AudioSwift has been updated to version 2.3.0, a free update to the macOS software that turns your trackpad into a MIDI controller. It’s now Universal Binary with native support for both Intel and Apple Silicon M1 computers, and has integration with Bitwig Studio in Mixer Mode. You can easily control faders and panning in Bitwig Studio using simple touch gestures on the trackpad, just like with other DAWs supported.
This new version also improves the XY Mode in View 1 by separating the controllers per finger for complex modulation in sound design (go to Preferences > Slider & XY). It includes better support for the Magic Mouse when it’s used as a MIDI controller in Mixer Mode and adds a new key shortcut to open the trackpad utility window (press K).
AudioSwift’s configuration with Bitwig Studio in Mixer Mode is done using the third-party script DrivenByMoss. Check out this new video tutorial to see how it works:
Video – Working in Mixer Mode with Bitwig Studio – AudioSwift
AudioSwift 2.3.0 is a free update for all existing users. Click Check for Updates in the app or download the file using the following link:
New in version 2.3.0
Adds native support for both Intel & M1 Macs (Universal Binary).
Adds Bitwig Studio support in Mixer Mode.
Improved XY Mode in View 1; now the controllers can independently send MIDI messages by fingers. Go to Preferences > Slider & XY.
Improved Magic Mouse support in Mixer Mode.
New keyboard shortcut to open and close the trackpad window (press K).
Fixes an issue when changing tracks and sends in Mixer Mode under Big Sur.
Fixes an issue with the Touch Bar disappearing when it’s touched.
Fixes an issue where Bank D doesn’t appear in the menu in Trigger Mode when the number of pads is set to 15.
Fixes an issue when choosing Single Note chord option in Trigger Mode and selects Octave instead.
Fixes an issue in XY Mode when clicking the Control Panel causing the Console to not change the view.
Drops support for macOS 10.11.6 El Capitan. Now the minimum macOS requirement is 10.12 Sierra.
The latest AudioSwift version 2.2.4 works with both Intel and M1 Macs on macOS Big Sur, via the Rosetta 2 translation.
I finally got an M1 MacBook Pro and I started porting AudioSwift’s code to be Universal Binary (UB). It’s running natively, however there are a couple of bugs I still need to check out. The next AudioSwift update will also include some new features and I’ll probably release a beta version first for you to try out.
On June 7th Apple announced macOS 12 Monterey, the newest operating system. I haven’t downloaded the beta yet to tell if AudioSwift runs properly. I normally wait for a couple of macOS revisions before doing a test. I’ll keep you informed.
For the last 3 years since AudioSwift was first released, all updates have been free and they will continue like that. I’ll keep maintaining AudioSwift as long as I have health, time and when Apple’s updates still allow the app to do what it’s designed for. I’ll appreciate that if you like AudioSwift, please recommend it to someone else when you have a chance. New purchases help maintaining the app and adding new features.
Ableton has announced Live 11 coming next year. It has new features including comping, improved clips view, more Macros, new devices and finally MIDI Polyphonic Expression (MPE) support. This is good news for AudioSwift users and other MPE controllers because we don’t need to have five separated tracks for MPE and edit the MIDI in different clips. Just one track and a single MIDI clip to edit the performance.
I downloaded the Ableton Live 11 Beta to test my Magic Trackpad in Trigger Mode (you can also join the beta program here). They updated Wavetable, Sampler and Arpeggiator to support MPE and we can use third-party MPE compatible plugins. It also comes with a new Max For Live device dedicated for MPE control.
To set AudioSwift for MPE in Live, go to Live > Preferences > Link-Tempo-MIDI. There is a new MPE column to enable the AudioSwift 3 input port. Inside the Live’s MPE device, there is also a section where you can set the MPE settings like velocity, pitch bend, pressure and slide, which is control change 74 (CC74). They are per note and they’re transmitted using different MIDI channels.
AudioSwift uses MIDI channels 2, 3, and 4 for this, and it sends global aftertouch (channel pressure) messages using Force Touch on channel 1.
AudioSwift in Trigger Mode (Keys type) sends pitch bend when moving the finger horizontally and CC74 moving vertically. These MPE settings can be changed in AudioSwift > Preferences > Trigger tab. Here is a video demo using Wavetable:
In the Clip Editor there are now three tabs: Notes, Envelopes and Note Expression. We can edit the MPE parameters in the Note Expression tab. Ableton added special lanes to edit the velocity, pitch, slide and pressure envelopes of each note. When using AudioSwift, the pressure information won’t appear here because the trackpad doesn’t send it per note. It will be in the Envelopes tab > MIDI Ctrl > Channel Pressure.
One thing I found different from using MPE in other DAWs, is that in Ableton Live 11 the pitch bend and slide don’t return to its default value when the finger release the note. The MPE controller will continue sending the values but Live will ignore them after the note-off, which is good depending on the situation.
Third-Party MPE Plugins
After inserting the third-party MPE compatible plugin into a track, go to the device header, right click and choose Enable MPE Mode.
I tested Audio Damage’s Continua and u-he’s Repro 5. U-he plugins in particular don’t use CC74 as a default parameter control — they use CC1 or Modulation as the polyphonic expression control. This became an issue when trying to edit a MIDI take in the Clip Editor, because I couldn’t find the CC1 envelopes for each note. Although the clip plays well in playback, the CC1 is not under the Note Expression tab or the Envelopes tab. The Envelopes tab will only shows global Modulation on MIDI channel 1. I hope this could be addressed in coming Live 11 beta versions.
The current version of AudioSwift (ver 2.2.4) has been tested in Big Sur 11.0.1 (20B29) and it works fine. If you come from High Sierra or below, just know that since Mojave we need to do an extra step to run AudioSwift with macOS new versions. Just like other developers are suggesting, I wouldn’t recommend to update now if it’s not necessary. Wait until your apps and plugins are fully supported. Whenever you decide is the right time to do it, AudioSwift will run in your computer.
I don’t have access to the new Apple Silicon computers and probably won’t get one soon. I can’t tell you how AudioSwift will run on those machines; I’m guessing there shouldn’t be any issues. If you buy one in the near future, please just let me know AudioSwift is running OK.
I wanted to share a quick update for AudioSwift. Following our users feedback, version 2.2.1 adds the option to lock the sustain switch in Trigger and Scale Modes using SHIFT+A or SHIFT+L. To unlock it, press again keys A or L. This will be useful for creating ambient drone sounds with the MPE controller. Check out the demo below.
AudioSwift 2.2.1 is a free update for existing users. To download it, go to ‘Check for Updates’ on the main menu or click the download link below. We’re still offering a 30% off discount for a limited time using coupon GOLDENFROG30. For more information, visit www.audioswiftapp.com
AudioSwift, the app for macOS that turns a trackpad into a MIDI controller, has been updated to version 2.2. Now the Trigger and Scale Modes are velocity sensitive. Tapping the trackpad harder or softer will change the levels of the MIDI notes. The user can also choose to use fixed velocity in the Preferences window.
This new feature, with the MIDI Polyphonic Expression (MPE) support, makes AudioSwift the perfect compact MIDI controller for mobile and desktop music producers, who can now make quick ideas using the trackpad as a creative tool.
AudioSwift version 2.2 is a free update for existing users. To download it, click ‘Check for updates’ on the main menu.
The regular price is $24 and it’s 30% off with coupon code GOLDENFROG30 for a limited time. Try the free demo at www.audioswiftapp.com.
What’s new in version 2.2?
Adds velocity sensitivity to the Trigger and Scale Mode.
Adds option to choose fixed velocity.
Fixes an issue with random false hits in Trigger Mode.
Fixes an issue with “swooping” sounds when using the MPE controller and certain plugins.
Fixes an issue that caused to not trigger Note Off messages in Trigger Mode.
The latest version of AudioSwift is compatible with macOS 10.15 Catalina and up. It has been notarized and it is compliant to Catalina security guidelines. However, when you upgrade to Catalina or buy a new Mac, and run AudioSwift for the first time, the app will appear on the menu bar and then it will go away. Just like the previous Mojave version, macOS Catalina introduced some new security restrictions for apps like AudioSwift. To open the app, you just need to give access to AudioSwift to the security preferences on macOS, so it can monitor the trackpad gestures. Follow these steps:
When running AudioSwift for the first time, the following window will appear. Click Open System Preferences. NOTE: if this message window doesn’t appear automatically, go to the Privacy tab under System Preferences>Security & Privacy>Privacy Tab.
In the left column, go to Accessibility and add AudioSwift to the list by clicking the plus sign. You’ll need an administrator password to add it.
Once AudioSwift is added to the right column, close the window and open the app.
AudioSwift, the app for macOS that turns a trackpad into a MIDI controller, has been updated to version 2.1 with great features. The new design of the Trigger Mode now supports MIDI Polyphonic Expression (MPE) for multidimensional control of many parameters per note, within MPE compatible software. The trackpad becomes an ultra compact MPE controller for music production and sound design.
Users in Trigger Mode can play quick melodies in a chosen key with polyphonic expression. Horizontal and vertical movements send pitch bend and control change messages per MIDI note. This version also adds a new type called Chords that lets trigger a pad and play a chord, helping the user generate chord progressions easily.
AudioSwift version 2.1 is a free update for existing users. The regular price is $24 and it’s 30% off with coupon code GOLDENFROG30 until October 31, 2019. Try the free trial at www.audioswiftapp.com.
What’s new in version 2.1?
MPE support in Trigger Mode.
New type Chords in Trigger Mode.
Option to set scales and chords in Trigger Mode.
Adds labels in Trigger Mode.
Adds 8, 15, 16 and 20 pads configurations in Trigger Mode.
Divides the pads in banks. Up 180 configurable pads.
Option to copy, paste and reset pads and banks.
CC values are shown in real time on the Console in XY and Slider Modes.
Option to invert CC values in XY and Slider Modes.
Adds two more options to turn off AudioSwift automatically.
Adds new keyboard shortcuts.
Adds automation modes.
Updated to Swift 5 and macOS 10.14 SDK with dark mode support.
When using the Keys or Chords types in the Trigger Mode, there’s an option to build scales from any pad in the current bank. Right click the bottom right corner of the chosen pad in the Console Window — this will be the tonic note of the scale. Click Set Scales and choose one — the scale will be built upward and downward. For the list of scales I used this site as a reference. If you find a scale that isn’t constructed correctly, please let me know.
Copy, Paste & Reset
By using the right click, you can also copy and paste individual pads or all pads in a bank. Click Reset Bank to set the pads to its default values.
The keyboard shortcuts for transposing the notes in a bank have been switched. Now the keys C, V, N and M change the pads one semitone; hold ⇧ for an octave. You can also change a single note or set a scale by tapping the pad from the trackpad. While AudioSwift is on, hold ⌥ or ⌥+⇧ and tap a particular pad to change it one semitone up or down. Hold ⌃ or ⌃+⇧ and tap a pad to build a scale from there.
In the coming weeks I’ll be developing the Chords type. This will be the last feature I’ll add for the official 2.1.0 release if all the beta versions work well. I want to let the user set a scale and automatically create diatonic chords on each pad, that can be modified. My idea is to make the trackpad a practical device to create quick music ideas, starting with a beat, then the bass, harmony and finally a amelody. Let’s see how it goes.
UPDATE (7/12/19): New version 2.0.5 Beta has been released!
MPE or MIDI Polyphonic Expression controllers have become quite popular in music production and sound designing. They add expressiveness when playing virtual instruments by sending MIDI messages like pitch bend or control change per note, instead of global like standard MIDI controllers do.
Since I’ve been working on a new update for AudioSwift, I thought maybe I could implement this feature inside the Trigger Mode. I read the MPE specifications, followed the instructions, wrote the code, and here is the first attempt to make the trackpad a MPE controller!
The GUI for the Trigger Mode has changed. The user can now type a label to each pad in the Console window. Use it to know which drum samples are triggered or if you want to change articulations in your virtual instruments by key switching, using Logic Pro’s Articulation Sets or Cubase’s Expression Maps.
The trackpad can now be divided into 8, 15, 16 and 20 pads and depending on what you choose, between 48 and 60 pads can be set in banks per Type, for a total of 180 pads. Change the banks at the bottom of the Console or press the key shortcuts period and comma, or keys Z and X.
You’ll see that there are also three Types: Drums, Keys (with MPE support), and Chords. For the moment, Chords just plays single notes. I still need to develop this option. Use key shortcut B to switch between them.
AudioSwift with MPE Mode
In order to send MIDI messages per note, a MPE controller separates the data between MIDI channels. Then the synth or virtual instrument should be MPE compatible in order to reproduce the sounds correctly or otherwise it will work like regular MIDI. Roger Linn Design website, makers of the popular LinnStrument MPE controller has a list of recommended sounds and DAWs that are compatible and could work with AudioSwift.
AudioSwift uses MIDI channels 2, 3, and 4 to send the MIDI messages of each note, and channel 1 for global messages. Only three notes can be played in the trackpad at the same time. Although the MPE specification allows Channel Pressure per note, with the trackpad it’s impossible because the Force Touch mechanism is one through all the surface. AudioSwift will only send global Channel Pressure on channel 1.
To enable MPE mode in AudioSwift, select the Trigger Mode and select Keys as the type in the Console window. Choose a number of pads for your trackpad. Then go to Preferences > Trigger Tab and click Use MPE Mode. By default, the X-axis sends Pitch Bend and the Y-axis sends CC#74 Expression, which is the standard control change number according to the MPE specification. You can change it to CC#1 instead and set a default value where the controller will return after the finger is lifted from the trackpad. In this case is 64.
I still need to add the option to let the user set the notes in a particular scale. The notes should be set manually in the meantime. However, you can transpose one octave the current bank of notes in the Console window, by using shortcuts C and V, or N and M. Press the ⇧ key with these letters to transpose them one semitone.
Logic Pro Plugins & U-He Repro-5
I only have Logic Pro’s stock plugins and U-He Repro-5 to test AudioSwift in MPE mode. With U-He Repro-5, it doesn’t require a special setup. With Logic Pro synths and samplers however, you need to go to the bottom of the plugin, click the triangle and select MIDI Mono Mode: On (with common base channel 1). Choose the Pitch Bend range for your instrument.
There are two issues that I need to figure out if they‘re caused by these plugins or by AudioSwift. With Logic Pro’s plugins, when I tried to play a note that previously had CC info on its MIDI channel, the plugins try to readjust quickly to the new CC value, causing a swooping noise. You can hear this in the first video around 0:11 when I tried to play D3. This doesn’t happen with U-He Repro-5.
However, with Repro-5 the global Channel Pressure in MIDI channel 1 doesn’t work. I don’t know if it’s because in Repro-5 the Channel Pressure and the Note On messages should be in the same MIDI channel to play the sound correctly.
Ableton Live Setup
Live doesn’t support MPE but there is a workaround to make it work with MPE plugins. First, we make sure the AudioSwift 3 input is enabled at Live > Preferences > Link MIDI > MIDI Ports. Then, we are going to create five MIDI tracks in our project.
Track 1 will be the host for the MPE plugin. In my case, it’s U-He Repro-5. It will only play the sounds and won’t receive any MIDI input directly from the trackpad, so select No Input under MIDI From.
Track 2 will be the global master channel and will use MIDI channel 1. Tracks 3 to 5 will use MIDI channels 2 to 4 for each note. Under MIDI From, select AudioSwift 3 for all four tracks and then set each track to MIDI channels 1 to 4. See image above.
Now under MIDI To for each track, select your plugin (Repro-5 in my case.) Below set each track to a channel of the plugin (1-Repro-5, 2-Repro-5, etc.) Arm tracks 2 to 5, press record and start playing with the trackpad. The sound should come out from track 1 and the notes will be spread out over the rest of the MIDI tracks.
Play with it. Let me know how it works for you. Your feedback is really appreciated.