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Rotor is now universal!

This is excellent news! Rotor now works on your iPhone!

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I don’t know what your favourite apps of the year were, but here are the ones that matter to me

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.

1. Auxy

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.

2. Model 15

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.

3. NOIZ (and KRFT)

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.

4. frekvens

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.

6. AC Sabre

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.

7. ROTOR

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.

8. Fluxpad

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.

9. Cubasis

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.

10. Patterning

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.

11. Wotja

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.

12. Skram

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.

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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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Reactable’s ROTOR (Tangible Modular Music Synth) gets full controller support now

Reactable has brought together the best aspects of both of their offerings with ROTOR controllers. This is something of a big step forward. When Reactable released the ROTOR app they promised the tangible controllers and now they’re delivering. Controllers are available on their site right now, and I can’t wait to try them out.

Also the app’s been updated at the same time to take advantage of the new hardware. Here’s what’s new:

  • Full ROTOR controllers support! Use the optional rotors to enhance the interaction with any of the modules; try our unique 3D control on 2D panels when using them
  • Play with Bluetooth MIDI enabled devices

Improvements:

  • Improved Virtual Keyboard control in the synth module
  • Improved MIDI IN ports selection
  • Major performance optimization and bug fixes

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ROTOR (Tangible Modular Music Synth) 1.1 brings sample import and more

Reactable brought us Rotor last month and it was great, but they’re not resting on their laurels in any way. In version 1.1 they’ve responded to user requests. Here’s what’s new:

  • Added a new ‘Samples’ Tab where you can:
    • Import/Export audio samples from/to other apps
    • Rename and delete your existing samples and recordings
  • We also lowered the memory usage and fixed some bugs that improve speed and reliability

Rotor on the app store (at launch price of $9.99 until the 17th): 

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Today’s the day … Rotor launches now!

The all-new iPad app by Reactable is released this today! With the release of the tangible controllers coming next month in November.

Here’s everything you need to know about Rotor …

ROTOR is the new app that turns the iPad into a comprehensive electronic music performance suite. Using the optional ROTOR controllers, which can be purchased separately, it also brings the reactable tangible music experience that has captivated musicians such as Björk, Coldplay or Gui Boratto, for the first time into the iPad.

NOT A CONVENTIONAL SYNTHESIZER, NEITHER A SEQUENCER NOR DAW…

… although it includes elements of all of them. ROTOR incorporates dozens of modules, among instruments, audio effects, modulators and controllers, which can be linked all together using a flexible and unique routing system, for creating the most expressive and intricate patches. It is an unprecedented multitouch/tangible instrument specially designed for live interaction and performance.

TANGIBLE CONTROL

With our exclusive physical control objects especially conceived for the iPad, and which can be purchased separately, ROTOR brings the unique tangible experience of the reactable for the first time to the iPad! This means that while all standard multi-touch capabilities are preserved, the ability to control any parameter by moving and twisting our tangible pucks over the iPad’s surface, brings 3 additional degrees of freedom to each hand! ROTOR can be perfectly used without the controllers. Controllers will be available for purchase on November.

ALWAYS IN SYNC AND IN KEY

ROTOR comes with automatic real-time key detection and time stretching algorithms that allow for samples, loops and sequences to stay not only in sync but also in harmony with each other. All wavefiles can be configured either as masters, thus determining at any instant the tonality of the whole session, or as slaves, thus adapting automatically to this computed tonality.

WORKFLOW INTEGRATION AND COLLABORATION

ROTOR MIC/LINE IN module and its panoply of effects and modulators allows to process voice, guitars, or any other instrument, in unheard ways. With Audiobus, ROTOR can be used as an input/output device in combination with any other compatible music apps. Any ROTOR module can also receive external MIDI control from any user-selectable MIDI port/channel. Moreover, its integration of Ableton Link allows ROTOR to play in perfect sync with Ableton Live and other Ableton Link compatible iOS apps running in other devices.

FROM COMPLETE CONTROL TO INSPIRING SERENDIPITY

ROTOR includes dozens of multitouch control panels such as virtual keyboards, polyphonic and monophonic step-sequencers, envelope generators, or 2D panels, which empower to control in real-time, every detail or nuance of the performance. On the other hand, interconnecting less linear and less predictable modules, such as the accelerometer input, feedback, etc., opens a whole universe of complex generative and serendipitous creations. This, combined with ROTOR’s live recording capabilities, which simplify the capturing of loops on-the-fly and always in sync, turns ROTOR into the ULTIMATE LOOP CREATOR MACHINE.

SONIC VERSATILITY

ROTOR also comes with 100+ high quality loops and sessions created by professional music producers. Along with these loops, users can import their own ones and combine them with ROTOR’s advanced synthesis and processing capabilities. From House or EDM to the most experimental generative soundscapes, ROTOR sonic versatility goes unparalleled.

ROTOR is released this Thursday 13th of October. Get 50% OFF! Special launch price 9.99 USD/EUR