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NanoStudio 2 by Blip Interactive Ltd

Blip Interactive Ltd released NanoStudio 2 today! It is here! This is the follow-up to what was many people's first music app! Whom I kidding? No one is reading this today, because you're all already playing with it.

NanoStudio 2 iTunes Description:

NanoStudio 2 is a powerful music production environment for recording, synthesis, sampling, arranging, editing and mixing. It’s the successor to the original NanoStudio, an app held in high regard by musicians for many years for its usability, quality and productivity.

With six years development behind it, NanoStudio 2 builds upon the same design principles that made its predecessor so popular and then takes a quantum leap with a massive range of extra features and a new audio engine delivering truly professional sound quality. Everything is optimized for CPU efficiency, so complex projects with many instruments and effects are handled with ease.

This is a complete in-the-box solution to production, enabling you to develop your initial musical ideas right through to a final master with an intuitive workflow carefully designed to get things done.

NanoStudio 2 is a fully featured host for external Audio Unit (AUv3) instruments and audio/MIDI effects. A library of all your AU instruments and presets is maintained so they’re in one place – tagged, searchable and just as accessible as NanoStudio’s own internal instruments.

This leads to Obsidian, NanoStudio’s synth, which is definitely no afterthought. Obsidian is a 3 oscillator 16 note polyphonic instrument with 7 different synthesis methods available for each oscillator, including analogue, wavetable, FM, multi-saw and phase distortion. You’re not limited to synthesis as there’s also support for samples and multisamples, split by note or velocity. Obsidian has 18 different filter types, including resonant analogue, super clean digital, formant, comb and waveshaping. Nearly every parameter can be modulated via the synth’s 5 envelopes, 5 LFOs and 10 configurable macro controllers, and modulation connections can be assigned with just a few taps. 300 factory patches are supplied with macros set up and ready to go. It’s easy to create your own patches and there are many more professionally produced patches available as IAPs.

NanoStudio’s second internal instrument is Slate, a sample/synthesis-based performance pad which makes it easy to tap out drum beats. Slate comes with 500 quality factory samples ranging from multisampled acoustic drums with natural variation through to cutting-edge electronic percussion and effects. Its samples are arranged in 50 factory drum kits to get you started, and it’s easy to construct your own drum kits using the factory samples or your own. Slate can also be used with samples of just about anything: vocals, guitar riffs, synth pads – you name it.

For composing and arranging there are powerful fully featured editors for songs, MIDI parts, automation and samples. All editors share a clean and consistent user interface which means you’ll be up to speed with them in no time.

The sequencer supports tempo and time signature tracks (including tempo ramps) and Ableton Link.

Everything’s brought together by a mixer with unlimited tracks, arbitrary track grouping and audio/MIDI sends. Tracks can have an unlimited number of insert effects and there are 11 effects to choose from, including reverb, sidechain compressor/expander, EQ with spectrum analysis, look-ahead limiter, delay, exciter, chorus, flanger and phaser. You can add AU audio/MIDI effects to the chain and use them just like an internal effect.

There are many mixdown options available with quality settings up to 32 bit/96kHz and support for file formats including wav, aiff, ogg and M4A. You can mixdown track stems in a single operation or select just a region of the song - great for resampling.

Sharing options include the iOS Files app, Dropbox, AudioShare, iTunes File Sharing, AirDrop, email, and importing from your iTunes music library. It’s a breeze to share multiple files in a single operation as NanoStudio automatically handles zip files for you.

There’s also a built-in WebDAV server for full control and backup of your files using any desktop computer or WebDAV client.

Doug Woods has already uploaded a Quick Start Guide on The Sound Test Room.

Platinum Audio Lab was commissioned to work on some of the IAP sounds available in NanoStudio 2. He's started a tutorial series for the app, which I've embedded here as a playlist.

Reader Comments 7

Hope this one will be supported through the iOS updates. I used to use NanoStudio 1 a lot, but ended up resigning myself to the fact that it was abandonware.
December 07, 2018  | person nreyes
No, it was never abandonware. When Apple switched from 32 bit apps to 64 bit apps, NS1 couldn’t be updated anymore. It is still available on the AppStore for 32 bit iDevices, for Free. That app had to be re-built from scratch and redesogned to be able to fit in all the features users wanted. That took a really long time, but since 2009 Blip Interactive has been supporting and developing Nanostudio. NS2 will have lots of new features in the future and will be supoorted for years to come.
December 08, 2018  | person Slam-Cut
I mean this politely, and I am politely asking: what is the appeal of this? It doesn’t record audio like a traditional DAW, it deals with recorded samples /MIDI only. Some of you will remember Properllerheadz Reason up to about V5, and after that, they introduced actual audio tracks. I LOVED Reason because it was just so much fun to use, and FAST to come up with ideas. I could run it inside of a proper DAW and have the best of both worlds. So is that the dynamic that’s happening here? Maybe Nanostudio is incredibly fun to use, which explains the appeal? I am VERY curious about it, but I wonder if I would use it regularly or not.
December 08, 2018  | person burnalot
burnalot,
I found the original NS1 a lot of fun to use and I find NS2 to be 10x more fun. NS1 primarily appealled to people who were sequencing synths. Audio and MIDI were not possible on iOS back then. The early days of PC/Mac DAWs were similar.

A lot has changed with more powerful hardware and iOS allowing more inter-app functionality. iOS 11 required all apps be 64 bit so Blip decided to rebuild NanoStudio from the ground up to have more features, including traditional Audio Tracks. Since the app was delayed (new tech like AUv3 came along during development) and the dev didn’t want to delay longer so he decided to release the app without Audio Tracks so that the bulk of its user base could get back to work. For now it is possible to use Audio Clips, which can be very long, that are triggered by a simple MIDI note on the drum pad tracks. Vocals, guitar riffs, chords, whatever can be recorded as Audio Clips and used in NS2 right now.

The best answer is that NS2 is super intuitive and has a great workflow for actually getting tracks completed. The Obsidian synth is a lot of fun and sounds great, the Slate drum pad is packed with drum kits and you can add any sound you want to it, and the mixer is super flexible and very powerful. I think of NS2 as better than a desktop DAW for the ease of use alone. Power users who need really specific arcane things will be best sticking with desktop programs and their expensive price tags. For $30 (less than movie and dinner) I get hours of pleasureable music making fun every day for years to come. That is money well-spent IMHO.

Traditional Audio Tracks will be available approx June 2019. The dev prefers to make his code rock-solid reliable so doesn’t want to rush it. He want to so it right so I respect that. Too many apps have been less well-thought out or reliable and cause headaches. NS2 is rock solid and extremely reliable. It is also a dream to use to compose music (electronic to classical), write songs (pop to traditional), or just build beats. Many genres can use this app.

As to whether or not it will be right for you is difficult to answer. Go to the website and check out the videos and read the features list. I love the app and only offer this post in the hope that it is helpful to you or anyone else that reads this. Good luck!
December 09, 2018  | person Slam-Cut
Just by watching the embedded videos, this seems to be a very full featured DAW, outside of no audio tracks in the current release. It seems there are a lot of quality samples included and the built in synth is very deep. If all of the factory features really run as stable as suggested then this an excellent DAW option, and one I would recommend as a first iOS DAW.

For me, stability is a big issue in Cubasis, although it’s improving, and BM3 which isn’t. Gadget, despite all it’s functional limitations, always runs very solidly with many instruments in use, many more so than I can load in either DAW mentioned above, which makes it a good working environment. I would hope Obsidian synth in NS2 would also run a good amount of instances, and also be able to get near many sound variations as Gadget, but with the benefit of only using a single interface. When the AU3 plugins are added into the mix, the stability might go down, so it would be nice to hear reports about this (Moog Model 15 as an example of a weighty plugin that could push the app off the tracks).

So there are a lot of great included features (so far). Cubasis seems the most comparable as far as a feature list, with it’s built in synth, included samples and sampling ability. But I find both it’s stock samples and synth to be wanting, and I very rarely utilize them. Without actually trying them out and only judging from the few released videos, these features seem to have a higher quality and flexibility in NS2. Are there any major changes in Obsidian between NS1 and NS2? Because trying it out on NS1, if a non updated iOS device is available, would let one know how it is, especially as NS1 is now free.

However so far FOMO has not gotten the better of me. Maybe when audio tracks come along it will. Hopefully I won’t have to pay a premium for waiting.
December 09, 2018  | favorite_border Laarz
NS1 & NS2 are complete different apps. NS2 is based on ideas in NS1, so they are very similar in terms of workflow. NS1’s synth is Eden and NS2’s synth is Obsidian - those are way different from each other. Obsidian is a much better and more flexible synth. Eden synth and NS1 are great to get started on and I’d recommend people try that out first if they don’t understand the appeal of NS2. It may not be for everyone since there are many different people with different preferences in how they work.
December 09, 2018  | person Slam-Cut
As Tim says, NanoStudio was my first audio app on iOS and is the only tool that I have managed to successfully complete of a whole track that I am proud of. It has never, ever crashed for me. As a software developer, I can appreciate what Matt has acheived there.

My iPad is now a dinosaur (first retina model), so no 64-bit for me, but at least it still runs NS1. I had to update my iPhone to iOS 12, so I lost NS1 there, but it lives on in Windows on my laptop which is great.

Now I just need a giant iPad Pro to lay with NS2...
December 10, 2018  | person tristan
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