Monday, August 1, 2011

iPad Synthesizers: The Next Generation

As mentioned earlier, I obtained a Korg nanoKEY2 controller and (combined with the iPad Camera Kit USB converter) it's a blast. I confess I was more than a bit nervous about doing it -- going around an plugging random USB devices into an iPad seems like it might lead to heartbreak -- but it seems that almost any controller device that is CoreMIDI Compliant can plug into an iPad via USB. Note the "almost": here's a nice list of devices that are known to work -- or not work with the iPad.

Anyhow, I know I've said before that I wasn't too interested in software synthesizers that run on the iPad -- but this CoreMIDI stuff changes that. It means I can hook my iPad up to my DAW, hook a keyboard up to my iPad -- and then blissfully tickle away at the "ivories", switching between any number of different synthesizer apps.

Addictive Synth ($5.99US) -- A dynamic wavetable synthesizer with a ton of fun real-time control options.

Sunrizer Synth ($4.99US) -- A virtual analog synthesizer that sounds really good.

It's hard to put my finger on it exactly but these two apps seem representative of a new, 2nd generation of iOS synthesizer apps. They seem more solid, extremely responsive, and the sounds they generate are very rich and clean. Other things I've noticed are

  • An emphasis on tricking out the arpeggiator -- I'm still trying to figure out all of the options, and
  • Creation of new presets via "morphing", ie, pick a Mommy preset and a Daddy preset and then listen to see how Junior turned out. Repeat as necessary. (and here's a shout-out to Crystal Synth, which I think was one of the early apps to promote this (extremely useful) feature).

Long story short: Do you remember a couple of weeks ago when you and a friend had a late lunch at 2:30pm at McDonalds, and you somehow choked down a quarter-pounder with cheese and fries that had been congealing under the heat lamps since noon? And there was something wrong with the drink machine so it tasted "off"? And you gallantly picked up the check, which came to $11+? You, my friend, need to restore your faith in humanity and the American economy by spending $10.98US on these two apps and reassure yourself that yes, even in these trying economic conditions, you can still buy something Unbelievably Freakin' Cool for $11.

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