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Sparkle app review – The new effects app from apeSoft

The developers at apeSoft are at it again, this time with their new effects app called Sparkle - Advanced Cross-Synthesis (which I'll just be referring to as Sparkle from here on out). If you're familiar with some of the previous offerings from apeSoft, you know that A) this app will be wild, and B) it will be unique. Both of these are true.

Much like previous effects apps from apeSoft like GliderVerb (a collaboration with Amazing Noises) and apeFilter, Sparkle takes a simple concept and sends it to the extremes. While the previously mentioned apps are reverb and filter apps, Sparkle is billed as an "advanced cross-synthesis, phase-sync high-quality transformation" app. That may sound vague, but essentially the app allows you to combine a "source" and a "target" sound file and create a blended synthesis of the sounds.

As seen in the screenshot below, most everything you'll need to control Sparkle is right in the main screen. There are some pop-up boxes for the dials and the parameters, which I'll speak to later. But, as this apps begs for experimentation, it is great that you can fiddle with everything right in one place.

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On the leftmost circle is your source sound file, and on the right is the target sound file. The "hybridization" slider above these is what controls the amount of blending of the two. When I played around with Sparkle, I tended to use a rhythmic file and a melodic file, as this seemed to give the best results. The developers have a nice demo in which they use some a capella vocals which created an almost vocoder-like effect.

For the source sound, you can either use a sample, or use the app "live" by using the mic input, or sending an iOS app in Audiobus or Inter-App Audio (IAA) through Sparkle. There is also the option to control the filter and pan of the source. The first bit of crazy occurs if you are using a sample file. You can control the "Source Sampler Ratio", which is just another way of saying the direction and speed of the source file. This is very similar to the Time Scanning Ratio control in iDensity, for example. So, here's a great first opportunity to absolutely mangle your sounds. Don't worry, there are plenty more opportunities to come.

The target sound file can also be manipulated in many, many ways. Along with the options to change the sound from "normal" to "robot" to "whispering" at the tap of a button, the speed and direction can also be changed here as well. Of course I played my file backwards. Of course I did. You can also adjust the envelope and the "denoise" parameter, which is used to remove sounds below the set value. These can also be "randomized" by double-tapping and selecting the intersecting arrows icon. Another way of manipulating these will be discussed shortly.

As if being able to play both sources backward and at half speed wasn't enough, you can also pitch shift the output sound from one octave below to one octave above. Another crazy feature is the inclusion of a two-octave virtual keyboard, which can change the pitch as well. Immediate monkey business ensues here. There are also post-processing effects, such as a parametric filter, high shelf filter, reverb and compressor.

I hinted before at other ways of manipulating some of the parameters. The Pitch Shift, Envelope, and Denoise can all also be controlled by MIDI, the iPad's X/Y accelerometer, or by one of seven LFO's. Welcome to Crazy Town, Population - You. I'm typically not a fan of using the accelerometer for much, as I play with the iPad on a flat surface, but this was just too much fun. It has to be tried.IMG_0807

If you're familiar with the other offerings from apeSoft, many of the features of the app will be familiar. Sparkle also offers the Snapshots Pad that is present in their other apps. Here you can drag between four different snapshots for instant manipulation.

Incidentally, the demo videos here were created by musician Stuart Kilbride, aka RedSkyLullaby. That name will sound familiar to regular readers and those in the community, as Stuart has recently released the incredible album Burst (which I reviewed in November). Stuart also contributed some fantastic presets included in Sparkle. Much thanks to Stuart for his contributions to this great app!

Importing samples is a breeze with Sparkle. You can choose to use songs from your iTunes library, record a sample from within the app, use either AudioCopy or the general pasteboard, use the "Open In" function from Audioshare, or import from Dropbox. There are also a ton of samples provided in the app.

I'm a sucker for apps that can change my sounds drastically. Sparkle is the kind of app that you could give to ten different musicians, provide them with the same input samples, and you would get ten wildly different results. There are just so many ways to manipulate sounds. Of course, it may not be to everyone's taste, as it leans toward the extreme end of the sonic spectrum. But, if you are the type of musician that likes to explore the farthest reaches of the sonic universe, Sparkle is a must-have.

If you're thinking about buying Sparkle, please consider clicking through our App Store link below. Thanks!

[app 818477094]

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