If you are interested in the possibility of making music on an iOS device, Audiobus – despite not making any sound of its own – is about as ‘must have’ an app as it is possible to get. This utility app makes 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… seriously, if you don’t own it then you really should get treatment for your masochism.
I reviewed Audiobus 2 when it was first released and have commented on the various performance options it provides in previous posts on the blog. However, we have seen a regular stream of updates since v.2 became available to refine and improving the performance. We have also seen the introduction of Audiobus Remote.
One of the things that many iOS musicians will have experienced some frustrations with in terms of workflow is getting iOS music apps to play in sync with one another. Technology such as MIDI Clock sync should work (heck, in some case, is actually does work) but, unlike the desktop world where the platform is mature enough for this to be a fairly painless process, under iOS things are not yet so refined.
A few weeks ago, Ableton – the company behind the very popular desktop music software Live – announced an alternative synchronisation protocol; Ableton Link and indicated that, as well as being integrated in Live on the desktop, that several iOS music app developers were also going to build the system into their apps. This would mean a new option when syncing iOS apps to your desktop system but, as the protocol could be used without Live itself, also means a new option for those working exclusively under iOS.
The announcement promised a ‘coming soon…’ timeline and a few iOS developers have also be trailing the possibility over the last few weeks. However, today has seen a flurry of app updates, many of which are intended to provide Ableton Live support. One of the first of these to arrive was Audiobus itself but other apps updated today include all of most of Korg’s iOS music apps, Elastic Drums, MoDrums, Loopy HD, triqtraq and iMPC Pro. Do note, however, that while Audiobus supports Ableton Link – and can make using it easier between iOS music apps – individual apps used within Audiobus will need to have Ableton Link supported added by their developers; the fact that support is now built into Audiobus itself doesn’t automatically add that support to all Audiobus compatible apps.
I’ll post a couple of other entries later today as I work my way through these but I have already tried Audiobus and couple of the other apps mentioned above. After a couple of false starts (my bad I suspect rather than the apps), I did get Korg Gadget and Loopy HD, for example, to both trigger playback together and play in sync. Yay! – it was great to see.
Rather neatly, if you use Audiobus with these apps, Audiobus will automatically enable Ableton Link in apps that support the protocol. Equally neatly, there is now a ‘Play’ button for Audiobus within the Audiobus control strip so you can trigger and stop playback of all ‘linked’ apps from the Audiobus control set.
I’ve only had a brief chance to explore so far so, as I try a few of the other apps, I’ll post more…. but this is an encouraging start. It’s a shame that MIDI Clock sync doesn’t just work and that we have to resort to alternatives…. such is life I guess…. but it will be very interesting to see just how widely Ableton Link gets adopted by the iOS developer community…. Watch this space….
Oh, and it you still haven’t taken the plunge with Audiobus (and you really should if you do any amount of iOS music making) then it is currently on sale; you can pick up a copy for just UK£2.99… but do budget for the UK£3.99 IAP that adds the excellent multi-routing option.