music Production Review software Technology

DM1 (iOS) Review

DM1 is the popular iOS drum machine for iPad. It is setup with multiple interfaces which simulate physical drum machines, effects processors along with a single-track pattern-sequencer and the capability to program multiple patterns. The finger drum-pad style layout as one form of generating drum pattern-based on an interpolation of your performance, much like quantizing. The real gold mine here is the selection of drum samples that come with DM1.

The main programming format of the DM1 lies in a classic step-sequencer style interface for punching in your beats in time for each instrument in the kit. They are lit up when part of the pattern. Hitting the play button lets you test out your pattern. There is a swing adjustment available but it is universal. There is no way to adjust the swing of individual beats which is a limitation versus other popular software step-sequencers. You can mute, solo and adjust pattern lengths, So there are still most main variations at hand.

The more intuitive finger drum-pad recorder panel, is a great way to develop your basic beat and in layers as pleased like a looper. Of course the phrasing of the drums, as is related to an earlier comment, is not recorded exactly as performed. It is automatically rounded to the nearest step. Because of this you might notice that the resulting recording is a bit different than your performance. For recordings of more basic patterns, this is not as much an issue.

Tip

A good workflow is to record the drums first with the finger pads and then adjust them in the step-sequencer panel.

Though being able to create one pattern and export it for another app would be fine, As mentioned, his app allows you to do sequencing of the patterns on a single track. Therefore you can go as far as having multi-pattern drum sequences including breakdowns and bridges, verses and chorus. A great way to create, at least, a preliminary drum track for your next song’s track. It is a simple drag and drop format putting your patterns 1, 2 and so on in the order that is preferred.

The real goldmine in my opinion is the drumkit sample collection to be found in this app. It is all very high quality audio your getting and a huge variety ranging from hip hop classic kits, to live drum kits, synthesizer kits, vintage, 8-bit, exotic, instruments and some other sample libraries to really give you a reasonable array of sounds to work with. One real gripe I have is the inability to mix different sounds from different kits in a window for that task. It is, however, possible, but is not ingenuous.

Tip

Copy one-shot samples from DM1, one sound-at-a-time by making a pattern with the one sound to be sampled only once. Export this from the export menu in the song sequencing panel as audio-copy. Audio-paste that sound either into another app (as you would a full pattern-sequence) or right back into DM1’s user kit to save yourself work if you plan on using more than one kit per pattern simultaneously.

Last but definitely not least, is the, not to be overlooked, effects panel. This makes the slew of great sounds that come with DM1 even more versatile allowing you to tweak the samples in-pattern as pleased. The effects processors include the usual contenders; overdrive, reverb, delay and phaser. However on top of this there are some unusual and welcome effects such as texturizer, robotizer and a formant.

Tip 

The real beauty of the effects panel lies in the ability to customize the two available effects processor instances to only affect selected sounds in your pattern each. The downfall is only ever being able to use or mix two effects at a time. This is of course something that a workaround can fix. By exporting samples that are already processed by effects and reimporting those effected sounds into your user kit. This may be more time consuming than the developers including an increase in panels, the possibility is there nonetheless.

After spending a lot of instances and time with DM1 I have to admit it is a powerful and easy-to-use app with a great presentation. It is fun to use and test out your patterns on the different included kits. For those who don’t like to switch apps too often, there are several workarounds as mentioned in the tips that allow you to customize your beats to quite a depth without leaving the app.

The one downfall is the lack of swing control for individual beats in a pattern though there is a universal control. This is a minor issue since cutting up and offsetting your pattern in a proper audio editor could aleviate this issue if you really had to use DM1 to its fullest. I personally use it as a beat sketcher to be tracked for other samples or as individual one shot sounds to be used in my beat creation app of choice in iOS.

All in all I give this App:

Sounds – 4.5/5

Interface – 4/5

Functionality – 3.75/5

Workflow- 4/5

Total Impression – 4/5

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