Slowly but surely we're seeing established audio software developers entering the iOS marketplace, and one of the most recent additions to the fold are Eventide, whose classic effects hardware and array of DAW plug-ins will be known to most music technology fans. Their first venture into iOS territory brings us three effects processors: MicroPitch, Blackhole Reverb and UltraTap Delay. All three are offered as iOS AUv3 plug-ins as well as working via IAA or in stand-alone mode. I did my own testing using both Cubasis and AUM as AUv3 plug-in hosts, and encountered no technical issues.
Eventide aficionados will spot the roots of these three plug-ins instantly. Indeed, SOS have reviewed the desktop versions of the Blackhole (December 2012) and UltraTap (October 2017) previously. MicroPitch owes its origins to options available in the iconic H300 Harmonizer. As far as I can tell, Blackhole and UltraTap are pretty much straight ports to the iOS platform, with very similar UIs and control sets. MicroPitch follows a very similar styling too. This includes the ribbon strip found at the base of all three UIs, which allows the user to modulate multiple parameters at once — and on the touchscreen, this strip makes using these things a lot of fun.
All these plug-ins provide the user with plenty of control options. Taking UltraTap as an example, while you get familiar parameters such as Mix, Taps, Pre-Delay and Spread, I'm not sure I've seen many delay plug-ins with a control called 'Slurm' (a sort of random de-tuning/modulation effect) or 'Chop' (a tremolo-type effect applied to the delay line). We all have a pretty clear idea of what reverb, delay and pitch-shifting effects are supposed to do, but these plug–ins specialise in the less familiar, and the more weird and wonderful side of creative audio processing. They might not be your most obvious choice for bread-and-butter delay, reverb or pitch-shifting, but if you have something more experimental in mind all three can excel. MicroPitch is perhaps the most subtle of the three (although things can still get pretty interesting).
My favourites are Blackhole and UltraTap. The former offers some gloriously huge reverbs, and while you could certainly use it in a conventional fashion (for example, on vocals), it's really able to give its best when you use it to create other-worldly ambiences (as the Dreamscape and Biggest Reverb Evar presets illustrate). UltraTap can also do a stellar job in sound-design applications but it would be just as at home as a creative effect in some forms of electronic music. This is demonstrated well by some of the presets — Highway Delay and GlitchTrigger, for example, both of which make use of the Chop control. There are also some very cool results to be had when using UltraTap with a drum loop, where it can take even the humblest of 4/4 acoustic drum parts and transform them into something suitable for hardcore dance.
The pricing of these iOS versions is very competitive — if iOS is already part of your music-making workflow, we're pretty much in pocket-money territory. No, they won't be to everyone's tastes, but if you like your audio effects to be on the creative side of unconventional, then Eventide are undoubtedly offering something that will appeal.
In short, then, it's great to see another music technology heavyweight getting involved in mobile music making, and these iOS versions of Eventide's plug-ins really are excellent. In fact, the only downside is that I'm now tempted to splash out on the (considerably more expensive) desktop version of UltraTap — perhaps that was Eventide's plan all along?