and fine tune every detail track by track. 2 Level indicators at the top help avoid blasting out speakers by showing you in real time how much sound is being pumped out. Of course you have full comand of pan, volume, mute, solo, all 3 FX send bus levels here.
By the way the mixer and FX can all be automated. Nice.
The Integrated Sample Editor does all that one would expect. Slice and dice imported audio files, insert silence, fade in or out, tweak FX, Normalize, numerous quantize settings, and create new clips in a non destructive environment. Of course you can also record audio directly from the iPad internal mic, or use any other compatible microphone such as the iRig Mic that I use with monitoring toggle.
I could spend a lot of time talking about every little feature but Im going to stick to the more important things in my review. I will note quickly some other critical and/or desired features. Meteor has full pasteboard support allowing copy/paste in or out between other compatible apps. Theres a Metronome with various settings to suit your needs, automatice delay compensation, and iPod library importing of songs, or samples from your iPod, and exporting compressed .CAF or non compressed .WAV file formats.
The overall user interface takes full advantage of the multitouch capabilities of the iPad, and is laid out logically and intuitively. I find nothing to be complicated or confusing. This interface brings a pleasant work environment that promotes an even more pleasant ease of work flow. All menus and drop downs are easy to find, and if you do find yourself lost at any point there is in app Help, and even further support via the 4Pockets.com video tutorials.  
Now on to my concern about MONO tracks. Personally I prefer and need stereo tracks. After some email exchanges with Paul, the big brain behind Meteor, I have come to appreciate why he chose MONO over Stereo.
You just cant have all the high quality FX and Stereo tracks at the same time. It would literally crash the CPU. Its just one of the limitations of the iPad so far. Paul did mention without promising anything that he will try to figure out something to provide better stereo systems or whatever, I am no tech expert. So for now Meteor is kind of a 6 stereo track recorder. I mean that in order to get the stereo effect you need to place the same audio file in two tracks running simultaneously. Yes, this does eat up tracks very fast, but thankfully he thought of that and the solution is a mix down facility to turn those two tracks into one. It’s quite easy, and it works great. No compromises in audio quality. However it is a slightly tedious extra step to consider that doesnt really fit in the desired workflow perfectly.  I am very interested in seeing what solutions he comes up with to eliminate this issue.
Overall Meteor Multitrack is an elegant design that proves to be highly capable despite device limits. Its proof that creative app engineering can bring consumers a very potent audio work station that covers most of the major functions you find in some desktop DAWs. While nothing on iPad is close really to competing head on with any desk top DAWs, Meteor shows that we are nearing a new era of music production in an entirely new way. In the end its all about audio quality. Does what I make on my iPad sound as good as anything else? I think the answer is yes. Meteor is a considerable leap forward, and I say should be part of any iPad musician’s arsenal of music apps. At $19.99 it’s certainly an excellent value, all things considered. Plus, you are not only getting a fantastic music production application, but are also buying from a developer who cares deeply for his products and design. User input is encouraged, acknowledged, and in some cases implemented. Customer service is stellar, and that’s important. You dont want to get anything and then find your concerns being totally ignored. It doesn’t feel right, and fails to inspire confidence in the product you paid good money for. That is something you will not worry about here.
Thumbs Up…5 Stars…Buy it. Use it. Love it.

Nano Studio on iPad review, NOW Supporting iPad Native.

UPDATED REVIEW: July 24 2013

Its been an awfully long time sense I updated this review. Sorry about that.
As you may already know, Nano Studio now supports Audiobus! Hooray! Its a fantastic addition to one of the most recognized mini DAWs for iOS. The way Audiobus works with Nano takes some getting used to, but it works well. Nano is still probably one of the very best for those starting out, or even pros. Its so versatile and uncomplicated that anyone can get a long way with this. The Eden synth is a classic, and easily worth the price on its own. This has always been a winner, and looks like that will continue.

Original Review:

Updated 12-10-2011

I’m so excited to see Nano Studio get updated to support iPad native. The interface is crisp and clean, and they made better use of screen space with much improved positioning of features, functions, etc.
Everything is just as great as ever, but now it just looks better, and that feels good while working with the app. Thankfully, a lot of careful thought went into the updade keeping the original feel with the same friendly, intuitive work space, now with sharper visual presentation and layout. Stability is just as reliable as ever, and everything I’ve raved about in the past remains just as fantaststic.
Nano Studio has surpassed the competition, and somehow manages to do everything right.
Clearly this is the leader for iOS studio apps when it comes to creating electronic music. This has been well worth the wait.

Read on for my original review below.

This app kicks the competition to the curb, even with 2 less tracks than the typically seen 8 track apps.  I have all the serious DAWs that iOS offers, such as; Multitrack DAW, Music Studio, Studio HD, Meteor, BeatMaker1&2, GarageBand (reviews for those coming soon), etc. Not one of those can do all that Nano Studio can.  At $14.99 for the basic 6 track version, it’s the best I’ve seen.

One reviewer at  iTunes  wrote that it’s missing some TRG (trigger pad banks) tracks, but that is not true.  The basic version has a huge amount of trigger pads you can use.  I would not hesitate to get this basic version.  If you are a serious musician, I would also spring for the upgrade for an extra $5.

Upgrade:
For just $5 more, I upgraded with the 16 tracks for instruments.   It’s unreal! This is more than enough for most serious artists. Seriously, Nano Studio with the 16 track upgrade has just taken over as my favored work station. No reason any serious musician would find anything troubling at all.  It never crashes, it’s stereo, it’s high quality, it has great FX, excellent mixing capabilities, wave editor, etc… it does everything I need. Forget most everything, including BeatMaker 2. None of them can keep up with Nano. They all have good points, but they all fail to deliver a one stop work station.

That said, I use NS on my iPad 1 (and 3rd generation iPod) despite no native support, and it’s the most reliable and deepest of all the iOS work stations.
The Eden synths are fantastic. It has two strong, robust mono and polyphonic synthesizers, with amazing presets full of rich variety. It is full of tweaking abilities with envelope, oscillators, mods, filters, waveforms,  and patching. It even has X,Y pads to add textures in real time.
You can chain and insert FX, or global, each track can be mixed with the on board mixer, and everything can be automated including pans, fades etc. Don’t forget a highly optimized waveform editor to play with your imported files. AND a full mix down facility, and exporting via general pasteboard. I think I got it all? If I missed a detail, rest assured, Nano Studio didn’t.

As  a recording artist who uses iPad exclusively for all my music, I need reliability, stability, quality, and freedom. Nano Studio gives me all of that and more.
The basic version, though very capable alone, it didn’t quite suit my needs. But now, it’s over the top. Spend the $20 total (with the $5 in app purchase for 16 tracks) and you’ll not need any other work station or so called studio type app. I can’t wait for it to get gussied up with native iPad support, and maybe even a better user interface taking advantage of added screen space?  Still, even scaled up on the iPad there is no compromise in any of the audio quality or functions–maybe just a little fuzzy in the graphics., but no big deal.
Not only can you count on Nano Studio to do everything you need ie, pasting files from other apps to one of the Eden synths, or TRG pads, sampling, audio sampling, and re-sampling too.
With Nano Studio you don’t need a computer anymore except for storing files or as a back up. The iPad and Nano Studio together have all but made music making on a PC or Mac obsolete.
It’s just getting better.

This app is to iOS devices what Logic Pro is to Mac Pros. Not the same, just equally impressive all things considered. Get it.