Fairlight iOS Apps Compared

This official demo video, via FairlightInstruments, highlights the features of the Fairlight CMI iOS apps, and explains the differences between the standard and “Pro” versions.

These apps can be bought separately from the App store, or the Player version can be upgraded to Pro via an in-app purchase. The cost of the Player plus Pro upgrade is the same as buying the Pro in the first place, and functionality of the Player once upgraded is identical to the Pro.

The Fairlight app was met with a lot of skepticism from Synthtopia readers, when it was introduced. Some of this was because of the amount of hype building up to the app’s release, and some of it was because Fairlight didn’t do that great a job, at the time, of explaining what the different versions of the app can do.

It seems they’ve been listening, though. This video makes it a lot more clear what the Fairlight iOS app is compatible with, and which functions work in the standard & pro versions. Getting the 500 sounds of the Fairlight II for $10 seems like a steal. And the $50 pro version puts it in light with typical prices for desktop virtual instruments.

Check out the demo video and let us know what you think. Does the Fairlight app deserve another look?

12 thoughts on “Fairlight iOS Apps Compared

  1. Damn, now I really want an AudioUnit version. The idea of getting an iPad just for this (and maybe some controller software) might be appealing, but I have the distinct feeling it would collect dust sooner rather than later.

  2. I used it twice before I deleted it. A waste of money. The disk noise is too annoying and since I got the DEMO version, they call it the player, I really can't do anything with it at all.

    Do not waste your money on this unless your an absolute fairlight boffin.

    On the plus side it makes me happy I never dove in a got a Fairlight on eBay a few years back.

  3. sorry but i cant understand those negative "feelings"!

    Why on earth did you fork out money on this for when you dont like the Sound and feel of the old CMI ?

    For Me this app are sent from heaven…. Love it!!

  4. I'd shell out $20 right now for the pro version, no questions asked. Hell, I might even shell out $30 if I got laid the night before.

    But $50? Fuck no. Ridiculous.

  5. X-Posting this

    To all the folks griping, give them some time to sort out the kinks.

    Sure it's hideously expensive, feature limited and buggy – it's a Fairlight CMI emulation. Just like the real deal expect limited features and more than a few speedbumps until there have been a couple of updates.

    That's tough to swallow for a $5 app, let alone a $50. However, unless you have access to one of the few fully serviceable Series IIx it's the only way to get a realistic taste of the CMI experience.

    Some of the more "interesting" features of the original are the exorbitant cost, sometimes flaky hardware and distinct lack of features compared to modern tools.

    Fortunately with an app there's no need to fly a tech out to fix an out of alignment 8" drive, a crew of sweaty roadies to move your baby more than 3' or having to install upgraded air-conditioning in your workroom to prevent "bad things happening".

    I bought my first CMI without knowing much about it other than it was used to make almost all of my favorite records in the early eighties. While I waited impatiently for it to show up I studied a couple of tracks that I planned to recreate with the CMI.

    Once it arrived (and waited another couple of weeks for a new system disk and refurbished 8" drive to get the bloody thing to work) I had the shock of my life. I went very quickly from thinking that having a CMI would enable me to easily riff on The Art of Noise now I had the same tool, to my jaw dropping as I tried to work out how the hell they managed to get more than the most awful sounding drum patterns out of it.

    In short, experiencing the reality of what an early Fairlight actually is (as opposed to the legend) multiplied my respect for JJ, Anne Dudley, Mr Horn and everyone else who managed to coax some of the most inspired music in the pas 30 years out of such a frustratingly limited device.

    Finding this out after spending a few $ on the iCMI app verses $10,000s on the real thing doesn't sound so bad now, does it?

    I know this tough to swallow for folks, but if you are after the sounds you'd be better served by going elsewhere. DON'T buy the "Fairlight IIx Library" Sample CD from ProRec, there's far better options these days. Look around. ๐Ÿ™‚

    However for anyone interested in music technology, early 80s music and open minded enough to appreciate what it is (as opposed what you think it should be) $50 is a bargain.

    For the record, I produced the sample cd mentioned above as a way to enable people without a Fairlight to get access to sounds that at the time were looking to being in danger of being lost to disc rot and everyone's fascination with "HiFi" sample libraries. It falls short of the real deal by a long way, because The "Fairlight Sound" isn't just having the library. It's about how the samples interact with page R (or CAPS), are mixed and the determination of the producer to make music.

    Crufty hardware makes a difference for sure, but talent is the magic ingredient. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. >Finding this out after spending a few $ on the iCMI app verses $10,000s on the real thing
    >doesn't sound so bad now, does it?

    Your view is valid, if you are into the nostalgia of the thing. But most of us aren't, and would rather spend $10 on a modern feature-rich synth instead of $50 on a historical emulation. Your arguments really don't hold sway from that perspective. I too hail from "back in the day" and remember a lot of this as it was, but there is no way I want to pay money to get that back!

    And you have to admit that the $10 demo is a bait-and-switch. Changing that alone would stop a lot of their negative feedback.

  7. Most of the time I'm not either… There are VERY few people who should consider buying the Fairlight app. For those folks it's a no-brainer instant click buy (even at $50).

    Literally short of digging up a fossil and praying it holds together long enough for you to get to the point where you question your sanity and where thousands of dollars went it's the "next best thing to the original".

    For everyone else go get the excellent Reason Refill and be thankful that green screen terminals are a thing of the past..

    Now if it was a full series III rev 7 emulation with the entire library for $50 that would be something else entirely. Not going to happen though.

  8. I can't understand how anybody can gripe about a $10 app that gets you the sound of a Fairlight.

    Do you think developers should just work for you for free?

    That's what's happening on Windows. Everybody uses cracked software, so music app development for Windows has come to a screeching halt. More and more, we're getting left with a bunch of buggy SynthEdit plugins hosted on suspect Russian download sites.

    Fairlight has done everything that they can to help people understand what their apps are about. They've got charts on their site that explain the differences between the two versions. They let you buy the cheap version and upgrade if you decide you want to. They even put together a video demoing the app and the differences between the versions.

    When a company does all of that, how can anybody say they're getting misled?

    And about the price – this isn't a consumer app! If you don't want to invest $10 or $50 on a music app, don't do it. But don't poison the water for musicians that are OK with spending a little more!

    I'd rather see more app developers strive to make apps that are powerful or unique than see them crank out hundreds of too-basic apps.

  9. It’s totally clear how much effort went into this piece of software. It doesn’t really hold up as a musical instrument in the XX. century? Well freg me! It’s a recreation of one from the 70s! Recreation, meaning you can get the same sound.

    Now, there are people out there who will spend $10000 on a Buffet bassoon. Ten times the price of a solid, pro-level Heckel bassoon, that is more reliable and a LOT easier to play. Why? Because unlike a Heckel, the Buffet SOUNDS LIKE A BUFFET, and pretty much like a bassoon from the time of the great composers.

    This $50 is a well-deserved tribute to the coders and engineers who managed to chug out a polished, faithful replica of an aged instrument, instead of auto-generating another weak toy synth the appstore is filled to the brim with.

  10. All these years later from the original comments and it’s still feels wrong as the “player” is so hobbled and it really isn’t apparent. No support, 404 (not found) help/report a problem pages from the apple site to the Fairlight site – Peter Vogel’s advertising / “upgrade to pro” all over the app. No update for 2 YEARS AND a PRICE INCREASE?
    Such a shame really, such a shame. Hard to be so negative but I feel it’s warranted in this instance.

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