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SoundPrism Link Edition is the newest iteration of the popular SoundPrism series of apps by Audanika. The series for iPad currently consists of the original SoundPrism, SoundPrism Pro, SoundPrism Electro and now Link Edition. The original SoundPrism being available as a free app with additional Sounds for purchase.
The original award winning SoundPrism app was based on the premise that with its unique visual representation of pitches, chord patterns and melody could become ‘child’s play’. Indeed, it has been adopted by many schools as an easy introduction to harmony theory. An explanation of how this works can be found here.
Now, if like myself you originally thought the ‘circle of thirds’ was a tool for cutting pizza and that ‘triads’ belonged to a show on the sci-fi channel, then maybe SoundPrism Link Edition will be a breath of fresh air. Theory aside, this app promises the premise of easy musical chords.
Testing this premise was indeed child’s play. Having introduced my wife’s five-year-old granddaughter to Link Edition, she brought forth a lush swell of sweet sound from the speakers. Her tiny hands managing the different playing options and chords sprung forth like happy musical accidents. Perhaps the most rewarding result was the obvious enjoyment her smile conveyed.
SoundPrism Pro upped the game for use as a professional composition tool by making it a midi controller. Indeed, many users avoided the simplistic nature of the presets in favour of controlling more suitable sounds for modern genres.
SoundPrism Electro changed the formula to add genre specific sounds in yes you’ve guessed it, the Electro genre. Three sounds were selectable for bass, chords and melody. The play mode selectors were changed to better suit this new style and new built-in tutorials were added to keep the app user-friendly.
The Link Edition moves the line further in the direction of use for the modern day musician.
Many may wonder why a new edition? Why did the developers not just add the new features to the last edition – SoundPrism Electro? After all, both apps look similar. Well, the answer may be two-fold. Firstly the developers seem keen to keep the individual identity of each app intact. They view each app as an instrument in its own right, as sound sets and features encourage new ways to play. Secondly, this opens up the opportunity of different versions aimed at new markets or musical niches.
The developers see these ‘instruments’ as more than just a set of sound presets to be collected together with some new features bolted on. This is most obvious when you realise that the sound engine has been totally rewritten for the Link Edition.
A New Sound Engine
At their heart, SoundPrism apps are playing back sound samples. This means that apart from settings preprogrammed to be changed by use of the ribbon controller, sounds are not designed to be user programmed. Hence, the importance of the sound engine used to give life to the samples can make or break the musicality of these apps.
With the above in mind, it is interesting that the developers state that the sound engine has been totally redesigned. Play any of the 23 new sound presets and o boy can you tell! Swiss sound designer Oliver Imseng has crafted some sublime presets. Beauty, complexity and transcendence are all baked into arrangements of bass, harmony and melody. Purposeful tones of an instrument, just begging to be played!
Link Edition still makes for a handy midi controller, playing melody or chords with your right hand and bass chords with your left. Quick arpeggios by running your finger along the horizontal note strips. You may be getting just a hint that Link Edition has stepped up its game in regards to its built-in sounds.
Whereas Electro gave a taste of its respective genre with multiple sounds, Link Edition takes the multi-sound in each preset to a whole new level. The preset Glass Bottle expresses the sound of finger on glass rim, with speed controlled by the ribbon controller. Simple and effective. Yet it is how the organ bass chords blend with the glass sound that makes simplistic turn to lush warmth.
From Evolving pad to its soul wrenching lead, Everything needs an End has shades of Vangelis written all over it. So we have a classic synth genre covered, yet with in these beautifully crafted presets, wobble basses, rave keys, industrial chordal hits and mellow synths cover many basses. Link Edition may lean more towards modern dance and synth related genres than SoundPrism Pro. The series of SoundPrism apps do however compliment each other well.
The new app is justified by the sound engine alone, but with the inclusion of Ableton Link, the new presets mesh with other apps to a much more musical degree. The sync between band members is everything, and this is an instrument that plays well with others. Play Link Edition through Audiobus, synced to other Ableton Link apps and let the fun begin. Imagine a sound of Link Edition pulsing in time with your drum app of choice, filtered through a Link synced modulated ApeFilter.
What Makes an Instrument?
There is no doubt in my mind that the many iOS synth apps, with their hundreds of presets, knobs and sliders, are instruments in their own right. What makes SoundPrism Link Edition unique at this time, is a carefully considered balance between eminently playable touch-centric interface and a range of beautifully crafted Ableton Link synced tones.
As standalone instrument, midi controller or Linked sound source, SoundPrism Link Edition adds an awful lot for very little outlay, especially if you buy as part of the SoundPrism bundle.
For learning and playing, for recording and gigging, SoundPrism Link Edition is an instrument worthy of inclusion on everyone’s iOS device!
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