Auria

So busy….. Whew.

Hey there mobile music makers.
Sorry I’ve been on hiatus for a couple months. Our living situation had become rather urgent and changing moment to moment.
Short version is our slum lord who owns the house, that is basically sectioned off into 5 studio type apartments, stopped paying the utilities he was responsible for. That led to water being shut off for 10 days in March, and lots of headaches for us ever since. To top it all off, he has decided to just let the bank take the property.
Skip ahead to today (and removing the dramatic details) and we are on the verge of getting a house.
However time is running out fast. We only have until August 1st to find a place to live.
I hated to do it, but in the interest of sparing my wife and son the discomfort of just taking anything we could afford (which is nothing really) I swallowed my pride and am accepting my fathers enormous help. It pretty much adds up to receiving an early inheritance, and nobody has to die, yay!
I’d much rather have done this all myself. I’m no fan of not earning what’s mine. I’m doing this for my family.

Hopefully we will close on a nice little house not too far away. It’s an old house, which we like a lot more than those new cookie cutter yuppy houses that seem to pop up all over like so many silver SUVs and wannabe high rolling twenty something’s fixated on material wealth and appearances.
Fuck that. Excuse my French.
The house we are close to closing on is just right. Plus it has a huge basement that’s already partially renovated for me to set up a full on studio slash work space. A Smite Office, if you will.

Aside from all this I’ve been working on some new music. I’m making very chill ambient soundscapes with melodies and interesting textures. No drums. Lite percussive accompaniment might appear, but no in your face drum beats.
As usual I’m creating every sound from scratch myself using only my iOS music apps. So despite how much I love hearing Alchemy, it is once again pushed off the table.
At least it was, until that latest update arrived that seems to allow custom sound designing by importing user samples. I may have to reconsider and give that some thought. Is Alchemy now actually a synthesizer, instead of a cool preset morphing player? This is the one thing that’s held me back from using it seriously. Don’t get me wrong, it sounds amazing. Problem is, the sounds are recognizable and clearly presets made by someone else. Not that it’s a bad thing, I mean who expects everybody to always create every sound themselves? Its pretty unreasonable to demand or expect. I just happen to personally prefer making my own synths. I’m crazy like that, and I’m not judging.
So maybe this new import feature will open things up?

Well, back on track. Alchemy may be part of this new music. Several new apps I’ve received and or bought since March will find their way into my project.
Some new, some old. Some need to be reviewed.
I bought and tried to love Looptical, but ended up irritated by it so much that I just deleted it in a fit of rage. Money wasted. What a pain in the ass that app is.
I get it, people love it. That’s cool. I personally can’t freaking stand that thing.

Cubasis is forever removed from my workflow. Ironically right when they finally added automation.
Yay.
Not!
The FX are still crap, the instruments sound cheap, and I’d never use them so why would I care to automate a bunch of cheap crap? I don’t. Later Crapbasis. Too little too late.

Before this turns into a big rant of apps that piss me off, I’ll switch gears.

Oscilab, now with Audiobus support has become a new favorite of mine. It’s such a nice app. Great and clever on all counts. Fantastic sequencing with a cool twist. I really have been enjoying Oscilab thoroughly.

MitoSynth really sunk it’s teeth into me. Wooji hit a home run with this new synth. I love the novel interface and all the automation options. It took a few minutes to get comfortable with its design, but it wasn’t long before I looked up and several hours had gone by. What a joy to use.
Only thing I don’t like about Mito is the limited scales, and no assignable key conveniences. Sure, I should just know when I’m in tune, but having the option to just set the playable notes to all be in key is a very nice short cut.
Alright I’m a bit lazy there, so what.

Among those I’m also wearing out Z3TA, microTERA, CubeSynth, AudioReverb, Crystaline, iVCS, Samplr, iPulsaret, and several others.
Auria is now my exclusive iDAW. It simply can’t be beat as far as I’m concerned. Best on all counts in ease of use, quality, and functionality. On my iPad Air, I can work it harder than ever. I hardly ever use midi so it’s perfect for me. I just don’t have any problems with it.

Audio Mastering App will continue to be my “goto” mastering suite. It does everything I need it to do. Hi/Lo shelving, 3 band stereo imaging, gentle reverb, EQing, Compression…and it’s just easy and reliable. It fits me.
I have Final Touch, but it’s Stereo Imaging is pretty awful. The rest of it is alright, but a little contrived for my taste.

I think I’m done for now. This run on letter that was to be a small update on what I’m doing has gotten long enough.

If everything goes as planed, and we are settled in to our new home come August 1st, I’ll return to writing reviews.
Until then I have to choose how I use my currently limited hours each day, and making music takes priority over telling you what apps I think you should buy.

Wish me luck. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you soon.

Cheers 🙂

PS- We just got news that the house may very well be ours to move into as soon as next Friday, or shortly after. Yippie! Out of this dump, and into our own house. So close now.

An Ever Changing Process

UPDATED 4/18/13

Recently I have been going back to doing most work through Audiobus to Auria. The below experimental process has more or less become a bit too tedious. As I described below, I was working what really has begun to feel like a double process. Read down for details. Now I am skipping the multi step process and simply running my audio through Audiobus to Auria where I arrange, mix, automate and master. So much faster. I’ll still use Cubasis for sketching and where certain apps don’t work with Auria through Audiobus. Apps like Addictive Synth, and Grain Science. In those cases it’s not much extra work to give them a run through to Cubasis first, then once recorded in Cubasis I’ll put that in an Audiobus input, and send those recordings to Auria. Really any number of adjustments and options are available to work around any road blocks.

iOSMusician.com has invited me to do an interview focused on my process. Good timing as I’m settling into a more streamlined flow, and I find it much easier to explain it when asked direct and specific questions. Otherwise I just ramble trying to cover everything.
No matter what comes of any of this, the only good process is the one you discover. Possibly taking a few cues from others, but a carbon copy is never universally accepted. Part of the beauty of iOS music is the numerous variations of options that can lead to as many work flows. Nobody has “the” workflow for everyone.
If I don’t detail enough of what I do, then just ask me. Pretty simple. Send me an email: SmiteMatter@comcast.net I sincerely do not mind. I get plenty as is, but never feel bothered by receiving more. Plus I’ve used or tried pretty much every single music app around, minus the novelty apps. As for iDAW types, I started with NanoStudio, then Studio HD, and the rest now and then like MultiTrack DAW, BeatMaker 1&2, Music Studio, FL Studio, Meteor, and others I’ve probably forgotten about. So I might have an answer, but I don’t know everything.

Original Post Below

I thought I’d share some of my process, since it is something I am asked frequently to do. Much of how I’ve made my music with iOS over the last 4 years-ish, has been in a constant state of change. Thanks to Audiobus, much of the labor has been eased. I still appreciate the uses of AudioCopy/Paste, but I haven’t used it much at all since Audiobus came out.

My main iDAW is Auria. It is the only iDAW currently available with solid high end, FX, and mastering tools. Tools that are absolutely essential in what I do. Far from perfect, Auria has the very best capabilities for creating a well polished mix. The GUI though is a bit unforgiving if not sometimes a flat out pain. I’m sure that will be improved over time. In addition to its superior FX, Plug Ins, EQ, etc, the full automation capability is also very important to me.

Now that I have Cubasis ( an accidental download while juggling my coffee, cigarette, iPad, and some other app downloads ) I’m finding ways to make the best of the two combined. Cubasis has an outstanding GUI. Its very smooth, and reliable. Virtual Midi is becoming more important to me thanks to Cubasis.
Its Audiobus integration is one of the very best Ive seen so far working on iPads 3 & 4. Mixing, arranging, editing, and all that is a great pleasure. Like Auria, Cubasis has its strengths and weaknesses. The EQ in Cubasis is a prank at best. The FX are low quality. No automation, and in my opinion grossly incapable of mastering at even a average level.
But, that’s OK for now. However I wish I knew why developers can’t seem to put the best of both worlds into a single iDAW app? Whatever the reason, I can’t dwell on it, and have to make the best of what I have available to me today.

How I use these two iDAWs with polar opposite and equally different strengths is something of an unusual workflow. Maybe, maybe not? Its certainly experimental.
In short I begin work setting up Cubasis at the Audiobus Output spot. Then use my various synths, and other music apps at the Input. In order to preserve as much device power as possible and reduce chances of problems, I try to use only one or two inputs at any given time. Sometimes a FX app occupies the Audiobus FX spot.

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Ill do all the initial recordings to Cubasis. Then edit, measure, and arrange. Avoiding FX, and keeping the tracks “dry” for the most part. They are useless to me and, I’m not going to need them anyway.

Again, much of what follows is still being worked out and may change depending on what I discover or decide to alter. I’m experimenting.

After I have my rough, dry mix all arranged and set how I like it, Cubasis reverses its Audiobus role. As seen in above screenshot. Now its in the Audiobus Input spot, and Auria is the Output.
I could just mix down or send the entire project to a single Auria track. That probably would be quicker, but defeats the end goal of having fully separated, individually mastered tracks. So I haven’t even experimented with that. Can’t make sense of it.
Instead I have chosen to go the painfully tedious route.

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I “solo” the Cubasis tracks one at a time and Audiobus them to Auria. One at a time they are recorded in Auria set at the same positions as they were in Cubasis. Kind of mirrored. This almost always ends up needing a bit of a manual tweaking to adjust and sync everything as well, in Auria.
Eventually everything is in place in Auria. Then I disengage Audiobus completely, and shut down all other previously running apps, except Auria. Out of Habit I might fully shut down and restart my device also. Either way it works out.

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Now with only Auria running, I am free to start adding FX, and plug ins to each necessary track. Ill also work on various automations, freeze tracks at any opportunity, and put my polish on the overall mix completing the mastering needs. That’s pretty much all there is to it.
Something of consideration is project size. Since I’ve solo’d tracks into Auria from a full mix I expect rather large project files. So far its not been too big a deal. It remains to be seen if that’s going to be a problem. I’m still experimenting with all this. So far so good.
I’m getting the best of both worlds, and the results are promising. I do not expect or even recommend my experimental process to catch on. Not at all. It may sound insane to some people, and overly complicated? Maybe it is? It works for me. I’m maximizing the strengths of two amazing apps and happy with the results. What I get out of it, is not presumed to be universal.

In the end, its better for me than the old days of having to copy and paste parts. There’s always going to be some guess work and a search for work arounds. At least until someone develops a single iDAW that does everything right, or one of these two progress into that single iDAW of my dreams. For now that’s my new, and experimental process in a nut shell. Or from a nut out of his shell.

PS Coming up: A full Cubasis review. Then a review team up I call: “Remarkable Or Regret”. PantsOfDeath (known to most) and I, are going to put a review together and share with you. It should be fun. We have completely different workflows, needs, wants, etc. Maybe even polar opposite?
Plus we have very different music styles. A couple things we do agree on is our passion for iOS, and love of creating music.
We hope this coming review will be helpful in showing two different perspectives in a fair manner reaching a wide variety of iOS music makers. What will we be reviewing? You’ll see.

Auria FX & Plug Ins Review Part 2: Delay/Echo & Chorus

This Part 2 in the series of reviews looking at Auria’s FX and Plug Ins focuses on the Delay/Echo & Chorus effects available in Auria.

Is there an echo in here? Auria sure has plenty of options for your delay/echo and chorus FX needs. Some are packed in at no additional charge and offer high quality FX to suit most needs. A few others (maybe even more to come?) are available with more specialized functions featuring even greater depth and quality to your arsenal. All of them are unique and determining whether or not you might need to buy more can be confusing. I hope what follows will provide some assistance in your quest for the best FX for you. Remember all FX and Plug Ins can be automated in Auria.

Starting with the factory FX that come with Auria followed by the additional options you can purchase.

PSP Audioware: StereoDelay

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This unit provides a nice stereo delay effect ready to go. There isn’t much to say about this that most people probably don’t already know. Its a very solid delay unit. Complete with all the standard controls this StereoDelay delivers that perfect delay FX for general uses. It has a great wide ping pong delay effect. Very nice sustain characteristics. Hi and Low filters, independent pan controls. Spread, Saturate, Feedback, Wet, Dry mix, and Millisecond time control. Its not too hard on the CPU so you can get a lot more use from it in individual tracks.

PSP Audioware: StereoChorus

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Another splendid FX unit packed in at no additional charge. This StereoChorus unit is one of the better I’ve heard in all of iOS. It features a solid amount of customizable controls to add lots of depth to your music. You would be hard pressed to find a StereoChorus of this quality & capability elsewhere in iOS. Most (if not all?) others are just minimalistic and limited in features restricting users options for robust Chorus effects. Not this one. Fantastic for adding a little ( or a lot ) of Chorus swirl on its own or when combined with other FX like the Reverb units. StereoChorus brings a lot of life to all it touches. Like the Stereo Delay, this also has Hi and Low filter controls. Spread, Wet/Dry mix, Feedback and Millisecond controls are included as well. It has some presets for quick use in specific scenarios, or to expand upon. As with all the Auria FX units you can save your own creations for later use. We all need to have a good Chorus FX option at sometime or another. Whether you just want a small Chorus effect or crazy fast wobbly weirdness, this can do it. Having something sounding this good and easy on the CPU is most welcome.

PSP Audioware: Echo

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Available via IAP in the Auria Store: $14.99

Now we’re getting into some really cool stuff. This beautiful Echo unit has muscle. A high quality and strong Echo unit. This time based FX plug in goes beyond typical echoes of this breed. It has unique tape controls like “Wow” and “Ducker” to push beyond expectation fostering a most enjoyable creative experience. Inside is a marvelous emulation of classic analog tape echo FX of yore with 4 simulated mono tape delays. 2 for ping pong pre delay and 2 for the main stereo echo. Two tape slider controls, Tape Speed selector, and numerous ( see screen shot above ) virtual dials for several functions to tweak up some super cool effects. Drilling down into those many parameters can easily lead to effects that have a distinct and original sound indistinguishable from the hardware it replicates. I just love the immeasurable amount of possibilities to craft such a wide range of time based effects that have a classic tape echo character, unlike anything we have seen in iOS. A good amount of presets can be selected for immediate use. Capable of complex uses, PSP Echo is also very user friendly for all skill levels. Its a powerful plug in, so it uses a bit of CPU.

FabFilter: Timeless 2

Available via IAP in the Auria Store: $19.99

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This is a serious sound mangling beast! Not only a hi end tape echo unit, but also excellent for a multitude of effects. Its lovely emulation of analog tape delay is as good as any. High quality filters, time stretching, and modulation expand upon being just a tape echo unit. This has a different design from the other plug ins unique to FabFilter that is much more modern in appearance. Drag and drop modulation with the 24 slot modulation matrix and routing with a plethora of tools to make a huge array of effects. 16 Step XLFOs, X/Y controls, envelope generators and followers ready to take your sound to a new level in effects. Two multi mode filters with 11 characteristics and filter panning are under the hood.

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In addition to being an outstanding model of tape echo, it also can be used for Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Scratch, and whatever you might make up yourself are possible. The large number ( over 300 ) of presets put you on the path to those many effect types. Exploring them is half the fun. Timeless is an amazing plug in. Making specialized sound FX is a breeze with this.
You might think with all these effects options it would be a student of many but master of nothing? That would be incorrect. Everything you do with Timeless is of the very best possible quality available. I find this to be extremely useful and satisfying all around. Does that mean you don’t need anything else? No. You do need this however if you want the best of the best for multiple FX types that all sound equally as good. It does however take the biggest chunk out of the CPU, so be aware. Freeze tracks.

That wraps up Part 2. I hope you found something useful here. I tried to keep these brief and right to the point without getting too deep into the technical specs.

Thank you for reading. Part 3 will come next starting with some FabFilters like ProQ, ProC, etc. TBD.

Auria FX & Plug Ins- Review part 1- Reverb

Starting here with the Auria Reverbs I will offer my thoughts on both the included, and the extra Auria FX & Plug Ins. I don’t have all of the Plug Ins yet, but I will eventually. That said there’s too many to write one huge review. Since I make ambient electronic music Reverb is a very important effect in my work. It’s an effect that has so many uses and is widely used by most musicians. A seemingly common staple in any FX library, Reverb is anything but common. It’s like Reverb is an instrument itself. Most of the Reverbs found in iOS are very limited, and low quality. That’s understandable as it is a big power hog and our devices improving as they are, still struggle with processing even very basic low to medium quality Reverbs. WaveMachine Labs with Auria and its PSP Plug Ins deliver much improved quality in the Reverbs offered rivaling ( still have a ways to go ) even some desktop versions costing tons more. I’ve tried nearly every available Reverb on iOS, including recent high profile releases like Cubasis. Incidentally having recently given Cubasis and its FX a test drive is still fresh in my mind, and its Reverb was sorely lacking. Whether old or new most iOS Reverbs left me unsatisfied. For now at least the highest quality Reverbs anywhere in iOS are living inside Auria. They are without peer.

Lets start with the ClassicVerb

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A better, basic Reverb option than most standard Reverbs in the vast majority of music apps. Simple controls for the overall effect much like what we’ve seen a lot of. It has a warmer feel with a decent tail and good stereo spread. Best used for recordings that just need a little more depth and life, nothing too dramatic. A good choice to conserve resources.

ConvolutionReverb

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This is probably the best reverb option on iOS that doesn’t cost extra. It uses high quality samples of specific types of reverberations called Impulse Response. The I.R. Library included has many very nice sounding reverbs that when used with your audio convolutes the mix. Hence the name. The “I.R. Library” installed is big enough, but you can also buy I.R library packs to further expand on your available options for an enormous (Hundreds and hundreds) variety of Reverb effects.

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The additional I.R. ( From MoReVox at $5.99 via IAP) packs each offer an expanded collection of specialized recording types to use. From short or long classic plates, warm, creamy, springs, and small rooms, to cold long hallways, Arctic, cathedrals, deep space, modulated, and tons more can be had. All high quality and original sounding. Rich and expansive. Each I.R. resembles presets for the most part somewhat making up for the limited controls. This is the reverb of choice surpassing anything else on iOS by leaps and bounds. Best used for your higher quality reverb needs to suit specific audio scenes. It should be expected that it comes at the expense of being a power hog. There is a “Low CPU” mode but that reduces the depth and quality a lot as well as reducing its burden on CPU. Freeze the track if you’re going to use it more than once as an insert.

ClassicVerb Pro

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For $9.99 via IAP you can have a much better version of the included ClassicVerb. Is it worth it? I really think so.
It adds more controls such as HiPass, LoPass, Split, Tone, Mix, Output, Spread, Time and Pre Delay providing an excellent level of control over your sound. It has some quick presets and you can save your own tweaked concoctions. Overall it sounds better than the ClassicVerb but not as varied as the convolution reverb with its huge library of I.R. options. This is a great classic reverb option sounding much better than any other of its kind offered in any iOS music apps. A superb choice. Worth every penny.

PianoVerb2

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A unique resonant reverb effect that not only offers a high quality classic reverb spread, but also controls elements like tune, detune, modulation, and transposition of the reverberations. It has A&B alternate setting controls for “damp” and “Time” with “Freeze” for dramatic effects.
Very different from the other reverb options, PianoVerb2 (a new improved and advanced version of the original free PianoVerb) uses 12 resonant filters that behave much like piano strings. Making ghostly wide, modulated sounds with lingering effect similar to piano sustain pedals is just one of its many possibilities. You could really go wild making highly unusual detuned and transposed reverberations that the others can’t. Whatever you do with this, it will fill your ears. This is one very nice, and interesting plug in!

Not like a convolution or classic reverb, PV2 is quite capable of adding depth to relatively weak sounds but with that extra bite of resonance. It is really cool and different.
You’re robbing the Auria store by only paying $9.99 for this weird reverb. Also a bit of a power hog.
By PSP Audioware

That concludes Part 1. Just a couple notes.

The PSP PianoVerb2 in Auria is not the same as the older classic PianoVerb free version. It is a more advanced and improved version of the classic original. I know, thats obvious and clearly says “PianoVerb2” in the review but people don’t always pay attention details and are eager to correct. Comments welcome, and so are corrections, so long as they are actually correct.

All of these were tested thoroughly. The best test for Reverb is to take a mediocre sounding, single note, dry recording. Then duplicated and spaced appropriately apart to fully experience the depth and quality. Then I added more recordings to other tracks trying each of these at various settings, I.R.s etc, solo and mixed. Each of these performed uniquely well. That’s how I tested them anyway. Try your own way, nothing beats experimenting yourself.

I hope this might help or be of some use. Let me know and I’ll keep adding to the series.

Thanks for reading.

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UPDATE 1-26-13

PSP SpringVerb2

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I suspect this will happen again. I mean having to add a newly released plug in for the various categories as this goes on. A welcomed challenge for sure.
SpringVerb2 ($9.99 via IAP) arrives to expand on available Reverb options in Auria. Like PianoVerb2, SpringVerb2 offers a unique and unusual reverberation effect. SpringVerb2 is an emulation of hardware spring reverbs. The sound it makes may be what you would expect, a springy, boingy, mechanical type. It can be used just as well as a pretty nice standard reverb, but its strength is in its odd boing sound that when coupled with fast attack instruments, synths, or especially guitars brings something very different to the Reverb table. A cool effect on transients, or repeatable with a superb spread range. Controls over the musical elements of the effect such as Diffusion, HiPassFilter, Presence and more put you in the pilot seat with plenty of room to experiment. See above screen shot for all the controls.
Adjustable 2-4 springs variations, and a solid amount of controls to make soft, modest boings, to long mechanical springs reverberating in some alien spaceship machine shop. This one has its own character.

Coming up soon Part 2- Delay/Chorus. A look at all the Delay/Echo and Chorus related FX.

Special thank you to WaveMachine Labs granting me access to all these amazing tools. I am eternally grateful. Furthermore, and just as special, thank you to everyone for the private messages, posts, comments, tweets, etc, encouraging me to continue with this series. It may end up being an endless endeavor if they keep adding new things to Auria’s store. I can’t say I’d have any objections, keep ’em coming! Ill do my best to keep up.