I always think it’s difficult to tell you which were the best apps in any year, and 2016 is no different at all. What works for me as a great app won’t work for other people and vice-versa, so it all seems a little pointless. However, what I can tell you is which apps were important to me this year. I think that might be more interesting (or maybe not), and it’s certainly easier to do from my perspective.
So without further messing around, here are the apps that I used a lot, or found intriguing, or for whatever other reason, mattered.
Without a doubt Auxy is an app that I can’t do without, at least not currently anyway. I really love it. It works for me and just fits with how I think and work right now. I’m not saying that this will always be the case, but for now me and Auxy, we’re good. I also really like the sound packs that they’ve been releasing. I got them both and love them.
Moog’s Model 15 is on my list for a totally different reason than Auxy is. Model 15 is here because it’s one of those apps that I keep fiddling with and getting into and then leaving for a bit, then coming back to. I don’t know if you do that, but I certainly do. I like Model 15 and I’d really like to do something useful with it, but so far I haven’t. Who knows, maybe in 2017 I will.
NOIZ you’ll know from Studio Amplify. It’s a great app for making stuff even if you’ve no idea how to make stuff, and I’m all for that. Of course the nice chaps from Studio Amplify now have KRFT in beta and I’ve been playing with that recently. It is going to be awesome. I mentioned it not so long ago here, and I’m hoping to be able to tell you lots more soon enough.
I think that these apps are going to have a really bright future and are going to help users to make things in ways that they hadn’t thought about before.
I’m a fan of Mr HumbleTune’s apps, music, and design style. I think it’s great, and for good reason. His apps are amazing, and, pretty much everywhere too. I really like two of them though, nils, and frekvens. They really let you mangle sound, but in a good way, in a way that doesn’t hurt. I’m sure that other people find themselves coming back to the same FX apps over and over, and frekvens is one of those for me.
5. All things Korg
I can’t help myself but say that I do love Korg’s apps. They’ve done well this year. We’ve had good updates and new apps like ODYSSEi and iWAVESTATION. My personal favs are Gadget and iDS-10 though. Again I find myself coming back to these time and time again. I bet some of you do too.
I think that Sabre has been a bit overlooked and that’s a shame. The AC Sabre is an amazing gestural performance tool for the iPhone and hasn’t really had the attention it should have had. I’d like to do a bit more with it myself next year as I think I’ve only barely scratched the surface of what it can do for me.
I posted on ROTOR and the tangible controllers yesterday, but it also deserves a mention here. I like modular apps but ROTOR (and Reactable mobile before it) seem to provide a more accessible route into modular than a lot of other apps in that genre. Now that ROTOR has the tangible controllers with it I’m hoping to get a bit more time to devote to it soon.
Unusual apps and alternative interfaces are very important to me. So Fluxpad is assured a place in my list. It gives you a different way to interface with sound and that in itself is important. I like that Fluxpad is playful and easy to use and yet at the same time a highly capable and flexible app for manipulating samples.
There had to be a DAW in the list and it’s Cubasis 2.0. It’s been a big help to me on a project that I’m working on so it’s in my list. However, there was stiff competition from n-Track Studio 8 which arrived quite recently. It will be interesting to see how some of the big, and one or two little, DAWs survive in 2017.
I love drum apps. Patterning is another app that just fits with my workflow. It’s just intuitive and fluid and it makes perfect sense to me. I can’t say that about all drum apps I’m afraid, but Patterning is probably one of the few go to drum apps that stays on my iPad. I’d love there to be an iPhone version too.
You might find this one a little strange, but more will become apparent soon. For now I’ll tell you that I love Wotja’s ability to create an ambient soundscape from a few words. It’s simple to tailor and tweak to do exactly what you want too.
I’ve also found myself coming back to Mixtikl recently and really getting into that app again. I think that these generative technologies are so deep that it can be easy to get lost. However, I think it’s worth it to dive in and explore and I’d like to do more of that in 2017 with all of Intermorphic’s tools.
Last and by no means least is Skram from Liine. I’m a fan of apps that make the process of creating music simpler and more immediate. To me that’s really important. I thought Skram was great when it first came out and the latest update has made it even more usable. I hope that it keeps going and brings more and more people into making music, and I’d also really like to see an iPhone version of it too.
So that’s 12 apps (more if I’m honest) that mattered to me and continue to do so. I hope you found that interesting. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments.
Modulars are hugely popular right now, but, so far, as far as I’m aware, there isn’t a really mobile version, and you might ask, why you would you want one. That’s probably a good question, and one that could only really be answered once someone has created a really compelling mobile modular.
For now I’m interested in talking about some of the smaller modulars that are appearing at the moment. Like the AE Modular on Kickstarter right now.
This is a smaller format than Eurorack and is not compatible either, so it’ll be interesting to see if it takes off and gets adopted by other manufacturers. It’s passed its funding goal so it’s going to happen, but where it goes from there will be the real test.
Another similar development is the Erica Synths Pico Modular System, which is Eurorack compatible, but is just nice and small and tidy. This actually looks pretty cool and quite a lot of fun, and also as a nice way to get into modular in a compact format.
Of course there are other ways to get into modular. You could just use one of the many excellent modular apps for iOS, like Audulus, Model 15, Reactable ROTOR, or the excellent zMors Modular for example. If nothing else then these are very good ways to keep a modular synth in your pocket at all times.
But for many the app route isn’t quite enough, and they’d prefer a real modular that can be portable. Well, there is one. When I was at Loop earlier in the month I bumped into Tom Whitwell from Music Thing Modular, and he showed me this.
And this is battery powered and very portable. He called it a lunchbox modular, and it was very cool.
Is it the shape of things to come? I’m not sure. I think that there’s still a space for a modular that is battery powered and portable but perhaps that doesn’t look like what we have now.
And another massive update from Moog. Model 15 gets a totally huge update with fixes too. Here’s everything, but it’s a big list:
The SETTINGS -> SHARE panel now allows you to create and share a music video from audio in the Recorder module.
Saved patches, arpeggios and CC maps are now automatically stored on your iCloud drive. They can be retrieved through SETTINGS -> SHARE -> iCLOUD DOCUMENTS from any device that uses the same iCloud account.
Keys can now be released when HOLD is active by tapping any currently pressed key.
Recordings now use much less memory.
Recordings can now be up to 5 minutes in length.
Recordings are now persisted across application restarts and the undo buffer.
Added crossfading to the Recorder Module to prevent clicks at the beginning and end of a recording.
Added a configuration option to prevent controllers from being changed when presets are loaded.
Added a progress indicator for tutorial presets
Tutorial presets now continue highlighting areas during wiring.
Added support for highlighting individual ports, knobs and switches in the tutorial presets.
Updated factory tutorial presets to reflect new highlighting capabilities.
Factory tutorial presets can no longer be accidentally replaced.
Values of CC mapped controls are now sent out on preset change.
Added support for incoming MIDI RPN 0 to temporarily set the pitch bend range.
Added support for “shake to undo”, which also works during tutorial presets.
Added “rate on app store” and “contact us for help” buttons on the SETTINGS -> ABOUT panel.
Support for iOS 10.
Improvements to inter-app audio connectivity.
Improved core audio engine.
Improved Ableton Link support.
Improved stability on iPad Air 1.
Improved fluidity of GUI rendering on older devices.
Improved precision of the Apple Pencil as a controller.
Improvements to the built-in manual.
Updated AudioCopy to v3.3.
Fixed stability problems when using incoming messages on MIDI channel 16.
“The brazilian keyboard player, musical producer and sound synthesis instructor Fabio Ribeiro (Remove Silence) created the BASICS & CLASSICS collection, bringing 64 patches for the Moog Model 15 app for iPad and iPhone.
This free collection presents classic and famous synth sounds created using only the original features of the classic Moog Model 15 analog modular synth, without the new features of the app or delay.
In addition to demonstrating the versatility of the original synthesizer, the purpose of these patches, mostly, is didactic, illustrating how sounds of different classes can be created through subtractive synthesis in a modular synthesizer. Also included are some classic patches from keyboard players and bands like Rick Wakeman, Yes, Triumvirat, Rush, OMD, The Prodigy, Camel, Uriah Heep, etc.
Since Moog entered the iOS market they’ve continued to innovate and excite users from the first version of Filtatron which I got to test briefly before it went live to their latest and most amazing app the Model 15.
Moog have supported us consistently and on a personal note they were very kind in supporting my SoundLab project with their amazing Thereminis. So it was great to get this from Trent:
“Congratulations PalmSounds on your decade of success! This is truly an incredible milestone and we are so glad to be a part of it.”