When I first purchased my iPhone 5 back in March 2013, I knew that GarageBand worked on it; and, that if I made a composition on the iPhone, I could open it in GarageBand or Logic on my Mac for further refinements. That was about all I knew at the time. I was totally excited.
I wasted no time diving right in. Within days a friend of mine also picked up a copy of GarageBand and we did a JamSession which resulted in a pretty cool little composition. It won't win any awards, but the potential it proved blew my mind.
Keep in mind I am the exploring type, so I wanted to see what else there was and when I started exploring apps related to GarageBand in the AppStore, I was overcome by what I found. There were hundreds of music apps which covered every known method for creating, capturing and manipulating sound electronically.
I found Analog Synths, FM Synths, Samplers, WaveMappers, Vocoders, Granulators, Physical Modellers, Spectral Generators, Noise Makers, Bleep Machines, Trackers, Loopers, Drum Machines, Oscillators, Filters, EQ's, Reverbs, Delays...Whew! ...and those are just the tip of the iceberg.
There are so many, in-fact, that without knowing the criteria of what makes an app useful in a production workflow, I was facing a mountain of apps to sift through in order to find the best and most useful music apps for the iPhone.
Audiobus and Inter-App Audio
About a month later in April, Apple released an update to GarageBand to now include "Audiobus Support" so that I could connect other Audiobus apps to GarageBand and record the audio. I had to find this Audiobus, and I am really glad I did. Audiobus actually allows the connection of up to three audio apps and can route the combined audio through an effect app (if you want, but an effect is not required) and then output that combined audio into an app like GarageBand, BeatMaker 2, Looptical, Nano Studio, LoopyHD, Multiple-Track DAW and the like.
Currently there are over three hundred music apps which support Audiobus. They can function as an input or source, effect and/or output. Some apps even function as all three. Audiobus support meant that I could actually use apps in conjunction with other apps in real projects. Cool.
Inter-App Audio is brand new as of iOS 7. It allows for the direct connection of apps for the purpose of streaming audio from one app into another; or one through another and into yet another. Sounds just like Audiobus and it kind-of is, but not exactly. The primary difference between how the two work is that Inter-App Audio Streams travel an apparently latency-free, direct-through-core route; and, it can support as many streams as your device can.
Audiobus, on the other hand, does not have the same system privileges. It can currently only stream up to three instruments through one effect and the audio streams are subject to latency. In my use this latency is barely noticeable if ever. Many in the iOS world speculated that the emergence of IAA would lay waste to Audiobus; but after experimenting quite a bit, it seems the two function quite well in tandem. That is how I use them. At this point, Inter-App Audio is a luxury; Audiobus is essential.
Core MIDI & Virtual MIDI
Core MIDI allows the attachment of an external, hardware controller like a physical keyboard or drum pads or whatever to the iPhone to play the iOS instrument. This is an awesome ability since playing keys on a touch surface doesn't always allow the same sonic flexibility as a velocity-sensitive controller with after touch.
As important as Core MIDI, if not in many ways more important, is Virtual MIDI. Virtual MIDI lets you control one app with the MIDI output of another app. Drum machines can sync to bass line sequencers and DAWs like BeatMaker 2 can record MIDI tracks and play your other synths. BeatMaker 2 even supports controing other music apps with its own internal keyboard and drum pad controllers. Combine Virtual MIDI with Audiobus and/or IAA audio streams and suddenly the iPhone replaces the Mac while retaining the same functional abilities. We are at the point where iOS music apps are beginning to function like VST instruments. This is an awesome advancement for all of us.
AudioCopy & AudioShare
Not all apps that stream audio into Audiobus or through IAA make sense to route that way. For example, there are lots of beat machines and loopers and even some synths which really shine brightest when used to create a small chunk of sound and then using that chunk in an other app as part of a composition.
With AudioCopy you can copy the audio created in one app and paste it into another. Pretty simple, really. AudioCopy has been around for a while and works with a lot of apps. The official AudioCopy app has a library function where you can save your bits and pieces for future reuse. Pretty handy.
More handy than AudioCopy is the app called AudioShare. AudioShare not only incorporates Audio Copy/Paste, it has full Audiobus support, functions as an IAA host, has a media library and offers advanced editing functions like trim, normalize and convert. You can send files by eMail, post to Soundcloud and share via AirDrop and "Open With". There is so much more. It suffices me to say that AudioShare is worth every penny and a dollar more. Essential, really.
So there you have it. The basics of what establishes the criteria for what is useful in the world of iOS Music apps and some of what can be done with audio as well. Remember to always check first to see if an app supports Audiobus, IAA, Virtual MIDI as well as Audio Copy/Paste if these abilities are things you need.
These criteria should be enough to help filter out a lot of the "junk" apps and keep you finding the best, most useful apps for the iPhone.
Ciao for now!
#iPhone #iOS #Music #Rocks