Each year, a few Electronic Musician editors get together to comb through hundreds of audio products to assemble hypothetical studio setups that music makers will find affordable, musically and ergonomically useful, and, most of all, artistically inspiring.
This time, we’ve focused on three scenarios that musicians commonly encounter—creating sound for picture, recording rehearsals and jam sessions, and assembling a collection of shareware/freeware audio tools for making electronic music.
We’ve chosen products that provide the best features for the money, while remaining relatively affordable: Even with software freebies, it’s important to know what you’ll get when developers try to upsell you.
Of course, personal preference plays a major role in any sound-related purchase, so use these suggestions as a starting point as you define a system that meets your own needs. All of these setups will give you a firm foundation from which to begin. (For brevity’s sake, we’ve assumed that an acoustically ideal space complete with mic stands and other accessories is already in place for each scenario. And unless otherwise noted, street prices are quoted throughout this article.)
The Composer Studio
Music creation for visual media
By Mike Levine
Universal Audio Apollo Firewire Quad This studio is designed to provide a TV or film composer with the tools necessary to do his or her job. A composer needs a large selection of virtual instruments, a DAW with strong video support and score-friendly features, and reliable monitoring. I am also building in the ability to record a live musician or vocalist, which is often necessary during a composing job. I have tried to keep the cost reasonable, but I didn’t skimp on necessities purely for the sake of economy.
MOTU Digital Performer 8 I could’ve chosen any number of DAWs, but Logic Pro X ($199) offers an unbeatable all-around combination of features for the film composer on a Mac, including markers, advanced tempo calculation tools, support for multiple frame rates and SMPTE, and the ability to bounce to a Quick-Time movie. It offers a fine selection of virtual instruments, the superb Drummer and Drum Kit Designer features, and a host of solid audio-processing plug-ins. It even has a large selection of built-in Apple Loops, which are handy for throwing together quick ideas or to use for inspiration or temp tracks when composing. Considering what’s included, its price is incredibly low—and no subscription is necessary.
Native Instruments Kontakt 5 For the deepest set of film-scoring features of any DAW, including support for streamers and punches, a visual click, tempo calculation, and much more, the cross-platform MOTU Digital Performer 8 ($499) is the ticket. If your work will include sessions with live players working to picture, these features could make DP8 your best bet on either platform. It also provides a strong set of processing plug-ins, including a very good amp modeler. So, while Logic’s virtual instrument collection is much deeper and its price a lot lower, many film composers swear by DP8, so it is a strong option.
Both software apps have relatively full notation sections, which will let you print out parts for musicians as needed. But if you work extensively in notation, you might want to add PreSonus Notion 5 ($149) to the studio. It offers video support so you can work on your scores in it standalone or ReWired to your DAW. It brings a good selection of orchestral sounds, which will augment the virtual instruments I am including with the studio (see below), and it gives you greater flexibility than the DAWs do when creating charts for musicians. In addition, the inexpensive Notion for iPad ($14.99) lets you open your scores and tweak them on the go.
iZotope RX-4iZotope Ozone 6 In addition to a DAW, an audio interface is the heart of a studio setup. Universal Audio’s Apollo interfaces offer a number of advantages, including access to the excellent universe of UAD-2 plugins (the Realtime Analog Classics Plus bundle is included, and others can be added à la carte) and the ability to track through UAD-2 preamp emulations— the Universal Audio 610-B preamp is included and others are available for purchase. The excellent and easy-to-use Console application makes controlling the preamps and plug-ins (not to mention setting up cue mixes) a breeze. The DSP mixer feature provides low-latency tracking.
For my studio, I chose the Universal Audio Apollo FireWire version ($1,999) because so many Mac Pro tower systems, not to mention Windows computers, don’t have Thunderbolt ports. This interface is future-proofed to a degree, because if you do get a Thunderbolt-equipped computer, you can update the Apollo with a Thunderbolt card. If you already have a Thunderbolt-equipped computer, substitute the Apollo 8 ($2,499), which also has a Quad UAD-2 system and similar software features and I/O. Either way, you can’t go wrong.
In terms of virtual instruments, Native Instruments Komplete 10 ($499) was probably the easiest choice of all the items I put in this studio. Not only does it give you industry-standard instruments such as Absynth 5, Massive, and Reaktor, as well as new synths like Rounds and Monark, you also get the Kontakt 5 sampler. In addition to its own vast and comprehensive instrument collection, Kontakt 5 comes with drums, pianos, strings, horns, and more. What’s more, third-party instruments are available for it, as we will see in a moment.
Apple Logic Pro X Komplete 10 also includes excellent compressors, reverbs and other effects. If your budget allows, go for Komplete 10 Ultimate ($999), which provides an even larger collection of instruments and content. But you will be well set up even if you only get the regular Komplete 10.
Speaking of Kontakt libraries, Spitfire Audio Albion 1 (£349) offers a range of orchestral instrument sections including strings, brass, woodwinds, and percussion. Its pre-blended-section architecture makes MIDI orchestration faster and easier than with a lot of other libraries. All the captured sounds are meticulously miked and exquisitely performed.
Spectasonics Omnisphere 2 Between the synths included above, you have a lot of synthesis power already. But if your productions lean toward the electronic side, and you want to really ramp up your synth power, Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2 ($479) is a great choice. Offering wavetable, granular, and FM synthesis, as well as a huge selection of filter and modulation options, it can produce a enormous variety of timbres, including the sound-design-style patches so often heard on soundtracks. Omnisphere 2 comes loaded with more than 10,000 sounds and provides the creative tools that let you add rich and complex electronic textures to your scores.
With the amount of cues you have to crank out for many scoring projects, it’s handy to have a fast and effective way to get them sounding their best before submission. The iZotope Ozone 6 Mastering Suite ($299) does exactly that, offering both standalone and plug-in operation, and featuring EQ, Dynamics, Maximizer, Harmonic Exciter, Stereo Imaging, Post EQ, and Dithering, all in an integrated modular environment. Ozone’s plug-in version can also be useful as a processor for individual tracks during mixdown.
Audio-Technica AT-4033Focal Alpha 80 It’s not a question of whether you’ll have to deal with noisy or glitchy audio, it’s a question of when. That’s why you need an all-around audio restoration suite such as iZotope RX4 Audio Repair Toolkit ($349). Whether you have to remove ambient noise or hum, or take out an inadvertently recorded sound from a decaying note, RX4 gives you a potent collection of modules to deal with virtually any kind of audio issues.
For recording live instruments, I have chosen a small selection of quality microphones. The Audio- Technica AT4033/CL ($399) is a single-pattern, large-diaphragm condenser that gives you excellent quality for recording vocals and voiceovers. It records with low-noise and good transient response, offers high SPL handling, and has the versatility to handle a wide range of sources.
For accurate recording of acoustic instruments, the Oktava MK-012-01 ($599 for a matched pair) offers excellent sound quality at a good price, and three interchangeable capsules are available—cardioid, hypercardioid, and omni. For everything from acoustic guitar to piano to violin, this versatile pair of pencil condensers will come through for you.
Audio-Technica ATH M70xOktava MK-012-01 For headphones, I have two choices. The Audio- Technica M70-X ($299) offers premium performance at a reasonable cost. Comfortable and well-built, the closed-back circumaural M70-X offers good isolation for tracking, and accurate frequency response for mixing.
I would add three pairs of the Shure SRH440 ($99/pair) so there are enough cans to go around when musicians and clients visit for live sessions. The SRH440 provides good isolation and excellent sound at a reasonable price.
Because this studio has no mixer, you'll need something to replicate the functions of a console monitoring section, including talkback and monitor switching. Luckily, the PreSonus Monitor Station V2 ($299.95) deftly handles both of those applications. What’s more, it is equipped with four amplified headphone outputs, so there’s no need to purchase a separate headphone amp.
Avantone Active MixCube Accurate monitoring is crucial for a composer, especially when mixing. Included are two very different types of monitors that you can switch between during mixing sessions to provide different sonic perspectives.
Focal monitors are renowned for their accuracy, and the Alpha 80 ($549 each) brings that to your studio at a surprisingly affordable price. Equipped with an 8" woofer and 1" tweeter, these biamplified monitors give you the frequency response to judge everything from the lows of timpani or sub bass to the highs of strings and other acoustic instruments.
Sadly, not everyone will hear your music on large biamped speakers, so it’s good to have a way to check how your cues will sound on TV sets, computers and other “real life” devices that offer more midrange than top or bottom. The diminutive Avantone Active MixCubes ($479/pair) feature 60W of total power and provide combo inputs that accept XLR and 1/4" input.
Tool sets for recording rehearsals and gigs
By Gino Robair
Nearly every top musician will tell you: If you want to take your playing to the next level, record yourself practicing and performing and listen to the results. To do this, you need a recording system that matches the number of musicians you have, the situations in which you play, and, most importantly, your budget.
Of course, recording in a practice space or noisy club doesn’t always provide the best sound, but that doesn’t mean you should skimp on audio quality: You will be surprised how often a recording device captures the essence of a song, which trumps any detrimental sound of the environment itself.
Rather than assume one size or type of ensemble, I will describe a couple of scenarios that I have come across and offer some affordable and reliable ways to record them.
Audix DP4 drum pack Let’s start with a duo—a pair of singer/songwriters, both of whom sing and/or play an acoustic instrument (guitar, mandolin, banjo, etc.). The easiest way to capture the two with a decent degree of separation between the channels—musician A on the left, musician B on the right—is to use a portable digital recorder, preferably one with directional mics (e.g., cardioid pattern) that face away from each other. (In stereo-miking terminology, this is referred to as an NOS or ORTF configuration, depending on the angle of separation and the distance between mic capsules.)
My favorite recorder for this scenario is the Tascam DR-40 ($179), a clean-sounding, lightweight yet durable recorder that lets you position the built-in mics in a spaced or x/y position. It can capture WAV files up to 24-bit, 96kHz resolution as well as MP3s for longer sessions (such as lessons). It accepts SD and SDHC cards up to 32 GB.
Cymatic Audio uTrack 24 A major plus is that the DR-40 can record four channels—two stereo files simultaneously. To do that, the device includes phantom powered XLR/TRS combo-jack inputs that accept external mics or line signals. Or, you can set the device to record the second stereo file as a safety track with a lower input setting to avoid distortion. Best of all, this recorder is easy to use, making it convenient to set up quickly and capture songwriting sessions, shows, and lessons without fuss.
For larger groups who want to record while they practice, JamHub has several solutions designed to reduce the audio level of your rehearsal as far as the neighbors are concerned, while allowing the musicians to hear each other clearly via headphones. There are three configurations to choose from: BedRoom ($299) accepts 15 audio channels, supports five musicians and has analog line outputs for recording; GreenRoom ($499) and TourBus ($699) each handle 21 channels and seven musicians, and provide USB ports for tracking to your computer-based DAW. However, the TourBus also includes a metronome and built-in stereo recording capabilities to SD card—a complete system for capturing your jams, songwriting sessions, and pre-production work.
Roland HS-5 All of the JamHub models have TRS and phantom-powered XLR inputs, allowing you to use mics for voice, a drum overhead, or on a bass cabinet, while sending signals from keyboards, electronic drums, and guitars. Each musician has input level controls for their instrument and microphone, a pan control for their own instrument, as well as the ability to create a mix of the other players in his or her own headphones or earbuds. There is also a built-in master effects processor for the XLR inputs, and each musician has his or her own effects level control.
The JamHubs come with one or more wired remote jacks, depending on the model. This gives as many as four musicians control over the mix going to their headphones while standing at a distance from the main unit. (TourBus comes with two SoleMix remotes, while the GreenRoom includes one. Additional remotes are $75 each.)
If you want to do a multitrack recording from the JamHub, the company offers the Tracker MT16 ($399). It comes with the single Connect cable that sends output from JamHub directly to the Tracker MT16, which records 16 simultaneous tracks of MP3 or WAV files to SD card or a USB drive with resolutions up to 96kHz. (The highest resolution reduces the track count.) Cards up to 64GB are supported. Moreover, the Tracker MT16 is WiFi-enabled and has an Ethernet port for updating the software.
JamHub Tracker MT 16 On the other hand, if you’re using an analog mixer in your studio or onstage, you can use the JamHub’s breakout snake ($75) to patch audio from the mixer’s TRS inserts to the eight TRS inputs of the Tracker MT16. (Read a full review of the Tracker MT16 in the November 2014 issue at emusician.com.)
The Roland HS-5 Session Mixer ($599) is another option for silent practice that also provides built-in recording capabilities. In this case, it offers 16-bit, 44.1kHz stereo WAV recording directly to USB flash drive (up to 32GB supported). To make a multitrack recording, connect the HS-5 to your computer via USB.
The HS-5 accepts five inputs and lets each player create his or her own mix (including individual reverb level control). Four of the input channels have XLR jacks, as well as 1/4" jacks for line- and instrument-level signals. The fifth channel is stereo line input only on 1/4" and 3.5mm jacks. Roland’s COSM amp modeling is provided for guitar and bass instruments, with EQ, delay, compression, and reverb effects included. Two HS-5s can be connected together to handle eight musicians.
Presonus Studiolive 1642 For all of these systems, you will need closed-back headphones for proper separation from external sounds. Among my favorite affordable models are the Audio-Technica ATH-M40x ($99), the Shure SRH440 ($99), the Sony MDR-7506 ($99), the Samson SR950 ($69), and the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro ($99). Like with mics and speakers, the sound you prefer from a pair of headphones is subjective, and I encourage anyone who visits my studio to bring their preferred pair so that they have something they’re comfortable with in terms of feel and sound quality.
Many artists and bands want the ability to record directly from the house mixer with little or no fuss, using an affordable recorder that will stand up to the road. The Cymatic Audio uTrack 24 ($999) can be used to record 24 channels at 24-bit/48kHz resolution (8 channels at 24-bit/96kHz) directly to a USB drive. You can use the uTrack 24 not only to record your rehearsals or shows, but to capture your sound check so that you can evaluate the mix while offstage; the front-panel LEDs display input levels.
You can also use the uTrack 24 to play backing tracks during your show or as an audio interface when you’re back in the studio. The internal DSP mixer lets you create a stereo mix for the headphone outputs and features level controls, pan, mute, and solo. You can set markers and loop points as needed. The unit can also playback Standard MIDI Files.
Jam Hub Tour Bus The 1U device has all of its analog I/O on D-Sub connectors. For pro applications, the uTrack 24 includes Word Clock I/O and a slot for an optional MADI card. The Ethernet port provides a way to control the uTrack 24 wirelessly. Just connect a WiFi router to the recorder and use the free uRemote software to view and control all 24 tracks using a laptop or iOS device. Cymatic Audio also offers uTool software for file conversion and playlist editing.
For a complete rehearsal or gig recording system that includes mixer functionality and makes the process a breeze, it’s hard to beat PreSonus. Starting with any of the company’s StudioLive AI-series digital mixers, you can track immediately to your computer over FireWire using Capture 2, a cross-platform multichannel recording application that comes bundled with each mixer. (Read a review of the StudioLive 16.4.2AI in the June 2014 issue at emusician.com.)
Tascam DR40 After you’ve set up your mix and connected the mixer to your computer, launch Capture 2. When the Capture Now button appears, hit it; a session is created and recording begins immediately. If you engage the Prerecord feature, Capture 2 will grab up to a minute of audio before you press Record. Engage Big Meter mode to see large level meters instead of the timeline, and set Session Lock to keep the recording from inadvertent interruption. The program also saves the mixer scene within your Capture 2 session.
One of the handiest features in this setup is Virtual Soundcheck, which allows you to play back a previous recording from a gig or rehearsal in order to automatically set up the mixer for the new session. Once the band arrives and gets set up, all you’ll have to do is a line check and make any final adjustments, then you’re ready to roll. The number of tracks you can record in Capture 2 is determined by your StudioLive AI and RM (the rackmountable version) mixer’s channel count. And if you’ve hooked up a router to your mixer, you can control it wirelessly using the StudioLive Remote for iPad.
When it’s time to edit and mix your recording, open your Capture 2 session in PreSonus Studio One 2.0. StudioOne configures automatically to the mixer, and the mixer scene is recalled, including Fat Channel settings—everything except the reverb and delay settings. In addition to mixing and editing your tracks, you can further edit the scene, then send it back to the mixer for recall. All told, it’s a well-integrated system.
The Free Stuff Studio
What can no money down do for you?
By Markkus Rovito
If you’re old enough to remember when Run-DMC said “hard times are spreading just like the flu,” you’re probably old enough to have a couple of bucks lying around. But it’s okay if you’re broke or just don’t feel like shelling out for music gear. If you have a decent laptop, you can definitely collect enough free tools to make some high-quality electronic music.
Cwitec TX16WxMagix Independence You’re going to have to sign up for accounts, and possibly fill out surveys. You may have to maneuver around donation solicitations and deal with some GUIs that are a bit gooier than the $300 competition. Such is the burden of the musical freeloader. Not only that, you’re going to have to use the laptop’s built-in mic. (Hey, Erykah Badu did it!) As for monitoring, I hope you have some decent earbuds.
A free DAW is kind of like a free lunch; some will say it doesn’t exist, while others will say it depends on how you look at it. Apple GarageBand is quite good for a free DAW, if you have a Mac and only want to use 64-bit AU plug-ins (which limits your current free options significantly). But we’d like to keep this list cross-platform, since the lowcost computers live in the Windows space, and there are lots of free VST-only plug-ins.
Ichiro Toda Synth1Sound Magic Piano One The new update to the open-source DAW, Ardour 4.0, deserves a shout-out, because of its many improvements and support for OS X (AU plug-ins only), Windows (VST plug-ins only) and Linux. It’s not the slickest interface or fastest workflow, but it is a high-level DAW you can use professionally. However, it is only sort of free. If you don’t donate at least $1, plug-ins will be disabled and the program goes silent after 10 minutes. But everyone has $1. Everyone.
My highest recommendation goes to Cockos Reaper, which is really only free on a technicality. You can “evaluate” the fully functional Reaper 4 DAW officially for 60 days, but unofficially for as long as you want, because Cockos is cool. Licensing Reaper costs $60 (personal use) or $225 (commercial license). If you have the $60, supporting Reaper—perhaps the world’s greatest DAW value—is well worth it. It specializes in efficiency and stability, but gives you an advanced feature set for multitrack recording, audio and MIDI editing, AU/VST plug-in support, and a well-rounded suite of effects. It also has a crucial Virtual MIDI Keyboard, so you can input notes from your QWERTY.
Datsounds ObxdDigital Suburban Dexed Whereas free DAWs are a little bit squirrely, the free instruments are where this gets really fun. And you can do a lot of sonic damage with no cash spent. First, let’s cover a lot of the basics with two sample-based instruments: Magix Independence Free and IK Multimedia SampleTank 3 Free (both are AU/VST). Independence Free comes with 2.2GB of drum, percussion, guitar, bass, piano, synth, and other instrument sets and has the feature set of a full-fledged sample workstation like Kontakt or Halion. Upgrading to a paid version gets you the 12 or 70GB sound library. Sample-Tank 3 Free limits you to 22 instruments, but they sound great and will round out your palette a bit with things like flute, brass, and violin. Plus, it’s an easier interface with excellent effects, and mixing for up to 16 parts built-in. You can use it in standalone mode for a live performance option and buy tons more sounds from within the software.
Many of these free instruments take inspiration from vintage hardware, such as the Cwitec TX16Wx (AU/VST), based on vintage Yamaha samplers. It’s great because it has astounding sound-shaping capabilities and lots of format support (including WAV, AIFF, Logic EXS, Akai AKP, REX, and SFZ), which opens it up to lots of free sample collections (see below).
Archetype Instruments LokomotivArdour 4.0 Now look up the u-he Tyrell Nexus 6 (based on vintage Roland Juno synths), Ichiro Toda Synth1 (modeled on the Clavia Nord Lead 2), Datsounds Obxd (inspired by Oberheim OB-X models), and the Digital Suburban Dexed, based on the Yamaha DX-7 FM synth. These range from fairly simple (Obxd) to complex (Dexed). None are as advanced as today’s mega soft synths, but many have a lot of great presets, and they should all challenge your synth patch creation skills.
On that tip, if you’re learning synthesis or just want some instant gratification, try Archetype Instruments Lokomotiv (AU/VST), a simple but bigsounding virtual analog synth with two oscillators (plus noise and sub-osc) where you can dial in sounds fast or check the presets and deconstruct what the controls are doing with the sound.
Finally, for something completely different, load up u-he Triple Cheese, a synthesizer that uses three stages of comb filtering to generate signals, rather than oscillators or samplers. It’s not difficult to use if you understand basic synthesis, and it’s good for making weird and yes, cheesy sounds, like a circus organ out of Alice’s Wonderland.
u-he Triple CheeseCockos Reaper Windows users have a lot more basic-to-bizarre free VST effects they can pluck from the Internet, but we’ll still hook up with a well-rounded selection of freebies for both Mac and PC. IK Multimedia Amplitube Custom Shop starts you out with 24 free models of various stomp boxes, amps, cabinets, and mics that are good for processing not just guitars and basses, but also keyboards, vocals, drums and whatever else you want to try, with many more varieties up for purchase within the software.
A couple of outfits are very generous with freeware and will complete your setup. First, Togo Audio Line (TAL) has a flanger, bit crusher, tube amp, delays, EQ, filter, vocoder, chorus, and even more synths if you want them. The installation is easy, so why not grab them all?
Next peruse the offerings of the Smart Electronix developer collective. There’s a ton to choose from, so I’ll recommend the Ambience reverb, SupaPhaser, SupaTrigga auto-glitch, and the Mad- Shifter pitch shifter. The developer Smart Electronix MDA also has a one-click collection of a couple dozen free VSTs you should grab.
Lkjb Plugins LuftikusTyrell Nexus Lastly, Lkjb Plugins Luftikus (AU/VST) is an analog-modeled 5-band EQ with a high-boost control and nice transparent sound, and the Audio Assault Defacer is anything but nice. This multiformat “audio mangling” plug-in lets you blend between bit-crushing and distortion combinations, so you can add just a sliver of grit or outright destroy the sound.
It’s slim pickins for free mastering-grade plugins, but there are a few to add to your collection of giveaways (all are AU/VST). Tokyo Dawn Records has two: the TDR Kotelnikov stereo compressor and TDR VOS SlickEQ. Next get the A1Audio A1StereoControl for expanding or limiting the stereo width of a single track or group of tracks. Finally, the LVC-Audio ClipShifter 2.3 wave-shaping limiter can function like a brickwall, a compressor or a soft saturator. A paid version adds Mid/Side processing, oversampling and more.
Need sounds? Free loops and one-shot WAVs are pretty easy to find online. Start at Looperman. com for more than 60,000 of them. But it would also be great to have some free, prepared sample sets that load up with metadata applied in the TX- 16Wx sampler. Boldersounds.net has more than 30 free collections, most in EXS24, SFZ, or Kontakt formats (if you need to, download Kontakt Player; it’s also free). There’s plenty more spread out in different places. Use your searching superpowers!
Now you need somewhere to put your work. Splice.com is a music collaboration service with a desktop app that syncs your musical projects, including all their audio material and presets to the cloud, so that different Splice members can collaborate on them. It supports GarageBand, but if you’re using a different free DAW, you can use Splice with just the audio stems. You can keep your projects private if you like, and best of all, the cloud back-up is free, with unlimited storage!
All-round Rehearsal Kit
When you set up a rehearsal space, it’s a good idea to have some basic tools around for both recording and P.A. amplification. For example, a handful of dynamic mics are great for vocals and amps: The Shure SM57 and SM58 ($99 each) are as rugged as they are inexpensive, and they work well on everything.
However, I recommend keeping a separate set of mics around just for drums, and fortunately most mic makers offer drum packs at reasonable prices. For example, the Audix DP4 ($449) puts three i5 dynamics together with a D6 kick mic and clamps. Better yet, the i5s work well on guitar amps and vocals, so they can serve double duty. Lowercost drum packs worth checking out include the CAD Touring7 ($299) and Samson 8Kit ($299.99). (See our June 2014 issue at emusician.com for a roundup of drum mic packs.)
DI boxes are indispensible, and the more the merrier. Radial Engineering makes a wide variety of passive and active DIs, all of which are housed in rugged cases. They range from the basic, passive ProDI ($99.99) to the PZ-DI ($229), which is optimized for use with piezo pickups.
With many iOS app developers relying on in-app purchases, you can snag a ton of cool music apps for free now and pay later if you decide you want the upgraded features. Here are some quick hits for cash-strapped iOS music-makers:
• Workstation: Auxy. Beat Studio. Create and edit multitrack drum, bass, and synth pieces quickly in a userfriendly sequencer. Extra $: MI DI support.
• Groove Machine: Novation Launchpad. Trigger, mix and process the included loops and one-shot samples in this engaging app version of the hardware. Extra $: more sounds and more effects.
• Synthesizer: Steinberg Nanologue. Great app version of the VST 3 Retrologue. Easy to create versatile sounds or call up the 50 presets and use Inter-App Audio to record into GarageBand.
• Synthesizer: Novation Launchkey. Cool arpeggiator- and morphingbased synth that makes good use of the touchscreen to modify sounds and includes a healthy preset section.
• Audio Editor: TwistedWave Recorder. Audio recording and detailed waveform editing that you can save to several audio formats. Extra $: Advanced editing functions and audio upload options.