ED1

Some people are addicted to flinging birds at stacks of things until those stacks fall over. Or they use spare moments to flick through thumbnails of single people who they’ll never meet. Or they read random 140-character texts about stuff from angry folks, yelling at each other.

Not you.

You are addicted to drums. And not just any drums. You want electronic drums, drums you can tweak and dial – genuine synthesizers, grooving. Just playing back the sound of an 808 isn’t going to cut it. If you’re sandwiched in coach class, your knees pressed against the seat in front of you, you at least want to shut out the din of a screaming baby in the next row and start adjusting that granular hat, just so. You want a rave in your head, and you want a fully-equipped cockpit to control it.

Somehow, out of the many, many apps for the App Store, nothing quite did this. Oh, sure, there are elaborate MPC-style grooveboxes and plenty of oddities. But I’ve been watching over the last year as one app gradually involved into what I – and, I suspect you – really want.

And now it’s here. If you can find any compatible iPod touch, iPhone, or iPad, I think you’ll want it.

Elastic Drums is a drum machine built entirely around synthesis. (Under the hood, Pure Data is doing the heavy lifting, via libpd.) There are dedicated engines for different kinds of percussion: kick, snare, hit, clap, and tom, of course, but also FM, and grain. In fact, the percussion engines are good enough that you’re very likely to build basslines out of them, too.

Take those engines, and feed them into six channels, add automatable effects, and you can compose everything you need right in Elastic Drums.

And then there’s the sound. Tame, it isn’t. This is a raunchy beast, full of edgy instruments. That will satisfy people making dark techno, of course, but this is also a perfect machine to bend in the other direction – nothing is stopping you from making abstract soundscapes, either, and in fact the limitations of the grid are oddly encouraging.

Now, no complaints about older iOS devices – this is, of course, CPU heavy. But the generation starting with the iPhone 5 works really well, and with the 5S and 6 out – and iPod touch and iPad as options – the used market is a valid place to look. The combination, even with this one app, rivals a lot of standalone hardware out there.

There are already a lot of rich capabilities:

  • Twelve parameters per synth engine
  • Four send channels, master effects, with stutter, delay, compressor, reverb – the lot
  • X/Y control for effects
  • Parameter automation for synth, effects
  • 16-step sequencer
  • SoundCloud and Audioshare export, plus email (for audio and presets)

ED2

ED4

16-step sequencers may have some of the more experimental readers yawning, but it’s actually possible to get very polyrhythmic with that grid – each of the six channels has its own tempo multiplier, and its own length, so you can set these machines into motion at different rates. MIDI input is on the agenda, too, if you desire something beyond that via an external sequencing app; for now, though, that’s actually a lot of possibilities once you start doing the maths.

You need iOS 7 or greater to run this (iOS 8 also fully supported), but that’s the only way to require the latest hardware – and on that, it runs beautifully.

CDM is collaborating with developer Oliver Greschke and MoMinstruments, again including Berlin-based Mouse on Mars (along with some other interesting artists) on the creative side. We’ll work more with Oliver in 2015, to find creative ways of using this app and expanding development horizons for libpd as an open source tool across many platforms (not just Apple’s) for people to make new creative software.

Disclosure: we are also embarking on a marketing collaboration with Elastic Drums. I’ll explain more about that as we unveil the ideas we’ve got this month and next.

This will include collaborations as Oliver works on expanding features. Audiobus is working in a test build I got, but required further modification before it got App Store approval. (It’s coming soon – and you’ll like it. I’m already using it with WretchUp, the app I co-developed with Oliver and Mouse on Mars, to add some wild effects to Elastic Drums’ grooves.)

I’m doing that, though, because I’m really excited about what this app represents.

Watch an early full demo review video:

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Get Elastic Drums for iOS on the App Store

Elastic Drums is a release of MoMinstruments in Berlin, in collaboration with CDM

As noted in comments: for another drum synth app, the best iOS option is really Seek Beats, which focuses a bit more on variation/randomization options. (Mouse on Mars were actually the first to show it to me. This has some new tricks, though, and you might like the more conventional Elastic Drums interface. I’m using both.)

  • Jean-François Clermont

    Wow. Really like the sound of it. I’m eager to try it out.

  • Jean-François Clermont

    Wow. Really like the sound of it. I’m eager to try it out.

  • Nice, the mixture of length and speed + automations is really neat! I’ll check the sounds as soon as I can 🙂

  • Nice, the mixture of length and speed + automations is really neat! I’ll check the sounds as soon as I can 🙂

  • KE4

    This sounds great and is obviously inspired by existing drum apps TWEAKY BEATS and SEEK BEATS by Rodrigo Yanez. Check them out too http://rugoso.com/seekbeats/

    • Yeah, they’re both very cool. This is able to do some things SEEK BEATS can’t, though… I’m using both now. iOS, of course, not a zero sum game.

  • KE4

    This sounds great and is obviously inspired by existing drum apps TWEAKY BEATS and SEEK BEATS by Rodrigo Yanez. Check them out too http://rugoso.com/seekbeats/

    • Yeah, they’re both very cool. This is able to do some things SEEK BEATS can’t, though… I’m using both now. iOS, of course, not a zero sum game.

  • oliver

    That 4×4 grid sequencer looks familiar.

    • guest

      wow oliver, did you invent that way of organising 16 steps? it’s very clever, i’m stunned no one has thought of that before

      • I “invented” it in 1998. An obvious but still rather uncommon way of organising steps.

  • That 4×4 grid sequencer looks familiar.

    • guest

      wow oliver, did you invent that way of organising 16 steps? it’s very clever, i’m stunned no one has thought of that before

      • I “invented” it in 1998. An obvious but still rather uncommon way of organising steps.

  • EM

    O,h hell yes. I think I might like this interface a little more than SeekBeats. Buying now – will report back later.

  • EM

    O,h hell yes. I think I might like this interface a little more than SeekBeats. Buying now – will report back later.

  • Brianvega

    Bug : does not keep user saved preset.

  • Brianvega

    Bug : does not keep user saved preset.

  • C33

    Anyone else having problems using this on the iPad? Shows up as iPhone-only in my apps.

    • dyscode

      It’s not universal (yet). In the app description it says “genune iPad version, planned”. For what this exactly means, I asked the dev.

      • C33

        Huh—the article certainly doesn’t suggest that (and the linked video of the guy demoing it on the iPad doesn’t help things).

        • dyscode

          Yes but the App description on iTunes does so. Also the dev mentioned on a facebook comment, that the iPad version will be free or heavily discounted for owners of the iPhone Version. So seems to be a good idea to get this while it’s hot, anyway. 🙂

  • C33

    Anyone else having problems using this on the iPad? Shows up as iPhone-only in my apps.

    • dyscode

      It’s not universal (yet). In the app description it says “genuine iPad version, planned”. For what this exactly means, I asked the dev.

      • C33

        Huh—the article certainly doesn’t suggest that (and the linked video of the guy demoing it on the iPad doesn’t help things).

        • dyscode

          Yes but the App description on iTunes does so. Also the dev mentioned on a facebook comment, that the iPad version will be free or heavily discounted for owners of the iPhone Version. So seems to be a good idea to get this while it’s hot, anyway. 🙂

  • Freeks

    IElectribe is my favourite iOS drum synth and it runs just fine on iOS5 on iPad1. Sadly can’t get to iPhone 6+.

  • Freeks

    IElectribe is my favourite iOS drum synth and it runs just fine on iOS5 on iPad1. Sadly can’t get to iPhone 6+.

  • spazecraft

    it doesnt DL on my ipad mini… :/

  • spazecraft

    it doesnt DL on my ipad mini… :/

  • dyscode

    in the app’s description it says “genuine iPad version” does this mean the app goes universal, or that there will be a dedicated, paid iPad version?

  • Guest

    in the app’s description it says “planned genuine iPad version” does this mean the app goes universal, or that there will be a dedicated, paid iPad version?

  • heinrichz

    This is really working well on my 6 plus iphone and is much more what i would want to play with on the subway than iMaschine, mainly also because of the step sequencing. Would be nice if i could run both synced up in tandem.

  • heinrichz

    This is really working well on my 6 plus iphone and is much more what i would want to play with on the subway than iMaschine, mainly also because of the step sequencing. Would be nice if i could run both synced up in tandem.

  • Chris

    Bought this on holiday last week, fantastically fun app, that I could conceivably play a decent live show with. However, Peter, I think you’re Disclosure paragraph would be better at the top of the article… Once I read it, it seemed like a sales pitch…

    • Chris

      Also, BUILT IN MASTER BUS COMPRESSOR! Why isn’t this on other mobile music apps?!

  • Chris

    Bought this on holiday last week, fantastically fun app, that I could conceivably play a decent live show with. However, Peter, I think you’re Disclosure paragraph would be better at the top of the article… Once I read it, it seemed like a sales pitch…

    • Chris

      Also, BUILT IN MASTER BUS COMPRESSOR! Why isn’t this on other mobile music apps?!

  • Velocipede

    First music app I have been really excited about in some time. The sound is great, but the interface needs some tweaking. I want this app to improve from a good start, so here are some thoughts.
    Using an iPhone 6 at close quarters (on a plane even), the UI elements are just too small. It’s impossible for me to see the knob I am turning. I also want to be able to see the values (and units) at least when tweaking. (I know, I know, listen don’t look, but sometimes I want a precise value.)
    4×4 grid is fine to start (thinking of iDrum fondly), but please add a set-your-own-length sequencer view for those of us who want to program 3/4, 5/4, etc.
    Basically, I would love to have the synthesis of Elastic Drums with the features of DM1.

  • Velocipede

    First music app I have been really excited about in some time. The sound is great, but the interface needs some tweaking. I want this app to improve from a good start, so here are some thoughts.
    Using an iPhone 6 at close quarters (on a plane even), the UI elements are just too small. It’s impossible for me to see the knob I am turning. I also want to be able to see the values (and units) at least when tweaking. (I know, I know, listen don’t look, but sometimes I want a precise value.)
    4×4 grid is fine to start (thinking of iDrum fondly), but please add a set-your-own-length sequencer view for those of us who want to program 3/4, 5/4, etc.
    Basically, I would love to have the synthesis of Elastic Drums with the features of DM1.

  • Oliver Greschke

    Elastic Drums update 1.1 with Audiobus support is already in the store now!

  • Oliver Greschke

    Elastic Drums update 1.1 with Audiobus support is already in the store now!

  • Jon Starr

    The param touchpad is my favorite part so far. It looks like it might take a while to figure out all the possibilities, but some of the results you can conjure up right away have already made the purchase worth it for me.

  • Jon Starr

    The param touchpad is my favorite part so far. It looks like it might take a while to figure out all the possibilities, but some of the results you can conjure up right away have already made the purchase worth it for me.

  • Doug

    Bought this for my iPod Touch 5G, and the sound is quite choppy/glitchy. Any suggestions to remedy this?

    • Oliver Greschke

      Looks, like I have not “optimized” for iPods 5G so far 🙁 . Optimized in that case means, I switch off fx 2,4 automatically, because they need lots of power. So some presets that use these effects may sound fucked up and glitchy, because it’s too much processor power for that devices. Sorry for that, I will fix that for the next update

      • Doug

        Thanks, Oliver! Regardless, I’m loving the app!

  • Doug

    Bought this for my iPod Touch 5G, and the sound is quite choppy/glitchy. Any suggestions to remedy this?

    • Oliver Greschke

      Looks, like I have not “optimized” for iPods 5G so far 🙁 . Optimized in that case means, I switch off fx 2,4 automatically, because they need lots of power. So some presets that use these effects may sound fucked up and glitchy, because it’s too much processor power for that devices. Sorry for that, I will fix that for the next update

      • Doug

        Thanks, Oliver! Regardless, I’m loving the app!