Mastering

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.

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Auria App Review – Version 1.10

 A Truly Capable iDAW

Auria Is Made By WaveMachine Labs

Review is based on experience with Auria on iPad 3 and 4. My first experiences with Auria were on iPad 2 which I no longer have and or recommend for this app. It’ll work on iPad 2, but with great difficulties if Audiobus is in the process.
My reviewed copy of Auria was purchased at full price. I now also currently beta test Auria, but cannot write about any beta related experience.
Therefore nothing in the following review has anything to do with any beta builds of this app and all to do with my own experiences with the production version available for sale.

UPDATED 11-25-2013
Auria now supports iOS7 Inter-App Audio. It’s working beautifully so far for me. This should be the preferred method over Audiobus whenever possible since IAA operates at 32 bits floating point. Twice the depth of the 16 that Audiobus and AudioCopy/Paste operates.
It doesn’t really matter much if you’re making electronic music, but for acoustic, and vocals, recording at 32 bits is preferable to most people. All around though it’s just better than 16 in some ways many people may not even notice. Such as with clipping. There’s less chance of clipping when recording at 32, and you can be a little less meticulous with levels.
I’ve been recording 16 bits for ages and got used to it, having no significant issues. However 32 is a nice option for recording. The only down side is that projects are much larger. It seems a bit more stable with IAA as well.

UPDATED Review 9-5-2013

It’s been a little while since I’ve updated my review of Auria. It’s hard to keep up with so many apps both new and updated. A lot has changed with Auria over the months. It’s improved stability, the UI is becoming more touch oriented, and now MIDI is getting under way. It’s not fully MIDI capable today, and mostly the MIDI functions center on using Auria with external tools, but this is a good start.
They’ve added MIDI Sync with MMC, & MTC including complete MTC chase and MIDI clock options. MIDI plug ins support, and MIDI remote control for controlling Auria with Mackie MCU and HUI surfaces round out this first MIDI update.
OK, I don’t really use that stuff, and I mostly care about using Auria with “virtual core MIDI” on my iPads along with other VCM capable apps. Not yet, but not too far off in the future either. That’ll be a grand day.
Among the new MIDI capabilities Auria V1.10 has some new looks and features. Mixdown to email, snap to locators, markers, and highlight. A nice little time saver. AudioShare is now fully (finally) integrated!
There is now a handy new “Icon Bar” on the top of the editing screen. Much better than sifting through drop downs for simple tasks (like Duplicate!) that should be right there, and now it is.

There is still some lag when dragging through the timeline or moving regions. That’s driving me crazy, but tolerable since it has no relation to the sound. It’s all about the sound, but I would appreciate that being improved.

When using Auria with Audiobus this version has improved its auto track input function making the menu surfing a little less annoying. Speaking of Audiobus with Auria, I’m happy to report that stability is improved. That’s a big deal, I think because before there were many occasions where I’d finish recording a track, then touch the (from the input app) Audiobus remote to switch back to Auria, and whammo, crash, recording gone! This had been my largest concern. I never lost a whole project like I have in Cubasis, but it was a big problem that’s now fixed.

I offer the following advice based on my own experiences with Auria to have the best time using it.

Aurias stability overall can largely be controlled by you the user. First, forget about using all this on anything less than iPads 3 or preferably 4 if you want the best possible experience. When using Audiobus with Auria, be sure to disable all FX and plug ins during those sessions. If you already have some then turn them off until after the Audiobus session. Use the track freeze!
Keep the number of Audiobus inputs to a minimum. I recommend using only one input at a time through Audiobus with no more than one FX unit as often as is possible.
Always shut down background apps not currently in use. The more apps running and or assigned simultaneously in Audiobus to Auria, the more there is potential for issues. It is also a good idea to set the disk buffer to “large”. That has nothing to do with latency, and will make Audiobus recording sessions much more reliable especially with longer recordings. Do these things and you will have very few issues if any. It works for me and I’ve tested this extensively with excellent and consistent results. The largest project I have had after finishing Audiobus recording sessions, was 21 (on average my typical project is around 12-14 tracks) tracks. Then I added, Pro Q, and Timeless in the aux slots. Each track had individual standard EQing, and half of those with 1 or more plug ins, but the tracks were all frozen while working on another. Some automation was also used. No CPU or memory warnings, but it was very close to the limits on my iPad 4. If I ran more than 2 unfrozen tracks with all that, then I got low CPU. Its not magic. Though I can’t imagine how anyone could do the same with a full 48 tracks?

Auria isn’t perfect but it does work just fine, if you understand how to operate it. Plenty of people say they can’t do “anything” but somehow I have almost no troubles at all? The reason I must conclude for them, is that they do not completely understand how to use this amazing application to its fullest. Comments from users that are focussed on the problems they are having are just unfair, and results of operator error. It has to be. If I am using it without any of the major problems others claim to experience constantly with everything they try, then either I have some super natural power or they are not understanding the app. I certainly have no special powers or abilities, so my conclusion must be correct. This isn’t rocket science. Anyone can learn to use Auria. Impatience or operator error does not a bad app make.

Auria still sports the greatest selection of high quality plug ins by a wide margin. The audio capabilities are far and away the best you can get on iOS. There are still minor bugs, mostly in the UI, but since they do not effect the sound, they are (albeit annoying) tolerable. If you want the best options for the best sound, then those bugs shouldn’t matter. Like many of you I am looking forward to MIDI being fully integrated successfully. Thankfully that ball is rolling.

ORIGINAL REVIEW BELOW:

 
When I first heard of Auria I thought, “There’s no way they can do this, is there?” 
WaveMachine Labs answers with a resounding YES, offering Auria, a professional quality digital audio workstation with a great many high quality bells and whistles.
With the capability to support up to 96kHz sample rate at 24 bits, 32 or 64 bit dual precision audio processing engine, 48 stereo or mono tracks, (44.1 & 48kHz up to 24 tracks on iPad 1) your digital productions are in good hands. Designed with the future in mind Auria has support for 3rd party VST plug ins at additional charge via IAP from big names like PSP Audioware, Overloud and more.


Auria has so many features and functions, I find I’m still having those “ah ha” moments as I work with this incredible iDAW. A quick run down of the more impressive features follows. AAF import/export, audio copy paste (ACP will always result in a max bit rate of 16) drop box, (they say MIDI is under development) 8 assignable subgroups, each with two aux sends, full automation, WIST support, Auria Link to run two devices with Auria for a sync of up to 96 tracks, automatic sample rate conversion, track freeze, a comprehensive waveform editor, and so many more.

The on board included effects are very well done. A classic Reverb, Stereo Delay, Stereo Chorus, Re Tune, EQ with expander, compressor, and limiter are a must for anyone wanting to master their final mix. Last but not least my very favorite effect of all is an outstanding Convolution Reverb with a full IR library of high quality reverberation types. This is the best reverb I have experienced with iOS apps. I’ve said it many times, reverb quality is one of the more glaring disabilities of this platform. For good reason, quality reverb is a big CPU hog. You can hear the tin, thin, dull lack of quality in all the iOS reverbs, some more than others, and some are really made quite well all things considered. None however currently compare to the depth, warmth, and expansive nature of Auria’s included Convolution Reverb Plug In.
Still not quite up to desktop standards, but it’s a huge improvement. It’ll do nicely.
Thanks to track freeze, using multiple FX on multiple tracks is an option. If you don’t freeze, Auria will overburden your device CPU. No problem, it’s not permanent, unfreeze, and freeze again all you want.
 
For more about the detailed specs visit WaveMachine Labs HERE
 
The user interface is designed well for multi touch. The usual pinch, spread zoom in/out, and swipe functions are present. I have experienced some response problems here and there, but they are going to fix things in time. For now a minor annoyance.

The layout is very simple looking, but packed with tools and functions to intuitively enjoy Instead of a single fade or cross fade setting, Auria has four that each affect the fade differently. These are great for all sorts of fade type effects, and cross fading two waveforms that merge into one seamlessly, with careful placement of course. Very cool, if you ask me.

 
Initially after inquiring about beta testing I was informed by A WaveMachine Labs representative that they did not currently have an active, dedicated end user beta test team. I took concerned note of that and had reported this in my earlier version of this review. Turns out that another representative has confirmed otherwise, and that they do in fact have a strong team of beta testers currently for Auria after all. I was misinformed, or missunderstood, at any rate I am very glad to hear they do indeed currently have this in place.

At the moment its got a few minor issues regarding compatibility with other apps. The problem is that certain apps no longer work with Auria on the same device simultaneously. This began after the most recent update (from August 8th negatively affecting some popular music apps, its temporary). It happens. No one is perfect, and Auria is extremely complex. I was told the next update will probably revert Auria to the previous audio compatibility settings that will in short, be less restrictive and allow those apps to be used again on the same device. Nothing to get discouraged over. WaveMachine Labs is very attentive and eager to improve. They are very responsive and have helped me out of a few pickles already. They ( and the very active forum ) have been very helpful with the Low Memory messages I was getting early on, and since then I’ve not had that message again. The support from WaveMachine Labs is encouraging. Remember Apple is often slow to approve submitted updates.

 
 Auria to me is as close to what I call the holy grail of iDAWs, as seen to date. It’s not all powerful, and won’t replace desktop DAWs, but with further development, refinement, and increased VST plug in support it could be someday.

It is the best iDAW available with no peer. It actually saddens me a bit to say that as I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my studio type apps for a good while. I’m not saying don’t ever buy any others, but it’s very hard to deny Auria’s presence as a game changer for mobile music production.
Its $49.99 price tag is high by the standards of most spoiled iOS customers, but relatively speaking it’s a very good value, and so are the additional plug ins. You get what you pay for.
I haven’t bought any of the current plug ins myself, as I’m finding the included tools are more than sufficient for my needs and desires for high quality results. I am excited about whats to come.

 

Transitioning from other studio apps to Auria might seem overwhelming at first glance.  I really haven’t experienced any instances where Auria presented me with anything confusing. Just some things that are new to me on this platform. Still, I read the user guide front to back and I’d recommend you do too. If you don’t want to, (really who wants to read a manual ?) but do have experience with apps like this, it will probably feel pleasantly familiar. Reading the guide will at least accelerate any potential learning curve while also uncovering useful things that might have otherwise been overlooked. For example I was very excited about 64 bit processing, but wasn’t clear on its impact compared to 32. I discovered you can either select 64 bit processing, or unselect it to default at 32 bits. 32 bits lessens the burden on your device resources, and is still pretty darn good. Point is, I discovered something useful by just reading a little. A lot of the things I see some users complain about are easily solved, or operator error. Anything else is being reviewed, and I have no reservations about trusting fixes will come soon.

 
If you’re ready to take the step forward into the bright future of iOS music production, click
 
 
to be directed to Auria in iTunes

I highly recommend Auria for iPad 2&3 users. I’ve not experienced Auria on iPad 1.

 

UPDATED 1-28-13

Since I wrote the above review after Aurias initial release a lot has changed.
They’ve added numerous professional plug ins to the mix further improving on the already excellent capabilities. More are likely to come as things progress. Check out my separate series of “Auria FX & Plug Ins Reviews” for more on those.
This iDAW is really the only one of its kind on iOS. Yes there are other breeds of good iDAW types, but none have the audio quality, processing capabilities, FX, and tools to do a complete production at Aurias level.
That said, Auria is by no means perfect, or a full desktop DAW replacement. It is closing the gap more than anything else on iOS.
The biggest problems are with CPU and memory.
I’m using iPad 3, and find I can get by just fine without any serious troubles. iPad 4 is probably more desirable. iPad 2 can eek by, but with a lot more restrictions requiring more patience. iPad 1 will probably burst into flames on start up?

Now with Audiobus support Auria has taken another fine leap forward making the workflow more of a great pleasure. I don’t know about you but I’ve had quite enough of AudioCopy/Paste.
With that added convenience, so comes even more strain on device resources. WaveMachine Labs suggests using iPads 3&4. iPad 2 can do it, but in small doses.

There’s some bugs still.
Every new update brings dozens of fixes, improvements, and additions. Crashes can happen if care is not exercised in how much is being done at one time. Most bugs are minor but frustrating nonetheless. This is a very complex program, & its still early for Auria. You can be confident in its development.
Its not difficult to squeeze a lot from Auria. Track freeze! This helps a lot on all devices.
When using plug ins or FX, just freeze those tracks at every opportunity. Unfreezing is very quick, so going back and forth is really a minor issue. This becomes especially important on iPad 2 and even more so when using Audiobus. For that matter when using Audiobus with Auria, it is advisable to bypass all FX, in addition to freezing any tracks not in use for the recording session.
That’s what I do, and its not a problem.

If you have any problems visit the forum for help. Its given lots of attention by knowledgable end users and the development team is very active.

UPDATED 4-5-13

The main complaints I’ve seen that aren’t operator error relate to the interface. “Clunky, choppy, sluggish” are some of the words I’ve heard uttered in regard to Aurias GUI. Much of it hasn’t bothered me personally, but I can see what people mean. Some things that are most odd to me would be the loads of drop downs, and menus to make selections of functions that would be better served by multi touch support. Now, Auria is starting to improve in this area with the addition of automatic region duplication by touching the end handle. This makes the chore no longer a chore where duplicating is concerned.
Another new feature is Time Stretch. Also enabled by multi touch. WaveMachine labs clearly considered Time Stretching seriously and chose the DIRAC algorithm which is known to be very good. After using it myself I must agree. Though I’m not fond of the first and second touch on the handle to activate it. Sometimes it doesn’t work because I time the first then second touch wrong. It does work though. Imported samples are time stretch automatically. Nice! I happen to think a single touch and drag would be better. At any rate these two new features are greatly appreciated and needed.
Additional improvements have been made to the Audibus functionality. Thank you!
Real time scrubbing has also been added. Again using multi touch to activate.
There’s other thngs, improvements and bug squashings, but these are the most note worthy of you ask me.
MIDI is surely in the nearer future. I’m just glad they are listening to user feedback and showing with solid actions that they hear you.
Auria is taking the right steps in the right direction. Very encouraging.