Sound FX

VOX, and Other Audio Manipulation For Effect

WOW Filterbox – Review

WOW Filterbox
Sugar Bytes

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Do you have a sweet tooth for wild filter effects and crazy modulation? Chomp down on SugarBytes’ latest iOS effects app, WOW Filterbox.

After SugarBytes brought us the clinically insane Turnado multi FX app, I wasn’t sure what to expect from them next. WOW arrived a couple of months ago, and turned my filtering effects cravings upside down. This app is drenched in all kinds of twisted awesomeness.
What is WOW? The question might be better put, what isn’t WOW? 21 filter types, 7 distortions (3 beautiful analog-emulated distortions), and vast modulation parameters all packed neatly into a slick user interface for full real time control.

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This highly adjustable, programmable filter FX app is bursting with modulation options. 3 independently programmable and controllable X/Y units allow 6 parameters to be run simultaneously, all manipulated by touch to alter the sound in real time.
Take your samples and in WOW you can make them sound schizophrenic to sublime. A new dimension of sound FX options that go beyond just simple effects and sounds such as: trance-style gated sequences, broad sweeps, beats, alien attacks, Oompa Loompas screaming in agony, talking 80s mannequins, worrisome wobbles, or whatever you can think of.
Fun? Oh yeah! Useful? Hell yes!

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Point is, whatever sample you start with can be so drastically modulated and filtered that it sounds like something entirely different. It isn’t a requirement, but it is what WOW does best. With so many parameters to mess with, the filter world is at your disposal.
No other app around today has this much filter and modulation power.
It all sounds great too. The app has clearly been well engineered to produce excellent audio quality. SugarBytes says the distortions have been carefully crafted to produce the best harmonics with “anti aliasing” for “high definition audio”. It can get demanding on early generation devices, but on iPads 3&4 it has behaved well for me.

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Ultra low latency of 64, up to a more stable 512.
WOW is Audiobus compatible, can also record in the app, and save in the internal files manager. AudioCopy/Paste, full MIDI support, Jack, iTunes FileShare, BackGround Audio, and more round out a deep features list.

For more details check out SugarBytes website.

WOW is also available as a plugin (via IAP) in Auria. If you already bought the WOW stand-alone app, you do not have to pay again to use it in Auria. Nice.

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WOW Filterbox is literally something that will make you say “Wow!”

The more I explore this app, the more I love it. There are plenty of factory presets to choose from, and the depth of complexity that comes with customizing your own sound is what makes this app a true marvel to behold.
I’ve found the interface to be very smooth and well made. There are times when, selecting an option from one of the drop downs, the text descriptions are tiny and I have accidentally selected the wrong thing. That might be a concern for exploring the app during a live performance; however with the option to create your own user presets, those problems can be avoided.
I’ve not encountered any significant issues, and recommend WOW Filterbox to anybody looking for a deep and interesting (not to mention fun) way to create great modulated, filtering effects at any level.

Available in iTunes

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.

AD 480 Pro – Reverb App Review

AD 480 Pro

Developed By: Fiedler Audio

Available in iTunes App Store

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They said you can’t get a high quality reverb on iOS. They said you can’t do a lot of things with iOS. They were right to some extent, but that was a while ago. Now of course a very large number of high quality tools & options exist for making professional quality music productions.
iOS Reverb options had been difficult to defend and honestly refer to as “professional” or “high quality” for a while. With increased device power (still relatively underpowered) and evolving development, the past several months have seen a boom in high powered music apps of all sorts.
Now AD480 Pro has come along to offer us a very nice quality stand alone reverb app. This is not your Grandmas “FreeVerb”.

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You probably know by now that I love Reverb. If you didn’t, well, now you do. Reverb is a powerful effect giving most any sound a boost in warmth, depth, and wideness. Its very useful, and found nearly everywhere in music. It is a power hungry effect. Which is why early iOS music apps could never really deliver a high quality option. There was even a time when professionals would laugh at the idea of a digital reverb emulation ever being possible. Of course computers have rapidly moved forward and had numerous digital Reverb options at a very high quality standard for years. iOS however is just beginning to join the party.

AD480 Pro is the first high end, stand alone reverb app to hit the App Store, but not the very first high quality or professional reverb option (See my Auria – Plug Ins & FX review series) available to iOS musicians. But, this is about stand alone FX apps, so I’ll stay on track.
This really does sound amazing!
AD480 Pro is a unique algorithm created by Future Audio, inspired by legendary reverb units such as “Lexicon” and the likes. They wanted to develop a reverb that can reproduce any acoustic space imaginable. Furthermore they wanted to make it easy to use with a bevy of adjustable parameters and routing options for the user to manipulate to their liking.
I think they were successful on all counts with AD480 Pro.

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AD480 Pro has a great sound. A really great sound! It is fully Audiobus compatible supporting “Input”, “Effects” and “Output” slots.
It is easy to use in any situation such as playing live, in the studio, a park or practically anywhere. There’s no shortage of possibilities to create a wide margin of reverberation effects.
Having control over Hi/Lo filter frequencies, levels, dampness, cutoffs, spread, mix, and many more parameters will offer you a multitude of sound types. With 108 presets covering a wide spectrum of sounds, there’s plenty of stuff ready to go and or build off of. Create and save your own patches and banks for easy use another time.
The cross feed parameters have a powerful effect, but may not always be necessary. I had been experimenting with these and hearing some added metallic sounds I wanted no part of.
So I asked Future Audio about it and here is what they said:
“The cross feed parameter group was introduced to allow a well defined behavior of the reverb for stereo signals which are not located in the middle of the panorama but much more on the left or right statically. If you have a sound like a nice broad stereo pad or similar things you actually don’t need that parameter group unless you intend to produce some special effect.”

That was a helpful explanation. It made so much sense to me that I felt silly asking the question.
It goes to show you that they are very proud of AD480 Pro and eager to help.

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There’s no shortage of routing options for MIDI uses, and under the hood is a mighty engine. Here are some additional features at a glance:
24 input and output channel routing matrix.
Internal/ external USB class compliant audio interfaces supported.
Full MIDI communication support via network, & USB-MIDI & internal (virtual) MIDI.
Super low latency from 64 samples up.
Sample rate support for 44.1 to 96 kHz
Low Light Mode – Looks pretty cool by the way.
And more.

There are plenty of functions and parameters available to explore the world of reverb.
Nothing fancy like modulations, tuning, or springs etc, but plenty to make excellent sounding reverb space effects. Space, as in a space like a room, not deep space. You can however create deep space reverb sound effects though. Imagine a star destroyers massive hanger bay after all the fighters departed. Vast! It can be done as big or small, cold or warm as you want.
I had no instances where I felt I was unable to achieve the sound I was looking for. When I wanted a warm feel or a deep space chill, it was no problem. I never felt like I was using some old cheap sounding FreeVerb algorithm. What I’ve been hearing from AD480 Pro has been very satisfying and truly professional sounding. I’ve not experienced any crashing even when using Audiobus with this, an input and an output app. Its been stable on both my iPads 3&4.
My only complaints are there’s no recording function, & no AudioCopy/Paste. That dings the convenience factor in my opinion. My other stand alone reverb app is much better for recording directly into it, and or importing and exporting samples between other apps without having to rely on Audiobus or bounce around from app to app.
I was also a little disappointed in the lack of a chorus or other modulation parameters considering the price. Some modulation options might be added, and more presets at a later time, but as IAPs.
I get the IAP for modulation, but for presets? The following in this paragraph alone has been edited with additional content Maybe its because I do my own sound design, and find the parameters of this app to be pretty strait forward, but selling presets in this case just seems silly to me. Just my opinion. Maybe its a great idea to offer professionally designed presets via IAP? Could it be a good value for folks who either don’t feel comfortable trying to make their own, or just don’t want to spend the time? What do you think? Leave a comment, Id love to hear your thoughts, and I think the developer might appreciate it as well?

Minor gripes aside, its about the quality of the app and AD480 Pro oozes quality. Considering that a comparable desktop plug in would cost many times more than this, AD480 is a good value. Just a little inconvenient in certain situations.

Recommended.

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Master Record – App Review

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Master Record
Developed By: Igor Vasiliev iMusicAlbum

Available in iTunes App Store HERE

Remember when you had to put an audio cassette tape in your old Tascam PortaStudio to record music? Remember the warm hiss that analogue tape added? You don’t? Really? Yikes, I’m really showing my age I guess.

Well anyway, before technological advances that brought us luxuries like gravity, oxygen, and iPads, we had to record our music up hill! Both ways, when I was young! Dag nabbit!
Now we have insanely easy ways to record. No more tapes, reels, or whatever. No more unwanted noise.

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So now we have “Master Record” available for us to enjoy recreating the noisy analogue tape recordings from yesteryear. But, why?
Turns out there are plenty of folks who appreciated the warm hiss that tape forced upon us. With this app though, that noise is completely under the users control. You can crank it up and have your recordings sound like they were done behind a waterfall, or remove it completely. Whatever you want.

Master Record is a convenient way to record just about anything, from any audio source. Wherever you choose. It works with the iRig Mic (among many other mics) and is Audiobus compatible with the Effect and Output slots. Import or export using AudioCopy/Paste, Open In, Internal web service via WiFi and of course iTunes File Share. Moving recordings to and from Master Record is covered well. It needs Dropbox support though.

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More than anything this app is best suited for adding analogue tape sound effects, rather than a go to recorder. It can warm up recordings with its 4 unique analogue tape noise emulations, and its “Tape Saturator” with 3 variants. There are also the “Flutter” effects with 3 frequency types and a basic 2 band shelf EQ for input corrections. So there’s plenty of options to manage and create the desired effects.
The “Flutter” however really doesn’t seem to do anything at all. I’ve tried maxing it in several experiments with various audio, but it has no noticeable effect on anything.
I suppose the effects this app generates are meant to be subtle, and very specific. In regards to that, it does a great job. So don’t go in expecting to get anything but analogue tape effects out of Master Record.

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Master Record has a nice waveform view screen which also provides an environment to adjust fades. 3 envelope fade types ( just like in the Audio Mastering App which looks nearly identical to this app) to choose from and detailed positioning with pin point accuracy.
This is simply a recording app, but it would benefit from some editing tools. That would boost its appeal, making it much more useful and practical. As a stand alone recorder with no wave editing, that for the most part doesn’t do much except produce a niche sound type, Master Record has me on the fence whether or not to recommend it widely.

Yes! This does do a very good job with emulating analogue tape noise, has dubbing, a good array of tweakable parameters for warming recordings and adding body. But that’s about it. This is one of those very specific “job-type” apps. If you really want to have an excellent way to reproduce certain tape sound types, and make perfect digital recordings sound more natural, then look no further. If you don’t have a strong desire for this specific sound, then you probably won’t have much need for this particular app.

AUFX:Space – Review

AUFX: Space
A High Quality Reverb From: Kymatica
Available Now From iTunes App Store

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Reverb is one of those FX that is found almost everywhere. It’s used in so many settings. From ambient electronic to heavy metal, reverb is in most any music. It’s not just an effect for music, but also something that occurs naturally in seemingly mundane places. Basements, cathedrals, auditoriums, arenas, and caves to name a few. It is often equated to vast space. Sometimes outer space, which is ironic as sound doesn’t carry in a vacuum. Sure that’s not literal when referring to reverb in terms of space with stars and planets, but it does represent the vastness that reverb can convey.

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So “Space” is a good descriptive word when we are talking about reverb. AUFX: Space, is the latest and the first in a series of effects units being developed by Kymatica. You may know of Kymatica from their other highly useful and quality apps like “AudioShare” “BitWiz” and “Gestrument” among others.
What the rest of the AUFX series turns out to include remains to be seen, but “Space” is a great start. Reverb and iOS have not had a long running record of high quality offerings. “Space” aims to change that going forward. Finally a stand alone high quality reverb app is here.

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AUFX: Space is a high quality 32 bit DSP reverb unit with enough adjustable parameters to shape or mimic countless reverb types superbly.
All the standard reverb parameters plus a few more are built in to Space. Spread, Damping, Pre-Delay, Wet/Dry, Scale, Gain, Room Size, Color, and both LoPass and HiPass resonant filters with Cutoff. Very nearly complete. I say nearly because it’s missing a parameter I’ve been seeking for ages in iOS reverbs; “Swirl” or “Chorus” of sorts. Not like a full-on Chorus effect, which I suspect will be offered later in the AUFX series, but a kind that adds a dimension of movement with the reverberations. Maybe it’ll come, but it’s a lot to ask for since it would add more power demands to an already efficient app. No need to over do it, but it would be nice to see for once.

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The numerous highly adjustable parameters I listed from Space have allowed me to make some fantastic-sounding effects that nothing (Aurias Reverb Plug Ins are the exception) in iOS has allowed before. Space scratches the reverb itch.
Deep, rich, warm, and expansive to short, cold, subtle and every effect in-between sound really nice. Unlike most iOS reverb options, which by comparison to “Space” sound very thin, cheap, and like they’re coming from within tin cans. They have been improving slowly, but this is a significant and targeted advancement. AUFX: Space fills a void (no pun intended) I thought might never be filled. I wish I had this 2 years ago.

FEATURES

Process hardware input/output or other apps through Audiobus (input/filter/output slots supported).
Ready for the future inter-app audio standard.
Fully MIDI controllable, including Virtual MIDI.
Background Audio.
Save and load user presets.
Comes with several bundled presets.
Record the result directly in app.
Email recordings or export to AudioShare audio document manager app.
Access user presets and recordings through iTunes File Sharing.

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Using this app with Audiobus has proven to be problem free so far as I’ve experienced on my iPads 3 and 4. In case “clipping” were to happen there is a thoughtful “limiter” function which can be enabled from the menu. It says it adds 10MS to latency, but I haven’t noticed it. You can also save your concoctions to call up later easily from the menu.

The U.I. is simple and uncluttered making usage effortless. Its just you and Space with nothing distracting. The way it should be. With the ability to record directly, run through all Audiobus slots, and MIDI including virtual MIDI, its ready for any project. Not to mention its already built with iOS 7s “inter-app audio” standard in mind and prepared for when iOS7 releases.
When this releases (could be sometime in July) I would encourage anyone who wants a simple yet sophisticated and excellent reverb option to pick this up.

EDIT: 7-23-2013
I wanted to add that I have been using “Space” with my iRig Mic to capture audio recording directly to the app. It was not only convenient, but really sounded great even through the iRig. Just holding on the recording from the menu brings up a option to quickly move files to AudioShare.
The launch price of $3.99 is a steal! Low price compared to others, but by no means is this cheap. Sure you could go spend $10 $20 or more for other stand alone FX, but you won’t get anything better than this.

It will be very interesting to see what Kymatica offers next in the AUFX apps series. I for one am very eager to find out. At any rate, this is a really great start!