Stroke Machine, the drum and groove synthesizer from Wolfram Franke, just got a major update recently. Version 2.0 brings several new views to the app, along with MIDI enhancements and Audiobus 2 support. A recent update (2.0.1) brought some minor bug fixes.
Originally released in late 2013, Stroke Machine received a lot of recognition, not only for its bold look but also its massive capabilities. Not only a drum sequencer and synthesizer, but also capable of melodic notes, Stroke Machine is a deep "all-in-one" app that competes very favorably with the likes of iElectribe and Rhythm Studio .
I've listed the Version 2.0 updates below, with some highlights being the addition of Audiobus 2, MIDI Channel selection and the drum pads:
• Maximum settings of Bar, Beat and Step highly increased. Now a pattern can have up to 16 bars with 16 beats with 16 steps each. This amounts to up to 256 64th notes per bar and 4096 64th notes in total. Please don't blame us if you mess up your patterns, but send us audio links to interesting tracks you've created with it.
• AudioBus 2 support including saving and loading of the current Stroke Machine kit.
• Added Mix view with important mix parameters for the percussion and melody sounds like Mute, Solo, Volume, Pan, FX Bus and FX Send. To automate them, activate the respective Modulation Sequence.
• Added Pad view with big, velocity-sensitive pads for the 12 percussion sounds.
• Added MIDI channel selection for each melody sound and all percussion sounds to 1 to 16, Omni (all channels) and Off (no channel).
• Layer sounds by setting several parts to the same MIDI channel.
• Added Route button. When activated, incoming MIDI notes are routed to the currently selected sound independent of the received MIDI channel. Other sounds on the same MIDI channel are layered. When deactivated, the MIDI channel of the incoming notes is evaluated and the respective sounds are played (previous versions of Stroke Machine decided automatically if incoming MIDI notes should be routed to the selected part or not depending on the MIDI input port).
• Added Internal/External Sequencer button. When using Stroke Machine with Inter-App Audio or AudioBus, you can now select if you want to continue using the internal sequencer or the sequencer of the host app.
• Added MIDI Learn. Tap the CC button to show the MIDI Learn view. Tap on any of the lime green edit buttons to arm MIDI Learn and move a dial or slider that emits MIDI Control Change messages on your hardware controller. The MIDI Control Change message is immediately assigned to this particular parameter. The MIDI channel is learned as well, so you can assign a MIDI Control Change message on MIDI channel 5 to a sound receiving notes on MIDI channel 4. Assigning a particular MIDI Control Change message to a different parameter removes the previous assignment. To remove an assignment manually, double-tap the respective MIDI Learn button. The learned MIDI Control Change messages are saved with the Kit. Please note that some MIDI Control Change messages are excluded, those are Bank Select MSB (#0), Modulation Wheel (#1), Channel Volume (#7), Pan (#10), Expression (#11), Bank Select LSB (#32), Sustain Pedal (#64) and the Mode Switches (#120 to #127). They are reserved for future use.
• Added MIDI Program Change reception. Upon receiving a MIDI Program Change message, Stroke Machine loads the Quick Access Pattern with the respective number.
• Changed Master Volume to only control the volume of Stroke Machine rather than the overall iPad volume. This way it doesn't affect other IAA or AudioBus app.
• Added Clear Pattern button in Kit view. Tapping it clears the pattern notes while keeping the sounds and other settings.
• Added LFO phase beat sync. Activate Clock and Mono and set the Startphase to any value except random (leftmost slider position) to get an LFO cycling which is hard-synced to the beat rather than to the moment when a note is played. The former behaviour is still available when Mono is switched off.
• Fixed crash when tapping Next or Previous Kit while in topmost library folder.
• Fixed crash with Share Kit/Sound on iOS 6.
• Fixed crash when editing notes while recording.
• Fixed freeze when an interruption occured such as an incoming Skype call.
• Fixed an issue with soloed parts when loading a kit.
• Fixed possible double playback of notes on first step when syncing to MIDI Clock.
Fixed in V2.0.1:
• Fixed Quick Access Pattern assignment.
• Fixed possible crash in iOS 6 due to missing AudioBus 2 support.
• Fixed possible wrong sample pitch when loading older kits.
• Fixed Envelope 2 Release 0 resulting in very long release.
I've been playing around with Stroke Machine for awhile now, and I'm still coming to terms at how deep it is. Grooveboxes aren't my main "instrument of choice", so this app took me a bit of time to get comfortable. This is in no means a knock on the app, but these types of apps aren't my typical tool of choice. I like having the option of choosing either waveforms or samples for my tracks. Choosing to use waveforms will give you an impressive amount of control over your sound. With two oscillators, two envelopes, an LFO, filter, etc. etc., you're going to be able to dial in your sound. If synthesis isn't your thing, there loads of samples to choose from.
All of these sounds can be programmed by using the step sequencer, which I found to be very straight-forward and easy to use. As mentioned before, you can also now use the 12 drum pads to record your percussion. I'm a terrible finger drummer, so I prefer the step sequencer, but this is certainly a nice addition.
I've been using my iPad Air, and have had no issues with system overload, but I suspect this one might be a bit taxing on older models. Also, as of this writing, I've yet to upgrade to iOS 8, so I cannot speak to its functionality on the new OS yet.
Stroke Machine can certainly boast to being one of the most robust groovebox apps on iOS. And with Wolfram Franke as the developer, there is some pedigree here. The sheer depth of this app might be intimidating at first, but once you dive in, you will quickly become familiar with the basics. Diving deeper, you will be pleased with the modulation options and control over so many parameters. There's certainly tons of features that I haven't covered here, and I'm looking forward to learning more about this app as I go. Stroke Machine looks like it will become my new groovebox app going forward.
If you are thinking about buying Stroke Machine, please consider clicking through our App Store link below. Thanks!Stroke Machine
Developer: Wolfram Franke