When BeatHawk was first introduced in 2015, it was an impressive entry into the iOS beatbox ecosystem. The app incorporated many of the same pad-centric elements as Akai’s MPC Pro and Native Instruments’ iMaschine, but with several enhancements that gave it a unique identity, such as a robust Inter-App Audio implementation and extensive cloud integration. Even so, the app flew under the radar of many iOS users due to Akai and NI’s high visibility.
I have a feeling that BeatHawk 2 is about to change that, as it includes a slew of new features that make it both more flexible and more of a team player for iOS-based mobile production.
The added features in BeatHawk 2 greatly increase its compatibility with other studio items, such as your DAW and hardware synthesizers.
In version 2, BeatHawk’s main interface remains largely unchanged, though it now offers improved compatibility with iPhones back to the SE (and 5 series). This is great for users who have adopted its workflow, which played well with Inter-app Audio, AudioBus, CoreMIDI, and Korg’s WIST in the original incarnation.
Digging deeper, the new features are much more apparent. On the editing side, there’s now a piano-roll and MIDI CC editor that offers a more sequencer-like approach to musical grooves, especially when working in pitch mode, which now includes scale and key selection. What’s more, BeatHawk 2 can also output MIDI data exclusively, allowing you to use it with hardware rigs.
Getting your own sounds into BeatHawk’s pads is easier now that AudioCopy 3.2 has been implemented; moving those sounds around is accomplished using the updated copy/paste tools. As for the performance side of things, 3D touch is now available on compatible devices, adding velocity behavior to the pads and giving the app a more hardware-like feel.
In addition to a 16-track sequencer (with 16 patterns per part), BeatHawk’s sequencing tools were a bit ahead of the curve compared to other pad-based apps, thanks to UVI’s understanding that some users prefer having onboard song-construction capabilities. The developer has added the ability to compose your mutes in song mode, as well as snap-to-bar functionality when switching patterns in a live context. Taken as a whole, the app now feels like more a sample-centric sequencing environment than a groovebox.
As a veteran Live user, I consider the highlight to be improved compatibility with the Ableton universe. For synchronized jamming with friends, Link is integrated. Even better is the ability to export your BeatHawk grooves directly to Ableton format, which can be uploaded to iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive, in addition to iTunes transfers.
For those on iOS-based DAWs, the ability to use BeatHawk as an AudioUnit v3 within apps such as GarageBand and Cubasis is another major feature.
Although the first version of BeatHawk was cool and useful, compared to the competition, it wasn’t that distinctive. UVI's latest version has completely upended that, thanks to its expanded compatibility with both AUv3 and Ableton Live.
If you are an artist who finds inspiration in doing mobile production and bringing those ideas back to your main workspace, BeatHawk 2 deserves a place on your iOS device. It is genuinely inspirational.
Piano roll editing for notes and CC data. Supports iOS AudioUnit v3. Ableton Live export. Ableton Link.
User interface feels a tad cramped on an iPhone.
Producer Francis Prève has been designing synthesizer presets professionally since 2000. Check out his soundware company at symplesound.com.