The long-awaited SWAM instruments for GeoShred have made a teasing appearance in the App Store, though they won't be purchasable till GeoShred 5 drops this week. There are $14.99 IAPs for Oboe, Cello, Tenor Sax, Clarinet, Violin, and Flute, and a $75 bundle for all six. I don't know exactly when in the week it's coming, but keep refreshing…
@Nick Lowe: Hi Nick, if you wouldn't mind - I am seriously considering purchasing an I1 and I wondered how well it actually works within Geoshred - not necessarily with the GeoSWAM models, but more in terms of the many controllers present under the hood of Geoshred Pro. Having watched many videos I observed that the app is very deep and I'm worried that the learning curve of the I1 plus Geoshred might just be too steep for me. So I wondered what you thought about this?
Have you tried the I1 with other apps such as ThumbJam or Roli Noise, and if so, how well does it work with them?
I also have the SWAM instruments on my PC and Mac, but from what I've read here and on the Audiobus forums the I1 is seems to be difficult to get working on those platforms - have you found this to be the case, and if so have you still managed to get it working, or do you just stick to iOS or iPadOS? I Ask because I would like to use the I1 with Logic Pro X on the Mac and be able to make use of the different sample libraries available etc. Sorry to ask so many questions. Thank you and keep well. David
Hi, David! Both the GeoShred and ThumbJam developers were early adopters of the I1, and both apps play very nicely with it. If anything ThumbJam is an even deeper app than GeoShred under the hood, but it does an even better job of hiding its complexity away until you go looking for it, and because they're both designed as on-screen instruments you can do a lot with them just using existing presets, so long as you set MPE and pitch bend range. (GeoShred comes with an I1 controller configuration built-in, so you just select it off the menu.)
GeoShred, ThumbJam, and Noise are of course different (and complementary) kinds of app: GeoShred uses physical modelling, with a particular specialism in string sounds and Asian instruments; ThumbJam is a rompler; and Noise is a combination of the hybrid synth engine from Equator with a SWAM physical modelling engine, though the latter only works with ROLI's own hardware. I like them all, but Noise is by far the one I spend most time in; it doesn't have the tweakability that GeoShred does, but the sounds are just so rich and so beautifully optimised for MPE. The other iOS app I use a lot is iFretless Guitar, which has the best MPE guitar sounds on iOS (not saying a huge amount, but it's the nearest to acceptable there is) – and actually the guitar sample in Artiphon's own Instrument 1 app, though not really usable dry, is very responsive if you chuck enough distortion on it to turn it into a classic shred lead.
I've never had any trouble using the I1 with desktop sounds and DAWs on Mac (I don't use Windows myself). I've gone through a variety of the latter (Ableton, Bitwig, Reason, Tracktion at different points) but always come home to Logic. Similarly, I've used the I1 with a lot of synths and sample players, but the one I keep coming back to and have more or less made my home in is Equator; the I1 plays well with the Logic libraries and synths, but Equator is really what the I1 was made for, with MPE front & centre in the interface and sound design, and a gigantic library of built-in and purchasable sounds, many of which are just stunning. I do also have the FXpansion synths, but they don't quite speak to me in the same way. At any rate there's nothing at all fiddly about using the I1 as a desktop controller (and sound output, if you want), Artiphon's desktop companion app works very smoothly if you feel the need to tweak presets on desktop. (There's an extra step on Windows because you can't have the app open at the same time as your DAW, but it's unlikely to be a big deal in practice.)
I don't have any SWAM instruments on desktop, so only have the Seaboard experience with the Noise ones (very nice, but I'm not really a keyboard person) to compare with the GeoSWAM versions, which are really fabulous with the I1 – strictly monophonic, but there's a bit of pitch rounding that makes them very playable even in slide mode, and they respond beautifully under the fingers in a way that I've only really had with the famous Liquid Duduk patch in Noise (also Roger Linn's favourite!). Some tweaking needed to get the I1's brilliant tilt dimension to work with them, and the ten built-in presets for each are a bit naff; it's better to use the dry versions and slap your own effects on them outside GeoShred.
Incidentally, I mentioned this yesterday in a different thread, but in case it's of any use or interest, Plugin Boutique have a 70%-off deal on ROLI Studio Player till 11 November with the coupon PBSTUDIO60. I don't know whether this is some kind of tie-in to the big product announcement ROLI are teasing for the 12th…
… which turned out to be Equator 2! (Intro offer has 33% off new purchases and upgrades.) But if you didn't blow your budget on that, GeoShred Play is now free till Wednesday (18 November), and offers the SWAM instrument IAPs without the need to shell out for the full version of GeoShred. You can still upgrade to the full GeoShred feature set via another IAP if & when you want to.
The individual Tenor Sax instrument is on deeply discounted sale till Christmas Eve – $2.99 instead of the regular $14.99. This is my favourite of all the GeoSWAM instruments for solo lines and an absolute must if you have either version of GeoShred; the I1 absolutely loves it and it's also one of the most expressive natural instrument sounds available on iOS for Orba.
And now the GeoSWAM bundle IAP is about to go on Cyber Monday sale for a week (30 November to 7 December) at a third off ($49.99). No discount on the individual instruments, but if you buy all six it's only $5 more than buying three…
Update yesterday (2 November) fixes the jailbreak issue. These are really beautiful sounds, though I think primarily for Instrument 1 rather than Orba users; they're at their best for flowing melodic lines, and being monophonic they don't work at all as an Orba chord voice. Though I don't regret going for the bundle, there's a clear order of desirability if you're buying individually: the Cello and Sax are the must-haves, Flute not far behind, and the others have seen much less use, nice though they are. Cello and Sax also fit best within the I1's default guitar tunings. As old forum hand @doggylama has noted over on the Audiobus forum, GeoShred's implementation of pitch rounding also makes it possible to play more in-tune in slide mode, which has been a bit of a holy grail for some users. SWAM do have their own standalone iOS instruments in the pipeline, which will also work with non-MPE controllers, so some may prefer to wait for those. But the GeoShred set are fantastic instruments, and easily the most exciting new release for iOS Artiphonists so far this year.