AN iOS UPDATE : PART 2 + iProphet First Look

An iOS Update : Part 2 + iProphet First Look

"well, my mind is goin' through them changes"

.....buddy miles




Apple sells 10 Million iPhones in the first weekend.....iOS 8 is a disaster, wreaking havoc among the "gotta have the latest" crowd.....8.0.1 is released and pulled within the first hour after making things even worse.....There is an actual apology from Apple and 8.0.2 is released.....more stress for everyone.....iPhone 4 and iPad 2 - added to the extinct species list as more collateral damage.....You do the math. 

You might want to check out last months blog An iOS Update & The Digital Dilemma

As the disruption and stress brought on by the release of iOS 8 continues (Apples "iCHANGE uPAY" policy), I'm going to share what I have learned and what some of the options are at this point in time. Then we'll take a look at the iProphet by Arturia.


After a few weeks of research here is what I know and the path I am taking. As always I suggest doing your own research and always trusting your intuition (that visceral gut feeling or flash of insight), over the hype and noise of the marketplace.

My iPad 2 is staying on 7.1.2 for the next several months if not permanently. This also means syncing and backing up the iPad with everything on it, and then updating (one at a time), my current apps to the "ios8 ready" versions as they come out and testing them to see if they are still going to be able to run without issue on ios7. If they don't I can restore them from my back-up.....and I mean from a physical drive.

From what I understand the issue is about implementing IAA (inter app audio) and how apps can sync or not sync with other apps that may or may not provide clock. This change effects all apps, and all app developers are going to have to deal with it one way or another. The bottom line is this : It is going to take several months before this all settles down. These issues are very application specific. I live in hope that all developers will eventually make sure that their apps work properly on both iOS7 & 8.

What I have been told directly from developers I have great respect for is that if you want to be completely safe and avoid the stress of dealing with any of these issues : Don't upgrade anything for the next few months.....(time to play my shakuhachi).




My favorite hardware synthesizer from back in the day is the Sequential Circuits Prophet VS (check the back story). This instrument was capable of such a wide range of sonic creation and really excelled at what is now commonly called "sound-scape". Before I had to let mine go, I sampled the shit out of it and continue to use that sample library today on my iPad, in the app Samplr. Needless to say I jumped to the download page when Arturia released iProphet a few days ago. So lets take a look at this iPad version of a truly classic synth.




Sonically this thing is as Fat & Juicy - Metallic & Rude - Warm & Rich - Delicate & Transparent and as Gorgeously Animated as the original. With 96 wave forms to mix & match in the 4 oscillator slots (mix is controlled in real time via a Joystick), and 8 voice polyphony, the sonics can be very richly detailed with harmonic information.


Three omissions from the original (sadly), are : 1 - the 32 user wave form locations, where you could store single cycle waves from sources of your own. 2 - a random patch generator that produced some pretty amazing sounds. 3 - a very useful arpeggiator. It would be really nice to see them all arrive in a future update.


This made the original VS a must have synth for film scoring 

The key to the elegant animation and shape shifting abilities of the VS lies in the 5 stage looping envelopes. Both the filter and amplifier envelopes can do this and there is a third envelope dedicated to the Joystick that can automate the real-time mix of the 4 oscillators. Hitting the hold button (sustain) and dropping a lush chord with all 3 envelopes in loop-land can be quite an immersive experience.


When you add in the ability to individually pan each of the 8 voices, a simple yet extensive modulation patch bay, a stereo chorus and a stereo delay.....well, the expansiveness of the left/right, background/foreground sound field in constant motion is pretty breathtaking. I for one am glad that they chose not to spend valuable CPU on a high-res reverb and didn't ruin the sound by putting in a low-res one, because you really don't miss it.

There are a couple of glaring "who missed this" problems that really should have been addressed before the release.This thing is stuffed with presets (way too many - some great, some not), but nobody took the time to take care of volume matching between them, so there are some pretty radical volume jumps when you change pre-sets (not cool). There is no way that I can find to delete a preset and it really needs a full manual. 



This is where I have issues with the iProphet.....and let me tell you why.

When the Prophet VS was in the hardware version it had the typical lame interface that most digital synths from the 80's had : very few knobs, a menu of buttons to access what you wanted to edit, a single data slider to enter everything and a two line LCD window for visual feed-back (cum-ber-some).

This means that the interface you interact with on the iProphet is brand new - it has nothing to do with the original and for me, this really begs the question.....why?

Why are so many app developers (especially the synth apps), locked into this ridiculous laptop based, two dimensional representation of three dimensional hardware.....flat knobs.....really?

Now don't get me wrong, I love this app and there is no question that the interface is much better than what was on the majority of hardware used in the 80's, and if you are a straight up keyboard player using a big controller, with a shit-load of knobs on it, you will be able to make great use of the midi-learn function on the iProphet.

But for me, after playing more expressive and forward thinking apps like Samplr, which takes the essence of sampling and implements an icon and gesture based interface, employing the full range of control possibilities, inherent on a multi-touch device, for musical nuance and real-time gesture recording, I feel that if the iProphet were given a more touch screen appropriate interface, this recreation of a classic synthesizer from the 20th century could become classic in the 21st.

That said, I am enjoying having the VS back in my rig.

But - this app is undercooked and still has some random bugs (my bad for playing first on the block). It is such a drag when developers do this kind of public beta testing. I have reported what I have found and I'm not the only one. We shall see how quickly the developers step up and take responsibility for what they are selling. 

Bottom line....hold off on getting this unless you like beta testing

In closing I want to wish you all a stress free experience during this transition into the brave new world of iOS8. If you have an acoustic instrument, now would be a good time to play it. 

until next month then

safe travels.....dino