Remember when apps were novel toys for experimentation? Now, an app could give your drum machine a run for its money.

It’s the third wave of iOS apps. We’re now onto a moment where, cresting the wave of tools, a few are becoming simply invaluable to the right users. They can make an iPad feel a bit like dedicated hardware, perhaps even in a way that a computer can’t. And that to me makes them worth examining, even if you have no desire to use an iPad.

Elastic Drums has that feeling to me. On its surface, it’s just another drum machine app with a sequencer. But by tying together features you need for production and performance, it’s one of the few apps where I feel like I can really produce something serious. And its sound engine is unusual enough that it actually has personality.

When desktop and iOS software alike often sounds too clean, this gets dirty.

1.6 is a significant update, even despite the “point” release in the name, because of its focus on jamming. On the main screen – or on a MIDI controller, or even using another iOS gizmo as a “remote” – you get loads of options that aid in live improvisation (whether that’s how you want to work in the studio or in front of other people). With this functionality, it’s not hard to imagine an iPad nuzzled in with other synths and drum machines onstage. I covered this before, so it’s worth seeing again now that 1.6 is out:
Pads and triggers turn Elastic Drums into a killer performance tool

There’s more: 1.6 also includes two new synth engines – one for bass, one for drones.

And there are new swing settings. Watch the video, because that doesn’t mean what I initially thought it meant. You can actually use swing for rhythmic variations live – rather than a set it once and forget it option, it’s also a live performance tool.

And since it’s easy to combine apps on modern iPads, I think it’s worth noting again that Patterning, another drum machine app, makes an excellent generative sequencer. I could easily see combining its sequencing features with Elastic Drums’ unique synthesis engine (especially as Patterning focuses more on samples). That gives you conventional kits if you want to augment the further-out sounds of Elastic Drums, and it provides another way of thinking about the sequence that lends itself nicely to more complex polyrhythms.

And to celebrate, the app is on sale for US$7.99. Find it on iTunes or at MoM Instruments, the app “label” founded by Mouse on Mars. (Disclosure: an app I co-developed is also part of that label. But… yeah, I just want to play with Elastic Drums and WretchUp in my own music and when I’m in bed. It’s better than sleeping.)

http://mominstruments.com/elasticdrums/

  • Joseph Perkins

    Peter have you tested elastic drums with patterning? I can’t get it work.

  • Joseph Perkins

    Peter have you tested elastic drums with patterning? I can’t get it work.

  • Joseph Perkins

    Peter have you tested elastic drums with patterning? I can’t get it work.

  • Charles

    But how easy would it be to integrate Elastic Drums with hardware sequencers or something like Ableton Live? My experimentation with Touchable led me to conclude that the iPad still wasn’t ready for serious music production.

  • Charles

    But how easy would it be to integrate Elastic Drums with hardware sequencers or something like Ableton Live? My experimentation with Touchable led me to conclude that the iPad still wasn’t ready for serious music production.

  • Charles

    But how easy would it be to integrate Elastic Drums with hardware sequencers or something like Ableton Live? My experimentation with Touchable led me to conclude that the iPad still wasn’t ready for serious music production.

  • Polite Society

    I think I’m going to finally break and get an ipad. Damn you Kirn!

    • wingo shackleford

      I say do it! I just took the plunge a couple of weeks ago, and it is still blowing my mind. I really had no idea how powerful the newest models are. Some of these apps coming out are as pro and can be, and highly creative.

    • Yermom

      As an instrument alone, which is pretty much all mine is, it’s worth it. So many quality apps and MIDI integration is pretty much a snap. Also, it’s not just for Macs. If you have Windows, just install RTP MIDI and it’s like you have a bucket of wireless synths and controllers that play nice with your other gear.

  • Polite Society

    I think I’m going to finally break and get an ipad. Damn you Kirn!

    • wingo shackleford

      I say do it! I just took the plunge a couple of weeks ago, and it is still blowing my mind. I really had no idea how powerful the newest models are. Some of these apps coming out are as pro and can be, and highly creative.

    • Yermom

      As an instrument alone, which is pretty much all mine is, it’s worth it. So many quality apps and MIDI integration is pretty much a snap. Also, it’s not just for Macs. If you have Windows, just install RTP MIDI and it’s like you have a bucket of wireless synths and controllers that play nice with your other gear.

  • Polite Society

    I think I’m going to finally break and get an ipad. Damn you Kirn!

    • wingo shackleford

      I say do it! I just took the plunge a couple of weeks ago, and it is still blowing my mind. I really had no idea how powerful the newest models are. Some of these apps coming out are as pro and can be, and highly creative.

    • Yermom

      As an instrument alone, which is pretty much all mine is, it’s worth it. So many quality apps and MIDI integration is pretty much a snap. Also, it’s not just for Macs. If you have Windows, just install RTP MIDI and it’s like you have a bucket of wireless synths and controllers that play nice with your other gear.

  • Hrrrm I bought the newer iPad for my Wife– and my Gen1 wont run any of this stuff.

    • Yermom

      My iPad 3 barely runs it.

  • Hrrrm I bought the newer iPad for my Wife– and my Gen1 wont run any of this stuff.

    • Yermom

      My iPad 3 barely runs it.

  • Hrrrm I bought the newer iPad for my Wife– and my Gen1 wont run any of this stuff.

    • Yermom

      My iPad 3 barely runs it.

  • dogma cruise

    I could not get midi note out to work. Neither in iOS as with external gear.

    • dogma cruise

      Or as I remember better now, I only tried external gear ( midi out). It works with other apps, so it is not my interface: normally I have no problems sending midi signals out.

  • dogma cruise

    I could not get midi note out to work. Neither in iOS as with external gear.

    • dogma cruise

      Or as I remember better now, I only tried external gear ( midi out). It works with other apps, so it is not my interface: normally I have no problems sending midi signals out.

  • dogma cruise

    I could not get midi note out to work. Neither in iOS as with external gear.

    • dogma cruise

      Or as I remember better now, I only tried external gear ( midi out). It works with other apps, so it is not my interface: normally I have no problems sending midi signals out.

  • Yermom

    This is a fantastic app, but it absolutely does not run well on my iPad 3. Works well on my iPhone 5s, but it clearly uses a lot of CPU because the phone heats up instantly after launching the app. Still, my favorite, most used iOS music app since it was released, next to Animoog.

  • Yermom

    This is a fantastic app, but it absolutely does not run well on my iPad 3. Works well on my iPhone 5s, but it clearly uses a lot of CPU because the phone heats up instantly after launching the app. Still, my favorite, most used iOS music app since it was released, next to Animoog.

  • Yermom

    This is a fantastic app, but it absolutely does not run well on my iPad 3. Works well on my iPhone 5s, but it clearly uses a lot of CPU because the phone heats up instantly after launching the app. Still, my favorite, most used iOS music app since it was released, next to Animoog.