FunkBox updated – Synthetic Bits add significant new features to their excellent drum machine app

Download from iTunes App StoreFunkbox logoIt was over a year ago when I first reviewed FunkBox by Synthetic Bits (or, to give the app its full title ‘FunkBox Drum Machine’) and, while I also use DM1 when I need a virtual drum machine for a musical idea, I’ve always enjoyed FunkBox, with its retro styling and easy-to-use interface. Oh, and it sounds pretty good too so, if you haven’t checked out the original review, do take a look.

While the app had a couple of updates just after I did my original review, this week has seen the first really significant update – to v.3.4 – for almost a year. Of course, in the world of iOS music production, a lot has changed in 12 months and we now have inter-app audio and Audiobus 2. And, rather wonderfully, FunkBox is now bang up to date with those technologies as, amongst some other improvements (for example, in the MIDI Clock sync behaviour), FunkBox now supports both IAA and Audiobus 2. What’s more, in terms of Audiobus 2, we now also get State Saving support. This is great to see and very welcome in any app.

Funkbox now supports IAA - note the IAA transport panel located top-left.

FunkBox now supports IAA – note the IAA transport panel located top-left.

Having given both the IAA support (using Cubasis as my IAA host) and Audiobus 2 support a run through today, I’m happy to report that both implementations seem to work pretty well. For example, I was able to insert FunkBox as an IAA instrument on a MIDI track within Cubasis and then send MIDI note data to FunkBox from Cubasis. Equally, playback of patterns within FunkBox sync’ed nicely with playback and tempo in Cubasis once I’d got the various MIDI Clock and MIDI port settings configured correctly within the two apps.

As you can trigger pattern changes within FunkBox using the multi-coloured pattern buttons, and output MIDI data from the app, it was actually quite easy to record a series of patterns to Cubasis as a ‘performance’ for later playback and editing. I did get the occasional IAA glitch when the two apps seemed to stop communicating and I couldn’t track down the cause. However, restarting playback within Cubasis resolved these and, with a little trial and error, this was quite a productive workflow in a recording context.

Equally, FunkBox seemed quite happy working within Audiobus 2 and, if anything, the performance seemed more solid than via the IAA route. In addition, when I saved an Audiobus 2 preset based upon my testing, rather wonderfully, Audiobus informed me that it had ‘Saved state for FunkBox Drum Machine’ – I’m getting very fond of seeing these sorts of messages from AB2 :-)

FunkBox performaed well within Audiobus 2 and, rather wonderfully, also seems to support State Saving :-)

FunkBox performed well within Audiobus 2 and, rather wonderfully, also seems to support State Saving :-)

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. In addition to its previous merits, it is now an app that is very easy to integrate into a wider music production/recording workflow.

If you haven’t checked out the original FunkBox review, then give it a read. However, if you are simply looking for a very useful and very useable virtual drum machine, then grab yourself a download and check FunkBox out. At UK£3.99, FunkBox Drum Machine represents excellent value for money.

FunkBox Drum Machine


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    1. It’s a cool update – it led me at least to re-install Funkbox on my phone. It really is a great sounding app, I just found it harder to customize than DM-1, and the emphasis is squarely on pop/dance machines and beats. But that’s no good excuse; the export functions are top notch, as is the interface. IAA is a nice addition. Now I just have to figure out how this whole MIDI clock thing works!

      • Hi Jeff…. if you ever manage to get your head around MIDI Clock under iOS then you should share it with the world :-) It can be an interesting experience trying to sync apps via this route at times but things are getting better…. Best wishes, John

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