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AIR Ignite Review - First Impressions

I remember standing in the Hilton Hotel at NAMM 2012 when I first had the vision of Ignite shared with me. ‘Musicians are not engineers and we need to enable them to make music in a way that makes sense’ was how Ignite was pitched. It wasn’t even called Ignite then, it went through several cringe worthy iterations of a name before its final moniker, but discretion forbids me from outing them.

Of course the vision for Ignite makes sense, trying to make music with the average DAW is becoming more and more challenging, as layer upon layer of technology barriers are added with feature creep.

The job of any Product Manager is to realize a vision, so the big question is ‘does Ignite realize that original vision?’ I’m going to make a video to give a full show and tell of how it can become part of any songwriter or composer’s workflow and how to get it into Pro Tools, but for now this is my first impressions review.

Ignite is a FREE (please do not read crap for FREE) download from the AIR website, so you can head over now and download it for yourself.

How It Works
Put simply Ignite works in a new paradigm (notice I didn’t use game changer there), but isn’t paradigm just an over used cliche? Not on this occasion, let me explain why.

Firstly Ignite does not fall back on the old linear timeline approach to composition, it allows you to create audio sketches on a desktop, which can either be related or not. Let me try and unpack that a little more - you can drop down a piano motif and set that looping and then drop a drum track behind it - but they are not sitting on a linear timeline, instead they sit as independent clips that co-exist to be used together or not.

Everything works in loop cycles and they can be as short or as long as you wish - so for example you can put down a 2 bar piano motif, then drop down a 1 bar kick and snare, then an 8 bar bass and then a 16 bar lead part and they all just work together. If that is working then you can drag them all together as a multiple clip.

Even better loops just run around and then if you want to over dub stuff they just hang around until you start to play your new part - none of that waiting for the metronome or finding the right place on the timeline, it is positively freeing to work this way.

Once you have an idea down then you can start to change the sounds, fix the timing and of course edit audio if you’ve recorded that into Ignite too, you can also add effects.

How Does It Sound?
The sounds in Ignite come from the AIR team, so they are top-notch and include every sound you could possibly need to get an idea down with. The biggest mistake anyone could make with Ignite is to think it’s just another Garageband style home DAW, either in terms of function or sound quality - this couldn’t be further from the truth. Ignite is a powerful new way for musicians to get their initial ideas down before they take the time to fire up their super powered DAW - think of it as an artist sketching out a new picture, but not on the back of a cigarette packet with a biro, but on beautiful parchment with the highest grade pencil.

How Does It Fit Into A Workflow?
The best bit is that none of your ideas are wasted when you sketch them out in Ignite, because all of them can be exported either as high quality 44.1/48Khz audio or/and MIDI. They are exported to a folder and are easily dragged into your favourite DAW to continue taking your idea to the finished product. Being able to export both the audio and the MIDI means you can then replace any sounds from the original with those from your favourite VIs. Surprisingly I found myself needing to do this less than I expected as the sounds are so good.

I would like the team at AIR to consider creating a ReWire host option for Ignite, this would mean you could then work dynamically between Ignite and your DAW. I understand why it does not have this right now, but it could benefit from this addition for professional work flows.

Conclusion
Get it, it’s FREE - I would say the same thing if it was $99.00.

It makes a welcome change being able to get down ideas without having to spend several minutes getting a DAW session in shape before I start. It also makes a welcome change not being restricted to a linear timeline and makes getting down your ideas a far a more fluid, and dare I say, natural experience.

Last week Avid announced a new partnership to sell copies of Pro Tools with various inMusic products, if they are smart then I would suggest they start selling Ignite with their products before another DAW vendor does! Pro Tools has its place, but Ignite also has a valuable place to fill that no other DAW seems to deliver on; that is a simple way of getting down a composition without needing a degree in computing.

So in answer to my question, does it achieve the vision of making composition easier? A resounding yes. Get it and Ignite your creativity.

Read more and download it here

Specs

  • Creative Workflow

    • Capture your ideas quickly and make music - without getting bogged down with technical jargon and complicated steps.
    • Individual musical ideas are captured as phrases and are placed in the Arranger. The Arranger is an organic “stage” where you can organize your music ideas and phrases in whatever way make sense to you.
    • Clips can be any length, and don’t have to be aligned into a pre-determined structure (such as tracks and lanes). Multiple clips can be played back together, or even grouped to create more complex phrases and song sections.

  • Instant M-Audio Keyboard Integration 
    • Ignite will instantly recognize any current generation M-Audio keyboard controller once it is connected to your computer.
    • Key parameters will be automatically assigned, or mapped, to the front panel controllers. The on-screen image labels the controllers with their current parameters, providing visual reminders.

  • Superior AIR Instrument Sounds 
    • Included with Ignite are over 275 remarkable instrument sounds developed by AIR Music Technology. This international team also created the acclaimed Hybrid, Strike, Transfer, Structure, and Velvet instruments for Pro Tools - the industry-standard professional music and audio workstation.
    • Instruments include keyboards, drums, percussion, basses, guitars, synths, strings, brass, and woodwinds.

  • Creative Kick-starters 
    • Smart MIDI technology provides both a Chord Player and a Phrase Player.
    • The Chord Player plays a chord pattern using either simple or advanced voicings.
    • The Phrase Player can be used to deliver a single-voice melodic phrase, or even a drum pattern depending on the instrument selected.
    • The arpeggiator plays notes individually, either as a musical flourish or in a rhythmic pattern.

  • Collaborate, Send, and Share 
    • Share your musical ideas and songs with other musicians through SoundCloud.
    • Export WAV, MP3 and MIDI files, and import them into any DAW recording software - including Pro Tools.

System Requirements

  • Mac 
    • Mac OSX 10.8
    • Mac OSX 10.7.5
    • Intel Core 2 Duo 2 GHz Processor
    • 5400 RPM Hard Drive
    • 2 GB RAM (4GB Recommended)
    • 3 GB Hard Drive Space
    • 1 Available USB Port

  • Windows 
    • Windows 8
    • Windows 7 Service Pack 1 Home Premium, Professional or Ultimate
    • Intel Core 2 Duo 2 GHz Processor
    • 5400 RPM Hard Drive
    • 2 GB RAM (4GB Recommended)
    • 3 GB Hard Drive Space
    • 1 Available USB Port

  • Broadband connection required for download
  • Unsupported Operating Systems/Hardware 
    • Windows Vista

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