With RAM at a bit of a premium in older iOS hardware, the iPad or iPhone is perhaps not the platform to expect the most sophisticated of sample-based instruments to exist. However, that hasn’t stopped a number of iOS music app developers from trying to squeeze as much performance out of the hardware as is possible.
IK Multimedia’s SampleTank is an excellent example; as a diverse source of sample-based instrument sounds, it does a very respectable job. IKM have a desktop version of SampleTank and, while it is perhaps not quite in the same league as NI’s Kontakt (nor does it have the huge 3rd party sample library support), it is still a very solid performer with some very cool sounds.
However, right now, we don’t have Kontakt for iOS….. and the The iOS version of sampleTank delivers the same basic experience as it’s bigger desktop brother to the user but with sample libraries tailored for the more compact (in terms of storage) available under iOS. It was updated to v.2.0.0 last August and this fairly major overhaul bought, amongst other things, a more streamlined UI and 8-part multi-timbral operation. This is a significant change and means that a single instance of the app could easily be used for all your sample-based sound needs within a project.
As a source of sounds for live work or for general composing/writing duties SampleTank is a great tool…. and there is a good collection of IAP content to expand of the core sound set depending upon your musical interests.
A further update to the app appeared on the App Store yesterday. This adds three further IAP sound collections to the already impressive catalogue; Art Deco Piano, Nanotube and Elektronica – Minimal. These are not casual purchases. For example, the Art Deco Piano is priced at UK£19.99/US$19.99, but it is based on 142MB of sample data and includes 8 velocity layers. This is enough detail to create a responsive playing dynamic. Nanotube provides 230MB of futuristic, glitched-out loops and patterns while Elektronica – Minimal is a collection of dance-friendly house beats and sounds. Each of the new IAPs also MIDI clips/grooves to explore and build into your own compositions.
You can check out the original SampleTank review here and the v.2 update here… However, the two videos from IKM embedded below demonstrate some of the new features introduced in v.2.0.0 and demonstrate some of the ways you can use the multi-timbral capabilities in a live performance setting. SampleTank is a polished piece of software and its versatility as a sound source means it sits quite happily in my own ‘core set’ of iOS music apps for music creation/recording duties.
Some iOS musicians have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the IKM brand…. but it’s difficult to deny that they make excellent software that many mainstream music makers could put to good use and they have invested heavily in the iOS platform. Anyway, the videos are worth watching for an introduction to SampleTank under iOS…. and then hit the download button to find out more :-)