Bells and whistles are all very well in your software but, when a developer tries to add every conceivable feature into an application, things can get just too complicated. You end up with a maze of choices, 90% of which you might never use.
That’s not a criticism anyone is going to level at two new iOS audio effects apps from developer Timothy Barraclough. Both launched in the last couple of weeks, Cactus Chorus and Phlox Phaser are – surprise, surprise – chorus and phaser effects respectively. Both apps are universal and require iOS7.0 or later. Both are also supplied with Audiobus and IAA support… and, for the budget conscious, both are currently priced at UK£0.79…. that’s probably less than the price of your favourite chocolate snack bar.
No, these are not ‘pack in as many features as we can think of’ apps; they are the exact opposite, with an ultra-streamlined approach and a minimalist user interface. What you see on the screenshots shown here is it… a single set of horizontal sliders for each app to configure the effect settings. Compared to a stomp box chorus or phaser that still represents a goodly number of controls but, in comparison with lots of software effects, both Cactus Chorus and Phlox Phaser emphasise simplicity and sound over features.
So, for example, while you get plenty of control over your chorus settings in Cactus Chorus, and there is a decent range of chorus style treatments that can be created using the control set, you don’t get anything else…. there is no preset system in either app, no IAA transport/quick switch panel, no in/out metering, no MIDI Learn and no landscape mode support (although the latter is not such a big deal here given the simplicity of the controls and the very clear labelling on each parameter). What you do get, however, is some nice end results.
Having given both apps a bit of a spin both via Audiobus and IAA (using Cubasis as my IAA host), the performance seemed pretty solid. I’d have no particular complaints about the audio quality of the processing nor, given the pocket money price, any quibbles about the range of treatments that can be created. They are perhaps not the richest modulation effects I have ever used but they both do a very solid job… and sound much better than their price tag suggests they have any right too.
I suspect also that both apps have a very light footprint in terms of CPU loading; if you are on an older generation of iOS hardware, both apps ought to run with ease.
While an IAA ‘quick switch’ button might be nice to see, my only reservation about the streamlined feature set approach is that I wouldn’t have minded seeing a preset system. It would be nice to be able to save and recall particular favourite treatments rather than having to just remember how I had got ‘that sound’ that I had liked the day before.
Other than that, I’m not really sure there is much more to say. These are workman like tools that get a useful job done with the absolute minimum of fuss. Even if used just for occasional duties, both apps would be worth having lying around given the ‘one instance only’ restriction that iOS places upon you when using third party audio effects within your favourite iOS DAW.
Anyway, at UK£0.79, neither Cactus Chorus or Phlox Phaser are investments to lose too much sleep over. If you are happy to just expand your audio effects collection, or looking for budget, small footprint effects options, both are well worth a punt.