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As I mentioned in my first post Audiotool by Cologne based developers Hobnox is much like the web based cousin of Propellerheads Reason and, bearing in mind the monumental success of that music making tool its a clever choice of setup for an online music app. In fact playing around with it gave me the same manic buzz that I had when I first discovered Propellerheads flagship product Rebirth years ago, that of almost instant acid house & electro gratification, not surprising considering it has many of the same instruments (Roland 303, 808 & 909) and similar ease of use.

Oh and before I continue I should mention it’s absolutely free to use as well!

First impressions

From the moment you first view the Audiotool homepage you can tell you are in for a slick ride, nicely laid out and easy on the eye and with a list of latest creations from the community surrounding the app, the quality of which showcase Audiotool’s vast array of features and real sonic flexibility.

Launching the app brings up a beautifully designed drag and drop enviroment that allows you do deploy instruments, FX and mixing tools and plug them together using virtual cables. One instant win this has over the majority of PC based tools of this nature I have used is the ability to position the devices wherever you like, it’s far more friendly than Reasons rack based enviroment for one.

Meet the Audiotool family..

So what tools are on offer here? Ok we got –

– Clones of both the Roland 808 & 909 drum machines, as well as a 303 bass synth

– A Polyphonic synth with 3 oscillators, a filter, LFO and an audio in

– The “Tonematrix” which is essentially a pattern based synth, clearly made with the Tenori in mind

– A mixer and some routing tools to allow you to split and merge tools, as well as a sample player

– An ever growing array of FX (that look like Boss guitar pedals too!) including delay, flanger, EQ and chorus

In the case of the Roland clones what is on offer here are  pretty accurate versions of the legendary originals that will have you knocking out beats and squelches in no time at all. The “Pulversateur” offers a nice dynamic analogue synth for melody lines and can be controlled from both the Tonematrix and Piano Roll on the sequencer section (more on this in a bit).The Tonematrix itself produces a fairly simple but pleasant tone, however as a note generator it can become the cause of amusing sonic chaos as well. I think the inclusion in the future of an FM synth for pads and leads in Audiotool would be a good idea, lets hope the developers feel the same way.

The effects on offer here range from the standard Delay, Compression and Modulation to the slightly more interesting such as a Bit Crusher, Pitch Delay and a rather useful static filter called “Slope”, all very handy and generally easy to use and route to and from devices. The mixer is fairly basic and could really do with letting you name the tracks since once you have multiple devices with FX and the like running into you can easily lose track, just a minor niggle though.

You can also split and mix signals as well as use a device called the “Audiotrack” to add some of the samples provided within the application by Loopmasters. The samples on offer here are a pretty good mix of instruments and genres and can be easily searched and selected using the included browser and really rather handy BPM tool. You cannot currently import your own samples but I imagine this is probably on the cards, especially for any future paid for versions.

Making tracks

The Audiotool sequencer section clearly draws from Reason in terms of layout and how tracks are managed, with patterns and sequences being represented by coloured blocks that can be easily arranged and shortend/lengthend. Melody making devices such the synth and Tonematrix have the option of  “notes” blocks that can be clicked on to open a piano roll, allowing you to create chunks of melody to place in your track. This approach to creating synth and bass lines works very well, even though the piano roll can be a bit fiddly at times.

The best thing about the sequencer however, and one that surprised me with its ease and efficiency is the option of creating tracks of automation for every device option, be it filter controls on the 303 clone to parameters on the FX pedals. This automation management, with a single editable envelope line is one of the best I have used in any DAW and really opens up Audiotool for sonic experimentation.

Mixing down & Sharing

As you’d expect the “file” menu also allows you to save the track to your online Audiotrack profile, allowing you to access it again from just about anywhere and continue working – surely something that will appeal to producers and musicians who are on the move or working from a variety of machines.

You can also export your final track to this profile and it is here that Audiotool’s major, but no doubt deliberate limitation exists since you currently cannot export you track to Mp3, WAV or any other format. I imagine that this feature, along with many others will eventually become part of a paid premium package and really its difficult to see this as a negative issue when Audiotool currently offers you so many wonderful features for free.

I’ve noticed that the developers of  other online sequencers and DAW’s have focused on building an online community around their product and since in this case the onus seems to be very much around collaboration this makes sense, however in Audiotool’s case I think that Hobnox have created a versatile standalone tool that is probably the most impressive I have seen so far in terms of features and ease of use.

I think its very likely that if Hobnox continue to develop the application to include more devices and new features then they would be able to offer it on a subscription basis to the many eager producers of electronic music that have already started using it, and many more besides. One thing is for sure – with such a strong headstart in the growing race for the ultimate online sequencer its likely that Audiotool is going to be a name we’ll be hearing a lot more of in the future.

Now go check it out yourself at

2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. By Online synths round-up « Audio Silver Lining on 20 Jun 2010 at 11:26 am

    […] a standalone version of the one used in Audiotool – simple to use, lush sounding and strangely […]

  2. […] those getting to grips with Hobnox’s superb Audiotool online sequencer (reviewed here) you can find a set of useful guides to its plethora of devices and FX on their YouTube channel […]

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