CMI App for iPad and iPhone

Developed in Australia during the ’70s and ’80s, the Fairlight CMI (Computer Musical Instrument) was the first commercial sampler and screen-based rhythm sequencer. Today every sampler, digital synthesizer, sequencer and audio workstation can trace its lineage back to this legendary machine. Now you can have, in your pocket or on your iPad, a piece of history developed by Fairlight staff who worked on the CMI in the ’80s.

You can Buy and download the Pro App from the App Store, or if you are not sure you want the Pro features, you can get the Player App and play original Fairlight CMI sounds and sequences straight away. Then if you want to create your own masterpieces you can use the in-app upgrade process to get all the Pro features listed in the Features page.

You can find an audio montage of CMI App sounds, made by a Fairlight customer, on SoundCloud.

Feature comparisonFeedback, FAQ and Support

Video Guide 1
Features Overview
Video Guide 2
Player vs. Pro
Video Guide 3
Voice Sampling

Accepts input from Core MIDI devices. You can even accept MIDI from some devices that don’t support Core MIDI, such as the Akai SynthStation and the Line6 MidiMobilizer, using an app called MidiBridge.
A great way to get quality audio into the new sampling feature in version 1.1 is via iRig Mic, and the perfect support for your iPad is iKlip.

Compatible with iRig MicCompatible with iKlip



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435 Responses to CMI App for iPad and iPhone

  1. Alex Wise says:

    Congratulations on adding the new features. I would like to see the filter, vibrato and sustain added in the next release.

  2. Peter Vogel says:

    Many thanks for your kind words Martin. Would make a great review for the app store πŸ˜‰

  3. Martin says:

    Bought the app two days ago and I never experienced shorter flight trips, utterly consumed by this fantastic app. Fellow passengers looked suspiciously on the green appearence on my iPad, but I soon forgot them. I grew up intensly listening to Jean-Michel Jarre, Magnetic Fields and Concerts in China, so this app was the most amazing experience I have had for some years. I’m in lucky tears for the opportunity to challenge myself with the Fairlight. Best app so far on my pad.

  4. Arthur Crichton says:

    I received a reply about the missing samples on the Fairlight app. It has made me wonder about one thing. Do Fairlight automatically get a copy of a sample that I sample myself on the App for them to be able to replace it if my samples appear missing? Please advise

    • Thomas says:

      No, we don’t get a copy of anything on your device. The only place the voices exist is on your device, or on your computer if you have copied them via iTunes.
      If your voicedata directory exists, and the voice files have not been deleted, and you send them to us along with your database, we can generate new .VCX files for you to import.

  5. Eric vetterick says:

    How many sounds are in the upgrade to Pro?

  6. John Machling says:

    Any chance of an Android version appearing?

  7. Anna says:

    “Yes, 8 bit and lower sampling speed would be nice features, we’ll add it to our (long) list of requests.”


  8. Steven says:

    I know its less quality – but that is the certain effect I am on about here.
    On the fairlight it didn’t sound that bad at all – more warm and fuzzy but still piercing at times…

  9. Steven says:

    To add to my question – I’ve been doing a bit of reading – maybe instead of 8-bit mode, the sound I am on about was maybe the result of the early Fairlight’s 24 kHz sampling mode…
    Would it be possible to add support for this? I take it the current sampling rate is 44 Khz, 16 bit, in the app?

  10. Steven says:


    I have the player app and the new update is much better.

    I am seriously thinking of upgrading to pro. My question is – can the app (or indeed could the real Fairlight), let you just press Record and play something on the keyboard that would be recorded and you could play it back again.. Or do you have to sit there and draw each individual note on the sequencer page?

    Hope this question makes sense. Thanks.

    • Thomas says:

      Steven, the simple answer is – yes! In both the CMI and the Fairlight App, in Page R, after selecting a track and a note length and insert mode, playing notes on the on-screen keyboard or an external MIDI keyboard will insert notes.

      • Steven says:

        Hi Thomas.

        Thats great to hear! I am buying now!!!
        On a side note, as a huge Peter Gabriel fan here, I well remember his 1982 documentary on the making of his fourth solo album. It was recorded for the South Bank Show, here in the UK.
        It featured the Fairlight throughout the program as the album was made quite heavily with one.
        I loved watching him demonstrate the Fairlight and it showed you him making samples for it – smashing TV’s, singing, blowing etc.
        Years later, watching this – I still thought the Fairlight was a really cool instrument/production tool – even to this day – so as soon as I saw it was available on IOS, I had to get it. Now we have sampling thats the icing on the cake.
        One small thing though… If you are familiar with that album it is full of samples on the Fairlight and they sound sort of 8-bit – but in a good way.
        I know PG worked with Larry Fast to process the signals eg. the harmonica samples etc. but it had a rather unique sound.. It would be cool if the Fairlight sampling routine could do 8-bit mode..
        My question really is I suppose – did or could the original Fairlight sound like that – or was it just Larry Fast’s processing of the sounds later that made it sound the way it did. I realise this could be a hard question to answer accurately especially if you are not familiar with these PG albums (3 and 4).
        To simplify – is there likely to be an 8-bit filter on sampled sounds?

  11. Mike says:

    This will be my last post regarding the new update as I think I’ve complained enough. Some users claim that this is a great update. In my case, the update has pretty much rendered the app unusable. I thought at first that both the attack and release controls had no effect on the sound, but I’ve noticed that it is possible to modify the release of a sample a little. However, I still don’t notice any change when adjusting attack. And trying to adjust parameters in pg. 3 in general is so buggy that I’ve stopped trying. Either there is some problem with my iPad 2, or this update was released too early.

    • Thomas says:

      Mike, sorry you’re having these problems. As I’ve said here and in emails to you, we are investigating. But it happens to so few people, it is hard to debug. I haven’t yet seen your database, but when you send it I can check it out.

  12. Mike says:

    Actually, when I try to adjust the attack or release of a sound (editing it in pg. 3) I don’t notice any audible difference. And eventually, stranger results occur after fiddling with these parameters. Could I be doing something incorrectly?

    • Thomas says:

      We’re still trying to reproduce this one, but have not yet found a way to make it happen. If anyone is seeing this problem, any information about the steps you need to take to make it happen, after quitting and relaunching the app, would be greatly appreciated. Also we need to know the device you are using. Please use the support page form.

  13. Mike says:

    Has no one realized that you can’t adjust any sound parameters in pg. 3 without getting very strange results? If I’m the only one experiencing this, it may have something to do with my iPad.

  14. Tony Tooke says:

    The update is great, I’m so pleased to be able to sample. Now all we need is audio copy and paste;).
    A few bugs with the update though. When adding a new song nothing happens, then when you go back to the disk menu it appears. Also the keyboard doesn’t appear anymore in the sequencer.
    These bugs may only be on the iPod Touch 4 and I do hope they’re sorted soon, as this app is amazing.

  15. Richard de Prey says:

    Just got the update – really like what you’ve done, and great to be able to sample – it now feels like a more complete app. Thanks also for the icon fix, it shows how attentive you are to our feedback. Great job!

  16. Ray Godfrey says:

    I down loaded the fair light and updated to fair light pro
    I downloaded fair light pro from the apps file and it looks like I have been charged twice please can this be refunded .

    • Thomas says:

      The Fairlight Player App and the Fairlight Pro App are two different Apps, even if you have upgraded the Player App to get the Pro features. The App Store will allow you to purchase an App once and install it on any of your devices, but these are two different Apps.
      If you had previously purchased the Player App, then you later purchased the Pro App, you will have paid for both Apps. You will need to contact Apple to get a refund on one of them– but keep in mind that when you delete an App from your device you also delete all its data.

  17. niels says:

    why can’t you sample with the “pro”version and if the 30 a has 24 tracks can you at least double the amount of tracks from 8 to 16 channels. Please?
    I love this app.

    • Thomas says:

      Niels, version 1.1 of the Fairlight App has sampling. It is in beta test now.
      The Fairlight 30A is built around the insanely powerful Crystal Core hardware. The App uses a tiny little ARM processor. The iPhone is already using all its processing power to do live audio synthesis of 8 channels. We are considering using offline synthesis and cacheing, like Garage Band does, but that won’t be in the next version.

  18. Drew Neumann says:

    Please bring back mode 1 and 4, and additive and wave drawing from the iix

    • Rodney Gipson says:

      I second that Drew, mode 1 and 4 are very intriguing features. Hard to find this anywhere other the the CMI III! or 30 Anniversary machine!

      • Thomas says:

        The Fairlight App already supports Mode 4. However, feedback from our customers suggests that mode 1 is very rarely used, so that is not supported in the App. But you can simulate it by setting a one-segment loop in segment 1.

        • Drew Neumann says:

          It doesn’t FULLY support the cool things that mode 4 did–and switching between 1 and 4 allowed. There is no additive synthesis, wave drawing, mixing and merging (which allowed interesting wavetable development) or even simply switching from 4 to 1 to mangle a sound. If you have a 2X sitting around, play with that for a while….

  19. Marc says:

    Please lower the price.

  20. Alain says:

    Definitively, we need to be able to change the Time signature for every pattern, as in the original version of the Page R. Hope it will be in the next version. Thank you.

  21. stevie nice says:

    Sorry in advance for sounding computer illiterate, but how do I get this to work on my MBP running Logic 9? I have an M Audio midi controller.

  22. Derek says:

    Is there a way to play multiple Voices (ie. an Instrument) using the onscreen keys or a hardware keyboard?

    • Thomas says:

      Each keyboard can control one voice– the CMI II keyboard voice registers are not implemented in the App yet. The on-screen keyboard plays the selected voice, and in multi-voice mode (Page R or Page 3) a MIDI keyboard plays the voice with its MID channel number. So yes, you can play n+1 voices, where n is the number of MIDI keyboards you have connected.

  23. Tony Tooke says:

    I absolutely love this app, I don’t think it’s overpriced at all considering the library of sounds. Had a few crashes bur mostly stable. I would love the option to change the attack and pan voices and what would really make my day is if you could render bars and use audio copy to paste into other apps for manilpulation.

  24. Mike says:

    I just read a review of the Player app in Futuremusic magazine in which the reviewer said that the main reason to buy the Fairlight app is for the sound library. I now agree since the 4/4 only limitation of the sequencer (page R) renders the onboard sequencer useless to me. And the ability to use the page R sequencer as a portable sketchpad is the only reason that I upgraded to the pro version. I can understand all of the other update requests users have been making; nevertheless, to be unable to control the length of a rhythmic pattern (so that it contains 7 or 13 8th notes, for example) leaves all modern composers on the dust, all of that being said (and sorry it took so long to say it) I still think the sound library is fantastic.

    • Thomas says:

      Mike, for what it’s worth, I agree with you about other time signatures. It is a feature of the original CMI that is definitely on our list of desirable App upgrades.

  25. George Leger III says:

    Would you please do a PDF manual for the people like myself who actually read them?

  26. DBM says:

    VSTi , AU , or even standalone with rewire would be cool !

  27. Dave says:

    Did the cmi ll have a wavetable synth section as well ? Will the app as well ?

    What are the .vc and Vcx. Voices ?

    Any chance the price will go down some ?

  28. Maggie says:

    jez, I’m with you. I’m in utter awe of this app, thank you Fairlight for making this available!

  29. Conrad says:

    Please add my vote for a VST plugin version and for addition of the missing pages. I can understand if you wait until you have sold all of the limited release 30A’s before you consider providing these additions. Some of us understand that you’re a business not a charity. Don’t listen to those who complain about price, quality is worth paying for and you have hit the right price target with the app.

    • Jesper says:

      App, VST or hardweare solutions… The Quality of the CMI emulation are the first priority for me! I think the price for the app are worth every penny!

  30. Jez says:

    Quick question? Do you plan to upgrade the Pro version with other pages (ie, Page C, Page F etc)?

    • Thomas says:

      Yes, we plan to add more pages in the future. However, you’re the first to suggest Page F. The CMI IIX doesn’t have Page C, and most of the functions of Page F are not applicable to the Fairlight App. Have a look at the comments here for other suggested pages and our responses.

  31. Joe Gerardi says:

    Something to consider: those of us in the PC and Android world have no intention of purchasing the App. Therefore, seeing how well the App will do on the iPad before consideration in porting it to other platforms is somewhat specious an argument: the sales will never justify the other platforms, because those of us on the other platforms are not going to purchase a non-compatible App whilst awaiting it in an OS we can use, so the sales will always be lower.

    Just thought that needed a mention.


  32. Jez says:

    I’ve just submitted these comments to the AppStore but feel I should post them here, too:
    I hesitated initially as to whether to buy the Pro version but boy am I glad that I did. After a few days I am still knocked-out by the App. Thirty years ago I could but dream of owning a Fairlight. The attention to detail in the App is worthy of the original and I’m impressed by the dedication and responsiveness of today’s Fairlight team to develop this product. Check out the comments on the Chat pages of their website to see that upgrades and fine-tuning the product are being taken seriously.

    Sadly, many potential purchasers may not realise what has been made available with this App. The Pro version is not cheap by AppStore standards but this is no fly-by-night product. Read the history of Fairlight; break out those 1980s albums. Listen, learn and then grab this opportunity to make sounds and songs the way that so many top artists did. I’m still pinching myself. I’VE GOT A FAIRLIGHT! Thank you Fairlight a thousand times. If nothing else, this has justified the purchase of my iPad 2.

  33. Mike says:

    I just wanted to let everyone know that Alesis is going to be releasing a product called IO Dock, which seems to be a high quality dock for the iPad. If it does what it’s supposed to do, it will offer pro midi and audio connectivity and it looks like a high quality piece of gear. It may be the answer some of us have been looking for to integrate the Fairlight app and other iPad synths into our studios. Finally…

  34. david says:

    vst and android please

  35. gesticulador says:

    please make a vst for the desktop. please please!

  36. Mike says:

    After doing a little more research, I have a feeling that the Line 6 device may be a better option for me, as it has midi in/out cables which would probably allow it to connect to my main midi interface. Still more research to do…

    • Thomas says:

      The MidiMobilizer will certainly work. But using the Camera Connection Kit to receive MIDI events from an external device should work with any Core Midi compatible device. We have reports of mixed success with this, and it might need a powered USB hub. See the MIDI help page for details.

  37. Mike says:

    I feel foolish. I thought that all I had to do was get a camera connection kit, plug it into my iPad, and plug the camera connection kit into my midi interface. Not quite. I realize now that I must get a simple midi interface (that does not need drivers) and plug that into the CCK/iPad. What I still am not sure of is how I then get that simple interface to work with my MOTU 828 (large Midi interface with several inputs/outputs). In other words, I was hoping to use the iPad/Fairlight app together with my whole set up as if it were just another synth (rather than having a special, dedicated set up for it). Is this possible. And sorry for the confusion and long post.

  38. Anna says:

    The app, how does it compare to the orginal CMI soundwise?

    Variable sample pitch “drop sampling” etc. Don’t know much about this myself. But sure the original was capable to present THE sound.

    • Thomas says:

      Anna, the technique for generating sounds is identical to the CMI right up until the last stage. At the end of the chain in the original CMI, the voice data were converted to analogue at the voice sample rate, then filtered with a tracking low-pass filter. In the Fairlight App, the voice sample data are sample-rate converted to 44.1 KHz using Core Audio convolution, which is somewhat similar to the tracking filter. No samples are dropped. Audiophiles who are intimately familiar with the original CMI may be able to detect the difference. I can’t.

      • Anna says:

        Thanks for the answer Thomas! this makes the app sounds more (Fairlightish) than some ordinary softsampler (with the same samples)? This also apply on self imported wavs? If so… Cool!!!

        • Thomas says:

          Anna, I can’t comment on most soft samplers because I don’t know how most work. But I do know that the Fairlight sound is close to the original CMI IIX. But part of the difference is that the CMI II voices are 8 bit, which gives a distinctive sound. When you import your own voices they are 16 bit because that is the default for WAV and AIFF files, and they are treated as if they are CMI III 16-bit voices and played back the same way, but will be missing the 8-bit sound unless you preprocessed them to 8-bit and back.

          • Anna says:

            Thanks for your honest answers Thomas. I also think it’s liberating that you choose not to comment on “the competitors’ products.

            I’ve always been fascinated by the CMI’s unique sound. The Fairlight is probably one of the best “machines” when it comes to transpose a single sample and still have it sound interesting. It sounds “full” and “musical” in some kind of strange way. I always thought that this was mainly due to its variable sample rate of the output stages.

            A bitreducerad sampling imported into the NI Kontakt, GigaStudio or for that matter Akai S series samplers (I have tested them all) sounds in my (and others) opinion… lame.

            Your “Core Audio convolution” seems to simulate the “CMI sound” to a level that I find very interesting.

            So.. Big thanks for your work to “restore” the CMI and its soundlibrary and make it for us who donΒ΄t got the “chance” during the heydays!!

  39. Ezequiel Araujo says:

    Am I wrong or it’s mono? Maybe samples are stereo when u do your own programs, but there’s no panning for each voice, if u have multiple outputs like the CMI and a mixer u won’t miss panpot parameter…
    Would be very nice
    And trigger voices with core midi always stick notes in endless sustain, am I doin something wrong?
    Thank you very much, a really wonderful app

    • Thomas says:

      In the original CMI, all mixing was done using an external mixing desk. There is no pan, but it’s a popular request. I’ll add your vote.
      The only reason notes would get stuck is if your MIDI device is not sending a matching note-off message for each note-on command. Try a MIDI event recording tool to see the exact messages being sent.

    • Mike says:

      I just wanted to let you know I’ve had the endless sustain issue as well. I’ve found no solution so far.

      • Thomas says:

        Could anyone who has this problem, especially with the Akai LPK25, and also has a MIDI recording capability (eg Midi Memo with the Line 6 MIDI Mobilizer) please record the MIDI events that happen when you press more than 4 keys at a time and then release them?

        • Ben Zonneveld says:

          I also have the endless sustain issue with the synthstation 25 and Cubase 5.5
          The problem only occurs when triggering from another keyboard and using midi thru on Cubase.
          I tried different midi keyboards I have and on all but one the endless sustain happens, even when playing 1 note.
          Problematic MIDI:
          DX7 with E!
          Korg Wavestation
          Edirol midi keyboard.
          Working MIDI:
          Ensoniq Mirage

          The Mirage is about the only keyboard I know which is release velocity sensitive.
          Probably it is the only keyboard which sends a true midi Note OFF message while the other keyboard might use Running Status

  40. spencer007 says:

    i’m willing to get this app;
    a question, i understand no sync(yet).
    Is there as in other apps I have (such as technobox) a way to export the sequencer /recorded track via itunes/app as wave or aiff . Spencer

    • Thomas says:

      At the moment, the only way to save the song as a file is to record the audio output. Exporting to a file is a popular feature request. I’ll add your vote.

      • spencer007 says:

        ieeeuuuw, so you say, when even the smallest synth companies have a export as .wave /.aiff file possibility… the only way now for you Guru’s of Samples to offer me is: to record the audio output??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
        Sorry, i’m producing records for over 20 years now but never had such a retro remark in this digital era we live in.. when all is digi anyhow… how difficult is it to export digital???

        • spencer007 says:

          esspecially when the 2 or 3 dollars per app companies can deliver an easy; simple 1 or 10 /20 bar record to export aiff or wave

          you’re saying for 50 bucks it’s a no can do???? why????
          you really like me to like a ad convertor of only 25 cnts to export audio into a whatever analogue to digital convertor?????? so after too many convertions finally back to start??? digital?? thats really ….eeeuuuh

          • Thomas says:

            Spencer, there are a million functions we’d like to add to the Fairlight App. Every one of them involves development work. We are first of all focussing on the features of the original CMI, which did not have digital export. If you can find a $2 App that sequences sampled voices with the flexibility of the Fairlight App, then you should use that instead.
            If you are concerned about the A/D and D/A conversion, keep in mind that the original CMI voices are 8-bit. No 21st-century A/D is going to have the slightest impact on that.
            To answer your question, it is actually a lot of hard work to get iOS to generate a file from 8 tracks of multi-pitched sampled voices. Still, we would like to do it. As I said, I have added your vote.
            If you read my original reply, you will see that I said “At the moment.” All things are possible in the future.

          • spencer007 says:

            thanks for all the answers,
            what I mean is:
            Audio Realism (an app of 3 eur) has an easy way of exporting sounds straight into the itunes/app/name of app.
            also the Korg Gorrilaz app has the same export function.
            You guys have the same but only deliver the import function for new sounds….
            why not export if there is import already??? whats the big deal?

            Personally i really cannot imagine why Mike from Audiorealism (a one guy company) who sells his tr909/tb303 app for 2 /3 bucks upto Korg / Gorrilaz who export the same way…. an app for 7 bucks
            you guys cannot deliver the same…
            I started making music in 1985 all analogue. in the ’90 made house music as one of the dutch pioneers with Juno’s, tr909, tb303, tr606 etc etc all vintage roland gear. till now 2011 I was’nt not convinced of softsynths at all… but in my new album some of the apps have been used… mixed with vintage Roland MKS gear.
            But to go back to the old times recording a all digital non vintage synth into a editing system the analogue way … seems too unneccesary old fashion . especially when everybody else can ….

          • Thomas says:

            Spencer, as I said, we have a long list of requested features. Each one needs development effort, so we have to prioritise them. Your vote has been added.

          • spencer007 says:

            thanks, when i can import the sounds in my system without the need of an external digital to analogue convertor or headphone output. I will buy this app most certainly. Spencer

  41. Mike says:


    I’m enjoying the app more and more as I get to know it better. I was wondering whether I can sync the page R sequencer to my DAW sequencer via midi so that they will run together. Also, my vote, when it comes to a possible update, is for variable sample attack. Thanks for a nice app.

  42. Steven says:

    just to bring back some memories:
    can you name a few bands from the past using the fairlight? I only can remember Jan Hammer with the miami vice ttheme. Is that spacy sound also available ;-)?

  43. Jesper says:

    Any uppgrading news? I am waiting for vibrato, tremolo, portamento and variable attack. This would make the app so much more useful.

  44. Bob says:

    I want a vst or Au plugin for mac/pc
    …this is great…I love page R
    it works the way i think,
    I last used a fairlight II in 1984 (with dave vorhaus) and have been waiting
    fo a desktop version ever since…
    please make this happen…great work

  45. Cam says:

    I reckon you could even use some free social media marketing and quick press releases to advertise the launch of a vst that would hopefully also run as a universal binary. The fairlight brand already has quite a history… I think the potential for a well executed plugin is there … but if possible please make it a universal binary vst. . Cheers!

  46. Ronald says:

    Just adding a vote to the VSTi/AU list…. If you make one, you have my money πŸ™‚


  47. Karl_D says:

    YES, a MAC, PC and Linux version would be REALLY nice. And maybe a Android version… In the mean time I’ll probably have to bite the dust and get a iDevice πŸ™

  48. Xelomorph says:

    Hi Thomas,
    Just like to say that a PC and MAC version of Fairlight IIx would be handy.

  49. Tony says:

    I would also like to add my vote for a AU/VST version of the Fairlight. I feel if you can make an app for the iPad, you certainly can make a plugin version or even a stand-alone version with Page R that can run on our computers. The current crop of quad core i7 processors are most likely powerful enough for this to be possible.

    • Thomas says:

      Tony, your vote has been added.
      You are right about the processing power. But to develop a plugin to run on Macs and Windows would basically meaning starting from scratch, so it is a big project. Still, all things are possible.

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