If you know anything about electronic music production software, Propellerhead’s ReBirth will be a familiar name. Indeed, ReBirth was a precursor to Reason and, while it doesn’t offer the power and versatility of something like Reason, it is still considered something of a classic.
ReBirth was introduced for the desktop back in 1997. It was, itself, an ‘emulation’ of something else… the software attempted to reproduce the sounds and features of the Roland TB-303 Bass Line synth and both TR-808 and TR-909 Rhythm Composer drum machines. In their original hardware format, these are the musical tools that became the default options for many pop, Hip Hop, R&B and electronic music producers.
As the hardware versions became more expensive and more difficult to find, ReBirth provided those same sounds in a convenient – and relatively inexpensive – format. It was a hit in it’s own right. However, as the world of music software moved rapidly forwards, in 2005 Propellerhead discontinued work on ReBirth to focus on their other major platform; Reason. Roll forward to 2010, however, and ReBirth was reborn under iOS in the shape of an iOS app and it is currently priced at UK£14.99/US$14.99. In this format it offers 2 TB-303s and one each of the TR-808 and TR-909. Two bass synths and two drum machines doesn’t sound like much but, in the right hands, there is a lot of noise to be made here.
Propellerhead initially moved the app forward on a regular basis but, from 2013, things have been a bit quiet and the most recent update was back in March 2016. Thankfully, however, a further update – taking the app to v.1.4.5 – has appeared on the App Store today. This is very much of the maintenance variety in that it updates the Audiobus and AudioCopy SDKs to their latest respective versions… but it is good to see the Props giving the app some TLC regardless of that.
It has to be said that the iOS version of ReBirth has not been without its critics. One of the key complaints has been the design of the interface; describing it as ‘busy’ is perhaps being polite. This is not an app you would want to try and use on a screen smaller than a full-size iPad and, even then, you might find yourself reaching for a magnifying glass. Indeed, some of the controls are so compact that those with fingers of a stubby character might find that a suitable iPad stylus pen is required…. Not quite so much of a challenge on the larger format iPad Pro though :-)
All that said, there is a lot packed into the app with pretty much the full feature set of the desktop software is reproduced in a mobile format. And, whatever complaints some might have about the busy interface, there is little to complain about in terms of the sound; providing your eyesight and fingers are up to it, this is classic electronic music production tool in the form of an app.