Retronyms Tabletop: modular iPad studio app

Is this a game changer for iOS music making?

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The Session view in Tabletop shows how your devices are hooked up. Click the image for a gallery of screenshots.
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The device menu
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Quartered device view
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FX devices
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The Gridlok pad sampler
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The M8RX tone matrix
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The RS3 polyphonic keyboard
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The Session browser
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The Spinback turntable
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The T101 triggerator
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Retronyms has announced a new iPad music making app called Tabletop, which it describes as a modular audio environment.

The idea is that you're given a range of devices - keyboard, sampler, mixer, sequencer, effects etc - that can be connected up to form a complete iPad music making studio (click here for a gallery of screenshots). Currently, you get nine of the 15 available devices as standard, with others being available as in-app purchases (more are in development).

It's this expandability that makes Tabletop so potentially exciting. We spoke to Retronyms and it said that it's keen for third-party developers to create additional 'plug-in' style devices; a platform such as this could open the door to greater interoperability on the iPad.

The company also told us that a good desktop comparison with Tabletop is Propellerhead's Reason; it's worth noting that Retronyms was responsible for the iOS version of ReBirth.

On the downside, full CoreMIDI implementation isn't yet included, though Retronyms has confirmed that "all of the underpinnings" to support it are in place, so we can expect it in the future.

The full Tabletop press release is below, and the app itself is available now from the App Store for £2.99 (this is the 9-device 'launch bundle' price).

Retronyms Tabletop press release

Today Retronyms, makers of iOS apps DopplerPad, ReBirth, Recorder and Synth, released Tabletop, a modular audio environment app for iPad. Tabletop is the first app built for iPad featuring audio devices that users can mix and match. These devices emulate hardware found in tabletop DJ and producer setups: instruments, samplers, effects, mixers, sequencers, turntables, and more. One simply drags the desired device to the tabletop surface and wires it up to a mixer as they would with real-world hardware.

Tabletop is built exclusively for the iPad to be expressive, playable and fun. Both professional artists and those with no knowledge of music production can jump right in and start sketching out ideas or composing entire songs. Electronic musician Paul Salva says, "It took no time at all for me to acclimate. I had literally never touched Tabletop before, and within minutes I had some crazy stuff rocking." To answer any questions about how the app or any of its devices function, Tabletop comes with a built-in user guide.

Users can expand their studio at any time, buying only the gear they need from a growing catalog. Tabletop is available at launch for a substantially discounted price of $4.99 and includes 9 of 15 available devices:

  • RS3 – Polyphonic Keyboard
  • Gridlok – Touchpad Sampler
  • M8RX – Tone Matrix
  • Filtr LP – Low-Pass Filter Effect
  • SpinBack – Turntable Player
  • Mr. O – Master Output
  • Goblin MX8 – Eight-Channel Mixer
  • T101-Triggerator – Sequencer/Master Controller
  • Recorder M2 – Input Recorder

The following devices not included in the launch special are available as in-app purchases:

  • Ekko – Delay Effect
  • Filtr BP – Band-Pass Filter Effect
  • Verve – Reverb Effect
  • Xpand – Chorus/Flanger Effect
  • Goblin MX4-FX – Four-Channel Mixer with Sends
  • XFade – Crossfading Mixer

In addition to the myriad of devices, some of Tabletop's features include:

  • Nearly 300 unique sounds including multisample instruments, loops, and phrases.
  • Record sequences, arrange into songs
  • Adjustable quantization (pre- and post-record)
  • Recordable parameter automation
  • Overdub and replace record modes
  • Trigger sequences and patterns live
  • Sampling via internal mic and line in
  • Adjustable tempo via tap or dial
  • Import/export sounds via iTunes File Transfer
  • Support for imported .mid phrases
  • Undo history
  • 44Khz, studio-quality audio
  • WIST compatibility (Korg's Wireless Sync-Start Technology)
  • Import sounds from dozens of apps with AudioPaste

The full list of technical specifications is available at Retronyms will continue to add features and devices, and the company plans to work with artists, developers, hardware companies, and producers who would like to contribute additional content. Interested parties should contact for more information.