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Groovebox, a music app rigorously designed to give you a place to start

There are two stories about this app, and which one you care about depends on who you are. If you’re still someone trying to get into music making, the important thing to know about Groovebox is, it’s never going to leave you stuck for inspiration with a blank, silent screen. The moment you add a drum or synth part, you also get a pattern going. There’s a groove there immediately, and it’s up to you to tailor it to suit your taste. If you’re a more advanced user, you might assume the story ends there. But this app does actually …

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Watch Space Dimension Controller tear up his live set

Jack Hamill, aka Space Dimension Controller, is another of those stand-out live electronic instrumental performers, able to involve lots of improvisation while still maintaining control and composure. No press play sets here – this is all perfectly conducted live performance. Note that that still doesn’t necessarily mean playing absolutely everything – it’s more about this hybrid of controlling elements from a compositional sense, maintaining some balance between what’s pre-composed and what’s made on the fly. Resident Advisor shot a lovely extended film with him: In the rig, Maschine Jam controls Ableton Live (and is handy for just such integration). I …

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Steps is an iOS sequencer that works in your hand, sequences hardware

This will sound like ad copy, but it’s true: Steps is the handheld iOS sequencer that all your mobile gear has been waiting for. Our MeeBlip line makes MeeBlippy sounds, but it needs a MIDI input for notes – like a step sequencer. (I’m not just plugging our product here – I’ve even pondered writing my own app to fill the void.) The volca series and Teenage Engineering Pocket Operators have their own sequencers, but it’s useful to have a clock source for all of them – and you might outgrow their built-in sequencing functions. Add to that countless other …

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Inside Skinnerbox’s live sets, including a song they play backwards

“xobrenniks era ew olleh.” Skinnerbox, the duo of Olaf Hilgenfeld and Iftah Gabbai, are now so comfortable in their roles of playing live that they’re playing backwards to spice things up. (It seems there was some effort involved here – like, learning a song backwards in order that they had composed it the way they desired when reversed. I just find it oddly enchanting watching things defy gravity and roll across cymbals.) Playing with other people can feel like a mind meld. There’s a special discipline to working things out alone, to be sure. But it’s when you play with …

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irigrecorder

IK’s solution for recording everything: audio, video, iOS, Android

Cobbling together a rig for documenting your work as a musician/DJ/producer/vocalist is, let’s face it, kind of a nightmare. Sharing your work could be a great pleasure – but it often feels like an extra job you have to work. The iPhone (or more generally smartphone) has been kind of a mixed blessing. The software/sensor combination, while powerful and always in your pocket, are great. But nothing else about a phone is well suited to shooting anything above basic quality stuff – because you’ve got to hold the thing steady and capture audio effectively (sometimes multiple streams of audio). So, …

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Watch how the Ninja Jamm app can turn a track into an instrument

Four years on, Ninja Jamm continues to steam ahead as an app. We covered this app at its creation; I had provided some voluntary guidance as it’s built on libpd. Over those years, it’s built up a base of users and content, added Android support atop iOS, and enabled support on both platforms for Ableton Link. But I myself find myself playing with it again, after contributing a free content pack via the Liquid Sky Berlin series. And I find this remains relevant and addictive. I think it’s always worth listening to the founders of Coldcut and Ninja Tune, in …

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Suren's Circuit, in the studio.

This editor unlocks all the power of Circuit as synth and groovebox

Novation’s Circuit is a budget marvel. As a drum machine alone, it’s a steal – particularly with the ability to load your own samples. But also hidden inside are two synths based on the Novation Nova. There’s one piece of software that really lets you maximize all these capabilities: the Circuit Editor plug-in from Isotonik. It’s got two major advantages. One, it lets you get inside all the hidden powers of the synths and drum machine locked into the Circuit hardware, not only as an editor but with extras like randomization and morphing. The upshot of that: you can use …

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Audiobus 3 is like having a modular environment for iOS apps

The original appeal of the iPad as a musical tool, for many, was just doing one thing at a time. Not using a DAW or advanced environment, but a single app. Now here’s the question: can it be just as appealing when using multiple apps? Audiobus 3 asks that very question. It certainly has a great video to explain itself: Here’s what you’ll want to know, if you’re an iPad user. Generally speaking, Audiobus 3 adds functionality but gets easier to use, with a cleaner layout and less setup. You can mix apps from a single display, as you would …

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samplr

That $329 iPad looks like an affordable music app machine

Well, if you’ve been waiting to dive into the world of the iPad – or you’re stuck with a machine that’s too old and slow to run the latest software – Apple pretty much has your answer. At US$329 and with 32GB of storage, the new 9.7″ iPad is a nice sweet spot. The A9 processor is more than capable enough for most audio production tasks. It’s got a big-enough Retina display. And that storage will be enough for running synths and other apps. And the pricing is aggressive enough that you might as well go ahead and buy new. …

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Seaquence lets you make music as animated ocean creatures

Are the cold, mechanical buttons of step sequencers stressing you out? Do you enjoy the soothing sensation of staring into an aquarium? Then Seaquence for the iPhone and iPad might be the music production tool for you. You can treat Seaquence as a kind of musical game, toying around with fanciful animated creatures dancing around your screen. You can look at it as a standalone instrument, with a now reasonably powerful synth engine. Or you can actually treat this as a powerful studio tool, and use it to sequence other apps and hardware – meaning this could be a way …

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