Why you should seriously check out this magazine

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If you’re making music on iOS or on Android for that matter then it’s a fair bet that you’re into electronic music. I think that’s a reasonable assumption, and if you’re into electronic music then I think you’re going to like this magazine.

I’ve just bought the launch paper edition and it is really lovely. I was so keen to get a copy of it that I actually tried 6 different branches of WH Smiths in London, and even then I couldn’t find a copy. So I bought mine online at the Electronic Sound Magazine site and it was really straightforward.

There were a number of reasons why I wanted to give Electronic Sound a go, not least because of who’s on the front cover, but also because the cover CD looked great, and I can tell you that it sounds even better. In fact there are some really cracking tracks on that CD, I’m so pleased that I got it.

As for the magazine it’s great. It’s really well designed and laid out and the content is spot on. I can’t think of a better magazine, it suits me down to the ground.

It’s a UK based magazine which I know won’t work for everyone, but each edition is available electronically and even on iOS too, so you can try it out very simply and cheaply.

I can’t recommend this magazine enough. I love it. I expect to be talking about it for a while.

If you want to check it out then take a look at their site, or if you want to find it on iOS, click below.

MIDI thing, Korg’s PlugKey and Roland’s Sound Canvas

It’s been quite a while since I mentioned the MIDI thing device that I’m part of. MIDI thing has been going through tests with a number of people for the last few weeks and we’ve got some very useful feedback on how it works and how people who’ve been testing it feel about it.

So I thought now would be a good time to show a little of what we’ve doing with MIDI thing, and, more importantly, what it actually does.

If you’ve not heard of MIDI thing before and this is all new to you then I’ll give you a little background. If you know all this already then feel to skip over it.

MIDI thing is a hardware project that I’ve been a part of with an old friend who’s done the design work. It came out of a bunch of ideas around open source hardware and software and making neat small mobile music devices which are ideally battery powered. That’s just what MIDI thing is.

There’s the battery now here’s what it does:

  • Midi thing connects between the MIDI-out of a keyboard controller and the midi-in of a sound generator module or an iOS device that can run as a multi-timbral MIDI module.
  • The MIDI thing has just one switch and this is for turning the power on and off. You control the looper by activating a “command” mode. Using command mode the note keys operate the various looper functions instead of producing sound.
  • The “switch” to activate command mode is either a pre-selected note (e.g. unused note at the top or bottom of the keyboard) or control change (cc) knob/button; it is chosen when the unit is switched on.
  • The loop can be 2, 4 or 8 bars long. It can run in 3⁄4 or 4/4 time. There is a tap tempo function or the looper will synchronise automatically to an external MIDI clock and respond to start, continue and stop commands. All midi information (on all 16 channels) can be recorded up to a maximum of 400 MIDI events.
  • Each MIDI channel has a separate A/B recording zone which can be freely switched. Individual channel (and A/B) recordings can be quantised or deleted. A bi-colour led shows tempo and progress through the bars. A metronome (General Midi hi-hat) can be activated as MIDI-out on channel 10.

Hopefully that gives you a reasonable idea of what the thing does. Now we’ll have a look at it working. In this short video the MIDI thing is running multiple channels on Roland’s Sound Canvas app for iOS. The nice thing about the Sound Canvas app is that each sound can be assigned to an individual channel, just like a hardware module really, which wouldn’t be a surprise as the Sound Canvas was of course originally a hardware module.

What I’m doing here is laying down a series of tracks over multiple MIDI channels. Each of the channels has a different instrument assigned in the Sound Canvas.

Swapping between channels is actually very easy. All I do is use a pre-determined control key to change channel on the MIDI thing. I don’t need to fiddle with any controls I’m just using the CZ101. I’m going to do another video soon to show just how that works, so expect that soon.

Hopefully this gives a little idea of what the MIDI thing does, even with my terrible playing. There’ll be more soon.

Yamaha brings us FM Essential with AB and works as AU

Featuring an FM tone generator, FM Essential is a synthesizer app for the iPhone and iPad that provides for real-time synth performances and also lets you edit voices.

FM sound

  • Tone Generator: FM
  • Part: 1
  • Polyphony: 16
  • Preset Voice: 271
  • Arpeggiator patterns: 64
  • Chord pads: 20
  • Scales: 25

Drum Part

  • Tone Generator: Audio
  • Part: 1
  • Drum Pad: 16
  • Drum Pad Set: 3

Functions

  • Plug into MX!
  • You can play full 271 voices and voice store function if you connect your iOS with Yamaha music synthesizer MX BK/BU series.
  • Effects/EQ edit
    You can adjust parameters to edit effects and equalization.

Ball controller

  • Touch and drag in ball controller to modulate the sound by simultaneously changing multiple parameters based on the ball position.

Step sequencer

  • We can store the ball position in the currently selected scene box.

Arpeggiator and chord pads

  • You can play Arpeggiator and Chord pads in addition to keyboard with various scales.

Support

  • Compatible with Audio Bus、Audio Unit Extentions
  • Compatible devices:
    • iPhone 5S, 6/6 plus, 6s/6s plus and SE, iPod touch 6th Generation or later, iPad Air 1st Generation or later, iPad mini 2nd Generation or later,iPad Pro

FM Essential is a universal app and is free on the app store now:

Lofionic Duplicat tape delay arrives for your iPad

This looks like a lovely FX app for giving you some awesome tape FX for your sounds.

Here’s the app’s description:

Lofionic Duplicat is a warm and lush tape delay effect for iOS, supporting AudioUnit Extensions, Inter-App Audio and Audiobus.

In addition to the Swell and Sustain controls found on the hardware equivalents, Duplicat introduces a tape Speed control, for fine tuning the rate of delay in realtime, and a tape Effect control which emulates the deteriorating effect of using worn tape by gradually introducing degradation to the feedback.

Duplicat is perfect for adding lush, organic sounding delay to your mixes ranging from trashy lo-fi grungy tones, through psychadelic swirls, to subtle slap-back.

And as always a great video from the Sound Test Room:

What’s more Lofionic Duplicat is only $0.99 on the app store now:

That was a surprise, Electro-Harmonix brings us Mini-Synthesizer

Don’t get me wrong. It’s a very nice surprise all in all. In fact it’s great that Electro-Harmonix have delivered these two apps (one for iPhone and one for iPad). I’m looking forward to trying them out.

Here are all the details …

Electro-Harmonix, a pioneer since 1968 in the field of sound effects pedals for musicians, has produced an app which is a faithful digital re-creation of their circa 1980 analog cult-classic, The MINI-SYNTHESIZER.

Available for iPad and iPhone (IOS version 8.0 or later), the EHX MINI-SYNTHESIZER accurately delivers all the vintage synth sounds of the original plus modern updates.

EHX President and Founder, Mike Matthews stated: “Fans of vintage synths will appreciate the apps ability to recreate the original’s warm analog sounds and deep funky bass, but because it’s so affordable ($2.99 for phone, $4.99 for tablet) and user-friendly, parents, educators and non-musicians will love it, too.”

The MINI-SYNTHESIZER app comes with 22 presets and the ability to store an almost unlimited number of user presets programs.

Intuitive, flexible and powerful control are provided by the MINI-SYNTHESIZER’s 12 sliders and nine switches. Here’s a breakdown of the user interface:

OSC Section

  • PITCH slider lets the player raise or lower the pitch of the note by +/- 1 octave
  • SUB-OCTAVE slider introduces a note one octave below what’s being played for extra bottom
  • OCTAVE UP switch causes the note being played to jump up one octave.
  • TUNE knob lets the player tune the MINI-SYNTHESIZER to other instruments and sound sources over a +/- 50 cents range.

FILTERS Section

  • PHASE RATE slider adjusts the speed of the phase shifter
  • FILTER START sets the start frequency of the filter sweep
  • FILTER STOP sets the stop frequency of the filter sweep
  • SWEEP RATE controls the speed of the filter sweep
  • PHASE switch turns the effect on/off
  • 2X FILTER switch changes how the audio passes through the filters (either in parallel or in series)
  • Q switch sets the amount of resonance on the filter sweep
  • RETRIGGER switch turns the filter retrigger on/off

DELAY Section

  • TIME slider adjusts the delay time up to two seconds
  • FEEDBACK controls the number of echo repeats
  • BLEND adjusts the mix of the original signal and the echo repeats
  • DELAY switch turns the effect on/off

REVERB Section

  • AMOUNT slider adjusts the reverb effect level
  • BLEND slider controls the mix of the wet and dry signals
  • REVERB switch turns reverb on/off
  • REVERB>DELAY switch lets the user place either Delay or Reverb first in the effects chain for a variety of cool sound effects.

MISCELLANEOUS CONTROLS

  • VOL (Volume) slider adjusts the MINI-SYNTHESIZER’s overall sound output level
  • POLY/MONO switch toggles between polyphonic (four notes can be played simultaneously) or monophonic (only one note can be played at a time) modes
  • PRESETS pop-down menu displays the presets available and allows the user to instantly select one
  • HORIZONTAL slider lets the player adjust the keyboards sounding range over an expansive eight-octave range.
  • RIBBON Interface lets the player perform portamento (glide up or down to pitch), vibrato and other expressive playing.

The easy-to-use Electro-Harmonix MINI-SYNTHESIZER App is loaded with great sounds and features and is sure to appeal to serious musicians and non-musicians alike.

MINI-SYNTHESIZER for iPhone ($2.99 on the app store):

MINI-SYNTHESIZER for iPad ($4.99 on the app store):

Well that was a shock! Inception 2.0 arrives, does it mean RJDJ is returning?

My guess is that the answer to that question is no. However, even so, this is great news. I really loved using the Inception app in all sorts of places and environments. It was amazing, so to see if get some new life breathed into it is wonderful.

I hope that this also signals some kind of return for RJDJ, but I won’t hold my breath even though there was the ‘Hear’ app just recently. One of these occurrences on its own would be fine, but two makes me wonder if maybe, just maybe, something is happening.

Do you know?

Anyway, for now, if you don’t know Inception you should take a look on the app store now and grab it, it is free.

Skram 1.2.2 has arrived!

I’ve been wondering when Liine would bring us a new version of Skram, and today they’ve kindly answered my question. Version 1.2.2 is here and brings with it a bunch of goodies that everyone will love like Link support, new devices, and more besides.

Here’s the full list …

  • New device pack as in-app purchase (free for a limited time)
  • Ableton Link support
  • Inter-App Audio support
  • AudioCopy support
  • More export options for recordings
  • Stability and performance improvements
  • New visual cue when Pitch Sequencer length is zero
  • Help copy tweaks
  • Various bug fixes

If you’re wondering what exactly it is that all the fuss is about then have a read of my previous post about Skram and why I consider it to be a really important app in a very important category of music making. Hopefully after that it’ll all become clear.

For now I’m off to take a look and grab the (currently free) IAP while I can!

If you don’t know Skramm, then either check out the post I mentioned above, or take a look on the app store (button below). I think you’ll be impressed. I was, and I expect to continue to be.

Music Tech Pitch 4.5, hardware, apps, and Brexit too

Although it was a few weeks ago I wanted to post about this Music Tech Pitch 4.5 event. I’ve been chairing and moderating the panel of judges for Music for about 3 years now and it’s been a huge amount of fun to do it. Each time it’s different and I’m constantly interested and amazed by some of the start ups that pitch.

This time was no different, except perhaps that some of these start ups really caught my eye. I’ll tell you about them.

First up we had Air-Craft, the maker of the quite amazing AC Sabre, which I mentioned last week. Hari, the creator of the app gave us a demo using the Sabre and then talked us through the business. It was a very impressive start to the evening.

Next we had Blitzer API. Blitzer is basically a one stop shop platform specialising in processing, enrichment and harmonisation of music metadata. Whilst this might not be really amazing for me personally I do understand how important this kind of technology is and it was a good pitch.

After that we had Concert Flow, a platform that matches listings of concerts to video footage of the artist playing live. Whilst I’ve seen this kind of thing before this was a really good take on the idea and I think it could really work for some artists. Also it had a really good team behind it which makes it even more appealing.

Decave was our next pitch. Decave is a service where musicians from different genres, get matched up, and after a day in the studio, play and jam together, in front of a crowd. I really liked this idea it seemed to be really worth pursuing. I think that Decave could produce some excellent results. Not just for audiences, but for the artists themselves. I’ll certainly be watching to see how it develops.

Ingenious Audio was next and was of particular interest as it’s a solution that works with iOS devices. It’s a new way to stream audio over WiFi called Fi-Live and a hardware device to make existing wired products WiFi compatible. I really liked this hardware, and I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t seen it on Kickstarter when it first arrived, or at least I can’t remember it anyway. I think we’ll be hearing a lot about Ingenious Audio in the future. Their product is pretty amazing.

Next up was JuiceVCR, an alternative promotional platform for independent artists to reach new audiences. This was pretty impressive as the platform has been run completely by one person so far and totally bootstrapped. I liked the product and I might go take a look at it for my own stuff soon. I think it’s worth taking a look at.

Last and by no means least was Trackd, the world’s first 8 Track ideas studio in your pocket, or at least that’s how they describe their app. To say it’s an 8 track doesn’t really do it justice as it’s more like a collaboration platform all in one place and that place is in your iPhone. I think I need to take a bit more time to look at Trackd, it has a lot of potential and I think it could become a really useful tool for mobile musicians. If you want to check out their app, you can get it on the AppStore here. It’s free with a single IAP.

It was an interesting evening, but I’ve missed out one part. Whilst we normally start Music Tech Pitch with a keynote speech, this time we did something different, we took the timely opportunity to have a brief debate about Brexit, which, as you can imagine, is a topic on most people’s minds in the UK right now. But I’m going to cover Brexit in a separate post as an issue as big as that deserves some dedicated time.

For me this was one of the best Music Tech Pitch events we’ve done so far, with perhaps the most diverse collection of start ups. In the end Ingenious Audio won the evening, and it was very well deserved. But it was a close run thing. The quality of pitches, ideas and companies were very high indeed.

Retronyms Hook arrives on the app store

You may remember that I posted about Retronyms upcoming app Hook and how it solidifies their universe or even ecosystem? Well today it’s arrived on the app store and you can check it out for yourself.

Hook has arrived, in two versions, one for your iPhone, that one’s free, and one for your iPad, that one’s $12.99 / £9.99.

Here’s what the app store description says:

Hook is a new music performance, mashup, and DJ app for iPhone and iPad. Arrange and trigger loops on a grid and create dynamic, expressive transitions with the Flux Fader — a multitouch “smart crossfader” that allows you to expressively make transitions between any combination of tracks/cells on the fly. The Flux Fader includes a two-axis control with 9 riser synths, glitch and gate effects, tempo-synced filter sweeps, an EQ, beat drop, tape stop, and filter drop. Combining all these to make transitions is the heart of playing live with Hook. Hook includes a full editor complete with auto transient slicing and waveform editing. Tight integration with AudioCopy makes it easy to drop in your own loops and sounds from other apps.

Real creative power can be found in the integrated sampler — record from mic/line, other apps via inter-app audio, and grab hooks from iTunes and Spotify. Change tempo in real time, and keep all your hooks in sync. Hook is a killer mashup tool with a full mixer, tons of tracks, integrated FX bus, per-cell fx, transpose, time stretching, tuning, timing and trigger settings, and more. Imagine the clip launching capabilities of Ableton Live in a futuristic multitouch environment.

Hook for iPhone:

Hook for iPad:

The AC Sabre arrives, delivers, changes iOS music making

Every now and then an app comes along that you really think is going to change how things work, is going to change how people perceive making music on iOS. It doesn’t happen often because it’s a big change, but I think that this is it.

Yesterday the AC Sabre launched on the app store. It’s an app, but that doesn’t really describe it properly at all. The Sabre is an instrument that gives you real control over your synths, VST’s and libraries. It’s one of those things that has to be seen to be understood, has to be used to be appreciated.

Let’s face it, gestural control has been around for a while now. There have been all sorts of approaches to it. Lots have used MIDI, back in the early days some used OSC. Lots of gestural apps worked well, but none really caught on as instruments in their own right. That is, not until now.

The AC Sabre brings truly instrument like control to an iOS device. It transforms your iPhone / Touch into a real instrument with emotional range and expressivity you won’t have experienced before.

You’re going to be hearing a lot more about the AC Sabre over the coming weeks, not just from me, but from lots of people!

Here’s all the app details …

AC Sabre is a revolutionary wireless MIDI instrument and motion controller for electronic music producers, composers, performers and DJs which brings the dynamic richness and performance energy of traditional instruments to your digital music library, in a way that is not possible with the existing studio and stage tools.

“A very unique and sophisticated virtual musical instrument” –The Next Web

AC Sabre reads your movements with the built in gyroscope and accelerometer and translates them into musical actions. It lets you pluck invisible strings in the air while controlling up to 7 additional parameters, intuitively with your movements, via MIDI CC messages.

VIDEOS: http://air-craft.co/demos/

“I had to check AC Sabre out and it immediately lived up to the hype…surreal and instinctive…like Augmented Reality” –Discchord

PLEASE NOTE: AC Sabre contains no sounds of its own. You’ll need a computer with MIDI compatible music software (Ableton, Logic, Cubase, FLStudio, Reason, Garage Band, Massive, Kontakt, Sylenth…), or other apps which support MIDI input (Animoog, Nave).

PUSH THE BOUNDARIES

PRODUCERS…

  • Use AC Sabre to compose distinctive hooks that go beyond the MIDI keyboard
  • Conduct automation in realtime with human sensitivity instead of spending painful hours with the mouse
  • Add sophisticated musical elements without the need for years of theory and training

DJs & PERFORMERS…

  • Play electronic instruments without being shackled to your gear
  • Introduce spontaneity into your live digital performances
  • Infuse signature attitude and style into your performances
  • 3 words: Live Bass Wobble.

FEATURES

RICH MUSICAL VOCABULARY:

  • Scale-synced, velocity sensitive note play
  • Harmonies, trills, arpeggios…
  • Gesture-based vibrato
  • Note shift (for playing out-of-scale notes)
  • Circle of Fourths/Fifths key changes
  • Note range and octave shift
  • Legato and Portamento modes
  • Note-clamping pitchbend
  • A Drone for sustain and guitar “tapping”-style effects

HONED FOR PROFESSIONAL USE:

  • Low latency (<10ms), 50m+ range via Wi-Fi
  • QuickPanels allow realtime access to most common parameters
  • Save/load/export configuration Patches
  • Wi-fi/Bluetooth support + Bonjour auto-detect
  • Supports multiple devices running AC Sabre as separate MIDI inputs into your DAW
  • MIDI Learn wizard for quick CC assignment
  • MIDI channel selector for playing multiple instruments

POWERFUL EXPRESSIVE CONTROL:

  • 6 assignable Motion Controls
  • Pitch, Roll and Yaw angles
  • Linear Shake & Shuffle
  • Play Intensity
  • 2 configurable Touch Ribbons
  • 1 configurable User Button
  • Vibrato on Shake

OVER 150 MUSICAL SCALES

  • Major, Minor and Pentatonics
  • Jazz modes: Dorian, Phrygian, etc
  • Bebop Dominant, Octonic, Nine-tone scale and other exotics
  • World scales like Hungarian Gypsy, Hirajoshi, and Mississippi Blues
  • Arpeggio scales like Dominant 7b5
  • 1-4-5-b7 and other Bassline scales
  • A few centuries worth of Indian Raag scales

TWEAKABILITY

  • Vibrato amount from 1/4 step up to full PB range
  • MIDI CC’s and output range are fully customisable
  • Motion range calibration
  • Virtual MIDI support, play other apps

AIR CRAFT ONLINE

Online manual: http://air-craft.co/support/ac-sabre-manual/
Videos: http://air-craft.co/demos/
Website: http://air-craft.co
Forum: http://community.air-craft.co
Questions? Email us: hq@air-craft.co

NOTES & SUPPORT

AC Sabre is a high performance application that requires iPhone 4s+ (iPhone 5+ recommended), iPod Touch 5th gen+, or newer running iOS 8.1+. Also, while playing is definitely tailored more for handheld devices, it works splendidly on the iPad.

Windows users: You’ll also need a (free) copy of rtpMIDI for connecting AC Sabre to your computer

AC Sabre is 50% off and on sale until the 19th of August.

Get it on the app store now!

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