In case you haven’t heard, having already made the leap to iPhone, ReBirth is now available in a new version re-conceived for the iPad. (Happily, Propellerhead resisted the temptation to call it ReBirth HD.) It’s a sign of the maturity of music software that there can be a “classic” production tool – and a bit of irony that that a major feature of that tool is, in turn, emulating the Roland TB-303, TR-808, and TR-909 bass synth and drum machines.

Propellerhead has done a really nicely-produced video that explains what they think the tool is about, complete with some well-executed screencasts so you see it in action. But for all the buzz this release has generated this week, it’s worth asking – how will people actually make music on these new platforms? Where does a tablet (any tablet, not just Apple’s) fit into a workflow? And what does this mean for music making?

One of the things I enjoy about talking to Propellerhead CEO Ernst Nathorst-BΓΆΓΆs is that, when you ask him a question, he often answers with other compelling questions. (That seems to be a common feature of a lot of the most successful music software developers.) I think the video does a good job of talking about how ReBirth could conceivably work as a standalone production tool. But as for what iOS software means in the grander scheme of music production, in this case, we’ve got questions – and you, digital music creators, may be the ones who discover the answers.

Ernst tells CDM what they as developers want to know from you, and how they’re approaching ReBirth on iPad. (And yes, if you prefer a netbook, you can still do that, too, even if you’ve installed Linux.)

CDM: Propellerhead advanced notions of inter-application interoperability for music software with ReWire (alongside REX, Remote). There’s a desire from users and developers to find ways of maintaining the “one app at a time” focus of things like the iPad, but also being able to make the sum of those apps better than their parts alone. It’s just intuitive – you’re using one app, and then switch to another app, and it makes sense to take some of your musical ideas with you. Do you think there’s an opportunity for innovation here? Have you looked at all at third-party APIs like AudioCopy?

There’s absolutely room for innovation, and yes we have looked at AudioCopy. The way we decided to approach conversion to various formats in ReBirth for iPad is to let the user upload the actual song document (which is very small) to a server where we render out the mp3, integrate it with Facebook, build a small web page etc. This provides a much more flexible approach, we think. And yes, it is also innovative :-). With this approach we are only limited by what we can do on that server, in terms of exchange with other applications and even platforms. This potentially opens a lot of doors.

But what I think you actually asked about was getting some of the workflow we have on the desktop today – via plug-ins, ReWire and file exchange for example – to the iPad and iPhone. Here I have to say that I don’t feel at all sure about what the right approach is. And why I say that is that is because I don’t feel we know how people use these apps yet. On the desktop, the prices are high enough for us to assume that what people buy is also what they actually use when making music. On the mobile platforms, I’m not sure that is the case. Take, for example, the Korg iMS-20. It looks absolutely awesome and I think Korg did an amazing job on it, hats off. It’s just 16 bucks and ReBirth is just 15 so you can buy either (or both!) without thinking about it as an investment. But how will people actually use the iMS-20? Or ReBirth? Or NanoStudio? Is it mainly recreational, and the result is less important than the experience? Or do they really want take that work, add more stuff in other apps (guitars? vocals?) and publish it? Or does even adding that possibility add a level of pretension that kills the joy? Are we better off isolating the apps from each other completely to keep the fun in? OK, maybe that was extreme, I don’t think that is the right path at all of course, but you get how I’m thinking. Propellerhead wants to make what people *really* need, and when great shifts like these happen, finding out what that is takes some time. As we’re building, we’re also watching, very closely.

We at PropellerHeadQuarters would love to hear from users here on CDM and elsewhere how you actually use your iPhone and iPad apps and what your real needs are? Not just what would be cool, but what would be really useful in your music making.

One of the criticisms of ReBirth on iPhone – aside from lack of screen area – was that it was just a direct port of the PC version. Now, it looks like something very different, something really built for the platform. What was added here above and beyond ReBirth as we know it on the PC?

Yes, cramming all of ReBirth onto a phone was by definition a compromise. We think we did a great job, given the limitations. But on the iPad we could really go nuts. We redesigned the whole panel with new beautiful graphics. We added multitouch — now I can use all of my eleven fingers to tweak the knobs, which is actually much cooler then the original mouse-driven version. We improved editing and added a pattern selection, performance-type mode. We put a nice little song browser in and then of course the sharing, direct to Facebook in MP3 format without having to have any other service in between.

Thanks for the preview, Ernst. And yes, readers — the call is out. We’ve heard from people who love the iPad and similar platforms; we’ve certainly heard from those who don’t. But those of you who do intend to use these platforms for music — what do you actually want to do? You could conceivably ask for anything, so what’s most important to your music making? We hear about users wanting things like AudioCopy — how would you use it, and with which tools? Propellerhead has had your ear; now’s your chance to have theirs.

  • The key for me is "don't let the interface get in the way." ReBirth on the iPhone is pretty great, but the small screen meant that it was hard to get around to the parts I wanted. A shortcut that would pan/zoom to a desired device would have been useful, as well as the ability to make physically large macro knobs like with Ableton racks, to get around the difficulties of the small screen. I don't have an iPad, but I imagine the larger surface would eliminate a lot of these problems.

    That said, I'm really glad this software is available on portable devices.
    Kudos to Propellerheads πŸ™‚

  • @Warrior Bob
    OK, we hear you. Thanks!

  • Well, my two cents:

    I don't have an iPad, but I do have an iPod touch and I think it's a great tool for sketching out musical ideas when you're on the go (the place I, and I assume many others, find inspiration strikes the most).

    Jasuto, for example, seems to be what I'm looking for in a tool. There's the iOS app which lets you create these intricate modular synth patches and then there's the VSTi/AUi that brings those patches in to your DAW.

    When I'm, say, on the subway, I love just experimenting in the various audio apps I have. I have no intention of publishing anything from there, but occasionally I'll come up with something I might want to use when I get home.

  • NAA

    Great little Q&A…&Q. : )

    Here's what I think would be great:

    AirPlay Support: so we can jam on the couch wirelessly with sound coming through our real monitors. Just fun.

    Reason/Record Controller for iPad: Very simple. You select a track in Reason, and a fullscreen representation of the rack device for that track displays on the iPad screen in all its glory. I think it's doable with the Remote codec, and some voodoo. I've attempted it with TouchOSC, but a native Props solution would be killer. Just think how lovely it would be to use Thor in fullscreen on your iPad! One track, one device, full screen. OK, and some vertical scrolling for massive Combinators.

  • From a practical standpoint, I want to be able to do at least one of two things when I create music on my iPad:
    1. Create song arrangements that I can export as MIDI files and use in my desktop OS DAW.
    2. Create sounds, audio snippets, and musical phrases that I can export as AIFF or WAV files to use in larger compositions in my desktop OS DAW.

    In short, the iPad is a music idea generator for me and I want the ability to export those ideas in high-quality, platform-agnostic formats.

  • BirdFLU

    I have a Nintendo DS and an iPad. I use the music apps mostly as sketchpads, but like the ability to export the audio too. It's great to have a mobile platform so I can play around with musical ideas in a doctor's waiting room, on a plane, on a couch, etc. Something about using the DS and the iPad makes playing with an app less "formal" than sitting down and using Logic or whatever on a desktop, The portable platforms make it okay to just goof around and sometimes that's where my best ideas come from.

  • Dave

    The new Gorillaz record is being done on an iPad.

  • Jon Starr

    First I just wanted to say that Rebirth was my introduction to computer music and synthesis back around 1998. I had a friend who worked it to death with a little Peavey Midi controller and I found it to be pretty eye-opening. But what I would really want from Propellerhead now in 2010 is more integration with the music tools I actually use. If they were to offer the reason modules as Au/Vst plugins I would use them all the time. Just make the Cv ins/outs OSC inputs/outputs and I could fully integrate the modules into my workflow. Even if a user wasn't using OSC anywhere else in their setup they could work the modules with each other to get the same functionality as patching with Reason. But it would also mean I could use my OSC controllers (Jazzmutant Lemur, Keith McMillan Instruments SoftStep) and OSC software (Expert Sleepers Silent Way etc. and FAW Circle) without any compromise. I would pay more then they're charging for Reason to make this happen personally.

  • KNS

    A Controller app on the iPad for R+R. This is what we really need Ernst. πŸ™‚

  • @NAA
    I'm not sure I understand that whole remote thing with iPads. There's your computer right in front of you, mouse in hand. Why do do you want to move over and control the rack from the iPad? Not making a point, honestly curious.

  • @BirdFLU
    How many of those sketches do you actually move over to a computer and finish? Compared to songs you start on the computer? Is the music you make on the pad vs computer different? How?

  • @KNS
    How would you actually use it? What problem does it solve?

  • At first the iPad was a novel idea offering a new way to get in touch with music creation. My head exploded with ideas of using this interface, touch, as a new way of interacting with sound.

    I was skeptical at first but hopeful.

    I went and bought an iPad, instead of hardware as I have always used, as a challenge. Go in a different direction. I was mostly driven to the iPad as a controller for Ableton and Traktor.

    I also wanted the iPad as a sound creation tool that I could use wherever I go and output into my DAW to build tracks with that could then be used in Ableton or Traktor. I can also just output the iPad creations into ableton.

    For me I am looking for more apps that focus on touch as the way of creation rather than replicating hardware knobs and faders etc. I like reactable for this sort of stuff even though it is still limited at this point in time.

  • BellectroniQ

    I have chance to use my iPad and iPhone a fair bit when I'm away from my studio and am definitely planning to use everything I create, be it experimental noise, loops, drums, whatever, in my work. I am obsessed with FX so I've no doubt they may be totally unrecognisable from how they began but if I didn't have access to these tools in the first place, I wouldn't have had the chance to sketch out some inspiration as it were.
    Also, I have plans to hook my iPad up to my soon to be purchased Kontrol S4 and integrate Rebirth and also the iElectribe into some sort of live scenario. I'd love to pull off a whole set, with either a singer, MC or both whilst rocking a drum machine from my idevice. Hell, throw a guitarist in aswell. We'll form a band. Someone on Bebot too! Mint.

  • "We think we did a great job, given the limitations."

    Well, it's a clone of actual tactile hardware. Knobs don't translate very well on screen IMHO.

    In the video you can see you tweak a knob parameter by hitting the knob and sliding up… Works like a slider, looks like a knob. I really don't get it.

    On the other hand, there's plenty of examples of mice gestures doing the exact same thing on knobs, I just hoped UI design would change with MT. Than again this is a clone so maybe not the best platform to incorporate UI designs..

  • Maybe adding some visual feedback next to the finger thats controlling the knob parameter will help.

  • @Durk
    "Well, it’s a clone of actual tactile hardware."

    Exactly. I agree it's a bit bizarre. First we took the hardware to your screen, now we're taking that screen to your fingertips.

    "Works like a slider, looks like a knob. I really don’t get it."

    It has to do with resolution and precision. Once you've tried it it feels very natural. At least IMHO.

    It's good night for me now, guys, midnight here in Sweden. Thanks for talking to me.

  • Jon Starr

    It's interesting that everyone else's comments are worth responding to except mine. Just don't be surprised when serious users continue to ignore your company/software (ie I could buy a computer that would run the Rebirth software for well under $100).

  • do the iPhone owners need to pay full price for the iPad version? I can't find that out anywhere — i'm going to assume yes. and bring rewire to the iOS please :^)

  • KNS


    I would use it to control R+R devices. I would be my main controller that has graphical clones of the devices. Yes there are controllers on the market but I feel their implementation is limited. Its seems Remote is rather powerful but has not been adopted the way it should be manufacturers. Look at the mixer in Record. It begs to be touched, mouse mixing is not efficient. We need something that will allow us to perform, mix, tweak at will, efficiently and easily.

    I would make things more efficient. How many parameters can I tweak with mouse simultaneously? With something like a dedicated controller that represents devices graphically. I will know where parameters are instead of memorizing them.

  • Matt Hoopper

    Every serious mobile app should have audiocopy, if it has audio then audio paste as well.

    This is so important to many.

  • Gliderpro

    I see the iPad as a great mobile music sketchpad. But I;m dismayed to see a lack of linear sequencers, (Piano roll, notation, ect.) Most ipad sequencers are experimenting with loop based, or alternative sequencing. I think alternative sequencers are great, and the iPad is a great platform, but if my mind works like a staff of piano roll, and that what I want to be able to use on the go. I want to be able to start things while riding on the bus, and finish them at home in a DAW.

    If ever I find an app with a simple easy to use piano roll sequencer with some basic sounds (particularly basic synth sounds like straight square/tri/noise), and MIDI file export to my machine, I'd be happy as a clam.

    I could see Propellerheads making a "Reason Sketchpad" type app. They already keep their programs self contained, so a stand alone app, with export to various formats would make sense. Simplified, CPU (and RAM) efficient versions of Reason rack devices plus a basic piano roll sequencer, and you have a very capable means of starting projects on the go and finishing them in the studio.

    The props always make great stuff, I'm sure they have some stellar ideas for emerging the mobile music making market.

  • conner


    re: remotes .. you say:
    "There’s your computer right in front of you, mouse in hand. Why do do you want to move over and control the rack from the iPad?"

    why are people buying APC40s? control surfaces are an awesome departure when you want to get away from using a mouse. especially for quick access when moving around GUI elements gets in the way.

    and then the argument that multitouch allows you to access more than one control at once vs the single control point of a mouse.

    it seems like a no brainer to me for anyone developing audio apps should be looking into how mobile can augment the desktop experience.

  • Jordaan

    I agree with most comments on here. I've personally used mobile platforms like Palm, NDS, and now iOS. In every situation I've never produced a full song on any platform but enjoyed experimenting and writing to my creations.

    Being a sample based producer, I believe the main reason my ideas never seemed to mature was because I could never get the exact sound I needed. At home I can record anything and get samples from sources I know will work.. but when on the go I have to use what is available around me or included in the program. Stock sounds are often a bore to me and I usually find a home with field recorded samples or some sort of synth. I find that most of these projects share similar qualities.. they are extremely short and are very detail focused.

    I honestly don't know what I need to make these projects more practical or useful. I'd like the option to export midi and audio which many programs now offer. Audio copy/paste would open up inter-app communication and give me the freedom to choose the best app for my desired outcome. The ability to sync with my computer easily would at least lead me to reserve it a channel on the mixing board to try it out in a mix. And maybe a dream sequencer app that acts as a plugin hub for others? lol! okay that's crazy!

  • Gavin@FAW

    Just on the linear time line, I think that as live performance becomes the main way an artist creates music (over using logic etc in the studio) and touch screen software evolves to provide new ways of doing this, non-realtime sequencing and arranging on a linear time line will become less and less relevant.

  • Tom

    I would like to see the way I can sync those apps with my hardware or software sequencers (MIDI sync). I could then use some kind of iPad/iPhone MIDI interface, connect the cables and jam on iPad with ReBirth or iMS20, totally in sync with my Electribes and Reason or Live on MacBook for example. This way all stays connected and all gear/soft becomes one music environment.

  • KH

    >>> Where does a tablet (any tablet, not just Apple’s) fit into a workflow? <<<

    Why would this be just about Apple tablets? Looks like a kind of Freudian slip.

    Often it seems there's a real stigma attached to Apple reportage at CDM- eg this kind of predictable distancing. At first I thought it was just playing to the free software/DIY crowd. But it seems to be built-in. Or is that whole formulation redundant?

    Apple has been ahead of the curve with iPhone, then iPod/iPad, so a lot of things have been happening on Apple hardware first. There should be no shame in writing about Apple-related material.

    It would be nice not to get the impression you're looking guiltily over your shoulder every time the word count about Apple creeps up slightly.Come on- loosen up!

  • @Jon Starr
    Sorry, I just figured the discussion was about useful software for the iPad and what you were talking about was something slightly different. The suggestion to break out the Reason devices as separate instruments comes up now and then. It's on our lists of stuff people ask for. Just in general so you know: On eof the frustrting things with our job is that we have lists of hundreds of major features that all make some sort of sense. In an update we know we can pick maybe ten. It's very hard. When people say "why didn't you…" the true answer is most often, because we're a small company and the day only has 24 hours.

  • @KNS
    OK, what I think you are saying is that you want to take a focused subset of the myriads of stuff that is on your computer screen + you want to tweak them in a more convenient way than with a mouse. Essentially, the pad is replacing a hardware controller. I think I get it.

  • @conner
    OK, I hear you. But just to be provocative: Isn't an iPad a really poor replacement for a great hardware controller like the APC? Isn't it the worst of two worlds? A lot of the complexity of a computer but no physical feedback, no fixed layout, fragile etc?

  • @Everybody
    I really enjoy this. Peter, I hope you don't think I am hi-jacking your forum. I've got more mundane things to concentrate on over this weekend, though, 2011 budget work is just an example :-(. Plus, I have a family :-). So, sorry if it seems like I am tuning out. I will try to get back here when I can.

  • Holotropik

    Yeah what Tom said, midi sync would be the major breakthrough here…for any app. Get that sorted and watch things really get going. Maybe with the new iOS coming up with this midi implementation will get things started? Hope πŸ˜‰

  • RedWalks

    Hi Peter and Ernst !

    Seeing RB338 on an ipad makes me drool…a bit at least, since I owe and love my RB2.0 for years now. Sadly neither Win7 64bit nor virtual XP will accept my RB CD on start up !

    So far I dont have an ipad or any apple product since I think apple`s selling a well paid myth in being superior to audio production which is not the case in my eyes,
    but ATM I´m waiting for the release of IPad 2
    with hopefully USB support to get RB running again! (BTW the Lemur was inacceptably overpriced, touchscreenwise )

    My actual RB whish would also be wav or aif conversions, since porting out via mp3 or the headphones jack means data loss to me.

    The ability of getting "hands on" on such a device is crucial. Workflowwise a mouse is cucumbersome compaired to this easiness !
    Speaking of R+R I´d like to control what I see.
    Setting up a hardware controller and forgetting
    which pot or slider is controlled is pretty frustrating for an Alzheimers man like me. πŸ˜‰
    Also since screen resolutions are rising and the racks in R+R are not scaleable its a hard time using the mouse – I´m working at 1280×768 but 1920×1200 would be possible !!!

    Thats why I´d like to have at least R+R devices ported out (not thinking about whats even possible in the seq window !!)to an ipad in fullscreen, like a 2nd monitor with an app that work cross platformal with mac n win exchanging monitor data. Maybe optional as a wired solution since Wifi air pollution is yet high enough these days ! Cya, Red !

    p.s.: Thx Ernst for picking my pitch bend scaling idea for each of Kongs instrument devices ! πŸ˜‰

  • David

    @ Ernst
    Is there any plan to get Apple to adopt Rewire in it's apis ?
    In my Opinion this is what is currently missing in iOS .

    Multi App support is there just need something to link them !
    Say I want to use iElectribe as a Kick and snare with a bass line from iMS20 with a 303 lead from Rebirth … there is no way to do that in real time yet . Getting rewire lumped in with core audio and core midi as an api would be groundbreaking for the mobil device . Assuming the cpu could handle it that is , but that may not always be a concern moving forward I doubt .
    Just a thought πŸ˜‰

  • Axl

    What I want? Well, I'd like people to recognize that these compact devices are actual computers with a processing power that people would have dreamed to have in a desktop computer a couple of years ago. I want flexibility to create my own music making environments with all possibilities those ancient desktop PCs with Pentium 3 processors already had. In this respect, Jasuto is indeed the best iOS app out there. I can't believe for example that Line 6 who produce wireless systems, amp sim software and a Midi dongle for the iDevices don't just combine the three to make these things real guitar workstations. Instead they put out toys. I'm tired of all these iToys with oh_so_cute interfaces. I want Supercollider on my iPod (Android decive… whatever) with 24 bit low latency audio I/O and Midi and OSC. Or Reaktor. Hurry up already! Now there's CoreMidi for the iOS but not for my iPad because Apple decided to make their f***ing stupid "connection kit" not work on it. Apple, you stink.

    Rant over. πŸ˜‰

    Peace and Love!

  • griotspeak

    Hello Ernst !

    could you please add this request to that ever growing list?

    Please expand Remote to allow editing of sequences in Redrum /matrix / thor etc.

    Please and thank you.

  • Eleven fingers ?

  • griotspeak

    You really want clarification on Ernst's eleventh finger?

  • Peter Kirn

    @KH: — "Where does a tablet (any tablet, not just Apple’s) fit into a workflow?"

    Where does any tablet, whether made by Apple or someone else, fit into a workflow? Presumably, the design decisions learned from the iPad could apply to other tablet interfaces, too.

    That's all I said. You're welcome to read more into it if you like. I try to make sure that, where CDM can ask questions that are bigger than a single tool or a single platform, we ask them. And indeed, the notions above about sketching on the go, then bringing those sketches into a computer, could relate to a wide, wide variety of not only computer-style devices, but hardware, mobile recorders… any number of things.

  • Peter Kirn

    @Axl: FYI, some of what you're expecting is not possible on current hardware. These mobile chips are fantastic, but they're limited by the laws of physics, and optimization takes you only so far. You can follow threads on Noisepages now discussing NEON optimizations and its benefits (on Android *and* iOS), but those don't net the same performance as, say, a modern Intel x86 in a high-end laptop. Expect to make sacrifices.

  • MIDI suppport for al iOS apps please

    I am a victim, I mean customer of the iOS audio app madness. I have bought tons of apps and will probably continue doing so. Audio copy and paste is very high on my list of important functions, but even more important to me is midi function. The ability to function with other midi devices as an instrument is vital. If I compose something in rebirth or nanostudio, sunvox, argon ect. it is useless to me if I have to sync with itunes before I can use it with other apps. A much better approach is treat every app as an instrument and only use one app at a time per iOS device.

    eg. ipad running rebirth (slave midi), synced with iphone running nanostudio (slave midi), synced with my laptop running renoise (master midi). That way each song I create while I am out is usable on the fly when I come home,.. no exporting or opening itunes, just mixing and tweaking. many iOS apps claim to give the capacity to jam with other iOS apps, but IMHO no apps that I have used really are jam worthy.

  • rondema

    I basically want what Blip have done with NanoStudio.. you're kind of late to the game! That being said, as a Record/Reason user I'd undoubtedly feel compelled to invest in an app similar to NanoStudio but with tight integration with the desktop package.. enough to work on the app independently but then painlessly link up with big brother for further work.

  • NAA

    @Earnst: In short, QWERTY keyboard and mouse just aren't particularly musical or conducive to creativity. At least they aren't designed to be. I've been using Reason since v1.0 and when it first came around the revolutionary thing was that it was legitimately an affordable alternative to an actual rack of hardware. Fast forward 10 years and that analogy is less so, simply because the hardware it emulates no longer exists. But the hardware emulation thing seems to be working still, lots of people still using Reason. I think some hands-on representation of these imaginary pieces of hardware would go a very long way to making the experience even more "real". There are plenty of people who complain about Reason's old school ways if doing somethings. But at the end of the day, those things contribute largely to it being a very productive environment for writing music. No drag and drop, manual sample loading, hand-wiring signal chains. None of these things make it a "fast" process. But I think that's the beauty of it. It remains purely musical, whether you've never used a hardware sampler or routed CV in your life. Being able to interact with these purely musical devices with your hands, even on flat glass, would enhance the experience. Much more so than a mouse anyway. I think.

  • NAA

    PS: the Reason rack is 758px wide. The iPad is 1024×768. Vertically, you could scroll the entire rack fullscreen. Flip to landscape and you've got room to display the rack on the left, with a vertical rack navigator ala Record on the right. That would be sweet. Just fantasizing out loud. πŸ™‚

  • NAA

    Ok last one, I promise. Shake to flip the rack!

  • Alessandro

    @Ernst : I only wish one thing, to be able to run Rebirth again.

    It is the software that got me into music-making and I really really miss it.

    Please, a little patch to support OSX.

  • Gavin@FAW

    "Is it mainly recreational, and the result is less important than the experience?"

    Without getting into composition vs performance, I feel that the importance and focus on a tangible "result" came about when the technology to record, duplicate and sell music arose. But it is a relatively new concept in the long history of music and this focus can shift back to the enjoyment of musical expression in and of itself, without any eye on some tangible result from the time spent.

  • Peter Kirn

    The result of all we do is vibrating air molecules, so the experience had better damned well be interesting on its own. πŸ˜‰

  • Leslie

    Love this App to death ever since original PC release. As time went by, I have moved to Mac and few years later Props decided not to support it anymore πŸ™
    So there I was in OS X world and a worthless shiny ReBirth box gathering dust.
    Now that RB is available on iPad and iOS 4.2 has native CoreMidi support, I would love to see some kind of ReWire implementation in the future update allowing once again to use RB in my studio setup running in perfect sync side by side with Cubase, Live or Reason/Record…

  • If there should have been an option to render audio at a better resolution than mp3 I would have run out today to buy an iPad! In 1996 I produced music with ReBirth on a Powerbook laptop, rendering wave files to disc and importing the files into Logic with Digidesign hardware to refine the tracks. Juggling snippets (on a DAW) like that is still one of the most creative workflows! In many ways more awarding than "syncing stuff up". I still love ReBirth but now I can't afford the time to use it when the rendering function is crippled to mp3.

  • jimmie

    I haven't gotten it but if one thing I worry, isn't the interface still a bit small?

  • NAA

    @jimmie: I think it's larger than the original, pixel-wise.

  • Dioxide

    I think the thing to consider here is the difference between what people need and what people think they need. Prior to getting the iPad I was excited about the magazine publishing aspects, but after using it for a while I realised that the web is still the future of publishing and it will still be a while before we see something that updates the magazine format sufficiently so it is an improvement on what we already have. I think the same is true of music apps on the iPad. There are quite a lot of "proof of concept" type apps out there that show it is possible to do all kinds of different types of sound generation and manipulation but most of them are toys in how practically useful they are, despite often being very high quality sound-wise. So far I haven't found any iPad music apps that I have actually used other than just fiddling with them, despite the tools sometimes being pretty capable in some cases. I have Intua Beatmaker for the iPhone and I don't use it for two reasons: because of this iPhone sized interface and because if I were to build some kind of track in there, there is no way to take it to a desktop for more detailed work, which is probably to do with the interface again, as I would imagine it would be possible to build a decent piece of music of sorts in that application. I'll be interested to try it once it is released for iPad, although again I'm not sure how much I will use it as it doesn't integrate with my current desktop setup. Another app that impressed me was the MS20 on a friends Nintendo DS. I've yet to try the iPad version but it looks like the same thing at a larger scale, so it should be good.

    To me the main problem with iPad apps is the interface. Yes the iPad is bigger than the iPhone, so it's an improvement but it is still often not enough. For me Rebirth on the iPhone was unusable. Rebirth on the iPad is usable but it's still too small. It's a mouse pointer to finger ratio thing. It's very easy to do detailed work on a desktop because of the tiny mouse arrow. On an iPad you have to work with your fingers which, if the interface isn't correctly scaled, can feel huge and clumsy. Couple with the fact that there is no tactile feedback from a touchscreen it is very easy to hit the wrong thing by accident. Bizarrely the correct scaling for iPad music apps should be based on hardware. This stuff was designed to be used with your fingers. Sometimes the interfaces are laid out as they are because of the limitations of the underlying electronics, but when that's not a limitation they are laid out in a way that is correctly scaled for the input method: fingers. The iPad itself is not much bigger than a TR606 or TB303 which are compact devices anyway. Add into that factor that a touchscreen knob requires a lot more space to operate than it's real world equivalent then you need to allow more space again: no putting these things right at the edge of the screen. As a side note, IMHO Rebirth should have individual instrument views as this would make control and programming a lot easier. So in general, touchscreen can be an improvement over mouse input because of multi-input, which may or may not be coming to desktops at some point anyway. But they are not as good as a good hardware controller which is already capable of doing multi-input via MIDI.

    The main advantage to touchscreen is that it can be endlessly reconfigured unlike hardware. I like the idea of iPad Remote control of Reason devices, and I will try it, but I think it is something that will only have novelty appeal as you are doing something that can already be done with hardware but with a clever looking interface. I think sequencing control would be more interesting as it is very easy to zoom and move around using touchscreens. If you want to go down the route of sound generation then something like the Matrix or Redrum would be great. But I'd like to be able to take these creations into Reason on the desktop. I'm not sure if I could ever see myself completing a full piece of music on the iPad, but the stuff I do create needs to be useful to me in a real way.

    In the past people have learned to use software that has an awkward interface because there was no other way to do this stuff (TB303, trackers, hardware sequencers). These days we are all a bit spoiled really, and almost everyone has a PC that can run some kind of music software which is more capable than what we would have used in the past and with a much more usable interface. People no longer have the patience or inclination to use things with interfaces that aren't 100% easy to use because there are usually better options out there. That's really the sticking point of those iPad music apps. Unless the interface is spot on and you don't mind spending a lot of time using it, then no-one is going to use this stuff even though the capabilities are there. And as a side note, Airplay would be nice and quite suits a programmed input type app as latency is less of an issue. I've very rarely actually plugged my iPad into proper speakers which is probably another reason I've only ever messed around with these apps.

  • Gavin@FAW

    "but most of them are toys in how practically useful they are"

    Practicality and usefulness are just concepts that came about from the rise of music industry and the recording studio where the focus was on creating a finished "result", but these words have little meaning in the long history of human expression through sound. Also with music the verb "play" is used instead of "work".
    Complex recording software, neve eq plug-ins based on old mixing desks, convolution reverbs derived from from places we have never been to…are all starting to look like artifacts left over from the golden era of the music industry.

  • Dioxide

    Playing is fun and there are a lot of options for playing these days, computer games or whatever else provides enjoyment. Maybe Propellerhead would prefer to go down the Smule route and create instruments that take advantage of what the iPhone and iPad offer. That won't be of interest to me though. I refer to it as work because I want to have a finished item and it takes effort to get there, and software with some level of complexity is required to do this. I can already "express myself" with an acoustic or cheap hardware keyboard, but I'm interested in producing music for people other than myself and in order to get it out there it needs to be finished to a certain standard. The iPad could have the ability to make my workflow faster and more efficient so I can get there easier. Don't get hung up on the word "toys", toys are fun and playing is good. I just haven't personally tried anything that constitutes an instrument yet, again because an instrument is probably more about the interface, and how it is possible to manipulate the sound, as the sound itself. I don't see any longevity in iPad musical instruments if you want to call them that. Sure, you can make music on them but it's the same as making music on an orchestra of circuit bent Speak n Spells. Someone's going to do it and make a career out of it, but for everyone else it's just not happening. And for a company to dedicate resources to developing something they need to know that they have a chance of making it work from a business perspective, especially when they are competing with the infinite-monkeys-on-infinite-typewriters scenario of back room app coders. Does anyone really want to invent an instrument that is going to be as (un)popular as the Theremin? Or would you rather have invented the electric guitar?

  • Gavin@FAW

    "but I’m interested in producing music for people other than myself and in order to get it out there it needs to be finished to a certain standard"

    Does it though really in the grand scheme of things? Music is basically human expression. Its about all about what you are trying to express.

    For example look at Bille Holiday singing strange fruit on youtube:

    No high sample rate, convolution reverbs, neve eqs…just pure human expression through music. It has over 3 million views and 9000 likes and 100 dislikes.

  • Peter Kirn

    Wait a gosh-darned second here.

    Leon Theremin, inventor of the Theremin, created one of the most influential designs of the 20th Century. Its influence today can be seen in everything from the touchscreen on your iPhone to the gestural controllers from Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft. Simply building such circuits not only gave guys like Bob Moog the push to become a synth pioneer, but also trained engineers across a wide variety of fields – not just music. Distant history may associate it as being as much about the sound of that century as the electric guitar. And while Les Paul can be credited with that, he didn't invent guitars. Technologies build atop one another.

    Will iPad software have much longevity? Maybe not — but that's a description of *software*, period. And some software does have longevity; I can talk to the server running this site in commands that would have worked twenty or even thirty years ago, query its database using a language of the same age, listen to a cellphone ring that uses a 1960s synthesis method or produce music with synthesis languages with roots in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

    As for finishing music to a certain standard, if Les Paul and others would have obeyed those rules, we would never have had rock 'n roll. I imagine we'd still be banging rocks together.

  • Gavin@FAW

    Forgive if most people are familiar with this book already, if not, it is well worth reading in the context of the importance of the "result".

    "How big media uses technology and the law to lock down culture and control creativity"

  • Freddy

    So I got both i-MS20 and Rebirth for iPad… it's so nice to have Rebirth back after all those years without it since OS X came in, I have the hardware versions now though, but will be useful to carry away wherever you go so thanks!


    Apps on the iPad can only be as pro as the developers allow them to be, the rest is up to the users and Rebirth is one good candidate for pro work, not only recreational use.

    I mean, some of us did pro work with Rebirth back in the day with desk workstations less powerful than the iPad cpu, why not allow to do the same now?

    I'd ask for MIDI sync, .rbs files import/export and audio export, give me back my Rebirth pro please πŸ˜‰

    Btw. nice job so far with the iPad version!

  • Gavin@FAW

    Below are three links to the song "Sea Lion Woman" uploaded to youtube. Interesting to think about this in the context of the music industry and the value that it would place on each of the recordings and then to think about it in terms of the value each recording has as a piece of musical expression.

    1) The first known recording of "Sea Lion Woman" sung by two young girls, Christine and Katherine Shipp, and recorded by Herbert Halpert while compiling a series of field recordings for the Library of Congress.

    2) Song sung and made famous by Nina Simone

    3) Song recorded by Feist, who incidentally credits herself with writing it also.

  • Armando

    just gonna throw a wrench out there. what stand is he using with the ipad?

  • Gavin@FAW

    The point I'm trying to make is that you can express yourself into a hand recorder and make something as valuable and beautiful in an artistic sense as something made using 1000s of dollars of equipment with the motive of producing a final "result" that can be sold for money.

    If the proliferation of inexpensive easy to use music software and the means to then spread the music created brings us in contact with more Christine and Katherine Shipps then thats a good thing.

  • Gavin@FAW

    "just gonna throw a wrench out there. what stand is he using with the ipad?"

    I'll just get my coat… πŸ™‚

  • Armando
  • Great to see such a lot of feedback on RB on the iPad. For what it's worth I think that that audio copy and paste are excellent tools for moving audio on iOS, but they are just a step in the evolution of the platform.

    I think that when iOS4.2 arrives things will get shaken up again and we sill start to see new ways of communication between apps.

  • Clark

    How about an easy to install version for Windows 7?

  • HEXnibble

    @Per Boysen:

    I still love ReBirth but now I can’t afford the time to use it when the rendering function is crippled to mp3.

    Nothing is preventing you from recording the audio output directly into a DAW. I can't stand it when people get all snobby about how they "can't make music with a 1/8" output". As if they could really tell in a blind test whether something was recorded using 1/4", RCA, or XLR.

  • User

    I think iPad has 2 functions for me:

    Standalone – be able to jot ideas quickly and then I usually remake them in my studio. Ideally i would like to be able to press send when done and have the corresponding midi and sounds sent to my gmail acct so I can download the stems into my multitrack usually ableton, fl studio, or logic. When I have a simple beat melody or idea I prefer my iPad because I don't have to wait to boot everything up.

    Remote control. I have a midi keyboard, machine, apc40. Why is an iPad better in some ways than those options—for me is that it is so configurable. It's nice when u have 40 faders,controllers,buttons hooked up to not always have to memorize each one for each song. Gets complicated! With iPad this problem is gone but midi and osc need better syncing.

  • Axl

    @Peter Kirn:
    "some of what you’re expecting is not possible on current hardware."

    I know that Reaktor 5.5 would be a bit too much for an iPad. But what about version 3? How do the newest mobile processors actually compare with, say, a P3 800? I just booted up my old desktop PC with a Celeron 1100 again and found I could do a hell of a lot more with it than I can do with my iPod. How much of that has to do with hardware capabilities and how much with Apples decisions to cripple the system?

    Earlier this year, I looked at the iPad as a main computer for my parents. They don't need more than a device for email and web browsing. And printing. I soon found out that you couldn't print from the iPad because… well, because Apple at this moment don't want people to buy just an iPad. They want people to buy a Mac AND an iPad. That's frustrating.

    Is there a good reason why one shouldn't be able to connect a printer to an iPod? Or an Audio/Midi interface?

  • Dioxide

    Well I'm neither Billy Holiday or Nina Simone, I need some type of instrument to express myself. But it needs a certain amount of polish and context to get people's attention in a world that is competing for their attention. YouTube is saturated with synth demos by people who aren't willing to put the time in to finish the material and I personally avoid watching this stuff in favour of the better (finished) material, because there's a lot of good stuff on there too. Go ahead, make something beautiful and expressive with an iPad instrument. It's certainly possible right now. Unfortunately the furthest you're likely to get with this is a bunch of YouTube hits. Of course I'd love to be proven wrong. But how much of this stuff do you really listen to in the car?

    "As for finishing music to a certain standard, if Les Paul and others would have obeyed those rules, we would never have had rock ‘n roll. I imagine we’d still be banging rocks together."

    Well the way an instrument sounds and reacts is connected to how you express yourself with it. But rock n roll was no less expressive that what came before it, probably including rock banging and more primitive instruments. At the point rock n roll came out production values were increasing not decreasing. All those guitar sounds had a context in they were part of a song, there aren't any recordings I'm aware of that are just someone freaking out on an electric guitar for 5 minutes.

    Anyway this is missing the point. There are instruments and there are event based sequencing (including audio recording) technologies. If you want instruments then Smule have some innovative ideas as do a lot of other app developers. For me something more useful than an instrument would be good. Although if you have anything that can make me sing like Billy Holiday I will be really impressed!

  • honestly though as compelling as rebirth is. I am holding off. I have bought so many apps recently that do one thing well but I find I get less done with my ipad because I have to do so much importing and exporting. So many cool apps are coming out all the time, korg MS-20 for example, Its hard to differentiate what apps have more value when they only do one or 2 things really well. I never used rebirth in the past, I used FL and then renoise, and just never really got a feel for rebirth. And I do think it had a lot to do with the interface, which the ipad multitouch version would probably fix, but still… I just feel a bit inhibited by rebirth, only 16 beats in a measure (this is not ideal for producing breakcore, try 64-128 beats in a measure at 120bpms and I am ready to drop money). I would still have to use another app for my beats and only using rebirth for the synth with its current limitations. the main thing that would make me buy this app is midi sync or midi osc.

  • Matt Hooper

    Isn't this why..Untill internal sync / multitasking arrives AudioCopy and AudioPaste is the best sollution.

    Yet still all the major devs still seem to make standalone apps with no mention of AudioCopy.

  • Thanks for posting this! Rebirth is awesome and I may eventually get it but Korg iMS-20 is so awesome! I already had iElectribe but the iMS-20 can do so much more.

    Now I just have to read the manual…

  • Hi Ernst & Peter,

    Ernst, long time Prop supporter here, not sure if you remember me – my copy of Rebirth had a serial number in the 10's (not in front of it now), and way back you had nice comments for my reverse-engineered MC-202 Sequencer hack…

    As many have said above, inter-app audio/MIDI communication I believe is the next big step that needs to happen. Unlike ReWire though, which was great, I would love it if the Props investigated and considered the open source Jack protocols, and ported them to the iOS platform. The downside to ReWire was that if your app didn't have built in support for it, you couldn't use inter-app audio/MIDI. With Jack, *any* app can play. Plus the open-source aspect of it encourages participation. Native Instruments have begun to experiment with Jack, I think you guys should too!

  • mat

    Got no Ipad (till now) but just 2 thoughts:
    a) what I want from ReBirth on Ipad is REWIRE to plug it into my DAW. Unless that kind of communication the whole stand alone thing is a bit less attractive to me. I do not use public transport, so I do not know, where to make all these musical sketches I can use later and I am maybe a bit lazy, but I dont like the idea of exporting the ideas step by step into my main DAW afterwards…
    b) "Dont let the interface get into your way" is a good thing for concrete tasks (like office stuff), but for creative tasks keep in mind that the interface makes the result. With another interface you will make other music… However, Propellerheads always used the metapher of hardware surfaces rather than building new interfaces. Thats totally ok. And I think this attempt was the reason that many people jumped from hardware to Reason. Cause they see something familiar, they did not "fear" to put effort into while learning "how to". So it is quite logic that they go the same way on Ipad. (In fact, I did the same with my touchsequencers)

  • @mat Regarding interfaces, you're quite right – the way you interact with the tool will shape how it's used, and I think that's a good thing in music. Like you said, the hardware surface metaphor works very well, and that's not what I meant to criticize.

    I was referring more to the fact that on a small screen (like my iPod) it's very hard to accurately pinpoint which knob or button you want to mess with. So you have to use pinch zoom and scrolling to get to it. But these are awkward, and it's by the time I have the 303 knobs zoomed enough and in the right place that I can turn them with my finger, I'm already frustrated with how much trouble it was. This isn't because of a metaphor, this is because of how hard it is to express that metaphor on a tiny device. It's this expression that I'd like to see gotten out of the way.

    I think the key to making these kinds of apps successful is in how fun and interesting they are to the people who use them. That's why I would use an iPad or iPod instead of another controller: because I want to. I certainly don't have to, but I love that it's an option!

  • Gavin@FAW

    "Regarding interfaces, you’re quite right – the way you interact with the tool will shape how it’s used"

    Thats an interesting point also. You could take it a step further and say that the software, be it Ableton or Bloom, points your music in a certain direction. Your creating music within a framework that the software provides. Taking it another step further you could even say that the software is the composition and the using of the software the performance. This is very evident in Bloom, but also the same concept exists in all music software.

  • Curiositrey

    Okay, I am going to simply repeat what a few others have said: AUDIOCOPY

    Rebirth doesn't have a sampler yet – but why not an MPC or RZ-1 clone? – so audiopaste isn't necessary yet…. But c'mon, without some form of audio copy it is a toy…Why do I have to run a line out to record my Rebirth track on my iPod touch then bounce it back to my iPad to work on it in say, Filtatron? Moog put audiocopy in it's first rev, and it is badass. Any App without some form of audiocopy and/or audiopaste is a toy and not a tool. Korg, you are also guilty of this, but I can at least understand the fact that Electribes are still $400 pieces of actual hardware.

    As far as controllers go, anyone using an iPad wants to use it to control something else, AND we want stuff to control the iPad itself. We want the iPad as an outboard controller for Logic, but we also want something like the new Rock Band Wireless Keyboard as a controller for stuff like NlogPro. Its that simple.

    Finally, I totally agree with the earlier comment, my 2nd gen iPod Touch was a way quicker computer than my 3 year old laptop, and I do way more PC type stuff on it. My iPad is my mainframe, my iPod a remote desktop, and lately my Android phone has become my server. BTW, Android blows, simple as that. Too many OS's, too many hardware clients, buggy and poorly implemented apps, and jokey A/V capabilities. I guess Android is sort of handy for Google Goggles and downloading music.

    To sum up, AudioCopy! External wireless midi all around. There is absolutely no reason for gamers to have more advaced midi control than us musicians! Thanks!

  • can't we have something like " -ipad" please? πŸ˜€

  • Matt Hoopper


    I have a bad feeling that the major devs dont see this as high priority, it certainly looks that way doesn't it!

    It does make me wonder if it is only the small devs that actually think people might use there apps in post production.

    It is almost like going back to the early vst days when so many obvious things where left out.

    100 leaps forward 2 steps back.

  • It's great to see the rebirth of ReBirth, and to see Peff still doing his thing! I guess that R.I.P. t-shirt I got was premature.

    My very first computer music setup was ReBirth 2.0, ReCycle 1.x, and Cubase VST 4.1 on a beige Mac G3, and in many ways, I've been struggling to recreate a setup as efficient and just plain fun ever since. Slowly getting there Ableton + Komplete + Reason + ReCycle on a MacBook… but still wish I could still (easily) fire up ReBirth!

  • CHoc DOnut

    Rebirth bass sounds about as good as all digital bass – like garbage. You might be able to improve it with some effects inside your DAW, but you could just get an analog keyboard, and record it. Rebirth is a cool program in terms of its layout, but the sound it generates is a shadow of something that was better fifteen years ago. It's not even particularly relevant now. You can include loops from it in bigger productions.

  • It's great how the Props CEO hangs out here to chat to people, really terrific.
    Would be nice to see him frequent his own forum and loyal userbase from time to time.

  • @Ernst

    Long time reason user, since 1.0 … I also heavily use Ableton Live. On the iPad I'm a huge fan of TouchOsc. Also love Korg iMS-20 and like Rebirth.

    3 reasons (no pun intended) pro software on the iPad is the next big step in music:

    1). Mobile Sketchpad. Having a even more portable version of Reason that is tactile (multitouch). You can later transfer ideas to your computer, no compromises… Or make stand alone tracks!

    2) Tactile Control (multitouch, hardware controller replacement). There would be nothing better than seeing a full size version of Thor or Kong on my iPad, controlling what is happening in reason. Then at the flip of a switch, you can edit a piano roll. Genius.

    3) configurability. I love the Lemur. I love TouchOSC on my iPad even more. The ability to configure a custom controller for my DAW is cake. The multitouch makes it a real weapon.

    If you could add these tools in a single iPad app, or perhaps make a suite of apps, you would get a leg up on the competition and open many new doors for Props and musicians alike.

    For examples of amazing software on iPad, look to TouchOSC, iMS-20, nanostudio. Imagine if Props made apps like these!

    PS please do not sell "stand alone" iPad apps (ie iSubtractor!). That defeats the purpose. We need professional portable suites. That's why Rebirth on iPad is so great, it's s intuitive reinterpretation of classic pro software. However, it is missing a piano roll/liners editing…but the current set up gives it more of an old school feel which I like. I think Korg showed us what is possible with iMS-20…. Imagine Props doing that but with more instruments and a piano roll/linear editing!

    Btw, I wrote this on an iPad… After fiddling with rebirth.

  • celibacyclub

    i bought the iphone version of rebirth and found it un-useable, do to the size of controls. being able to zoom in helped to an extent, but it was then easy to get lost in the rack…

    having to pay for the same thing again on ipad for it to maybe work for me is a turn off. it should be  a plus app. that would make me happy. otherwise ill just have to pass. dont want to pay for the same thing twice. 

  • Off topic, but I would love to be able to use Reason instrument independently (like vst or au) in a DAW such as Ableton or Logic. Sometimes I don't need an entire reason rack, just a few instruments would be fine.

  • Leon Phythian

    will we ever see the development of Rebirth move from the iphone and ipad platforms and transform an AU or VSTi standalone 64bit compatible plugin so that users of various DAW’s can use this amazing tool for music production in the home or proffesional music studio set up’s ? I know that there is also some call for them to release such amazing tools as Thor , and Drex in a similar vain, so that people can purchase them as seperate tools and use them in thier prefered workflow enviroments .

  • Leon Phythian

    will we ever see the development of Rebirth move from the iphone and ipad platforms and transform an AU or VSTi standalone 64bit compatible plugin so that users of various DAW’s can use this amazing tool for music production in the home or proffesional music studio set up’s ? I know that there is also some call for them to release such amazing tools as Thor , and Drex in a similar vain, so that people can purchase them as seperate tools and use them in thier prefered workflow enviroments .

  • Leon Phythian

    will we ever see the development of Rebirth move from the iphone and ipad platforms and transform an AU or VSTi standalone 64bit compatible plugin so that users of various DAW’s can use this amazing tool for music production in the home or proffesional music studio set up’s ? I know that there is also some call for them to release such amazing tools as Thor , and Drex in a similar vain, so that people can purchase them as seperate tools and use them in thier prefered workflow enviroments .

  • rose

    Hai! I produce music in Reason primarily. I have the iPad application and have tested it. I do like the features of this application, and have considered performing with this live. Seeking a recommendation- can you recommend it for live performances- any primary bug reports out there of processing failure[not in regard to user error]?