A Real DAW on the go?
Nanostudio is the epitome of iOS-available DAWs (also on OS X & Windows too), or at least that’s how it might be portrayed. How does it do though in a music production pipeline? Let’s find out.
When opening up Nanostudio and getting past its splash screen we are met with the sequencing timeline of our new project. Here is where you can edit your various patterns’ sequences like many traditional DAWs available for desktop (some with app equivalents). There you have many settings from tempo to Midi Import/Export, access to the piano roll, cutting and pasting patterns, etc… A fair amount of features for your core sequencing needs.
Get Your Groove On
The heart of the App though lies in its instruments. There are fundamentally only two available over a limit of 5 tracks (which can be upgraded, though 5 might be enough for many purposes). However those two instruments are incredibly versatile. TRG, the first being an MPC style interface for sampling with finger pads. As expected preset drum kits are available for these pads, but you can load in your own samples (I like to load samples in from DM1, another App) and save your own kits. The other instrument, Eden, also has these functions but its interface and default sound bank makes it more of a digital synthesizer. It really sounds and works great with 3 modes, from extra keys to synthesizer editing of reasonable depth, finally with two inserts for effects on your synth.
Recording & Mixing
Recording is fairly simple, with a metronome available and the usual recording functions, performing your music through the sampler or synth interfaces and editing if necessary in the sequencer or its piano roll. The mixing board is also powerful with up to 4 effects in a chain per track plus two se
nds for universal effects. The master has a limit of three effects in a chain, and this limitation is not a bad thing considering that Nanostudio isn’t specializing in mastering (I would suggest the Master Record App for that duty). The available effects do need to be tweaked on a case-by-case basis which is no different than using effects on analog hardware or digital desktop systems. The usable effects are what you’d expect to find; EQ, Compressor, Reverb, a nifty Delay/Chorus/Flanger switchable effect; all of which you can mix and match, though you do get one additional effect that is not as usual, the Waveshaper/Lo-fi effect to add a greater level of variation brought about by more edge or alternative sound shaping.
The powerful use of automation is one of the real keys to what makes Nanostudio‘s user-friendly interface so powerful. You can record your raising or lowering the pitch, volume on a track, master volume, as well your movements on the Eden synthesizer’s effects pads. This makes for the possibility to deliver high quality music productions in a very ingenuous way.
I use it coupled with DM1’s drum samples I import and with master record on the mixdown from Nanostudio. One is also able to send MIDI files for use in other environments such as your desktop DAW or other MIDI file compatible apps using Nanosync or by copying it to an email. This gives you a powerful app in your pipeline for music production you use with apps on other platforms or as part of an all-iPad music production workflow.
I highly recommend this app, it is a lot of fun and high quality. The greatest part is its interoperability with apps on other platforms. It is hard to find criticism for this app when you consider its price. It even has simple wave editing and applying effects chains on individual samples and all in a slick interface so it is hard to complain. I suppose the built-in sample recorder also being available to record tracks outside of the instruments and directly into the sequencer would add convenience that would put it more on par with the well-known desktop DAWs in professional music production, but that is only when trying hard to look for flaws, so this is really top app.