Month: August 2017

KASPAR – Review

KASPAR is developed by Yonac

Available from iTunes App Store

KASPAR (resisting obvious children’s cartoon references) launches with a fierce dragon logo before quickly revealing the synthesizer and all its glory. It is an immediate impression that perhaps intentionally conveys to the user that they just released a majestic, mythical beast. This is however no myth.

In order to properly control such power a proper cage is needed to house it. What I’m saying is don’t expect to fully enjoy KASPAR on anything older than an iPad Air. The developer has included this warning in the App Store description. Somehow a couple ding dongs still wrote bad reviews because this powerful new synthesizer doesn’t work well on their old iPad 4s. Who’s fault is that? Come on. There is a very fair warning upfront that they ignored. Makes as much sense as complaining to the makers of a gold fish bowl that their product sucks because they can’t fit their pet shark in it. I’ll detail the recommendations a little more at the end of this review.


KASPAR is a massive synthesizer or really 8 synths in one with 4 touch controlled morphing (or Auto) groups. Each synth has 3 oscillators (totaling up to 24) with multiple waveforms. Dedicated filter envelopes, an arpeggiator, chord maker, 6 dedicated mods slots with 20 possible targets, 2 LFOs and more. With a strong morphing capability, loads of high quality sound effects, there doesn’t seem to be any limits to what you can come up with.

The 4 group morphing unit is controlled by touch and KASPAR can record your own custom morphing shapes that you draw. Each of the groups are x and y controls. The morpher allows for deep sound modulation control with an endless pallet of possibilities, shapes and sizes. Reassign synths easily to any group, control the x and y curve speeds and enjoy manually shaping your sound or set to “Auto” and watch it go on and morph whatever mode(6) and loop(4) type you choose.


In KASPAR it’s all bout layering. So of course there is a screen to make general adjustments to each of the 8 synths, volume, pan, and both FX bus levels. Similar to a standard mixer.


Choose from about 300 presets. Better yet, make your own synth patches from a variety of common and several unique waveforms for each of the 3 oscillators. All have pulse width/ timbre controls, and oscillators 2 & 3 also have ring modulation. The overall combined sound can have noise added with a wide tone control, and a glide option. Play polyphonic or mono with legato on or off. Pretty standard stuff. It’s the variety of unique waveforms that can spice things up. There are some interesting shapes to choose from and they can make serious impact on the sound that synth makes.


As you edit each layer of synths you will find a nice selection of independent filters to enable. All have their own unique qualities. The Fat 70’s, Formant and Comb are very cool. Mix and match your favorites or whatever your final patch design needs. They are all excellent. I couldn’t find anything lacking with the filters. I just wish I could copy a filter setting to use in a different synth layer. Come to think of it, that would be nice to have for the oscillators or other parameters as well.


Each synth has its own set of 2 LFOs and an envelope. Each LFO has 7 possible waveforms. On the Mod page (not shown) you can have up to 6 different modifiers for each synth with 20 possible sources. For a single synth having just 6 mods, might seem like it’s not much, but remember we can make up to 8 layers of 6 each. That means there are up to 48 possible mods throughout the layers. It adds up and doesn’t pose any significant limitation.


The 2 FX busses can both have up to 8 effects units selected. The signal flow is easily adjusted by touch, drag and drop. For those not familiar how busses work, it means you are sending a chain of FX to the overall sound, not inserted to each specific synth. However each synth has bus controls to adjust how much of each busses chain of FX are applied to them. It would be interesting to see what it would be like to have independent FX chains, varying units and parameters for each synth someday. I don’t think even the latest iPad Pro could handle that today? That said 2 busses are nothing to shrug off. The FX units are all high end and custom made for KASPAR. There’s plenty of interesting options and combinations.


Being a stand alone synthesizer, KASPAR wouldn’t be complete without its own recorder. It can also be used to play a imported loop along with whatever sound the app is making.

With such an enormous range KASPAR doesn’t just stop here. Each synth also has its own multi mode arpeggiator and chord maker. Program your own chords to a single key in a snap. That’s become more useful than I had thought it would.

Put it all together and you have one colossal or “super synth”. Even my iPad Air 2 performed well with heavy loads of layers, FX, arps, filters and morphs running with the “Best” audio generation quality at 256 buffer through Inter-App Audio in Cubasis. Yonac really did a good job with efficiency here. They also thoughtfully made sure to include full MIDI services, Audiobus, Abelton Link, and AU plug in.

KASPAR sports up to 12 polyphony (tested with 8), a pleasant interface with after touch and velocity controls. A very playable synth that unlocks layered sounds not seen on iOS until now. It is making summer of 2017 one of the best for synth lovers.

As I mentioned near the beginning of this review here are more device recommendations for this super synth. You should have an iPad Air, iPad Pro, iPad Mini 2 or newer. If you must try KASPAR on an older device like an iPad 4 and are willing to take the risk and not blame the developer, you might have decent results if you turn the buffer to 512 and the audio generation quality to its lowest or “Good” setting. Just know that you probably won’t always be able to use all 8 synths, mods, FX, arps etc.

*Tested with iPad Air 2

SynthScaper – Review

SynthScaper is developed by iMusicAlbum

SynthScaper can be purchased in iTunes App Store


iOS music has come such a long way since my first cutting edge iPod Touch 3. The technology of the devices and advancements in app development have steadily re-shaped perceptions of how music can be made, serious or not. Sure it was sometimes rough being one of maybe a few small voices trying to take it all seriously, while being scolded for using what many people considered to just be “toys” to make music, but just look at where we are now. Only the most rigid of personalities could still hold a grudge against iOS music production. There have been countless examples of incredible apps come along that discredit the medieval belief that the higher the price tag, or the more expensive a computing device is, the higher the resulting music is regarded. SynthScaper is an example (among others) of innovative app development that should put the “toy” nonsense to bed. If it wasn’t already. 

iMusicAlbums SynthScaper is a mighty sound sculpting toolbox of seemingly endless synthesizing possibilities. This synthesizer was designed for making a huge range of experimental, melodic, and ambient sounds, but not limited to just that. It has whatever you need for nearly any musical project whether it’s something like a simple lead to a morphing sound scape of diverse and complex nuances. 

The first screen seen when opening SynthScaper reveals a keyboard, buttons leading to all of its tools and options and a touch control area for each of the 3 scenes currently installed. Moving the three scenes relate to the spacial relationships of their sounds. The keyboard is highly flexible with a number of options to select that compliment any play style or need. It can be set to behave like a normal piano, or seamlessly glide through the keys, or hold the starting note on first touch position while stretching either direction on the board. A full compliment of scales are available and customization is open to your wants. The keyboard can also be set to take over the whole screen making for a very large playing surface. It can also be split. 

The three independent oscillators can be set to use any of the included waveform options and three layers for each that you can assign preset samples or your own samples and with up to 6 voices each. Of course oscillators have their own multi-routing sources for as many as 6 LFOs, & Envelopes. The variety of options and incredibly detailed controls that are available can inspire your wildest imagination of sounds being brought to life. Go ahead and be anal retentive with your assignments and detail exactly how fast, slow, delayed, loud, panned, or whatever. It is all there. 

As well as highly detailed customized oscillators and layers, the available filters and effects are just as plentiful and controllable. Each oscillator can have up to three different units chained and routed further to two more envelope or LFO mods. With the ensemble of filters, delays, flangers and chorus available, things can get pretty crazy. Mostly just damn fun though. 

What I found very pleasing (other than the great audio quality and sound designing paths) is the way everything is layed out. It’s very intuitive. It all for the most part flows in a way that felt very comfortable to me. I would think just about anybody can figure it out. However for the really deep audio sound designs, at least a basic understanding of synthesizers and how they work might be needed to get the most out of SynthScaper. It can get complicated with the many routing options and then the even deeper options under them. Keeping track of every little thing can get confusing for the uninitiated. With some time experimenting and finding pleasant mistakes along the way, the journey is worth every minute spent. 

To make matters even more complex with your scenes, there are also multiple arpeggiators. One for each oscillator. Basic arps, but don’t underestimate them. The qualities added can be incredible. 

In the interest of making a long story shorter I would suggest visiting the iMusicAlbum website to find out more about all that’s under the hood of SynthScaper. There you will find tutorials, demos, videos etc. I could go on and on about everything this fantastic synth has to offer. 

To sum it up, SynthScaper is a jaw dropping, innovative effort by a developer who clearly understands what people didn’t even know they needed. It fits in any** iOS workflow. Full Audiobus (state saving) , Inter-App Audio and midi support. Dropbox, Audio Copy Paste, and web access for transporting user samples are supported. With excellent audio quality, intricate and intuitive yet highly complex audio designing options, and a very stable engine I highly recommend this to anybody who likes synths. I  believe that this is especially useful to ambient artists, who may discover that this just the sort of thing they’ve always wanted. I did. 

*Tested and used with iPad Air 2 iOS 10.3.3

** Audiobus 3 and Abelton Link are confirmed for next SynthScaper update. 

FACChorus – Review

FACChorus by: Frederic Corvest 

Available in the iTunes App Store


FACChorus (Fred Anton Corvest) is a stand alone, versatile Chorus effects app designed to emulate classic physical modules of day’s past. Not unlike the analog Roland Juno Chorus effects (and others) from decades ago. 


FACChorus sports a simple and clean interface resembling a rack mount style with realistic, responsive knobs. The no fuss look may seem a bit dated to some, but fits right in all the same. It mirrors the actual signal path from left to right (input to output) making it quite intuitive. Not that there could really be much to confuse anyone, anyway. Plus, who cares about looks when what really matters it how it sounds.


So how does it sound? Well, it sounds really good, even through an iPads built in mic. Of course better with a plug in mic, USB or in a AU (Audio Unit) setting.  This Chorus unit has a wide range of possible effects from clean and subtle to clinically insane. Most iOS synths and iDAWs have a built in Chorus but lack any real versatility and often even with the most subtle settings, sound overly wobbly. FACChorus can be manipulated to suit any need for vocals, guitars, and of course iOS instruments. Lush, rich and wide. Spacey or water logged, FACChorus gets you there. 

The properly named presets offer a nice range of ready to go effect parameters suitable for most situations.  Sadly there’s not any way to save user presets. Nor does it save your last state when the app is closed and reopened. This could be problematic for some users. 

While this great sounding effects unit supports Audio Unit V3, it does not support Inter-App Audio or Audiobus. Considering that most iDAWs (like Cubasis and GarageBand Mobile) support UA V3, this may not be much of a problem. However a lot of users have a workflow that depends on their use of IAA or Audiobus, and missing those supports could be a crucial turn off. Even though AU V3 basically works the same way as IAA. 

It’s early still, so it remains possible that more workflow supports or features might be part of future development. 

That all said, for three bucks you get an incredible sounding Chorus unit that would’ve cost far more in the physical world.