If 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 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.
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.