NanoStudio, an iOS Synth/Sampler App

Recorded on December 21st, 2016


I found a better iPhone MIDI-compatible sampler app! NanoStudio to the rescue, for the insanely low price of $6.99. The screenshots in the App Store do not do justice to what’s under the hood with this thing. It’s quite a bit less immediately friendly than GarageBand, but it’s also way more powerful.

Like so many apps these days, it was tons of effects built in, as well as very flexible sound generators, either sample- or synth-based. The sampler lets you edit waveforms right in the app, although I haven’t been able to get quite as seamless a loop as I can in GarageBand. You can set individual instruments to receive separate MIDI channels, so if your keyboard controller can split its output, you have a multi-timbral synth/sampler.

It feels like its latency isn’t quite as low as GarageBand’s, but I can live with a few more milliseconds of delay between a key press and hearing a sound start. The trade-off is that it is much faster at switching between patches. It’s worth it just to have the rest of the band not waiting on me to switch sounds all the time.

And it can respond to MIDI program changes! This means I can select a patch to play on the Alesis Micron and NanoStudio will pull up the correct corresponding patch as long as I have everything in the right slots. This is hugely helpful!

Unlike GarageBand, though, I can’t seem to make it work with the iRig Pro for recording samples into it, but I believe I can get around that with AudioCopy.

There’s also a full sequencer and a whole separate interface for triggering sounds from “pads” on-screen. And all this is just what I’ve been able to do on the iPhone. I haven’t even tried it with our old iPad because I don’t have a MIDI adaptor that works with a 30-pin connector. But from what I’ve seen, the iPhone version will do fine.

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