FunkBox updated – Synthetic Bits bring their classic iOS drum machine up to date

Download from iTunes App StoreFunkbox logoI must admit to a bit of a soft spot for FunkBox. It was one of the first drum machine apps I explored on my iPhone (and then iPad) and I rather like the disco-friendly, retro styling; this definitely has a classic drum machine vibe.

It also sounds the part with a solid selection of classic drum sounds available in a good number of preset kits. The pattern-based editing is simple yet flexible and there are some nice performance options that make pattern creation a pretty painless affair. It perhaps lacks the more cutting edge creativeness of something like Patterning but, at just UK£4.99/US$4.99 for a universal app, it’s difficult to argue that you don’t get a heck of a lot of traditional drum machine in a virtual format from FunkBox.

Funkbox looks…. well…. very funky :-)

Updates to FunkBox have been pretty thin on the ground over the last 18 months or so. That’s not to say the app hasn’t been capable of doing good service however but it was very nice to see v.4.0 arrive on the App Store a few weeks ago and a further v.4.0.1 update (with a couple of extra fixes) arrived over the weekend. I never quite got around to giving v.4.0 a mention so his latest release is a good opportunity to do so.

As you might expect, given the ‘.0’ numbering, v.4 actually brings some quite significant tweaks. Top of the list are refinements to smooth operation under iOS10 but we now also have Ableton Link support (always welcome in a drum app), Audiobus 3 support (including State Saving), better control of the app via MIDI (for example, to allow pattern changes) and three new sets of drum box samples.

Yay – Ableton Link support comes to Funkbox v.4.

Having given the update a run through this morning, it seemed to be working very smoothly on my iPad Pro test system with the current version of iOS10 installed. Once up and running within Audiobus, I was also able to get FunkBox to happily send audio to Cubasis. The app also behaved nicely with used as an IAA plugin within Cubasis. However, for me, the best thing was to see the app locked tempo-wise with others via Ableton Link. The ability to sync a couple of drum apps and maybe a synth arp or three together via Link is brilliant and, as a bit of technology, it has been a great success for iOS music making…..

Funkbox worked smoothly for me within Audiobus 3 including the State saving option.

Oh, and the new samples are also very nice :-)

V.4 included new drum kits within the already impressive collection.

Anyway, FunkBox was always a very cool, fun, and easy-to-use virtual drum machine. It has a very useable collection of classic drum machine kits and good pattern editing and performance features (the ‘roll’ button, for example). With this update, Synthetic Bits have bought FunkBox right up-to-date in terms of iOS music production technology…..  with the obvious exception that, as with quite a number of popular iOS music apps, we are still hoping to see AU support added at some stage.

If you haven’t checked out the original FunkBox review, then give it a read. Things have obviously moved on since then from a technical perspective and, as noted above, Audiobus, IAA and Ableton Link all seem well supported in the current version. However, if you are simply looking for a very useful and very useable virtual drum machine – now with optimised iOS9 support – then grab yourself a download and check FunkBox out. At the current UK£4.99/US$4.99 price point, FunkBox Drum Machine represents excellent value for money.


Download from iTunes App Store

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    1. FunkBox is one of my “desert island” iOS music apps, and has been ever since I started using it in 2012. I get the idea that FB gets looked down upon a bit, largely for its simplicity compared to other iOS rhythm-machine apps. For me, to quote Julia Styles in “Ten Things I Hate About You”: “Hence the basis of its appeal!” :-)

      It helps that I really like “vintage” rhythm-box sounds (and synths, come to that), but that’s just one reason FunkBox is a fave of mine. When I’m songwriting and demo-recording, I’ll often set up a beat on FB, and let it chug away while I play guitar/ukulele/whatever over the top. I might then overdub extra percussion to add variety – basically, I use FB the way JJ Cale used his Ace Tone Rhythm Ace on “Naturally”.

      It’s also great to finally have Ableton Link in FunkBox – I had great fun recently, pairing FB with the sequencer in Moog Model 15…

      Many thanks to Synthetic Bits for keeping one of my top iOS music apps going!

    2. Encouraged by your review, and the nice price, I added this drum app I didn’t need, and am delighted with its useability. Especially the Midi out for bass, which works superbly with Unique.

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