iPhone

A few music apps to keep an eye on.

I have a bunch of apps that I’m sitting on waiting for some updates to come.
I’m sure a lot of us share this dilemma? Apps that we got and for whatever reason can’t or just won’t use them. The reasons may be arbitrary, but to each individual they are important.
Still there are a few I have sitting on my iPad that I see having potential for excellence.

Usually I’d just delete a high potential app that I can’t or don’t want to use. The 3 I still have installed are each something I think can be very good. Unfortunately at the moment and for reasons I’ll explain when I get to the app specifics, they are missing key elements or have flaws making them (fair or not) little more than a virtual paper weight.

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VOSIS
Voice Of Sisyphus Image Sonification. By Ryan McGee
This is really a unusual and creative synth app. Simply put it makes sound based on a picture. You load a photo then touch and drag on it to hear the sound that VOSIS translates from the greyscale pixel data. Interesting no?
It has basic synthesizer parameters like ADSR, some filtering, and so on.
Multi touch, reverb, image adjustments relative to the sonic properties, cutoff, and other parameters are included to bring photos (and live video!) to audible life.
This innovative and just damn interesting synth is sitting highest on my list of potentially great apps.
It could use some stability improvement, LFOs, and allow deeper routing parameters to modulate things. Basically I’m saying I’d like to see more traditional synth tools added for more control over the sound.
It supports Audiobus now which is a big move forward. I’d also really like to see IAA input supported.
All in all VOSIS is already capable of doing some cool things. Almost there.

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Xynthesizr By Yuri Turov
Mr. Turov sent me a copy of this app a while ago. I was a bit preoccupied and couldn’t get to it when I had hoped to. I wish I had though.
This oddly spelled app is a sleek 32 step matrix sequencer, synthesizer with generative properties. Highly musical and strait forward in design.
This iPhone only app (works but not native to iPad) is easy to use and instantly pleasing. It has most of what one might need to quickly tap or draw out some beautiful melodies.
It has a 32 bit float sound engine, MIDI, AudioCopy/Paste and support for AudioShare, SoundCloud, email, and iTunes File Share.
Its a stronger app than what I had initially expected. The developer is very attentive and clearly eager to make this something everybody will want to use.

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Although it has Audiobus support its missing IAA support. It also only can be used in portrait mode. Add supports for those, allow landscape orientation and make it iPad native so it can fit in more common iOS workflows would do the trick for me. Fingers crossed.

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MultiTrackStudio By Giel Bremmers
This is an ambitious new iDAW that by looking at its specs appears to be what a lot of folks are looking for.
16 Stereo tracks, automation, numerous effects, sequencing, editing, and mastering tools. Its also packed with a bunch of built in instruments. Synths, drums, sound FX, and emulated instruments. It’s got a lot of good things going for it. Edit by piano roll, score, drum, audio etc. Comprehensive MIDI support, ACP, iTunes File Share and the list of features goes on looking quite impressive. But…..

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…..MTS regarding routing IAA input apps suffers from one of the worst workflow designs I’ve ever had the displeasure of trying to use. It supports IAA but not Audiobus. Could be a big deal for those without iOS7.
The way routing IAA instruments is done here just doesn’t make any sense. No problem with routing IAA Effects though. For some reason its designed so you must create a MIDI track in order to be able to select any IAA audio instrument. This is far from intuitive and it doesn’t always work as expected.
Several times I followed the instructions so I could get an IAA instrument to connect with MTS and all I got were the apps internal (MTSi) instruments. What the f…. ?
So frustrating! I tried and tried to find a comfort zone with this app so I could start recording and seriously explore this app, but the routing is so frustrating I just stopped. I’m not exactly a rookie here, I know how to operate DAWs. I have all the iOS DAWs and none of them are this painful.
It’s very difficult to appreciate this app when just getting started succeeds only in causing fits of rage.
Its a real shame too. It looks like it can do most of what I want it to.
Until the workflow is redesigned to be legitimately intuitive I just can’t say whether this is good or bad? So it will sit in my “Potential” folder until that day comes when MTS is a pleasure to use rather than a sources of frustration. That potential is surely there.
One to watch out for.

These are just a few that I think have potential. Obviously its subjective and you very likely have some of your own. I’d be curious to hear from you, so leave a comment sharing your thoughts about another app you think this way about.

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Are We Spoiled?

We have so many amazing applications at our disposal, for crazy low prices. So why do people complain so much about iOS ad ons that are just as good as their desktop counterparts?
Ill use Auria as an example since it has the largest selection of ad ons and plugins currently available with iOS DAWs.
For the moment lets suspend our personal feelings of the app itself and focus on the relative costs for perspective.
Auria itself is $50 and comes with 32-64 bit audio processing, a stellar convolution reverb, a sophisticated standard EQ, Automation, FX, and numerous pro grade features. All working very well, for a lot of people including for me. Far from perfect but all things considered, not a bad value.
Considering its limitations, largely because of the iPads limited CPU and system resources, its pretty damned capable and priced appropriately.
If you want a comparable DAW on your desktop or laptop you will pay not only more for the hardware, but also a bunch more for the software.
FL Studio Producer is about $199.99 for example with similar standard features. Obviously there are differences, but the relative point here is about what you get for your dollar.
Other PC DAWs can cost more, hundreds more.
Now consider the plugins.
Auria has many FabFilter plugins just as good as the same ones for PCs.
FabFilter Pro Q for example is about $190.00 for PCs and $30 for Auria users. Yet are practically identical.
Somehow I still see people complain that $30 is way too expensive. WHAT?
Folks have their reasons for complaining about prices in great variety. None that I’ve heard have sounded the least bit relevant, or slightly reasonable, and in fact strike me as nothing more than unrealistic, and spoiled.
There are several ad ons and plugins to compare that show the very same price differences for pretty much all the equally available quality plugins. In every case the iOS option is drastically less costly.
Why so many silly complaints then?
Some say it doesn’t work, or they can’t get it to work. That also strikes me as strange since I have no problems with it at all.
I have no special super human powers, so I assume its operator error on their part. It works fine.
Before you start listing all your reasons for why you don’t like Auria or its plugins, remember this really isn’t about why you like it or don’t. If you’re going to go on about why PCs are better, again thats not on topic here, and why would you care anyway? I have no illusions of the disparity of power between iPad and PCs. iPad gets the job done just fine for those who wish to take the alternate route despite known limitations. This is about the costs. This is about the question “Are We Spoiled”?
Looking at the brief (yes I am aware its a general comparison) comparisons it seems clear to me that the complaints about the cost of iOS plugin options are ridiculous at the very best.
Just having a quality convolution reverb with a vast I.R. Library included (not including the additional I.R. libraries purchasable for tiny sums) is worth the $50 that Auria costs alone. GASP! How can I say that?
Well, a convolution reverb sounding just as good on PC will run you around $250! Some cost way more than that even.
So yes, $50 for the whole package (that again works fine for me on my iPad4, once I figured out all the silly settings necessary) convolution reverb included.
What the hell more do you want? Are we spoiled or what?
We’re only just getting started with iOS seeing DAWs supporting high quality options, tools, and plugins. So as we see more in the future are we still going to be complaining about the low prices being way too high?
I really hope not. Its not unrealistic to be concerned that some developers may choose to not go ahead with their product because the users are unwilling to accept the low cost of their product, much less any ad ons they might offer.
That’s a nightmare scenario, and I don’t sit up nights worried about it, but there is some reason to be concerned.
If developers see a community of users still complaining about even low prices, they might not make our dream iDAWs (or whatever app) because of that spoiled cacophony going on and on about nonsensical price expectations.
I’m not point the finger, though it kind of looks that way, but I am just as guilty as the next guy or gal. Or I was. I get it. I understand we have been spoiled by the super low costs of super cool apps for years. All the while we were still complaining or demanding more.
So as we get to the point now that “more” is becoming realized, so are the options, and slightly increased prices. All of the iOS app prices while maybe being higher than we started with are still very low.
You can’t have more, and get it for less. Its not a fair position to take.
Isn’t it time we start appreciating the progress instead of looking for things to complain about?
Its OK to not like something because it doesn’t fit in with your way of doing things, but lets try to not bash things that many folks find to be an excellent value and have no trouble working with. Lets try to not get bent out of shape when something costs a little more than we’re used to while offering us the “more” we demanded, and still for much less than its PC counterpart.
Bad for you is not the end all be all qualifier of a bad app on the whole. Sure there are “bad” apps, and apps that are priced inappropriately, but what’s the point of ridiculing them to death again and again? There are no rewards or points scored for complaining, especially about low prices. It just ends up making a lot of people look very spoiled. Who wants that?
Maybe we can all look a little harder at the bright side? See more of the positives. Be champions for this new thing and have some patience. It’ll all get there sooner than later.
However if its all really that terrible to you, then why are you torturing yourself? Go back to your PC or whatever made you happy before. Not everything is for everyone, but everyone can be a little more positive and grateful for what they have. Why not?

AD 480 Pro – Reverb App Review

AD 480 Pro

Developed By: Fiedler Audio

Available in iTunes App Store

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They said you can’t get a high quality reverb on iOS. They said you can’t do a lot of things with iOS. They were right to some extent, but that was a while ago. Now of course a very large number of high quality tools & options exist for making professional quality music productions.
iOS Reverb options had been difficult to defend and honestly refer to as “professional” or “high quality” for a while. With increased device power (still relatively underpowered) and evolving development, the past several months have seen a boom in high powered music apps of all sorts.
Now AD480 Pro has come along to offer us a very nice quality stand alone reverb app. This is not your Grandmas “FreeVerb”.

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You probably know by now that I love Reverb. If you didn’t, well, now you do. Reverb is a powerful effect giving most any sound a boost in warmth, depth, and wideness. Its very useful, and found nearly everywhere in music. It is a power hungry effect. Which is why early iOS music apps could never really deliver a high quality option. There was even a time when professionals would laugh at the idea of a digital reverb emulation ever being possible. Of course computers have rapidly moved forward and had numerous digital Reverb options at a very high quality standard for years. iOS however is just beginning to join the party.

AD480 Pro is the first high end, stand alone reverb app to hit the App Store, but not the very first high quality or professional reverb option (See my Auria – Plug Ins & FX review series) available to iOS musicians. But, this is about stand alone FX apps, so I’ll stay on track.
This really does sound amazing!
AD480 Pro is a unique algorithm created by Future Audio, inspired by legendary reverb units such as “Lexicon” and the likes. They wanted to develop a reverb that can reproduce any acoustic space imaginable. Furthermore they wanted to make it easy to use with a bevy of adjustable parameters and routing options for the user to manipulate to their liking.
I think they were successful on all counts with AD480 Pro.

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AD480 Pro has a great sound. A really great sound! It is fully Audiobus compatible supporting “Input”, “Effects” and “Output” slots.
It is easy to use in any situation such as playing live, in the studio, a park or practically anywhere. There’s no shortage of possibilities to create a wide margin of reverberation effects.
Having control over Hi/Lo filter frequencies, levels, dampness, cutoffs, spread, mix, and many more parameters will offer you a multitude of sound types. With 108 presets covering a wide spectrum of sounds, there’s plenty of stuff ready to go and or build off of. Create and save your own patches and banks for easy use another time.
The cross feed parameters have a powerful effect, but may not always be necessary. I had been experimenting with these and hearing some added metallic sounds I wanted no part of.
So I asked Future Audio about it and here is what they said:
“The cross feed parameter group was introduced to allow a well defined behavior of the reverb for stereo signals which are not located in the middle of the panorama but much more on the left or right statically. If you have a sound like a nice broad stereo pad or similar things you actually don’t need that parameter group unless you intend to produce some special effect.”

That was a helpful explanation. It made so much sense to me that I felt silly asking the question.
It goes to show you that they are very proud of AD480 Pro and eager to help.

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There’s no shortage of routing options for MIDI uses, and under the hood is a mighty engine. Here are some additional features at a glance:
24 input and output channel routing matrix.
Internal/ external USB class compliant audio interfaces supported.
Full MIDI communication support via network, & USB-MIDI & internal (virtual) MIDI.
Super low latency from 64 samples up.
Sample rate support for 44.1 to 96 kHz
Low Light Mode – Looks pretty cool by the way.
And more.

There are plenty of functions and parameters available to explore the world of reverb.
Nothing fancy like modulations, tuning, or springs etc, but plenty to make excellent sounding reverb space effects. Space, as in a space like a room, not deep space. You can however create deep space reverb sound effects though. Imagine a star destroyers massive hanger bay after all the fighters departed. Vast! It can be done as big or small, cold or warm as you want.
I had no instances where I felt I was unable to achieve the sound I was looking for. When I wanted a warm feel or a deep space chill, it was no problem. I never felt like I was using some old cheap sounding FreeVerb algorithm. What I’ve been hearing from AD480 Pro has been very satisfying and truly professional sounding. I’ve not experienced any crashing even when using Audiobus with this, an input and an output app. Its been stable on both my iPads 3&4.
My only complaints are there’s no recording function, & no AudioCopy/Paste. That dings the convenience factor in my opinion. My other stand alone reverb app is much better for recording directly into it, and or importing and exporting samples between other apps without having to rely on Audiobus or bounce around from app to app.
I was also a little disappointed in the lack of a chorus or other modulation parameters considering the price. Some modulation options might be added, and more presets at a later time, but as IAPs.
I get the IAP for modulation, but for presets? The following in this paragraph alone has been edited with additional content Maybe its because I do my own sound design, and find the parameters of this app to be pretty strait forward, but selling presets in this case just seems silly to me. Just my opinion. Maybe its a great idea to offer professionally designed presets via IAP? Could it be a good value for folks who either don’t feel comfortable trying to make their own, or just don’t want to spend the time? What do you think? Leave a comment, Id love to hear your thoughts, and I think the developer might appreciate it as well?

Minor gripes aside, its about the quality of the app and AD480 Pro oozes quality. Considering that a comparable desktop plug in would cost many times more than this, AD480 is a good value. Just a little inconvenient in certain situations.

Recommended.

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SmiteMatter Interviewed by Bruce Gall

I was interviewed recently by Bruce Gall who hosts (in addition to his ARFM Sunday Synth) OneWorldMusic: “Atmospheres”.
A weekly electronic music radio show.
This interview was done via Skype and recorded near the end of June. I admit I was a little nervous. Being interviewed in the form of a written publication is one thing, but speaking is a bit daunting for me.

In this interview we had a nice chat about my music and iOS as a medium for creation. We talk about many things including how I started, apps I use, the technology and much more.

Check it out if you so wish by clicking on the following link: http://www.oneworldmusic.co.uk/atmospheres/4576642841

I hope you find it entertaining, useful, or at least worth your time.

Some things I mentioned. “Galaxy Explorer”, Waldorf Nave, Lazer Kat Records, iPadMusician Compilation Vol 2, Audiobus, Galileo, and more.

EarWizard

EarWizard
By Wizdom Music
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EarWizard releases July 11 2013

Wizdom Music has been designing music apps for iOS a long while now. Jordan Rudess is one of the more recognizable names in music to start with and even more so among those who enjoy iOS as a creative option. We are used to seeing innovative music apps we can use as instruments or controllers from the Wizdom Music team.
EarWizard is something different and, at least speaking for myself, unexpected.
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EarWizard is a fun learning tool that helps one become familiar with scales & keys using a take on “Simon”. This makes the presentation of EarWizard as a game of sorts immediately understandable. It is familiar and fun while being educational at the same time.
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I don’t think I need to describe how “Simon” works, but I will describe how EarWizard puts its own spin on things. The concept is simple: you can change the key and game speed from the settings or begin with a tutorial.
You start off in a particular scale and key. Then select a level. Instead of boring sequences of increasingly complicated tones that must be repeated perfectly, there are windows displaying a short video of Jordan playing a chord. Starting off slowly and then progressing to a more complex series of chords to repeat. Easy enough.
Each correct interaction is followed by a pleasant audible indication. Make a mistake and you’ll hear about it with out of tune chords. A clear indication an error has been made.
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As you play through it becomes more and more challenging. I found that along the way I had been learning to recognize keys. Such is the benefit of this game.
What really kept my attention other than just trying to concentrate on recognizing each key, was the videos of Jordan. He makes different facial expressions for each video where he strikes a chord on a piano. They range from benign to hilarious. I found myself a little distracted at times because I ended up laughing at the expressions he would make. I mean this as a compliment. It kept me interested and always looking forward to seeing what he would do next.
I really thought that was a great idea, and it works for me. You really gotta just see it for yourself.

EarWizard is a fun way to either develop or exercise an existing skill and have some fun while at it.

EarWizard was tested on iPad 3 & 4

Additional Screen Shots

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