Weeel review – pitch bend and modulation wheel utility app from Klevgränd Produktion

Download from iTunes App Store

Weeel logoNow why didn’t someone think of that before? Klevgränd Produktion will be well known to regular iOS music makers because of their excellent Vandelay, SquashIt, R0Verb and Svep iOS music app audio effects, all of which I have reviewed here previously in the blog. However, their latest offering – titled Weeel – is a slightly different product; a simple, but very useful, MIDI utility app.

Indeed, the idea behind Weeel is so simple – but such a neat one – that you do wonder why nobody has done it before (well, perhaps they have, and I’ve just missed it). Weeel provides you with a single X-Y control pad that can be used to generate MIDI pitch bend data and modulation wheel data. Providing you can establish a physical or virtual MIDI connection between your target synth (app, desktop or hardware) and Weeel, you can use the app with a single finger to send pitch/mod wheel data to it.

Weeel - a virtual pitch bend and mod wheel replacement on your iPhone or iPad.

Weeel – a virtual pitch bend and mod wheel replacement on your iPhone or iPad.

Inventing the weeel

Johan Sundhage from Klevgränd Produktion says that they created the app for their own use for occasions when they were using a MIDI keyboard that didn’t feature physical pitch/mod wheel controllers. This is not uncommon with more compact keyboard controllers and, as the compact nature of these units is often what attracts the mobile musician in the first place, Weeel might well seem like a neat option. Anyway, having developed the app for their own use, Johan then kept getting requests from friends for a copy… so, in the end, he thought it worth working up for a full release via the App Store.

From a technical perspective, Weeel is deigned for use on the iPhone (although is scales up fine for the iPad). The app requires iOS7.0 or later, is a 2MB download and, at just UK£0.79, is not going to break anyone’s bank open too widely.

Go with the flow

Of course, in order to be able to use the app, you do need to establish a suitable connection between it and your target instrument. You can do this via a hardware link (using a MIDI interface), via MIDI over WiFi of using apps such as Music IO or Midimux. For my own testing, I used the last of these to link Weeel to my OSX desktop computer and send MIDI data to Cubase but, in principle, you ought to be able to send the data to almost any destination if you can work out the routing.

One aspect of this depends upon exactly why you are using Weeel in the first place. For example, I have a CME Xkey for use with my iPad. However, I also hook it up to my desktop as it has such a small footprint and it is useful for just knocking out a few chords or a bass line (and saves me having to power up my larger MIDI keyboard). The Xkey is great for all sorts of reasons but the pitch bend and mod wheel ‘buttons’ are not as accurate as using proper wheels or an X-Y pad. Weeel, used in conjunction with the Xkey, might therefore be quite a neat solution.

Both my Xkey and Weeel sending MIDI data to Absynth (running within Cubase) - lots of bending and modulation fun :-)

Both my Xkey and Weeel sending MIDI data to Absynth (running within Cubase) – lots of bending and modulation fun :-)

The issue, therefore, is that whatever the target instrument is for this combination of MIDI data, it needs to be able to receive MIDI data from both your MIDI keyboard (or some other source of MIDI note data) and from Weeel at the same time.

As mentioned earlier, I had no problems in this regard as Cubase allows you to identify multiple MIDI inputs for a virtual instrument. As such, the Xkey (via a direct USB connection to my iMac) and Weeel (running on my iPhone and connected via Midimux) were both able to send MIDI data to my target synth (Absynth as shown in the screenshot). With suitable MIDI connectivity, you ought to be able to make things work in various other configurations also.

The only slight issue I experienced was that Weeel didn’t actually appear within Midimux as a named source as happens with other apps that generate MIDI data. I’m not sure if this ‘normal’ or not… but the data certainly got transmitted OK.

Bend it like weeel

In use, Weeel provides a lot of fun and, as a source of pitch bend and mod wheel data, it is certainly easier to control than my Xkey’s buttons for anything that requires a bit of finer control. The app itself is fairly simple – just tap and drag within the X-Y pad to control the two parameters but you do get options to switch on/off the pitch bend and to lock/unlock the mod wheel (so it returns to zero or not when you remove your finger). There is also a sensitivity control you can adjust depending upon how sensitive you like your X-Y pad to be.

Weeel allows you to choose a MIDI CC number for the Y axis of the X-Y pad.

Weeel allows you to choose a MIDI CC number for the Y axis of the X-Y pad.

In addition, via the Settings page, you can actually adjust the target parameter for the Mod Wheel (Y axis). Any of the MIDI CC numbers – from 1 to 127 – can be selected so you could target any MIDI parameter in your synth should you wish to. You can also set the MIDI channel number if you need to send the data on a channel other than channel 1 (the default).

In summary

If you do need a ‘virtual’ pitch and mod wheel function to use within your iOS (or desktop) music production system, then Weeel is well worth the price of admission. It will be interesting to see if Klevgränd Produktion do try and take the app on further. As an ultra-simple ‘MIDI X-Y controller pad’ there are probably some additional things that could easily be added that give the app further flexibility (the option to select MIDI CC numbers for both axis, for example).

There is not much more to say about Weeel and it worked well in my own testing. It’s an excellent little utility app and, at the pocket money price, is well worth having around.

Weeel



Weeel! from Klevgränd produktion on Vimeo.

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    Comments

    1. John, is that not one of the silliest yet most entertaining app demos ever seen? LOL

      I have a Novation LaunchKey-Mini: 25 keys, 8 knobs, and 25 buttons, but no mod or pitch bend wheels. Seems like an app that I could use and the price is mighty nice!

      • Hi Toz…. yep, it is rather nice when a developer of cool apps also has a sense of humour :-) best wishes, John

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