Blocs Wave updated – Novation’s real-time pitch/time stretching loop player gets new features

Download from iTunes App StoreBlocs wave logo 1If you have any background in music technology then the Novation brand (and sister company Focusrite) will be well known to you. Novation’s Launchpad hardware/software combination has been incredibly successful for both live and studio musicians and their ‘free plus IAP’ iOS music app version of the Launchpad concept has proved equally popular amongst both iOS musicians and, I suspect, lots of more general users (folks interested in music making but without traditional instrument skills/background) because of the fun to be had mixing and matching audio loops to assemble instant musical ideas.

Novation recently released another loop-based iOS music app – Blocs Wave – and, given that Blocs Wave and Launchpad are both built for creating music from loops, I think some Launchpad users were perhaps a bit surprised by the new addition. In fact, I think the focus of Blocs Wave is perhaps somewhat different to Launchpad. The new app is still about mixing and matching audio loops but, in Blocs Wave, you get something that is perhaps a little closer in concept to a looper app in that the design not only provides a platform for working with pre-recorded loops, but also encourages you to record your own audio to create loops for use in your projects.

Blocs Wave - Novation provide an alternative way to get creative with audio loops.

Blocs Wave – Novation provide an alternative way to get creative with audio loops.

Anyway, Novation are obviously keen to develop the concept further and a number of updates have already appeared for the app adding new import features, Ableton Link support and new export features. However, today has seen another update – the app now stands at v.4.0 – and, aside from a few routine tweaks and fixes, this does bring one new – and pretty significant – new feature; Slice Mode.

This really is all rather cool….  as you might expect, you can now slice an audio loop to chop up either the included loops, loops you have imported, or loops you have recorded yourself. You can then ‘play’ the slices in realtime using a set of trigger pads (with an option for velocity response if you want to use it) that appear on-screen beneath the sliced audio. There is also a rather wonderful ‘random’ option that will play the slices back in a random pattern (this actually works rather well with drum loops but is perhaps a bit more unpredictable when used with melodic loops).

Blocs Wave's new Slice Mode provides some very useful loop slicing features allowing you to get more creative with your loop content....

Blocs Wave’s new Slice Mode provides some very useful loop slicing features allowing you to get more creative with your loop content….

The other key feature is that you can then also record up to four bars worth of your ‘sliced’ performance to generate a new loop. As a means of adding variety to your existing loops within a project, this is also very useful….  whether it is just to change a few beats in a drum loop or to re-work a bass line or re-phrase a vocal sample….

I really like Blocs Wave. I can see what some LaunchPad users are suggesting when they wonder why the same functionality hasn’t just been added to Launchpad as an IAP but, in practice, I think Novation have probably got Blocs Wave right as a separate – albeit, loop-based – musical tool….  and with the new Slice Mode feature I suspect Novation’s creative direction will be a bit more obvious to some potential users.

That said, with the app still at the introductory price of just UK£3.99/US$4.99, this is not too much of a stretch for almost anyone to take a punt with. Novation really do know what they are about when it comes to loop-based musical tools and, while this is not a ‘do everything’ kind of tool, like some of the very best iOS music apps, the focused feature set is a strength here rather than a weakness; it makes for a fast and efficient – and creative – workflow.

For lovers of loops, Blocs Wave is well worth a look. Check out the original full review of Blocs Wave and the new video that covers the Slice Mode feature that’s embedded below for more details.

Blocs Wave

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    1. Full marks to the developers – they keep making this already fun app even better.

      • Hi Simon, agreed… this is a neat little app.Let’s hope Novation can keep the momentum going…. very best wishes, John

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