Music

Audulus for iPad – Review

Modular Synthesizer for iPad

Audulus is made by W. Taylor Holliday. Visit the website for Audulus HERE

Imagine, Create, Play.

“Audulus is a modular music processing app.”

I have tried all the other modular synthesizers on iOS. None ever really impressed me very much until now. Even though its not the first modular synth to hit iOS, it does perform well, and I like its U.I. in favor of the others. Audulus arrives and changes my whole perception of this kind of music application. I’ve known about the enthusiastic following of the Mac version, so like many of you I was pretty psyched about it porting over to iPad. I had been looking forward to finally give it a try. I wasnt sure what to expect? I am happy to report Audulus is a very clean, and extremely capable modular synth. Everything you need (and more on its way) to create your own synth is before you.

The U.I. is brilliantly designed with really just two primary buttons viewable on the screen at all times. Located at the top left of the screen are the two buttons. One is an info of sorts, button that identifies things on-screen, and the other is the main menu. The modules, nodes, tools, and all are neatly tucked away out of sight. All those functions are easily accessed by touching the main menu, function button with a second touch elsewhere on the screen. Making connections is as easy as drawing a line that connects the parts. A main circular menu made up of 8 smaller circles contains all the mods and nodes, each with its own sub menu to drill down to further, finer functions. It’s really quite elegant in appearance. Simply select the function you want, and it appears on-screen. It wont take long before you clutter up the screen with virtual wires and modules. Everything responds very well to touch and gesture input, so moving individual parts around is a simple task. Just touch and drag.

Creating your own synth from the many available tools is a lot of fun, and very satisfying. You can make pretty much anything you can imagine. Simple sounds to highly complex ones that move, breathe, and evolve can be achieved with a little effort and understanding of how everything interacts, or responds to others. It may be advisable to check out some of the Audulus video tutorials to learn the basics or expand on your existing knowledge. Only a few patches are shipped with Audulus, so checking their forum and looking at the downloadable patches other users are sharing will help get you on your way.

Audulus just feels right. Its like painting with sound. With Audulus you are set forth on a huge world of sound options. Choose one or several oscillators each with its own waveform. Set the routes however you like to obtain the sound you’re going for. Add effects like, delay, reverb, distortion, low pass filter and more. It’s just amazing when you think about how much can be done. It all flows logically.

Click HERE to see a brief video of Audulus basics.

“Begin a patch on your iPad while on the go. Load it onto your Mac. Even use it inside your DAW.
Then bring it back to iPad.”

For details, click HERE to visit the Audulus website.

Built-In Modules:

  • Virtual Analog Oscillator (4 classic waveforms)
  • ADSR Envelope
  • Noise Generator
  • Sample Player (coming soon to iPad)
  • Mathematical Modules: Add, Subtract, Multiply, Sine, Modulo
  • Random Number Generator
  • MIDI controlled Keyboard
  • MIDI assignable trigger
  • Delay
  • Distortion
  • Low Pass Filter
  • High Pass Filter
  • Pitch Shifter
  • Constant Value
  • Gain
  • Mapper Curve
  • Piecewise-linear Spline Curve
  • Sample and Hold
  • Crossfade
  • 4-Channel Mixer
  • Level Meter
  • Value Meter
  • Scrolling Waveform Meter
  • Input/Output
  • Polyphonic to Monophonic signal mixer
  • Global Time
  • Sub-Patch (Coming soon to iPad)
  • Timer
  • Zero-crossing Counter
  • Audio Unit Plug-in (Mac Only)

I have been quite impressed with the audio quality. Audulus really sounds amazing! The onscreen keyboard is very responsive, and I havent detected any latency at all.

Currently Audulus does not record, and you cannot share or move sounds without an internet or computer connection. Record, and AudioCopy/Paste are noticeably missing. That is a bit off-putting. From what I have read (I emailed to confirm but did not get a response) these are features that are a priority to be added. I sincerely hope sooner rather than later. For now we must get along with emailing our patches to each other or ourselves. Not great for those scenarios away from an internet connection, or computer.

Just two buttons?MIDI users will be pleased to hear that Audulus is fully controllable, and will detect a MIDI connection right away.

“Control everything with MIDI

Control Audulus with your MIDI controller keyboard or control surface.”

I’ve had some moments where a touch did not produce the response I was intending, or when trying to draw a connection the module moved instead. It got a little frustrating, but after some time it seemed that a lot depended on how far in or out I was zoomed. I got used to it. Really a minor gripe. Audulus looks and sounds professional. I think most people familiar with modular synthesis will appreciate this most, but really anyone who wants to have A powerful tool to make their own synths from scratch will also find Audulus to be a blessing. This is a sparkling addition to any iOS music app library.

I recommend Audulus, but until Record, and AudioCopy/Paste are added, I offer 4 Stars!

Buy Audulus from iTunes HERE *IMPORTANT- Audulus will not work on iPad 1. I tested it on iPad 2&3

Why Audio Copy? Because The Trees Don’t Have Outlets.

I hear from people all around the world fascinated with the iOS way of making music anywhere they like. Being able to make music anywhere is a big and appealing factor.
Not having to pack any computers, keyboards, or the wires to connect them is a compelling experience.
The devices are only part of the experience, it’s the music apps that make it or break it. Thankfully most developers understand how important it is to function without the need of any other gear or cables. Anywhere.
One thing I’ve seen in common with iOS music enthusiasts is they love to be able to make music where ever they want to. Perform a gig, record in a studio, or my favorite, go to a secluded park. It’s all under the mobility umbrella.
Being mobile and able to complete a project where ever you want is not without it’s basic requirements. One critical requirement is being able to record a melody or whatever, and easily move it from one application to another. At home or on stage this is very easy thanks to access to our daily technological connections. Just plug in, turn on MIDI, swap files over WiFi, or File Share. No problem.
When away from all the comforts of home or stage this is a different story. Without any of those other aids, wires, and connectivity how does one record and swap files all on a single device?
The band aid to the dilemma has been Audio Copy Paste. It’s far from perfect, is not the best solution, but it is the only option when in a secluded park, forest or on a mountain trail. Audio Copy allows the user to fully experience being mobile, and not needing any other devices, Internet connections, or wires. I’m not talking about 10 minute recordings, that’s nuts. I’m talking about brief recordings mostly under one minute, often much less.
In these scenarios audio copy becomes more important, and in my opinion a requirement.
Let me be clear, I do not love audio copy, I accept it. When I am away making music I don’t have any other technology access at all beyond my iPad and apps. It all must work wherever I go. Audio Copy as flawed as it may be, serves a purpose and up to now has been the only truly mobile file sharing option. As I am writing this I’m checking Twitter, and saw a comment about how well apps without audio copy are mobile and work very well on stage. That’s partially true, but a painfully narrow view of mobility. It neglects the point of choice and freedom. I suppose if going to another place with all the abundance of technological comforts was all one ever does, than sure. No problem, you’re mobile-ish.
Is that really mobile though? What if you have a broader definition of mobile freedom? Then what? Well, your only choice is Audio Copy if you want to swap files. Not the end all be all of solutions forever, but it works well enough when other options are just not options.
The future is likely to be very different as AudioBus appears to be on the visible horizon. A far better way to get things done while still not needing any other gear or connectivity. Of course that depends heavily on developer cooperation. All your apps need to be compatible using AudioBus without problems. I am very optimistic about that not being a problem. While I’m not a techy guy fully understanding it’s technical specifications, I do understand its importance. Frankly I don’t care about the tech aspects, I just care that it works well preserving audio quality. I’m just an artist using the tech, not a developer making it. I trust the developers to get it right and cooperate. Failing to do so would be tragic.
So that’s why, Audio Copy, at least for now. It’s flawed, but does the job when there are no other options. It fills a void that until AudioBus arrives fills it alone.
Music applications that neglect to offer Audio Copy are just not getting this point of view that defines true mobility. They are still good apps, but when I’m on a trail, in the forest, in the middle of nowhere, how am I supposed to use them? I cant. I dont. The trees don’t have outlets or Internet routers. It’s not a personal thing, it’s just about seeing things without placing obstacles in the way of the users.
I honestly do not understand why any music app developer would purposely ignore the fact that their definition of mobility is not universal. It’s not just about a few places the developer thinks you can go, it’s about all the places anyone would like to go. It’s about offering people the option to enjoy their music apps fully wherever they go. Its like an MP3 player without a headphone jack. Sure you can plug it in to a stereo or something, but you can’t use it on a hike, or visit to a park because the developer doesn’t like headphones and thinks you should only use it plugged in with speakers. Yes, speakers are better, but that’s not a realistic option if you want to enjoy it anywhere.
Well, that’s my point of view on the topic. Audio Copy has its uses, and works when no other options are available to do the job. Mobility, Freedom, Choice. That’s what makes iOS music great.

All users have a different idea of what mobility means to them. None right, none wrong, all equally important. I would never say that a person who doesn’t use these things as I do are not mobile. Not at all. I’m only suggesting that for my uses in some circumstances it’s nice to have the option to perform a task.

I can’t wait for AudioBus. Fingers crossed. I’ll be happy to never mention Audio Copy again.