Audiobus: Your virtual music studio.

What is Audiobus?Audiobus is an award-winning music app for iPhone and iPad which lets you use your other music apps together. Chain effects on your favourite synth, run the output of apps or Audio Units into an app like GarageBand or Loopy, or select a different audio interface output for each app. Route MIDI between apps — drive a synth from a MIDI sequencer, or add an arpeggiator to your MIDI keyboard — or sync with your external MIDI gear. And control your entire setup from a MIDI controller.

Download on the App Store

Audiobus is the app that makes the rest of your setup better.

OMG...iFretless + Thumbjam!

Just bought Thumbjam because I saw someone on YouTube using audio out from an electric guitar to play the cello patch. Haven't tried that yet, ironically, because I've been downloading extra sound patches and trying them out using iFretless as a midi controller. Oh... My... God! The two apps work so well together. Lovely patches in Thumbjam and some good features, but using iFretless as a controller makes it sex on a stick! The velocity sensitive control over volume and fretless control over pitch slides and vibrato makes instruments like strings and trombones so expressive. Not only that, percussion instruments are transformed too, doing beater rolls on the marimba and timpani is so much easier, and I swear, I managed to do a fairly convincing drum solo on one of the drum kits. Lol!

Only one thing I would request of Sonosaurus. Instruments that need to ring on like harp, hammered dulcimer and the like also need some way to stop the notes when required. A player will often damp the strings by hand before playing another set of notes. I would happily exchange the lowest note on the screen for a mute key, which would stop the currently playing notes and allow a more articulated performance. The playing interface on Thumbjamb is ideal for harps and zithers, etc., and a damping mechanism is the only thing that's missing.

Needless to say, being able to route the results through Audiobus into a DAW is the icing on an already very rich cake.

Lovely work guys. :)



  • Thanks! Geo Synth and Cantor are two other similar controller options that also work very well with ThumbJam.

  • Yes, I have them, love Geo, but it has no velocity sensitivity, which is mainly what is really transforming things here. Cantor seems to make the audio distort if I play chords. If I could find an app that could track Geo's and Cantor's polyphonic pitch bending over MIDI without glitching, I'd use them as controllers a lot more as I like to slide around, but so far I haven't got anything to work.

    You're going to tell me that Thumbjam can do it, aren't you? Lol.

  • edited January 2013

    Yeah it sure can :-)) check out this vid I made for an example :-)

  • edited January 2013

    Just tried polyphonic pitch bending of Thumbjam from Geo. Bless you, I want to have your babies. :)

    P.S. Please do consider an optional mute key.

  • Or try it. LoL good stuff.

  • @Ryan It's funny, I did watch your video when you first posted it, but it didn't register that Thumbjam had to be handling the poly bends. I must have been tired or something. :p

    Thanks. :)

  • As a non-guitar player I understand about 33% of what's being said here. But I take it everybody's happy. Good, good, carry on then...

  • Arghh! Now you've got me messing about with Geo+Thumbjam. Half the day's gone already! Lol!

  • Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you that ThumbJam is one of like 3 apps in the world that does handle Rob's MIDI extension for polyphonic bend and note tying, oops :)

    Perhaps he will restore the finger area sense for velocity in the next version of Geo. I could be wrong but I think that Cantor does it?

  • edited January 2013

    @sonosaurus I think it may be that that is screwing up the playing of chords in Cantor. Volume seems to increase proportionally with the number of fingers I'm putting down. If I reduce the sensitivity enough to keep things from distorting, I then don't have the expressiveness I was looking for.
    Perhaps I can persuade the iFretless dev to look at sorting out the MIDI he's generating, as Geo and Thumbjam do it beautifully. Was it difficult to get right?

  • edited January 2013

    Just turn off Cantor's internal audio engine. I never intended to ship with an audio engine, and initially, Cantor only worked correctly with Thumbjam. Just turn off Cantor's audio and send MIDI to Thumbjam. Cantor uses finger-area (velocity sense) when it sends over MIDI.

    (It happens in cantor too...turning down the distortion you can hear it in the internal audio engine as well. But it's sent as MIDI messages, and you can control it with the sensitivity slider.) And original poster gets exactly what I am saying. iFretless is a totally kick-ass midi controller. It's really similar to Geo and Cantor and Mugician. This layout is the only really viable controller layout I know of for touchscreens. See Linnstrument and Soundplane. There is no other sane option due to screen dimensions and the fact that the surface is continuous.

    Here was Cantor when it had no sound engine at all, and only Thumbjam didn't get stuck notes or crash from the crazy MIDI trickery I did:

    It was a little better when I only targeted Thumbjam. I had to take out midi-based chorusing because too many synths could not deal with the messages though. And of course... Thumbjam does Audiobus from there.

  • Amen to that, although Thumbjam's interface is good for harp glissandos.

    Thanks for the tip Rob, I'll give it a try. :)

  • The main problem is that most people making MIDI synths only test with keyboard controllers, and 0x90 is the only MIDI message that works consistently across a random sample of synths. The pitch bending applies to the whole channel, yet string instruments bend every note independently. That forces every single note to be in its own channel, and just about no synth handles it correctly. You have to set aftertouch and pitch bend before the note gets turned on, and leave the pitch wheel alone until the note is done releasing (which happens some time after the note is turned off, not exactly at that time).

    These problems were easy to ignore when "MIDI Controller" meant something with 12ET discrete keys, almost always shaped like a piano. Touchscreens are MIDI's worst nightmare. Thumbjam, SampleWiz, Arctic, Wolfgang Palm's synths, and the few actual multi-timbral synths can be made to handle non-piano controllers. But the messaging is so complicated that it's a miracle that there are any that support it at all.

    Thumbjam got this stuff right like over a weekend. I was astonished. I was working with Jordan and Kevin concurrent with SampleWiz development, and Jesse got MIDI support a little before SampleWiz, though Kevin had the advantage of working on both Geo and SampleWiz at the same time.

  • edited January 2013

    Well, I can definitely say that the poly pitch bend and note ties work like a dream between Geo, Cantor and Thumbjam. I wish I could say the same about the finger area sensing dynamics in Cantor, but I can't get it to work, not predictably, at least. Using the Hammered Dulcimer patch in Thumbjam, with iFretless, I can repeatedly play a low note, getting it to increase and then decrease in volume, while simultaneously repeating a high note at a constant lower volume, all controlled by how hard I strike the playing surface. I could do with a touch more range of volume between the extremes, but it's quite noticeable and useable. With Cantor, I don't know if I'm doing it all wrong, but The only way I can get any fluctuation in volume is to have Sensitivity up all the way and Velocity down to zero. However, the volume fluctuations are then seemingly random, I can't control which single notes come out louder. The only thing I can predict is that if I play two notes simultaneously, the result will be suddenly louder than a single note. I hope it's me, that I'm doing something wrong, but I've tried a lot of different sensitivity and velocity settings and nothing has worked.

  • I believe that iFretless uses accelerometer for velocity, which is rather a different beast then finger area sense. For cantor you need to change how much fingertip you are applying, and that doesn't necessarily go hand in hand with impact strength.

    Out of curiosity which TJ instruments were distorting with multifingers (and how many fingers). It is possible to push some over the edge into clipping, there is no compression or limiting in TJ right now.

  • edited January 2013

    I think my statement was contextually misleading. I wasn't specifically talking about Thumbjam distorting with Cantor, just that my prior experience trying Cantor as a MIDI controller with the sensitivity up had resulted in distorted output. Thumbjam wasn't involved at the time as I didn't have it. I haven't noticed any distortion in Thumbjam, although I have found a bird call in the tail of the D3-F3 harp sample. :)

    I have allowed for the difference in approach, tried it with fingertips, finger pads, thumbprint, you name it. The only controllable difference in volume was the result of placing extra fingers on other notes. It's a shame, two great controllers, each with only one of the 2 features working, each proving that the other feature could be working just as well. Where area sensing is concerned, I think it would be better suited to aftertouch functions.

  • Haven't seen orphion mentioned, which does area sensing as well. @PaulB it also senses the finger area throughout the length of the note, meaning it doubles as an aftertouch. It has the option to send one voice per midi channel, send pitch bend, pressure (area sensing) and "legato switch" (which I'm still curious about).

    Just thought the turn in the conversation justifies the involvement of this app as well.

  • edited January 2013

    Yep. I have it, and it works. :)

    Correction... It works inverted. Playing with flat fingers suppresses MIDI volume, fingertips make it louder. Lol!

  • @PaulB Nice! Have you tried using the x/y pad with thumbjam from iFretless? Can do some pretty freaking awesome stuff that way. :-))

  • Not yet, but I will. Also, the iFretless dev has suggested mapping velocity data to other controls, such as filters, modulation, etc., etc. He says it makes synths come alive.

  • hell yeah! :-)) Haven't had much with animoog but it's working well with other synths. :-))

    I've been discussing things with the dev also. I really pulled every string i had to get him the AB sdk. ;-)

    anyhow, here are some notes I wrote on iFretless.. You may want to have a look @PaulB and add anything you can think of.

    "iFretless Version 2.0.2 NOTES

    Internal Sounds:

    The internal sounds are excellent. However I have noticed that when playing fast on both iPad 3rd gen and iPhone 4S the internal sounds click and pop as if the cpu is struggling to process them. I have not has any trouble with using it as a midi controller with thumbjam.

    Two Finger Scrolling option:

    I've had nothing but problems with this feature. Although it's purpose works very well I am constantly activating it by accident.It really has to have a proper lock option so it can not be activated at all accidentally. This is BY FAR the most noticable problem with this app.


    The tunnings are a good start but with the current scrolling method it makes the fisrt fret almost unusable, so pending a solution to that problem.. In the future I'd like a custom tunning feature to set up each string as i want it.. or at the very least a proper guitar grouping ie: the left colum would be low to high B-E-A-D-G-B-E-A-D-G-B-E-etc... as oppossed to B-E-A-D-G-C-F-A#-D#-G# etc... I know that's how forths work but that's why guitars use thirds on the fifth string, just makes more sense.


    Love it! I can't think of a whole lot it needs. One feature I'd like to see in the future is a snap option that you could toggle on and off and set a radius or timing sensor.. Thus when sliding from fret to fret it would snap to the perfect note when you stop over top of the middle of the fret but not if you continue sliding.. So it'd measure slide speed and if it slows lower then X number then it would snap to the perfect note.. Basically creating a actual fret without losing the fretlessness of the slides.

    That's all i can think of at the moment. Hope this was helpful. You've done some excellent work here.

    Thank You
    -Ryan Hemeon

    [email protected]"

  • Well done on getting him the Audiobus sdk. I've not had any feature request type conversations with him, other than additional instrument sounds, but top of my list after Audiobus would be sorting out the MIDI polyphonic pitch bends so that it functions like Geo does with Thumbjam.
    I have noticed the occasional click/glitch when playing fast, but it was largely eliminated when I turned on airplane mode.

    I can see how you find the scrolling activation irritating, I've had that too, but since I don't drag far vertically when playing, I just ignored it and it went away when my fingers moved on to other notes. Perhaps if you had to hold the rightmost fret as well to activate it it would be less likely to happen.

    Custom string tunings would be cool, although as a 5 string bass player, I'm quite happy with all 4ths and I'm currently getting a lot of joy out of playing the tritones configuration. I'm all for flexibility though.

    If your proposed snap action was optional, I can see how it would be helpful to a lot of people. Personally, I'm used to fretless, and have even converted a lead guitar to be fretless with a brass fingerboard, because I like the nuances that are possible without frets. A lot of the interesting stuff happens after the slide. :)

    Anyway, I think you've come up with pretty much everything that would benefit this app without destroying its character. Good suggestions.

  • thanks to Ryan and Sebastian for hooking up iFretless with the audiobus sdk.

    As rob fielding mentioned earlier, I feel uncomfortable filling up the audiobus forum with discussions of my own app that have nothing to do with audiobus.

    @ryan, @paul
    It's not easy for me to find testers here in Vietnam who love bass and love playing music on their iPads. So reading comments from two people who love what we are doing but have a few problems is really helpful. I will reply to your comments on our own Facebook page:

  • Yeah, iFretless's velocity sensing is better than Cantor's currently. The open source Cantor code was using both finger area and accelerometer at one point, but I was having so much trouble with the accelerometer data coming after I sent out the MIDI note that I just removed the accelerometer. It's tricky to use finger area as a replacement for velocity, but it's much more consistent (btw... don't put velocity slider all the way up in Cantor when sending MIDI... use about 75% if you don't want it to be all the way down most of the time).

    This whole conversation proves my point... Controllers stick to being great controllers, and synths stick to being great synths. Nobody would make a single app that does both if the MIDI handling were improved. Voice per channel or multi-timbral (or at least multi-timbral behavior with one voice) should be supported on all iOS synths; and those synths should generally all support audiobus.

  • FYI: iFretless also supports multi-channel midi input from cantor. So if you like cantor's interface better than iFretless, just set iFretless midi in to OMNI, then open cantor and turn off its internal audio. You get all of iFretless's sounds with the Cantor interface.

  • @PaulB
    Prior to the release of Cantor I was following Rob's posts on the progress of the project. Based on what he said about it during development I think it's safe to say that Cantor is the most complex MIDI controller code on the iOS platform, which places it high in the running for most complex in the world. On the iOS platform, I would guess that iFretless is the second most complex one. Both of us spent a lot of effort thinking about how to handle pitch bending on multiple strings simultaneously.

    What Cantor has is a perfect solution. It's perfect in the sense that it gives unlimited control over the pitch of every note. Unfortunately, only a few synths support it.

    IFretless takes a different approach. Instead of trying to be perfect on some synths it aims to be as good as possible on all synths. It doesn't use more than one channel, so you can't bend two or more notes in different directions, but you can bend whole chords and it makes intelligent decisions about when to restart notes and cancel bends so that in the majority of situations, you won't notice the limitations of the single midi channel solution.

  • Let's all just pat ourselves on the back for having good flexible MIDI note implementations and not try to apply rankings :)

    TJ can handle all that Cantor/Geo puts out, incidentally it can also produce the same multichannel polybend note tie stuff when used as a controller, not sure who takes advantage of that though.

    All I know is with the advent of virtual midi and now Audiobus, I am receiving less feature requests for new playing layouts, keyboards, sequencing, DAW features, etc.

  • I hope MIDI HD fixes this mess that only works right with keyboard controllers. I went back and forth with Tom White and Amos (Animoog guy) in email over the various pitch riddles that arise with the simplest fretless instruments.

    The maddening thing is that you can make all of these problems go away in an OSC implementation in a few hours (yes, I mean that literally - my Windows8 27inch tablet controller is a C# program written in anger in a few days, where I just sent OSC packets to ChucK/SuperCollider and everything worked perfectly. I got so tired of dealing with MIDI synths that never envisioned anything beyond a keyboard controller sending 0x90 messages and running on 1 channel.).

    It would be a standardization effort on the level of the effort that went into Audiobus to fix MIDI, or to adopt a layer over OSC to give it enough semantics to ensure interoperability. Fortunately this time around, the hardware vendors aren't quite so relevant. If a bunch of iOS synths and controllers implement a standard and document, it could spread out to hardware rather than coming from a slow organization like the MMA.

  • @sonosaurus

    Sorry, that did come off sounding more like a ranking. I didn't mean it that way - I'm comparing the complexity not so much to brag about whose code is better but to answer PaulB's question about if it would be hard for iFretless to do the multi-channel bending like cantor does.

    Perhaps a better way to say it would be "The MIDI in both iFretless and Cantor was a pain in the neck to design. These apps are intentionally different and I have no plans to include into iFretless what Rob has already done perfectly well in Cantor." :)

  • And with that, we moved the conversation to Facebook; as it's mostly not about Audiobus.


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