Twisted Wave, an audio editor for iOS

Several months ago, I thought about what programs I use on my MacBook that did not have a replacement app on the iPad.  The list of programs included Finale (Symphony Pro is coming along as a replacement), SmartMusic (no replacement), and Audacity.  I came across TwistedWave, an audio editor for iOS, which was in an earlier version.  I contacted TwistedWave’s customer support, and inquired about the possibility of reviewing the software.  They were nice enough to share a promo code with me.  In addition, they let me know that a new update was coming out which would add a number of features to the app.  I waited until that update came out (May 12), and then the hectic nature of the last weeks of school kept me from writing a review.  I would like to thank TwistedWave for this opportunity to use their app and to write a review.

I must make a full disclaimer–I am not a “power” sound editor.  Typically, the tools in Audacity are robust enough for my needs.  My biggest use of sound editing is for our concert performances (fade outs, adding silence, removing applause, bumping up volume, sometimes dealing with reverb and ambiance) and performance tracks (generated by Finale).

Twisted Wave seems to work best in landscape mode, as two more “buttons” appear across the bottom of the screen, and even if you are working in portrait mode, if you go to the app’s file menu, the screen rotates to landscape format. It seems to make sense that you want as much real estate as possible when dealing with graphic wave form audio.

You can easily create files from scratch, import from e-mail, iTunes sharing, the device’s own music library, from other apps (e.g. Dropbox) by direct export to TwistedWave or by copy/paste.

The main screen of TwistedWave shows two music timelines..a complete audio timeline of the entire song (in pink), and a working area that shows where you are currently working (you can zoom in and out in this working area).  The working area includes a yellow line and handle which allows you to select a starting point and drag (forwards or backwards) an area you wish to edit.   After an area is selected, two handles appear at the bottom of the working area, allowing you to adjust what is selected.   The top of the screen also indicates the title of the song, an export button, the cursor position, and the selection length.   There is a master volume indicator) that runs along the right hand side of the page. The toolbar allows you to:

  • apply effects
  • go to the beginning
  • play
  • go to the end
  • record
  • loop (on/off)
  • cut
  • copy
  • paste
  • fade in (landscape only)
  • fade out (landscape only)
  • undo
  • redo
  • cut
  • audio copy/paste (to/from other programs)

The available effects include:

  • amplification
  • normalization
  • fade in/out (making the feature accessible in portrait mode)
  • silence
  • filters (low/high pass, low/high shelf)
  • delay (delay, feedback, dry/wet, low pass)
  • dynamics processor (threshold, ratio, expansion threshold, expansion ratio, attack, release, master gain)
  • change pitch and speed (pitch, speed, natural pitch, lambda, quality)
  • reverse

The app is AirPlay enabled (you can send audio out over an AirPlay connection), and files can be exported as WAV, AIFF, CAF, AAC, and mp3 files to a number of services including iTunes, FTP, e-mail, and Dropbox.

This app clearly goes above and beyond my uses for an audio editor, and it could quickly replace Audacity as my editor of choice.  There are still a few things I would like to see added to TwistedWave:

  • A direct import dialog from Dropbox.  My hardest task is always getting audio from the device it is recorded on (e.g. Zoom H4n) to the iPad.  Being able to upload to Dropbox and import that file directly within TwistedWave would be a bonus.
  • Simplified affects for novice (beginning) sound editors (like me).  For example, Audacity’s normalization and amplification features have a “Dummy” mode which analyzes the section you’ve selected and suggests a level of normalization or amplification to apply.  You can change this, but in most cases, those suggested levels work fine for me.  I would also like to see some preset reverb/ambiance filters, such as “large room,” “concert hall,” and “dry room” along with several other settings (Again, I would use some of Audacity’s presets as an example).  I know that the settings can be played with to make all this possible, but I don’t have the training to know how those should be set to make it happen.  In other words, I love the detailed ability to adjust items with the given effects, but I would like presets as well.
  • The ability to filter out background noise, given a selection from the audio recording (see Audacity’s noise reduction feature).  Also a click reduction for those that need it.
  • A list on TwistedWave’s website of known partner Apps that export to TwistedWave.
  • The ability to overdub audio over an existing audio track.  Right now, if you record, it replaces the existing audio.  Think commercials.
  • The ability to tag mp3 or AAC files as you export them (all the traditional XML data)

Don’t get me wrong–I love this app and look forward to using it in the future.  I am thankful that TwistedWave developed this app for the iPad, making the device a very functional audio editor.  Some of the filters take a while to process on longer audio files, which should be expected.  A quick look at reviews of TwistedWave on the App Store shows that many users feel this is the best and fully featured audio editor for the iPad.  If you are in need of an audio editor with a number of great features, TwistedWave is a great app.  It currently sells for $9.99 in the App Store.  Considering that the desktop version of TwistedWave is $80, as well as the price of other desktop audio editors (e.g. Sound Forge Basic at $65), the iOS version is a bargain.  TwistedWave joins my list of recommended apps for music and music education.  It is easy to use, it looks great on the iPad, and it has tons of potential uses for musicians and for schools (think about other programs such as English and Foreign Language that like to record and edit speeches and dialogue).

As a note, I did contact Audacity some months back and inquired if they would ever make an iOS version of Audacity–and was told that Audacity has no plans to make an iOS version of the software.

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