Arpeggiator

LayR – Multi Timbral Synthesizer

LayR – Multi Timbral Synthesizer is developed by Living Memory Software

Available from iTunes App Store

LayR is described as a “massively polyphonic, Multi Timbral Synthesizer” capable of up to 256 voices of multi layered and textured sounds for 64 bit devices. I was a little skeptical initially and expected less. I was wrong. LayR can actually do as it says it can. 

Andy Bull created LayR somewhat by accident. He started out with something else in mind, not looking to create a synthesizer. After experiencing some disappointments with some of his iOS synths in a live stage setting, he ended up making something to meet his needs as a live performer. LayR was born, and here we are today able to enjoy the fruits of his labor. So much juicy goodness. 


LayR launches with a clean, albeit dark, interface showing the general mix functions of whatever layers make up the selected patch or “performance”, as they are called. A performance is a collection of instruments which contain layers of synths. One performance can be as simple or as complicated as desired. The overall results can be astonishing, with layers coming and going in various states and times. There are a lot of excellent presets available that demonstrate the many possibilities and can be great templates to dissect and learn from. Overall it’s an exciting synthesizer that will satisfy. 


Each layer is its own independent synth with 2 oscillators, each with their own shape and phase states that can be morphed, modulated and filtered. There are 2 ADSRs which can be looped from super fast out to 100 seconds, along with a 3rd ADSR controlling the overall volume. Both of the filters (LP, HP, Band & Notch) can be smoothed with a handy mini filter mixer. The 2 LFOs are well behaved and have several shapes to choose from. At first glance it all seems like a standard twin oscillator synthesizer, but that’s forgetting to consider the amazing depth of what can be hundreds of layers playing together in a giant cooperative audio party. You could easily spend days constructing elaborate performances. Pack a lunch.


It’s hard to explain just how much detail LayR is able to control better than the above screen shot. As you can see this is thoughtfully designed with a forward looking layer parameter linking tool. This will be indispensable when one gets ambitious, getting deep into greater numbers of layers with parameters that will likely need to be linked, and really helps with keeping the intended order together without needing to try and remember what was where or having to constantly switch back and forth to make sure certain layers have the same behaviors. Just link them in sets of parameter groups. My inner synth nerd did backflips when I first discovered this clever tool. You can also copy and paste one parameter to another. 

The 16 step multi channel arpeggiator is quite robust. This screenshot (above) should convey how carefully it was designed to give the user a rich midi routing capability that works reliably. Up to 8 event tracks can be set up with their own synth layer, making for some very lively compositions. While getting acquainted with LayR I found some presets that were impressive and inspiring. Some had multiple synths of varied arp events, all playing together with the touch of a single key. Event notes are visible by the flash of the corresponding key as played by the arpeggiator assignments. 

The in-app help can be accessed at any time should there be a need, so even someone new to multi channel arpeggiators can learn to create their own routes for their project with a minimal learning curve. 


Getting back to the graphical interface, its design uses symbols relevant to each parameter control. Most experienced synth users should understand what they mean but it might also be a little unfamiliar to others more accustomed with text identifiers. Those not used to this will become best friends with the top right corner info button within the first hours. Eventually it becomes second nature. The scale and key can be set, as well as an option for a colorful keyboard if all black isn’t desired. The keyboard can be adjusted in size, range, scrolled or locked. 

LayR has 3 sound effects; Reverb, Delay and a 3 Band EQ. The FX are competent and useful but not particularly noteworthy. 

Inter-app audio and Audiobus are supported, but not AU. I feel like the lack of AU support is for a good reason. Might be because the current iOS AU systems can’t quite keep up yet with something so intensive as LayR. Perhaps that will change in the future?

I spent several days digging into LayR and found it to be a wonderful experience. Great sound, nice quality filters, excellent morphing and an overall magnificent synthesizer. It truly excels when put to the test of making many layers of timbres, multi channel arpeggios and wildly evolving soundscapes. LayR is no slouch by any means and should fit in everybody’s collection. 

I highly recommend LayR. Be sure to check out the developers Website for a more specific feature list and links to helpful tutorial videos. 

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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

Arpeggionome Pro – Review

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Arpeggionome Pro By: Alexandernaut

UPDATED: 6-23-2013

Arpeggionome Pro was already getting a fine work out on my iPad controlling other MIDI capable synths and the likes. Now Audiobus support has been added to further expand the apps functionality. Audiobus wasn’t really a necessity since the apps Arpeggionome Pro controls sends the recorded audio through Audiobus to whatever output is being used. It does however make things much easier to do. Triggering the record function while in AP definitely speeds up the process and eliminates extra home button clicks.
Personally I really appreciate the landscape view support being added. Choice is good.
Don’t underestimate this app. This is a strong piece of software and is worth the cost.

Original Review:

I’ve been looking around for a robust, dedicated Arpeggiator app to add to my iPad music studio. Since I don’t use any midi hardware and have found most virtual midi capable apps less than exciting, they often don’t escape my self induced blind spot. There are some very good ones, and then there are those like Arpeggionome Pro that blow me away. This is one cool program! I am kicking myself for having missed it until now.

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Arpeggionome Pro is first and foremost a midi controller. It is a very complex Arpeggiator with a full plate of programming capabilities. It has its own built in synthesizer, but very basic. Using this to control any (virtual) midi capable synth is where it at. Thanks to a thoughtful design that inspires easy use, making midi connections is a breeze.
Deigned to control pretty much anything midi, Arpeggionome Pro beckons users to put it to work with what ever you want it to control. Quantize first note, use any of the 16 channel sends, midi clock sync, so on and so on. If its midi, Arpeggionome Pro can do it.
Making virtual midi connections are effortless and more up my alley for my uses. In no time I was enjoying this marvelous app controlling my favorite synths and crafting some slick arps.

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The range of arpeggio pattern controls are splendid. Center screen is the performance matrix for primary pattern control by touch to manipulate first triggered note (left & right) and pattern speed (up & down). 6 groups of button matrices and 8 virtual knobs frame the performance matrix. Make pattern adjustments in any size, shape or speed on the fly. Theres no need to stop the flow just to change where it goes, the octaves, gate, speeds etc.
Having all the controls right there in your face makes this one very tidy experience. At the top of the screen is also a visual indication of the notes as they are played out on a virtual keyboard.

See screen shot below for details on the button matrices and knob controls.
For even more details please visit Alexandernaut here! There is a lot going on under the hood.

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As you can see (from the screen shots) the available controls are not just numerous, but also just a quick tap or slide away. No changing screens, or menus to dig through. One screen with everything. This is designed with consideration to those performing live and with the adjustable accelerometer assigned messages, (like, pitchbend, gate, etc) Arpeggionome Pro becomes a whole new instrument full of expressive possibilities.
With the combination of all the available options to make up your own unique arpeggios you’ll soon discover this is all you’ll want for your pattern programming needs. Nothing opens up a greater, more pleasant experience for creating any arps you can imagine. Plus a nice selection of preset patterns to use or build off are included as well.
Anything you create can be saved for future use and is quickly accessible via the pattern banks on the bottom of the same screen.

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Arpeggionome Pro has no record, audio copy, or Audiobus support. Audiobus support is planned. Even without it Arpeggionome Pro can control a synth assigned to an Audiobus input which can then be captured by whatever output you are using. It works fine as is, but starting a recording in an output slot app from the very handy Audiobus remote control would be a nice addition here.

If you want something to create specialized and unique arpeggios beyond the usual fare get Arpeggionome Pro and start making some serious arps. This is powerful, fun, and creative. All packed into an intuitive interface that works with you. This is a masterpiece in design and functionality.

Smashing! 5 stars Click here to buy Arpeggionome Pro in iTunes.

*There is also a lighter version called simply “Arpeggionome” with fewer features at a smaller price.

Addictive Synth App Review

An Addiction Worth Having

Addictive Synth by VirSyn. Review based on use with all 4 generations of iPad

UPDATED 11-25-2013
AddictiveSynth now supports iOS7 Inter-App Audio. Not much else to say here. Sure is good news though as IAA begins to make a big impact on how we record. IAA supports 32bit floating point. That’s opposed to Audiobus and AudioCopy/Paste operating at 16bits.

AddictiveSynth is still one of my most favored “goto” synth apps. If you don’t have it yet, read on and then go buy it. It’s a true “Must Have”!

Addictive Synth arrived last year at a time when cool, new iOS synths seemed to be coming out every other day. Good ones too! Addictive Synth however is a very big, hugely capable, soft synth, relatively speaking. It’s loaded with features, and programming possibilities. It immediately became a favorite of mine, and that hasn’t changed. Recently 2.0 was released with some new functions, and in my opinion the most noteworthy is the high quality reverb. Also added to this latest version is a spectral noise generator with dynamic filter structure. Additionally, 32 new presets have been added, most showing off the newest FX. More MIDI options round out the update.

First, what is Addictive Synth? Besides down right amazing, it’s a dynamic wavetable synthesizer with 8 monophonic and polyphonic voices and 6 wavetable oscillators per voice. 4 LFO and 4 Envelope modulators, 128 programmable overtones capable of editing in real time. 3 FX can be run simultaneously. Addictive Synth is no slouch when it comes to FX, with a swirly Chorus, Phaser, Stereo cross delay, a simple hi/lo frequency EQ, Flanger, and now Noise, and a really nice spacious Reverb! Finding a decent reverb on anything iOS has been lacking.

Addictive offers the nicest, wide, long, rich reverb I’ve been craving since day one. Most are fair at best, and for good reason. Reverb takes a lot of power, so compromises have to made considering hardware limitations. I don’t know how VirSyn did it, but they managed to raise the bar on iOS reverb, that not only sounds really nice, but also can be run simultaneously with other FX as well, and still maintain stability. I’m not saying its the best reverb ever made. It is probably the best ever made for iOS.

With a fully programmable 32 step arpeggiator sporting accent, tie, transposition, and note order, your most creative sequences are made with ease. Trigger notes or chords. This thing is a beast! It has a very handy loop recorder, a randomizer via virtual dice to have the synth create something totally ..well…random. Complete with full MIDI support, a smart user interface with virtual controls, touch screen specific integration of several features, and more. In fact. There’s so much more to Addictive Synth, listing everything would take pages and pages. Its hard to believe this is on a tablet.
Please visit the VirSyn web page HERE   for all the details and further descriptions of its very impressive spec list.
In all, Addictive Synth is just that, Addictive. This is the synth I go to for complex sounds that morph, move, and come to life. From deep space pads, acid, leads, to percussive parts or anything in between. If you can imagine it, Addictive can do it.
It’s never crashed on me, and the sound quality has never disappointed.

5 stars. A Must Have. Buy it from iTunes HERE

UPDATED REVIEW 3-14-2013

Addicted to the bus.

AddictiveSynth has been a long time favorite of mine so seeing it updated to support Audiobus input really makes my day. Everything I stated about AddictiveSynth in my original review stands. With Audiobus support, it now falls seamlessly into any workflow.
With improved Flanger FX, dozens of new presets, and polished midi capabilities; AddictiveSynth is better than ever. With the new FM oscillator configuration new patch making possibilities are further expanded beyond an already outstanding selection of excellent parameters. This is truly a golden synth for iOS. If you don’t have AddictiveSynth already, you should seriously consider picking it up now.