iVCS3 Tease

ivcs3

Some exciting news, via sythtopia.com

Alessandro Petrolati and Densitygs (makers of iPulsaret and iDensity) will be releasing iVCS3, a virtual  recreation of the famed EMS VCS3 (Voltage Controlled Studio No.3) synthesizer.

EMS, VCS3, Voltage Controlled Studio No.3

Featuring iconic patching matrix and joystick controls, the analog VCS3 was infamously quirky, and is now extremely rare. I was lucky enough to play one of these at NYU’s Music Technology Department, and it is such a cool little synth. The monophonic 3 VCO/VCF/VCA synth was originally offered to the public in 1969 at a very reasonable price of just £330 + £150 for the keyboard (more historical info via factmag.com). Soon, iVCS3 can be yours, on your tablet, for just a fraction of that. Estimated arrival is March. Until then, feast your eyes and ears on this video teaser:

Waldorf Nave: One Synth To Rule Them All?

Waldorf, Nave, wavetable synth, iPad

The number of iPad synths available nowadays is truly mind-blowing. What’s more astonishing is that, while some see these merely as toys, the sound quality is often quite good. Or so I thought. You see, among all the little iSynths who would be king, there is one who stands a bit bigger, bolder, and downright more beautiful than the others: the Waldorf Nave.

This is a serious heavy hitter, packing a punch that knocks you out right from first boot with a slick animated intro. Then, you hear it. “I am Nave,” it says “and I do synth.” Indeed you do, and how!

Nave isn’t just easy on the eyes, though. It’s deep. Complex. It takes time to get to know. First of all, it’s a wavetable synth. So already, you know there is a lot going on under that pretty exterior. What’s a wavetable synth, you say? It’s different than all those other single, double, or even triple oscillator synths out there – it reads. Wavetables, mostly. With an oscillator, you get one wave. With a wavetable, you get a bunch of waves, stacked on top of each other, changing over time, producing a unique waveform with peaks and valleys jutting out all every which way. Confused? Perhaps this will help:

“The wavetable is in essence an array of N values, with values 1 through to N representing one whole cycle of the oscillator. Each value represents an amplitude at a certain point in the cycle. Wavetables are often displayed graphically with the option for the user to draw in the waveshape he or she requires, and as such it represents a very powerful tool. There is also the possibility of loading a pre-recorded waveshape as well; but note that a wavetable oscillator is only a reference table for one cycle of a waveform; it is not the same as a sampler. The wavetable has associated with it a read pointer which cycles through the table at the required speed and outputs each amplitude value in sequence so as to recreate the waveform as a stream of digital values. When the pointer reaches the last value in the table array, it will reset to point one and begin a new cycle.” http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Sound_Synthesis_Theory/Oscillators_and_Wavetables

Nave knows this makes for some interesting sounds. Give this girl a wavetable or two, and it will tell you all about them, forwards or backwards if you like. You can choose from an extensive bank of included wavetables (86 in all), create your own, share with others, load other people’s wavetables…the possibilities are really endless. There is even an onboard speech synthesizer, so you can make Nave say whatever you want, then use that as a custom wavetable. Editing these 3D wavetables on the iPad is a joy, as you can render them fullscreen, twist and turn them around in space. Sculpting with your fingers is more fun than with a mouse, though it’s not as easy as smudging the shape directly, which would be cool but not as precise I suppose. You still have to select areas and control parameters with faders, but it’s pretty intuitive, and the colorful interface is really what gives Nave its pizzazz.

Obviously, I’m impressed by the graphics, but the sound is what really blows me away. It’s thick. It’s tasty. It can be totally weird, in a great way. And it’s extremely versatile. You get leads, pads, percussive sounds, natch – but then there are atmospheric, alien, bowed metal, horror sfx possibilities as well. The presets alone number over 500, and include contributions from sound design rockstars like Smite Matter, Sunshine Audio, and Richard Devine (who created 95 patches).

Nave’s brain is a dual wavetable engine, with controls for both the wave (tuning, startpoint, speed, play direction) and the spectrum (transpose, add noise, brilliance). In addition, there is an oscillator section, with a special Uber-Wave function, which adds up to 8 tune-spreadable oscillators. The mixer allows you to balance the levels between these and offers ring modulation.

Waldorf, Nave, wavetable synth, iPad

Next there is a rich filter, envelope, and drive section. Following that is an assignable modulation matrix, pitchbend, mod wheel, and XY pads. You can choose between a regular keyboard, (which has a strange scrolling ability that might take some getting used to; while you hold a key you can slide left or right through the octaves), a ‘blade’ keyboard, which adds scale, key, and chord functionality, as well as assignable modulation to sliding up/down or left/right on a key, and, finally, an additional set of programmable XY pads. Then there is an FX section, with phaser, flanger, chorus, delay, reverb, EQ, compression, and an arpeggiator.

Waldorf, Nave, wavetable synth, iPad

If that wasn’t enough, they threw in a 4-track recorder (similar to Animoog) with an adorable reel-to-reel tape interface, timeline, and mixer (with pan!). You can also run Nave through Audiobus to an external recording app, sync with other devices using WIST, or put it into background audio mode and switch to another app to play on top.

Waldorf, Nave, wavetable synth, iPad

Phew. While I could possibly accuse Waldorf of packing TOO MUCH into Nave (I mean, it’s just a silly iPad toy, right?), I can’t think of anything they left out, at the moment. Maybe you should try it out yourself and let me know.

Download Waldorf Nave $19.99 

Miselu Kickstarts C.24, A Unique Keyboard for iPad

Miselu, C.24, iPad keyboard

I’ve had my eye on Miselu since their flagship product Neiro, an Android-based, compact keyboard running software from Korg, Retronyms, and Yamaha. While it was certainly interesting, Android devices haven’t really taken off in the music world the same way as their Apple counterparts have. No one can really argue that the iPad rules the mobile music scene. After former Apple hardware designer Jory Bell joined the Miselu team, it was only a matter of time before the inevitable happened.

And so it seems Miselu has discontinued Neiro in favor of the C.24 – an iPad keyboard with some unique twists. First of all, it is an iPad case, attaching magnetically to protect your precious screen. When called upon to produce magical musical masterpieces, C.24 folds out elegantly, showing its pearly white and black piano teeth. The iPad then settles comfortably into the seat of its chariot, connecting wirelessly via Bluetooth.

The two octave keyboard uses anti-polarity magnets to give a semi-weighted feel. MIDI and aftertouch information is transmitted using optical key tracking. What makes the C.24 really exciting is the ribbon controller running along the top of the keys, with LEDs for visual feedback. On the left side are eight buttons for quick octave switching (presumably these can be configured for other functions too). On the right is a continuous controller for pitch bend. Above this lies a gaping hole, which will be filled in the future with any number of imaginable modular expansion modules, such as knobs, faders, XY pads, and who knows what else? Fleshy squeeze boxes?

For more details, go to http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/miselu/c24-the-music-keyboard-for-ipad and give them your damn money!

Arturia iMini Review + Demo [Video]

Arturia, iMini, Minimoog, iPad, synth

When Arturia first released iMini, it was already quite impressive. To have a faithful, rich sounding Minimoog emulation running on your iPad for just $9.99 should have been a miracle for most. But of course, it is just our over-priveledged nature to hold an amazing human achievement in our hands and still cry about what it lacks. No Audiobus? Wahhh!!!

Arturia was quick to respond to this oversight, adding the inter-app audio capability in version 1.1, along with a few other bells and whistles. Now, there is truly no reason to complain. You can plug iMini into Audiobus, you can even plug external audio INTO iMini for God’s sake! And that’s not all:

“background audio advances mean that iMini is always live, yet will still respond to MIDI and be able to run its arpeggiator when working as a background app. And on that very note, whenever iMini is making no sound itself its CPU usage drops dramatically — another neat touch that helps keep things running smoothly when running multiple music apps.

Moving onwards and upwards, expanded MIDI support lets those up-to-date iMini users pick and choose from multiple sources; moreover, inter-app MIDI support — which establishes MIDI messages that enable two iOS devices to identify and enumerate each other — makes it much easier for cool controller apps like Audanika’s SoundPrism Pro advanced MIDI controller for iOS to individually control multiple iMini instances while running in the background on the same iPad, for instance. Let’s talk, in other words!” – Arturia

Yeah yeah, that’s all well and good, but what ELSE does iMini do, you say? Let’s take a more in depth look…

Arturia, iMini, Minimoog, iPad, synth

iMini has three tabs: Main, Perform, and FX. In the Main tab, you see a wood-panel framed, familiar synth layout. Choose from a large library of sorted presets, tune it up or down 2 octaves, set the Glide (Portamento) amount, adjust the Mod-Mix (between Osc.3 & Noise), and you’re off to the races.

The Oscillator Bank contains three oscillators, each of which can be tuned over several octaves. If you hold your finger on oscillators 2 or 3, further coarse tuning is revealed. You can also choose a separate waveform for each, from triangle, saw-triangle, sawtooth, square, wide rectangle, or narrow rectangle. Set their volumes in the Mixer section, along with Noise and External Input. The Modifiers section offers a tasty 24db per octave filter, with Cut-off, Emphasis (Resonance), and a Contour setting that controls how the filter responds to the Envelope Generator. There is also a Loudness Contour with amplitude envelope controls. In the Output section, you set the main level, volumes for the Chorus & Delay effects, or switch to Polyphonic mode.

The Keyboard is pretty straight forward with pitch bend and modulation wheels. But that’s not all: if you hold down the small settings icon next to the iMini logo, you get some additional controls, including the ability to change the octave, scale, and key.

Arturia, iMini, Minimoog, iPad, synth

The Perform tab is really where the action is. Here, you have the Arpeggiator and two XY pads. Get that sound throbbing, then give it the two-finger attack tweak. The default filter and contour controls are pretty fun, but you can set any of the controls from the Main page to the XY axis. Add a little Chorus and or Delay in the FX tab to fatten up your sound.

IF THAT IS STILL NOT ENOUGH FOR YOU, go ahead and fire up Audiobus, add some effects from your favorite app, and record that ish! While the sound of iMini is pretty rich and warm, I like to run my keyboards through guitar pedals, so the free GuitarTone app from Sonoma does the trick for me, (although it is a bit buggy with Audiobus on my iPad 2). Loopy HD, another invaluable offering from Audiobus’ maker A Tasty Pixel, is a cool way to lay down ideas on the fly and let them loop on top of each other ’til you’re dizzy.

Here’s a video of me making some noise with these toys:

Download iMini

“With all this talk of added support, it’s good to know that Arturia will make a donation to The Bob Moog Foundation for every iMini sold in recognition of the groundbreaking instrument to which it owes its very existence. In turn, this supports the dream of building the MoogseumTM (Bob Moog Museum), the convergence of The Bob Moog Foundation’s goals of inspiring and educating people through electronic music.” –

Mira : Wanna Touch Max? Cycling 74 Has An App For That

Mira, Max, Max/MSP, Cycling74

Cycling 74 has made its big App Store debut with Mira, an iPad controller for Max.

Mira automatically connects to Max and ‘mirrors’ your patch in realtime over a network connection. You simply arrange supported UI objects on top of the new mira.frame object and they appear on your iPad. You can use several instances of mira.frame to create multiple tabbed patches in Mira. Alternately, you can connect several iPads to the same patch.

When I was first introduced to Max in college, my professor was using a Wacom tablet as a controller. At the time, this was way forward thinking. Not only did the pen controller offer an alternative to a mouse, it provided a valuable third element to be used as a parameter in Max – the Z axis. By tilting the pen, you had a whole other range of control. Now, with Mira, we are not only able to use touch control, but we can also take advantage of the iPad’s accelerometer!

What’s next? Air control? Mind control? Actually, these technologies have all been around for a while, and are all usable in Max. Touching your Max patch was first made possible with Lemur. Whereas Lemur requires mapping parameters to the interface, Mira offers a seamless, easily configurable connection to your patch – no MIDI, no OSC, no fuss.

Supported Objects

  • button, live.button
  • toggle, live.toggle
  • dial, live.dial
  • slider, live.slider, rslider, multislider, kslider
  • live.tab, live.text
  • comment
  • panel
  • fpic
  • message box
  • number, flonum, live.numbox
  • gain~, meter~
  • mira.multitouch, mira.motion

Features

  • Automatically control any number of patches from your device
  • New mira.frame objects create viewable regions in your patch
  • Use multiple mira.frames to create any number of tabbed views in Mira
  • Most UI objects in a mira.frame will appear in Mira
  • New mira.multitouch object allows for gestural control
  • New mira.motion object sends accelerometer data from your device
  • Zoom and pan to tweak views on your device
  • Multiple instances of Mira can control a single patch for collaborative performance
  • Works over WiFi or an ad-hoc network

Mira requires Max 6.1.3 (which runs on Mac & PC), a downloadable software set, and an iPad running iOS5 or later. It is also compatible with Max For Live 9. Price is $49.99.

Download Mira Controller

What Do You Think Of Apple’s All New Everything?

iOS 7, iPhone, WWDC, Apple

Apple announced some major product changes at its annual Worldwide Developer Conference keynote yesterday.

iOS 7, coming this fall, has been completely redesigned, with a new typeface, icons, color palette, transparency effect, parallax planes (3D effect), and animations. It looks stunning, gorgeous, incredible – and also a little bit like Google/Windows to my eye… Anyone else think so?

It seems like Apple is trying to expand into enemy territory, incorporating more than just looks from its competitors. New additions to iOS 7 that smack of Android or Windows is a brand new control center, where preferences can be switched on/off, and multitask swiping between open apps. I think these are brilliant functions, and it’s about time Apple added them.

They’ve made the notification center accessible from the lock screen (day-at-a-glance reminds me of Google Now). The camera has new square crop & filters (Instagram-style) and moments (date/time organized photo collections). Airdrop allows file sharing to nearby contacts. Siri can now post tweets, search Wikipedia, and change settings.

The big iOS 7 news for the music world is iTunes Radio, which, like Pandora, has featured stations, user created stations, with the convenient ability to purchase music from the iTunes Store.

And for iOS musicians, the biggest news is built-in Inter-App-Audio. What this means for Audiobus and JACK remains to be seen.

For the old people still using laptops, there are new Macbook Air models, available now, with better battery performance (is it my imagination or is this what they say EVERY time?), and wi-fi that is supposedly 3x faster than before. Also on the horizon is OS X 10.9 Mavericks, named after the famous surfing competition, which features exciting developments like tabs in the Finder and searchable tags for files.

Not to be left behind in the past, the Mac Pro is getting a serious makeover, in which it is transformed into a strange black ashtray-like tube…

Mac Pro, Apple, WWDC, There are still more changes coming that I’m not even going to go into here. iCloud, for instance, will see new advancements that bring it up to date with web apps like Google docs. It’s definitely smart for Apple to absorb features from other successful tech companies, though it does seem like an admission that they are no longer on the cutting edge and are now trying to play catch up. The new Mac Pro could be seen as a continuation of the tradition of unconventional designs, or just a desperate ploy to make the desktop seem new and exciting again, in a world where PC’s are merging laptops with tablets. As an Apple lover, I’m not sure which is true. I try not to let my biases blind me to other possibilities. What do you think?

Cross DJ Update Now Lets You Share Your Mixes

CrossDJ, MixVibes, iPad DJ App

MixVibes has released an update for Cross DJ, its mobile DJ app for iPhone and iPad, that now allows you to record and share your mixes directly to Soundcloud. This gives it a leg up on Native Instruments’ Traktor DJ, which has recording but shares only to Dropbox. And at half the price, Cross DJ is worth giving a spin!

Cross DJ is the first app to record and share mixes on Soundcloud

Record, edit and share your mix on Soundcloud straight from your iPhone or iPad. No computer needed, it’s all built in the app.

Edit your mixes

Browse and play your recordings from the app. Edit titles and descriptions. You can even make it more personal by uploading an artwork.

Direct share to SoundCloud

Log in to your Soundcloud account from within the app and upload your mix. Share the Soundcloud link on Facebook / Twitter, or make it private. If you don’t have a SoundCloud account, a Facebook connect module pops up, enabling you to create one in seconds.

What else is new in this update?

Retrieve your mixes from a computer : plug your iDevice to your computer, open iTunes and go to the “Apps” tab. Hit “CrossDJ” to access your mix list.

(Record only works on iPad 2/3/4 and iPhone 4S/5)
iPad : Cross DJ for iPad is $9.99 / 8.99 € / £6.99 – This update is free
iPhone : Cross DJ for iPhone is a fully-featured free app.
Sharing and recording (under 5 minutes) is available in the free iPhone app.
To unlock the recording time, you have to buy an in-app upgrade.
In-app price for unlimited recording time is $0.99 / 0.89 € / £0.69


Cross DJ for iPad
Cross DJ for iPhone

App Music Seminar In Berlin

App Music, Mobile Music Making, Berlin Summer University of the Arts

Are you perhaps interested in mobile music making, like these cool kids?

The Berlin Summer University of the Arts is hosting an upcoming workshop that will explore ‘app music’ on a variety of mobile devices and platforms. Whether you’re already local or just dying to visit Berlin, this seminar offers a great chance to get tapping with your fellow touchscreen aficionado.

App Music: Mobile Music Making

With Matthias Krebs July 29th – August 2nd, 2013

For quite a while now, making music with apps on smartphones and tablets has been more than simply a novelty. Some excellent music apps offer innovative digital musical instruments to the users. The production of digital music has also started to change: These apps already allow the creation of remarkable musical results, as demonstrated by the first serious album productions (e.g. “The Fall” by Gorillaz) and professional stage performances (e.g. by Jordan Rudess or the DigiEnsemble Berlin).

The ’App Music’ seminar will be a composition and sound workshop in the form of an experimental laboratory; a creative space to explore music and make new discoveries. Participants will investigate perspectives and potential of “app music” through a collective ‘learning by doing’ approach. Enthusiasts, experts and interested parties from all backgrounds are therefore invited to participate in the collaborative investigation of and experimentation with new music, sound and performance. A range of different sounds and musical compositions will be developed in groups and discussed within the context of the workshop. Results of the interactive creative activities will be presented in a public performance at the c-base.

The workshop will begin with an overview of the different music apps, platforms, devices and interfaces. Project groups will organically develop performances, productions and/or composition pieces over the course of the following days. Additionally, a joint rehearsal with the musicians of the DigiEnsemble Berlin is planed. The (partial) results will be presented in the workshop by the end of the last day. The last two days will be used to prepare the final performance.

Possible open questions to be explored in the course of the workshop:

• Which musical forms, fields of application and performing practices can be shaped by music apps?

• What possibilities are offered by mobile sensor controlled devices (such as smartphones and tablets) for music production and for future use as musical instruments?

• Can you express emotion and meaning with mobile music apps?

Participants

The workshop is aimed at enthusiasts, musicians, sound artists and music technologists, but is fundamentally open to all who are attracted by making music with digital sensor controlled devices. This is a workshop for those who are seeking an interactive exchange with others with regard to new musical forms, new technology and innovative expressive methods of sound making, performance and collaboration. Interested parties of all disciplines are encouraged to participate; diverse and varied backgrounds often bring valuable eclectic elements into the collaborative mix.

The workshop is also relevant for composers and creative individuals (for instance from the field of marketing/media production), who are keen on creating film material and background music for media productions.

Participants may certainly play their own devices during the workshop, however a large and varied supply of additional devices, peripheral equipment and amplifiers will also be provided. All participants (veteran app-musicians included!) are encouraged to mix, match, integrate, collaborate and experiment with a multitude of devices during the course. One of the goals of the workshop is to make new discoveries and explore interesting new combinations of devices and apps.

Matthias Krebs is a professional app musician, physicist, opera singer and music educator. For many years now, he has also been active in theater production as a sound artist and composer. He founded the DigiEnsemble Berlin at the Berlin Career College in 2010. Today it is the first professional music ensemble that regularly performs mobile music on physical stages. Krebs also delves into the field of mobile music making in his blog as well as in several music article publications and his current dissertation. Additionally he has recently published a browsable online slideshow on “android as a music creation platform.” (http://de.slideshare.net/MatzeRak/androidmusicmakingapps-2013)

date: July 29th-August 2nd 2013

place: UdK Berlin, Bundesallee 1-12

fee: 400 € (from June 10th 2013: 420 €)

No. of participants: 12 to 15

language: English

application deadline: July 1st 2013

Online registration: www.udk-berlin.de/summer-courses

Website URL: http://www.udk-berlin.de/sites/sommerkurse/content/artistic_courses_2013/music/mobile_music_making/index_eng.html

CrossDJ for iPad: Full Featured DJ App At A Nice Price

CrossDJ, MixVibes, iPad DJ App

CrossDJ for iPad, brought to you by MixVibes, is a great solution for the iOS DJ on a budget.

Although iOS DJing is a fairly new phenomenon, MixVibes has been in the software mixing game for a decade now. In addition to CrossDJ for Mac/PC, the French company also offers a video plug-in, an audio interface, and a full line of hardware controllers. So it was a natural move to bring their DJ tools to iOS.

CrossDJ has a very straightforward interface, with the familiar dual decks and mixer section. This comes complete with 3-band EQ, crossfader, volume faders, and pitch sliders. Yes, of course, you can scratch your mp3’s with the spinning vinyl record, or use it to cue up a specific point in a song. You can also just touch the waveform to skip through the track. Set up to 6 cue-points or create loops from 1/8th to 16 beats.

MixVibes boasts the “best audio engine of the market.” Their elastic beatgrid algorithm allows artifact free pitch/speed-shifting, without changing the key of a track.  BPM analysis happens automatically when loading music onto one of the decks, so you can easily sync tempo to the track currently playing. The beatgrid detects transients so you can visually beat match tracks.

Switch the vinyl record interface over to FX view and you get an XY pad. This allows you to apply effects on the fly, or hold at a certain setting. Aside from the usual low-pass filter, echo and phaser effects, CrossDJ has a few interesting tricks up its sleeve. ‘Bliss’ white-noise, ‘Crush’ bit reduction, ‘Chopper’, ‘Brake’, and ‘Roll’ are a few of the unique sound manipulations available.

To celebrate its 1st birthday, CrossDJ for iPad is on sale for just $0.99 (regularly $9.99) THIS WEEKEND ONLY.

Download CrossDJ for iPad

There is also a free iPhone version

JACK Audio Connection Kit: FREE iOS Inter-App Audio MIDI & Sync

JACK Audio Connection Kit, Crudebyte, inter-app audio

Hot on the heels of Audiobus comes rival iOS inter-app audio solution JACK Audio Connection Kit, for iPhone & iPad.

JACK, created by Crudebyte, is a modular environment where you draw connections that can carry audio and MIDI between compatible apps. This is one benefit over Audiobus, which only delivers audio within a set framework. Another bonus is record/playback synchronization between DAWs and sequencer apps. Audio and MIDI data can also be routed from apps to compatible external devices.

JACK Audio Connection Kit, Crudebyte, inter-app audio

JACK is open source (like Audiobus is now), so developers can easily implement the SDK into their app. This is great news, since JACK lacks the 100+ community of apps Audiobus boasts. At this point, only 2 apps support JACK (CMP Grand Piano & MIDI Wrench, both also free and made by Crudebyte). Hopefully that will change soon. With any luck, the competition will drive iOS music to new heights at an even faster rate.

JACK is also available for Windows PC, Linux and Mac. Find out more on jackaudio.org.