Audiobus: Use your music apps together.

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.

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

App design. Do looks matter?

I’ve been thinking about this for a while and would love to hear your opinions.
I was recently using AUM and BeatMaker 3, before that Cubasis... then I downloaded Zenbeats by Roland. I WANNA USE ZENBEATS. Why?.
BeatMaker 3 is more powerful, does more, the sampler is better, workflow is right, it’s got a good interface. But it looks “hip hop “... Zenbeats looks like a 4 track from the eighties. It looks like the music I wanna make.
Beatmaker3 looks uplifting, “chop da beats” kind of thing. Zenbeats smells like a 2 day old ashtray and empty beer cans. It sort of helps me get in the mood.
It’s like going on stage to do death metal with a fluorescent tracksuit, You can, but it doesn’t help.
So my thing is, now I feel like I need to get in the Zenbeats room to do my thing. Just like I need to lower the lights when I’m gonna sing. It’s as superficial as it sounds. It’s the looks.
SAMPLR?. Yep, same room. Same vibe. My Digitakt?. Right there too. Audiobus and AUM are fine, neutral enough but leaning towards the dark machiny thing.
I’m willing to accept all the limitations in exchange for the right look. And in a way it worries me. I feel like I can’t do the same music On Cubasis and Zenbeats. When you’re facing a blank canvas, that canvas matters.
I was gonna attach a poll, but many of you would get it wrong.
So, which DAW has the better looks, and why Zenbeats?.

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Comments

  • My main 'challenge' with iOS is that app A may have a nice UI but lacks the features from app B and vice versa.

    Cubasis would be nice with the BM3 sampler and non-destructive quantize & clip launching from GarageBand and GarageBand could use the nice midi editing tools from NS2 and all this with the Audio & Midi routing flexibility of AUM and apeMatrix with a bunch of instruments from Gadget, BeatHawk etc. etc.

    The more I spend time with Logic on the Mac the more I embrace the idea of having it on the iPad as well, the stock plug-ins and instruments cover large ground even without the extended sound library, full AUv3 support would be a BIG bonus...

    Cheers!

  • I only really notice the look of an app when I have been away from it for a while and using another one. After a little bit it just becomes room temperature to me. The big players are all fine to me and I don't find too much significant aesthetic difference between BM3, NS2, Cubasis, Zenbeats, AUM etc. Function, function, function!

  • A: Yes

    You don't have to love the way an app looks, but if you dislike it, you won't be as productive with it. Utility apps can have more leeway.

  • There are some apps that just have the worst UIs, but are actually good apps, and some that look fantastic but just aren’t good for making music.

    While I can look past a few ugly UI elements and some awkward UI interactions, sometimes the UI just makes me not like using the app at all.

    Different Drummer is a really good example - great potential, but one of the most cluttered and confusing UIs ever. It could be such a great app, but the developer really needs to get some help with UI/UX design.

  • absolutely. the same way a oceanside restaurant feels better than a gas station dinner in the middle of the desert. or a ferrari,vs. a ford focus. they may be able to attain the same results. but The more design oriented version, is pleasing to be around, and inspiring to work with.

  • edited June 29

    @eross said:
    absolutely. the same way a oceanside restaurant feels better than a gas station dinner in the middle of the desert. or a ferrari,vs. a ford focus. they may be able to attain the same results. but The more design oriented version, is pleasing to be around, and inspiring to work with.

    The restaurant comparison is right on!.
    Zenbeats would be the greasy joint with the really good fried chicken. BM3 and Cubasis are nice bistros with nice cotton tabletops, I wouldn’t want to order deep fried stuff there.
    So it’s not really about one being nicer, but what suits your expectations better.

  • @AudioGus said:
    I only really notice the look of an app when I have been away from it for a while and using another one. After a little bit it just becomes room temperature to me. The big players are all fine to me and I don't find too much significant aesthetic difference between BM3, NS2, Cubasis, Zenbeats, AUM etc. Function, function, function!

    See your point, you get used to it and don’t even notice anymore.
    I see a resemblance to a pedalboard vs analog pedals for guitar. I owned a Helix guitar pedalboard, digital but awesome sounding. No matter the sound it doesn’t feel the same as stepping on actual pedals. It’s “less rockanroll” and it somehow influences the moment. Stepping on a fuzz pedal gives you a different rush than hitting the foot switch of the helix with the exact digital replica.

  • I think I am more focused on the UI performance.
    I can deal with an app that looks bad to me, as long as the controls aren’t too fidgety, or the layout and controls are designed intuitively and the app is easy to use.

    If the app is a thing of beauty, but the controls are too fidgety, or the UI is too fancy for its own good, I tend to find it less useful.

    When the app looks and performs great, I give it the 5 star rating on the AppStore.

  • @vitocorleone123 said:
    A: Yes

    You don't have to love the way an app looks, but if you dislike it, you won't be as productive with it.

    I am in complete agreement with you.

  • I may be wrong but I'm pretty sure everyone has a preference for the way things look. Whether it's their car, pet, house, partner, holiday destination, flower etc. Of course function/behaviour is also a major, and to some more important component but everyone has a different requirement for how important appearance is. Personally if an app is not visually appealing it is not user friendly. It is possible to have an unpleasant colour scheme or design combined with a good layout but even then I struggle to interact. For me it's a complete experience. Like that new Goldwave program for example. I had a look at it and just couldn't go any further. I don't know how good it is but I just couldn't look at it. Who knows, maybe I have a disorder.

  • @Ailerom

    In regards to Goldwave I agree.
    I didn't like the GUI on PC let alone iOS but
    I learnt something from being on iOS.

    There was an app that I didn't like visually
    but an AB Forum member did an experiment
    and the results were flawless.

    I bought the app straight away.

    Goldwave falls into s similar category I think.
    If it does one job really well?
    I'll keep it for that one job.

    Saying that it really does need a gui designer.

    There has been reason why gui's
    have evolved the way they have.

  • edited June 29

    I’m definitely a function over form guy. If a tool is well laid out, easy to use and read at a glance, I generally don’t care whether it’s pretty. That said, I appreciate when a developer puts a lot of effort into creating beautiful aesthetics that are directly linked to and enhance its function. Igor Vasiliev’s apps are a prime example - it’s not attractive just the sake of eye candy, but to communicate relevant info and for touch optimized controls.

    Geodesics VCV/MiRack modules are a good example of tools that are beautiful to look at, but the aesthetics aren’t really a functional benefit—maybe even a distraction.

    Fabfilter are my idea of the pinnacle of elegant UI, function and quality output. If it didn’t check the third box, I’d reach for something else, even if it wasn’t as fun to look at.

  • @Eschatone said:
    If a tool is well laid out, easy to use and read at a glance...

    To me that is part of the appearance. It's a hard thing to get across because there are so many variables. For example a horrific color scheme would make something difficult for me to look at. Even if the layout and function are great. If it is well laid out, easy to use and read then I'd consider it looks good.

  • Looks definitely help, as well as intuitive and usable UIs. There’s some apps I just don’t use because my brain just can’t stop being distracted and I end up never making any music with them. Although there are some apps that are just too useful so I get over it. It’s almost like how it’s nice when food looks good and presentable and I’ll probably pick that over some slop but sometimes slop tastes pretty damn good. Aesthetic apps do tend to inspire me a lot more, I’m visually stimulated by art and it gets me into that creative mind set. I really like using the visualizers on miRack for that purpose

  • @Ailerom said:
    I may be wrong but I'm pretty sure everyone has a preference for the way things look. Whether it's their car, pet, house, partner, holiday destination, flower etc. Of course function/behaviour is also a major, and to some more important component but everyone has a different requirement for how important appearance is. Personally if an app is not visually appealing it is not user friendly. It is possible to have an unpleasant colour scheme or design combined with a good layout but even then I struggle to interact. For me it's a complete experience. Like that new Goldwave program for example. I had a look at it and just couldn't go any further. I don't know how good it is but I just couldn't look at it. Who knows, maybe I have a disorder.

    Is that disorder contagious?. I think I have it. Hadn’t noticed till I opened Zenbeats, with all its limitations I don’t feel right at the moment in BM3 or Cubasis. It’s like a flu.
    As I said it’s not so much liking or disliking the colors and layout, is the way the app presents itself. There’s a sort of “ DIY” attitude in apps like Zenbeats and Samplr. It’s hard to explain.

  • @Eschatone said:
    I’m definitely a function over form guy. If a tool is well laid out, easy to use and read at a glance, I generally don’t care whether it’s pretty. That said, I appreciate when a developer puts a lot of effort into creating beautiful aesthetics that are directly linked to and enhance its function. Igor Vasiliev’s apps are a prime example - it’s not attractive just the sake of eye candy, but to communicate relevant info and for touch optimized controls.

    Geodesics VCV/MiRack modules are a good example of tools that are beautiful to look at, but the aesthetics aren’t really a functional benefit—maybe even a distraction.

    Fabfilter are my idea of the pinnacle of elegant UI, function and quality output. If it didn’t check the third box, I’d reach for something else, even if it wasn’t as fun to look at.

    Agree with fabfilter and I’d add Valhalla plugins on that category, I’d also throw in Bram Bros. Clear and simple user interface that doesn’t try to resemble an analog equivalent. Drambo looks great too.
    For me SAMPLR is the best laid-out app design and user interaction. Everything fits in one screen and you can (and should) reach it with one finger without letting go of your pinky.
    And Zenbeats is right ugly but perfect-ugly.

  • @tahiche said:

    @Ailerom said:
    I may be wrong but......................maybe I have a disorder.

    Is that disorder contagious?

    Yes :D

    I am the same with Zenbeats. Nothing there for me at all sadly. Samplr though is aok.

  • Not just about the look of the thing.

    For the last couple of days I've been tooling about with FabFilter's Saturn 2 and, like all their apps, it's a delight to use and explore. In no small part this is due to the truly transparent - in both the visual and the obvious senses - of the GUI ... sheer magic and instantly accessible. Crisp minimalism - just what you need.

    It's no small feat fusing superb visual, tactile design and outstanding sound capabilities. Genre-neutral, incidentally. Excellence always is.

  • @Ailerom I was thinking the same about the goldwave screenshots but then I realized it was the windows version. The ios version seems to look very different. Much better imo.

    I really like Auria as an app but it is not really the most beautiful. I always feel like I'm sitting in front of a windows PC...in 1998. I also really dislike apps that try to simulate the look and feel of vintage gear. It just doesn't work for me (just like apple's notes with that incredibly ugly paper structure background).

    The most beautiful app I know is Audulus. And I also absolutely love the look of Moebius Lab.
    I am more attracted to apps that have a futuristic look. Another thing I like is a very reduced and scientific designs like iLEP or AuGen X.

  • edited June 30

    @Jonny8 said:
    @Ailerom I was thinking the same about the goldwave screenshots but then I realized it was the windows version. The ios version seems to look very different. Much better imo.

    I saw it was the desktop version so I joined in Testflight and downloaded. I was going to put it through it's paces but couldn't. I know it is different but to me it is just as bad. I just find it confusing to look at.

  • edited June 30

    UI design is a balance between usability, and making something look good enough to entice people to buy it.

    That's it really. It's a skill many app designers don't have - they either make it too pretty at the sake of usability, or it looks like a spreadsheet programme from the 1980's.

    Standout companies getting it right would include Brambos and Eventide.

  • edited June 30

    FAC are very good too. Good use of space on different sized screens and clear and easy to use UI (Easy to use as in all the controls make sense and they're big enough to grab and manipulate without problems).

    JAF fx are the opposite. Almost illegible, poor use of space and crazy UX decisions like prioritise zooming the UI over multi touch controls. If you have to zoom in to read a label on a plug-in with three dials you've failed at the first stage of design. It's a feat of design that the layout looks wrong on all screen sizes :lol:

    I find Zenbeats quite unpleasant to use. It doesn't look awful (but not great to my taste) but feels very un iOS-ey. AP is another example of an app that just feels all wrong to me. They might have lots of features beneath the surface but the look and feel and general design lets them down badly.

    I think the look and feel of apps and how we take to them is often a reflection of the other platforms we use. As a longtime Mac and iOS user, I reckon I'm more sensitive to the cross-platform apps' compromises and iOS apps designed by long term Windows users than I would be if I were a Windows user myself.

    That's not criticising Windows users, it's just that Windows has a different sensibility to the Mac and iOS; If you're a windows user and a control behaves like it does on Windows, that won't feel wrong to you as it's something you're already used to. The same thing applies when cross platform apps are not sympathetic to native Windows or Android UI/UX paradigms. When you're used to the controls looking and behaving in a certain way, it can feel a bit strange and wrong when they don't behave the way you expect.

    Native apps by developers that are exclusive to the platform (such as Samplr) tend to be the nicest to me. AUM is nicely designed but gets unwieldily quickly. But the interaction and animation feel just right for iOS.

    Nanostudio 2 is somewhere in the middle. It looks like it belongs on another platform at first glance. In use, it doesn't feel like, say, AUM or other top notch iOS apps, but is still very fluid and fast and responsive. It's an example of an app that feels better to use than it looks (IMHO). It's not ugly, it's just not particularly iOS-ey. If that's even a thing.

    Plug-ins are a weird outlier. They can be skeuomorphic to the hilt and still look and feel good on iOS. It's one area that developers can invent new design ideals. A bit like twitter apps a few years ago, where things we all take for granted today like pull to refresh were first seen. A designers playground if you like.

    Most of the plugins I have work nicely. Some are better than others, obviously but most are pretty good. It will be better when more apps standardise on things like preset management; some otherwise good apps have pretty dreadful UIs when it comes to presets.

    Audio apps seem to bring out the best and worst in UI/UX design.

    1. Ergonomics
    2. Clarity
    3. intuitiveness
      Then art and beauty IMHO
  • edited June 30

    For me UI is not just about how it looks but also how it feels when i interact with that UI (which is called also UX - user experience). IF it is fluent, if i feel like that UI is natural extension of my rain through my fingers. So it's about how one view transitions to other view, how scrollable and movable elements are acting, how smooth is animated reaction to gesture. It's complex thing, look is just part of whole picture.

    I have this feeling just very rarely. FAC plugins, BramBos plugins, AUM, Nanostudio 2, Groovebox, Samplr are for me top notch of UI/UX design. Obviously lot devs doesn't understand that iOS/touchscreen is different paradigm and it should be not just about copy+paste graphics element and behaviours from desktop. Good (bad) example is Auria, terrible UX, not just visually bad but also unresponsive, slow.

    Regarding ZenBeats, i don't like much how it looks and to me also layout (placement, size) of control elements and buttons is very clunky and unintuitive. You really need a think a lot how to do this and how to do that - and that is exactly what good UI/UX should avoid to push users. Good UX connects with your intuition and keeps you in the flow. You feel like app is extension of your brain, you are interconnected with app.

    Funny thing is - recently i checked a bit deeper Apple's guidelines for app design, also saw some presentations by people who are behind some core iOS UX details - and really if just devs would more strongly hold on Apple's guidelines, their apps would be a LOT LOT better. Some pretty cool suggestions and ideas are there !

    @klownshed
    Audio apps seem to bring out the best and worst in UI/UX design.

    THIS!

  • +1 for Eventide, we need more things like that ribbon which allow easyo modulation of multiple parameters. Actually is there some kind of little AU that just has a few ribbons like that that you could map to various apps to control a bunch of different parameters? That'd be cool.
    Also +1 for Bram Bos, though I wouldn't mind a change from the green sometime 😜

  • User experience matters, and the look is for me a big part of it! Especially on an ipad it's all screen, all visual - so if it doesn't look good it's off-putting. So much is about UX since many of the building blocks of sound are the same across all the different tools - midi, audio, filters, delay/reverb/distortion effects... you can get all of those in AUM, Cubasis, BM3, Garageband, Zenbeats, Gadget etc... But I find I make very different sounds if depending on which I use, some I just can't get inspired by (e.g. Garageband should be a no brainer - free and quite full featured but something about it means i just don't enjoy it and never manage to make anything).

  • edited June 30

    Looks matter a lot in my opinion. If the UI doesn’t look appealing and practical it can really kill the enjoyment of using the app. I think one of the least appealing UIs of all the synths that i own is Dexed Synth. It is so horribly cluttered and ugly looking that it ruins the entire user experience. No matter how nice some of the sounds might be, i just can’t get myself to using it.

    Now another example would be MOOG Model 15, which looks so gorgeous that even turning a knob becomes a pure visual joy and instantly gets those creative juiices flowing to make music. It is as if you are really tweaking knobs and patch cables on an actual synth. And a beautiful graphical interface like that adds a ton of immersion to the user experience.

    I personally do not like Zenbeats’ look, but that is just a matter of taste. BM3, Gadget, NS2, and Cubase,look fantastic to me. I really lean towards using the DAWs that look nice and polished. But to each their own.

  • Yes, of course looks matter. So does ergonomics. There’s some apps that are such a complete mess aesthetically that even though they may be very powerful, they’re essentially unusable (not mentioning any names). This is not limited to iOS either obviously. It’s been an issue in stuff like eurorack forever.

  • Looks matter. Humans, cars, apps etc.

    1.618

  • The 4Pockets stuff is useful, but I hit a psychological/aesthetic barrier when reaching for them. I use them , but not so much as I might.

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