Thor Polysonic Synthesizer

Thor Polysonic Synthesizer
Made by: Propellerhead Software

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Remarkable, beastly, outstanding, monstrous, unearthly, incredible, you should get this synth.
That was the easiest review ever. Not enough? What? You want me to elaborate?
Oh, alright.

Every time I see a new iOS synth I get very excited. Don’t you? Well you should. Thor is no simple or run of the mill synth. Its a port of course, but a port that still has stones. Instead of a single synthesis type, Thor has 6 oscillator types! What? Yes 6. Analog, FM Pair, Wavetable, PhaseMod, Multi Oscillator, and Noise. Its can make for some nutty but thunderous combinations depending on how you apply them to the 3 available slots.
Add to the incredible selection of synth types, there’s 4 filter types for 3 slots. Then there’s a whole mess of routing options and modulations to dig into. It is a mind blowing collection of options that can lead to some of the most creative synth sounds imagined. Thor is godlike.
Kind of getting ahead of myself here, so ill expand in the order of the interface screens next.

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The functions and parameters that all make up Thor being numerous and complex, are thoughtfully contained in 3 main screens with collapsible and expandable sections. It might seem at a glance like there’s too many hoops to go through in order to make an adjustment, but what’s the alternative? Ive seen some complaints about this. When you think about it and understand how much stuff there is packed into Thor, those complaints boil down to being just nit picky, and painfully trivial. If everything were visible without consolidating, the interface would be a big mess full of tiny buttons, knobs and itty bitty text. What Propellerhead did to keep everything neat, clean and accessible works out nicely.

First is the “Keyboard” screen.
Pretty strait forward and self explanatory. This is where the performing is done. Select Mono or Polyphonic with adjustable portamento. There are 2 assignable rotary knobs and buttons. Adjustable pitch bend, modulation, and strum sliders reside on this screen. The Strum slider is fairly unique to synths & works as you might think. Hold a key or keys and strum away or tap “Hit” for a stab. It all can make for some unique play styles when applied together during recording or performance.
Also on this screen is the “Assist” function which is used to select scales and keys.
It all comes together smashingly for a very satisfying experience.

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Next we have the “Knobs” screen. This is where the magic happens. As I mentioned previously, you have 3 slots to apply any combination of the 6 oscillator types. 3 filter slots for the 4 available filter types, a “Shaper” unit with 9 shapes, a mixer, and all the routing. Plus there are 3 envelops and 2 LFOs.

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You might think it could get pretty crowded with all of these tools, and if it weren’t for the “Expand” function to help control space it would be.
Each piece has additional options for waveforms, speeds, types, in the form of drop down menus neatly contained within each unit. The sound designing capabilities are astronomical. Nothing has been diluted or compromised here at all.
With so many synthesis types available to combine with one another it could seem like Thor is a student of many but master of nothing. That would be an error. Each type can be controlled in great detail. The WaveTable for example is loaded up with many wavetable types for you to select from. No you can’t make your own wavetable, but there’s plenty to choose from. The 4 filter types Comb, LoPass Ladder, State Variable and Formant can be used in any combination (like the oscillators) in 3 separate slots. How you combine and route each of these will offer some sonic dimension that few synths can approach. Thor’s FX units are Delay and Chorus, and pretty darn good to boot.
All of your Thor creations can be moved to or from the Reason version of Thor.
The over used “playground” description seriously applies to Thor in the most sincere ways. This is really not just a playground but more like the Disneyland of sonic realms.

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The 3rd and final screen is called “Routing”. Here we have a comprehensive matrix for some massive routing and modulation options. Tweak signal flow and directions of each parameter with fine adjustments to just about anywhere. Its a relentless range of depth and possibilities. You can be as complex or simple as you wish with your routing. Additionally a micro keyboard is always available on the bottom of the “Knobs, and Routing” screens for you to audition your creations.

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In addition to the matrix on this Routing screen is a 16 step sequencer. One of the more detailed I’ve seen in a synth allowing fantastic control over each note, 2 curves, velocity, gate, and step durations. Select the order, skip notes, change direction, and speeds etc its all there. Super slow 16/4 to light speed 1/64 speeds.

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Thor is a class act. This synth is ridiculously rich with features and capabilities. Obviously I’ve left out a lot in order to keep this all at a decent length. Check out the Propellerhead Software site for more details.
Thor supports Audiobus Input, MIDI, and background audio. It works great with my iRig Keys. There doesn’t appear to be any ACP support, and no built in recording. That will be a disappointment to those who still prefer to do things that way.

To sum it all up I’d have to say that Thor on iPad is a monumental addition to the ever increasing library of pro quality options being delivered to iOS. Thor is complete, playable, and insanely deep. Creating synth sounds with loads of character and life are just the beginning. -(*edit) In case I’m not making myself clear, the resulting sounds can be amazing. Ive been enjoying the strong sonic capabilities Thor puts in my hands. Making thick, evolving pads that breath are my favorites, but any types can be made and sound great. You get out of it, what you put into it.- With over 1000 patches built in there’s plenty of inspiring sounds to mess with, but building from the ground up is where its at. The tools are there, its up to you to make it however you like. Experiment and have fun with it. The only thing that bugs me is there’s no way to share custom patches by email, and the color scheme of GUI is drab to me. Then again I am color blind, so maybe its delightful to others?
This is the kind of synth that will keep you hooked and coming back over and over to design sounds like no other. Its behaved well for me on my iPads 3&4 with no stability issues at all. Its recommended for iPad 2 and up. Sorry iPad 1 owners.
It is a legend born from Reason and having this on our iPads is a dream come true. Synth lovers rejoice! At the time I wrote this Thor is selling for $14.99 (USD) and that’s a bargain for what you’re getting here.

Thor is available in iTunes HERE

Couple extra screen shots:

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6 comments

  1. Ok…! But what about the sound? I’ve never used Thor but have read complaints about its sound.

    The mod matrix looks fantastic and is the bigger draw for me…but $15 is a chunk.

    What’re your thoughts?

    1. The sound is great, my whole review was about the sound designing and how much you can do with it. I’ve seen the same complaints before I got Thor, and it worried me a little. After trying it out first hand I’ve had no trouble creating some cool sounds with Thor. I’ve also made mistakes that resulted in lousy sounds, but thats not Thors fault. Thats just operator error. Same can be said for most synths. You get out of it what you put into it.

  2. “You get out of it what you put into it.” – That’s what my experience has been on almost any instrument and for this price point, THOR looks like a winner. Thanks for another great review!

  3. “Every time I see a new iOS synth I get very excited”……….You took the words right out of my mouth, lol. So, if I have 20$ to spend, which would you suggest? Naves, or Thor? I’ll probably get them both at some point. But, a budgets a budget.

    1. Oh yikes tough call. Both are very powerful and very different. If you want to focus on very detailed wavetable synthesis, then Nave. If you want all synthesis options (including a bit of wavetable, but not as robust as Nave) then Thor. Both have great routing, but Thor has a little bit more. Either way you can’t really go wrong. Eventually you’re probably going to want both, and that would be highly recommended. Flip a coin?

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