March 18, 2011

iOS Apps: ur doin it rong...

by Chris Randall

My goal today was going to be to put up a fairly thorough review of the Fairlight App for iOS devices. However, I'm a little pissed off now, and with the mood swing comes a goal change.

I purchased the app essentially the minute it went live in the app store. It was $9.99, and I didn't really read the description. I was just like "ten bucks for a Fairlight IIx. Buy now. Click." Here's what I didn't know:

The $9.99 version is, for all intents and purposes, useless. All you can do with it is browse the IIx library, play those sounds from the on-screen keyboard, and play two fairly shitty Page R demonstration songs. That's it. End of story.

Right now, you're saying "but Chris! It says MIDI is a built-in feature right there in the App description! Plus I know from Audanika's recent experiences with Soundprism that you can't sell MIDI support via an in-app purchase! So it's still useful, right?"


CoreMidi support is not available in the $9.99 version. Page R doesn't send MIDI. The voices don't respond to MIDI. The keyboard doesn't send MIDI. It is, for all intents and purposes, a fart app that plays shakahuchi flute samples instead.

Is that image big enough to read? The entries without checkmarks are the ones you get in the Pro version, for which you need to pony up another $39.00. Now, the next thing you'll say is "well, it's a total of US$48.98 for a full-featured Fairlight IIx. That's not so bad." I agree. So what the fuck is the point of the trick, then? The $9.99 one should be free, because it is useless. The "Pro" one should be $49.99. And that's that.

I'll tell you what else I don't like: the fucking gimmicks. The keyboard and disk drive sounds are irritating. The little puzzle you have to complete at the beginning about made me want to frisbee my iPad across the fucking room. When an app is more than, say, $1.99, no matter what its price point beyond that, I expect it to be professional. Not a toy. This thing is made of wood, and someday, if the In App Purchase Fairy comes and touches it with a magic wand, it'll turn in to a real boy. It gets a "DO NOT BUY" from me.

EDIT: I was able to get the CoreMidi working by killing the app and restarting it. Note that it only works on the instrument that is selected via the P3 page. In the simple version, the MIDI implementation is just the selected voice, and that's it.


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Mar.23.2011 @ 3:29 PM
Chris Randall
@Dagon: I'll tell you what. At $15 per, we would have never got in this business, because there simply aren't enough people that actually purchase plug-ins to support a full time job, let alone two.

The story on iOS is quite a bit different. For starters, it is difficult (but not impossible) to use cracked software, so you don't have to compete with free versions of your own products. Secondly, the user base is an order of magnitude larger. Thirdly, your support load is miniature in comparison, because (theoretically) the product just works when it goes on sale, and you don't suddenly find yourself confronted with 80 different hosts on three platforms.

So the product is cheaper and easier to make, and cheaper and easier to support, and you don't have to compete with yourself. As Sean said, apple and oranges.

Even with all that said, and as a counterpoint to what I've stated, the iOS market is very nearly pointless from a money-making endeavor standpoint. I have 3 apps in the store currently, all of which do quite well, and the sum total of 2.5 years of sales wouldn't be enough to pay one month's rent, let alone eating or putting gas in my car. Audio Damage can do this on a good day.

So, sorry you don't like the pricing structure, but you're in the minority (to say the least). If you want to have things to buy at all, you have to share the burdon of their being made. This is a simple fact. Otherwise, you're free to just buy one license of Max4Live and roll your own.


Mar.24.2011 @ 3:36 AM
Would you please answer my problem. Especially since I'm not the only one having this problem clearly on the application Pro, I said. Currently I have found two types of bugs, one without consequence linked to the refusal to consider a midi file and in this case, the application closes. No problem, we raise. The second, more serious, a page will not load and results have a green square and everything is blocked, there is no way out of the Pro application. If you choose to uninstall the application and reinstall it, iTunes does not take into account the update to the Pro version, since it was downloaded directly from the iPad. Result, I had to restart the update so that for now, because of your sales system, I paid twice the Pro application.
So I think you could answer me on that.

Mar.24.2011 @ 8:25 AM
Chris Randall
Are you asking me? I didn't buy the Pro app. You need to write Fairlight.


Mar.27.2011 @ 5:02 PM
After reading the review (which I certainly appreciate) as well as many of the comments posted by others, a thought occurred to me:

"What if the iOS Fairlight App came bundled with a VST version of the Fairlight...would that be worth $49.99?"

Personally, I think it might be a fun instrument to add to my recordings; but, based upon what y'all said about the app, I doubt greatly the iOS app is worth anything. I will most certainly NOT be purchasing any form.

Would it be worth anything even if it were offered as a VST plug-in?

Mar.27.2011 @ 9:00 PM
Chris Randall
Not really, because the sounds, despite Mr. Vogel's protestations, are (a) easily available from many sources, and (b) simply too dated to be usable in modern production. The good factory sounds, well, "used to death" is an applicable phrase here. But on the whole, they're quite rudimentary.

And the machinery of the sampler itself hails from a much simpler era. If you're a Live user, just to put this in perspective, Simpler is a far more capable sample playback engine. So you'd really only be using it for amusement. As to whether that was worth $49, hard to say. I think "no."

That said, the real deal, a device I've spent quite a bit of time with, has a certain je ne sais quoi that makes the endeavor worthwhile. And as an iPad app, I imagine the full version has that same je ne sais quoi. As anyone who is a long-time reader of this blog knows, I am of the firm opinion that context is everything. There is a certain mystical aspect to running a full Fairlight OS on the iPad that wouldn't exist in a VST context.

This applies to the new "real" CMI, as well, with an asking price of $17K. If you'd like some context, you could buy an 8-core Mac Pro, kitted out with a huge amount of RAM and SSDs, running one of the 64-bit DAWs, with a 30" Cinema Display (which would, let's be honest, be a production environment that was an order of magnitude more useful) and still have enough left over for a fairly nice used car to drive it around in.

Or, to put it another way, it is my opinion that Mr. Vogel is taking advantage of our nostalgia.


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