Jussi review – Klevgränd give AU for iOS another push with their vocal synthesizer

Download from iTunes App Storejussi-logo-1I’ve reviewed a number of iOS music apps from Klevgränd Produktion here on the blog over the last year or two – Vandelay, SquashitSvep, RoverbEnkl, WeeelKorvpressor, PressIt and Esspresso. A number of these are also available in an AU plugin format for these working on an OSX desktop system and Klevgränd took a pretty bold step a few months ago when the also added AU support under iOS; it was great to see… and, in every case, I’ve been hugely impressed with the creative possibilities that these apps provide. In addition, the novel – and very streamlined – user interfaces are ideal for the AU format.

After a few months of relative quiet, Klevgränd have now launched a further app – Jussi – and it comes in formats for desktop (AU, VST) and iOS (standalone and AU). Both desktop and iOS versions are launched at a special promotional price with the universal iOS app currently priced at just UK£3.99/US$4.99, some 40% off what the eventual price will be. The app is a 36MB download and requires iOS9.1 or later and, of course, if you want to use in via AU a suitable AU host app.

Jussi - vocal synthesis Klevgränd style.

Jussi – vocal synthesis Klevgränd style.

And what is Jussi? Well, the app is a vocal synthesizer and, while it is inspired by a famous Swedish opera singer called Jussi Bjorling (or so the manual suggests), Klevgränd are keen to point out that app doesn’t make the sound of a real opera singer, the aim is to provide a virtual instrument that can be ‘played’ to create some fun vocal sounds. So, if you want your iPad or iPhone to be able to sing for its supper, is Jussi worth a punt?

Designed by Klevgränd

If you have used any of Klevgränd’s other iOS music apps, then the UI of Jussi will perhaps come as no surprise; it’s a combination of slightly left-field and super-streamlined. Top-right you get two faders for Room (reverb) and Volume. Top-centre is the amplitude envelope which you can adjust by tapping and dragging to change the ADSR behaviour. This is very conventional in in the main but does include one novel feature; the Turn Out on/off switches at each end. When ‘on’, these apply a pitch slide either into the note or as it decays….  This can be used to add a little pitch ‘scoop’ into each note or a pitch trail at the end of notes….  It can sound ‘sort of’ human but, equally, also not and can easily be taken into ‘special effect’ territory.

Jussi - when used via AU, you get MIDI control of the app, as seen here within Cubasis.

Jussi – when used via AU, you get MIDI control of the app, as seen here within Cubasis.

The three other X-Y controllers change the character/tone of the voice in various ways. The Character pad changes the way the formants are applied within the sound. The Legato Modes switch and X-Y pad also lay a part here and, when legato is ‘on’, the X-Y pad influences how the formants transition between notes. The ‘Hold’ option is a special features that requires a standard sustain pedal connected to your MIDI controller keyboard and allows legato to be applied between new notes and existing notes that are held within a chord. I’ve given this a brief try and it it quite interesting….

The Throat X-Y pad changes the character of the voice and, I assume, tweaks the synth engine to model different vocal characters….  and, well, that’s about it.

... and the AU format also gives you the option for multiple instances of the app within a single project.

… and the AU format also gives you the option for multiple instances of the app within a single project.

When running in stand-alone mode, you also get a compact virtual piano keyboard to trigger notes…  but it is worth emphasising here that Jussi is really intended to be used as an AU plugin. In stand-alone mode there is no MIDI in, Audiobus or IAA support….   whereas via AU, you can use an external MIDI keyboard…  and I had no problems with doing this.

Plugin singer

I gave Jussi a bit of a spin in both Cubasis and AUM and, on the technical front, it worked very smoothly in both. And, with the AU format, I was, of course, able to run multiple instances of the app in each of the hosts. You could, therefore, create multi-part vocal pieces using just Jussi running, for example, on several Cubasis MIDI tracks.

The app also responded well to my external MIDI keyboard (including that sustain pedal). Indeed, the velocity response of the app is quite key to using the app as low velocity generates a softer ‘ooo’ sound while higher velocities transition into a harder ‘aaa’ type sound. You can, therefore, control the vowel/nature of the vocal via MIDI velocity.

Jussi also worked very well within AUM as my AU host.

Jussi also worked very well within AUM as my AU host.

The two videos embedded below perhaps give a better impression of the sounds that Jussi can create than some of my own (somewhat fumbling!) efforts….  but there is definitely a bit of experimentation required given that MIDI velocity has quite a strong influence on the resulting sound.

Oh, and Klevgränd are being very honest when they say Jussi is not going to replace a ‘real’ classical vocalist. Indeed, if you are after some realistic (if somewhat generic) vocal ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’, then you might be better served by a sample-based virtual instrument such as the vocal and choir sounds available in iSymphonic Orchestra or SampleTank. Jussi is perhaps aimed more at the musical experimenter….   someone who wants something that is ‘sort of’ vocal-based but with a definite twist of synthesis. In that role, it is quirky, fun and very easy to use…. and while it is not perhaps an app you would pull out for every track on an album project, it offers a novel sound source when used in the right musical context.

In summary

Jussi is perhaps not as mainstream as some of Klevgränd’s other apps (for example, the excellent Korvpressor compressor/limiter, which almost any iOS musician could find a good home for) but, as well as novel (and generally very intuitive) user interface design, Klevgränd do also like to drop a dollop of the unusual into their music apps. Jussi is no exception to that. It is perhaps not an app for everyone….  but it you like to add the occasional – and somewhat experimental – vocal texture to your music, then Jussi will certainly appeal. Check out the videos below and, if Jussi is just the thing, hit the download button and grab it at the special launch price.

Jussi




Korvpressor


Enkl


SquashIt


Svep


Esspresso


PressIt


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    Comments

    1. WOW !!!

      I’m impressed !!!!

    2. Listening to the demo, I’m interested… except for one irritant: I would want to use this on my iPhone as well as iPad. This would be a problem in my case at the present time, as my main multitrack recording app on iPhone is MTDAW, which doesn’t (yet?) have AU support.

      Of course, if I coughed up for AUM as well (and it has been on my wishlist for a while), that should solve the AU host problem. I’m waiting for another sale on AUM – maybe I should just pick up Jussi while *it* is on sale, so I’ve got the app when it’s AUM’s turn for a price-drop?

      Complicated :-P

      • Update a month later :-)

        I bought Jussi very soon after posting the above… both for iOS and AU (Mac) – yes, I liked it that much! I haven’t recorded with Jussi yet, but I know I will at some point.

        I think this instrument would work really well, doubling another lead part to give it some human voice-ish character. One track I had in mind for inspiration, is “Neon Lights” by Kraftwerk (from “The Man-Machine”), where near the end, a solo synth slowly adopts human voice formant-style characteristics. (I think Jussi also has a Mellotron choir-like quality, which doesn’t hurt!)

        Haven’t got AUM yet, but I think I’m just going to pounce on the app come pay-day :-)

    3. AU format = instant buy :)

    4. Michael Scourfield says:

      Read the review, watched the demo, bought the app

    5. John (Film4Q) says:

      This review and the videos made Jussi an impulse buy for me at the discount price. But for anyone who’s undecided, Jakob Haq has posted a useful introduction to it on YouTube.

      First impressions are that, while it’s probably a bit of a niche app for many people, it’s certainly a lot of fun. I spent a happy hour sending Jussi through a variety of effects to produce some wonderfully sinister sounds which would fit nicely into a spooky Halloween project.

      It’s worth mentioning, maybe, that used in Cubasis, there’s a sustain ‘pedal’ on the virtual keyboard for the ‘Hold’ feature; pressing it while depressing three keys is a test of dexterity though and I’m not sure I ever got it to work properly! I found altering the Velocity of the MIDI after playing the notes gave more control.

      If anyone from from Klevgränd reads this, I have just one request: please can we have a Jenny (Lind) to keep Jussi company? It would be great to have them singing duets.

    6. It is nice to know that the Klevgränd have launced the ios version for both the mobile and the desktop. Klevgränd is filled with many useful features. Thanks for sharing the post.

    7. I like this one, it’s a bit limited in what it can do, but it’s fun. Maybe in the future there will be some things added?

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