The talented crew at Sugar Bytes, have ported yet another one of their fine audio mincing desktop apps across to the iOS world. Introducing Egoist for iPad.
For those unfamiliar with it, Egoist’s main drawcard is being able to slice ‘n dice an existing piece of audio into a maximum of 16 chunks, and then sequence them to playback in any order you like. The sources of audio include dozens of on board drum loops and sampled grooves, to anything currently loaded in your iPad’s music library.
Egoist’s other key features include a programmable synth bass and drum machine, plus one of the coolest looking multi effects sections I’ve ever seen.
So let’s take a look at each section individually.
The app’s hero, The Slicer, is where I’d expect users to spend most of their creative time, as this is where you place up to 16 markers throughout the chosen piece of audio, and then fine tune how you want each sample to playback.
Having placed all the slice markers where you want them, you have further control of the overall pitch of the sample, which is useful when needing to get musical parts in the same key. You can also adjust the overall sensitivity which will determine how many of the slices are detected based on their volume. There is also an adjustment for the length and envelope of the slices, which together essentially act like a gate over when the slice cuts off.
Just under the audio waves section is where you arrange the order that the slices will play in. This simple interface uses a series of intuitive sliders that represent the order in which the slices will play. There are 16 sliders, each with 16 possible positions, so for example, by placing the first slider on 7, the next slider on 3, and the next slider on 12, you will hear those numbered samples played in that order. So the idea is, once you’ve assigned a slice on each of the 16 faders, you have completed one pattern. Further tweaking of the each slice is available just below the sliders, these include the individual pitch, attack, decay, and volume.
Once you’ve created a handful of patterns, these can then be turned into full tracks by arranging the patterns into parts, for example an intro, verse, bridge, chorus and outro, and then finally you can arrange these parts, to create a song.
Once you’ve got all the slices in the order you wish, there is some additional overall tweaking you can do to the pattern, including muting some slices, getting them to play in reverse, plus you can make the whole pattern play backwards, or have it play the slices in a random order, which can often present some pleasant surprises.
To the right of the slice area, is a series of copying, pasting, and randomising functions, simplifying the process of making new variations of existing patterns. There are also some direction keys which allow you to move the slices all to the left or right, and up and down, which again can provide some interesting new beats and musical grooves.
Moving onto the Bass/Beat area, we find a familiar working 16 step sequencer style drum machine featuring 32 kits of Kick, Snare and Hi Hats. These can all be mixed and matched to suit your own taste, plus the volume and pitch of each part is adjustable too. As well as inventing your own drum grooves, you can use the randomiser or + and – keys which cycles through a few dozen of premade patterns.
The Synth Bass area is definitely one of more unique takes I’ve come across, starting with the fact there is no on screen keyboard to enter notes. Notes are entered on a single line, and like the other elements, you have a maximum of 16 possible notes per pattern.
Tapping in an empty area on the top line, brings up the option for how long you want to the bass note to play for, and also if you want it to pitch up or down. Once you’ve entered all the bass notes for a pattern, you can change the tunning of each note on the line below it. The tunning options go one octave above and also below the root note (which something you can also set manually). And in addition to the fine tuning of each note, under this line, you can make each note play an octave higher or lower. As with the Slicer and the Drums, to the right you have access to copy and paste features, and two types of randomising, one offers random bass lines, and the other randomises the notes it plays. I found this frequently produced a great bass line, with minor tweaks here and there, without the need to program one manually from scratch.
There are over a dozen built in synth bass patches, with options to adjust the wave and filter type, the cut-off, resonance, modulation, LFO rate, and note decay. The editing isn’t as in depth as some full-fledged synth apps, but there’s enough to play with, to get some nice fat sounds. And any patches you happen to come up with yourself can be saved as a user patch.
The other key component of Egoist is the Multi Effects area, which is one of the most unique visual takes I’ve come across for editing and applying effects. It’s one of my favourite areas of Egoist to mess around with. The effects include a high pass filter, delay, reverb, lo-fi, chorus, tape stop effect, and a looper.
If you’re familiar with Sugar Bytes application, Effectrix, the way this section works is similar. At the bottom of the screen is a grid, where you can apply any of the 7 effects to the 16 parts of a pattern. Each of the effects can be edited by either using your finger within the effect, or for more precise adjustments there are vertical and horizontal sliders. As with most other areas, there is copy and paste, and randomising options here too.
One thing to note about the effects is that they are global, so although you can choose to send the drums, bass, or slicer through them, it’s the same effect across everything.
The final section is simply called Egoist, and it offers access to some global settings and options. Here you can adjust the overall tempo, the clock source, audio and MIDI settings. You can bounce down and share your finished work through the Audiocopy feature. You can choose between clock and note for how the slicer playbacks samples. You can also fine tune the slicer, the synth bass and over all master mix. There is also a handy compressor limiter to give the overall mix some extra punch. You’ll find a handy link to the online operation manual here too.
And of course, there is the all-important support for Audiobus 2 and Inter-App Audio, so Egoist will play nicely with other supported music making and recording apps.
In the end, like its desktop PC big brother, Egoist offers surprisingly in-depth audio editing and processing features in a way that is not only intuitive, but also a fun way to create interesting new beats and grooves.
Egoist is available from here –Egoist
Developer: Sugar Bytes GmbH