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Diode-108 review – Another great drum sequencer for iOS

Diode-108 is the newest drum app entry into the iOS scene, brought to us by the developers Vibrant Digital Engineering. Now, before you run away saying "Not another drum app", hang in for a few minutes and read on. Diode-108 offers several very unique features that are not available elsewhere, and the easy-to-use interface and small price may just have you adding another app to your "Drums" folder.

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Pattern screen - 16 step sequencer with up to 16 different sounds available to use

To begin, Diode-108 is a drum sequencer that uses patterns to make sounds. So, no drum synthesis here. But, the sheer number of kits available, and the sweet sounds within those kits should please most of you. If my math is correct, there are 43 different licensed sample kits here, with a definite trend towards electronic drums. Licensed kits from such companies as 99Sounds, Samples From Mars, and Dubsounds will give you a nice variety of percussion. There's some Gameboy/Commodore 64 kits, Roland emulations (808 and 909), Electro-Harmonix styles, and a few acoustic styles thrown in.

If all of these sounds are not enough, you can import your own through Dropbox. Note to the developers at Vibrant Digital Engineering: an option to import from Audioshare would be very welcome. But, having the option to use Dropbox is very workable as well.

In the pattern screen, you'll find the interface works just as any typical step sequencer would. Place your hits anywhere across the 16 steps, and you're off. At the top of the screen you will find your transport controls, as well as the BPM controls, option for swing, and the option to change the time signature (anywhere from 3/4 to 12/4). Mute and solo are options are here as well. Pretty straight forward, but super easy to use. Nice.

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The FX screen - where Diode-108 really starts to set itself apart

On the FX screen, you will see why Diode-108 starts to get appealing. For each instrument (snare, tom, kick, etc.), you can add individual effects per step. This is awesome. As you can see in the screenshot above, I added a Bitcrush Sweep to the kick on the 1 and the 9, and added a Reverse on the 11. You can of course fill this up if you'd like. Other FX options include rolls, flams, dives, and soars. These can be placed on one hit, or dragged across several steps to elongate the effect. To me, this gives you some of the awesomeness of Sugar Bytes' Effectrix, but in a very simple to use way.

Other than the "Special FX" option, you can also adjust (again, per step) the pan, volume, tone, or add compression, distortion, some gate, delay or reverb. When selecting these buttons, you will see a 16 step mixer to adjust each step. With the delay and reverb, you can make some additional adjustments to the amount, feedback, and filter (delay) or the room size, damping, width, and hold (reverb). Just a silly amount of control.

The other big option here is the pitch control. Selecting this button will allow you to change the pitch of each hit on each step. This can be done in one of two ways - Relative Pitch or Note Mode. I definitely preferred note mode, as this allows you to specifically choose which note each sound should be set at. If you want to have your snares pitched, easy to do. And as there are some melodic noises included in the provided samples, you can actually makes some melodies using the pitch control. Way cool.

One request I would make here is to have a "solo" button added to the FX screen as well, so you can isolate these sounds while you are dabbling with the effects. Not a deal breaker, but a "nice to have".

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Pads screen - finger drummers rejoice! You are not forgotten!

There is a 16 pad drum pad screen, in which you can record in your hits live. I suck at finger drumming, so I didn't spend much time here. But, it's your standard drum pad style screen. It works. If you like this style of pattern entry, you'll be pleased.

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Drum Machine screen - a full mixer for each instrument, as well as the kit selector and a "hidden" gem

The Drum Machine screen is where you can set your levels for each of the 16 sounds in your full kit. Standard options like pan and volume are here, as well as reverb, pitch, gate, compression and distortion. Remember that you can sample these sounds with the buttons directly below each column, so you can dial in the sound that you are looking for.

What may not be immediately obvious is that here is where you can create your custom kit. If you'd like to mix-and-match different sounds from different sample kits, simply tap the name of the instrument, right near the bottom. As mentioned before, you can also import your own .wav files from Dropbox into your custom kit.

The final screen is the Song screen, where you can arrange your patterns to create an entire song. Simply drag-and-drop the patterns from the Pattern List on the left into the Song Sequence on the right (hint: grab the 3 horizontal lines part under "move" to drag). It's that easy. From here you can also create copies of your patterns, which you can then go back and edit in the pattern screen, to add or remove some hits. Here is where you'll also save your song, and load patterns and songs.

A couple of random notes about the app. You should really check out the manual for Diode-108. Very well written, with a great overview of each screen, it does a great job of introducing you to the app. Detailed info on the different licensed kits, a link to Alan Moore's "Theory of Drum Programming", as well as loads of interesting drum history YouTube video links. Bravo for such a detailed manual!

The app is iPad only, and is Audiobus and Inter-App Audio (IAA) compatible. The developers have been very active on the Audiobus forum, listening to bug reports (with a quick fix already having gone in to fix some release issues) as well as taking note of user requests. Always great to see developers getting involved with the end users.

So, that was a lot of info. But is it worth buying yet another drum app? I'd say it certainly depends on your style of music. If you're looking for rock drums, I'd be more inclined to recommend DrumPerfect or Rock Drum Machine. And if you're into synthesized drums, Elastic Drums or SeekBeats might be more your thing. But, for a great 16-step sequencer with loads of quality samples, tons of effects options (I can't stress this enough - per step effects), and a very easy workflow, I'd highly recommend Diode-108. This app has overtaken DM-1 for me when it comes to step sequencer drum apps. It just offers more sounds, more options, more effects.  And at a price of only $5.99 USD, this is an easy recommend.

If you're thinking about buying Diode-108, please consider clicking through our App Store link below. Thanks!

Diode-108 Drum Machine (AppStore Link) Diode-108 Drum Machine
Developer: Vibrant Digital Engineering, Inc.
Rated: 4+5
Price: Free Download

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you're thinking about buying Diode-108, please consider clicking through our App Store link below. Thanks!

Diode-108 Drum Machine (AppStore Link) Diode-108 Drum Machine
Developer: Vibrant Digital Engineering, Inc.
Rated: 4+5
Price: Free Download

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