Alchemy Synth Mobile By Camel Audio: Playing with big sounds.
Updated Alchemy Synth Mobile Studio Updated Review: April 30 2013
Alchemy Synth Mobile Studio – Pro how I love you, let me count the ways. Oh I never was a very good poet. Anyway, the latest update to Alchemy Mobile Pro is one for the books! It is feeling more like a mini studio with the new 4 track sequencer. Which explains the name tweak to Alchemy Synth Mobile Studio as well. However, the new 4 track sounds scruffy on my iPad 4. I don’t know what’s going on there? They thoughtfully added a good quantize tool, Position indicator. Save and load songs or even just tracks. iCloud support. Audiobus support! No SoundCloud?
New drum pads and sounds for crafting beats. Its mostly all looking good, and sounding great!
All kinds of cool new goodies. It won’t replace your iDAW, but it is a lot more powerful and versatile than ever. This is all based on the “Pro” upgrade, which I recommend buying to fully appreciate this vamped up app.
Prior review update 7-28-2012
Originally I only reviewed the free version. I finally decided to get the Pro Upgrade, and I’m very glad I did. The differences are significant. Below you will see my experiences with the free version and I must say that I am loving the Pro Version even more! With the Pro Upgrade I can now enjoy Alchemy Synth Mobile to its fullest. Saving my experiments and or projects to recall later is now an option. Recording remix pad movements is now also possible, and virtual MIDI graces the unlocked capabilities as well. Bouncing or layering multiple synth sounds opens a lot more possibilities for deeper probing into the sonic wonder that is Alchemy.
I got along alright before upgrading today, but I really didn’t realize what I was missing until now. The Pro Upgrade is very much worth the price ($14.99 via IAP)with all the additional capabilities, features, tools, and yes more great presets. So consider these things before you read the following original review below that only speaks to the free version. I highly recommend the upgrade.
The Following original review was based on the Free Version with use with iPad 1 & 2, 3, iPod Touch 3G & 4G
Ever want a synth that has really majestic, spacious, and evolving sounds? Something that can almost be a song just by pressing and holding a single key, but also allows freedom to explore and perform? Camel Audio offers at least those things, but certainly much more with Alchemy Synth Mobile.
While it has such enormous sounds of fantastic quality, it does limit you in that there’s no way to craft a patch or something truly your own. Is this a bad thing? I suppose that depends on personal opinion?
No, you cannot create your own patches with this mobile version, but you can tweak (but not save) any of the presets in numerous ways. There are really tons of options and possibilities.
Alchemy Synth Mobile comes loaded with dozens of spectacular presets, and loops, with the option to purchase more sound packs via In App Purchase. You can get some more free patches by simply creating a Camel Audio account online from within the app. Did I mention Alchemy Mobile is free? Yes, free. It’s the entry level, slightly limited version, but it’s free.
Of course you can upgrade to the Pro version that unlocks its MIDI capabilities, (Including Virtual Core MIDI) and connectivity to the desk top version for a reasonable price.
However, I must admit I have not sprung for the full “Pro” version.
Honestly, I haven’t felt any need for it myself yet. I’ve been running the free version (with most of the available purchased sound packs, my favorites are “Big Tone & Arp Dimensions”) since its release and have not felt limited at all.
Alchemy Synth Mobile can record a short performance, and easily copy and transfer out to other ACP compatible apps. I wish it had email, and drop box support though.
Playing Alchemy is much like any other virtual synth on iOS with a scrollable keyboard that is reliable and responsive. There’s a grid of 8 boxes that responds to your touch and depending on where you swipe, tap, or hold, the sounds can be altered from one extreme to another. Kind of like a sub set of presets within a preset, that morphs with user input in real time. The additional selections of looped beats such as a nice chill ambient or a cool trance set provides more room for fun, or an engaging performance.
There are also two X/Y control boxes with preset parameters (they vary from one patch to another) allowing additional control over textures, FX, resonance, speed and so on. These are quite nice to use while performing ( even if it’s just you and your cat ) offering more creative control.
The standard ADSR controls are present, as well as several slider styled controllers for many different things (again varies from one preset to another) that include, FX, Octave, Filters, Arpeggios, Pulse, Speed, and so many more. Altering the BPM is also a snap with an easy touch and slide to increase or decrease.
So there’s loads of controls, tweakable parameters, FX, and sound variations at your finger tips. You just can’t save your settings. So that one perfect sound you had made yesterday, is gone today.
With all these controls, but no ability to save anything, why bother? Well, these may be preset patches, loops, arpeggios, and what not, but they are also some of the most complex, evolving, cinematic ( …insert you favorite word to describe something really big) preset sounds you might not hear anywhere else on iOS.
Yes with the right synths and some effort you could create and save your own similarly complex patches with other synths, but these are really special. Some are cliche, some are strange, some are mind boggling , but all are very well made. You may not be able to save your variations of them, but they sure are some of the best sounds any virtual synth offers so far. In some instances certain presets are practically their own song. Find one, hold the key, slowly move around the grid of boxes, and or the X/Y pads, and you’ll hear what I mean.
In the end, Alchemy Synth Mobile might lock you out of crafting your own sounds to save and use within the app, however there is nothing stopping you from copying it and pasting into your favorite sampler to then modify, expand and save for your very own. So there is that, and that’s going to have to do.
Alchemy Synth Mobile is one sonic powerhouse unlike any other. It takes up a lot of disk space especially if you add sound packs. It seems to perform best on my iPad 2, but it’s also doing very well on my iPad 1 and even my iPod Touch 3&4.
This is certainly worth the download considering its free, and in my opinion the additional sound packs are worth the cost. Alchemy is where you go for really amazing, big sounds.
4.5 Big Bright Stars. Get it.