I reviewed midiSTEPs on the blog just after it was released. There is some considerable iOS pedigree behind midiSTEPs as the developer is Art Kerns who will be well known to regular iOS musicians through apps such as midiLFOs and Funkbox, both of which I’ve reviewed here on the Music App Blog in the past.
MidiSTEPs, at one level, is a fairly conventional step-based pattern sequencer with patterns featuring up to 64 steps (with control over step-length relative to the musical grid) and you can create 16 patterns in a project. However, the first less conventional element is that you can do all this four times; midiSTEPs actually offers you four separate, but linked, MIDI sequencers (each accessed via the different colour-coded tabs at the base of the main screen).
There are all sorts of interesting details tucked away under what is a beautifully designed and very accessible user-interface… and the app is just a brilliant example of why iOS can be such a creative place to work as a musician.
Anyway, midiSTEPs received a pretty significant update when v.1.1 in December 2015 as, amongst other things, it added support for AU hosting of instrument apps. This was described as ‘experimental’ support by Art initially but a couple of further updates have refined that further. And, with a growing number of AU-based instrument apps now available (including the excellent Addictive Pro that appeared just yesterday), this is obviously a feature that offers users more as time passes.
A further update – v.1.5.0 – has arrived on the App Store today. This actually brings a whole host of new features. For example, iOS10 tweaks have been made, while support for Bluetooth MIDI is now available on suitable hardware. MIDI program change support has been added.
However, there are some more obvious highlights. First, Ableton Link support is now included. This is obviously a very useful addition in a sequencer app. A quick test alongside Patterning on my iPad Pro suggest all is working pretty well. Second, the app now features multiple audio outputs when used via Audiobus or IAA so you could, for example, send audio for each of the four instruments/sequencers to a separate audio track in your DAW app if you wished.
Finally, support has been added for AU effects apps. If you open the AU front panel of a loaded AU instrument app, located top-left is a new ‘+’ button. tap this and you can then add an AU effect app to your signal chain… or more than one if you wish…. This all seemed to be working pretty smoothly in my own brief testing this morning.
Step-based sequencing is, of course, perhaps more suited to some musical styles than others so, unless you are just into dance, electronic or perhaps ambient styles, then midiSTEPs is perhaps not going to be the only MIDI sequencer that you might need to have installed on your iPad. However, at UK£9.99/US$9.99, it offers a heck of a lot of features, a beautiful design and plenty of creative possibilities. It is also a pleasure to use providing , of course, you are comfortable with the a step-based approach. Check out the original review here but midiSTEPs is another top-notch example of iOS music making tools at their best.