VirSyn are one of the software developers that have fully embraced the iOS platform. They have gradually developed a very impressive catalogue of iOS music apps many or which – Tera Synth, microTERA, Harmony Voice, Addictive Synth, Tap Delay, Emo Chorus, Posiedon Synth, Voxsyn and Arpeggist, for example – I’ve reviewed here previously on the Music App Blog.
Most the apps listed above feature a suite of audio effects as part of their overall feature set. These cover what is perhaps best described as ‘familiar’ ground; ambience, modulation overdrive, etc. and, while VirSyn’s take on these sorts of effects is fairly conventional, tucked under the hood are some (pardon the pun) very effective processing options and enough control options to allow some very specific fine-tuning of the effects provided.
Well, as I posted a few days ago, for their latest iOS music app offering, VirSyn have taken this suite of effects and released them as a separate multi-effects app; AudioEffX. As the name might suggest, this is an audio effects processor and, in fact, offers seven audio effects types that can all be used together as well as a ‘file player’ function if you just want to apply effects to a pre-recorded audio file sitting within your iTunes library.
The seven effects provide a Parametric EQ, Drive, Flanger, Phaser, Delay, Reverb and Chorus. If you have used any of VirSyn’s more recent synth app releases, then this effects set will look instantly familiar as it is essentially the same multi-effects options found in those apps, extracted into a stand-alone multi-effects app so you can apply it to any audio source.
The app ships with Audiobus and IAA support but – also as with more recent VirSyn releases – also arrives with AU support… This last point obviously means that, if you are running a suitable AU host, then you can have multiple instances of AudioEffX running at the same time. And, as the effects within the app are of the general variety, they are certainly suited to the more routine processing tasks that occur over and over again in a typical mix situation.
The app is universal, a 14MB download and requires iOS8.0 or later. The launch price is 30% off what will be the eventual price for a limited period so you can grab it now for just UK£4.99/US$6.99.
Time to tweak
When used as a stand-alone application or via IAA, you get the usual top-most VirSyn tool/menu bar with access to the presets (there is a modest selection to get you started but you can, of course, create your own), a random button recording options (you could play an iTunes library audio file through the effects and record the processed output) and Settings menu (for example, to enable the Ableton Link support). Beneath that is a frequency histogram display that shows the live audio frequency display and, if you are editing the EQ settings, also allows you to adjust some of the EQ settings in the visual section of the display.
The bottom half of the display contains eight ‘tabs’; one for each of the seven effects types and a ‘Common’ tab with global input level and wet/dry controls. If you select this tab, you also get to see the file player along the bottom of the screen and you can browse your iTunes library from here if you want to use this media player rather than process a ‘live’ audio source to a source from another app or DAW.
For each of the other seven tabs you get to see a couple of key controls. However, if you tap on that tab, the bottom-most strip adjusts to show the additional controls for each effect. These vary is complexity with, for example, just three extra controls for the Drive effect but as many as seven for the reverb effect. Either way, VirSyn are providing you with enough control options to fine-tune your settings without getting too bogged down in endless tweaking.
The other thing to note is that, aside from the Common tab, which stays glued to the left edge, you can tap, hold, and then drag any of the other seven tabs to change the order of the effects. If you want Chorus before Drive or EQ after Reverb then that’s perfectly possible.
Oh, and when used via AU, VirSyn have simply sacrificed the upper half of the display and you just see the bottom-most section containing the various tabs; a sensible move to keep the UI compact for the AU format.
Are you effected?
In terms of the processing options themselves then this is a solid set of effects. I’m not a great user of modulation effects and, when I do use them, I like to keep is subtle, but AudioEffX handles this approach very easily…. although you you like to ladle on the phaser, flanger and chorus in a somewhat more obvious fashion, then that’s available also.
The Para EQ is very useable with both high and low pass filters and a single sweepable band. Perhaps my favourite is the Drive effect that, while cable of going to soft of ‘lo-fi’ sound is, on the whole, rather tasteful and can be used to add just a little edge to sounds like vocals to help them cut through. The different algorithms available also give you a good range of different sounds.
Both the Delay and Reverb work well and, as well as using them on individual tracks, you could easily apply these as send effects over and above your main reverb or delay apps. The reverb, in particular, offers a good level of control to shape the size and tone of the ambience created. It perhaps isn’t quite in the same class as a dedicated reverb such as VirSyn’s own AudioReverb or one of the convolution-style reverbs available for iOS, but it does a respectable job.
Getting the job done
Having given AudioEffX a bit of a workout via IAA and AU in both Cubasis and AUM, it seems to work pretty well. I had no issues using the app as stand-alone or via IAA. Things didn’t run quite so smoothly via AU and VirSyn have already noted on the App Store description that their is an issue while editing the EQ or Delay effects while in AU mode. I’m sure there will soon be an update to resolve any outstanding issues.
Other than that, there is not too much to say. AudioEffX is a no-nonsense multi-effects processor and gets the job done with a minimum of fuss. I like the fact that you can re-oder the processing chain and it is also good that the signal chain is saved as part of the presets system so is recalled when you load a specific preset.
Perhaps the only comment I’d make is that it would be great if there was a dynamics option. In terms of more ‘routine’ processing options, compression and/or limiting is perhaps the only obvious omission from AudioEffX’s line up. Maybe this is something VirSyn might consider squeezing in at some stage?
As mentioned earlier, the launch price for AudioEffX is 30% off what will be the eventual price for a limited period so you can grab it now for just UK£4.99/US$6.99. This is very much a ‘conventional’ set of effects but, the results are all very solid and I could easily see this as a workhorse multi-effects app that would get a lot of use for the sorts of routine tasks that dominate almost any mix. I’m sure VirSyn will resolve any minor technical niggles quickly so I wouldn’t be too concerned if, in other respects, AudioEffX looked like a good fit your needs.
AudioEffX is not likely to be the most exciting audio effects processor you can have installed on your iPad or iPhone but, for that multitude of routine processing tasks that dominate any standard mixing situation, it is a reassuringly simple toolset to have around. It might not get too many creative juices flowing, but AudioEffX would make a worthy addition to most iOS musician’s audio effects processing options.