Audiobus 3 news – launch date and features outline announced for cornerstone iOS music app

Download from iTunes App Storeaudiobus 2 logoIf you are interested in the possibility of making music on an iOS device, over the last few years, Audiobus – despite not making any sound of its own – has been about as ‘must have’ an app as it is possible to get. This is the utility app that made the whole process involved with getting various other music apps (synths, guitar amp sims, audio effects, DAWs, etc.) working together into a coherent workflow just so much easier…  In short, when iOS music making was just a bunch of brilliant, but disconnected, apps, Audiobus was the solution to getting them to work together when iOS itself wasn’t able to do so….

For lots of long-standing iOS music makers, therefore, Audiobus holds something of a special status and it is difficult to underestimate the importance of the app in helping us realise the potential of the platform for music production. So, when the Audiobus team release information of the next major iteration of the app – Audiobus 3 – lots of iOS musicians are going to be very interested. And that’s what happened over the week-end….

We knew it was coming as a number of other iOS music apps have, as part of their own update cycles, already stated that they are ‘Audiobus 3 ready’. However, Sebastian Dittmann has now confirmed that Audiobus 3 will arrive on, or around, March 27th. The exact date might, however, depend a little upon Korg’s final release date for the major (and highly anticipated) Gadget update (so as to avoid stepping on each others press space) and which is also currently scheduled for the end of March; watch this space….

Audiobus 3 – lots of new features and coming soon.

The major update looks like it will have three new headline features. First, the app will provide MIDI routing between compatible (I assume this mean ‘Audiobus 3 ready’?) apps, making it easier to configure your overall arrangement of apps within a specific Audiobus project. Second, Audiobus will now support Audio Unit plugins as well as Audiobus and IAA compatible apps. Third, Audiobus 3 will include an input mixer allowing you to balance volumes of all your audio sources. The combination of these new features, alongside the inter-app audio connectivity that Audiobus already provides, plus the fact that all your project configurations will be saved for instant recall, will, of course, allow Audiobus to perform a much more comprehensive role as an ‘music app hub’ than the current version. Current Audiobus users will, therefore, undoubtedly have a lot to look forward to.

Of course, there are alternatives. While Audiobus was perhaps an essential app for every iOS musician for a number of years, with the advent of Audio Units in iOS9 (and the somewhat wider adoption of AUv.3 with iOS10) and the launch of AUM back in February 2016, some iOS music makers have adopted a different route to their inter-app connectivity. Indeed, given the headline features of AUM – IAA/AU/Audiobus app hosting, MIDI routing, mixer, flexible audio routing – I can only imagine that it will make for an interesting comparison between the detailed specifications in each of these areas once Audiobus 3 is actually with us.

Audiobus 3 will, however, undoubtedly be a major update on the current version and Sebastian has already confirmed this will be a new app, separate from Audiobus 2 (which users can, of course, keep using). While some (I hope a minority) might grumble about this not being a free update, I think ‘new app’ is inevitable, both in terms of starting with fresh code (and only having to carry a minimum of backwards compatibility stuff into the new code?) and an income stream to support the considerable development time involved.

Anyway, fingers crossed that the last week or so of development work and Apple’s app approval process run smoothly….  if so, then we can all get out hands on the brand new and shiny Audiobus 3 is around a week :-)

Audiobus 2

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    1. Unless I’ve misread things (here and elsewhere), it sounds as if Audiobus 3 will bring the app into comparison with AUM, especially with the addition of MIDI routing. I didn’t see any mention of AU host capability – if AB3 lacks this, I’m not certain I’d end up buying it (at least at first), as AUM plus AB2 gives me pretty much all the audio/MIDI-routing options I think I “need”.

      That said, I’ll wait and find out what people think of AB3 when it emerges next week – thanks in the meantime for keeping us in the loop :-)

      • Hi Tim…. the Audiobus Forum thread that Sebastian posted on indicates ‘AU extension support’ and I’m assuming that means support for AU hosting of instrument/effects apps. The screenshot released (and included above) also shows a couple of ‘instances’ of Phasemaker suggesting Audiobus 3 is hosting these….. so that’s encouraging. Indeed, I think it would be a surprise if AU hosting wasn’t included in some form, although the mixer and MIDI routing would most certainly be very welcome in themselves. Fingers crossed…. best wishes, John

    2. ConfusedKitten says:

      Wow John… I’m so excited! :) That’s some amazing news to start the day off with I’m psyched (thanks for that, already made my day… I know I’m so easy to please)! ;) The most immediate thing that springs to mind is queue the “…if it doesn’t have AU I’m not buying it…” and the “why don’t developers work for nothing… it should have been free…” cohort (so thanks for providing some clarification on that from the outset) as it would genuinely be really nice to move onto more ‘positive’ and ‘greener’ iOS pastures; and the inspiring appearance of AB3 on the iOS event horizon will certainly help! :)

      The secondary thing that springs to mind is that many will wonder whether they actually ‘need’ AB3 now (e.g. in light of the release of AUM which does pretty much the same things etc)? However, I think it’s important not to forget that practically everything musical on the iOS App Store is already AB enabled (it’s support is ubiquitous across iOS) and thus; regardless of the similarities it’s clearly going to provide greater opportunities for using the vast arsenal of IOS music making tools we already own (and will no doubt purchase in future) so when you look it like that; for me there’s little to think about really! ;)

      However if you’re on a tight budget (or just starting out with your iOS music technology journey (*read …future obsession*) I completely understand; but it’s really nice that there is clearly more choice now for users regardless (as diversity and choice fosters healthy competition and subsequently cultivates ongoing development via innovation etc)! Excellent news anyway John, thanks for the heads up! :)

    3. One to keep an eye on, but not at all sure if I would personally use AB3. Once AUM came along, I got used to its wonders, and now only really use AB for apps that take advantage of its state saving. If the next AUM update added this, and the Midi stuff coming with AB3 I’d just stick with AUM. It is elegant and easy to use.

      As for everything being AB enabled, there are frustrating exceptions, some of which do manage IAA, and so work under AUM. The developer of AUM also seems keen to innovate, whereas if we are being honest here, AB is playing catch-up for the most part.

    4. John Haas says:

      When comparing AUM to AB3, one thing that hasn’t been mentioned is AUM’s recording abilities and integration with AudioShare. This is often a big part of my workflow, and if AB3 does not have something similar, I might stay with what’s been working for me – AUM.

      Thanks for the update, cheers!

      • ConfusedKitten says:

        That’s a very good point John Haas, and I agree completey, AUM’s integration with AudioShare is a huge advantage and selling point for many (and likely overlooked when comparing the two existing technologies) but as AB3 is still somewhat of a mystery I guess we’ll have to see what it’s offering! Fortunately with using all of the above (so far) I’m lucky enough to be able to meander between them as required; but it also makes you wonder what Kymatica might add to AUM (or bring out in future)! :)

    5. John, here’s the thing of it. AB3 as well as AUM is perfectly setup to support the other greatest happening in the IOS Universe and that’s Ableton Link. I’ve found that no sequencer on the IOS platform has stepped forward and said, “We support Ableton Link.”

      So consequently, in order to make Ableton Link work for its intended purpose, I have to sync on the way in. The more tracks the better. Hopefully, Cubasis will continue to dynamically assign tracks for all the inputs defined in Audiobus.

      Have you heard anything about any company stepping forward? Ableton introduced Link. Is there any plan that they will boldly step into the arena? If they do, I will jump, no leap, no beam in, in a nano of a nano second!

      John, they set the stage for it. Please tell me something.

      And I’m sitting here twiddling my thumbs waiting for the ipad pro 2 7.5″ screen to unveil… maybe today.

      It’s time. I can only record 2 to 3 tracks in Cubasis before I have to start freezing. Auria? Faaa-get about it!

      John, please share some optimism I humbly beseech you. Spread a rumor. I’m desperate. I’ll believe anything at this point…

      • ConfusedKitten says:

        Hi James, I have a feeling that no iOS DAW is currently actually allowed to use ‘Ableton Link’ because it was at least (initially) designed exclusively for use with Ableton (hence Ableton Link) and the company strictly controls the use of its API (from what I understand) so it’s basically not up to developers who have to apply/license the technology (and you don’t usually give a strong reason to buy another DAW to your competitors when you’re in the DAW business) as that would be weird! As such, I always got the impression that it’s distribution with other iOS music apps was intended mainly to promote their use with Ableton (in the desktop world) primarily; but just because that was intended originally doesn’t necessarily mean it’s still the case now because as you’ve mentioned it’s become a fledgling (adored) iOS music technology unto itself; so I can appreciate you’re wondering about its future (as we all are)!

        I think John mentioned something about this previously when discussing the appearance of Ableton Link (not a public announcement from Ableton but more a sneaking suspicion that this is likely the case) but it’s futures pretty under wraps seemingly! I understand your frustration though as despite what it was (potentially) initially intended for; its since become the easiest, most straight forward, instant and reliable way to sync iOS music technology (it is amazing) and although it doesn’t do all the things you can do with MIDI (and it was never supposed to as it’s not a replacement but purely a means to Link/sync) but if you want to start making music ASAP without messing around it’s perfect! ;)

        I have to admit, based on its obvious success, it always made me wonder whether Ableton were secretly intending to release their own iAbleton for iOS (all along) and actually as it’s such a peculiar DAW (with its weird workflow via scene management etc) I actually think I’d bite (even though I’m completely happy with Cubasis being a desktop user) but it would be pretty awesome purely just for live adventures (after recently reading about Orbital’s regular use of it on stage) so I remain optimistic that we may see something like that in the future! The reality is though (I think) that the only people privileged to know what’s in the future for Ableton Link is Ableton themselves (seemingly) but I agree it’s appearance was an instant boost for iOS music making and has since put Ableton on my radar! :)

        • Thanks for this comment…. Ableton have done something rather wonderful with Link and I’m sure many of us iOS musicians appreciate its abilities even without being Live users….. but it is also easy to understand why Ableton might not wish to see Link in Cubasis or Auria Pro or other desktop DAWs….. It will be interesting to see how this might play out and whether Link does get opened up to become a more generic ‘sync’ technology that all developers can then access…. Best wishes, John

    6. Like most veteran iOS musicians, I have a lot of gratitude and respect for the Audiobus folks. I agree with what others here have said about the comparison with AUM, and while the upcoming Audiobus update will hopefully be a profitable exercise for the company, it feels a little like playing catch-up. The Audiobus devs have thrived on innovation, and I hope they have a few more tricks up their sleeves.

      • Hi Clif…. agreed all around…. it will be interesting to see exactly what AB3 has to offer when it finally hits the Store…. Very best wishes, John

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