Way back, we scored Fingerlabs' DM1 drum machine for iPad 3.5/5, describing it as more of a casual proposition than a serious production tool.
With its spiritual (but not literal) predecessor, DM2, developer Pascal Douillard and team, now operating under the banner Audionomy, aims to turn that opinion around.
Written from the ground up using the Pure Data audio library, rather than on DM1's code base, DM2 is an entirely synthesis-based (DM1 was all samples) step sequencing drum machine. Patterns are recorded using the pads or tapped directly into the sequencer, and each of the nine nominally titled drum channels (Kick, Snare, Cowbell, etc) hosts the same editable synthesis engine, rather than a bespoke one for each type of sound.
The six pages of the interface comprise Steps (the main sequencer, the number of steps in each channel set independently for wild polyrhythmic capability), Pads (for performance and live recording), Mixer (levels, pans and solos), FX (global compression, Reverb, Delay and Phaser/Chorus, with X/Y pads controlling two parameters of each), Song (for stringing sequences together), and the all-important Drumspage, which is where the sound design happens.
The synth engine features a single analogue-style oscillator (sine, triangle, saw and square waves) and a noise generator, eachwith its own multimode filter (HP/LP/BP) and amp envelope, plus frequency adjustment and modulation for the oscillator (essential for metallic sounds), and distortion.
The controls are a joy to use and give excellent visual feedback, and while the sounds that can be elicited from this simple setup are fairly limited in scope, they're always characterful and fun to mess around with. The high point for us is the power of the kick drums; the low point is the filter, which is rather harsh and cold, and makes horrible zipper noises when manipulated live.
As good as DM2 is (and at this price, it really is very good indeed), with a few additions it could be a lot better. There's no per-channel processing, for starters, just the master effects; no velocity sensitivity, just accented and unaccented notes; and no automation. Audionomy tells us that all these things and many more are in the pipeline, though.