If you like the ‘all-in-one’ approach to electronic music production, for my money, three iOS apps would be top of my list of contenders; NanoStudio (the original under iOS), Gadget (ultra slick interface) and Caustic (almost an early version of Reason ‘lite’ designed for iOS). I’ve reviewed all three of these apps here on the blog in the past and they all have their particular set of strengths and weaknesses. Yes, there are others (including a particular favourite of mine, the excellent Oscilab) but any one of these three ‘big hitters’, however, is capable of getting some pretty full-on music made.
Korg have maintained a steady flow of updates for gadget (and the OSX version is due soon) but both NanoStudio and Caustic have been pretty notable for the lack of updates over recent times. Indeed, if you are a Caustic fan, then you might have been wondering whether the iOS version had been stuck on a shelf to gather some development dust; the last update was back in September 2014!
All of which makes it great to see the v.3.2.0 update arrive on the App Store today. While this featured a number of welcome bugfixes (some of which I suspect will be related to changes in iOS itself since the previous caustic update), it also adds a number of new features to the app. For example, a new ‘machine’ has been added in the SawSynth, a polyphonic synth instrument. This does sound pretty good :-) Four new effects – Octaver, Vibrato, Tremolo and AutoPan – have also been added.
As found in a number of other iOS music apps, Caustic now includes scale options for its keyboard to help you keep all your notes in correct harmonic order while a number of other machine such as the Bassline and PCMSynth have had their feature sets tweaked and improved. The sequencer has also had some modifications to improve the workflow when creating patterns.
The wave editor has been enhanced with stereo support, time stretch and pitch-shift options and BPM detection while the Mixer and transport controls now have better support for MIDI control/mappings. New export options have also been added that offer support for stems and loops…. great if you want to take your Caustic projects and remix/arrange them in a DAW for example.
All these additions are great to see and, while the app seems to be running well on my iPad Pro/iOS10.2.1 test system, there are no signs yet of some newer iOS music technologies in the app’s feature set. The obvious candidate would be Ableton Link support so you could use that technology to lock Caustic together with other music apps….. Of course, Caustic is very much an ‘all-in-one’ music production environment so maybe the included export options are going to be good enough for most users?
If you have not yet given Caustic a try, perhaps the best way to sum it up, as mentioned above, is to describe it as ‘Reason-lite’ for iOS; the rack-based approach is very like early versions of Propellerhead’s Reason and, given the pretty modest UK£9.99/US$9.99 price tag, Caustic packs a heck of a punch. And by the way, Single Cell Software do some of the best video tutorials for their apps of any developer out there…. so newbies can soon get to grips with the many options offered by the app….
If you want an all-in-one app for electronic music production, and that runs on both iPad and iPhone, then Caustic comes highly recommended… and now, happily, it has now been updated to ensure smoother operation under iOS10. Check out the original Caustic review for further details of the feature set as much of that, and the mode of operation, still applies…. then watch a video or two and hit the download button to find out more.