Multitrack DAW update – host of new features for compact iOS DAW from Harmonicdog

Download from iTunes App Storemultitrack daw logoIf you have hung around these pages before you will probably be aware that my iOS weapon of choice for recording purposes is generally Steinberg’s Cubasis. This is, of course, a personal choice; Cubasis just happens to fit my particular needs. There are, however, plenty of other excellent iOS music production apps out there.

I’ve often quizzed subscribers to the Music App Blog email newsletter about their choice of DAW/sequencer and one app that gets regular mentions is Multitrack DAW by Harmonicdog. Multitrack DAW is an audio-only recording environment (like Auria, at present, there is no support for MIDI tracks). What’s interesting about the reasons users have given me for their choice is that they almost always mention two things. First, Multitrack DAW is simple to use (the feature set is streamlined so you can focus on the recording process itself and not get distracted). Second, it’s a universal app that, because of its streamlined feature set (and unlike Cubasis and Auria, which are only available for iPad), actually runs rather well on the smaller screen of the iPhone or iPod without feeling too cramped.

Multitrack DAW - a streamlines iOS recording environment that runs well on both iPad and iPhone.

Multitrack DAW – a streamlined iOS recording environment that runs well on both iPad and iPhone.

Multitrack DAW has actually been around on the iTunes App Store for a long time (it was first released in 2009). By default, for the asking price of UK£7.99 , the app offers 8 stereo or mono audio tracks, a range of basic effects processing options such as compression, EQ, delay and reverb, support for docking port based audio interfaces, 16 or 24-bit recording at samples rates of 44.1, 48 or 96 kHz (audio hardware permitting), the ability to record multiple tracks at once (again, audio hardware permitting) and options for getting audio into and out of the app.  In addition, two different IAP options allowed you to expand the track count.

Anyway, check out my original review of the app for the full details but, over the week-end, a significant update has appeared; Multitrack DAW now stands at v.4.0. There is a long list of additions and tweaks to the app. Many of these are fairly minor workflow tweaks to existing features and include some items addressed at ensuring smooth operation under iOS9….  they will, however, be very welcome to existing fans of the app.

Multitrack DAW supports IAA plugins as with Final Touch shown here and inserted as an IAA effect in the master channel.

Multitrack DAW supports IAA plugins as with Final Touch shown here and inserted as an IAA effect in the master channel.

However, there are also a number of stand-out new features. Top of the list is that the app now supports a ‘freeze tracks’ options. This is a features fond in may DAW/sequencers (desktop and iOS) and allows the user to free up CPU resources by rendering and audio version of a track containing CPU-intensive plugins and, therefore, freeing up those resources. If you do need to go back and do further work on a track, it can, of course, be ‘unfrozen’.

Also new is loop-based recording with continuous over-writing of the previous take. You can simply cycle through a song section performing takes until you get something you like at which point you simply stop….  and the previous take becomes the ‘keeper’. Under the hood, the audio engine has been rewritten to further enhance the audio quality while smaller buffer sizes are also now available for lower latency settings.

Multitrack DAW is about as easy as it gets for multitrack audio recording; no bells or whistles, just straightforward audio tracking. It’s great to see the features being enhanced and the performance of the app improved but without any obvious new ‘clutter’ being introduced. perhaps the obvious next question is whether Harmonicdog will introduce support for the new AU plugin format at some stage?

For those looking for a low cost iOS DAW – and particularly those wanting a platform that can run happily on an iPhone /iPod, Multitrack DAW comes highly recommended. This is not the most sophisticated iOS DAW there is available, but it does a solid job in a simple fashion and will suit many iOS recording enthusiasts down to a tee.

Multitrack DAW


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    Comments

    1. These updates to MTDAW are very welcome, as it is my favourite iOS multitrack app, at least for the way I work.

      I tend to use iPhone and iPad for recording songs (mainly guitars and other fretted instruments, perhaps with some beats from FunkBox or DM1, and/or the odd “live” part from an iOS synth or two), and MTDAW is perfect for this. I’d echo the reasons you quoted: it’s lean, streamlined (select source(s), arm track(s), go), handles large numbers of tracks without breaking a sweat, and (wonderfully) it works great on iPhone as well as iPad.

      Basically, for “tracking” songs, MTDAW is perfect (for me at least). I wouldn’t do serious mixing/mastering with it (though it’s workable for rough mixes), but then at that stage, I’d transfer the tracks to our Logic/Mac-based system anyway.

      I have Auria, and am waiting keenly to find out how the Pro upgrade turns out, but for “simple” tracking for later transfer to Logic, MTDAW fits the bill perfectly for me.

    2. I agree with Tim. I was unable to use MT DAW for the last, hmmm year or so? Couldn’t get IAA or Audiobus to work at all. Now, it works perfectly! I like to record into MT DAW and then transfer to Auria to mix and master. One thing I wish for is a count in with the Metronome. Before it starts recording.

      Love this app.

      • eustressor says:

        Jayson, you just answered a question I was about to ask over at the Audiobus Forum – whether MTDAW plays nice with Auria. I can picture a good demo eventually “outgrowing” MTDAW both in terms of track count and song status – i.e., “this ain’t a demo no more!”

        Glad to hear they seem to complement each other as you describe. Thanks!

    3. ———Also new is loop-based recording with continuous over-writing of the previous take. You can simply cycle through a song section performing takes until you get something you like at which point you simply stop…. and the previous take becomes the ‘keeper’————

      Wasn’t sure how to get this feature to work?

      • eustressor says:

        One good turn … From the forum:

        Loop Recording – allows continuous overwriting while it loops. Stop and undo after a good take. To use, make sure the loop section is more than a couple seconds in length. For precise record start and stop points, use ‘Punch’ from the Menu and place the punch points within the loop points.

        Hope this helps!

        • Awesome, thanks for that. I didn’t see that on the forum.

          @eustressor, I mostly use MT DAW for my guitar tracks, cuz it’s so dang easy to use. For the price of it, I think it is well well worth it. I used to do everything on it on my ipod, before I got my ipad. it never failed me. Just recently I couldn’t get it to work, but the latest update fixed all that.

          I wish it had a count in, but I just let it record with the click for a few measures, and then just delete the pre-guitar stuff on the track.

    4. eustressor says:

      One sign of a great app is when nobody has a bad thing to say about it. I’m seriously considering MTDAW as a backup DAW, much like guitarists like to have a backup guitar/amp – in case your main guitar/amp goes on the fritz, or perhaps as a lighter, quick setup practice rig.

      I have Auria and love it, but twice in the past year I’ve run into technical glitches that slowed me down. And for quick work, like demos and sketching out ideas, Auria’s a bit OTT … People can and have produced excellent commercial material using Auria. Maybe the same could be said for MTDAW, perhaps not, but the idea of a quick and easy, fire it up and go (routing incoming signals can occasionally be more trouble than I’d like in Auria) alternate is appealing. Thanks for covering this latest update, John – clearly track freezing alone is an attractive, almost essential feature :)

      Not much more to add, still considering this as my “backup/lite” recording rig, especially if I end up with one of those nifty new iPhones with that big, Auria/Cubasis-less screen …

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