New iOS / iPad Apps: Mobile Music Production – Korg Monotron Delay, TouchAble 1.3, SynthX +

In this ongoing series we explore the latest movements in portable music production for producers on the go. As technology continues to become more portable, music production is following the trend with mobile hardware and software devices that allow spontaneous moments of inspiration to happen anywhere. This month we take a look at Korg’s new Delay and Duo Monotron devices, an update to TouchAble’s much-adored Ableton Live control software, a performance synth caled SynthX that is getting praise from musicians, and some effects for guitarists from Digitech and Line 6.

Touchable 1.3 for iOS / iPad

TouchAble is an iPad application that works as a real-time wireless control surface for Ableton Live. Since it’s inception in September 2010, TouchAble has continually updated the software to better control parameters in Ableton and most recently launched version 1.3 which brings more updates to the popular iOS app. TouchAble 1.3 contains over 30 new features and changes, such as a loop and beatjump section, enabling anything from CDJ style mixes to creative loop manipulation, a crossfader, and a completely rebuilt mixer. 3 new native templates have also been added: Auto Filter, Ping Pong Delay, and the very first Instrument – Impulse. With six different modules (Clip grid, Mixer, Devices, Keys, Pads, XY Pad) and two command menus (Clip & Transport), you can control almost every parameter in Ableton Live from your iPad. Elsewhere on out blog you can find an instructional video on how to set up TouchAble as well as coverage on an earlier version of this software. If you own Ableton Live and an iPad, this app is worth checking out.

We created a series of video tutorials to help user explore the creative production and performance possibilities of TouchAble. In the three part video tutorial, Tony Grund explained how TouchAble allows you to control Ableton Live from your iPad and also take you through the basics of the interface, from setup to composition tips and tricks and more. Check out part 1 above, and look for the 2nd and 3rd parts here.

Korg Monotron Duo and Monotron Delay

The Korg Monotron synthesizer appeared on the scene a couple years back and most people assumed the device was a toy. It’s a few inches long with a ribbon-controlled keyboard that runs on batteries. Who would’ve thought it would become one of the most popular pieces of performance hardware in 2011? This little black and white gadget has become a must-have for many DJs and producers including Soul Clap and Martyn who both use it extensively in live performances. The popularity is due to the Monotron being an all-analog synth that boasts the same analog VCF filter from Korg’s classic MS-10 and MS-20 modular synths. Playing the actual keyboard can be a bit difficult but the real appeal for many people is the device’s 1/8th inch input which runs signal though the VCF filter to delightful results. The sound of this tiny device is downright mean. It can create rumbling bottom end and screaming noise when you crank the VCF cutoff. For a $49 device the Korg Monotron is a must-have gadget for analog enthusiasts or anyone looking to add an affordable analog filter to their setup.
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The Monotron must have been a smash success for Korg because they’ve recently announced two new versions of this tiny terror of a synth: the Monotron Duo and the Monotron Delay. The Monotron Duo will offer a second oscillator and  X-MOD capabilities for generating even more extreme sounds. The Monotron Delay features a space delay that can produce intense, analog-like echo effects. Each is equipped with a speaker, a ribbon keyboard, five knobs, and a single switch for performance. On the back end you get a headphone jack and an audio line in (both 1/8th inch) which serve as your input / output connections. Each of the Monotron devices are priced at around $49 and are currently available for pre-order from Korg. There’s no official word on when these devices actually hit the streets but we’re assuming (or hoping, anyway) that the release will happen in time for the holidays. For Monotron / Monotribe users out there – Korg is currently hosting a contest where you can upload sound effects or songs made with your device and win a gold-plated Monotribe or a silver-plated Monotron Delay!
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SynthX

I must admit that when I first saw SynthX I didn’t give it the attention it deserved. It’s not flashy on the graphics and doesn’t seem to care about competing with apps like Moog’s latest outing. But what this app lacks in looks it makes up for in sound and highly enjoyable playing. SynthX’s sound is based on the Arp 2600 and uses digital modeling technology to re-create the classic analog sound. Way Out Ware’s website boasts: A mathematically modeled synthesizer, SynthX contains no samples. As a result, it is very small in size, yet it has an extremely large and professionally design sound library. And it sounds great. But the real appeal is the play-ability of this app on the iPad’s multi-touch surface. As you can see in the video above it’s very simple to play scales or chords with no music training and it’s dead simple to change other variables of the sound with up/down gestures as you play. It’s a lot of fun..

Digitech iPB-10

For our axe-wielding readers we have an interesting addition to the lineup from Digitech, makers of guitar effects pedals and the iPB-10 Programmable Pedal Board. This product uses the free iPB-Nexus application for your iPad that lets you drag and drop different effects pedals on your iPad to create a custom signal flow. Neat. But next you put the iPad into the iPB-10 hardware housing which offers durability and a USB to 24-bit / 44.1-kHz output with two 1/4 inch outputs, 2 XLR outputs, effects send, effects loop, 14 foot switches and expression pedal. Wow. It’s a bit pricey at $499 but could be justified if you have a guitar pedal addiction.

Line 6 Mobile In / Mobile POD

A much more affordable option of the same theme comes from Line 6 who recently launched the Mobile In audio interface for iPads / iPhones / iPods along with the Mobile POD software for iOS. The Mobile In offers better sound quality as well with 24-bit/48kHz sound quality with a guitar input that features a 110 dB dynamic range. Line 6 Co-founder Marcus RyleMobile claims,“Mobile In is designed to be the best possible guitar tone solution for mobile devices. Other iOS guitar interfaces are rife with issues like headphone feedback, latency and poor sound quality. Mobile In solves all of these issues to deliver the best iOS guitar playing  experience.” The Mobile In is currently available for approximately $80.

Michael Walsh is the Editor of Dubspot’s Blog, a producer of audio/visual art and a journalist living in Southern California. Read more of his work at soundsdefygravity.com

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Dubspot blog editor Michael Walsh is a  journalist, DJ, music producer, and Dubspot instructor. He believes in open-source ideas and advancing the evolution of music by sharing ideas that push technology in new directions. As a catalyst for of electronic music’s growth, Michael was co-founder of the Ritual Recordings house imprint, helped develop numerous club nights and events, and has curated music for corporate events with clients such as Nokia, Puma, and Betsy Johnson. Michael has been a professional DJ for over two decades and produces house and techno music under a number of aliases.

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  • New Modular DJ App d(- -)b For iOS/iPad – From the Makers of touchAble! | Dubspot Blog
  • 11/22/2011

[...] you will probably know the team as the talented programmers who put together the very popular touchAble iPad controller for Ableton Live a few years back. The team has obviously put their experiences to [...]