DesignByPaul has brought us quite a few interesting apps since they first set up on the app store. Now they’ve introduced PolySynth, their first polyphonic synthesizer with only 3 note polyphony but apparently packed with vintage analog character.
PolySynth has Audiobus 3 support, IAA (Inter-App Audio) and MIDI-In so you can connect, play and record with other apps.
Main app features:
3 note polyphony
MIDI note in
24db/Oct MS20 Lowpass filter and resonant highpass
Inter App Audio
2x ADSR envelopes
PolySynth is an iPad only synth, and costs $4.99 on the app store now:
The ARP 2600, Octave’s The Cat, the Synthi VCS3, Korg MS-20, the Wasp, the 909, the 808, and more… it seems Behringer are going to make cheap versions of just about everything.
In placeholder product pages on their site, you’ll see a whole bunch of remakes of historic classics, from synths to drum machines, Synthi to Roland. Product images aren’t there yet, but a lot of these will ship as keyboard instruments.
Also, in what could disrupt the boutique-heavy modular market, Eurorack versions appear to be planned for many or all of these.
Pricing and availability aren’t there, either, but the timing now suggests that NAMM is coming – and Behringer seem to be in the habit now of pre-empting rivals by teasing stuff before they announce it. (Whether that’s meant to take the wind out of the sails of rival press events, or spook competitors, or amp up would-be customers, or a combination, tough to know.)
But there are drum machines there, too: 808, 909, “999,” an apparent Linn Drum clone (LMX) and Oberheim DMX (OMX here).
Some of the product names get slightly scrambled, but others don’t.
Of course, this also means Behringer are now getting into remakes of products whose creators and original brands still exist – KORG, Roland, Roger Linn, Tom Oberheim, and so on. It’s not unexpected – they’ve got access to inexpensive analog filters and oscillators that exactly replicate the originals.
But it does suggest a shakeout is about to happen in the business, especially if these prices are disruptive. Will customers still be willing to pay more for independent makers (let alone other big brands)? Will the availability of cheap remakes make it tough to bring out new designs – or, alternatively, will it effectively mandate coming out with something new to compete?
For now, we’re in the position we so often are with Behringer: speculating, as the brand gets way ahead of everyone else with a teaser, long before the specifics of price and design emerge. And that seems to be part of the design.
You’ll find specs on Behringer’s site. Let us know what you think.
KOMA Elektronik are discontinuing their BD101 and FT201 pedals after a final limited run. 7 years ago, these products launched an upstart boutique brand.
The BD101 analog gate/delay and FT201 state-variable filter/10-step sequencer were released as two pedals in the now-distinctive KOMA white, way back in 2011. They launched that name in Berlin as the company’s first two products. Now, KOMA says they’ll use up their last parts in one final production run, not expected to last too far into January.
And seven years is a pretty decent lifespan for any product. But these particular pedals accomplished a lot – not only heralding the arrival of KOMA, but part of a generation of gear that marked a new age in boutique, independent devices, often emphasizing analog and underground sounds. Now much of that has been swept up in the Eurorack phenomenon, but it has surely included desktop gear, too.
KOMA for their part have gone on to a range of influential gear, a massive artist following, and even a music label, event series, and community space in their native Neukölln, Berlin. As recounted in the press release:
Over the course of their seven-year existence, the BD101 and FT201 have gone through four production runs, including a 50 unit special black edition and a special edition for Scottish post rock band Mogwai. Their sonic signature can be heard on a ton of records, and its signature white enclosures can be found in top notch recording studios as well as on stage with amongst others electronic musicians Alessandro Cortini, Pole, Addison Groove, Henning Baer, RAC, Jimmy Edgar and more rock oriented musicians like Lee Ranaldo, Vessels, Chvrches and a bunch of noise music legends!
Now, KOMA can take that know-how and make room for new machines. (The press release teases some new things to come. It’d be great to see more pedals, of course!)
CDM has managed to be there for some of this history, like the Musikmesse video I shot (really badly) in the back of a van, since KOMA couldn’t afford a booth at the time. That video makes it into the press release:
Jimmy Edgar walks through those pedals in his studio:
And we’ve had some fun Kodak moments with these things over the years:
Find the pedals back at KOMA – or go pay them a visit at their new community space for music electronics, Common Ground:
Now, all your realistic pipe organ dreams are about to be solved in software – without samples.
MODARTT are the French firm behind the terrific Pianoteq physically modeled instrument, which covers various classic keys and acoustic pianos. That mathematical model is good enough as to find applications in teaching and training.
Now, they’re turning their attentions to the pipe organ – some of which turns out to be surprisingly hard to model.
For now, we get just a four-octave preview of the organ flue pipe. But that’s free, and fun to play with – and it sounds amazing enough that I spent some part of the afternoon just listening to the demos. (Pair this with a convolution reverb of a church and I think you could be really happy.)
The standalone version is free, and like all their software runs on Linux as well as Mac and Windows. Stay tuned for the full version. Description:
ORGANTEQ Alpha is a new generation physically modeled pipe organ that reproduces the complex behaviour of the organ flue pipe.
It is a small organ with a keyboard range of 4 octaves (from F1 to F5) and with 2 stops: a Flute 8′ and a Flute 4′ (octave).
It is provided in standalone mode only and should be regarded as a foretaste of a more advanced commercial version in development, due to be released during 2018.
Play is one of the most important elements of making music. At least that’s my view, and I know I’m not alone in that. I’m involved with a charity in the UK called Heart n Soul on a project called SoundLab. There we work with artists who have learning disabilities and introduce new technologies, apps and hardware to them that might help them in their work. It’s a two way thing though. App developers like Pelican 7 come along to our workshops and show what they’re doing. They get feedback from our artists and an insight into how to make their products more accessible, not just for anyone with a disability, but more accessible to everyone and as a result, better as a whole.
With that as a preamble, here’s Lily, a ‘playful music creation app’ from Pelican 7. Lily offers simple and straightforward music creation for anyone who wants to use it. It’s joyful and fun to use, and often that’s all that’s needed. Lily is a good way for someone to start to make music who’s never done so before, and is a lot of fun to play with.
In its latest version Lily has added some very new cool stuff …
You can expand your creativity with three brand new lily collections, available to purchase in Lily 2.0 as in app purchases. Each collection features three handcrafted lilies, each offering their own unique sound and visual style. Here’s what they are:
Winter Wonderland – Compose your winter soundtrack with this icy collection of winter-themed lilies.
Tropical Tango – Add a tropical flavor to your compositions with this lively collection.
Zen Garden – Find inner peace in the Zen Garden with this calming, Zen-inspired collection.
A new, redesigned lily creation screen – You can now see the lily as you choose, as well as preview its sound by tapping the speaker icon.
Faster performance – Thanks to some audio-wizardry, you can now have all lilies playing on the fastest tempo simultaneously.
Override the device’s silent switch – By popular demand, Lily will now continue to sing even when your device is on silent mode.
Sequencing – You can now tap the lily at the top of the sequencing screen to start & stop playback.
Lily is on the app store and costs $1.99 (plus new IAPs):
What’s more, if you like Lily then you might also like to check out Songbirds, another of Pelican 7’s apps.
The biggest break from how we’ve normally thought about DJ software comes in the form of automatic mixing and selection tools. One is powered by machine learning working with DJ sets, and one from data collected from listening (Spotify).
Automix AI is a new mixing technology. And hold on to your hats, folks, if the “sync” button was unnerving to you, this goes further.
When we say “A.I.,” we’re really talking machine learning – that is, “training” algorithms on large sets of data. In this case, that data comes from existing DJ sets. (Algoriddim tells CDM that was drawn from a variety of DJs, mostly in hip-hop and electronic genres.) Those sets were analyzed according to various sonic features, and the automixing applies those to your music. So this isn’t just about mixing two different techno tracks with mechanical efficiency – it’s meant to go further across different tempos and genres.
It’s also more than matching tempo. Automix AI will identify where the transition occurs, decide how long the fade should be, and apply filters and EQ. So, if you’ve ever listened to existing Automix features and how clumsy they are with starting and stopping tracks, this takes a different approach. Algoriddim explains to CDM:
The core of this tech is finding good start and end regions for transition between two songs, while also respecting the corresponding sound energies and choosing an appropriate transition accordingly (e.g. most likely EQ or short filter transition if you have two high energy parts of the song for the transition)
Then there’s “Morph” – which Algoriddim argue opens up new ways of mixing:
This actually goes beyond what a regular DJ can do with two hands. Morph not only syncs the songs but seamlessly ramps the changed tempo of the inactive deck to its regular speed as the transition progresses. E.g. in the past if you had a hip-hop song at say 95 BPM and an electronic track at 130 BPM, syncing the two and making a transition would leave the new track in an awkwardly rate changed state (even with time-stretching enabled). So as the transition starts, both songs (in this example) would be playing at 130 BPM but as we are doing a simultaneous tempo “crossfade”, the hip-hop track ends up being back at 95 BPM at the end of the transition. This ensures the tracks always play at their regular tempo and these types of mixes sound very natural, allowing for seamless cross-genre transitions.”
Also impressive: while you might think this sort of technology would be licensed externally, the whiz kids over at Algoriddim did all of this on their own, in-house.
On the Spotify integration side, and also related to automating DJing tasks, “Match” technology recommends music based on BPM, key, and music style. Existing Spotify users will be familiar with some of this recommendation engine already. Where it could be good for producers is, this means there’s an avenue by which your music gets exposed by algorithms. And that in turn is potentially good news, if you’re a producer whose music isn’t always charting the top of a genre on Beatport.
These “autopilot” features are all under your control, too: you can choose which parameters are used, choose your own tracks, switch it off at will – as you like. Or you can sit back and let djay Pro run in the background while you’re doing something else, if you want to let the machine do the DJing while you cook dinner, for instance.
Pro features, for humans
Okay, so at this point, djay Pro 2 may sound a bit like this:
But one of the disruptive things about Algoriddim’s approach to DJ software is, it has simultaneously challenged rivals both among entry level and casual users and more advanced users at the same time.
So, here’s the more “Pro” sounding side of this. Some of these are features that are either missing or not implemented quite the way we’d like in industry leaders like Serato and Traktor.
A new audio engine with master AU plug-ins. A rewrite of the engine now allows high-res waveforms, post-fader effects, higher-quality filters, plus the ability to add Audio Unit plug-ins as master output effects.
Integrated libraries. iTunes, Spotify, and music in the file system / Finder are now all integrated and can be viewed side-by-side.
Integrated library views bring together everything on your local machine as well as Spotify.
Smart filters. Set up dynamic playlists sorted by BPM, key, date, genre, and other metadata. (Those columns are available in other tools, but here you get them dynamically, a bit like the ones in iTunes.)
Keyboard Shortcuts Editor. There’s a full editor for assigning individual features to custom shortcuts – which in turn can also map to custom hardware or the MacBook Pro Touch Bar.
CDJ and third-party hardware support. Whereas some other players make their own hardware or limit compatibility (or even require specific hardware just to launch, ahem), Algoriddim’s approach is more open. So they’re fully certified by Pioneer for CDJ compatibility, and they include 60 MIDI controllers in the box, and they have an extensive MIDI learn function.
More cueing and looping. Version 2 now has up to eight cue points and loops, with naming, per song. (I recently lauded Soda for adding this.) You can also now assign loop triggers to cue points.
Single deck mode for preparation. Okay, some (cough, again Serato) lock you into this view if you don’t have authorized hardware plugged in. But here, it’s designed specifically for the purpose of making set prep easier.
Accessibility. VoiceOver support makes djay Pro 2 work for vision-impaired users. We really need more commitment to this in the industry; it’s also been great to see this technology from Algoriddim showcased at Apple’s developer conference. If you’re using this (and hopefully CDM is working well with screen readers), do let us know.
New photo / still image support.
And it does photos
Back to less club/pro features, the other breakthrough for casual users, weddings, and commercial gigs is photo integration. Drag and drop photos or albums onto the visual decks, and the software will make beat-matched slide shows.
The photo decks also work with existing, fairly powerful VJ features, which includes external output, effects, and the like. You can also adjust beat sync.
Still image support builds on an existing video/VJ facility.
Plus a no-brainer price
The other thing that’s disruptive about djay Pro 2: price. It’s US$49.99, with an intro price of US$39.99, on the App Store.
You’ll need Spotify Premium for those features, of course, and macOS 10.11 or later is required.
Mr Jackson has already brought us a couple of apps of note in moodscaper and pianoscaper, and now adds to this distinctive generative theme with a new app called guitarscaper. According to Mr Jackson Guitarscaper is a generative music app and virtual instrument “that’s easy on the ears and fun to play”. guitarscaper creates evolving and ambient guitar-based soundscapes that are unique every time.
In terms of sounds, all of the guitarscaper sounds originated from a single electric guitar, many have been extensively processed to create an “impossible guitar” that can morph between orchestral-type swells and ethereal choir-like sounds.
Guitarscaper in auto-play mode is the perfect companion for relaxing, studying or providing non-intrusive headphone music at work or on your commute. You can even set a timer so you can fall asleep to its gentle and soothing tones.
You can also play guitarscaper as a virtual instrument using the dedicated keypads and performance loop recorders, and tailor the sounds with built-in reverb, delay and “character” effects parameters. And while you’re playing, guitarscaper can lend a hand by adding auto-accompaniment parts and even provides hints for notes it thinks might sound good depending on which notes you play!
As a sample-based instrument, guitarscaper currently supports two “moods” – a light mood, based on the E major / pentatonic Yo scale, and a sad mood, based on the Em pentatonic scale.
Please note that guitarscaper is not a chromatic or MIDI-compatible instrument, and it is unlikely to become one.
You can also record and process the audio output of guitarscaper using any Inter-App Audio host that supports IAA Generators.
You are free to use guitarscaper in your own recordings or live events and installations on a royalty-free basis. All I would ask for is a simple credit that includes the name of the app – “guitarscaper”.
I hope you will agree the guitarscaper interface, while minimalist and a perhaps a little cryptic initially, will eventually become very easy to use. Please do take the time to read the quick-start guide which can be found on the guitarscaper.com website. This is also the best place to ask questions, get technical support or report any issues.
Guitarscaper is available on the app store for $2.99:
Flora Creative have been building up a solid range of iOS FX apps over the last could of years or so. It’s a solid line up with delay, compressor, phaser, chorus, tremolo, and more. Now they’ve added a flanger to the range, Foxglove arrives today with the same signature interface as all of the other apps.
Foxflove Flanger is a 60’s style through-zero flanger effect with pre-process saturation and high shelf filtering giving enough versatility to make thin guitars crunchy or give some subtle keys a little more depth.
Built upon the tenet of simplicity, the flora project presents great sounding, lightweight audio effects using Inter-App Audio and Audiobus technologies to allow you to get the sound you want, without sacrificing processing power.
NB: Foxflove Flanger requires either Audiobus, Inter-App Audio or an AUV3 capable host in order to operate. See audiob.us for more information.
If classic FM Synths are your thing, then prepare for a treat. Those lovely people at AudioKit Pro have created a completely free & open-source multi-sampled iPad instrument inspired by classic 80’s FM Synthesizers. This has been a true labor of love for this team. The team got their hands on a DX7 II and fell in love with the sound, and I have to say, why wouldn’t you? They’ve spent months lovingly crafting and sampling the sounds, and it’s a great app. Now it’s finally available in the app store, and what’s more it’s for FREE.
Here’s a bit more detail:
Classic presets, faithfully recorded from the original retro 80s Synthesizers (which may have been used by someone very famous:
DX7, DX7II, TX81z sounds
Over 50+ presets included, completely free!
FX: Reverb, Ping-pong dealy, Auto Pan, Bit Crush, Stereo Fatten, and more!
FM Player is available for iPad and is free on the app store now:
If that wasn’t enough AudioKit Pro have released AudioKit ROM Player. This is a completely free and full-featured professional sample playback instrument example. The AudioKit ROM Player code can be modified to play EXS24, Wave, or Sound Fonts. replace the included sounds and graphics with your own creations and upload your own app to the app store! You’re free to use this code however you’d like. It’s free and open-source! Meaning, you don’t have to pay AudioKit anything at all.
This is kind of huge. There have been lots of different ways to create iOS apps without writing code, but now you can actually make an iOS app using samples of your own and deliver it. It’s big, really big, in my opinion, and I’m going to be very interested to see what does get produced with it.
If you use the code, please let us know what you’ve made, we’d love to hear from you! So, go check it out …