An app a day: Tweakybeat

I’m not sure how long I’ll keep up this series, but I thought I’d go through all my apps on my iPhone, one a day (or something like that) and decide whether to keep them or not.

So I started today with Tweakybeat, which I’ve had forever, and seemingly have been waiting forever for an update to this app.

Even so, I can’t bring myself to get rid of it. I love this little drum synth even though it is very limited in terms of what you can do with the patterns. It’s a great drum synth and has some excellent features like the random feature on sounds and the shuffle.

I’d love this app to have audiocopy and a properly settable tempo for starters, but I still play with it without those.

So it’s a keeper, but to the developer, ‘please please please update it!’.

TweakyBeat - Rodrigo Yanez Clip to Evernote

A first impression of Addictive Synth

The first thing I have to say about this iPad app is that it is very aptly named. I thought that I’d have a quick play with it, but couldn’t keep to anything quick and found myself using the app for quite a while.

So what makes it addictive? For me it was the ability to draw waveforms on the screen and set the arp to hold whilst I played around with the sound. Just great fun to play with, and a really good sound engine with good parameters too.

I can’t say that I’ve found my way around the app in it’s entirety, that’s something for another day, and I’ll let you know how that goes. I’m especially looking forward to the recording functions.

Everyone I’ve heard give views on this app have said that they’ve enjoyed it, and can’t see any reason why someone wouldn’t.

I’m looking forward to spending more time with this app and integrating into some work too.

Addictive Synth - VirSyn

iPads at the Apple Store Clip to Evernote

SampleWiz Review from ‘dwso’

Thanks to ‘dswo” for this SampleWiz Review:


  • Very expressive: easy and natural to get vibrato, adjust intensity. Changing octaves and key size is also well thought-out. All of this is well-demonstrated in the videos.
  • Several first-rate synth and guitar presets. That’s a short description, but they really make the app.
  • Some of the longer samples develop in interesting ways (e.g., guitar distortion)
  • Legato mode allows you to take full advantage of those longer samples, so that distortion can build for a group or sequence of notes, not just one at a time
  • Unlike some, I like the visuals. Since there’s no manual, it can be tough to find things the first time, but once you go through all of the buttons with help turned on, it all makes sense.You can tell that the interface has been fine-tuned for live performance.
  • Hold function is powerful.
  • The sound and visuals are both FUN. I have more powerful apps, but few that are so enchanting.
  • Audio copy as well as paste. Not only can you work with samples FROM other apps, you can export samples from SampleWiz TO other apps.
  • A loop can start anywhere in the sample, not just at the beginning. Result: there’s more scope for developing a sound over time.
  • Resampling lets you build up layered sounds; again, very powerful.


  • No one seems to like the looming wizard graphic, including me.
  • No multisampling; this is the program’s only serious weakness in my view. Result: JR presets sound fine within an octave of the original sample note, but any further away and they no longer sound musical. I don’t say they’re unusable — but the JR richness is gone. To my mind, this makes the lack of MIDI support less important; without multisampling, you’re unlikely to move very far from the first keyboard screen. For examples, try the piano and violin samples. I don’t think you’d guess this from the videos.
  • The other big lacuna: currently there is no way to record a session. That’s fine if you’re just jamming, but a lot of people are drawn to the iPad and iPod/iPhone because it lets them _develop_ music on the bus or train. Right now, SW is good for playing music, but it doesn’t make it easy to build music.
  • As others have noted, the dark interface is hard to read outdoors; compared with multisampling, this would be relatively easy to fix.
  • The preset count is swelled by some vocals (“Touch the wave,” “Why don’t you sample this,” “Thank you for buying SampleWiz”) that I don’t think anyone is likely to USE; one would have been enough to illustrate the sampling engine’s features.
  • You can reverse a sample (+) in any mode, but you can only slow it down in granular mode. (Workaround: copy the sample to the clipboard, tweak it in, say, Filtatron, and export it back to SampleWiz. NOTE: This will work, but it takes you outside of the program. Part of SampleWiz’s magic is: you can seemingly do it all, in one program, with one interface.)


Beatmaker 2
+ SW has a much more expressive keyboard
+ SW has better synth presets
+ SW is half the price
– BM has multisampling
– BM can record sessions
– BM is multitrack

= Both have expressive interfaces (though TJ has a few more expression axes, and makes use of the accelerometer, which SW doesn’t)
= Both have excellent samples (though TJ’s are more varied, with better strings)
+ SW makes it easy to create a new instrument anywhere
+ SW can mash up samples in lots more ways
+ SW can play different parts of the sample
– TJ can apply more effects (e.g., reverb as well as delay)
– TJ has multisampling
– TJ can record sessions, layer loops
– TJ is a few dollars cheaper


  • Multisampling would greatly extend the USABLE RANGE of these instruments. It’s also the most work to implement, both for the sound engine and the interface. (The existing interface is carefully laid out, so it’s not obvious where the extra buttons/knobs would go.)

Here are some features that might be easier to implement:

  • Get rid of the looming wizard on the keyboard, allow for different color schemes
  • Implement some kind of session recording feature (with audio copy, of course, so that you can paste the session into another app).
  • Play background loops, like ThumbJam. Example: you create a pattern in iElectribe or Funkbox, copy it to the clipboard, and paste it into SW’s new loop player. While the rhythm pattern is looping, you play over it with the JR lead in SampleWiz. The great thing about this is, you get a lot of bang for your CPU buck, because playing loops is not a CPU-intensive task.
  • SW already lets you play on two, independently-sized keyboards. If the hardware can handle it, can we also have two instruments?

    SampleWiz - Jordan Rudess: Wizdom Music, LLC Clip to Evernote

    Why I love Polychord

    I’ve been playing with Polychord 2 for a little while and I really do like this app. When it updated to version 2 I was a little concerned that adding all of the synth features would turn from being a truly delightful app with a unique sound into something different altogether. But it didn’t, and I was really pleased by that.

    When Polychord first came out I found myself playing with it like some of the old Casio keyboards. The MT65 came to mind for me. It had a wonderful retro feel to it that was a joy to mess about with, but didn’t detract from it’s usability in any way. So when the update came I thought that might get broken.

    It didn’t. The new features in version 2 have only added to this app and in a way built on that retro sound. Whenever I start to use the app it always takes up more of my time than I expect as noodling around with it is a pure joy.

    I’ve not tried out the recording part of the update as yet but I’m looking forward to it a lot.

    I hope that in subsequent update the app can continue to build on it’s original charm whilst bringing mew features. I think that this app has a lot to offer and is built on a great concept.

    Let’s see where it goes next.

    polychord - Shoulda Woulda Coulda Clip to Evernote

    NodeBeat for iPhone and iPad review

    NodeBeat HD the iPhone version have been around for a little while now, and I’ve had some time to play with them both, especially iPad version, so I thought I’d tell you what I think of these apps.

    To start with when I opened up the HD version I didn’t get the app at all, in fact it took a few goes for me to ‘get into’ the app, but when I did it was really worth it.

    I think that what stopped me getting into the app was that I was expecting it to do something different form what it does do, and once I’d got past that it all made perfect sense.

    So, what does it do? NodeBeat is a great generative app. Nodes move around each other and make connections and music. After playing with it for a minute or two it can become really mesmerizing. In fact I’ve found myself using the app for prolonged periods just playing around with the settings to get the app to make more complex or minimal music.

    The sound from the app and the amount of control works well although some more control over the sound forms themselves could be good. I’m sure that the developer has a list of things to come though.

    In some ways it makes me think about other generative applications like Bloom or the other Brian Eno apps, but NodeBeat seems to give a lot more control and the developer is already adding recording which I think will make this app really useful. In fact, I’m looking forward to this being a more integrated part of my overall workflow in the future.

    Here are the current features:

    • Adjustable Node Physics
    • Node Add/Remove
    • Pitch Shift
    • Adjustable Pulse Rate and Beat Sync
    • Adjustable Echo, Attack, Decay, and Release for creative sound sculpting
    • Audio Waveform Display- Landscape and Portrait Views 

    If you like generative applications, you could do a lot worse than take a look at NodeBeat and NodeBeat HD. Each app costs just $0.99.

      AffinityBlue Clip to Evernote

      An interview with 4Pockets on the Launch of MeTeoR their multitrack recorder

      Now that 4Pockets have released their new multitrack recorder MeTeoR I got to ask them a few questions about it and about their views on mobile music too.

      PS: When did you first decide to port MeTEoR to iOS?

      4P: Once we started porting our software to iOS devices it was pretty obvious that the one piece of software we wanted to port above all else was Meteor. The iPad is really the ultimate platform for this kind of application, but we needed to get a few other applications under our belt before we started on Meteor. This is a big application both in terms of size and complexity, and the experience gained porting Aurora, StompBox and Pocket RTA have proved invaluable.

      PS: What were the main challenges to bringing the app over to iOS?

      4P: The nice thing about porting Meteor to iOS is that we pretty much knew the problems in advance. The obvious problems of synchronization and latency had already been tackled during the development of StompBox. We were also able to lift some of the effects processing directly from this application which is a big benefit. The main issues were related to speed, as the iPad is still nowhere near as powerful as a PC and peoples expectations are so high. It is difficult enough to deliver 12 tracks of audio, but to deliver effects processing on top of that is really pushing the device to its limits. Meteor really benefits from the increased speed of the iPad 2, but we really didn’t want iPad 1 users to miss out. We came up with a way of freezing insert effects so that these effects use little or no CPU. You can use live real-time effects, but the freeze facility allows you to use more effects than would otherwise be possible.

      PS: Is the app the same as on windows mobile or are there any differences?

      4P: The bigger screen and multi-touch interface of the iPad makes the program much easier to use. Editing controller data on the Pocket PC was extremely tedious on such a small screen. The iPad version has expandable controller lanes so you actually edit in-place rather than in a separate window. Global send and master effects are now stereo rather than mono and have been completely rewritten for improved audio quality. The sample editor is also a joy to use on this size of screen, with full import /export facilities both from other applications and from your iPad library. We have even introduced a method of copying multi-track data between applications, so you will be able to paste a complete song from Aurora directly into Meteor, keeping each audio track, tempo and mixing data intact.

      PS: The app is going to be iPad only. Can you see it ever coming to the iPhone or touch?

      4P: If Meteor is well received then I can see us porting the program to the iPhone. Technically speaking the iPhone 4 is just as powerful as the iPad, just lacking the screen space, so it will all depend on how easy it is to adapt the interface to a smaller display.

      PS: Will you update the app for windows mobile?

      4P: No, development on the Windows Mobile version has ceased for the foreseeable future. The future of Windows Mobile lies with Microsoft’s re-incarnation Windows Phone 7, which unfortunately relies on development in Silverlight or .NET, so there is no easy upgrade path for existing programs.

      PS: Are you looking at any other platforms like android?

      4P: We have no plans to port Meteor to Android at this point in time, but this might change once Android Tablets become commonplace and there is some sort of standardisation in terms of screen size and video hardware. It is still early days for Android tablets, and right now the biggest problem facing Google is fragmentation due to manufacturers having a free license in terms of hardware. We had this problem with Windows Mobile, which I’m sure was a contributing factor in its demise.

      PS: What are views generally on mobile music and how it has developed over the last few years?

      4P: This is an exciting time for portable device owners interested in music creation. Apple especially has seen the potential in portable music creation by adding CoreMIDI support to iOS. This opens the door for many new and exciting applications which would not be possible without a touch screen. We are now seeing serious interest in the iOS devices by some of the big software and hardware manufacturers such as Steinberg, Korg, Peavey, IK Multimedia etc.

      PS: What are your plans for the app going forward?

      4P: Meteor includes an online shop for in-app purchases, so we hope to bring lots of new effects over time. I would also like to see tighter integration between applications, so maybe work with other software developers to allow their software direct access to Meteors mult-track import and exports.

      We don’t want to limit the application to simply music creation, as many Journalists and News Reporters used the Pocket PC version for voiceovers etc. We have included the ability to import a video as a guide track, and export to compressed file formats so I’d like to see embedded email support in the first update.

      So it looks like there’s more good stuff to come to this app, and possibilities for other developers too.

      MeTeoR is priced at $19.99

      Meteor Multitrack Recorder - Clip to Evernote

      BeatStudio first impressions

      I’ve been messing about with this app for a few days now, and to start with I was a little skeptical. I’ve been a fan of Frontier Designs apps for a long term (that’s a long time in iOS terms), and when I got this one I thought that maybe they’d brought us something less than their usual standards. But I was wrong.

      I really like drum and percussion apps, whether they follow a standard drum machine approach, or take a different approach altogether. BeatStudio takes a different angle which takes a little more getting used to, or at least it did for me.

      When I started using the app it took a little while to get used to as I’ve said, but once I realised that this and got to grips with it, it makes a lot of sense. BeatStudio has a set of configurable pads where you tap out your rhythm and record it, from there you can layer up your beats until you’ve got your pattern just the way you want it.

      The pattern sequencer works really well for copying lines and it is very handy for moving a beat that’s just slightly in the wrong place, or indeed to put it in the right place.

      What the app needs is more sounds. The current supplied ones are ok, but more kits would be welcome.

      I’d have to say that I can see this being an incredibly useful drum app as it doesn’t rely on you programming a beat but rather being able to tape it out. Also, as the app is universal it works great on both screen formats.

      At an introductory price of less than a cup of coffee, and with Frontier’s track record of updating and improving their apps I don’t think you can really go wrong with this one.

      BeatStudio - Frontier Design Group

      The app is priced at $2.99 initially. Clip to Evernote

      Chimara Synthesis bC6 [Crystal] Review

      A big thank you to Arthur Vanderbilt ( for this review of the Chimara Synthesis bC6 [Crystal] Review

      Construction and Controls

      The Chimara Synthesis bC6 is a hand-built (in the U.K.) synthesizer with a built-in 16-step sequencer. My model is encased in clear, CNC-machined acrylic. It has a brushed aluminum top. A distinctive red circuit board is visible through the clear bottom of the case. Controls on the top of the case include six knobs, an LED, a button, and a 1/8″ stereo output jack suitable for headphones or use as a line out. Two hex screws hold the top cover down. Remove them and the cover for access to the three AAA batteries. External power is not available. The bottom of the case has an on-off switch.

      The synthesizer has three primary modes: a single-shot mode where each note is triggered by the button, an auto-repeat mode where a single note plays over and over and a sequencer playback mode. Switching between modes is accomplished by turning the volume all the way down and pressing the button. A flashing LED indicates single-shot mode, a pulsing LED indicates auto-repeat mode and a solid LED indicates sequence playback mode.

      The sequencer continuously records the last sixteen notes played in single-shot mode. All parameters except volume are recorded. Pressing the button stops playback or starts playback with the settings as recorded. Settings can be changed during playback, affecting the output directly, and then reset by stopping and starting the sequencer. Holding the button down for more than two seconds will put the sequencer into variable speed mode. This will keep the volume knob from affecting the volume and make it instead affect the sequencer’s rate of playback.

      The next knob clockwise is a waveform selector for both the LFO and the VCO. The knobs range is divided into quadrants, each quadrant selecting a different LFO waveform. Each of these quadrants is again divided into quadrants, each quadrant selecting a different VCO waveform. This arrangement allows the selection of any combination of LFO/VCL waveforms with a single knob.

      The knob to the right of the button controls the envelope. The knob to the left of the button controls the LFO rate. The next knob clockwise controls the amount of either frequency or amplitude modulation affected by the LFO. The final knob, to the left of the jack controls VCO frequency (pitch).

      My Impressions

      This synthesizer is a jewel. I haven’t been able to keep my hands off of it since I received it in the mail. The variety of sounds and textures that you can create is amazing. Everything from modulated warbles to clear bell tones. It packs a lot of features and capability into a compact and inexpensive package. It’s useful for glitch, drone, noise, improvisation and just about any application that doesn’t need a hard MIDI clock sync or exacting pitch selection and intonation. The construction is top-notch and it’s beautiful to look at. The only gripe I had was that it came with the wrong size hex wrench so I had to go find my set in the garage to get the top off. A small price to pay, because as soon as I got the batteries in, I was hooked.

      B-Rhymes Pro because lyrics are important too

      We spend lots of time talking about the different kinds of music apps on iOS and other platforms, from synths to drum machines, from recording to noise makers. But one kind of app that we never talk about very much are apps that help us write lyrics.

      If you write songs it is easy to get stuck with the words. We’ve all been there. You write a killer lyric that leads you down a blind alley and you end up trying to rhyme something totally impossible.

      Well here’s one way you might get around that problem. B-Rhymes Pro is a rhyming dictionary which works really well. I tested it out by trying to find rhymes to the most difficult words I could think of and it still came up with some great suggestions.

      So if you’re stuck with your words, you might find this useful. The app is priced at $2.99.

      B-Rhymes Pro - Mike Lin Mobile Clip to Evernote

      YUMI:synth for iPad: More detailed review

      Now that I’ve had a bit more time to play around with YUMI I thought I’d put my thoughts down, although I get the feeling that this might ramble a bit.

      YUMI is an instrument for the iPad, and I start by making that distinction as it is becoming increasingly important in defining the kinds of applications that are appearing for the iOS platform, and I hope in time will appear for other mobile platforms.

      At the moment I think that apps fall into the following categories:

      • Instruments (like YUMI)
      • Synths (including noise makers)
      • Sequencers and All in one type app (this really needs a better name doesn’t it)
      • Recording
      • DJ apps
      • Controllers
      • Art apps

      Anyway, I digress. YUMI is an instrument. That’s for sure. As an instrument, by default you may need some skill to play it. This is true in a way as you can make some fairly nice sounds with this app without really knowing what you’re doing, but, it is also true to say that you can make it sound awful as well.

      So far I haven’t quite got a completely comfortable hold to use with this app that I think would work for performing, but I can see this being a very performance orientated instrument. I can see someone performing with it and doing it with style too.

      If you didn’t know already, YUMI comes from the developer of the amazing Jasuto Pro modular synth for iOS, and I’d say that this is a bit of a departure for him. YUMI is a much more narrow application than Jasuto. Not that that is a bad thing at all, the two have very different focuses in terms of what they’re about.

      In terms of using YUMI it has been very straightforward. The controls are all simple and easy to pick up and the array of sounds available is in keeping with the whole concept of the app, which is a good thing in my book.

      In terms of playing the app, again it has been very easy to get to grips with, but I think that with time you could do a lot with this app and become very proficient in performing with it.

      Overall I’d say that YUMI is well worth the $3 or whatever it is charged at right now. If you’re going to buy it don’t expect Jasuto in any way. It is a performance app first an foremost, and is very enjoyable to use.

      YUMI:synth - Chris Wolfe

      iPads at the Apple Store Clip to Evernote

      %d bloggers like this: