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.

Download on the App Store

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

Roli Blocks for iOS -- worth the frustration?

My son gave me 4 Lightpad and 2 Seaboard (keyboard) Roli blocks on indefinite loan. I've tried for the last week to figure out how to make them work as controllers for my iOS setup (with AUM as the nerve center). I seem to run into constraints and problems every step of the way. Is it just me? Roli and MPE technology seem to promise to be the controllers of the future. They're cool designs and cool looking. But if it's so frustrating now, will I ever want to trust them in my performance setup?

I did get them to control Zeeon as a test. But I have to have Noise running to get the iPad/bluetooth connection to work. The bluetooth connection in AUM is fickle. I've learned Dashboard, but my performance setup is pure iPad, no laptop.

Related question: which iOS make native use of MPE without lots of fiddling?

I've read other threads here about Roli and see mixed reactions. I'm asking afresh, and directly, for your opinions on the efficacy of Roli hardware as an iOS controller. I'm not interested in Roli as a stand-alone instrument and the sounds and synths that Roli pushes.

Thanks,

Steve

Comments

  • My experience is that they work well with a desktop set up but are harder work with iOS. I wish Roli would make the equivalent of their desktop control centre for iOS.

  • If you get things working the third party Lightpad apps made by isotonikstudios.com are a lot of fun

    Also do post and say if you find a good solution

  • You have a great son! I have a similar Roli situation and had big plans for it initially that never came into fruition. Limitations for me were related to DAW choices (NS2, BM3, etc not supporting MPE) and needing to modify things on a computer at the time instead of a native Roli app, and bluetooth dropout when using bigger block configurations. I think they're cool to play with every now and then and bring a unique offering, but I'm actually finding the Sensel Morph a bit more intuitive for the MPE purposes, even though I'm missing out on the 'squishiness'.

    There is an app i believe that will let you change Roli parameters on the iPad so you can forgo the need of a computer
    https://apps.apple.com/ca/app/block-dashboard/id1469611330

    I think they're cool but honestly I touch them maybe a couple times a year. CME X-key Air, and Sensel Morph get used multiple times a week these days. Knowing what I know now I wouldn't have purchased them for my needs, but if you can gel with them, you can achieve some really cool results. Since they are 'free' for you, maybe keep trying and see if you can make it work for your workflow.

  • @ThinAirX said:
    Related question: which iOS make native use of MPE without lots of fiddling?

    I've read other threads here about Roli and see mixed reactions. I'm asking afresh, and directly, for your opinions on the efficacy of Roli hardware as an iOS controller. I'm not interested in Roli as a stand-alone instrument and the sounds and synths that Roli pushes.

    Thanks,

    Steve

    Hi,
    I don’t think there are many true MPE options on iOS . There are some synths that claim to be MPE compatible but the expression control is minimal
    Geoshred is the only app I can think for now .
    Roli sounds are very good ,but limiting the Swam instruments was a strange decision and decided not to invest . Although they do sound very nice with plenty control and AU
    Make sure to login to the Roli account to have more sounds if you haven’t already .

  • Using Roli products on iOS is similar to using iOS as your primary music production environment. It can be very rewarding, as long as you are willing to learn a few work arounds to get the results you want. Block dashboard by Christophe Tornieri Can be found in the App Store, and mostly fills the void for iOS configuration of blocks.

    I have found that the biggest thing is learning what to tweak with which synth. I often turn glide off when using certain synths, and only use after touch for best results. Other synths work better with full mpe. For me, the biggest draw for Roli products is SWAM acoustic instruments, which are finally making their way to iOS. If you plan on using these instruments, then investing the time into learning to use blocks effectively is worth the effort. If you don’t care about the upcoming SWAM instruments, then there are probably more reliable controllers for performance.

    On a side note, it’s hard to beat the portability of a single Light pad block with an iPhone for things like plane or train trips.

  • Limiting Swam sounds to standalone was at Audio Modeling's insistence, not Roli's choice. I have a real love hate relationship with my 2 seaboards as I have expressed before. Recently I've been having problems getting them to connect reliably to aum, as has been mentioned by others. I also have some notes on the keyboard that seem to be erratic in how well they respond. I've had a fair few stuck notes problems, hard to tell at times of this is due to the seaboard or the synths. Overall I haven't used them anywhere near as much as I expected I would. But when they do work they work well. For playing geoshred at slow speeds and very expressively I prefer the seaboard. For faster playing I prefer GeoShred's own keyboard. If you've got them for free then definitely explore. IOS mpe synths nearly all have frustrations. Phosphor can be really nice to play, but you need to set up most of the patches yourself to get them to work properly. Almost no-one does everything right. Roli Noise has great sounds and is a pleasure to play with the Seaboard, but is not a proper synth, very limited tweaking possibilities for each patch.... The app Blocks Dashboard, also mentioned above, is great. Roli and Sensel both need to produce iOS software rather than making people do adjustments on desktop. It's quite disappointing that neither has done that. I really wish someone would just come along and make some mpe synths where all the presets are just mpe compatible - using all 5 aspects of mpe - right out of the box.

  • Wow! Great responses so far. I'll check out all your suggestions. I did see mention of Block Control and I'll give it try.

    Steve

  • Personally I gave up and sold my Block. I got it because it looked cool and it looked like a fun way to get back into making music, but it just never worked very well with iOS, I had a lot of problems syncing it with Roli Dashboard, and I found it less hassle to get the same results just with standard keys+knobs midi controller

  • Yes, worth the frustration. Especially for the swarm instruments which have a pretty kick ass implementation. Pressure ends up being much more useful than glissando

  • use a usb cable. Configure them with the desktop app

    @ThinAirX said:
    My son gave me 4 Lightpad and 2 Seaboard (keyboard) Roli blocks on indefinite loan. I've tried for the last week to figure out how to make them work as controllers for my iOS setup (with AUM as the nerve center). I seem to run into constraints and problems every step of the way. Is it just me? Roli and MPE technology seem to promise to be the controllers of the future. They're cool designs and cool looking. But if it's so frustrating now, will I ever want to trust them in my performance setup?

    I did get them to control Zeeon as a test. But I have to have Noise running to get the iPad/bluetooth connection to work. The bluetooth connection in AUM is fickle. I've learned Dashboard, but my performance setup is pure iPad, no laptop.

    Related question: which iOS make native use of MPE without lots of fiddling?

    I've read other threads here about Roli and see mixed reactions. I'm asking afresh, and directly, for your opinions on the efficacy of Roli hardware as an iOS controller. I'm not interested in Roli as a stand-alone instrument and the sounds and synths that Roli pushes.

    Thanks,

    Steve

  • Zenbeats has really good integration with Roli Blocks, for MPE and transport controls.

  • @steve99 said:
    Zenbeats has really good integration with Roli Blocks, for MPE and transport controls.

    Ah, that I did not know, thank you. What can they do in terms of transport control?

  • @Gavinski said:

    @steve99 said:
    Zenbeats has really good integration with Roli Blocks, for MPE and transport controls.

    Ah, that I did not know, thank you. What can they do in terms of transport control?

    The loop block maps automatically - I've got what it does scribbled down somewhere... I'll update this when I find the bit of paper (or fire up Zenbeats...)

  • Don't the loop and touch blocks only work when using Roli Noise though? They don't work with any mpe synth do they?

  • @Gavinski said:
    Don't the loop and touch blocks only work when using Roli Noise though? They don't work with any mpe synth do they?

    Loop Block works (when connected either via Seaboard Block or independently) in Zenbeats.

    Controls left to right:
    TOP: Mute, Solo, Metronome on/off, Grid resolution (in timeline I think, could be missing something on this one...), Undo
    BOTTOM: Play, Record, Change view (loop builder or timeline), Fader up /down for selected track

    If Zenbeats ever managed to write a manual they could actually let people know things like this.

  • OP reporting back.

    I give up! For my purposes, these Roli blocks are more trouble than they're worth.

    I tried Block Dashboard. It does work and is true iOS. But only for sending out notes from a simple block grid. For somebody who is using the blocks as a pad instrument, I can see the value.

    I tried Dynamic Controls by @SWONIC. Really promising. I was able to learn the basics rather quickly (a little more documentation would be even better). And I immediately started seeing ways I could customize the blocks to do exactly what I want with Dynamic Controls. I like the fact that you can design down to the pixel on the pad, and the layering of controls is brilliant!

    But there are just too many constraints and problems with the whole Roli system to justify spending hours getting it to work. The fact that some of you reported reliability problems was the real killer. I don't need more sounds, no matter how good SWAM sounds are.

    So, as with so many of you, I'm just going to wait until Roli wakes up and makes this native to iOS, and more devs create MPE-ready synths. The concept is promising, intriguing, the next logical step in MIDI. But not for me, not now.

    I'm going back to depending on MIDI Designer (on a dedicated iPad) as my primary control. I haven't found anything it can't with it do yet. Steep learning curve, but pays off. And for keyboard, can't beat my KMI K-Board for the extra expressive control (plus my 88-key piano).

    Thank you all for your comments. Roli blocks are definitely an exciting instrument for some people.

    Steve

  • edited October 30

    @ThinAirX said:
    OP reporting back.

    I give up! For my purposes, these Roli blocks are more trouble than they're worth.

    I'm surprised about the troubles you're reporting and sorry to hear of your tech pain. Prompted by this thread I was using my Songmaker kit (seaboard / lightpad and loopblock) in Zenbeats last night and everything works smoothly. I don't think I've ever had a problem with bluetooth connection (mostly I've used it in AUM) - are you on recent firmware? Or maybe you are attempting too many simultaneous connections? I usually have my Lightpad connected to the Seaboard and then just one bluetooth connection to my iPad.

    I'm using mine mainly to play synths and drums , rather than using as a midi parameter controller as I believe you are attempting, perhaps that's where we are coming at it from different angles? Last night I successfully had Synthmaster One, Moog model D, Geoshred Cello and FRMS as MPE synths in Zenbeats, only minimal setup needed (activating MPE both in Zenbeats per plugin setting and also in the synth when required). I kept getting hanging notes with the Moog when editing, but I don't think that's a Roli/MPE issue.

    Obviously I understand if that for you they are an unacceptable obstacle to actually making music, but personally I find the expressive playing possibilities well worth it. I reckon if you came back to it with just one Seaboard Block and perhaps a forthcoming single SWAM instrument you could be persuaded back... (presuming it works of course).

  • steve99, you're reinforcing what I was trying to say: for my style of music making, the blocks aren't worth it. But they're obviously great for others with different needs and approach to music making. "Worth it" means cost vs benefits. The benefits to me are low because I don't do finger drumming and I have good enough keyboard chops that I don't need to add slides to make interesting music. My pressure-sensitive K-board adds plenty of creative possibilities and works with any synth. The cost is all the time it takes to learn any new technology, especially when stretching the tech beyond what it was designed for. Roli blocks are really designed as an instrument, not controllers. I was trying to use them as controllers.

    I hope my conclusion, your comments, and the comments of other here guide others when deciding whether to buy Roli blocks.

    Steve

Sign In or Register to comment.