iOS Apps

DrumJam Review

A new flavor of jam

*Review is based on experience with DrumJam on iPad 2&3

By Sonosaurus LLC makers of ThumbJam
Featuring Pete Lockett

Sonosaurus, maker of the incredible ThumbJam, teamed up with award winning percussionist Pete Lockett to create DrumJam. A truly accessible drum and percussion application smothered in brilliance. We all know about ThumbJam and how great it is. You can safely expect the same excellence of DrumJam in a familiar, and clever user interface.
Everything in DrumJam is right on one screen with handy drop downs and buttons or sliders that expand, or change to another setting option, on touch. It’s a nice, strait forward design leading to a very snazzy level of fluid control and no confusion. Both of the main control x/y pads are on the same screen, the pattern based instruments on one pad above, and the solo instrument on the other underneath
It’s easy to feel comfortable with live performance, there is no jumping from one screen to the next interrupting the flow of your jam.
DrumJam has dozens of looped percussion instruments & drum kits to easily select by drag and drop to create multiple layers of varied rhythmic sound types. With an x/y pad type controller it allows full manipulation of individual instruments. Pan, volume, mute, solo, filter and are all easily controlled here.

Each instrument has up to 20 different patterns recorded by Pete Lockett himself, and are also controlled by this pad. With multi tempo loop recordings over a wide range of tempos, all can be changed easily without messing up the rhythm thanks to the time stretch function.

Reverb and Delay can be enabled by the touch of a virtual button.

Each looped instrument can be locked to prevent accidental pattern changes.
If you just can’t decide what to do, hit the randomizer for something totally unexpected. The randomizer can also be timed to change on its own periodically.
It simply flows like a comfortable stream of uninterrupted jamming jubilation.

For more on all the features of DrumJam click HERE to visit Sonosaurus LLCs website.
 The lower x/y pad allows control of the many solo instruments for you to play over the looped patterns or completely alone. Instruments here are placed in the same drag and drop way. It’s all designed very consistently.
With sensitivity control, and a full range of quantize, sounding great has never been so easy or fun.
The solo pad can have FX applied including Reverb, Delay, Pitch bend, LoFi, and Distortion. Go ahead crush it!
The instruments having been real recordings all
sound fantastic. Whether its a short beat or entire performance, all can be recorded at studio quality 44.1 kHz, 16 bit .wav and shared via multiple options. Sharing options include, audio copy, “Open In”, iTunes file share, and export to SoundCloud.
DrumJam is packed with a comprehensive menu of MIDI control options that support clock sync in or out. Virtual MIDI, and Background audio with a power save feature is included.

I’ve spent several hours lost in DrumJam exploring and enjoying everything it offers. I can attest to the fact that even a novice rhythm maker can have a joyous experience sounding like a pro. With all the tools necessary and quality of DrumJam all around I’m sure a pro would be hard pressed to argue the greatness of this highly inspiring application.

I just don’t have any complaints.

Thanks to the excellent reputation of its developer there’s no reason to think further development isn’t in the future pipeline. Some of the things I was able to confirm with Sonosaurus which are in that pipeline follow.
Here is the future road map of DrumJam

– support for playback of recorded loops in the app

– support for import of user samples for building custom solo kits
– additional sets of loops with alternate time signatures
– additional solo instruments
– additional loop instruments
The additional content may be a mix of factory-included and in-app purchases.
That’s strait from the source.

These days music apps are more than tools. Yes they are increasingly capable, but they also offer a way for everyone to enjoy them to their fullest. Randomize a fun experience, create original parts for a composition, practice, teach or learn with it. Its all there.
DrumJam is at the top of the iOS music heap among some very good company and should be on all music lovers iDevices.

It’s a no brainer click HERE to buy DrumJam from iTunes.

Magellan Synth For iPad Review

Circumnavigate the world of sound with Magellan

Created by Yonac

Magellan synth for iPad blazes the spice trail of sonic exploration like no other iOS synth of this era.

Available at iTunes HERE

In short, Magellan is a 6 (3 per synth) oscillator, dual virtual analogue monster synth of exceptional quality with some of the most amazing sound possible.
This is a big synth-no wait, 2 big synths-with all the goodies you would want or expect from a far more expensive real world version.
With 2 powerful virtual synths that can be played both simultaneously or independently via virtual keyboards or x/y pads, an extensive library of great preset sounds including 34 presets from Sunsine totaling 276, a full rack of silky FX, 16/32 step programmable sequencer, each synth engine has a dedicated programmable arpeggiator, really nice filters, envelopes, etc….oh, you know the stuff that is expected in a high end pro synth like this.
It’s going to take a lot of screen space to list it all; visit iTunes or  Yonac for the full list of features and be stunned.

Magellan is like nothing we’ve really experienced on iOS. I’m still discovering possibilities as I play more and more with it.
I’m finding it very easy to navigate and a lot of fun to explore a wide variety of sonic realms. A fully tweakable (love that word) selection of  tools and included sounds, as well as an import option to bring in others, allows for some serious patching.

The keyboards felt kind of cramped to me, but no worries they are adjustable. I prefer the X/Y pads for playing
out my ideas.

The design of Magellan is retro in appearance; resembling hardware from the era it emulates. It looks good, but most important it works and doesn’t feel clunky or convoluted. Everything you need is contained smartly within the 6 tidy panels. Thank you Yonac.

There’s a pretty nice dedicated chord maker (1 module per synth) with preset scales, customizable progressions that is easy enough to use. A very handy feature making chord creation or progressions quick to apply.

Loaded with all the modern sharing options, like file share, audio copy paste, WiFi, email SoundCloud and extensive MIDI options. No Drop Box though. Magellan is designed to accommodate the needs and desires of its users. Create and record a complex song length sequence, sketch ideas, make loops, and play live, it’s all here.

The big thing is that its 2 full featured virtual analogue synths when combined make for some very impressive sounds. Add to those a robust, equally high quality FX rack and it’ll put you in synth heaven. Played out on some nice speakers Magellan doesn’t fail to impress and bring a big smile to your drooling face.

Selling very nicely at a modest launch price, it’s a small price to pay for anything half as powerful as Magellan, and it’s money well spent. Sometimes virtual analogue synths on iOS have been a little disappointing or lacking that full, rich, phat sound. They’ve come close, but nothing quite like Magellan.

For a fully armed beast like this, sounding as good as it does, it’s easy to recommend and consider Magellan a must have. What a joy. If you are looking for a big sound that sounds great, do yourself a big favor-click HERE to go buy it.

GeoSynth app review

Virtually Amazing!

Original Review based on use with iPad 1 and iPod Touch 3GS, Additionally used on iPads 3 & 4

 Now available in the iTunes app store:

UPDATED: 7-19-2013
GeoSynth now supports Audiobus! It’s been a really long wait, but it’s finally become far more useful. Geo has been a fine midi controller, but was stymied by having no significant updates for ages. That’s over, and GeoSynth joins the ranks of the best and most useful music apps.

It’s been one helluva push forward for new iOS music apps and Virtual Core MIDI recently. The technology is really a happy accident of sorts. Developers are exploiting some electronic doorways to create a feature that allows us to have MIDI controllers on our iDevices that control other apps running in the background on the same device. Cool huh? No more wires needed. Of course the standard wired MIDI support is featured for those who still enjoy being tethered to their external hardware. GeoSynth is the latest to exploit the Virtual Core MIDI feature (VMC), and brings us probably the most unique of virtual MIDI instruments with a very logical and colorful interface.

Easily one of the more expressive playing surfaces that can be configured to fit your playing styles.
A lot of attention went in to GeoSynth to be a premiere live performance instrument utilizing the touch surfaces of which ever iOS device you prefer. It’s hard to not feel like you’re playing a futuristic instrument from Blade Runner or something. Tapping and or dragging your happy fingers on the cells and anywhere in between, and exploring the wicked pitch bendy responses between notes makes for a grand time. It’s truly a spectacular instrument, and way too much fun to play!

For more information on GeoSynth visit Wizdom Music:

GeoSynth features many of Jordan Rudess’ custom sounds. The team really chose some very cool sounds for the 40 presets covering a fairly wide range of moods and flair. If you aren’t satisfied with those, well, it’s a MIDI instrument so go get your own. No problem. I’ve been enjoying all the presets offered, and exploring Geo as a VCM controller for Arctic Keys running in the background on my iPad1. Very cool, but I found that my iPad1 is grossly under powered. The quality of the experience diminished in result. However with some careful tweaking of the settings, and trying to not do too much all at once, I was able to enjoy the pleasures of VCM, and Arctic was able to record my brief session which I then was able to copy and paste elsewhere.
Which brings me to my next point, and serious gripe.
Being such a technological advance that Geo is, taking great advantage of the newest wireless capabilities as well as supporting standard MIDI connectivity, there is NO recording, or audio copy paste? To me, it’s a glaring omission that defies logic. I might even call it a blunder. It’s quite baffling to have such an advanced virtual instrument that plays and sounds so damn amazing, but utterly fails to include the most fundamental of expected iOS music app features:  record, and ACP.
To be fair if you are already hooked up to an external set up or whatever, don’t care about mobility, and love your cables then rock on, this is perfect for you.
For the rest of us, this lack of basic sharing many of us have come to expect renders the instrument inert. More or less a very cool toy.

I did email Wizdom Music and asked, WTFrak? I received a very nice response from customer support that, and this isn’t a quote, but for sake of being brief boils down to this; development is ongoing, there always remains the possibility of additional features being added to satisfy users. Vague, but not a hopeless response.

Whatever the case is for the future of GeoSynth, and no matter it’s present day offerings, it IS a very nice, highly entertaining virtual instrument with huge possibilities. Geo is ground breaking, and loaded with easy to use, high quality features. You’ll find a nice long reverb, stereo delay, gain control, octave, adjustable 5th harmonics synthesis, easy connectivity to SampleWiz accessing its waveforms, attack, release controls, and low pass filter with resonance. There’s a lot that GeoSynth offers. It does exactly what it says it does, exceeding my expectations as a MIDI instrument that is insanely fun to play!

This is perfect for live performances, and is highly responsive to user input on the fly.

For more information and support visit Wizdom Music

GeoSynth is too cool to pass up.  Be patient.  If you’re like me and feel a tad maligned by its lack of basic recording and audio copy paste features, I believe it’s a safe bet they will address this soon. Fingers crossed.

I’m scoring it twice.
3 Stars for folks like me who are entirely wireless, waiting for Recording and ACP.
5 Stars for those wrapped in wires, and not concerned with mobility.

Either way, it’s pretty damn nice! Now available in the iTunes app store:

Updated: Feb- 17 – 2013

No Update!?!?!?
I thought it curious that despite the developer comments, GeoSynth updates have not been err…updated. What the flip?

* Previously I had entered a lot of my own opinion in this updated review. It turned into some rant. Really I should not have. This is a review not an OpEd. I also suggested this is of no use as anything but a MIDI controller. That was stupid. Of course its used very well as a controller. That’s what it is after all. I made the wrong point while I was displeased with the lack of progress. Sorry to my dear readers for that absurd comment. My point was to suggest that having this developed a bit more for a wider range of uses and convenience is what has been lacking. It doesn’t desperately need Audiobus as whatever it controls (Such as virtual midi) sends the audio from its AB input to record in whatever output. Its just a bit of a hassle not being able to start the recording from within Geo. I would be more forgiving if it hadn’t been so very long without any significant updates.

The issue that I failed to express concern for was about trusting further development. Geo is a great controller. One of the coolest around. The question really is, should it be bought considering its not seen any significant developments for over a year? Part of what I weigh my recommendations on is trust. I think that is important. That said, and despite how much I like Geo, I can’t honestly recommend it as is.

ACP was spurned, then offered as an expected compromise, then forgotten. Audiobus has arrived ending the AudioCopy/Paste debate, and (Thank God!) the need. Will GeoSynth ever grow?

SampleWiz App Review: The Wonderful Wiz Of Ahhs

UPDATED 7-19-2013

Wizdom Music has finally taken this (Including GeoSynth, and MorphWiz) fantastic app to the next level. Audiobus support is here! No more fussing with the time limited recording function. Sorry if you liked that. It’s definitely a very welcome update to a great app that has suffered in many iOS users dust folders of non-Audiobus supported apps. So get to it! Sampling and re-sampling is easier than ever.

Update!!! 9-7-2011
SampleWiz has just seen a nice update that brings us MIDI support, 12 new cool presets. Also added to Sample Wiz in this update is support for AirTurn Pedal to change presets, and function to disable animation, and finger vibrato.
Review prior to this update follows.

OK, corny title, I couldn’t resist.
Jordan Rudess of Wizdom Music brings us a new, fascinating and fun sampler in SampleWiz.
This review is based on use with iPad 1. But it is also compatible with 3rd generation iPod and up.

Right away you’ll notice a colorful and simple interface that is very strait forward and easy to understand.
The design looks cool with some unique visualizations, depending on what you are doing. It lights up under your fingers both literally and figuratively providing a very smooth work flow not to mention looking great.
If you are familiar with Wizdoms MorphWiz you will see right away that this was designed with ease of use in mind. Customers asked for less complexity, and they got it. SampleWiz looks easy but is also quite elegant.

The preset samples are a nice variety of sounds from leads to a friendly thank you from it’s creators. While there is no way to record a performance, there is however a resample feature which allows you to create all new samples created from the presets. Recording is limited though to 10 seconds. When I asked Wizdom Music about this, I received a very logical and satisfying explanation from one of it’s creators named Kevin. He said: “Jordan and I considered adding a recorder for longer performances, but we felt that it compromised the feel of the app and would lead to the unintuitive juxtaposition of the resampling option and another record option.”
Makes sense. It works fine as is. Sounds great to me. I would however like a little more than 10 seconds. Still, this is nothing to be overly concerned with.                            

The playing surface isn’t limited to just a keyboard. There’s 3 playing surfaces in all. In addition to the keyboard (which is adjustable) you can further express you creative juices using the Wave Edit screen, and or the ADSR window.

The sampler has three modes. Classic sampling which is the common method where samples speed up or slow down as you play over or under the samples original pitch.
Granular mode is fun, with adjustable grain size and speed. You can twist up and granulate your samples to your hearts content.  The notes retain the speed they were recorded in.
Last is Modern Mode. A new way to explore sampling  using “Dirac” technology, this automatically adjusts time and formant over a selected range.

For a full list of specs check out SampleWiz in the iTunes app store.

 You will find lots of control over your samples from playing to editing. All the features you expect like trimming, cropping, standard looping, forward or reverse, ping pong (plays forward and reverse in loop). Adjusting and selecting a wide range of scales, BPM selection and lots more. You can have one or two keyboards, and if you choose two both can be set to have it’s own different scale and range of your choosing.

Hold, is a neat feature that allows you to select and hold notes just as it says, and the held notes can have a different synthesis mode. This is very nice allowing even more expression and avenues to explore samples and new possibilities.

SampleWiz sounds very nice. I didn’t notice any compromise is audio quality during hours of use with all the various settings.
As far as FX go there is a solid delay. Really SampleWiz is a big FX unit in a way.
I would like to see some more FX. Adding Reverb, would be great.

Some users were experiencing low memory problems causing their first generation iPads to crash. I didnt experience any crashes myself but they already updated that with a fix. Nice to see such speedy action with a solution.

All in all if you’re looking for a nice, highly capable sampler with lots of possibilities to create unique sounds, instruments, or just have a grand time. SampleWiz delivers. It has appeal to pros and newbies as well. The ever important sharing capabilities are here with MAPI copy paste,(with compatible apps) and iTunes file share, both allow you to bring in (or out) new samples of your own and use them just as well as the presets. SampleWiz looks great, sounds great, and is loads of fun. At $9.99 US, it’s a good buy for all.

PS Occasionally I get various promo codes, so stay tuned. I’m all out of SampleWiz codes for now.

5 stars. Get it.