Music Studio 2 Review – Tried and True

Music Studio is developed by Alexander Gross of Xewton

Available in iTunes for Apple devices, and Now GooglePlay for Android


Music Studio has been with us (on iOS) for years. It was one of the very first studio type music apps I ever bought way back when I had my iPod Touch 3G. It has seen steady and consistent updates keeping it on the level with our rapidly growing music needs. Now it’s even available for Android users in the GooglePlay store. I haven’t tried it on an Android, and honestly can’t comment about that version, but expect it works just as well.

This all in one music production suite is packed with everything you need to create music from start to finish. Over a hundred tracks sequencing, sampler, twin keyboards, custom drum & chord pads, 10 effects units, note editor, Automation, Audiobus In & Out, Inter-App Audio In and Out, MIDI, 100 Drum Loops…and more and more.


There is a free, lite version to dip your toes into if you’re not sure about buying straight away. The first thing I noticed was the quality and variety of instruments. Hundreds of studio recorded instruments come packed in with the purchase of the app, and dozens more can be purchased. Every relevant instrument is available, minus only a very few. Whatever might be missing shouldn’t be an issue these days with all the other music apps around filling nearly every gap. With MIDI, Audiobus and Inter-App Audio input/output fully supported, you’re only limited by you’re own collections of samples and instrument apps. This was the first production app I could find a Digerydoo that sounded good.


The twin keyboards can have their own instrument assigned and played. The bank of customizable chord buttons above reflect what’s being used as per your own preferences. Assigning individual percussion instruments or samples to the drum pads can also be used. Trigger and loop away, or record a sample with your device or external microphone and apply to one of the pads to use in your composition. It’s easy stuff.


Some might wonder where the mixer is? Simply put, it’s not here in the traditional sense. However every track can be mixed individually. Instead of a mixer page, just select the track to adjust the pan, level, effects, mute or solo etc. It can be a little bit of a challenge to get used to if you are more accustomed to a dedicated mixer board page, but the bottom line is, nothing’s really missing. It’s just being done differently. Most people aren’t going to be overly concerned with this unless they start piling on several dozens of tracks. Then the missing mixer just might prove to be a bit of a obstacle.

It’s never bothered me, and on the plus side a mixer page is indeed being developed for Music Studio 3. I have confirmed this directly with the developer.

Editing a tracks sequence, or sample is quick and easy. Just double tap the area within the track to bring up either the sampler page or the sequencer note editor page. Quantize, transpose, write, copy and all of that stuff should feel as familiar as it looks. Working with automated FX work much the same way. It’s a very straight forward work flow. This is very intuitive and has a very gentle learning curve. Nothing clunky or unnecessarily complicated. Smooth.


Moving on.

Music Studio 2 also has 10 built in effects units. They have improved over the years and you can assign as sends, inserts or use globally in multiples. As I mentioned above there’s automation. So making creative effects that move with the music are at your finger tips, just like any respectable studio type. All the audio effects mainstays are accounted for. Reverb, Delay, Phaser, Stereo Widener, Filter and so on. I find the EQ a little in the lite side being a simple 3 band, but that’s not much of an issue these days with Audiobus and Inter-App Audio providing such easy access to your other apps that are more specialized. What is available gets the job done and doesn’t sound cheap.


Music Studio is known for its excellent MIDI support. Whether you use virtual MIDI with other music apps, or hardware Music Studio keeps up and makes things easy on you. Reliable is the word.

There are so many great things to bring up, I can’t cover every detail. If you need more specifics, details or exact numbers just visit Xewtons Web Site. You’ll find more than just specs. There’s a thriving user community forum to help answer questions, get support or just share. Assuming the extensive in app help doesn’t put you back on track. No pun intended.

In conclusion, Music Studio stands confidently with other iDAWs, is priced very well, has better instruments than others, is a stable, quality production app with tons of tools and all delivered with a pleasantly clean interface. It’s great for those just starting out and won’t overwhelm newcomers and pros will like its longevity. It has been reliably developed with excellent consistency by a developer who is listening to his users wants and needs. Despite no separate mixer, all the same parameters can still be adjusted and mixed without skipping a beat. Few limitations and loads of options, Music Studio 2 remains an excellent choice for everybody.

Shoom Synthesizer- App Review

Shoom Synthesizer is developed by: Yuri Turov

Available from iTunes


Shoom Synthsizer is a fantastic X/Y touch controlled instrument for iPad. 3 polyphonic synths in one.

An intuitively designed interface clearly emphasizing ease of performance with a great amount of playable screen space makes this super fun to play. 


3 simultaneously playable synths each with their own set of two multi-waveform, FM cross modulation oscillators are at your disposal. Each synth has its own noise, and volume control as well as the standard ADSR and LFO basics. A handy 4 pole low pass resonance filter and overdrive are also included with each. Nothing fancy, but made for easy patching and variable sound types. From crunchy, screaming leads, to booming bass lines, and on to amazing drones. 


Shooms built in stereo delay and reverb effects stand in nicely for simple sound effects. I’d say they are pretty good for what they are. Many users have said that Shooms strength is with making drones. I agree, but wouldn’t say that is all it can do. There’s plenty of room to get creative with this and have some pretty unique sound scenes to play. 

Of course it has Inter-App Audio and Audiobus 2 supports. So far I have found both to be very stable on my iPad Air 2. Though like any iOS synth the more active voices being used, the more the chance of distortion.

I love that each synths note can be played independently and / or held. Get all ten fingers involved. If your digit dexterity is above average, you could do some impressive things. Even with average finger dexterity like me, you’re going to smile. It doesn’t take long to get the hang of Shoom, and I found it to be very easy, very quickly. More importantly the sound quality is fantastic. This is one grand instrument that has more to it than meets the eye. Sure you aren’t getting a massively powerful synthesizer, but you do get quality.

Only thing I felt I was longing for was user sample import. Is that a big deal? Maybe not, but I’d like the option. 

It’s a bargain, it sounds fantastic, and it’s fun. A no brainer purchase. 

Patterning – An innovative spin on beat making

Patterning is made by Olympia Noise Company

Available on iTunes
  
So you probably already have plenty of beat or groove makers. So do I. Dozens and dozens of apps doing this can be found. So why bother with another one?

Because Olympia Noise Co. gets us. They understand how we want to work and be inspired to work even when doing something as common as laying down a groove. 

  
You start off right away with a brief and helpful tutorial showing the basics. Getting started right off the bat. Feeling comfortable in the same swing. The colors and layout look nice and make sense. I can’t put it any simpler, this just makes sense. Everything felt obvious and was right where I felt it should be. Nothing overstated about Patterning, just a clean and encouraging work space to work out some beats and find inspiration. 

  
So many great kits to explore from tried and true 808 sounds to unusual sounding original kits. Use one, or mix and match instruments, and make your own kit. Explore, tap and groove. Go ahead and have some fun. 

  
Each part can be individually selected. Adjust attack, hold & decay. Make bold tuning adjustments or fine tuned micro-adjustments. Add another ride or tom from another kit. Do whatever, it’s not going to bite you. The variety is very nice and it appears they intend to add more in time. 

  
You get the mixer of course. What beat making machine would be complete without a mixer? None that’s what. They’d suck. Some of you know what I mean. Well this doesn’t suck. It rocks. It also chills and gets funky. With automation and smooth transitions from one to the other Patterning works the way it should.

  
Easy to make patterns in an equally easy to make song. Do it all with a competent suite of sound effects. All neatly placed on one page. 

I see this in my folder for drum machines among several others that do the same thing. Some well, and some I just keep because I might want to use it again some day. Patterning though, is at the top. As if it’s looking down on the others thinking “I can do what you do better, I’m more fun, more intuitive, and just look neater.”

So it becomes the leader of the pack….errrr….folder. You get the idea. It’s a great app, and better than runner up. 

Home run! 

Sometimes you just need a break.

I’ve said it before, and made myself a liar. I was ending a hiatus or “break” at some point in the near future. I didn’t. I just ended up forcing myself to make promises I wasn’t truly able to keep. Not because of any malicious intent, or purposeful irresponsibility. I just didn’t know what I needed to do. Ever feel like that? Like you should do something, and end up saying you were going to do it, but later regretted promising? Truth is I was dishonest with myself. Things in life got wonky and I didn’t know what I should do? 

Instead of trying to communicate the nature of my life’s wonkiness, I tried to pretend everything would be fine by a certain date or time. No way that was possible. I also didn’t want to tell everybody about personal problems. Not again. I did that, and I received incredible support and help that kept me and my family from being buried alive. I can’t ever fully convey how much my family and I appreciated that help. It made such a huge difference. Unfortunately it didn’t resolve everything completely. I couldn’t possibly ask again, or even appear to be hinting at it. I knew I couldn’t even let on that major issues remained. My reasoning was that it’s my problem, I got a lot of help, amazing support, and there are things I just couldn’t bring myself to put back out in the open. I had to deal with the remaining obstacles myself. I’m very sorry to have done it so mysteriously without even telling people I consider friends. Didn’t want to bother you, you all have your own things to cope and deal with. 

Anyway, for what it’s worth that’s my thought process on it all. More or less. 🙂 

So what happened? Ugh. It’s a long story, but let me assure you (if you happen to care) it was just the way it goes sometimes. Life happened. I took the time I needed to confront it, and for the most part, resolve it. Cleared my head, tackled the challenges, hit it with everything I had. Now I am feeling stable and balanced. Happy and encouraged. Not without challenges, but not overwhelmed by any. Back to being me. If you’d still have me, I’d like to get back to being part of the amazing iOS music community. 

Thanks again for the great support. Sorry if it seemed like I just gave up or abandoned everything. I just had to sort things out. 

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.