With the entry-level iPad exceeding the specs of the Air 2—and iPad Pros reaching the mainstream—simply noodling with cool iOS synths and grooveboxes is beginning to seem… quaint. What’s more, the majority of modern iOS apps are compliant with all of the essential standards—Audiobus, AudioUnits, Inter-app audio, and Ableton Link. So, with Apple’s latest Aclass CPUs finally reaching escape velocity, it’s time to start getting serious about workflow.
AUM has been out for a while now, but after a year of enhancements and bug fixes, it has become an app that deserves your attention if you have a collection of iOS synths, beatboxes and effects. At its core, AUM is a mixer that integrates every iOS protocol, includes essential channel insert processors, offers extensive MIDI support, and offers recording and output tools that are essential for professional gigging and studio applications.
With the ability to handle an unlimited number of channels and effect slots (CPU being the gating factor), AUM is the ultimate studio hub for your iPad.
The key to its versatility lies in the aforementioned compatibility with nearly every element of the iOS ecosystem. For example, on a three-year-old iPad Air 2, I set up a simple mixer configuration that includes a Korg Electribe, Fugue Machine, Animoog, and Ripplemaker, all synced via Ableton Link. From there, I added processors on all channels and soloed with the Animoog while an ambient groove played. This approach was theoretically possible before, but AUM’s clean and intuitive mixer interface made the process transparent and cohesive.
In a manner reminiscent of Apple MainStage, each channel begins with either an instrument (or groovebox or compatible DAW), a hardware input, an audio file player or a mix bus input for those who group and process channels. From there, you can add insert processors or use AUMs array of inserts that include EQ, dynamics, filters, and stereo processing tools. There’s no hard limit on the number of inserts or channels, either, so if you’re working on an iPad Pro, it’s going to be a while before you hit the ceiling. For example, the setup described above only reached 48% CPU utilization, as AUMs meter informed me. Moreover, you can save your mixer configurations, including instruments and effects, as AUM presets. If you gig live with an iPad, this alone should have you grabbing your credit card.
In addition to serving as the perfect hub for iPad-based production and performance, AUM offers a ridiculous level of MIDI control, with nearly every feature (or compatible app parameter) available as a destination. Also, its recorder can simultaneously capture all channels as individual stems as well as record mixes from mix buses. Digging into AUM’s configuration options, I discovered that you can set the sample rate, hardware input latency compensation, and bit-depth (including 32-bit floating point) when recording. It’s even compatible with AirPlay and can transmit to other devices in Apple’s ecosystem, if you don’t mind that protocol’s associated latency.
After reviewing iOS apps for a decade, I’ve used my rig for everything from musical sketches in airports to offline processing of audio. In that time, I never found a system that made me think I could actually live without my laptop for full production tasks. AUM has completely changed that and now, all of those investments in apps and instruments have paid off exponentially. If you’re thinking about migrating your musical tasks to iOS, AUM should be the first app you purchase.
Powerful hub for integrating a diverse range of iOS app formats. Sophisticated mixing tools. Stem export. Ableton link.
Producer Francis Prève has been designing synthesizer presets professionally since 2000. Check out his soundware company at symplesound.com.