I did a full review of iSymphonic Orchestra about a week after it was released and, while I was impressed by the sound quality, I wasn’t quite so convinced about the overall package. However, the app has had a number 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 a much better proposition and, for orchestral sounds, is probably the best choice currently available under iOS especially as Crudebyte bit the bullet and added Audiobus support in v.1.5.5 to sit alongside the existing IAA support.
Anyway, a further update appeared on the App Store over the week-end taking the app to v.1.9.11. There are some of the usual minor bug fixes applied (for example, UI issues resolved for some iPhone models) and there is now configuration options for Bluetooth LE MIDI in the settings screen but two headline new features are perhaps the highlights of the update.
First, there is a new sound set IAP available; Keys. This adds 23 additional sounds and around 2GB of sample data. The sounds include two high-quality grand pianos, two Celtic harps, a marimba, celesta, bells, glockenspiel and various combinations of these layered with strings, pad and choir sounds. Ay UK£18.99/US$24.99 it is considerably more expensive than most of the other IAPs available but, it you are already a committed fan of the iSymphonic platform, then the convenience of having these sounds ‘in-house’ will be a further incentive.
The second new feature is perhaps of more general interest; Crudebyte have added AU v3 support. Do not, however, that the App Store description lists this as ‘initial support as AU plugin’…. which does suggest that the implementation might not, as yet, be complete. Indeed, my own experience on my iPad test system – a larger format iPad Pro running iOS10.0.2 – was a little frustrating. While iSymphonic continues to work well as a stand-alone app or via IAA, I didn’t make much progress with AU in either Cubasis, AUM or MultitrackStudio.
I could load the app and access the presets sounds in all three hosts, but the app did not respond smoothly to MIDI in (either via a virtual keyboard or an external MIDI keyboard) in any of these hosts. I’d be interested to hear of the experiences of other existing users on this front, so do leave a comment below if you get a chance to give the update a spin via AU….. Fingers crossed Crudebyte can iron out any wrinkles sooner rather than later as its great to see another developer giving the AU format a shot.
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, there has also been a bit of a shift in the pricing structure more recently and, at present, the base app is UK£18.99/US$24.99. Yes, the price will soon add up if you add a number of the IAP options 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.