Triqtraq- Jam Sequencer Review

triqtraq

Triqtraq- Jam Sequencer is a new app from Zaplin Music for iPhone and iPod Touch. Just as it’s name describes it is a sequencer that blurs the lines of instrument and sequencer. It is a 4 track sequencer that is set up like 4 individual drum machine tracks. The beauty of the app is the simplicity that it offers, enticing you to start jamming and experimenting to make the patterns.

triqtraqOn the main screen you are greeted by 4 colored circles with the letters A,B,C, and D in them, these are the tracks, and a grid of your 16 pattern slots in the center.  If you touch one of the letters the view changes to 8 drum machine like pads to touch, and a sequencer on the top that shows you 1 bar at a time. The app is automatically armed for recording, and tapping the play button and touching the pads will start placing note events in the sequencer.

You can also use step edit mode to manually place notes on the sequencer, one extremely nice feature with this is, if you drag on the sequencer you get a grey selection area, if you place a note, it will jump ahead one 8th note past the selection, this makes for really quick editing for repetitive patterns.

Each track has 2 effects on it, Filter and Delay, which you can edit quickly on the fly as well, and it picks up the automation and shows it well in the sequencer. The delay is set up like a send effect, with settings for the delay being global. Each track also has Pan, Pitch, Level, and Decay settings.

You can string the patterns together in what is called a Queue, to put together a song.

One of the most exciting features in triqtraq is the Loop Range feature, I didn’t quite understand it at first, (all of this review was done through exploration) but once you touch the Loop Range button you are presented with a Loop Speed dialog, initially I thought that was it, which this is a handy way of speeding that particular sequence and automation up or down, but if you tap and drag on the sequence above you are setting loop points. What is really cool about this is that you can set them up per effect, or for the sequence itself. This feature makes for some really cool syncopation options, and can all be done while playing and on the fly jamming since you can have the sequence different lengths and speeds  from the other sounds, and each can have different lengths of filter, delay sends, level, decay, pan, pitch, letting your track really breathe. Super powerful!

Also included is a tool for setting the bpm, which surprisingly can also be automated. You can set the BPM by tapping also, which is a nice feature.

The way that you change pitch on the instruments is a little less intuitive than the rest of the app though, it seems that it is screaming for a little keyboard for note input. You change the pitch with a slider, which can be constrained with a keyboard next to it.

I really wish that it had more import options, it would be great with audiocopy and paste, now that Apple has broken the tether between it’s devices and iTunes, it feels a bit archaic to have to connect the iPhone to my mac in order to import sounds. Also currently there aren’t any export options other than just recording the audio output of your device.

Overall triqtraq provides a simple way to quickly jam out some new sounds, it is fun to pull out to make a quick beat with some one shot bass and synth samples, and gives you quite a bit of control.  With the awesome experimentation that is possible with loop range, this app is on the top of my list of go to apps to make a new sound.  I really wish those export features were in there now, I am sure the developer is getting lots of people asking for them, let’s hope they make it in soon.

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Glitchbreaks 1.0 released

Now Available on the Appstore, my first iOS audio app. Quick note : Glitchbreaks broke into the top 10 iPad Music apps on the first day of release, it was #8, Thank you to everyone that helped make that happen.

GlitchBreaks

Glitchbreaks is an iOS Universal manipulation tool for “Glitching” breakbeats. Glitchbreaks uses four audio channels setup like mute groups. You can quickly switch between them to construct new beats, or manipulate loop points to “Cut” or “Glitch” the breaks.

Included in the factory sound set are 90 high quality loops hand crafted by Daniel Myer from Haujobb / Architect / Destroid / and more, Juan Espinosa from Cellmod, Isaac Glendening from Cesium 137, Alex Matheu from Negative Format / Distraub / Parallel Project and more, and Loopmasters: a high quality sample boutique.

Glitchbreaks can be used as a performance tool to juggle breaksbeats or destroy sounds at a granular level. You can make interesting effect like sounds by manipulating pitch, loop start, length, and cutting the beats with fluid responsive controls.

You can record your performance and bring it into iTunes through file sharing, or copy it out into another iOS application via Audio Copy and Paste. You pre determine the length of your recording by bars to easily make pieces to bring into a song without the need for further sample editing.

Auto-BPM detection will detect the tempo of a sample you copy into Glitchbreaks (you just need to specify the bars between 1-4). You can turn this feature off in order to manipulate audio that doesn’t have tempo, this is especially useful for manipulating voice samples.

Glitchbreaks contains a 4 channel mixer to adjust the levels of each sample, as you change the levels the sounds are combined into the mix, on the iPad version this is displayed graphically with a rendered waveform that is combined to give you an indication of what the entire sound looks like.

All of this is very easy to operate and even a beginner will be glitching and juggling breaks like a pro in minutes.

Features :

  • 90 high quality factory beat loops
  • Audio Copy and Paste and General Pasteboard support (Both Copy and Paste)
  • 4 continuous looping channels with 4 channel mixer
  • Auto-BPM detection / with on/off setting
  • Set the BPM up to 2.9 times the original sample BPM
  • Waveform Display with accurate position indicator (iPad only)
  • XY-Pad Loop Modulation (Loop Length, Loop Start)
  • Cut Editor / Sequencer with 4 user save slots
  • XY-Pads for selecting 4 Glitch or Cut styles
  • Pitch Shift
  • Pitch Reset
  • Independent time settings Whole, Half, Quarter
  • Quantize for Cut and Glitch operations
  • Recording to 44.1khz 16bit Wav files
  • Set custom record length in bars
  • iTunes File Sharing
  • Mute
  • Reverse
  • Mixer view with volume faders per channel.
  • Master volume
  • Universal app
  • Load sounds while playing without hitting stop

GlitchBreaks - Alex Matheu

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Grain Science 1.3 Review

Grain Science is a new granular synthesizer from Wooji Juice. If you are not familiar with granular synthesis, it differs from traditional additive or subtractive synthesis, instead of playing a typical waveform, with granular synthesis that waveform is broken up into tiny little pieces of audio called grains. Parameters of the grains are manipulated to alter the sound, letting you create vast intricate soundscapes or pinpoint laser strike leads from the same sound just by adjusting the speed and size of the grains.

Grain Science brings these concepts to iOS with a very intuitive, beautiful, and fluid interface. Making it easy to load in new waveforms or samples, easily adjust the parameters, apply effects, shape the waveforms, arpeggiate the sounds, record them, and manipulate a wide array of performance parameters.

Grain Units and Envelope

You are greeted by an initial screen with a Default Instrument selected (init sound), and some parameters for voice control, glide, and a keyboard. swiping left reveals that the controls are a large string of different screens that are well laid out. Next between the Grain Units (2 of them) is an Envelope control page, which lets you set the envelope ADSR controls plus a preamp gain control give you control of the sound mixed in different ways with a blend setting, setting the amount of the blend and the mode affects how the 2 grain units are mixed. I love this sort of concept, and the layout feels very natural.

Arpeggiator

The arpeggiator has 2 modes, chord and step. Chord functions like your typical arpeggiators on most synths, with different directions of the arps and octave and retrigger options to change the arps a bit. The step mode acts as a full 32 step sequencer, with a slick UI. There is a button to allow you to go full screen and create sequences, not only can you control the pitch but also the velocity, 2 custom controls. My only complaint was that I didn’t see a way to save the sequences independently of the presets.

FX

Grain Science comes with a good amount of effects ranging from 6 different types of distortion, from bit crusher to waveshaper, 5 types of frequency effects including Low Pass / High Pass Filters, Chorus, Flange, Phaser, and some digital echo, and a tube resonance effect. The effects can be configured to sit in a chain of 4 slots, so 4 running at once. What I found great about them was tucked away beneath most of the effects controls are modulation options, for LFO sync, with tons of options to change the duration, and what it does over the duration of the LFO, and in each modulation panel, a visual representation of that LFO is shown. I can’t stress enough the wild modulation, you can do with this to make living breathing sounds. My favorite effect has to be the new G-1000 Shapeinator, coupled with the modulated LFO’s and you can really change the sound of your sounds over time.

The reverb unit which is a separate effect page is stunning. It has to be played with to believe the quality of reverb that Wooji Juice is achieving, it is hard to believe it is coming from an iOS app. Also the controls on this unit offer the same LFO, and modulation options, which makes the entire environment very customize-able.

Connection Map

This section gives you a nice overview of what you have connected to various performance controls, and also what you have LFO’s applied to. I would love to see this as a graphical representation, but maybe I am asking too much, with the stunning UI in the rest of the app, I can envision a diagram with showing parameters, and the different units full screen, to get a really good visualization of the modulation matrix.

Performance Controls

Grain Science has a wealth of performance controls 4 different sections that are customize-able as 4 wheels per section, or XY pads in any combination that you would like, so if you really wanted to jam on 16 mod wheels you can. or 4 XY Pads, or 8 wheels and 2 pads etc.

Conclusion

Overall the sound that you can achieve with Grain Science is incredible and rivals any soft synth or hardware out there. It is definitely a fantastic addition to your electronic music tool box, and with the vast amount of customization with such a great intuitive interface, a purchase is a no-brainer. If you don’t already own a copy, go get one now! And since it is now universal on both iPad and iPhone, you have no excuse.


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Loopy HD Review

Loopy HD is the new version of Loopy, a looper app for iPad and iPhone. Loopy let’s you record loops quickly in time, merge them, import them, and keep them all in sync. The interface for Loopy is really slick, and it has one of the best Sonoma Audio Copy and Paste interfaces I have seen in any app.

Loopy is great to lay some quick vocal ideas down, or to experiment with a few loops to see how they will sound. The interface is dead simple, and really lends itself well to quickly trying different sounds together, since it auto time stretches the sound to any tempo you like, it is easy to get a quick jam running. Loopy also has extensive time signature options, and let’s you record different set loop lengths. The app is quite focused on just being a looper.

I had some issues with it, like my loops would go out of sync on my iPhone if I messed with the loop length too much, to where I had to close and re-open the app to fix it. Note: I couldn’t get this problem to reproduce, after sever attempts, so it looks like it was a rare occurrence.   I couldn’t get the metronome to make a sound after plugging in headphones but closing and reopening fixed this as well. One feature that I would love to see is mute groups, where I could quickly trigger sounds in a group and have only one loop from that group playing.

Overall it is a very smooth, and fluid experience with great UI, and for what it does, it does it very well, with only some slight issues, that I hope will be addressed in patches, of you are looking for a great looper for your iPhone or iPad then Loopy HD is it.

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Is Virtual MIDI coming to iOS?

Virtual MIDI

Virtual MIDI

A storm is brewing in the Audio App development community. I wrote an article about it over at instrum3ntal.com. It looks like the future is being written. Let me know your thoughts on what could come of this. Definitely a very exciting time to be an iOS musician, and a developer.

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NanoStudio Eden Wobble Bass Tutorial

From an EMPTY patch in the C Bank.

on the OSC page :

OSC A – SAW – Transpose -12
OSC B – SQUARE – Transpose -12
Mix : +18
Detune : 0.60

Filter Page :

Type : LP
Slope : 12
Cutoff : 0
Q: 0
Track Keys: Off

Filter Envelope :

Attack : 1.00
Decay : .40
Sustain : .24
Release : .35
Amount : 1.00

AMP Page :


Amp Envelope
Attack : 0
Decay : 0
Sustain : 1.00
Release: 0
Amount: 1.00

Polyphony : 1-Glide
Glide Time : .46
Pitch Bend Range: 1
Send FX : both at 0

LFO Page:

LFO1 : Filter Cutoff (set this in the mod matrix)
Sine
Delay: 0
Amount: 0
Sync : Beat 1/16

Aux Envelope : Unused

Mod Matrix :


Source Desination Parameter Amount
LFO1 Filter Cutoff 100
XYPad1X Filter Cutoff 100 (not that important but gives a manual way to control filter)
XYPad1Y Filter Q 100
XYPad2X LFO1 Rate 100 (very important this is controls the wobble)
XYPad2Y LFO1 Amount 100 (very important this controls the wobble amount)

And I have the effects off

On the Performance Page :

Send FX Reverb : to taste
Leave the XY Pad 1 at X 0 and Y 0 unless you want to add some of your own manual cutoff.
XY Pad 2 is your wobble control. start at about X 20-30 and Y 70-80 and move it around to taste, and of course automate this in your sequence or record your automation.

Also one tip, if you want a grungy bass without killing your kicks, make some nice tones with these settings with no wobble, and resample them, then apply high pass filter to them to take the bass out, and use the sample instead of the OSC. and pair it together with a nice deep sine wave on another eden, play the same notes, and you will get that classic dubstep deep bass with wobble. I used this approach here. -(of course with 1.2 we won’t need to resample, just add eq to the fx chain)

Ringflux-03 by distraub

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Beatmaker 2 for iPhone – First Impressions

After getting a first taste of Beatmaker 2, the exciting new music production app for iPhone from Intua, here are my first impressions.

Before I start I wanted to say that all of the exploration was done without a user manual, because one is not available yet.

The first thing that got my attention was the modular nature of the instruments, tracks, and effects. It feels more like a traditional DAW because of the scalable nature. I really enjoyed the scope and power of the samplers. Especially the 128 pad monster that is the i-DRM31. I also liked the power of having multi-samples across a keyboard in the i-SMPLR keyboard sampler. One drawback is that not all of the sampler parameters are automatable. Only the standard ones like volume, pan, tune. I would love to be able to automate the ADSR or the filters on them.

It is nice that you can place any combination of 3 picking from the 10 effects on any one track. Some of the effects leave a little to be desired, but having all of this power is more akin to a full blown DAW. The effects are fully automatable.

The mixer is a pretty standard mixer and with the ability to add FX only channels it gives some interesting routing possibilities. Although some glaring omissions plague the mixer, like no fader on the master channel. The FX buses are not aux buses allowing you only to route channels exclusively to them or the master.

The sequencer is great, and is very similar to the one in Nanostudio. So I felt right at home. I loved the sample editor, and chop lab for chopping beats, and the addition of time stretch and BPM signature makes it a really nice place to edit my samples.

File management is adequate, but I had some issues with the copy and paste to the general pasteboard. It is with other apps not accepting the copied parts. I hope Intua sorts this out. I wish they would just break down and put in Sonoma audiocopy and paste. Which for me is usually the first standard before buying an app.

Overall it is a great app, with some rough spots ( it did crash on me a few times when adding effects). I hope the developer keeps up with frequent updates and really pushes this app forward.

I wrote up a full review for instrum3ntal.com you can check it out here. http://t.co/fmjN3NB

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Picking Sounds to Create a Balanced Track that is Good for Mastering.

So you sit down and have a great idea, maybe a beat, or synth line you can’t get out of your head, just waiting to be captured. Once you get that starting point out of the way, you want to build a track around it. Do you just start browsing your preset library for inspiration, or do you have something in mind already, and start looking for a certain sound? Maybe you know exactly what you want and just load up a blank preset on your favorite synth and start constructing your patch from scratch. Whichever way you find your sounds, it is a good idea to make some notes, and list out some characteristics of the sounds you are choosing versus the sounds you have. Use descriptors like “Low Bassy Synth” or “Plucking High Bell Sound”, try to describe the timbre, and where it may fall in the EQ spectrum to start. When you create a list of sounds and descriptions you can start to see what you are missing, to make a nice balanced track.

Once you have everything picked out, it is a good idea to just write some simple test melodies and parts for the instruments. Even if these parts are not going to be in the final track. Then load up a Spectrum Analyzer on the master track and start looking for spikes or big holes in your spectrum. Be careful not to create a big wall of sound. It is good to have some variety and movement in your spectrum, but you need to make sure that nothing is really unbalanced.

Doing this work up front makes it much easier, to not only pick extra sounds because you have a good feel for your spectral footprint, but then you avoid having to work the EQ really hard to remove those spikes on the offending instrument’s sound. It is a shame to have to dump that  killer synth line because it muddies up your track.

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Smoothing Beat Glitches

waveforms, precious little waveforms
Image by altemark via Flickr

Sometimes when creating glitched beats, there are rough parts to the glitches that don’t mix well, instead of removing these portions of the beat you can edit them and make them sound really good. I am talking about the portions of a beat that sound like the glitch was overloaded, too loud compared to the rest of the beat. Apply volume sweeps to the sections for interesting effects. Volume ramps from low to high are great ways to make that section sound like it is bringing something in. Volume tails from high to low give a sound a quick fade effect and can also be effective, especially if the glitch that you are applying this to has a stutter effect, then a volume tail can give it a nice delay effect.

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Cepstrum featured in Iphone application “Audioforge”

The distraub track “Cepstrum” is featured in an audio Iphone application titled “Audioforge”. You will are able to edit the track directly in the application, to create your own custom remix.

Audioforge is the envelope based Swiss army knife for audio files on iPhone. Edit the wave form directly just by touching it. Set selections to copy and paste within files or even paste from another file. Dynamically change volume for fade in effects or the remove unwanted clicks. Adjust stereo balance and set it to the far left channel for the beginning of the track continuously transferring over to the right channel for the end. Add stereo widening effects or bring it all to together to make is sound mono. Add high pass and low pass effects to start an intro, simulate a telephone conversation or just distort your sound.

Use tracker knobs to adjust the effect levels. Add as many trackers as you need by double tapping on the waveform. Move them around to generate the changes to the effect you need. Delete them by double tapping them again.

✦ Volume
✦ Stereo balance
✦ Stereo widening
✦ Low pass filter
✦ High pass filter

Use the built in wifi server to upload music in mp3, im4, wav, aif format.

A video of the application was also released. Audio Forge Video For more information please visit :http://www.audioforge.ca

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