The need is simple: musicians want to sketch ideas on the go, then craft them into finished tracks with their familiar arsenal of sound tools at their desk or studio. Yet for all the mobile music software on iOS — and need to differentiate your offering — we’ve seen relatively few music tools that make the connection between mobile and desktop work. iZotope’s iDrum was an early entrant, with at least the ability to share drum sets, but the mobile and desktop tools aren’t the same. The excellent modular tool Jasuto is an exception, with free VST and AU plug-ins for Mac and VST for Windows in addition to Android and iOS mobile versions.

To that list, you can now add bleep!BOX, which now offers a VST for Mac and Windows. The availability of both desktop and mobile additions means the ability to run this beat and pattern instrument in both contexts, taking advantage of each. You can get a drum pattern you like on your morning commute, and then bring it into a tool like Ableton Live to perfect a song in the evening.

bleep!BOX is a drum machine and pattern synth, with ten voices, x0x drum sound emulations, effects (ringmod, FM, phase modulation, sync, delay, distortion), and live performance machines. It runs on iOS, with both native iPhone and iPad versions. (The iPad version is welcome, allowing you to “lean back” with a more spacious interface rather than squint at your phone.)

The addition of a plug-in version of the same instrument means you can port patterns and presets between mobile and desktop versions, ideal for the pattern perfectionist. The plug-in version is also a useful drum synth. In its mobile form, bleep!BOX shows off the advantages of portability: you can make tracks on the go, get away from your computer, go sit in a park or work on a bus or a plane. In its desktop form, it’s a reminder of some of the things desktop machines can do that mobile’s either don’t do as well or at all. As a plug-in, you can easily mix bleep!BOX sounds with other instruments, effects, and recorded audio. You can sequence MIDI input using a wide variety of input devices, and listen and mix on a higher-quality audio output. You can also take advantage of features like host automation to modify bleep!BOX’s parameters.

One key question is pricing across platforms. The iOS version is US$9.99; the VST is $59.99. That price is competitive with plug-ins, but steep compared to mobile prices. (The developers say they’ll offer a discount if you’ve already bought the iOS version.)

Given the feedback of readers of this site, though, there’s definitely a market for people to move from mobile to desktop workflows. My guess is that part of why we haven’t seen more of this is that music developers assume that on iPhone, they can target a different, wider, more general audience. But not every sonic toy can be a broad hit, which could drive more developers to look for ways to attract a smaller, but more reliable – and possibly more lucrative – music-dedicated audience.

  • Charging that much more for a vst version is ridiculous, in my opinion.
    If you have the iphone version, you'd be paying that much on top of what you'd already paid, basically just for portability. Classic example of locking a customer's content in and offering them an expensive key.

  • I know it seems like a lot when coming from the iPhone world where everything is $0.99, but compare the features with Sonic Charge microtonic ($99) and Waldorf Attack (retailed for £129.99 originally). 

  • great idea, suprized others havent done this more.

    though if it cost anything really i dont think id buy. should be a free draw to buying the app from the app store. make your money with volume and advertise with word of mouth/blog about how cool it is to get a vst with your ios app. i guess some way of only giving it to people who bought the app would be needed, but that must be possible somehow. 

  • I know, as Peter said it's competitive with other plugins, and that's alright. It's good business, I'm sure. Ofcourse, I'm argueing morals where money's at stake, and I know it's not applicable as such.

    If they thought their software was worth sixty dollars, I just feel they shouldn't have underpriced it so on the iPhone. Now they've set a price, and they multiply it by six for basically your choice of OS.

  • Peter Kirn

    Like I said, invariably you'll have some conflict between pricing on mobile and pricing on desktop. 

    One thing that seems not to be happening, though — because it's clear the Apple Mac Store won't allow plug-ins, I don't see those finding any new distribution via that route.

  • daemoncel

    its currently showing in the app store for $4.99

    Buying instantly, and will see what the discount is.

  • Crystal from Green Oak was recently released on iOS, with an "advanced" version coming soon that will have the ability to share patches between the mobile and desktop versions. The VST/AU is free and the iOS app is 99 cents. The advanced version will probably be somewhere in the $5-$10 range

    Glad to see more developers are doing this, as I personally think it's the best way to use your iDevice for production. I'm sure I'm not the only one who wastes hours tweaking patches, why not do it on the train?

  • Leslie

    Can't wait fo Crystal XT…
    Btw; It will also feature CoreMidi support to boot 🙂

  • xmodz

    No downloadable demo to test out the VST?

    Also, any plans for adding MIDI capability to the app through MIDI mobilizer or similar?

  • Don't forget Nanostudio is not only on iOS but is available on Mac and PC for free.  🙂

  • strata189

    +1 for nanostudio – great app, great pricing!

  • Aaron

    Apps are toys, the VST is the real deal. This is a solid plugin and I think its priced very fairly when stacked against similar products. If the VST came out first and the App came free or cheap afterwards, people would be singing another tune. Ironic that. Before any of you run your mouth you should check out the features of this plugin.

    VST withstanding… IMO bleep!box is easily the best 'serious' iPhone audio app. Complete softsynth studio with great control/sound, unique live mixing options and a very clearly laid out interface.

  • Trash80

    Apps are tools to some, I guess "toys" to you. Vst being the "real deal"? Are you just chucking everything before and after the creation of vst out the window? Define serious? There are plenty of ios applications that can be used in a professional and or creative environment. Be it bleepbox, korg, blipinteractive, or whomever. All with their own take on music creation tools for multitouch interaction and focused set of features

  • Tried Bleep!box some time ago on the iPhone and found it a bit to messy to work with, but that was mainly due to the small screen. I've seen it on the iPad and that seems to be a completely different pair of shoes.
    If you're into grooveboxes, TR / TB style stuff this is probably a nice app, otherwise you're probably better off with nanostudio…

    Now the interesting thing is, on iOS there is hardly an app in that segment that can compete with Bleep!box, actually there is few that have that feature set. On the other hand If you are looking at vst/au plugins you have a lot more choice, and to be earnest instruments that are more interesting as well (like for instance Audio Damage Axon) for more or less the same price.
    So the only real advantage of Bleep!box is the cross-device operability… which might be useful… but if you're like me, you might as well live without it.

  • Aaron

    I shouldn't have pulled the 'apps are toys' routine. There are always exceptions. I've never been one to discrimate against anything as a potential instrument in a serious right. Even legitamate toys can be un-toys. I think that's been proven and proven again, specially in this modern age of repurposing. I have no clue why I said it that way..

    Both nanostudio and bleep!box (+others) are legitimate tools whatever platform you're using them on.

  • FreakWithoutACause

    SunVox is an app that is also available as a free VST. Haven't dug into it enough to know if you can swap patches. I'm just putting it out there as food for thought: feel free to nibble amongst yourselves.

  • @FreakWitho: "SunVox is an app that is also available as a free VST"

    Are you sure about that? I thought SunVox was just a standalone app?