Drum machines for iOS are ten a penny…

There are many maby 808/909 emulators to choose from, no big deal.

However, there are few drum synths to choose from- iElectribe, SeekBeats, Impaktor and not much else to be honest. The one in Stroke Machine is pretty good too..

I guess you could say we needed another one, a drum synth that is simple yet profound!

Well, Oliver Greshke has delivered a fine drum synth. One that doesn’t require an expert to figure out, but experts would be immersed by.

Make no mistake, if you are serious about beats, your better off with a drum synth than with a drum machine.

A real drum synth will have you mesmerised..because having the ability to synthesise your own drum hits is a whole different experience entirely and will ADD DISTINCTION to your overall production.

As a sound designer myself ( mostly synth patches for iOS ), I’ve not yet found an app that makes designing one shots of drum hits logical.

Enter Elastic Drums!

If you think about the word “Elastic”, it means stretch, twist, transform- and this is what this app does with beats. Not just the individual one shots, but the whole sequence of your beats!

You can adjust the time of each sequenced drum pattern, automate effects, turn the pitch right down on individual parts , thus creating intense deep bass rumbles..need I go on? Ok I will..

Add this drum synth in Audiobus and marry it with your favourite fx input such as crystalline, see what happens..record 4 bars of that and sequence it up alongside a breakbeat loop.

You will achieve unheard of depth in percussion using Elastic Drums ,I just have!

I did as described above and am already crafting a very unique track that was not possible before in the particular style I’m working with in this instance.

This is because Oliver has presented us with an easy to use, no nonsense drum synth for the price of a couple of coffees.

I’m certain Oliver has a serious background in EDM, because Elastic Drums packs a punch mightier than the other drum synths combined in my opinion.

If you want to jam out live with it, it’s great! Add it as an input in audiobus alongside a synth like Nave or Phase84 and go for it.

For exporting to iOS daws, you need to set the exact bars you need and choose the “play record” option then open in Audioshare. MAKE SURE YOU RECORD SOME AUTOMATIONS first, to add extra interest to the groove..

Almost everything can be automated actually.

Oliver is actually nearly done making Elastic Drums universal, but if you are an iPad owner, grab it now- in 2x it’s hardly an eye sore as his UI design and colour scheme makes it tidy enough.

I can see Elastic Drums facilitating even the most fussy of users and for creating almost every conceivable EDM genre actually.

I do hope Oliver makes more apps because this one is powerful!

I’m going to be up very late with this app:)

If you care about iOS music and serious indie developers go grab Elastic Drums here now!



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Retronyms are one of the longest running developers in iOS.

I still remember downloading one of their first apps “Dopplerpad” at 2 am outside in the freezing snow at the only hotspot I could find back in July 2009!!!

I enjoyed the app as it was cutting edge at the time and when Nanostudio arrived , I’d focus heavily on pasting grooves from Dopplerpad into it.

There’s something about the charm and simplicity of those old school apps that still appeals…

So, based on the fact that my time freezing in the snow for Dopplerpad was worth it, I always pay close attention to anything Retronyms do.

I’ve found them responsive and cordial , what to speak of visionary.

Their Tabletop app has been around since July 2011 and has been sorely misunderstood by some core iOS bloggers and their fans.

New comers to iOS music apps should know that before Audiobus and interapp audio, there was Sonoma Wire Works Audiocopy and paste, also the general pasteboard. Many users would bounce loops and sounds back and forth from app to app and were happy to do so.

Retronyms took this further by creating Tabletop and slowly and methodically started to add instruments and fx to it via iap and thus creating its own Eco system. They included Audiocopy and paste , so it was a great thing to have on the iPad.

These developers have been commissioned by Akai and Arturia to create ports of some of their hardware and did a great job. These instruments once purchased as standalone can also be included in the Tabletop environment or be used via interapp audio routing.

Phase84 is their very latest iOS synth, and I was on the fence about it. I watched the youtubes and read the reviews. I have so many synths so I needed to know how Phase84 would actually benefit me and not clutter up my iPad!

I saw how it has an amazing arpeggio system and that was its selling point. Because most iOS synths arpeggiators are poor.

They do not give me the power and flexibility I need to bring forth extremely abstract or melodic synth grooves. And the implementation has always been poor in this regard, complex to design them too.

So I desperately hoped that Retronyms pulled this one feature off and they did!

You just dial in the shapes in the boxes provided and that’s it!

Simplicity is very beautiful to me, and the arps I can now generate are intense , especially if I change chords rapidly or hold multiple keys down! I don’t have to get mathematical about it, it’s so ingenious that Phase84 relies heavily on symbols!

It certainly helps that the apps design is simple, uncluttered and crisp. Design is as important as playability and result to me.

Not only that, the included delay is very unique…you don’t get the pingpong kind of delay or crunched up compressed delay like in some apps, it’s almost as if this specific delay has married reverb and had a ghost child..hard to explain but it’s not your usual delay and it certainly adds to the patch you are creating.

The 3 lfos are ideally suited for serious psytrance or dubstep preset creating, dnb too. Add the excellent wave shaper and start tweaking, very soon you WILL get some very dangerous and sharp sounds. Sounds that have character and move in strange but exciting ways.

Add the filter and start moving the brilliantly animated XY pads ( the other one has pulse width and a/b mix on it) and craft your own arp in the aptly named “groove gate” and off you go!

Although this synth is ideally suited for the darker EDM styles, you can go all out ambient with it, just make the waves less “angry” and perhaps route via IAA to a reverb app, turn the bpm down, you get the idea..

I’m relieved, money well spent and a new long term friend has been made.

Getting lost in the vast sea of synth apps that at times, can drown you in complexity and clutter might be a thing of the past if Retronyms put out more synths..

As far as I’m concerned, Phase84 is a simple no frills pure EDM synth. Yet despite its simplicity it accomplishes almost anything I need for my own production.

The only complaint ( and I’ve told them and received a reply ) is that there is no hold button!!

For those of you that are on the fence because this app doesn’t have Audiobus, don’t be! Phase 84 works just fine in Cubasis or the likes of Audioshare. Maybe try merging the two routing protocols according to your needs and tastes.

Retronyms have their own reasons for not adding Audiobus sdk to their apps, but that doesn’t mean the apps should be dismissed based on sentimental loyalty to certain developers, or dependancy on one set workflow either.

If a tool is good, and can be recorded and exported, that is the only consideration you should have. It actually frustrates the hell out of me that a small percentage of iOS users try to blackmail or demand features from apps that are so cheap compared to desktop ones or hardware. It actually makes the iOS music scene look highly unprofessional and immature.

Only a few years ago, people were freaking out because Propellerheads Figure app didnt launch with ACP! Some even jumped to the premature conclusion that Figure was actually Reason and were angry as hell that it wasn’t.

I took the heat for defending those developers and I rightly said based on my faith in them that they would add acp and they did. Now look how highly regarded that app is..

Retronyms even rescued ACP after iOS 7 crashed it and even launched a free app to help out.

Their commitment to iOS music is almost unparalleled in my book and their senior status is undeniable.

So, for me, Phase84 is a great example of what apps should be like- apps, not software but packing as much punch as hardware even.

Phase84 is such an app, simple in design, potent in execution and blissfully pleasing to use.

Lets see what Retronyms bring out next, I’m certainly hopeful of more great stuff from them.

You can purchase Phase84 here:




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We all knew that Camel Audio were quitting the development game, but I was under the impression that their iOS synth Alchemy was staying in the AppStore for some time.

Well, it’s gone folks and not a trace..

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If Camel Audio quitting developing wasn’t enough, Sound Trends just told me they are shutting up shop too!

Sound Trends LLC, iOS developers famed for ingenious apps such as Looptastic and Meta.DJ , are some of the earliest and most providers of very cool music apps for iOS.

It was exciting for me to have such apps like the aforementioned and I even used both of them for live Dj sets in Denver Colorado!

When I first started blogging about iOS music apps, Soundtrends were one of my first sponsors and ill always remember them fondly as being friendly and most committed to their apps.

In the below press release they sent me just now, it’s clear that like many developers, music apps seem to not be financially viable to pay the rent.

I’ve known this for a long time and have had deep discussions with many developers. The conclusion of that will be presented in a follow up article very soon. And it will be an eye opener for many and a bitter pill to swallow for a few so called head honchos in the iOS music app scene.

Anyway, here is the statement from Aaron, the CEO of Soundtrends. I’ve sent them my thanks and best wishes. Such a shame as I was really hoping for more apps from them..

Dear Sound Trends Customers,

It is with a very heavy heart that we have decided to officially stop new development on our apps and to focus our attention elsewhere. It has been a great run the past 4+ years. Now we simply reached a point where we cannot justify the costs of continuing to advance our products.

We sincerely appreciate your support with everything from the first version of Looptastic in 2009 to the most recent update of meta DJ in 2012. We could not have built these inspired products without your help. Thank you for your emails, positive reviews, encouragement, and most importantly your business. You enabled us to do what we love for several awesome years. It is incredibly rewarding hearing your stories of enjoyment and creative pursuits.

Looking forward, we plan to keep all our products online including all of the Loop Sets in our Loop Store. However, the time may come when the costs of keeping the lights on outweigh the incoming revenue.

In closing, let me thank you again for your caring and support. We truly appreciate it.


Aaron Higgins


Sound Trends LLC

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Aside from music making, I’m
a keen iphoneographer and digital artist too.

For me, iOS really is a self contained and complete work and entertainment system. Many others are realising this too and enjoy a variety of apps for different purposes.

I’ve had the idea for a long time of featuring other kinds of creative apps but have rarely done so. With the recent acquisition of an iPad mini retina, I’ve been playing catch up with apps in general.

Art is tricky on iPhones and iPods..the small screen is certainly restrictive.

I’m finding the iPad mini screen a healthy “bridge” between iPads and smaller devices.

With this in mind, I have been reviewing to myself all the photo editing and art apps I own. I have so many that it sometimes takes a combo of a few to achieve my goals.

You’ve heard me express my preference for standalone music apps, or at least those that compliment each other without the need of some kind of interapp routing.

So, it goes without saying that I’d like, nay- love a complete photo editing suite on my iPad!

Photo forge 2 was a great app but they switched to another OS and its interface was a bit awkward. So there’s not been any truly feature packed standalone photo editing suite for iOS that I’ve liked since then..

Enter Pixelmator!

Pixelmator is a very popular desktop app that is used by professional photographers world wide. The development team ported it to iOS and it was even demonstrated at the last Apple event to a stunned audience.

It received the highest possible praise from Apple themselves and has been riding high in the AppStore charts ever since.

Today I tried Pixelmator for the first time and breathed a sigh of relief for two reasons:

1- It is designed in such a way that gentle experimentation will reap you fast results. It’s so easy to find your way around without a manual or video tutorial..

2- It has more purposes than I initially expected!

You launch the app and choose between loading a photo or actually drawing your own artwork. You can even choose a template for designing the likes of posters or flyers.

Once you have chosen your items and format, you get down to editing.

All the filters and fx you are familiar with are there and more..and it’s easy to try them out. If you don’t like the result- no problem ! Press the undo button as much as you need to!

You can add layers, twist things up with certain fx like miniaturise , pinch or kaleidoscope. Add some text, do the cropping and adjust colours, mess with the filters and voila! You have unique high res artwork to export.

If you just want traditional photo editing and enhancement, Pixelmator has you covered with very sensitive faders for applying the filters. And you can do layered fx too.

The general feel of the app is very smooth and extremely stable. The tidy and well designed UI allows for easy navigation and a fast workflow.

Once done, you can export work to the photos app, icloud or even to other apps via the convenient “open in” feature. Not only that, you can export it to desktop to work with the version of the app there.

Wait..there’s more…

If you are a photoshop fan, you will be delighted to know you can export it as a photoshop project to desktop!

An amazing, feature packed app indeed. Well worth the asking price and by developers committed to updating it with more features.

Overall I felt like I was working in a visual daw of sorts, it was that inclusive of what I wanted to do.

If you want to keep your iOS device clutter free, start with Pixelmator first because it really does all you need it to!


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Apesoft are favourite developers of mine and I’m still playing catch up with apps.

Of course I have a fondness for synths like most iOS music lovers and we also share something else- fear of wires!

Modular synthesis is all about connections, routing oscillators to filters to fx to arps and so on.

There are a few modular environments in iOS, one of the earliest was Jasuto, then tabletop was a kind of modular environment for different kinds of instruments. The developers of Rhythm Studio released a modular with tons of iap’s too.

Caustic, the famous android app that ported to iOS also included a modular synth…

Somehow, Apesoft got the formula right. Modelling their app on the famous vintage VSC3, a modular used by the likes of Brian Eno, was a certain hit and has been universally praised by many in the iOS scene.

Nonetheless , I was very cautious..

I launched the app and was not at all bewildered by the layout actually, holding and dragging will get you where you need to fast.

The routing system is not cluttered or claustrophobic at all, it’s quite minimal actually. Simple experimentation will gain results wether good, bad or blank!

It’s one of those apps that will encourage you to approach it in a humble manner, an exploratory one. It certainly gives off that impression.

There’s many presets to try out and more as in app purchases.

Graced by the gorgeous UI and the convenience of being able to hide the keyboard ( caustics modular does this too), to enable more navigational room is a plus. You can experiment to your hearts content, but pay close attention to what you are doing so you can replicate successes in other sessions!

iVSC3 is really a wild ride, you can get crazy arps, violent basses, dreamy pads, sharp leads and more, just by taking the good time to actually see how each filter and oscillator will affect the other.

Again, my hat goes off to Apesoft. Their high standard of bringing avant garde instruments to iOS is unrivalled. May it long continue!



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Drum Perfect for iOS has been around a short while but I got my hands on it today via the developer.

I’m usually hesitant about drum apps as there are so many, and most are kind of reflections of each other. With the exception of DrumJam by Sonosaurus of course!

So it was with this in mind that I approached Drum Perfect- can it deliver something that other drum apps cannot?

First, it doesn’t look like the drum machine apps that are legion on the AppStore..and it comes with a lot of so called organic rock/ jazz type kits as well as a couple of electronic ones too.

The UI is very simple yet clean, easy to navigate and extremely appealing to the eye , and that is a huge percentage of any apps appeal.

You have the usual type of pattern and step sequencers, along with features such as velocity, probability, time shift..all to add a more human like feel to the drum patterns you create.

This is a very good thing, especially for those of us that are fed up with the usual 4/4 synthetic sequenced approach.

I’m into making downtempo kind of grooves right now, so the kits and humanise type features that add subtlety, swing and feeling to patterns are really appreciated. It’s a given that dance beats are ten a penny and easily accomplished, but it’s not so easy to create more realistic patterns with drums on iOS.

Drum Jam can give you that via a lot of randomisation and sure, you can also do the random thing on GarageBand, or use some iOS beat loops here and there.

Perhaps Drum Perfect is the successor to the well liked app Stochastic that now appears to be abandoned?

I think the developer has thought out this app very well, his choice of “rooms”, which are the apps fx is very refined…you can emulate smoky jazz rooms, grungy sweaty rock venues and more. Makes a change from the usual bit crush phased out delay scapes that most developers feed us with almost weekly.

I’ve not tried yet, but you also get the usual routing via/to other apps, Audiocopy , open in and the midi stuff too.

A quick browse at others thoughts about Drum Perfect tells me it’s a valued app, and I look forward to incorporating some patterns from it into my work too!

Looking forward to more from Marinus who developed this nice app!

You can visit him here: http://www.drumperfect.nl/


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