Polychord App Review: Poly Wanna Chill

Updated 8-26-11 Polychord (V2.66)keeps getting better, and this latest update is really cool allowing Polychord to be used as a MIDI controller with more apps and devices then before. It now sends MIDI out through all available ports. Now with virtual MIDI controls to run other compatible synthesizers in the background on your iPad while multitasking! Also MIDI clock/sync allows you to control compatible beat based music apps. That’s pretty cool, stuff and I don’t really use MIDI. Though, I am looking at MIDI with very curious eyes, as developers are really coming up with some amazing new ideas. I can’t wait for ACP.

Polychord is a unique instrument that can be used in a pro studio environment or alone as a nice simple way for anyone to explore the creation of music.

The first thing that impressed me was the layout and design. The chill feeling is promoted (for me anyway) in the dark yet realistic design. It is as soothing as the sounds Polychord produces. It just looks real. Nothing busy or flashy, and I love that!It also looks really interesting with the chord circles having the different types of chords wrapped around them. This makes chord changes incredibly, intuitive, easy and fun. A very nice idea to inspire chord variety, and exploration.

Polychord can be a bit of a portable band with auto accompany, arpeggiator, and their various functions. Nice for a relaxing little mini band in your lap to express ones self or explore and find inspiration.

The audio quality is good, nice and clean, though the preset sounds are limited, and sound a bit cheesy to me. Reminds me a little of the presets from those older Casio keyboards from my childhood.
Remember though this has midi, so you are only limited to these presets if you don’t wish to explore that midi capability further for far more exciting and powerful sounds.

 You play it by picking or strumming a ribbon like keyboard on the right side. You don’t have a lot of keys there, but that’s for good reason. Only the keys that are in the scale you choose are necessary, which makes great sense and fosters an uncluttered play surface. Clearly a lot of thought went into making this a simple, straight forward instrument that wont allow you to make many mistakes. Even unintended key strikes work out, since everything is always in tune.

My only gripe is that I cannot copy paste anything I make using Polychord into other apps. This strikes me as a little odd since it is intended to be easy and fun to use. Its not fun for me as one who uses ONLY my iPad to create, compose, arrange and mix all of my music. This is however not a major problem for most users, considering the intent of Polychord is more geared toward those using midi. While I personally cant really do much beyond just playing with it, the full midi support for controlling DAWs like Abelton or ProTools makes it very accessible and far more capable.
 Midi also makes Polychord a serious instrument with enormous possibilities. Its just not suited to those like me who have left external hardware and computers in the past. Then again, I may need to reconsider this in the near future.

Polychord, while having certain limitations that are an obstacle for me, should not be ignored. Its a thoughtful, fun, and inspiring musical instrument with more capabilities than some might think. Its a professional quality tool. If it had copy paste, it would be even better. Check it out  http://polychordapp.com/features.html



  1. Polychord,sound prism pro,musix…..all in a similar group of apps that have internal sounds but to really experience these apps you really have to check out the midi options. This is what separates toy from tool. Audio copy and paste are good work arounds but these apps are really meant for DAW use. The internal sounds are fine for a sketch pad but don't really offer the power house sounds that other apps can give. (sound prism though does in fact have great internal sounds which puts it on the top of the list for my "app of the year" next to horizon)………casio keyboard…….:) lol your killing me……

  2. I couldn't agree more. That's why I tried to qualify my opinion with noting it's more about midi. I just have a very unique approach. If it needs another device, or PC it doesn't fit my needs well. I certainly don't suggest it's a bad thing. It's just not in my workflow if there's no copy paste. I hope no one takes that Casio keyboard thing too seriously, or with negative implication. It's not intended that way. It was an honest impression of the internal sounds. Which isn't a bad thing. Anyway it was more tongue n cheek while reiterating it's more about midi not presets. I love Polychord. For those using midi it's an outstanding tool. I don't use midi. I'm all about leaving other devices, hardware and the likes behind in favor of just my iPad. It's my odd niche. All music is beautiful, and important.

  3. I'm right on the same page, I haven't figured out MIDI yet and don't have much use for it at the moment. I love playing with Polychord and wish I could get my hands on a hardware version! Like the old Omnichord but with the new spiffed-up buttons, if it would still make sense to your fingers in 3D. I also thought it was weird and disappointing that they didn't include some sort of audiocopy. I would love to play around mixing Polychord sounds with various other apps, but I only want to record in iOS. I'd be fine with the built-in sounds if only I could get them out of that app, for multitracking or what have you. Maybe/hopefully in the next version?

  4. Smite, I think you should see this video on youtube that shows that you can access the sounds of other iOS apps like SampleWiz via MIDI all WITHIN an iPad. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hluhW7wamDs&feature=player_detailpageI know this works because I did it for the first time earlier today. Try it, I think it will really open up Polycord for you! I'm actually looking to find other iOS apps that can slave to Polychords via the iPad's internal MIDI syncing.

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