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A first impression … ROTOR’s tangible controllers

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Reactable have a long history in creating innovative musical instruments, starting out with their original Reactable, moving to Reactable Mobile, and now with ROTOR and their accompanying controllers.

Of course tangible controllers for an iPad aren’t actually a new thing. In fact, two years ago Tuna DJ brought out their control knobs (you can see them here in this post). Enough of those for the moment.

When Reactable brought out their first mobile app it was a very different beast to the other modular apps around at the time. When they recently followed up with their new ROTOR app it was another big step, but not just a software step, one that they aimed to  provide users with an experience that is somewhere in between using the full hardware version of the reactable and an iPad app.

So the real question is, have they succeeded?

I’d say yes. In many ways. However, I’d also say that this is not a perfect solution, and if that’s what you’re seeking then you’re almost certainly looking in the wrong place. Before deciding whether the ROTOR tangible controllers are for you or not it’s worth understanding what to compare them against. A brand new Reactable will currently cost you 5900€ (that’s with an 800€ discount). A set of ROTOR controllers will set you back 39.90€, which is about 0.7% of the cost of a full Reactable. In my mind that’s a pretty good deal.

Personally, whilst I’d love to spend some time playing with a full Reactable, I’m more than satisfied with the new ROTOR controllers. I think that they represent excellent value for money.

Let’s move on to how they work and what you can do with them

I’ll start by saying that I think that the presentation of these is lovely. They come in a nice little round tin and are cushioned in foam. In my view presentation is important, and even though you’ve only paid less than 1% of the cost of a Reactable I still think that the whole experience is important.

When you get the controllers out they’re simple things, which initially made me wonder if they’d work at all. However, placing them on the ROTOR app, they work immediately. They will control any on screen ROTOR object.

One thing that quickly became apparent was that to use these controllers you absolutely need a flat surface to work from. Whilst I’ve not tried using these in a mobile environment (and by that I mean on a bus or a train), I’m fairly sure that they’re not going to perform at their best. Having said that, for indoor, flat surface use, they work better than you might expect.

But they are not perfect. And I think that it would be wrong to think that these little devices could be. They will slip and can change from controlling an object on screen to moving it around. In my view I think that with practice I could limit a lot of that slippage on the screen and end up being quite deft with these, but that would take a little time, and would be time well spent.

A quick try with the old Tuna DJ knobs

As I had mentioned them earlier I thought I’d give these older knobs a try out on the ROTOR app. Sadly they didn’t work at all which reminded me that I’d had trouble getting them to work originally. I can’t remember how much they cost so I can’t compare them to the ROTOR controllers.

My verdict …

If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to get an experience a little more like the full scale Reactable then the ROTOR controllers are worth it in my view as they cost less than 1% of the full device, and with a little time and practice I think they’ll be really useful.

If you think you’re going to get that full experience for 39€ then that’s a bit unrealistic and you probably shouldn’t bother.

Reactable’s controllers are on sale here, as is the ROTOR app itself:

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PPG Phonem arrives for your iPad

So there wasn’t long to wait for PPG’s new Phonem app to arrive for your iPad. Here’s all you need to know.

After the huge success of the PPG Phonem VST/AU plugin, we optimized the sound-engine to make it run pretty well on the iPad.

It has also been adapted to make best use of multi-touch and comes with IAA and AU-extension.

PPG Phonem lets the user create expressive vocal synthesis beyond anything ever heard before. With its advanced routing system every aspect of the voice can be controlled and modulated in any conceivable way. Anything from a quiet whisper to a scream. Use the intuitive text to speech tool to make Phonem say whatever you want.

Although the PPG Phonem was originally designed to do just vocal synthesis, it turned out that the system was also capable of producing a wide range of universal synthsizer sounds. So we extended the parameter ranges and made everything accessible to the user, to take advantage of this fact.

  • Create your own singing style and expressions
  • Large Phoneme inventory – 46 english/american plus 5 german plus 4 french phonemes
  • Versatile excitation generator/oscillator
  • Working with typical voice source or wavetable and time-corrected-samples (TCS)
  • Extreme time stretching, freezing and reversing
  • Pitch track – let your robots sing
  • Control track – let it cry and shout
  • Song mode – making it easy to compose your synthesized text
  • Wave page – create your own wavetables and modify time-corrected-samples
  • Import WTS and TCS files from the iPad WaveGenerator and WaveMapper
  • All internal parameters available to the user – give your voices a special dialect or individual character
  • Versatile matrix system – allowing 19 sources to control 40 parameters
  • Two X/Y control pads freely routable to 40 parameters
  • 6 Envelopes, for control of filter sweeps, waveform, noise and many modulations
  • 4 LFOs plus Vibrato, Flutter and Growl generators
  • Fully programmable resonator filter – allowing production of new sound effects
  • Delay/Reverb effect
  • Overdrive/Distortion effect
  • A/B compare your edited sounds
  • AU extension – run multiple Phonem instances in AU hosts
  • IAA – inter-app audio support
  • Audiobus 2 with statesaving
  • 10 min audio recording and Audio copy to the pasteboard
  • Redesigned browser with new listing filters
  • Directly accessible context help for each module
  • Freely configurable schematic keypads, with extremely expressive modulation options
  • 4 Keypads play modes: Poly, Mono, Legato and Multitrigger.
  • 4 MIDI modes: Omni, Poly, Mono, and Voice-Per-Channel.

Phonem costs $19.99 / £14.99 on the app store now:

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More modular fun for your iPad, waverails arrives, can be tried for free, needs an IAP for full use

I’m all for more interesting tools for iOS and this does look quite unusual indeed. I haven’t tried it out as yet, but I expect I will do soon enough, and when I have I’ll be able to tell you if I think that the IAP is worth it or not.

On that note, I have to say that I think that this is quite a good way to offer up an app. In effect it is a ‘try before you buy’ option. I quite like that.

Anyway, for now here’s the app’s app store description:

waverails is a modular path-based loop processor, inspired by avant-garde tape music and early electromechanical musical contraptions. Instead of recording, overdubbing and splicing together tape, waverails lets you splice, warp, blend and reverse audio (live input and/or samples) in real-time by using path-based modular components. waverails can be used as an audio processor or live performance tool to create effects and performances that aren’t easily replicated in real-time with traditional audio software and effects.

Create:

  • Lo-fi warped sound collages
  • Phased loops (just like your favorite 20th century minimalist composers!)
  • Chopped up real-time glitchy beats
  • Massive glittery ambience
  • Granular textures
  • Harmonic and rhythmic effects that transform input sounds into music

Features:

  • Audiobus support (filter port)
  • Control each modular component’s parameters in real time
  • Jump functionality lets you easily set cues and sync object positions and speeds
  • Fine grained or musical interval-based speed control
  • BPM control to match audio input tempo
  • Perform any task with a few taps, without needing any gestures/long presses.
  • No additional hardware or apps required, create new sounds using internal or imported samples
  • Info function to share and learn information about custom patches.

note: full patch editing and save functionality require in-app purchase.

Click below for waverails on the app store:

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Moments in Mobile Music: 5 – The iPad

To say that the ipad has changed mobile music would be an understatement. If the iPhone was profound the ipad was and is bigger. I think that the ipad has taken the world of mobile music even further if that was possible. In some ways I like to think of it like this. The iPhone showed us what was possible what you could do on a mobile device, and then the ipad showed us that it could be done better and in an even more professional way.

I can remember when the ipad first arrived, there was such a buzz. I can recall that people were desperate for stories about even the most banal unboxing. Every day new apps either went universal or brought out a specific ipad version. Developers were trying and refining new ideas all the time. It was very exciting as it goes.

Of course things have slowed down a lot since those heady days. But the ipad is still the go to device for a lot of people. I know that for a lot of people the ipad is what mobile music is all about. I can understand that, it makes a lot of sense actually even if it isn’t exactly the same for me. Even though I’m actually writing this on my ipad. I think that the ipad has done a tremendous amount for bringing people into music making and showing just what you can do with a tablet device. I remember when the Gorillaz made their album with ipad apps. It was a revelation to a lot of people and paved the way for a lot of other artists to do similar projects. No of course it isn’t unusual to see an ipad on stage at a gig. It doesn’t really make news any more. We’ve become mainstream in many ways and that was because of the ipad in my view.

So the ipad is a very significant moment in mobile music and many would argue with me that it is possibly the most important so far. Maybe. Maybe I’d agree with the so far part anyway.

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Audulus 3.1 arrives for Windows and Linux too!

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Audulus gets just about as cross platform as you can get! Now with Audulus 3.1, Audulus is now available for Windows and Linux too, in addition to Mac, iPhone, and iPad.

“It’s not easy to be multi-platform, but I take pride in offering Audulus on as many platforms as possible,” says Audulus developer Taylor Holliday.

The Windows and Linux versions of Audulus have all the features of the Mac stand-alone version. Audulus for Windows also includes a VST plugin version.

Trial versions of Audulus for Mac, Windows, and Linux are also available. These trial versions have no time limit and can load any patch. To save patches, purchase the full version of Audulus.

Audulus for iOS has also been refined. A new context menu does not require a long-press gesture, making the Audulus UI easier to learn and quicker to use. Support for iCloud Drive makes it easier to share patches.

Audulus is a minimalist modular software synthesizer and effects processor. With Audulus, users can build synthesizers, design new sounds, or process audio. All with low latency real-time processing suitable for live performance.

Audulus for iOS can be used as a stand-alone instrument or in conjunction with Audulus for Mac, for a round-trip workflow between platforms. Begin a patch on the bus ride home and then bring it up on your laptop at band practice later that night – with iCloud functionality, moving between platforms couldn’t be easier.

Audulus 3.1 for iPad/iPhone is available on the App Store for $29.99.
Audulus 3.1 for Mac is available on the Mac App Store for $39.99.

Audulus 3.1 for Windows/Linux is available directly from audulus.com for $39.99. Purchase a single license for both versions.

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Analog Synth X is a new synth for your iPad, and it’s free

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Another synth for you to try out on your iPad, Analog Synth X is free on the app store, don’t know about any IAPs as yet.

What’s interesting is that this has been made using AudioKit 3.0, and is on that site as an example of what you can do with the framework. I wonder if other developers will pick it up and see what they can do with it?

Anyway, here’s the app store description …

Matt Fecher’s analog synthesizer for iPad created entirely with the new AudioKit 3.0 framework.

Get the full source code now from the AudioKit website at audiokit.io.

Features:

  • 5-Voice Virtual Analog Polysynth
  • Dual Morphable VCO Oscillators
  • Dedicated Sub Oscillator
  • FM Oscillator w/ Mod
  • Beautiful Sean Costello Reverb
  • Free-running LFO w/ 4 waveforms
  • Multi-tap (Ping-Pong) delay
  • 4-Pole Vintage Modeled Filter
  • ADSR Envelope
  • MIDI in for notes
  • Detune Oscillators by Semitone & Hz
  • Hold & Mono modes for keyboard
  • Noise generator
  • 8-Bit Crusher

Analog Synth X on the app store:

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CHAiOS SYNTH 2 has arrived

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Another new synth for your iPad (your iOS 9.1 as a minimum iPad) actually. Here’s all the details …

The CHAiOS SYNTH 2 is a further development of the free and easy-to-use CHAiOS SYNTH, which was formerly developed at the University of Applied Sciences Duesseldorf. The new version is beefed up by a number of new features and improvements. Now the CHAiOS SYNTH 2 has become a full professional synthesizer while staying as intuitive and uncomplicated as its predecessor.

With support for Inter-App Audio and Audiobus the CHAiOS SYNTH 2 can be used together with other audio apps on iPad.

Main features:

  • 16 Step melody generator with unique random algorithm
  • Wavetable oscillator with three different waveforms
  • VA lowpass filter with variable resonance and cutoff frequency
  • Delay- and reverb-effects
  • ADSR envelopes for controlling amp and filter frequency
  • Support for Audiobus and Inter-App Audio
  • Improvements to CHAiOS Synth 1
    • New bandlimited wavetable oscillator
    • New „virtual analog“ 4-pole lowpass filter
    • Additional ADSR-envelope for the filter frequency
    • 3 modes for filter resonance
    • 16 step /3 track drum-sequencer
    • More parameters for reverb and delay
    • Adjustable oscillator volume
    • Improved, streamlined design

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Workflow:
By placing your finger on the X/Y-pad a looped melody is generated by a random algorithm, the finger position determines how many notes are used.
If a melody sounds good to you, it can be looped and the sound can be tweaked by a number of parameters and effects.
The options to modify the sound are carefully selected to work well together and provide a creative and fun workflow.

The old, free version of CHAiOS SYNTH is still available at the App Store FOR FREE, but will not be developed or maintained any further. Check it out to get the idea of the CHAiOS Engine!

Follow CHAiOS SYNTH on twitter:
https://twitter.com/chaios_synth

And Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/ChaiosSynth

Or listen to audio examples and demo tracks on soundcloud:
https://soundcloud.com/chaios-synth