My experience with Drambo so far
Hello everyone 😃
Before getting to the subject, I thought a bit of context could be relevant for curious people:
As some of you already know I'm new to the iPad music making scene. While I had been making music on portable devices (iPod touch/iPhone/Nintendo DS) as far back as 2008 (with Korg DS-10 and mainly Nanostudio) and despite my immense love for Nanostudio 2 I never really got into it after its release because I completely let go of portable music making ever since working from home became a thing, as that implied having access to my home studio equipment.
Fast forward to November 10 2023. Through an extensive music hardware market research process I just found out 2-3 days ago that iOS/iPadOS music making technology/software has dramatically evolved, and my mind gets blown as I become aware of the concept of AUv3 plugins and host apps on iPad/iPhone. I start considering getting into the rabbit hole of iPad music making, and my in-depth research process begins.
Fast forward to January 5 2024, 55 days later, my whole virtual/hardware studio setup is fully operational and I start winding down my research process so that I can finally experience the integration of a new iPad (Pro 11" M2 silicon) with an RME Fireface UCX, a PC and a Digitakt + Digitone combo. By now I've already created many test projects in AUM involving Drambo as a sequencer.
Now, onto my actual experience with Drambo:
At this point from a "music making meta" standpoint I've become aware of KEY aspects of Drambo's design that make it invaluable for my creative process, I'm thinking specifically:
1. Despite my Digitakt + Digitone giving me access to 12 tracks of polyphonic step sequencing (4 notes per step with shared micro-timing), the resolution of these hardware sequencers is relatively coarse and these machines are not meant to be used to accurately playback unquantized live recordings. Drambo offers a solution to bridge that gap with its high resolution sequencer and accurate MIDI recording playback.
2. Drambo is the ONLY app I know of that offers adequate keyboard controller dimensions AND that ALSO effectively gives the user access to a convenient 8 midi channels "one tap" selector. This in turn allows me during a sound design session to load 8 synth AUv3 as I'm in the process of building/programming cohesive sounds and quickly trigger any of these 8 synths CONVENIENTLY.
3. As it rests comfortably right against the bottom edges of my AUM projects, and while occupying no more than 35-40% of the total height of my iPad (in landscape mode), Drambo is the ONLY app that gives the user access visually to a variable step count sequencer that displays complex but condensed MIDI data that can then conveniently be manipulated (in theory!) without the need to make the app window much bigger than the size of the keyboard controller... AND obviously simultaneously gives access to a MIDI keyboard (AND PADS TO TOP IT OFF!), which is flat out INCREDIBLE.
4. Drambo plays a KEY role in enabling practical MIDI muting control over 8 tracks per instance.
5. Drambo offers the most innovative and efficient interface to program conditional step trigger rules (CYCLES sub-menu) that I have ever seen.
6. Drambo's MIDI keyboard is fully playable RELIABLY on an ipad 11" and gives me access to exactly 28 notes that I could tap on accurately. While it's not the pinnacle of comfort it's DEFINITELY what I'm looking for in terms of balance between efficiency and usability.
7. Drambo is the ONLY app I know of that offers a hybrid step sequencer/piano roll approach.
8. The control/visualizer strip visible right above the keyboard controller is flat out BRILLIANT, and offers the users unbelievable UI efficiency.
I've finally taken a breather to let things settle in my mind a little now that my research process and the assembly of my iPad virtual studio is more or less complete. With a "no pressure" mindset and considering all that I had worked on so far, I finally allowed myself to just have fun, explore and play (at last!). So I started a "moderately" complex AUM project yesterday evening and spent a few hours playing around with the intention of just exploring and piecing a little groove together, with no expectations of "gaining grounds" on anything technical.
As I used Drambo during these few hours, here's what jumped to my attention...
[See Part 2 in comments]