ReBirth on the iPad

Posted: November 16, 2010 in Music

I remember it well…

It was around 1997. The old mod and demo scenes were coming to an end. Screamtracker had had its day, and the internet was abuzz with new and fantastic ways of making music on your computer. Unfortunately I didn’t have the gear or enough money for software like Reason, so my youthful passion for making computers make cool sounds had stalled.

Then I happened upon a cover CD from an computer magazine and on it was this thing called ‘ReBirth RB-338’. It was a PC program which emulated the classic 80s synths and drum machines: 303, 808 and 909. It couldn’t possibly be any good, could it?

It was amazing. The noises you could get out of this thing were just awesome. Its two 303s sounded exactly like real 303s but without the massive price tag. Thumping, penetrating bass lines which you simply couldn’t reproduce any other way. The 808 and 909 emulators were good too, included more for convenience than anything, but they totally added to the experience.

Then I forgot about ReBirth RB-338.

Then I remembered about it again! A few months ago I grabbed a fresh copy of it and was…disappointed. The sound was still as great as ever, but the tiddly interface and awkward usage made me wish I’d left it to memory. “How great would this be on the iPad?” I thought. Multi-touch is what ReBirth needed, a lick of paint and the ability to export songs and patterns for external use.

Propellerhead software had released a cynical iPhone port of ReBirth but it suffered with the same problems that the desktop version was plagued with. But then…

Lo and behold! Yesterday I checked the App Store and I saw that they had released an iPad version of ReBirth. Grabbed it. Love it. It’s awesome. I did this in an hour, and it’s freakin’ amazing. The software, that it, not the song. The song needs a lot of work – it’s just a collection of cheesy ideas. But you can see just what ReBirth is capable of:

You can still download the PC and Mac versions of ReBirth for free from here: But they’re starting to show their age. The interface isn’t that good by today’s standards and it can be tricky to export the output for use in other packages.

The iPad version of ReBirth gives it a new lease of life, building on a still thriving community. Simply, it’s the best app on my iPad, and it will burn many, many hours of my time. Like now, for instance, when I should be working but instead I’m eulogising about an ancient piece of software which a multi-national company has dusted off a little and is selling for a cynical mark-up. But I don’t care. It’s awesome, and well worth the £8.99 it costs.

And do you know what’s even better than that? Korg has just released an iPad emulator of their ubiquitous analogue synth sound – the iMS-20. Must…resist…too…many…distractions…

I’m surely gonna get it, but I will wait until my assignment is finished :)


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