In the world of using mobile devices to assist you in your music making endeavors, iPad is the king. There are few apps that are of any real use on the Android market for musicians. Every now and then I do hear of something worth the time of Android toting musicians. On iPad though the app store is overflowing of choices of all flavors! (disclaimer – I make that statement from tons of research – not from my personal experience as I do not own an Android device. If you would like to disagree with me I would love for you to leave comments below telling me what apps and devices you are using in the Android world!)
On December 14, 2013 though a strange thing happened! One of the apps for Android that was actually pretty amazing for musicians came to the iPad! Caustic is a music creation tool inspired by rack mount synthesizer/sampler rigs. Caustic is an app in which a lot of musical creation could be done. All in one app. Caustic is one of those apps that cost’s $9.99 but I would strongly suggest as a possibility for schools using iPads in music tech classes. There are so many different parts of this app to explore that it would easily fit the bill for filling an entire semester class and keep the kids (adults) busy, busy, busy.
Look at this list:
* Subsynth – Virtual analog subtractive synthesizer
* PCMSynth – Multi-sample wave synthesizer
* BassLine – 303-like monosynth
* BeatBox – 8-channel sampling drum machine
* PadSynth – Harmonic table pad synthesizer
* 8BitSynth – 8bit equation solver synthesizer
* Modular – Fully configurable and routable synthesizer
* Organ – Tonewheel organ with rotary speaker
* Vocoder – 8-band harmonic vocoder
* FMSynth – DX-style 3-operator fm synthesizer
* Effects rack supporting 2 effects per machine (16 effect types).
* Mixer desk with EQ, panning and global Delay/Reverb effects.
* Master section with effect slots, parametric EQ and limiter.
* Song sequencer
Here is another feature that even some of the more expensive iPad DAW’s cannot say – Caustic supports automation recording on most controls and includes powerful editors for modifying automation curves.
We are talking about being able to teach kids all of those different module’s listed above, mixing techniques, all about effects, sequencing and song composition all without having to dig around for different apps. This app actually does not currently support AudioBus, which I almost always require an app to have before I consider it. I don’t believe that is such a drawback in this case as there is so much built into this one app. Depending on the ability of your iPad there are 14 slots you can fill with different modules (as listed above). Caustic is VERY processor friendly even on an iPad2!
There are several ways to share your creative genius built in Caustic – You can export wav files, ogg files, and even MIDI. Amazingly enough there is even a FREE PC version of this app online for those of you PC users out there! Which by the way really bugs me that it actually says PC on the app store as PC should actually be written as WINDOWS! It is written correctly on the developers website though.
Think about what kind of curriculum you could build off from this?! You have all the critical parts to compose with this app – percussion, bass lines, melody lines, accompaniment even a vocoder that vocalists (and non-vocalists) can have a ball with. There are a ton of presets available too in each module but you could really dig in and teach the kids about how each one of these modules works behind the scenes. Amazing.
Plus the developer has a ton of awesomely created YouTube tutorials already loaded up. Seriously, this is the best collection of videos from any developer I have ever seen! Now we are talking about a flipped music class? hmmm….
I will say that I was so blown away with the possibilities in this app that I purchased it at full price. I have no idea if this thing will go on sale at any given time. If it ever does I would hope there was a way for a school to “purchase” it for an entire class immediately.
By the way… the app does require you to be running iOS6 so if you still have one of those iPad1′s around it will not work for this app. I am very interested if any of you schools are sporting iPad1′s so leave me a comment below if your school is till making use of the original iPad1. I know I have came back into possession of my original iPad, bought on the day it came out…. My wife moved to an iPad2 and my kids are using iPad3′s or iPad Mini’s so that iPad1 is being put back into use by me in various ways alongside my iPad2.