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 

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.” –

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?

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.

Audiobus Author Releases SDK & Amazing Audio Engine

The Amazing Audio Engine, Audiobus, A Tasty Pixel, Loopy, Michael Tyson, ios inter-app audio

Since its release 3 months ago, over 100 music apps have joined the quickly growing Audiobus community (including the just announced Garageband). Now, that list is set to expand exponentially. Michael Tyson, Audiobus creator, has unveiled two surprises on the iOS music world. The first is The Amazing Audio Engine:

The Amazing Audio Engine is a sophisticated framework for iOS audio applications, built so you don’t have to.

It is designed to be very easy to work with, and handles all of the intricacies of iOS audio on your behalf.

Built upon the efficient and low-latency Core Audio Remote IO system, and written by one of the pioneers of iOS audio development and developer of Audiobus Michael Tyson, The Amazing Audio Engine lets you get to work on making your app great instead of reinventing the wheel.

The Amazing Audio Engine is the code on which Audiobus, Loopy, and Loopy HD were built. It includes Audiobus support (natch) and is free to download.

Also completely open-source is the Audiobus SDK. This makes it a breeze for developers to implement Audiobus support for their app. The Audiobus Developer Center is at http://developer.audiob.us

You’ll find extensive documentation, a developer community forum, and utilities to register and manage your apps so that they appear within the Audiobus app and on our site

These are some seriously great developments for audio app programmers (especially aspiring ones such as myself). The world of iOS inter-app audio is growing up fast! Onward!

Arturia iMini: Migrating the MiniMoog to iPad

arturia, imini, minimoog

With iMini, Arturia joins the mobile revolution. It was the only thing to do, having all its other bases covered.

iMini is a faithful reproduction of the iconic Minimoog synthesizer, for iPad. It is based on Arturia’s TAE® technology which first brought the Minimoog to desktops with its Mini V software. iMini can share presets with its predecessor Mini V, and includes over 500 sounds created by “the top sound designers in the world.” Not sure if he was involved, but iMini already has the support of well respected sound artist Richard Devine.

On top of being compatible with Mini V, iMini supports CORE MIDI, allowing MIDI controller mapping, and WIST sync with compatible apps running on other iDevices. It is also part of Retronym’s Tabletop app environment. Through Tabletop, you can share sounds via Soundcloud, render to .wav, or Audiocopy/paste into another iApp. At this time, iMini doesn’t support Audiobus yet.

Not only does iMini pay homage to the great Bob Moog, but Arturia literally pays back to the Foundation:

To support Bob Moog’s legacy, we are donating a portion of each sale to the Bob Moog Foundation to support their work in science and music education via Dr. Bob’s SoundSchool, their work to preserve, protect and share Bob Moog’s archives, and their vision to build a Moogseum in the coming years (Moogfoundation.org)

Check out the awesome promo vid and tutorial:

Arturia iMini requires at least iPad 2 and iOS 6.0 or later, and costs just $9.99


 

If that’s not enough info to get you moist and/or downloading the app already, head over to Arturia.com  for the full nitty gritty (they always have tons of in depth product info).

Animoog V2

Moog, Animoog, iPad synth

So the world hasn’t ended…yet 🙂

If only the end of an age, and a new beginning, today also marks another important milestone – the launch of Moog’s Animoog V2 for iPad!

This massive update features accelerometer control, so you can literally wobble and modulate sound by physically tilting your device. They’ve also added note hold and scale lock,  Load/Save MIDI CC maps, Audiocopy/Audiopaste and…wait for it…Audiobus support!

Another major and very cool addition is an integrated 4-track recorder, so you can record from within Animoog itself. You can also import audio from your iTunes library, split, loop, copy, paste, and share individual clips, or mix down your tracks and upload directly to SoundCloud. As a holiday gift from Moog:

“This 4 Track Recorder will be free to existing users until Dec. 31, 2012 at which time it will revert to it’s regular price of $4.99 in the Animoog Store.

Furthermore, between Dec 20th and Dec 31st Animoog for iPad will be available at the promotional price of $14.99 (reg. price $29.99), Animoog for iPhone will be available at the promotional price of $4.99 (reg. price $9.99), and Moog’s first iOS app, Filtatron will be available at the promotional price of $4.99 (reg. price $7.99).”

Check out this video for a glimpse of new features:

Animoog V2: Expanded, Upgraded, Integrated

These are truly exciting times for iOS music, as more and more capabilities have recently appeared allowing totally autonomous mobile music making. Who knows what’s coming down the pipe next hmmm??? Onward towards the future, sailors!

Buy Animoog for iPad 

Buy Animoog for iPhone

Buy Filtatron for iPad

Buy Filtatron for iPhone

Korg iOS Apps Add Audiobus Support

Korg, iOS, apps, iElectribe, iMS20, iPolysix, iElectribe Gorillaz Edition, iKaossilator, Audiobus

Korg updated it’s iOS apps – iMS20, iElectribe, iElectribe Gorillaz Edition, iKaossilator, and the recently released iPolysix – and is now part of the fast-growing Audiobus family!

This is great news for iPad musicians, as Korg apps have been heralded as THE reason to get into iOS music. That is, until Audiobus came along. Now, together at last, these apps can all be combined in an orgy of touchscreen musical bliss.

Although Korg pioneered WIST (Wireless Sync-Start Technology), which allows two iOS devices within close proximity to sync compatible apps via bluetooth, (already mindbending), the addition of Audiobus capability will truly enable musicians to take their iKorg music to the next level.

Other exciting stuff included in the update:

• Retina (& iPhone 5 for iKaossilator) Display support
• Background Audio support allows to play other music apps
• iCloud data backup
• “Audiobus” enables audio streaming between iOS Musical Instrument Apps
• Virtual MIDI enables MIDI communication between iOS Musical Instrument Apps
• A few bugs have also been addressed, improving operational operational stability

There is one slight hitch Audiobus would like everyone to be aware of. First go update (or buy) Korg apps, then delete and re-install the Audiobus app. Says Audiobus:

“This is a temporary workaround until they add their apps to the Audiobus web database (which they probably omitted to keep things a bit more secret)… This workaround will (most likely) become unnecessary in the next few days as we work together with KORG to add them to our database.”

AAAANNNDDD finally, you should probably know that Korg apps are 50% off until Dec.31st to celebrate the release of iPolysix!!! Go Korg!

Buy Korg iMS-20 for iPad

Buy Korg iPolysix for iPad

Buy Korg iElectribe for iPad

Buy Korg iElectribe Gorillaz Edition for iPad 

Buy Korg iKaosillator for iPad

Buy Korg iKaosillator for iPhone

Buy Audiobus for iPad

Buy Audiobus for iPhone 

All Aboard Audiobus!

Audiobus, iOS audio, iPad audio, audio routing, iPad audio app

Since the announcement of its Dec.10th launch date, Audiobus has been the talk of the town in music tech land. And for good reason – it’s a true game changer. iOS music enthusiasts have long been waiting for a way to tie together all the promising apps they have bleeping away on their tablets, without having to resort to a computer DAW. You see, kids these days want to do it all on their mobile devices. Computers are for old people!

Audiobus allows internal routing of audio between apps, so you can combine several sources in a performance or send them all to a recording app such as Loopy. While only 12 apps are currently supported, Audiobus’ creators say 750 developers are lined up to receive the SDK so they can add this functionality to their apps.

Here’s an up to date list of supported apps: http://audiob.us/apps/

If you still don’t know what Audiobus is, watch this:

You can use Audiobus to filter audio from one app through effects in another. Here’s a less obvious usage:



Audiobus was created by Michael Tyson (a.k.a. A Tasty Pixel, maker of Loopy HD), and Sebastian Dittmann, (maker of Soundprism). Read the inspiring tale of how Tyson discovered the loophole that would become Audiobus over the course of thirteen months, while traveling through Europe in a motorhome http://atastypixel.com/blog/thirteen-months-of-audiobus/

Buy Audiobus for iPad

Buy Audiobus for iPhone