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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Mainstage sound quality vs. iOS sound quality

So lately, finding the best virtual instrument sound quality possible has been running through my mind. But I'm not willing to spend hundreds of dollars to explore this or endure tons of futzing about and enduring yet another learning curve.

Yesterday, I read about Mainstage, which I haven't used for -- geez -- 10 years. And I've read a bit about Spitfire Audio.

The thing is, I made a hard turn at least five years ago away from anything with music-making on the desktop/laptop.

Maybe I should soften to explore using something as a sound module.

So my specific question is this: does anyone here use MainStage, and do you find it worthwhile to use it in a hybrid setup that includes iOS and hardware. Is the juice worth the squeeze?

The broader, fuzzier question is this -- if I ever want to knock my socks off with sound quality in a virtual instrument, does that mean turning back to the desktop?

Thanks,
Joe

Comments

  • If you want top of the line orchestral stuff, desktop is the only way to go. If you just need decent keys and synth sounds, AUM and auv3 plugins is the better option than MainStage in my opinion.

  • Maybe I want just a taste of caviar and expensive scotch to find out if they are worth it.

    I have an M1 Mac, Studio One, and Ableton Lite. And, of course, Garageband. My studio has good PA speakers.

    Any suggestions on a rare delicacy to try?

  • Sound quality wise I don't think there is any difference between a good DAW/host on either macOS or iOS. I use AUM for the majority of my testing on iOS and MainStage for testing on macOS. The audio processing in my plugins on both is identical. That's going to be true of most plugins that are available on both platforms. There are a lot more plugins available on macOS though.

    MainStage is a good tool for playing with on the Mac. For the price, you get a huge number of synths and effects -- basically everything in Logic Pro. If you like the workflow and how you can configure it, it is a really slick sound module and live performance platform. It works with Logic Remote on the iPad too if you want to do that.

    If you don't have Surge, go get it. It's free and open source, https://surge-synthesizer.github.io/

  • Thanks, @NeonSilicon

    So it sounds as though the platform themselves technically shouldn't matter.

    Regarding the sounds available on the market for those platforms.... are there superlative sounds in the desktop world that I'm just not going to hear in the iOS world? I don't need or want a bigger quantity of sounds. But if there is a SuperDuper Violin VST that beats anything is iOS by a mile, well, maybe I want to try it. Same with piano, voice, and a few other orchestral sounds.

    Maybe the answer is "no, really, you're not missing much". Cool, then I can keep my laptop closed after 5 pm for another 5 years.

    Best,
    Joe

  • "Virtual instrument" is a broad category. Which instrument or instruments are you trying to replicate?

  • You do know the sounds in Mainstage, are the sounds in Logic Pro, which includes some of the sounds from Garageband.

    That said, the iOS alternative for Mainstage are apps like Camelot Pro, MK Extreme, Drambo, etc

  • @joegrant413 said:
    Thanks, @NeonSilicon

    So it sounds as though the platform themselves technically shouldn't matter.

    For sound quality, yes the platforms shouldn't matter. But, macOS is more flexible than iOS as far as audio goes. It also allows for drivers to be written to support audio hardware. The audio I/O on my MOTU M4 is the same on both iOS and macOS. But, the M4 has features that aren't available on iOS. The latency is lower on macOS too.

    Regarding the sounds available on the market for those platforms.... are there superlative sounds in the desktop world that I'm just not going to hear in the iOS world? I don't need or want a bigger quantity of sounds. But if there is a SuperDuper Violin VST that beats anything is iOS by a mile, well, maybe I want to try it. Same with piano, voice, and a few other orchestral sounds.

    There are certainly orchestral libraries on macOS that are much more complete than what you can get on iOS. If you need or want those and the cost of them are different questions.

    To me, Pianoteq is an example of something that is standout good that isn't on iOS. Although, there have been reports that it is coming to iOS.

    Maybe the answer is "no, really, you're not missing much". Cool, then I can keep my laptop closed after 5 pm for another 5 years.

    There are many "pro" level audio tools that will probably never come to iOS. Most of these cost a whole bunch of money too. Are they anything you need to do what you want to do? If you don't need them, then you aren't missing them.

    Best,
    Joe

  • @joegrant413 said:
    ...
    The broader, fuzzier question is this -- if I ever want to knock my socks off with sound quality in a virtual instrument, does that mean turning back to the desktop?

    My opinion: If it's about synthesis then iOS apps can do the job.
    If it's about sample libraries then no, I still couldn't do without Kontakt and Falcon libraries. Plus a few nice guitars and basses from Ample Sound and XLN Addictive Drums.

  • Spitfire offers a free orchestra. Good place to start.

  • wimwim
    edited May 12

    I didn't realize MainStage was only $29 :o . 100 plugins, over 5,900 instrument and FX patches, 1,200 sampled instruments, 14,750 Apple Loops, basic and full-featured samplers, an auto-sampler, support for AU plugins ...

    If I didn't have near complete creative paralysis the minute I look at a desktop screen, I'd say that's a total no-brainer purchase. I'd buy it this in an instant if I wasn't sure from experience that I'd use it for a few hours and then never open it again.

    Making a living trying to make computers do things they don't want to do all day for a living ruined me for creating music on anything but iOS or my guitars. :D

  • edited May 12

    @wim said:

    ... an instant if I wasn't sure from experience that I'd use it for a few hours and then never open it again.

    Making a living trying to make computers do things they don't want to do all day for a living ruined me for creating music on anything but iOS or my guitars. :D

    That's my thing!!! I work on making software design more usable (UX work). So I'm on laptops all day. I don't have time and patience for much of a learning curve when it's time to play.

    Yes, Mainstage 10 years ago gave me a major brain freeze. But since that time I've learned about mixers, thanks to my TASCAM DP24. So it might not freak me out.

    Also, if I do open the door to having a VST or AU making sounds via my MacBook, I see that there are VST host software choices now that are not DAWs.

    Anyway, right now I'm just seeing what this community thinks. None of this is worth checking out if the sounds aren't that much better than iOS.

  • BTW, keep seeing good things about Spitfire Audio. Both the free stuff and $$$ stuff.

  • UPdate: I'm going to try GigPerformer on my Mac.

  • edited May 12

    @wim said:
    If I didn't have near complete creative paralysis the minute I look at a desktop screen, I'd say that's a total no-brainer purchase. I'd buy it this in an instant if I wasn't sure from experience that I'd use it for a few hours and then never open it again.

    You've spent far more than 29$ on iOS apps you'll never open again. ;)
    All jokes aside, its a good way to host Kontakt instruments (and large orchestral libraries) and just play with them from iOS. Dont have to look at the desktop much at all other than dialing in your sound and initial configuration.

  • edited May 12

    @AlmostAnonymous said:

    @wim said:
    If I didn't have near complete creative paralysis the minute I look at a desktop screen, I'd say that's a total no-brainer purchase. I'd buy it this in an instant if I wasn't sure from experience that I'd use it for a few hours and then never open it again.

    You've spent far more than 29$ on iOS apps you'll never open again. ;)
    All jokes aside, its a good way to host Kontakt instruments (and large orchestral libraries) and just play with them from iOS. Dont have to look at the desktop much at all other than dialing in your sound and initial configuration.

    @AlmostAnonymous Thanks, though I'm not sure I follow everything here. Are you saying it would be a good thing to have Mainstage on my Mac? And to use it to play MainStage instruments, host VSTs like Kontakt, and pipe the audio from that into iOS?

    Thanks

  • edited May 12

    @joegrant413
    If your audio card allows for that yes. I just use mainstage for kontakt like I would any other AUv3 in AUM....sequence and control from an ipad. (I bring the audio into AUM)

    Edit: I keep wanting to eventually retire mainstage and just use AudioLayer, but its not quite there for me yet. (thank you and nice job on the update @VirSyn!)

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