audiocopy

Mood – How to Analog Right

Mood is developed by apeSoft

Available in iTunes App Store

apeSoft continues their offerings of reimagined classics ( i.e. iVCS 3) with Mood. A “personal interpretation” of the Analog Synthesizer by Eugenio Giordani. As apeSoft fans would expect, Mood is a faithful sonic reproduction with several modern additions that make it more than just another virtual analog synth. 


More than just another 3 oscillator VA Synth, ( is there an echo in here?) Mood comes packed with loads of user customizable widgets and supports, like an easy to use sampler, audio unit v3, full midi, Inter-App Audio, Audiobus 3, and so much more. 

This mono or up to 16 voice polyphonic synth does deliver quality at all levels of design and sonic exploration.  With the built in sampler you’ll have many more avenues of sound designing to explore. Dig in to micro details by assigning various widgets to nearly any parameter by a double tap on the knob. I’ve been up very late obsessively tweeking many different things. 

As shown above the aforementioned double tap on a parameters knob brings up the widgets screen to make those specific adjustments. It can get a bit tedious for those not interested in audio designing, but for those who are, it is very welcome. These should look familiar to anybody who has used any other apeSoft offering.  The widgets bring audio designers a mass of possibilities that can lead to some extreme detail in their sound creations. 

With the sampler you are open to many more options in possible sound designs. This is another example of how Mood separates itself from the usual or hum drum typicality of common VA synths. Import samples or record new ones from the environment or people around you. Mix and match with the FM or Wave unit, various effects, sub oscillator sounds, filters or LFOs etc. There’s not much limiting your imagination being brought to audible life. 

Although not shown in this review, there is a full service arp available. It’s accessed a little awkwardly by turning the XLFO wave knob to the lowest right hand wave form. I’m sure there’s a good reason for this, but it struck me as a bit oddly placed. Nevertheless, it is there. It’s possible I’ve had a major lapse of understanding from one too many late nights micro managing some sound I was working on. 

Moods effects are top notch. The Reverb unit has a vintage or distinctly different modern settings option and sounds very clean. That is until the powerful and grungy Distortion unit is enabled. There’s an excellent Ring Modulator for adding some unique tonal qualities. Of course a very nice Delay effects as well. 

I should mention the filters. The well designed Moog-like filters are as good as any can get for iOS. Personally I think they may be the best so far, but that’s just me. 

Overall Mood is not your ordinary virtual analog synth trying to be a perfect copy of a classic. It’s a loaded baked potato with double the flavor and satisfaction. Is it perfect? Maybe not, but what is? It’s about as perfect as I think it can be minus a few minor UI issues. Its very stable (using iPad Air 2 for this review) and with a quick buffer, it’s largely lag-free. Except for maybe a loaded 16 voice sound with heavy Reverb,  running through audiobus to a DAW with an effects unit in the chain, this synth rarely causes any grumbles or crashes. It’s hard to find any reason to no recommend Mood highly. 

Advertisements

The Music App Gamble

Something has been bothering me for a while. I have this folder on my iPad (both actually) I call “Music Apps With Potential”. It is full of incomplete music apps that are missing vital, basic functions. I can’t use them in their current builds because each is missing what I (most people I think would agree) consider very basic functions, and supports.
Those which I consider to be very basic are AudioCopy/Paste, midi, Audiobus, and or a built in recording feature. Basically the things that all iOS music apps should never be without. I’m not talking about expansions, or additional features that will increase usability. No, I am talking about the stuff that most of us expect and need in order to use the app to begin with. Stuff that if missing inhibit and or impead use.

It makes me a bit sad actually. So many music apps with great design. They’re innovative, unique, and just down right cool! Some are real game changers.
I knew they were half baked when I bought them, but I did check with each developer to confirm their development plans before purchase. Each of these were confirmed that the vital functions I had asked about, will be added in future updates. The time frames for these promised updates vary from app to app, but each had been confirmed.

With each confirmation I happily supported what I thought to be excellent development and I paid for the app.
Most of the time apps of this type don’t remain in the “potential” folder very long. They usually get the update in a timely manner or as promised. Unfortunately some never get out of app purgatory. Too many for me.
It is a little frustrating to see them there as a constant reminder of how many times I’ve been burned.
Worse is that such great innovations are abandoned and left unrealized.

While this sort of thing is a fairly small percentage of the whole, it is common. For me it’s common enough to make me reconsider ever purchasing another music app that cannot be used the day I buy it.
I understand that developers need to make money, and I have felt sympathetic frequently enough to take the gamble with buying their apps before they were really even close to ready. Always gambling on their word being true. Too many times have I been left holding an empty bag several months or even a year later having nothing to show for it.

They may have excellent reasons but I just don’t care. I see it as a breach of confidence. A hollow word, and an empty promise. It says a lot about ones integrity to break a promise or take advantage of people who will trust the giving of a seemingly honorable word. Even though most follow through, enough don’t and leave me feeling like it is now an undesirable gamble. Risky stuff sometimes. You know what they say about one bad apple.

It’s too risky of a gamble for me anymore. Simply put, after these many unfortunate experiences having lost the gamble, I am done. Finish the app, then I will buy it. I don’t believe I am being unreasonable to expect a product I buy should be finished and ready for intended use. How about you?

App Tease

I’ve been making music using only iOS devices and music “apps” going on 4 years now. In that time I’ve seen, used, beta tested, and reviewed countless music apps. I own somewhere around 400 music apps alone. Not counting all the crazy games and gadget apps. Addiction anyone?
In all that time development has gone berserk bringing new, improved and capable apps. It’s been nothing short of astonishing with how far it’s all come. Not to mention the insane low prices. Oh the prices! So low, for such brilliance.

In the early days using iOS music apps had been a bit cumbersome. I sure thought so. I had to record in one, audio copy and then paste into another. That was never enjoyable, but it made a lot of things possible that otherwise couldn’t be done without hooking up to other hardware or computers.
I hate wires, iTunes File Share is dreadful, so record & audio copy were essential features in any music app I would take seriously. Nothing against apps that didn’t have audio copy, it was just what I needed to do what I wanted to do wire free.

Audiobus finally arrived in December 2012 forever changing how I make my music, as I am sure it has done the same for many of you. It essentially brought everything together in a seamless and simple process. Not unlike how music is made on computers with DAWs and VSTs. They day I got Audiobus was the last day I used ACP in my process. It wasn’t until January when more developers supported Audiobus in significant number. That number grows day by day. Today everything I use to make music goes through Audiobus one way or another. See ya ACP!

After years of wishing, and hoping for something like Audiobus, and now having it, there’s no going back. So why do so many new music apps come out with no Audiobus support? Why? It is now the most necessary feature for any music app. It has resolved any need for any other method of transferring audio between music apps. Any other method is just painfully outdated. Obsolete even. Somehow new music apps keep coming out with no Audiobus support. It doesn’t make sense? Why release an app that makes us drool and get all excited about it, only to learn the apps developers failed to recognize that they left out support for one of the most critical features?
“App Tease”!

Hey look, a really cool new synth arrived in the App Store that sounds amazing! It’s a must have! Oh, wait a second? It doesn’t have Audiobus support. It doesn’t even record? What? You can only transfer audio via iTunes File Share or through some proxy via audio copy paste in another app. For the love of gawd why?

I’ve asked developers many times, and invariably hear the same absurd response. “We are listening to our customers feedback and will implement the most requested features in future updates.”
BullSpit! Seriously, they didn’t think end users would want to use their hot new music app with the single most important feature currently available today? If they didn’t know that, then how’d they even know to include a volume control? I can see the response to that would be something like: “Oh we didn’t know if end users wanted to actually hear anything? We will consider that for a future update. Thank you for your interest.”
OK, that was extreme. To me though, missing something like Audiobus support in the initial release of a new music app is pretty extreme itself. It reminds me of my favorite comparison of offering the coolest sports car ever made but with no steering wheel. They’ll be upgraded to support that later. Ferraris without steering, that’s what these new music apps without Audiobus are to me.
Apps made before last December get a pass. So do Midi controllers for the most part. They are jumping on board and updating often in most cases anyway. It’s the newest music apps that are making my head spin by arriving without it.

A year ago many of us would dismiss an app as a “toy” if it failed to have its own record function and audio copy. Today if a new app comes without Audiobus support, and no support even for the old ACP tech from past years, its hard to not feel teased. It’s a no brainier. New music apps must have basic functions and supports. Unless the intention is for novelty use.

Maybe I am alone on this? Maybe no one else wonders why a developer would create a super cool new music app that everyone will want, but not make it useable by today’s standards? It’s possible these are just the rantings of a mad man. Nevertheless, I am begging developers to please stop teasing me with the absence of Audiobus support, but are otherwise highly desirable and cool new music apps. No one wants to buy a Ferrari that only goes strait, and will be upgraded later if enough customers ask for a steering option.
No more App Tease, please. You know Audiobus support is crucial. Just finish it, then release it. 4 years ago it was tolerable. Today it’s just silly.

Can I get a second from any other end users in the comments? I’d like to hear from you if this strikes a chord. No pun intended.

Gestrument – Review

Created by: Jesper Nordin and Jonatan Liljedahl

Created by: Jesper Nordin and Jonatan Liljedahl

Gesture and Instrument met one crazy night on a blind date set up by their friends. It was love at first touch. They had a child and named it Gestrument.
Gestrument grew with the best attributes of its parents into the perfect combination.

Alright, enough of that. You get the picture. Gestrument is a new MIDI controller and instrument created by Jesper Nordin and Jonatan Liljedahl.
Designed for ease of use to comfortably perform a multitude of musical styles, Gestrument delights the senses.

Controlling other iOS music apps via virtual MIDI is, as it should be, a simple process. Simply put, you just load another synth, enable its background audio and MIDI out, wallah, you’re in business. Gestrument just knows what to do. You can expect that further MIDI development is underway.

Gestrument is shipped with its own synth and dozens of great preset sounds, assignable to 8 instrument banks. These can be played simultaneously or in any combination along with whatever is being controlled in the background. Tap the instruments 1-8 on or off on the fly. Some pretty interesting combinations are at the ready awaiting discovery.

Each instrument can have its own settings, such as pitch, note length, range etc. A nice reverb with 3 quality settings can be applied to the overall mix. It would be nice if each instrument could have its own FX setting, but for now its global. All On or all off.

Playing Gestrument is intuitive and uncomplicated. Your iPad screen is the whole playing surface. It’s a nice use of screen space without waste. One finger controls the instruments, the other controls selectable parameters (Like pulse, pitch, scale morphing, and rhythm) by dragging away and angling from the first. It’s a snap. Depending on where you touch the screen and how you combine the second touch will impact the sounds the instrument makes. It’s a very clean and expressive way to create music. It’s easy for anyone to start making great music right away. Gestrument also has just the right amount of options for the experienced musicians who desire a greater amount of control.
Although a little light on programmable options now, further development will surely add more complex options as Gestrument grows. The developers are open to user feedback. So if you want something, just ask them. You may get it.

Gestrument Features
Visit HERE for more on Gestrument from its creators.

It would be really nice to see some more gesture, or multi-touch controls. As is, the multi-touch is limited to 2 fingers. It’s all in how you combine the movements. It may sound like that’s not much, but a lot can be done with some creative use in how you play it.

Recording and playback looping are available. AudioCopy and direct link to AudioShare are also included. Gestruments recorder however doesn’t seem to record MIDI controlled sounds. You’ll have to use the record function from the other app for that.

I have found Gestrument to be a very pleasant app. It’s a synch to use, and sounds great. This is a quality instrument and is highly stable. It’s not crashed on me once even while playing all 8 instruments and controlling the two synths from Magellan.
This is the chocolate and peanut butter of gesture and instrument. Yum.

4 stars Recommended. Buy Gestrument HERE at iTunes.