A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to get hold of Kymatica’s AUFX:Space music app – a dedicated reverb effect for iOS – and the first in the proposed AUFX series to be released by Kymatica’s Jonatan Liljedahl. AUFX:Space has already had one update with some new features (including a very useful bypass button) but Jonatan obviously likes to keep busy because we now also have the second app in the AUFX series; the AUFX:Dub music app (UK£2.49).
AUFX:Dub is a dedicated delay effect. It includes the same high-quality 32-bit DSP engine as AUFX:Space and can do stereo delay, ping-pong delay and stereo detune effects. Audiobus support is included from the off and the apps’s parameters can all be MIDI controlled if required.
AUFX:Space impressed me because the reverb quality was very good (way better than UK£2.49 gives it any right to be), includes a very intuitive interface and didn’t hog too much by way of your iDevice’s CPU resources. So, given this impressive start to the AUFX series, does AUFX:Dub live up to expectations?
First dub steps
If you have seen or used AUFX:Space, then this new app will seem instantly familiar. The main screen of AUFX:Dub features the same streamlined interface style with all the main controls contained within a single screen and using very simple horizontal sliders. In addition, input and output level meters are included for getting your levels set correctly. The Output Gain control allows you to set the level of the processed signal being passed to either your audio output or to another app if you are using AUFX:Dub within Audiobus.
Setting the delay time is done via a combination of the Course (coarse?) Time and Fine Tune controls. This is very straightforward and there is also a Tap button that allows you to adjust the delay time. Given the delay times it generates when tapping, the app is obviously expecting you to tap at a ¼ note resolution when trying to sync your delay times to your song’s tempo.
The Feedback setting controls the number of repeats in your delay line; zero gives a single repeat with larger values producing ever-greater numbers. The Ping Pong control causes the repeats to be spread across the stereo spectrum – with higher values making the repeats bounce from extreme left to right – and works very nicely.
Also rather nice is the Stereo Detune control. This adds an amount of pitch shifting to the delays and creates a sense of ‘thickening’ of the sound when applied to vocals. Used with a very short delay time (something under 40ms) and low feedback values, Stereo Detune can create a rather good fake double track effect – very neat.
In terms of the other controls, the High Cut and Low Cut filters allow you to adjust the tone of the delays. These are a pretty standard feature on most delay effects – often used to take out any low-end rumble and to remove some of the high frequencies to ‘soften’ the sound of the repeats – and they work in a very unfussy way here. The final three controls add different aspects of tape emulation to the delays. In days of old, delay effects were created by a loop of magnetic tape (Watkins Copycat echo unit anyone?) and this created a very characteristic analog sound. Used gently, these three AUFX:Dub controls can add a touch of that analog vibe to your delay effect… or push things a bit harder to get a ‘broken tape machine’ style result :-)
As with the updated AUFX:Space, AUFX:Dub includes a welcome bypass control, so you can easily toggle the delay effect on/off as required. Even more useful, however, is the Mute In button. This allows the original sound source to pass through AUFX:Dub but mutes the signal actually going into the effect for processing. Unlike the Bypass button, however, it allows any echos that have already been generated to fade naturally away. This is very neat and makes it easy to create classic effects (clichés?) such as just adding delay to the last word in a sung phrase.
My only other comment relates to setting the time of the delay. Most desktop delay plug-ins feature a ‘sync to tempo’ option. As AUFX:Dub isn’t a plug-in as such (it’s a stand-alone app), perhaps it’s absence here is not such a surprise but I suspect the ability to enter a tempo-based value to configure the delay time might be a popular suggestion from users :-) This is not a major issue and it certainly does nothing to detract from the actual sound of the effect.
Frankly, there is not too much to say about the sound of AUFX:Dub other than it is very good indeed. The collection of presets available from the menu (located top-right) provide a very good illustration of the breadth of effects the app can create but it spans very tight (almost reverb-like) delays through to some OTT massive echo chambers. There are also a few ‘busted cassette’ presets that make good use of the tape emulation controls.
In the main, the controls are very intuitive so, whether you start with one of the presets or just roll your own, it is very easy to create what you need and, almost without exception, the results are excellent. As I commented above in connection with AUFX:Space, AUFX:Dub is a UK£2.49 app that sounds considerably more expensive than its price.
In use, the app CPU meter spent most of its time hovering at around the 10% mark on my 3rd gen. iPad – perfectly acceptable given the quality of the end results – and suggests that the algorithm being used is very efficient. The Audiobus support seems rock solid and, while the app includes its own recording facility, I suspect must serious iOS recordists would rather use the app in tandem with their favourite DAW.
I was able to create my usual ‘DIY Send Effect’ using Cubasis in both the Input and Output slot of Audiobus and with AUFX:Dub sat in the Effect slot. While this a bit of a clunky workaround, it does mean you can add AUFX:Dub effects to audio that you have already recorded rather than having to add the effects while recording a part and having to commit to the effects chosen at that time.
One other thing I tried was using AUFX:Dub and AUFX:Space together. Feeding a clean guitar tone from Mobile POD (Audiobus Input slot) into AUFX:Dub (Effect slot) and then adding reverb via AUFX:Space (in the Output slot) worked a treat. I was able to create some wonderful spatial treatments using the two apps together in this way.
Of course, the only downside of this arrangement is that I can’t then have my DAW at the end of such the signal chain… if only Audiobus had two Effects slots…. Hmmm… that’s an interesting idea….
If you want an iOS delay effect that gets the job done with a modest CPU load, at a budget price and with audio quality that somehow defies both of these facts, then AUFX:Dub is a very good place to start. In addition, the interface gives you a good level of control and is very easy to find your way around.
I’ve no idea what Jonatan might have lined up as the next effect in the AUFX series but I know I’m going to want it. I guess we will just have to wait to find out… but, right now, at this price, AUFX:Dub is a no-brainer – just buy it.for readers in North America for readers in Europe