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Best MIDI note-capture/sequencer

I've read all the recent threads I can find here on MIDI sequencers. But everybody's needs are different and it's hard to translate all the great advice and recommendations into what would work for me.

Thus my question.

What's the best app to do this:

1) Capture notes as I play my keyboard. I'm a piano player and play lots of notes, often improvising, and I'd like a way (other than audio) to capture those amazing melodies I sometimes hit on.

2) Let me edit the notes and extract the best bits.

3) Do other basic sequencing duties, like driving a Tangerine Dream type of sequencer line.

4) Show the MIDI notes in conventional music notation that I can edit. I realize this might be a separate app that can accept the MIDI, so I'm looking for recommendations there too.

I don't need lots of extra power and features. Just something relatively straight forward that is stable and plays nice with AUM.

My main platform is AUM, on an iPad Air 3. I don't use drum machines. I don't have a sequencer now. I have lots of synths and effects, etc.

Thanks,

Steve
ThinAirX

Comments

  • wimwim
    edited July 27

    Except for #4, I recommend Xequence 2 hands-down.

    Everybody complains that it's a separate, non-AU app, but I don't care. It's by far the timeline based midi sequencer on iOS as far as I'm concerned.

    (Well ... NanoStudio has it beat with its tempo track but is an even further leap from something just running in AUM.)

  • @wim Thanks for the quick response. I do have my eyes on Xequence, and I see that it often rises to the top of recommendations. Because sequencing and sequencing is new to me, I couldn't be sure it's what I want.

    (Side note: I owe you a response to the MIDI Designer question. Your idea worked well, but I'm intending to write a detailed response.

    Steve

  • wimwim
    edited July 27

    No problem on the response about MD ... I'm just glad it's working somewhat for you. I may be able to help if you run into issues. I only did a quick test.

    I forgot to mention - NS2 has the advantage of the tempo track, and some people prefer its midi editor. But it lacks Link Start/Stop, which makes it sort of a pain for recording with other apps. Also, Xequence 2, allows you to adjust the length of midi clips, scaling the events to fit. This is especially helpful for adapting improvised material. No other sequencer on iOS has this.

    Oh ... and Xequence 2 supports program change messages. NS2 doesn't. NS2 is also wonky with sustain pedals. So as a keyboard player, I imagine that rules NS2 out for you.

  • edited July 27

    .

  • @wim said:
    Except for #4, I recommend Xequence 2 hands-down.

    🙏🏻👍🏻 What he said!

  • So far @SevenSystems post is the best advice yet.

  • I'll definitely get Xequence. Any other suggestions?

  • wimwim
    edited July 28

    Photon AU could be a good in-AUM option if you can get past it's somewhat unintuitive interface. I believe with the default settings you can just start it listening and then go off and play. If you end up with a keeper, then export to MIDI and edit elsewhere (Xequence is an excellent choice).

    its only when you get into the looping and trimming stuff in Photon that it gets quirky.

  • There’s always Atom but max of 40 bars in 4/4 time

  • @ThinAirX said:
    So far @SevenSystems post is the best advice yet.

    Sorry, I actually had mentioned the sustain pedal issue in NS2 and suggested to double-check if you intend to play lots of piano parts, but then I thought it was bad style to recommend my app (especially over another) and "dotted" my post (just like many of my notes... ha ha ha)

  • Xequence is top and the very best sequencer! Your midi data is safe in this rock solid app!

  • @SevenSystems said:

    @ThinAirX said:
    So far @SevenSystems post is the best advice yet.

    Sorry, I actually had mentioned the sustain pedal issue in NS2 and suggested to double-check if you intend to play lots of piano parts, but then I thought it was bad style to recommend my app (especially over another) and "dotted" my post (just like many of my notes... ha ha ha)

    You are always honest in your opinions, so no need to fear your comments sounding bad :wink:
    And yes... Xequence is rock solid and highly recommended

  • "Rock solid" I like! I'm on it.

    And good to know @SevenSystems the developer is around here, in case I have questions.

    BTW, I realized that the term I needed in my original post is "midi recorder." Does that incite some more candidates? I'm going to get Xequence because I want to explore the sequencing world too. But may narrowing to just MIDI Recorder might include some single-purpose apps.

    I pulled up Photon AU. I like the idea of a quick-and-dirty node in AUM I can turn on whenever I need it.

    Steve
    ThinAirX

  • How about Riffer? I saw it mentioned in another thread, and I see it's well supported and updated on the App Store. It's not clear if it's AU, though. Is it?

    Steve

  • edited July 28

    It's more like an Ableton Live's "Capture" job. The main problem in iOS is obviously the "RAM situation" where you are very limited in an iOS AUv3 environment. That's not an issue of course in a 32GB PC, you can record hours of MIDI in a PC DAW :)

    I can recommend my app, StepBud which is a step sequencer and has a record mode that could capture your notes/chords. But you should know that's very far from the Ableton's Capture :) if you have a quick idea, or just experimenting, or even want "something" that you'd play with on the fly, you might like it.

    pros:

    • if you are playing in the key correctly, then you can transpose/edit your steps easily.
    • tons of midi config per step.
    • very easy to use, straightforward.
    • AUv3, standalone, Audiobus, Ableton Link.
    • unlimited steps, you are limited with your RAM.

    cons:

    • it's not the ableton's capture.
    • unlimited steps, you are limited with your RAM.

    https://apps.apple.com/us/app/stepbud-auv3-midi-sequencer/id1453104408?ls=1

  • wimwim
    edited July 28

    Hi @cem_olcay - StepBud is a great app. B)

    For record, is it step-record only? I was playing with it earlier and didn't see how to do a live capture.

    [Edit. nvm - found it arm record, press play in AUM, and play notes. 👍🏼]

    [Edit 2: with live record, skipped steps remain with the default note and are enabled. Is there any way to record with skipped steps being not enabled? It makes for some interesting patterns, but isn't really live recording that way.]

  • @wim said:
    Hi @cem_olcay - StepBud is a great app. B)

    For record, is it step-record only? I was playing with it earlier and didn't see how to do a live capture.

    [Edit. nvm - found it arm record, press play in AUM, and play notes. 👍🏼]

    [Edit 2: with live record, skipped steps remain with the default note and are enabled. Is there any way to record with skipped steps being not enabled? It makes for some interesting patterns, but isn't really live recording that way.]

    Thanks! There are some youtube tutorials you might find informative about that feature. But basically, you can feed a MIDI input to your StepBud instance, and arm the "record" button to start recording your steps in StepBud :)

  • I watched about 30 minutes of videos about things I already know, and haven't found anything to answer question #2 above.

  • @wim said:
    I watched about 30 minutes of videos about things I already know, and haven't found anything to answer question #2 above.

    Yeah, well, unfortunately there is no way to add rests in StepBud while recording. Although, you can record a "dummy" step for your rests, and mute them by pressing the "led button" on the top of that particular step. That might an alternative :)

  • @cem_olcay said:

    @wim said:
    I watched about 30 minutes of videos about things I already know, and haven't found anything to answer question #2 above.

    Yeah, well, unfortunately there is no way to add rests in StepBud while recording. Although, you can record a "dummy" step for your rests, and mute them by pressing the "led button" on the top of that particular step. That might an alternative :)

    Thanks. I thought so but wanted to be sure I wasn't missing anything. Well cool, anyway, I learned something today. 👍🏼

  • @wim said:

    @cem_olcay said:

    @wim said:
    I watched about 30 minutes of videos about things I already know, and haven't found anything to answer question #2 above.

    Yeah, well, unfortunately there is no way to add rests in StepBud while recording. Although, you can record a "dummy" step for your rests, and mute them by pressing the "led button" on the top of that particular step. That might an alternative :)

    Thanks. I thought so but wanted to be sure I wasn't missing anything. Well cool, anyway, I learned something today. 👍🏼

    Sure, of course :) I mean, there might be other ways that I'm not even aware of. People are doing some crazy stuff with the StepBud that I wouldn't ever imagine while I was developing it. That's what I love about the music/creative community tbh. And I'm very proud of that little piece of software because you can always end up with something very special. Which is pretty cool for a $5 app! :)

  • Yep. StepBud is a keeper!

  • @ThinAirX said:
    "Rock solid" I like! I'm on it.

    And good to know @SevenSystems the developer is around here, in case I have questions.

    BTW, I realized that the term I needed in my original post is "midi recorder." Does that incite some more candidates? I'm going to get Xequence because I want to explore the sequencing world too. But may narrowing to just MIDI Recorder might include some single-purpose apps.

    I pulled up Photon AU. I like the idea of a quick-and-dirty node in AUM I can turn on whenever I need it.

    Steve
    ThinAirX

    I often use photon to capture stud since it captures all midi.

  • @cem_olcay said:
    It's more like an Ableton Live's "Capture" job. The main problem in iOS is obviously the "RAM situation" where you are very limited in an iOS AUv3 environment. That's not an issue of course in a 32GB PC, you can record hours of MIDI in a PC DAW :)

    Huh??
    How can MIDI data eat up so much memory (except you have a wild combination of an insane amount of controller messages maybe)?
    Also, why not stream the data to disk while recording?

  • wimwim
    edited July 29

    @rs2000 said:

    @cem_olcay said:
    It's more like an Ableton Live's "Capture" job. The main problem in iOS is obviously the "RAM situation" where you are very limited in an iOS AUv3 environment. That's not an issue of course in a 32GB PC, you can record hours of MIDI in a PC DAW :)

    Huh??
    How can MIDI data eat up so much memory (except you have a wild combination of an insane amount of controller messages maybe)?
    Also, why not stream the data to disk while recording?

    I was kinda scratching my head over that too. A midi message is three bytes, plus some overhead for timing info. Worst case maybe 8 bytes per message. 128 messages per KB, 128,000 messages per megabyte. So, it seems like well over 12 million midi events should easily be possible even within AU memory constraints?

    I’m not enough of a programmer to be confident in what I’m saying though.

  • iOS AUv3 plugins can't stream data to the disk like desktop apps do, that's why. They are very limited in technical specs. They are not Ableton or Pro Tools. We are talking about $5-10 apps.

  • wimwim
    edited July 29

    @cem_olcay said:
    iOS AUv3 plugins can't stream data to the disk like desktop apps do, that's why. They are very limited in technical specs. They are not Ableton or Pro Tools. We are talking about $5-10 apps.

    But, it seems like huge amounts of midi events would easily be able to fit in available ram.

    Also ... Virsyn AudioLayer claims to stream from disk and it’s an AU. Again - I’m not enough of a programmer to say whether that’s an accurate claim or not.

  • @cem_olcay said:
    iOS AUv3 plugins can't stream data to the disk like desktop apps do, that's why. They are very limited in technical specs. They are not Ableton or Pro Tools. We are talking about $5-10 apps.

    Does anybody know what's the recording length limit on the MultiTrack Recorder Plugin by 4Pockets.com?
    https://apps.apple.com/en/app/multitrack-recorder-plugin/id1483833410?l=en

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