effects

FACChorus – Review

FACChorus by: Frederic Corvest 

Available in the iTunes App Store


FACChorus (Fred Anton Corvest) is a stand alone, versatile Chorus effects app designed to emulate classic physical modules of day’s past. Not unlike the analog Roland Juno Chorus effects (and others) from decades ago. 


FACChorus sports a simple and clean interface resembling a rack mount style with realistic, responsive knobs. The no fuss look may seem a bit dated to some, but fits right in all the same. It mirrors the actual signal path from left to right (input to output) making it quite intuitive. Not that there could really be much to confuse anyone, anyway. Plus, who cares about looks when what really matters it how it sounds.


So how does it sound? Well, it sounds really good, even through an iPads built in mic. Of course better with a plug in mic, USB or in a AU (Audio Unit) setting.  This Chorus unit has a wide range of possible effects from clean and subtle to clinically insane. Most iOS synths and iDAWs have a built in Chorus but lack any real versatility and often even with the most subtle settings, sound overly wobbly. FACChorus can be manipulated to suit any need for vocals, guitars, and of course iOS instruments. Lush, rich and wide. Spacey or water logged, FACChorus gets you there. 

The properly named presets offer a nice range of ready to go effect parameters suitable for most situations.  Sadly there’s not any way to save user presets. Nor does it save your last state when the app is closed and reopened. This could be problematic for some users. 

While this great sounding effects unit supports Audio Unit V3, it does not support Inter-App Audio or Audiobus. Considering that most iDAWs (like Cubasis and GarageBand Mobile) support UA V3, this may not be much of a problem. However a lot of users have a workflow that depends on their use of IAA or Audiobus, and missing those supports could be a crucial turn off. Even though AU V3 basically works the same way as IAA. 

It’s early still, so it remains possible that more workflow supports or features might be part of future development. 

That all said, for three bucks you get an incredible sounding Chorus unit that would’ve cost far more in the physical world. 

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!

Turnado – Review

Turnado
Developed by: Sugar Bytes

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UPDATED REVIEW 5-26-2013
Just a little one, but Turnado now supports landscape as well as portrait.

It sure would be nice if there were a really good multi/real-time live effects unit with tons of modulation parameters and full customization. If only I could find something like this that does a good job on my iPads…
Wait! What’s this? Well, here it is! “Turnado.” That’ll do very nicely.

A massive live effects rack focused more on tripping out beats, but just as awesome for any sample to mangle.
This thing is ridiculous. Insane. Massive. Insert your favorite exclamation of joy . Easy & packed deep with very interesting effects of all kinds.

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This cavern full of effects fits nicely on the iPad in portrait view. Understandable at first look. Not overly complex. Its deceptively simple, with a wild multitude of adjustable parameters to lose oneself in a bottomless pit of effects possibilities. I mean this thing is deep!

Getting started is a snap. Just tap the presets menu and select one, or tap the dice ( die ) to randomly generate 8 different FX that you can control simultaneously with either the 8 associated effects knobs, or the 4 X/Y pads controlling 2 FX at a time correlating with those knobs. Select a factory sample, loop it, and just boogie with the 4 pads live. You can also drag FX units from the list of 24 professional grade algorithms, and drop in whichever slot you like. Great also for quickly replacing something.
Turnado is immediately satisfying and crazy fun. This is only the beginning though. Beyond the easy start, you can dig way further into each of the effects to make some very cool sounds. This is modulation tweaking paradise.

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Some of Turnados features:
Turnado supports Audiobus input and effects slots. Import your own samples via ACP (audio copy paste), iTunes File Share, and music library. It is also compatible with “Jack”. Full MIDI support and clock sync. Adjustable buffer down to a speedy 64! Background Audio capable. Its all ready and waiting for you. There’s way too many specs and features to list. Visit Turnados Web sight for all the details: HERE
As good as the factory samples are, nothing beats your own.

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Loading from the many FX carefully designed presets that fit pretty much any occasion is sweet for a quick run. Where Turnado really shows itself off is in the individual FX “Edit” screens. You’ll notice that each of the FX units have a little “Edit” button on them. Go ahead, tap it!
Whammo! Adjustable parameters galore. Welcome to the modulation candy store.

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Now you have all the pieces that make the effect live and breathe. You can easily end up in a vortex where time stands still with the amazing amount of sound options here. Imagine it, tweak it, and experiment with it all. I’ve spent many hours in this screen creating numerous presets of my own. There is so much to discover. Once you find and hear what you like save it to call up from the user list.

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The portion of the screen where all the editing is done can feel a bit tight, and small. No problem, double tap it and it zooms in. The zoom can also be disabled if you wish.
The FX are pretty amazing. As I mentioned already they are high quality, and focused on beat manipulation more than anything else. You’ll find numerous filters, slicers, loopers, wobblers, and so on. No worries if, like me, you would like to use Turnado for more than just beats. It is complete with excellent delays, and reverbs to boot. Sugar Bytes thought this through offering so many FX types, styles and options.

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They created a fantastic controller called “Dictator” that can control each of the 8 FX knobs and countless parameters with a single slider. This is a real treat and leads to some monstrous sound designs. Again, the Dictator is customizable and offers lots of preset configurations. Its unique, powerful and just plain crazy.

I can’t find anything terribly serious to complain about. The only issues I experienced using Turnado on iPads 3&4 were with the edit screen. It has during playback caused unwanted skipping or stuttering with each touch of that screen. A few times when I was really pushing Turnado hard by working all the FX at once, I temporarily lost audio. Only one crash on my iPad 3. These could be a problem in a live performance, not so much in your studio. Its early yet for the iOS version of Turnado.
I don’t expect these to linger. Sugar Bytes is quick to make fixes as demonstrated with a recent update already fixing some minor bugs. I’m not worried, and it doesn’t effect my feelings on this incredible app.

Highly recommended! Buy Turnado from iTunes HERE

You will definitely have lots of fun.

Auria FX & Plug Ins Review – Part 3 Mastering

I want to start off by saying thank you to everyone who sent me such inspiring emails about this series of reviews.

Part – 3 Mastering Plug Ins

In this third installment I will focus briefly on each of the following FabFilter Plug Ins for the purpose of Mastering.
ProC, ProQ, & ProL.

As good as all of these FabFilters are, they become useless if what you are using to hear the amazing results they are capable of producing, through just ordinary headphones or cheap speakers. It probably goes without saying, but excellent headphones and decent monitors are very important. We can’t all have studio monitors, but having at least very good headphones are a must. If you’re using the Apple ear buds that came with you’re iPod, or anything from the general selections of headphones from the electronics store, stop now. Go look at, listen to, and then buy some good ones. The differences you’ll hear are night and day. That’s just my opinion for what its worth.
I’m using Sennhieser HD 558 around the ear headphones. They were about $200 and sounded equal to all the other headphones I tested that cost hundreds more. For monitors, I am using some Altec Lansing speakers with a powered sub woofer, Ive had for ages. They have a very clean sound, but not quite up to “studio monitor” levels. They do get the job done in the limited space I have.

Onward.

FabFilter Pro C
Compressor
$29.99 via IAP

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This easy to use and great sounding compressor is a significant step up from the free compressor option built into Auria. Visually far more appealing at the very least. As is the case with all the FabFilters. ProC has 3 styles: Clean, Classic, & Opto. Hard, Soft Knee, Side Chain Supported, & Auto Gain & Release.
I found ProC to be more useful over the built in compressor and maybe its just me, but it sounds tighter. The moving compression level display has customizable curves. Seeing and hearing the work makes all the difference.
If you want to fine tune your sound at every point, you can, and ProC is very reliable. There are presets included as well that are set perfectly for each of the selections. Undo, Redo options and a before/after selector are also included.

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Program dependent attack and release curves
Large input, output, and gain change meters with different scale settings
Active knee display
Super-fast attack times

If you are just getting comfortable with using compression this will be a great plug in to begin with. If you have high expectations and want the very best compressor, this it. Whatever the need this sounds extremely good.

FabFilter Pro Q
Equalizer
$29.99 via IAP

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A good EQ is essential, if not the most important mastering tool. This 24 band, touch manipulated EQ is a godsend. Zero latency or linear phase with adjustable latency. It has all the filter shapes with variable DB/Oct slope selections you’ll need and is so easy to use. Make a mistake or change your mind theres a undo & redo option. Before and after toggle, left/right independent channel EQ’ing, real time frequency analyzer with pre & post EQ metering. Several perfectly tuned presets to choose from and very detailed parameters to (wait for it) tweak. Notching out a hot frequency is no problem, and with automation support there’s nothing you can’t manipulate or correct with high quality results.

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Up to 24 EQ bands
Filter shapes: Bell, Notch, High/Low Shelf, High/Low Cut with 6, 12, 24 and 48 dB/oct slopes
Intelligent solo mode makes it easy to tune notch filters and hear the effect of a band
Different display ranges: 3 dB and 6 dB ranges for mastering, 12 dB and 30 dB for mixing
Smart Parameter Interpolation

From hi, low shelving, stereo enhancements, frequency fixes, to wild filter FX like “telephone” sounds, and everything in between are possible. This is probably the single most necessary Plug In, and sounds noticeably better than the built in EQ. Which isn’t too shabby to begin with.
Yes, you need this. No you won’t regret it.

FabFilter Pro L
Limiter
$39.99 via IAP

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Another essential mastering and mixing tool is the “Brickwall Limiter”.
ProL has multiple advanced algorithms, features, and accurate metering.

Great transparent sound combined with maximum loudness
Four different limiting algorithms, all with their own character
Highly accurate output and gain reduction metering
Adjustable meter scale, including K-System support
Adjustable look-ahead, attack and release settings
Separate channel linking for both the transient and release stages
Advanced dithering with three different noise shaping algorithms
Inter-sample peak detection

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ProL is designed to be very accurate. It has up to 4x oversampling, but is very demanding on device resources. Of the 3 FabFilters looked at here, this one can put the greatest burden on your device. When the need for a really good limiter comes up, there just isn’t anything better. This particular FabFilter might be more niche than absolutely necessary. I mean that the included brickwall limiter does a fine job, but this is really specialized and more for experienced sound engineers to be fully appreciated.

Each of the FabFilters looked at here are of the highest quality. Certainly comparable to most available on desktop DAWs. They did an amazing job with these to really offer the very best tools for serious users who don’t want to compromise. They all have undo and redo, support for automation, touch support, and have extensive help support within.

Again, I hope this was helpful, and sorry it took so long to get this part 3 finished.

Part 4 coming up soon.

Vio – Mini Review

Square B Vio created by Square B

Updated: May 1st 2013

Vio now has Audiobus support. Landscape is now supported and advanced features are visible by default. Some other improvements have been made with stability and the interface. I don’t know about you, but I’m really glad for Audiobus support. This app can be loads of fun, but now its more convenient and useful. A cool app for sure!

Vio is the first app that made me briefly believe I could actually sing. I can’t, but Vio does an amazing job with transforming my terribly tone deaf vocal efforts into perfectly tuned crooning.
Mostly Vio effects whatever audio is put through it in unusual, but cool ways. With the “Advanced Settings” enabled you can make sure its all in tune with more options for key and scale.

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Visually, Vio is pretty though simple. As you can see from the screen shots there are a few different shapes to choose from. Additionally there are several unique “Sounds” to choose from. They each have a unique quality, but some sound much like others with subtle differences that become more obvious through touching the screen, pinching and dragging around.

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Vio turns your iPad into one big X/Y controller to interact in real time with whatever audio its capturing. The sounds or effects, range from deep reverberated space, to closed in, modulated, vibration, and robotic sounds. They are good FX for not just singing but for any live audio you might want to spice up. Experimenting will reveal entertaining and practical results.
The built in device mic works fine, but I’d recommend using a separate microphone like an iRig Mic.

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Yes, Vio has Audiobus support coming for the “Input” slot in its very next update! It’s already shown in the Audiobus input apps selection.
Id have liked to see Vio with support for the “Effect” slot, but sadly not yet. Using it while recording from your preferred “Output” app is effortless. If you do not wish to take the bus, Vio also has DropBox, SoundCloud, AudioCopy and iTunes File Share to move your Vio recordings. I love how something as beautifully simple as Vio can be such fun and inspiring.

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Fun and useful, Vio is available in your iTunes App Store