Before using iOS apps for music production, I had a custom PC which hosted Reason, Absynth, Acid pro and Soundforge. That was my “set up” for a few years. However, the PC crashed (as they tend to do) and my brother sent me an ipodtouch and I discovered the fledgling music apps that, although basic, held promise of more advanced development in times to come.
I didn’t have to wait long, and before I knew it, I was making reasonable music and recording / performing dj sets with the apps on the iPad that I got on the first day of release in the USA. I started blogging and interacting with developers in 2009 and for sure, we all felt that apps were going to be the new way of production tools due to the “touch effect” and the affordability.
But not everyone felt that way. Some saw apps as toys or sketch pads for ideas ( some still do but they are far lesser in number. But the fact is that now you can get a vast amount of fully functional synths, editors, drum machines and a handful of reasonable daws for very cheap.
You name the app and I’ve tried it. Most developers send me promocodes in exchange for reviews. But despite the greatness of many apps, I tend to use only a few because my kind of production demands simplicity and focus. Some producers want to use many apps and have a complex approach that demands more of developers and the devices.
They want iPads to become desktops in essence.
For me, iOS has always been about simplicity and effectiveness. Call me old school but I favour audio copy and paste above Audiobus. The latter has many great uses, especially in a live situation but has yet to prove that full tracks can be produced in that scenario. And it has to be said that people are still not fully satisfied even though they can link up any combination of apps and interface with a few decent daws.
There is always “something missing”. And this seems to be a common thread that is found on iOS blogs. “Why can’t this do this, or why is this feature missing”, “Why won’t NanoStudio add Audiobus”, “Why doesn’t this synth have midi” and so on…
So, there are some features missing in many apps and as far as DAWs go, even the best ones are criticised.
What is going on?
- Maybe iOS apps have not fully come of age, or
- Maybe people need to settle into music making and let developers realise that their apps are actually working, thus they will be encouraged to develop more intensely?
I feel option 2 is rational, simply because the sheer volume of apps can be used intelligently in various combinations ( in or out of an Audiobus scenario ) to achieve great results.
Some iOS artists I follow on soundcloud that are personal friends are achieving remarkable results. So much so that if you didn’t know they use apps, you’d be forgiven for thinking they used expensive desktop software and real analog synths. They have got on with the job and are grateful for the tools they have.
So, I personally like to focus more on the result, especially if the process itself is pleasurable. Those that find the process pleasurable will achieve excellent results…
I love my own personal process and I’ve narrowed down the apps I use to around 5. I ocassionally revisit some older ones but to be honest, I’m looking forward to an ultimate standalone daw that has amazing built in synths, excellent editing options and great drum manipulation built in. This would save all kinds of back and forth shenanigans aswell as space on the device.
So, I’d like to open this for discussion and encourage you to share your thoughts.
- Are you happy with the current iOS app developments?
- What is missing?
- What are your own goals for the music you make with apps?