Ton is a drum machine designed for live play. You can build rhythmic sequences quickly, modulate parameters and change everything without ever having to stop playback. And thanks to Audiobus and Ableton Link, Ton can easily be used with other apps to accommodate a wide range of workflows.
The screen is arranged to favor a very fast and live-friendly workflow. The drum pads at the bottom of the screen makes manual performance convenient, while the sequencer just above permits more elaborate sequencing. Most of the top half of the screen is dedicated to parameters: the audio engine is at the heart of Ton and is invaluable for making a sound that is truly yours.
To start or stop playback, tap the transport button at the top-right of the screen.
Each pad gives access to a different track. The drum pads operate in three modes, accessible via the toolbar:
Ton features a step sequencer on which every step can not only trigger sound, but also apply different "parameter locks". Parameter-locking is a powerful feature that can add nuance and variation to your sequence, but can also be used to create monophonic melodies or even change the sound completely for any given step.
Basics: tap a step to enable it, tap it again to disable it. Only enabled steps produce sound.
Parameter-locking: hold down a step, and edit parameter values such as filter frequency, pitch, reverb send… then release the step. The parameter values you set during the operation are applied only for that step. The step displays the number of parameters that are locked. To remove a lock for a step, hold down that step and double-tap the desired parameter. Tip: to view exactly the locks that are applied to a step, hold it down. Locked parameters are then highlighted. (the sequencer is smart enough to understand if you want to toggle a step or just view a lock).
Parameter values can be changed by sliding your finger vertically. Most parameters can also operate in "snap" mode (accessible via the toolbar). When the snap mode is active, parameter values are constrained to useful values. For instance, the tuning parameter will be constrained to exact-semitone values. Tip: By combining parameter locks and snap mode to set tuning values, you can build melodies out of drum sounds.
This is where you choose what sample to play on the current track and adjust some of its characteristics.
Each track has its own multimode resonant filter. This filter is applied to the sample before amplification.
An envelope is applied to a sample every time it plays. You also decide how much of the resulting sound will go through the master effects.
This panel is not tied to any track. It controls global parameters for effects and tempo.
A pattern contains the state of the 6 tracks, including the sequence and parameter values (with the exception of tempo.) Each project has 16 patterns that can be accessed via the corresponding button.
You can switch to any pattern with a tap. The contents of your chosen pattern are applied immediately, without waiting for the next bar, and without going out of tempo. This is very useful to perform live and improvise an arrangement.
To store the current tracks and their parameters, tap the "Store" button, then tap any of the 16 patterns. Tip: You can duplicate a pattern simply by storing it into different places.