Axon 2 is a drum synth driven by artificial intelligence. (Well, "intelligence" might be a strong word. Artificial something-or-other.) An experimental instrument, Axon uses a modified artificial neural network as a sequencer, and features seven FM-based percussion voices, that are really a single 18-operator FM voice.
If that sounds weird, you ain't seen nothing yet. It is surprisingly intuitive once you get the knack of it, and is capable of all-new, complex rhythms that repeat in surprising ways. It often gets referenced as a "random sequence generator," but there is nothing random in Axon; it is entirely determinative.
The sequencer features seven "neurons" that trigger a voice and send a pulse when they have received a predetermined number of pulses. You can wire the output of any neuron to the input of any other (with built-in loop detection to prevent runaway feedback), and in this manner pre-program the artificial neural network without having to go through a "learning" phase.
The seven individual drum voices, each triggered by its attendant neuron, are 2-operator FM voices in a configuration to best make percussion sounds, with additional FM and AM busses that all voices send to and receive from. Each voice has a HPF, distortion circuit, and white noise generator to provide a full range of percussion-oriented voicing individually, while interacting with each other in new and unique ways.
• Artificial Neural Network sequencer features seven neurons, and is easily programmed to create strange new repeating rhythms.
• Seven FM percussion voices that also buss together to create a single monolithic complex percussion synthesizer.
• Full mixer with pan, level, mute, and solo on each voice.
• Built-in stereo delay with X/Y pad control over feedback and filter frequency, for live playability.
• MIDI input, including Bluetooth MIDI, for driving Axon from DAW and hardware sequencers, and Virtual MIDI Output (standalone only) for driving other software with the Axon sequencer.
• Inter-App Audio, including transport synchronization, in standalone mode.
• Internal transport for non-synchronized playback.
• Resizable vector-based user interface.
• Drawn reciprocation dingle arm to reduce sinusoidal depleneration.
• XML-based cross-platform, human-readable preset system, with copy/paste, for easy transferring of your own presets and third-party offerings.
Please Note: This application will work fine on an iPad Mini, but the user interface may be difficult to use due to the size.
MIDI output of the standalone version has been rewritten to deal with the "MIDI Out Bug" often talked about. As far as we can tell, it is now fine. Also, the MIDI out has been changed so that the MIDI note triggered by the voice reflects the pitch setting of that voice. i.e. if the Axon voice 1 pitch setting is A sharp 1, the MIDI note it triggers will be A sharp 1.
Ratings and Reviews
Dead audio out until restarted bug still not fixed!
I wrote to the developer months ago just after Axon 2 was released highlighting this bug, which he said he knew what the problem was, but alas it's still not fixed.
Also, Axon 2 feels like direct port from an AU or VST and not a proper iOS app (its fiddly to use, which is an awful shame, because it's actually quite fun. Call me cynical but I just can't help feeling that is is simply a 'demo' port (which sadly seems a lot of developers are following these days), to get you to buy the desktop version.
When Axon 2 works, it's great. But when it suddenly flakes out and I have to restart it, it's just another badly coded bit of rubbish on iOS.
Therefore, I can't recommend Axon 2. And I wouldn't mind my money back either.
Bugs not fixed
Lots of potential for this app, but needs work to make it more user friendly and bugs need fixing: MIDI out not working properly, Dropping out when used as IAA, small controls difficult to use, fm sounds are a bit rough.
Not quite there, particularly when compared to other drum apps so can't really recommend it at this stage.
Needs an update.
Really love this... great way to program beats and edit them on the fly..
The drum and Percussion sounds, are great and all fully editable..
But where it really comes into its own as a midi trigger for other apps, great for live performance...
Up to six family members will be able to use this app with Family Sharing enabled.