App Review – NanoStudio. Not such a basic iDAW.
I know its not a new App or anything, but NanoStudio from Blip Interactive has been my main song writing tool from the moment I purchased it. I’ve tried so many of the rest (I think the list includes everything except Cubasis and Auria), but they all lack something different and (for me) cause a more disjointed workflow. All I want is to pile through the idea in my head and develop it without all the app switching or having a DAW that is missing something key to getting your idea down and playing around with it.
Other Apps make for perfect production and mastering, others lack the ease for manipulation of the sounds on your synth or simple sample editing tools, it’s just… ideal.
Purchasing the base version gives you a 6 channel sequencer and mixing tool (16 with in-app purchase), with each channel selectable between TRG-16 sample player (beats or samples/loops) or the Eden synth (sample manipulator or incredibly versatile dual voice synth) and having the usual level, pan, mute and solo controls as well as 4 insert effects (from the choice of Reverb, Delay, 3 band EQ, Compressor and Bit Crush). Also featured are 2 effects busses again with up to 4 effects being assignable to each bus.
Focusing on the Eden synth, this commands 2 oscillators per voice (36 waveforms to choose) or sample (imported via ACP or using the NanoSync software for PC/Mac) can be chosen. This then has 3 ADSR envelope generators (amp, filter and configurable aux) and four individually syncable LFO’s configurable to a multitude of functions. Each synth instance has a maximum of 2 dedicated insert effects. Add to this the further manipulation using two fully configurable X/Y pads, modulation wheel and additional configurable knob, all event data from which is captured and editable with the recording.
Each of the configurable controls is set up from the ‘Patchbay’ screen, allowing easy configuration of what thing do and how much effect they have. This provides one hell of a lot of power and possibilities! LFO syncing to either beat or key operation can create some incredibly usable patches, which Eden can store in any of its 192 global patch memories or 64 project specific patch memories saved with the song. Even after 9 months of my own development with this app, there are still features such as Sample Slicing across the Eden keyboard that I’ve still not yet investigated!
The TRG-16 is an MPC type device with 16 pads for sample playback. Samples are imported and assigned to any pad and have a basic set of editing tools and sample configuration including a sweeping filter with recordable event data. Playing the samples, these can be triggered, looped, played for the time the pad is pressed or auto-triggered (repetitive beat playing to a configurable time setting). Each pad is able to be channeled to any one of the 3 output groups, each with its own channel strip and controls. Samples for the pads can be ACP’d or copied in from an exterior computer using the NanoSync software free from Blip into a common sample area for both the TRG-16 and Eden to access. The sample editor allows trimming, slicing and normalization of the samples ready for use (ACP will of course allow you to carry out other sample manipulation/preparation in a dedicated Audio Processing app such as Hokusai or Reforge).
Recording is a straightforward affair, whether its notes, x/y pads or automation you’re recording. The record and playback buttons are available on every screen in the top right corner, set your start and endpoints for the recording, looping active (or not) and hit the record. You can select the amount of count-in that you want, the quantize level for the recording, everything you need. Once recorded, the piano roll editor allows you to delve into the background to edit any manipulation as well as the standard note length and velocity.
Probably the only 3 things that don’t make this perfect in everyone’s eyes are:
1) Midi functionality is limited to Core Midi in only.
2) There is no Audiobus facility – no issue, ACP is still an ideal way to copy samples/loops to & fro.
3) Sample editing is basic and there’s no time stretch or other more advanced facilities – so you work around it, use what you have, twist it to get an amazing result you just might not expect.
Using the possibilities open to you with NanoStudio you will be amazed as you dig deeper into what you can do with it. And for £10.49 it really is a bargain when you think what you are getting.
So, for ease of use and getting to grips with, sound quality, access to samples and utilization via both the TRG pads as well as the Eden synth it really is a must-have Music app. Add to this the free versions of Nanostudio for PC and Mac, a fantastically active and supported forum and in-app (and downloadable form the website) User Manual, if really is a package to consider.
For me this really is a 10/10 app. A huge thanks to Blip Interactive for creating this.