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Author Topic: IOS MusicAppBlog  (Read 12050 times)

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admsustainiac

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Re: IOS MusicAppBlog
« Reply #175 on: March 17, 2017, 08:30:59 PM »

Here at Music App Blog HQ, this has felt like yet another an interesting iOS music tech week. I mentioned the launch of Layr from Living Memory in last week’s newsletter and, at the start of the week, I spent some time working on a full review of the app. It really did not disappoint (the app that is; your call on the review of course!). Layr has a relatively simple (but very capable) synth engine as its fundamental building block of sound but the design allows you to build patches from this engine in such a flexible fashion, you really can create some amazingly deep and rich sounds….  add in the brilliant arpeggiator feature and the fact the app is multi-timbral, and this is a real powerhouse of a synth.

Perhaps the only disappointment for some potential users is the lack of AUv.3 plugin support? However, as discussed by a number of the site’s readership in the comments section of the Layr review post, it certainly looks like AU support is already designed into the app and Living Memory are simply waiting for Apple to make further progress with the AU code within iOS itself…. If you have been generally frustrated by the somewhat slower than expected adoption of AU by developers, the discussion is well worth a read….

Still, that isn’t holding everyone back and I reviewed a further AU-friendly app this week; FuxEQ from Matthais Rath. This is, in fact, AU-only, and provides a rather nice seven band EQ plugin with some very interesting features. EQ and compression are perhaps the most fundamental processing tools when mixing and, if your iOS-based recording has gone passed the casual hobby stage and into (or beyond?) the serious hobby stage, having a few choices in both categories is always welcome. In that context, FuxEQ is well worth a look.

This week has also seen a very significant update to an old favourite; UVI’s BeatHawk has reached v.2.0. I’ll post a more detailed look at the changes made in this release next week but, while the app was already a brilliant take on a sort of MPC-style electronic beat/music app, UVI have, with v.2, pushed if a bit further towards a genuine ‘all in one’ music production app. Oh, and it can now also be used as an AU plugin….

And if BeatHawk is not something you have tried, for a short time, you can also pick it up at a bargain price. That’s not the only bargain around though as one of the absolute best new iOS music app releases of the year – ReSlice – is also still available at a brilliant price. In this case, the launch pricing ends this week-end…  so get in there quick. For those who like to work with loops, ReSlice is too good to pass up.

All of which leads me to this week’s ‘question for the floor’ and this one is perhaps aimed more that the iOS music old-hands than those of you just starting out. All of the above apps are, in their own way, brilliant pieces of software. Whether broad and multi-faceted or focused of a specific task, each of them defies logic in terms of features vs price; only on the App Store is music software this good available this cheaply. All of which puts temptation in our paths (sorry about that; perhaps partly my fault!)….   So, if you already have a substantial iOS music app collection, which user type most closely catches you; ‘stick with what I’ve already got and fully exploit it’ or ‘twist and try the best of what’s new’?

Answers in an email please….  I’d be interested to know J

Until next time, have a great week, be happy, and, stick or twist, get some music made.

Best wishes,

John

http://www.musicappblog.com/

John Walden
The Music App Blog
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Elantric

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Re: IOS MusicAppBlog
« Reply #176 on: March 24, 2017, 11:03:53 AM »

It’s been a news-packed few days on the iOS music technology front this week but two stories perhaps dominate the headlines. First, announced just after last week’s newsletter email went out, the Audiobus team went ‘official’ on us with details of the upcoming Audiobus 3 release. Second, and hot off the presses as I type this, Korg’s Gadget v.3 is now available.

Any long-standing iOS music maker will realise the debt of gratitude that the platform owes to Audiobus. It solved a problem – passing audio between music apps – that, at the time, iOS itself didn’t have a solution for and, as such, it made combining multiple apps into a coherent workflow a practical reality. Yes, IAA eventually appeared as Apple realised music makers were interested enough (and spending enough money) to provide a solution within the OS itself, but that didn’t stop Audiobus being a core app for many.

Now, of course, we have Audio Units as a solution for music app connectivity…..  and we also have the excellent AUM that many iOS musicians adopted as an alterative to Audiobus because it offered basic mixing features and MIDI routing (and eventually also AU hosting). The environment in which Audiobus is going to appear when it arrives next week is, therefore, a very different one. A full review will follow as soon as the app becomes available but it will be really interesting to see just what this pioneering app now has to offer.

That second headline – the arrival of Gadget v.3.0 – is, I think, a pretty big deal for a number of reasons. First, if Korg have nailed the promised audio recording feature first time, then Gadget might just have moved from ‘all-in-one electronic music production’ status (and best in class on that front) to a full-on DAW/sequencer to challenge the likes of Auria Pro or Cubasis, etc. The comparison will be interesting.

However, as we also have the release of Gadget for OSX, it’s a big deal because it represents a well-established music tech giant taking a humble iOS software product and investing very heavily in the possibility it might crack the established desktop DAW/sequencer market. This is Korg showing a lot of faith in Gadget….   and it may well bring iOS music technology in front of some sceptical desktop music tech users in a way that gets their attention.

Anyway, full reviews of both the iOS and desktop versions of Gadget will also follow shortly on the blog…. but, in the meantime, you might also want to note that (a) the Gadget update is free, including the new audio recording feature, to existing users and (b) all Korg’s iOS music apps, Gadget included, are currently on a 50% limited time sale. Hats off to Korg for their approach on both fronts….  Go, go Gadget….  and if you don’t already own a copy, then maybe this week-end is the time to go, go get one?

Oh, and just for good measure, Steinberg have just put Cubasis 2 on a limited time 50% sale.....  Hope your flexible friend (credit card) is feeling suitably flexible this week-end.... :-)

Until next time, have a great week, be happy get some music made.

Best wishes,

John

http://www.musicappblog.com/

John Walden
The Music App Blog

Elantric

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Re: IOS MusicAppBlog
« Reply #177 on: April 07, 2017, 10:03:03 AM »


No doubting the major iOS music tech news this week; the arrival of Audiobus 3. I posted a review of the new release on the blog on Wednesday. It is a significant step forward for Audiobus and while it’s great to see AU hosting support and a mixer added, the element that is perhaps most intriguing is the new MIDI routing options….  lots of creative potential there I think if developers embrace the possibilities. Anyway, check out the full review.

Reviewing AB3 did, of course, get me thinking about the role that app has played in the (brief) history of iOS music tech. It’s a significant one and should not be underestimated. However, AB3 arrives in a very different landscape to AB2. We now have Audio Units for iOS and a very sophisticated alternative to Audiobus in AUM. Good though Audiobus 3 is, it will perhaps be difficult for it to make such an impact as the original release or v.2, despite the new MIDI features.

All of which got me speculating about the future of Audiobus, IAA and AU. Audiobus actually offers two different top-level functions. First, it is a ‘host’ for other apps. Second, it also provides a ‘hosting format’. In this second role, 3rd party apps add code (based upon the Audiobus SDK) so that they can be ‘plugged in’ to Audiobus itself. In that sense, for the 3rd party developers, adding the ‘Audiobus code’ is a similar task to adding the ‘IAA code’ or ‘AU code’ (although I’m sure these tasks are very different in practice and none of them trivial). Audiobus was, in one sense therefore, our first ‘plugin format’ for iOS, followed by IAA and now, of course, by AU.

It’s clear that from Apple’s perspective, AU is the way they would like things to go within iOS. This makes sense at many levels given that it parallels established technology available under OSX. Equally, I’m sure most iOS musicians, while grateful for what IAA bought, will not shed too many tears if Apple gradually let it fade away in favour of AU. It always felt like something of a temporary ‘fix’ by Apple and, useful though it was/is, I’m sure AU means its time will soon be up.

However, wandering along this mental pathway produces all sorts of questions about ‘what next?’ for iOS music technology and, in particular, plugin formats. For example…..

If Apple can (finally) make iOS AU match the features of OSX AU, do we need any other plugin standards, Audiobus included? Should we all be pushing for ‘AU everything’?
If (and it’s a big ‘if’) the need for the Audiobus plugin format in less essential, does Audiobus itself still have a role? Maybe as that ‘iOS mixer/MIDI router’ platform, but without being lumbered by extra code supporting DAW, sequencing or other plugin formats, that I mentioned in my AB3 review?
If AU is the most likely winner between the current iOS plugin format options, how many of our favourite, long-standing, iOS music apps might we eventually have to wave good-bye to because the developers can’t make the financial case the extra AU development will entail? Will anyone develop an ‘Audiobus/IAA hosting AU plugin’ as a (possibly quite clunky) means of easing the transition?

I’m sure there are some further (interesting) questions we could add to that list but I’d love to hear your own thoughts on any of the above. Drop me a line and I might well expand upon these thoughts – with input from the readership – via the blog at some stage next week.

Until next time, have a great week, be happy and, whatever way you connect your apps together, get some music made.

Best wishes,

John

http://www.musicappblog.com/

admsustainiac

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Re: IOS MusicAppBlog
« Reply #178 on: April 14, 2017, 10:09:38 AM »


First, a big ‘thank you’ to all of the newsletter subscribers who took the time to share their thoughts with me in response to my questions last week about the plugin formats for iOS and the relative merits of AU vs IAA vs Audiobus. We really do have a diverse community and it means I always get to see perspectives that I had not personally experienced with these kinds of questions. Anyway, thanks again, and at some stage soon (maybe the week after next?; more on that below), I’ll put together something for the blog on the topic.

Second, it’s been a moderately quiet week for iOS music tech this week. Yes, lots of updates to report but no new mega-releases (well, unless I’ve missed something; feel free to put me right!). That’s probably a good thing because the ‘let’s move country’ project myself and my family started over 2.5 years ago (and long-standing readers will recall) is finally reaching some sort of endgame at present. Renovation work that we promised ourselves we would do on the house we moved into just over 2 years ago is in it’s final stages….  and that means lots of decorating and not music music blogging or music making at present. Hopefully, ‘full service’ on the blog will be restored in a couple of weeks time :-)

But not before though….   as we have a trip back to the UK lined up the week after next to attend a wedding. I will, however, get some downtime between being social so I’ll try and get to that ‘plugin article’ mentioned above….  and perhaps some other more discussion based posts as opposed to update or review pieces?  I’ll keep you posted.

Finally, here in mainland Europe, this is Easter week-end. I appreciate that Easter may not be a ‘thing’ where you are but, in our globalised hi-tech world, it’s difficult not to see it online. Anyway, it’s an excuse for many of us to indulge in some consumer-based celebrations (and, hopefully, some family time). For most normal folk, that might mean a chocolate egg or three….   for us iOS musicians (are we normal??) perhaps our eyes are more easily drawn by an app or three at a tempting sale price.

So it’s a good job that some of our generous iOS music app developers have Easter-themed sales going on. Check out the ‘News’ section on the blog….  but there are some good bargains to be had including the excellent (if slightly scary) Sugar Bytes music app collection.

Anyway, until next time, have a great week, be happy, don’t eat too much chocolate and, get some music made.

Best wishes,

John

http://www.musicappblog.com/

John Walden
The Music App Blog
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Elantric

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Re: IOS MusicAppBlog
« Reply #179 on: April 21, 2017, 10:43:22 AM »


First, a quick thank you to everyone who sent me messages of ‘decorating sympathy’ after last week’s newsletter :-)  Yes, we are still painting and, yes, I am sick of the sight of paint pots and brushes and dust-sheets, but we are nearly done now though….   just in time to head off early next week for a bit of a break back in Scotland to attend a wedding. Not sure the weather is going to be quite as good there as it is here at present though; summer has broken out early in SW France and the added upside is that the paint dries quicker J

I did manage some iOS music making time this week though….  and, while it was a modest little update, the highlight of my personal iOS music app week was Propellerhead rolling out a new version of their iOS synth app Thor. There are lots of ‘landmark’ iOS music apps that, for one reason or another, stand out when you scan back at the (brief) history of the platform. For me at least, Thor is most definitely one of them.

While we already had Animoog, Thor represented a bit of a milestone as a truly desktop standard software synth that ran on an iPad. The UI was slick and modern but what was (still is) really impressive was the sound; sonically, Thor could be made to really live up to its sturdy name.

It was also an iOS synth that (if you had the courage back then) could have been taken on stage and – suitable audio routing allowing – used to blow away a live audience. For me, therefore, it has always been one of those apps that those in the iOS music making ‘know’ could use to demonstrate what the platform was capable of to a sceptical ‘non-believer’. OK, we now have plenty of such apps – and a few that are simply in a class of their own that the desktop can’t provide – but Thor was one of the first.

So, as a bit of a Thor fan – and with a genuine soft spot for the app – I’ve always thought it a bit of a shame that Propellerhead haven’t been just a little more active with it’s development. Don’t get me wrong….  it’s still great and I’m not thinking of new sonic features….  but somewhat more regular technical updates are always reassuring in a favourite app. Anyway, this week’s update was therefore great to see….  and while I’m not holding my breath about ever seeing an AU version of the app, I’m glad it is still with us, alive and kicking, with iOS10. If you have never checked it out, then do explore further. Thor is just a great app.

Thor would easily be amongst my own personal favourites list of longstanding apps that I hope iOS doesn’t leave behind. I can think of several others….   but what about you? What’s your favourite iOS music app that perhaps doesn’t get quite as much development attention as you might like and that you would be sad to see become obsolete if the developer pulled the plug? Drop me a line and let me know…..  it would make a great topic for a blog post at some stage.

Anyway, until next time, have a great week and, whether the apps are old or new, get some music made.

Best wishes,

John

http://www.musicappblog.com/

PS Don’t forget I’m away from Music App Blog HQ most of next week. Things might, therefore, be a bit quieter than usual but I’ll do my best to keep some posts coming through….

John Walden
The Music App Blog

Elantric

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Re: IOS MusicAppBlog
« Reply #180 on: April 28, 2017, 11:51:55 AM »

Just a short note this week. As you might recall me mentioning last week, I'm actually away from Music App Blog HQ for a few days so things will remain a little quieter than usual until I get back. There will, however, be quite a few interesting things for me to catch up with when I do get back to the 'office'.....

For example, this week has seen the launch of two new drum apps. Luis Martinez has launched the latest in his line of drum apps with Future Drummer. I've already had a quick play with this and it looks very good. The app has all the core features of the other apps in the series but with some more modern/electronic drum sounds and patterns. The sounds are great and the UI is so easy to use.....  it's a great tool so a full review will follow as soon as I can.

The second is Positive Grid's X Drummer. In fact, this isn't actually a 'new' app as it has been on the Store for a couple of months already. According to Jaime Ruchman at PG, this was a 'soft' launch but now they are ready to give it the more formal push. Anyway, I've been promised a review copy once a couple of final tweaks are in place. This does look interesting though as it is PG's long promised 'AI drummer'....  Again, as soon as I can dig in, I'll post a full review.

Finally, keep your eyes peeled for a rather nice BeatHawk giveaway that's coming next week. The very generous Charline at UVI is going to supply me with both a copy of the app and copies of all 29 sample expansion packs to give away to one lucky winner. That bundle would be enough to keep anyone busy for a few months.....  and, as an email subscriber, your name will, of course, be in the hat :-)

Anyway, that's all for later next week. Right now I better get back to being social before my wife notices I've nipped off to do some work :-)

Until then, be happy, have a great week, and get some music made.....

very best wishes,

John
John Walden
The Music App Blog

admsustainiac

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Re: IOS MusicAppBlog
« Reply #181 on: May 09, 2017, 10:10:13 AM »


First, a quick ‘thank you’ to everyone who responded to my question from a couple of weeks ago about ‘apps we don’t want to see abandoned’. This was prompted by Propellerhead bringing a very welcome update to Thor which, while still working, had not been shown any real development TLC for quite some time. While your responses included a number of long-standing favourites, there was one app that got more mentions than any other; Samplr.

Samplr is not an app I’ve used extensively. It first appeared on the App Store back in 2012 but the last update was in December 2014 (bringing iOS8 support). However, there are obviously still a lot of Samplr fans out there hoping that it has not been cast aside. Anyway, I’ll dig a little deeper when I get a chance and see what – if any – news I can find about its status and, if there is anything worth reporting, I’ll let you know…..

Second, a further ‘thank you’ to those that wished me ‘safe travels’ for my trip last week. We had a great time and it was good to catch up with old friends. Indeed, it was so good that my intentions to do the occasional bit of work while away soon evaporated. I did get to demo some of my favourite iOS music apps to a few musician friends though….  I don’t know why, but I’m still surprised that so many musicians that are, in other respects, very technology literate, have little or no knowledge of just what iOS can do. Sites like the Music App Blog obviously need to try a little harder :-)

Third, a bit of an apology…. As many of you will have noticed, the website itself has been a little fragile over the last few days. Indeed, there have been some technical issues that I’ve been battling with for a few weeks and that my hosting provider and I have been trying to get to the bottom of. The upshot is that, during today and tomorrow, I’m rebuilding the site on a different server. Hopefully, things will be operational again by Monday (fingers crossed) and, while this might not solve the specific underlying problem, the different platform will make debugging much easier. Equally, I’m hoping it will mean I spend less time of website management (not my favourite pastime) and more of content creation.

Which is a good job because, with the combination of a week or so away, and battling the occasional technical issue, I’m building up a bit of a backlog of new iOS music apps to review. As soon as the new server is running smoothly – hopefully early next week – then I’ll get started on that list.

Anyway, until then, have a great week and get some music made.

Best wishes,

John

http://www.musicappblog.com/

​John Walden
The Music App Blog
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admsustainiac

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Re: IOS MusicAppBlog
« Reply #182 on: May 12, 2017, 03:46:12 PM »

In last weeks’ newsletter, I promised to start dealing the small backlog of new iOS music app reviews that’s been building up over the last three or fours week or so. For reasons I’ll come back to briefly below, that actually didn’t really start until today when I managed to complete a review of Sugar Bytes new Unique synth app….  and very good it is too (the app that is; I’ll let you decide about the review).

Unique is an interesting choice of name given just how this synth looks (actually pretty conventional) and just how far out there Sugar Bytes stuff often is (very far out there; take Turnado and Cyclop as examples). However, as the new iOS app is actually a port of a desktop software synth that’s been around for around 10 years, perhaps we can understand the context; Sugar Bytes adventurous side has really come to the fore since Unique originally appeared.

A 10 year old synth engine might not, therefore, sound like it would be too cutting edge. Well, read the review for the full details, but in some respects, Unique makes for a great start into the wonderful would of SB’s catalogue. The synth engine has some very conventional components, making it less intimidating that some of their software. However, it manages to combine just a few synth engine twists (in particular the vowel options within the filter section) with a brilliant design to the modulation system.

In short, there are some (pretty) unique sound options but this is also a synth that’s not too scary from a programming perspective. Sugar Bytes have, therefore, pulled off a pretty neat trick….  Oh, and it can create some great sounds…..  There is little not to like….  other than the fact that you probably already have way too many synth apps and are going to feel guilty about buying yet another one :-)

Beat the drums
I’ve a couple of drum apps to play catch up in terms of reviews next week but, Unique aside, finally taking a look at the recent update to DrumPerfect Pro was the highlight of my own iOS music tech week. It has to be said that this is perhaps not an app for the very faint-hearted. However, the very ‘human’ acoustic drum performances you can coax from it are impressive. Developer Marinus Molengraft has added a whole bunch of new features in this update so do check out the post from earlier in the week.

At your service
Finally, a bit of an apology for the downtime to the website earlier this week. As I mentioned last week, this was a planned server move but, because I’m a better guitar player than webserver manager (heck, even my keyboard skills are better than my webserver skills; yep, it’s that bad), this took way longer than I’d hoped.

However, I do appear to have finally got things running on the new server. I’m not sure if all the gremlins are out of the system and, while the new server is perhaps not some super-system compared to the old one, it does come with better tech support from the host provider. I’m hoping this will mean less downtime in the future whenever the blunderweb breaks it again…..  fingers crossed.

Anyway, here’s to a server management free week for me, and, whatever techie gremlins might come your own way, be happy, and get some music made.

Best wishes,

John

http://www.musicappblog.com/

John Walden
The Music App Blog
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Re: IOS MusicAppBlog
« Reply #183 on: May 19, 2017, 10:37:57 AM »


It’s been great to get back to some new blog content this week. After a week away in the UK and then a further week smacking my head against a brick server (!), it was a welcome return to actually writing about iOS music technology again :-)

That included a number of new app reviews this week; Future Drummer (another excellent offering from developer Luis Martinez), Forever Beats (a quirky app that would be great for the EDM composers out there) and, just today, Syndt from Klevgränd Produktion.

The latter is a rather neat little AU-only synth app and well worth checking out. Klevgränd have build their reputation of crafting minimalist iOS music apps that offer the user an unconventional approach to their respective control sets. They are also one of the few developers that started life under iOS and have then managed to successfully expand into the desktop market (Syndt is also available as a desktop plugin).

Anyway, perhaps the interesting thing here is that Klevgränd have allowed themselves to also expand beyond their usual ‘single screen’ UI (Syndt has three pages of controls) but without losing the ‘easy to use’ tag. And, not only is the app launched at a pocket money price, it’s a doddle to program and can deliver some very good sounds. A ‘must have’?....  well, perhaps not if you already own more iOS synths than you can count….  but most certainly worth a look. Check out the full Syndt review posted on the blog today.

Not iOS….
The week wasn’t all good though….  and while the death of musician Chris Cornell has absolutely nothing to do with iOS music technology, it certainly had an impact on my personal week. His brand of rock might not have been to your particular taste but, for me, he was something of a musical hero, both as a singer and as a lyricist. While he is perhaps best known for his work with Soundgarden, and for singing the Bond theme song for Casino Royale, it was Audioslave’s first album that really got me hooked. That record would easily make my desert island disc collection…..  and if I could sing like he did on that album, I'd trade all my other musical skills and knowledge (such as they are) in an instant.

We have lost a lot of great musicians over the last year or two. It’s always sad but it is especially sad when they are, relatively speaking, quite so young and still very much in their musical prime. I never met the man but, by all accounts, he was a deeply thoughtful individual and someone it was a pleasure to know. He was, obviously, also someone who must have had all sorts of personal demons…. not perhaps in an obviously self-destructive way (at least not in recent years) but – as now seems to be clear – at some fundamental level. I’m fortunate that, in my own life, I’ve never been anywhere quite as dark as that….  and I hope it is the same for you….

Anyway, whatever your own circumstances this week, try to be happy, and get some music made (the latter helps with the former).  Me? I’m going to be spending some time with the music of Chris Cornell….

Best wishes,

John

http://www.musicappblog.com/

​John Walden
The Music App Blog
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