Reforge, an iPad audio editor, has gotten a major update with version 2. It’s a ground-up rewrite with a new audio engine, and adds support for Sonoma’s increasingly-popular AudioCopy/AudioPaste API, which provides clipboard functionality for sound between iOS apps.

The novelty of running an audio editor on a tablet is clear. But how would you actually use it, in practice? I asked Tib Horvath, Reforge’s developer, to answer that question. He responds to CDM with some tips. It’s a pitch for his product, of course, but then that’s true if you describe the utility of any tool, and he has some nice ideas about what makes Reforge unique and how you’d work with it in production.

Tib writes:

Let me preamble that with what I believe Reforge is good at: Reforge modifies waveforms nondestructively. So copy, cut, paste, crop. But [it's also good at] also splitting stereo files into two mono files, or a mono file into a faux stereo file.

Then there is automation for volume, stereo balance, stereo widening and low and high pass filters, [as well as] time stretch or pitch (each is independent, but not yet automated).

You get all of this with a feel for actually touching the waveform and directly working with it.

So how does it fit in a production workflow?

1) None of the multitrack [iOS] apps support automation to the extent that Reforge does. So, if you need a sweeping low pass over a drum beat, copy the beat into Reforge [using AudioCopy, if you like], do the adjustments, render the file, and copy it back to where it came from.

2) Some apps work with mono files, but [what if] you have recorded/generated this great sounding stereo loop? Import into Reforge and split it into two mono files to copy over to your multitrack of choice.

3) Some multitrack apps do not work well with loops that just don’t fit. Get the loop into Reforge and make it fit by time stretching it. Clean up pops and other problems at the same time with the automated filter features.

4) Adjust the pitch of a voice recording — for example, if it is off-pitch or if you are looking for a special effect.

5) Podcasters tend to generate long recordings. They can now (since long audio files are only supported with Reforge 2.0) split and splice them. Or import podcasts (any other audio except audiobooks, [since they have DRM applied]) from the [iTunes] Library [accessible in the iPod app], and chop it up for easier digestion or further processing.

All of this is familiar to those who use dedicated audio editors on desktop. While many tools, such as DAWs, incorporate waveform editing, having a dedicated tool can be useful in assisting everyday audio tasks, making the drudgery of dealing with audio files take up less time.

Putting this on a mobile platform has a number of potential benefits:

  • Form factor and interface. It’s just easier to pick up a tablet as a representation of your audio and carry it around, show it to others, and edit by touching the interface. You could manage some waveforms over a coffee before heading back to the studio or other workspace, in a way that involves different sorts of interactions than you’d have with a laptop.
  • For the all-iOS producer, a tool like Reforge means you can work between other iOS apps more easily, producing sound and music all on the tablet without having to resort to the computer.
  • For the person on the go, Reforge of course means the ability to do this editing in the field, as it were, without carrying along a heavier computer.

I do wonder, however, if this kind of easy audio copy-and-paste couldn’t come to desktop environments. Computers and hardware have long borrowed ideas from one another; it seems inevitable that traditional computers and tablets will do the same. And that means, even if you don’t ever touch an iPad, you could see positive benefits in the tools you use.

So, that’s what the developer says — and my speculative take on matters. Are you using Reforge, or other related tools? Let us know how you work.

Also, if you’re an iOS user who doesn’t already use Reforge, and you can tell us something useful about your workflow, I’ve got a promo code for you. Just be sure to leave a real email address in the comment field; only CDM administrators can see it, and we will only use that address for your code.

  • http://thebassgeek.net Ryan Williams

    I don't currently use Reforge, but I'm intrigued for its use as a podcast tool as well as music production. Currently, my podcasting goes from an external audio recorder into my laptop, but if I could lighten the load to just my iPad, that'd be great. As for music, I'm currently recording into Everyday Looper using AudioCopy to move over beats from Rebirth and Korg's synth software. Having an audio editor for that work would be stellar.

  • kerm

    Workflow is the biggest problem I have with my iPad simply because there is not an accessible file system where apps can freely share audio files. So, now, there exists a multitude of solutions (e.g., email, dropbox, sonoma, itunes, etc.).

    Currently, I use my iPad in three ways: as a drum machine for guitar jamming (iElectribe, FunkBox), midi controller for VSTs (expressionPad) and as a sound source (e.g., CP 1919, DrawJong, SynthX). However, lack of sample editing and a standard way to share files make it difficult to produce complete tracks within the iPad for me.

    For example, Electrify is a fun groovebox app with some simple sample editing (not as full-featured as Reforge), but works with zipped archives of audio files through iTunes. But if I'm already at my desktop collecting samples, chances are I'm going to open Renoise and not bother.

    It would be nice to be able to do everything on the iPad and hopefully Reforge makes that more possible. I'm just a little hesitant since I've purchased so many apps and yet, don't have a complete workflow. Still, color me interested… I really like how Reforge looks.

  • greg

    Funny, Audacity could do all that 5-6 years ago.

  • kerm

    @ greg

    Cool, then you wouldn't mind compiling Audacity for iOS and make the necessary changes to effectively incorporate the touch-screen ;-)

  • http://a.com j

    If only there was basic file access. documents across all apps.

  • Peter Kirn

    Actually, I was thinking it could be interesting to look at adapting Eisenkraut on Android. The UI's separate from the audio engine in a nice way, SC is already on Linux, and it and all its libraries are already in Java. Then once you had a touch interface, you could make it work on upcoming Windows and Mac tablets, as well. It wouldn't be an impossible job. It would take longer than, uh, writing a comment. ;)

    That could also be a chance to consider some other directions for an audio editor; I doubt it'd be terrifically competitive with Reforge, so much as a chance to explore other wave editing ideas.

  • Peter Kirn

    @j: I couldn't agree more. I'm not convinced this "no file system" thing really is a step forward for usability, though that's a whole other discussion. I agree with the criticism of the user experience of the current file system; I'm just not sure that eliminating it entirely solves those challenges so much as ceases to provide them in the first place. ;)

  • davincicode

    Hey Tib its nice to see the creation of more audio software for the iPad. Really would like to be notified of the progress with REFORGE. I would like to see more development in this area more so then ever with the announcement of iOS 5. 

  • greg

    @kerm – I just do my work at a computer that lets me *look* at my filesystem and directly *change* it without violating my TOS.

    They make them really small now, too!

  • http://www.jhhl.net/iPhone jhhl

    Because Documents are either to be stored in the Cloud, or via the Pasteboard, or inside an app's own sandbox, sharing data between apps – even a developer's own apps – means hand built solutions every time. This includes the tedious work of basic file manipulating (duplicate, rename, delete, move between directories…) which is is left by Apple as an exercise. Sonoma Wireworks' Audio Copy And Paste does a lot of work to make a standard way to access audio files, but not really other documents, and their UI is possibly inappropriate for your app's style. Also, the Pasteboard is poor substitute for a file system, which at any rate, doesn't interact with other devices. iFiles might be a kind of a compromise for these issues, but productivity is severely hampered by the lack of an Apple supplied (non-iCloud)  document sharing solution. Some of my apps have to use multiple ways of sharing files: HTTP server, iTunes documents and copy/paste. 

  • cocteau

    Any one able to compare/contrast this to the new FiRe 2.0 app ? ( http://www.sonicstate.com/news/2011/06/06/audiofi… )

  • http://dsicomedy.com Ted Hobgood

    I work as the technical director at a comedy theater, and my workflow would be greatly improved by an app such as this. Frequently, we'll have a visiting group come in and (always at the last minute) ask for a particular song or artist for their entrance music. Or I'll be at a remote with the owner of the theater and he'll request a particular style of music for a piece (At the last minute, natch.) I can't tell you how many times I've had to scramble to find a song, and then pull it into an audio editor (assuming we had one on a free computer) and then trimming the top of the song to the point where it kicks in with high energy, re-exporting it, and then trying to get it back onto the machine connected to the PA. Would be so much quicker to have something like Reforge to quickly snap out an edit and get the entrance music or cue in place for action!

  • empolo

    I'm a huge fan of AudioCopy/AudioPaste. I'm now using it to do things like sketch out an idea in Rebirth or iMS-20, copy the audio over to Jasuto Pro to freak it even more and then route the output through the headphone jack into my audio interface and onto Renoise. I haven't purchases Reforge yet but now I think I will.

    On that note, I absolutely cannot wait for the Alesis Studio Dock to hit the stores. I might just buy a dedicated iPad when that day comes around.

  • http://the-palm-sound.blogspot.com/ Palm Sounds

    Reforge really is an awesome tool, and worth checking out some of the developer's other apps too

  • Gerren

    I have been really getting serious with iOS recording on my iPad. I was lucky to be able to be directed to palm sounds blog and then this blog from there. I am learning so much and the experience of the projects are what make iPad music so fun for me. Sure there are powerful pc's that can do what it takes my iPad 10 minutes to in mere seconds but it is the trial of the test that makes the outcome that much more sweeter. I am slowly collecting music apps(with copy/paste) to help me reach my goal of making quality songs with my iPad. I feel that with the information sources like palm sounds and this site along with apps like reforge there is no limit to the creative possibilities. I hope to add reforge to my list of apps for my iPad soon ;) . Thanks. 

  • http://toomuchthw.com Torrey Holbrook Walk

    I wonder if an app like this might be useful for me. I've been with iPad since launch, but I still haven't quite been able to transform my iPad into the mobile studio that I want yet. This, at least, appears to be a step in the right direction.

    I use Sound Studio 3 pretty religiously for chopping up, pitch shifting, and normalizing loops for every DAW I touch because nothing else seems to do it harder/better/faster/stronger, but I would still prefer CoolEdit Pro if they made it for the Mac. Honestly, since I tend to work on samples in bulk, I wouldn't mind putting everything on the pad and editing it on the go if the UI is conducive to quick, accurate work. Also, if you could stretch samples (sometimes while preserving pitch) and then blend and bounce samples ala FourTrack, I'd beat a blind man with his own cane to have it.

    The biggest question is how well multitouch allows me to zoom in and test/set loop points and how much audio can be loaded and scrubbed at a time. Since you can import audio from the iTunes library and export your own samples, I could potentially play on this all day.

  • gossen

    we also need the camera connection kit SD-reader to be able (allowed?!) to import audio from something like a Zoom recorder.

  • http://a.com j

    Thanks Peter. I think Android could be leading the way if there were a better standard of apps available. Soon there will be, no doubt. I hope the amazing new Documents feature comes sooner rather than later to iOs. Until then, jailbreaking and iFile is a good alternative as you say jhhl.

  • http://Www.audioforge.ca Tibor

    Wow, thanks for the kind words.

    I am constantly working on figuring out problems you might face and improve on Reforge.

    So let me know if there is something I need to fix and I'll get down to it.

    There is already quite the todo list for the next update…

  • Ben

    I did FAWM this year (fawm.org) and put together 6-7 songs using primarily iPad apps. Because the apps are all over the place in terms of file accessibility, recording, and just getting the music moved around, my workflow changed from song to song. It was a bit of a bother, but as an amateur songwriter, it wasn't too bad, as each app with its capabilities and limitations added to the creative process. 

    I was able to put together a song using Curtis, Korg iMS-20, Moog Filtatron, SoundPrism, and Funkbox, but I had to do all kinds of crazy backwards things to get it to work. I managed to record multiple tracks within Moog Filtatron, but then in the end I had to use a DAW to add vocals, so it kind of felt like wasted effort in the end. Most every song required a DAW for vocals and to have much overall control over multiple tracks. 

    Right now the iPad seems very powerful for getting initial ideas put down, has some cool sound generating apps, and can be quite inspirational, but in order to put together a (indie rock) song from start to finish, it is way too hard, at least for the type of music that I make. I'm not sure if Reforge would help my workflow too much or not. I still feel like I'd need to use a DAW for certain things, and some apps (that I really like) can really only be played directly into a recording device unfortunately.

  • http://www.ctplrstudio.com Treyc

    I have doubts also about having an efficient workflow with audio editors on my iPad. Now, I use it for quick recordings, Dropbox app to swap files, Touchosc for controlling logic. Working with my laptop still proves faster for me.

  • Glenn

    I've been looking at Reforge. The fact that it can open files from an email attachment could come in handy due to the limitations of IOS. One thing I would really like to be able to do is export individual tracks from Garageband on the iPad2 to other apps. I don't think it will be possible anytime soon though. I thought that maybe I could export m4a files from GB using the email option, and then import them into a program like Reforge using the email option, but as far as I'm aware Reforge doesn't support m4a files.

  • Petra

    Wow, I was looking for exactly that. Basic audio editing on the go. This is where the iPad really stas making sense. I'd really love to give it a go and I'd like to receive a promo code if they are still valiable. Thanks fotr this review!

  • Henrik

    @Glenn TwistedWave can open m4a files&nbsp ;http://twistedwave.com/

    I haven´t tried it though and I am still undecided wether to buy TwistedWave or Reforge. 

    Today I use the audio editors in Nanostudio or Beatmaker2 for editing samples (timestretching and pitchshifting in BM2)

  • http://Www.audioforge.ca Tibor

    Glenn, just as a heads up: Reforge does support m4a files. It supports email import for most common file types: mp3, m4a, aif and wav for now. Let me know if you want any other codec support.

  • Radiophobic

    After trying this out, I find the navigation seems a bit cumbersome. Haven't been able to do anything successfully with it, and just kind reverted to the editor in Nanostudio (which seems to be where I make most of my music nowadays; that program is crazy/good [but needs another synth]).

  • NickS

    This works great in combination with the iOS app "multitrack DAW".  As that app does allow for 24 tracks of audio, but cannot edit them to this extent.

  • Altofiddler

    Here is what I want to do: record someone playing a fiddle tune. Import that mp3 using a Zoomit SD card reader for iPad. Use an app that works like Audacity to clean up the recording and maybe apply a Tempo filter to slow the tune way down. Save this new file to iTunes, or maybe export it to Soundcloud. Listen to it on headphones in order to learn the tune. All without a laptop or desktop. Can Reforge do any part of this job?

  • Scott

    Thanks for the review. I'm interested in seeing how this works with the Virsyn app.

  • e2378

    I've been using FL Studio on my home PC for quite a while now and have recently bought the ipad app to be able to work en route or just on my lazy old couch. The main thing bothering me though is the fact that I can't use all my pre-cut samples from my pc in it…
    I was wondering whether Reforge could come in handy to open and then export my WAV's or MP3's via audiocopy/-paste.
    If it could do so in an easy way, I'd most likely buy the app immediately.
    Should anyone know a better or cheaper way to do so, let me now please.
    Thx.
    BTW, promo-codes are always welcome :)

  • foks
  • Tom Robinson

    I’m recording multi tracks in garage band for the iPad then exporting them labourious sleep through iTunes so that I can work on them properly on Mac desktop. I need the portability of the iPad forgetting the recordings down in the first place – but I need the full feature set of garage band on Mac for doing any serious editing. Maybe reforge would make it possible to do more on the iPad itself?

  • Doug

    Hi, Before buying iPad and GarageBand 10 months ago, my last foray into making music was with an atari st and akai 950 mono sampler. I have outgrown GarageBand and purchased multitrack daw. Whilst I’m blown away by the the audio capabilities of this app, audio editing is prehistoric. I could cut and trim samples with much greater ease on the old akai sampler. The screen shot is so small your finger covers the precise trim point?,!?.. I was expecting a nice large screenshot of the the sample and does not make for smooth workflow. I don’t mind pushing a few xtra buttons to get a precision result. So I need a dedicated editor even if it’s not audiobus compatible as long as it has audio copy/paste facility. Do you think reforge might be the right app for this simple task?