ReBirth-338! :: iPad Music App Reviews

In this entry, Tony Grund, a new friend and contributor to the Dubspot blog, reviews the brand new ReBirth-338, a new incarnation of the classic.  Previous reviews, one on the iPad’s general features and production functionality on Korg’s ielectribe and Looptastic HD, and another on the TouchOSC and Sonorasaurus Rex apps, are already available for viewing.


Propellerheads ReBirth-338
Get It or Forget It: GET IT!

For those of us who have been kicking around music and computers for a while, there are a few things that we all would have in common. The first announcement of computers getting a Gigabyte of HD space, the first dual processors, and the power they would unleash on the world, and of course, Rebirth-338. With the launch of that program about twelve years ago, a new era in computers and music was ushered into existence. For the first time we could all feel the power that computers would ultimately wield in the world of sound creation.

And now we can experience that feeling again in our pockets with ReBirth for the iPhone.

This program is a faithful and more than complete reissue of the original. If you remember how to program on that, you will feel right at home on this new incarnation, as it is exactly the same.

For those of you who were not around when the original was released, you may be scratching your head and wondering just what the big deal is… I’m not going to rehash the history of ReBirth-338 here, but I am going to say that if you have an iPhone or an iPad or an iPod touch and you make electronic music, just get it. Don’t ask questions. Don’t hesitate. Just go directly to the App Store and download this App. Here’s why:



- The Basics -

ReBirth-338 is a faithful recreation in digital form of some of the most popular music equipment in history: the Roland TB-303, the TR-808, and the TR-909. If you don’t know what these are, and you’re making electronic music or hip hop, then stop what you’re doing and go take a Google history lesson. This review will be here when you get back.

In this digital recreation of the originals, not only do they sound faithful to the hardware pieces, but there are two 303′s, an 808 and a 909, preset saving abilities, pattern programming, and a song mode to connect the patterns together. There are also global effects: distortion, compression, an envelope filter, and delay. The combination of these features made ReBirth-338 a hit back in the day, and the translation to the iPhone makes for not only a fun toy, but also a powerful music creation App.

The overall workflow is broken down into a few key segments: Patterns, the sounds themselves, mix output, effects settings, and global output. Each module has a pattern selector to its left. First select the pattern and then program the rhythms and pitches into the module. You can duplicate patterns and then tweak the elements (pitch, rhythm, etc). Then set the mix level of each device and its distortion, compression, pattern filter, and delay amount. These effects are global, so there is one setting for all of them for each effect. The distortion, compression, and filter are on/off, while the delay is a send amount type of effect. The settings for these are over to the right. Finally, the master output allows the overall volume to be controlled right within the program.

Program patterns by selecting from the bank and the pattern number. You can clear the current pattern or just tweak the existing one. Copying and pasting patterns is accomplished by an on-screen menu across the bottom that can be hidden or revealed at will. This menu setup works great on the iPad and doesn’t get in the way at all.

Arrange the patterns in Song Mode, and then automate everything! Automating parameters in songs is easily done in real time. Laying out the song itself can be done in realtime or in step mode. This is easy to do, and moves pretty quickly as long as you have your patterns thought out ahead of time.

When you are ready to finish up, just save your work by accessing the menu and hitting save. It will ask you to name the file and then you’re done. Easy.



- What I Like -

1. Sounds great – these are classic sounds. Of course the original hardware is classic, but ReBirth-338 itself achieved a level of notoriety that few programs ever reach, and the sounds have been translated faithfully to this incarnation. Nostalgic and useful at the same time, I love it!

2. Easy to use - programming rhythms here is as easy as pushing buttons on a grid. And programming pitches on the two TB-303 bass modules are input exactly like on the originals, which is pretty easy to do. The overall workflow is smooth, and you won’t even need to bust out the (online) manual except for possibly learning about sharing your creations with others.

3. Completely fully featured – if you are familiar with the original program, then you will quickly see that nothing is missing here. If you never used it, then you’ll find that all the bases were covered. There’s a reason why Propellerheads has been so highly regarded, even before Reason!

4. You can share your creations with others! Need I say more about this? What could be better than making a slamming track? Letting others bask in its glory, of course! With the online sharing feature ReBirth-338 for the iPhone makes it super simple to do just that. Upload and become a techno god in minutes! To share your songs just hit the Share button on the menu and the your song is uploaded to a file server where it can be viewed by others as well as emailed out by you. To listen, people do need the iPhone app or the classic version on a computer somewhere (which, although this is really cool, it’s hard to find a copy of this software loaded onto modern computers since it doesn’t work on the newer OS machines).



- What I Miss -

1. No MIDI export. OK, so this isn’t a complaint, so much as a wish. How cool would it be to be able to program a beat that sounds great and then export the MIDI data to your favorite sequencer? Yeah, that would be pretty cool.



- Final Thoughts -

Once again I’m gonna repeat what I wrote in the initial section of this review: if you’re an electronic musician (producer, DJ, MC, whatever), GO GET THIS APP NOW! Not only is this thing a piece of music history, but it’s a great piece of software. There’s a reason the original made such a huge impact on the music scene, and it’s all here, plus some.

The ability to share music with other users is really cool, and will allow some fantastic collaborations to spring up. The fact that these songs are backwards compatible with the original computer software is unbelievably cool, even though I have nothing to use my original software on! All in all, this is a great program, and it shows once again why Propellerheads is one of the most popular music software companies around.

Website: rebirthapp.com
Price: $6.99
Get it: itunes.apple.com

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  • 5/5/2010

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  • Adam Boyd
  • 5/5/2010

Great article

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