Caustic for iOS Review

As an iOS musician I have been interested for some time about the apps on the other side of the fence, the Android apps. The one that I have heard the most about is Caustic, and now it is on iOS. Caustic is a self contained studio app, it gives you an assortment of synths, and a drum machine, and a way to sequence them with a piano roll style editor, pattern sequencer, mixer, and effects.

I know the first thing you are thinking, do I need another DAW in iOS? I think you need this one. Caustic hits a lot of the right notes for what I expect out of a mobile DAW. Although it compares more to the self contained rack style DAW idea like Reason rather than a digital audio workstation. It is like having a rack full of synths and a sampler in your pocket.

Caustic comes with 8 synths, a Vocoder, and a Drum Machine. It has a well rounded variety of synths to choose from. The best part is the amazing sound quality of the synths, any of them could easily be stand alone apps. Included are:

  • Subsynth, a subtractive analog synth that is great for leads and basses.
  • PCMsynth as it’s name implies is a digital PCM style synth that also has a wide variety of uses, great for recreating some big 80’s sounds.
  • Bassline which is a Roland 303 style synth.
  • Padsynth which is a harmonic wave table synth, which is great for, well, pads.
  • 8Bitsynth which is a bit wise style synth, and is great for making great noises from formulas.
  • Modular, as it’s name implies is a modular synth and is spectacular and deep, just amazing the quality and depth included.
  • Organ, yep, included is an organ synth with draw bars and all, it sounds decent, not that I am really am organ sort of guy or know the intricacies, but I could get nice sounds from it.
  • FMSynth and rounding out the stable of synths is a nice rendition of a classic FM synth, great for bell, piano, and chime sort of sounds but also can be used for all sorts of leads, basses, and pads.

Also included is a Vocoder, and a 6 channel drum machine named Beatbox. Beatbox contains mute groups, and also has tune, punch, decay, pan, and volume controls for each channel. You can also load up your own samples.

You can load up 14 instances of any combination of the devices at once. Each of the 14 channels have 2 slots to add effects. Caustic comes with an assortment of 16 good quality but quite simple insert effects. Included are :

  • Distortion
  • Bit Crusher
  • Compressor
  • Flanger
  • Chorus
  • Phaser
  • Autowah
  • Parametric Equalizer
  • Limiter
  • Vinyl Simulator
  • Comb Filter
  • Cabinet Simulator
  • Static Flanger
  • Delay
  • Reverb
  • Multi Filter

While the effects get the job done, I would have liked to see a little more complexity in them and control.

Caustic contains a mixer to mix the 14 channels, 2 send effect buses, and mastering channel strip. Each channel has 3 band EQ, controls for send effect amounts, delay, reverb, pan, width, and of course level. I would have liked to have seen sliders instead of knobs for the volume, preferably long throw, and larger more accurate metering on each channel.

As part of the mastering strip you get built in reverb and delay as send effects on top of the 2 customizable slots, you also get a master bus parametric EQ, and a limiter (great for tightening the mix). Again a knob is used where I would have liked to see a long throw slider and nice tall metering on the master channel.

Caustic also comes with a pattern sequencer that is reminiscent of a tracker. You can select the patterns that you create for each device in the rack and sequence your song quickly. It is quite simple but effective. The only complaint I have is you lose the overall picture of what your note data looks like, if I could see the little notes on the patterns I would be much happier.

Each pattern is edited underneath the respective device in the rack, in its own piano roll note editor. In the note editor there are a minimal of amount of editing options; copy, paste, and, delete. Nice selection options are included, so you can lasso a group of notes, select them all, or select by time in the grid.

One very nice thing that some of the other iOS DAWs lack that Caustic has is automation. You automate any of the synth parameters by recording live automation of the knobs. You can also edit this automation with sliders. Giving Caustic a lot of editing power.

One place that caustic is lacking is in support of some iOS audio app standards like Audiobus, Audiocopy, and Inter App Audio, although thank goodness it has export to Audioshare!

Overall if you are an iOS electronic musician Caustic is a great tool to add to your arsenal, and I Highly recommend it.

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