The iPad has revolutionized mobile digital audio creation. With a host of amazing, professional level audio software apps, anyone can create brilliant pieces of music with relatively little effort and cost. Instruments and recording devices that can cost thousands of dollars are replicated in all their Retina display glory on our multi-touch capable iOS devices, letting us all get our groove on at a moment's notice.
One of the biggest drawbacks, of course, comes from the single task nature of iOS itself. When using a synthesizer, for example, musicians can't send that audio to a preferred multitrack recording app. When trying to build a song with a drum machine app, a keyboard synthesizer, and, say, a looping effects app, the only option used to be sending the audio out, bit by bit, to a connected computer, then re-importing it all into a digital audio workstation app (DAW). This isn't ideal.
Welcome, then, Audiobus, a live, app-to-app audio streaming system for iOS. Audiobus solves the problem beautifully. Here's a video showing a synthesizer used with a looping app, side by side, connected via Audiobus.
Notice how simple that is? There was no other way to do this, sans extra hardware, before Audiobus. This is a mighty big deal.
The app comes out of a collaboration between the developer of SoundPrism (a digital instrument and MIDI controller), Sebastian Dittmann, and Michael Tyson, developer of Loopy HD. Dittmann told 148Apps that the initial spark for the concept of Audiobus came from Tyson, who wanted to be able to record live audio output from other apps without extra gear. "Virtual MIDI was around for a few months," said Dittmann, "and we had apps sending MIDI to each other, so why not send audio?"
Initially, the pair were planning on creating a full multitrack recording workstation, but then reconsidered. "We figured that it would be a better idea to focus on making Audiobus do what it's supposed to do - route audio - instead of adding features to it that can be provided by other apps," said Dittmann.
Audiobus is a standalone app with API hooks for developers to build in support for it in their own music apps. "In fact, apps that are built upon Core Audio using Audio Units (Remote IO)," says the Audiobus website, "should be able to build in support in about five minutes flat." Developers looking to add support in their own apps will also be glad to know that there will be no licensing fee to include the Audiobus API.
The possibilities are fairly endless, of course. Dittmann noted that while multitrack recording seems an obvious fit for the Audiobus software, the full potential of the app is something that will only be realized as users get their fingers on it. Using filtering apps to tweak sounds live or combining MIDI sync with Audiobus are two other ways Dittman has seen Audiobus used successfully. Here's a video of Dittman recording three different sound production apps into MultiTrack DAW. He uses SoundPrism PRO, Sunrizer and Funkbox all at the same time, with some Virtual MIDI magic thrown in for good measure.
Audiobus isn't just for electronic instruments, either, as the following video shows. Developer Michael Tyson grabs his guitar, and then connects Loopy HD to loop JamUp, with FunkBox and SoundPrism PRO being filtered by NLog in the mix as well. The result is a delightful little song snippet created on the fly, easily and quickly.
Audiobus should bring about a ton of new creative opportunities for musicians like myself that have been longing to use all these great music creation apps together without having to cobble together hardware, software, or mixing devices outside of the iPad.
The developers recommend using an iPhone 4S, iPad 2, or newer devices. Audiobus is available in the App Store right now for $9.99.