Audulus Software Synthesizer Review

Audulus has been around as an iPad app for some time now. But I recently procured the windows version and have been spending the night exploring it as a plugin.

Audulus is a rather simple and straightforward software modular synthesizer. It is also pretty as can be with a pleasing to the eye UI and straightforward interface.

Comparatively it is not the best sounding vst out there, but it’s flexibility even with it’s simplicity is pretty impressive. While it lacks the sophistication and sound of Max for Cats, or Reaktor, it makes up for being quickly understandable. This is not to say it sounds bad, but rather there are better sounding products out there.  Watch the short video I posted above, and just take it from there.

That is not to say there are not issues. This largely has to do with what should be it’s strong suit, it’s usability.  For such a straightforward product it does have some pain points. There is something I would like to call the infinite black hole of space with the program on windows. While zooming in and out is nice, having a palette to add things as large as it is with Audulus runs into some issues. If you accidentally slip up you can take your module to who knows where, and never find your way back. Likewise the zoom out feature can lead to similar issues. While I understand the need for giving plenty of space to the users to work and create, and where zoom in and out features can help. There is such a thing as giving users to much to work with. If the zoom out makes things as small as a pixel, and the space to work in makes it impossible to find what you did, both may be a problem, and some realistic constraints would make a world of good.

In addition to that, selecting waveforms with a mouse, as well as other issues lead to flickering of the section selected.

In terms of modules there are a few things I would have liked, such as a more traditional approach to the VCA which separated it from the ADSR such as on a traditional modular synthesizer.  Likewise a proper LFO would have been nice as well. One last tiny gripe, I really do believe FM input should be a standard feature of all oscillators, both software and hardware.  This is another small gripe is the delay tends to spike things in terms of CPU usage, it is likely a bug but I had to do a quick exit from the product as a result.

Needless to say as a PC plugin product this could be improved significantly from where it is now, it still has some major issues to be ironed out. This has a great deal of potential with some tweaks to usability, as well as a few additional features and modules. The patch capabilities for windows would be nice too, I know this has mac and iPad origins, but this is a common feature.

With all that being said, for thirty dollars it is not an expensive tool to explore. It is more straightforward than visual programmers, and a good introduction to the concept of a more modular form of synthesis. Over time if these issues are worked out, this could be an incredibly powerful tool. It is not quite there yet though, at least on PC.

Spotify Sucks

Spotify Sucks
Spotify Sucks

If you have not heard from musicians, Spotify does indeed suck. Many artists over the past couple of years have complained about the paltry revenues from streaming. This is no joke.  Per song streamed on Spotify, I as an indie artist through Distrokid make  $0.00080.  By all measures this sucks. Pandora is also especially awful. If you are asking do other services do better, yes, yes they do. This is why it is worth it to spend $8 – $10 elsewhere, and well, go with something that actually generates meaningful revenue for artists.

Several services pay about a penny or more per song stream, though it tends to fluctuate a bit.  Google Play All Access being one of the prime examples as it pays at least a penny per song streamed.  While this may not seem large, in aggregate it can add up to a decent living. I am not sure how well Apple’s new service pays though, my hope is they have a similar or better pay model. The two biggest advantages of both Google Play and Apple Music is they both offer a purchase option as well.

I am not looking to become a millionaire off my experimental electronic music.  PraxisCat is honestly too weird for most people to ever achieve mass popularity. But when you hear people complain about Spotify and Pandora and the terrible streaming royalties per song with these services, they are not telling a lie.  But what has not been talked about is the fact there are far better options out there, and it is worthwhile to do the research to see who is providing musicians a living, and who is literally starving them. I know millionaire pop artists are not the best people to complain about this. I am not a millionaire pop artist, neither are many of the people I know those making music and selling it over the interwebs, playing shows at your local venues, and making music we care about deeply.  Spotify does indeed suck, this is one of those few instances where the pop stars, and working musicians agree.  The economics of streaming are not as good as people buying albums, but if you must stream, do your research, and find out how much artists are getting from each song streamed. I am going with Google Play myself, but this is because I know how much artists are getting from it.

PraxisCat / MsModular