There’s no shortage of beat-making apps for iOS but it’s not often that one comes along that approaches things in a different way. Auxy, from an independent Swedish team of developers, does just that. Taking minimalist design to new heights, it doesn’t try to emulate conventional gear but, rather like some of Propellerhead’s iOS apps, brings a slick and futuristic aesthetic to proceedings. It’s free to download with a bundled sound set, and access to the whole sound library costs $4.99 per month or $45.99 per year.
At the top level of the app are Projects and tapping one lets you start creating. There are two kinds of sound source - drums / samples, and melodic sounds. Tap on either to see a list of available instruments, which download automatically and can be previewed from the loading screen. Then tap on an instrument’s sequence box to open the MIDI sequencer. Here you get the option to set bar length, accent and quantize value, and you can enter patterns or melodies by pressing to add notes. The playback runs top to bottom rather than left to right, which works nicely. All sounds download seamlessly and quickly in the background. Press and hold lets you draw a selection box for multiple items.
Tapping on any sample in a drum instrument opens an edit window where you can tweak that individual channel. Parameters include pitch, delay, reverb, filter, sample length, offset, pan and volume. Back in the main instrument view, tapping on any instrument (including melodic instruments) opens a similar edit panel with controls dependent on the instrument. So for synths you might get an additional ducking option for example. The swipe and drag method for tweaking instruments and effects is very intuitive, and this is also how you mix your sounds, using the volume knobs.
Automation is also possible, by tapping on the controller clips under a sequence clip and you can choose from pitch, distortion, filtering and more, and draw automation ramps in with multiple key points to automate different parameters over time. This works really well and is a clever way of implementing automation using the touch interface.
Then there’s song-building, which you can do from the main clips view. Long press on a clip to edit its name, delete, duplicate or move it. You can also short tap on a clip during playback to mute it, making it possible to punch parts in and out on the fly for a live performance. Ableton Link is supported for wireless collaboration and you can export your project in multiple formats - to the cloud for collaboration, as a Live set or Studio One project, stems or a MIDI file. Or, render your whole project down to an audio file.
Auxy Pro is a very cool and easy to use sequencer for iOS that simplifies programming and automation in a way that’s a lot of fun but still pretty powerful. Perfectly suited to the touch interface, its sounds are well-chosen and contemporary and it’s easy to quickly put together modern-sounding loops, patterns and songs. Editing and adding effects are equally straightforward and the sharing options are great too. You’re more likely to start with a monthly sub than committing to a full year, but whichever you choose, this is a great beat-making tool that fits in your pocket.
Price: Free to download. Full sound set $4.99 per month or $45.99 per year.
Pros: Beautiful, minimalist design. Great sounds. Innovative workflow. Easy to learn and use. Portrait and Landscape mode. Quite addictive.
Cons: You’ll probably want to start with a monthly sub to the full sound set rather than committing to a full year until you’ve been using it for a while.