Review: Auria for iPad

As convenient and cool as an iPad is'¦ it lacks a pro level DAW that'll replace your need for a laptop. And then along came Auria HD! Is this the first "real" DAW for iPad?  

Auria calls itself a DAW, not incorrectly, but is currently designed purely for the recording, editing and mixing of audio. Installation of Auria is just as simple as any other iOS app. The download is approximately 200 MB, which is between 10 and 100 times the size of a regular app. Comparatively, GarageBand weighs in at 1.1 GB, and that's because Auria does not include the sample and loop content that is fundamental to the GarageBand app - an important point to consider if you are used to your DAW being an all-singing-and-dancing compositional platform as well as multitrack audio recorder and editor and mixer.

Auria has 2 main windows - Mix and Edit - a setup familiar to Pro Tools users, and it won't surprise you to hear that Auria borrows a few of the best ideas from several well-known DAWs '" see if you can spot them!

Auria's Mix window

Auria's Mix window.

Auria's Edit window

Auria's Edit window.


You can use Auria in portrait or landscape mode. The latter works best from a layout point of view, and the edit window is not available at all in portrait, but in this view the faders in the mix window elongate so they have literally 100 mm throw for extra accuracy.

Auria's 100mm faders in portrait view

Auria's 100mm faders in portrait view.


Auria is necessarily a relatively complex app. The beauty of many iOS apps is in their simplicity and intuitiveness, so Auria has to be something of a compromise in this regard '" this is one of the very few apps around that has menus in the traditional sense. 

Menus? In an iOS app?

Menus? In an iOS app?


The layout and design borrow heavily from traditional DAWs, which in turn model many of their features on their hardware equivalents. So if you have used either or both before you will have no problem! That said it seems a shame that WaveMachine Labs didn't make more of the GUI opportunities in iOS to make life easier for the user in the relatively small screen real estate afforded by the iPad. Controls are fiddly and difficult to read on hardware mixing desks for a good reason '" why not design them to be easier to use in software? Even the very basic MultiTrack DAW by Harmonicdog has rotary controls that present a magnified version whenever you touch them.

Simple but effective - magnifying controls in MultiTrack DAW

Simple but effective - magnifying controls in MultiTrack DAW.


Performance

So what can you do with Auria? This table gives the maximum track counts and performance:

Auria's maximum track counts and performance


Auria has been optimised to run in the iOS environment, and will put up a warning dialogue of system resources on the limit. A handy multifunction performance meter gives you an idea of how well things are going. It is recommended to force quit apps that are not required in order to free up as much RAM as possible. Performance on the iPad 2 to and the iPad 3 is fairly similar, the main difference being that the RAM is twice as large on the 3, which makes a big difference when running large projects in Auria (especially when other apps are open).

This 19 track project at 44.1 kHz sample rate has a range effects inserted on 9 tracks and 5 subgroups - causing a greater than 50% load on the processor (iPad 3)

This 19 track project at 44.1 kHz sample rate has a range effects inserted on 9 tracks and 5 subgroups - causing a greater than 50% load on the processor (iPad 3).


Recording

You start a new project from the main menu and specify the number of mono tracks as well as the project sample rate (from a choice of 44.1, 48 and 96 kHz) '" you can always add more tracks, and stereo tracks, later. To record, tap the record enable button for the required track, then press record and play on the transport. Auto-punch recording is achieved by setting left and right locators, then activating '

Mike has been obsessed with music software since he first saw Fairlight's Page-R, and has tracked its development through his work as a performer, composer and producer. As a writer he has contributed articles to Sound On Sound since 1999, and currently writes their Apple Notes column. As well as being a certified Logic Pro and Pro Too... Read More

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