iSymphonic Orchestra update – sample-based orchestral virtual instrument app reaches v.2.0

Download from iTunes App StoreiSymphonic Orchestra logoI did a full review of iSymphonic Orchestra about a week after it was released and, with the stream of updates since then, and these have added new features, new sounds (included in the base price of the app) and a number of further sound options via IAP, it is now an impressive package. OK, keeping it fully-stocked is going to (a) take up a lot of your iOS device’s storage space and (b) take a sizeable chunk out of your bank balance (those IAPs would soon add up) but, sonically, for those needing orchestral sounds, this is a good a single source as iOS has to offer.

Crudebyte’s iSymphonic Orchestra – now at v.2.0.

Anyway, a further update appeared on the App Store today and this is a pretty big update taking the app to v.2.0. The basic concept and mode of operation remains as before and all your familiar sounds and IAPs will also work as before, however, Crudebyte have made some considerable changes in this free update. For example, there is a major revamp of the sound selection process. If you have a lot of IAP content (and therefore a lot of preset patches) this is very welcome as it includes a number of preset filtering options that make it easier to find what you might be looking for. These can be based upon instrument type and (very usefully) articulation. You can also type in your own keywords to refine your searches. This all works pretty well.

The update brings various changes to the virtual keyboard including a new MIDI velocity option.

The virtual keyboard has also been upgraded and this includes a rewrite of the underlying code to improve performance. There are now options for quickly transposing the current part in semi-tone steps and, in addition, new options for emulating and/or controlling MIDI velocity. As well as the previous touch sensitive approach (frankly, a bit of a nightmare to use, although this is more to do with the limitations of touch sensitivity of the hardware rather than how Crudebyte has programmed this aspect of control), v.2.0 includes the more practical ‘vertical tapping position on the key’ method of controlling MIDI velocity. No, this is not the same experience as using an external hardware keyboard with velocity sensitivity, but it is a very useful addition for those times you are just working with your iOS device.

Browsing for sounds is now much easier with the carious filter options available.

However, perhaps the most useful of the v.2.0 new features is the new App State feature. This allows you to create full presets based upon the app’s current ‘state’ and this includes the full set of preset patches loaded (don’t forget the app is 16-part multi-timbral) plus any MIDI file loaded into the MIDI file player. There is a rather quirky ‘scribble strip’ used to name each ‘state’ when you save it and these are then held on a page where you can easily recall them again when required (MIDI Program Change commands can also be used to switch between App State presets).

You can create complete ‘App States’ and save them for later recall.

This whole system is obviously designed for those using iSymphonic in a live performance context as each App State could contain all the sound and MIDI performance data required for a particular ‘song’ in your live performance set….  I’ve only had a chance to give this a quick go but it certainly seems slick enough to use and allows you to easily switch between ‘App States’ between numbers.

You can hand write the label for each saved state using a scribble strip…..

There are, of course, a number of other improvements with v.2.0.  Options for selecting and configuring external MIDI devices have been improved, the tuning features have been enhanced, the Song Export functionality has been tweaked and, under the hood, the audio engine has been refined to allow much lower latency performance. Audiobus support has also been updated. All in all, this is a pretty comprehensive round of improvements and – again – the update is free to existing users.

Priced originally at UK£37.99 and with a fairly hefty 800+MB download for the base app, iSymphonic Orchestra perhaps wasn’t going to ever be a casual purchase for your iOS music app collection. However, with considerably more content and features in the current version compared to the original release (it’s now a 1.44GB download for the base app), there has also been a bit of a shift in the pricing structure and, at present, the base app is just UK£9.99/US$9.99. Yes, the price will soon add up if you add a number of the IAP options  – and some of these really are very good indeed – but, even so, given the sound quality and multi-timbral operation, iSymphonic Orchestra is the obvious choice if you are serious about your orchestral sounds under iOS. Check out Doug’s demo video below….  and then hit the App Store download button to find out more.

iSymphonic Orchestra

Download from iTunes App Store

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