iOS Synth

Nave – Review

Developed By: Waldorf & Tempo Rubato

Nave is compatible with iPads 2,3 & 4


UPDATED 6-14-13
There were a few things I left out when I originally wrote the review below. Only because I was trying to keep things short, and honestly I just forgot. However a couple are pretty important and should be mentioned.
Yes, Nave is a polyphonic and monophonic synth. It has a 4 voice unison mode with adjustable width. It gets really wide, by the way. I find myself using it a lot. As for how many voices in total polyphony is concerned, I have been unable to locate an exact number. From what I’ve experienced it has more than I have fingers. Whatever the case, its plenty.

There’s also the speach synthesis which uses the device talk to text function to create new wavetables. That’s a strange one, but awfully cool anyway. More importantly Nave allows one to import via pasteboard, their own audio files to create original wavetables. That’s sweet.

I kind of just glanced at a mention of the “UberWave” function. It adds a big fat sound quality that puts a lot of edge on it. Its hard to explain, you really just gotta hear it. Its definitely better explained by Waldorf in the manual, but again to keep this short, I’m just going to suggest you visit the Nave page of their website for that and all the tech stuff. The link is down in the review itself.

So there’s a couple more things. Sorry I didn’t mention these before. Nave has a lot of capabilities, and I can’t list them all. Most important is that Nave has an amazing sound quality for some powerful patch crafting and has become my daily synth of choice. Anyone who doesn’t get excited by this synth clearly has no pulse.

Original Review:

Synthesizers just make me happy. Incredibly powerful ones such as Nave, make my head spin with joy.
You’ve probably heard about Nave, seen the videos, or endured my merciless teasing.
Now after 1.5 years of hard work and careful development, Nave is finally finished! As I am writing this it is with Apple pending review to be launched in the iTunes App Store any time now.
I have been lucky to have had the opportunity to beta test Nave for a couple months leading up to this. From day one, I’ve been very impressed with this powerful new synth made just for iOS.
Waldorf has been making great software for a while, but this is their first for iOS. They joined with Tempo Rubato, who you may know of from the excellent NLog Synth Pro.
Pretty solid development team if you ask me.

Nave is a powerful twin wavetable oscillator synthesizer with a single classic oscillator (with all the basic waveforms) and the pulse racing “Uberwave” function. You have hands on control over numerous options to tweak the many choices of wavetables, (in full screen “Edit” mode) 7 different 3D views. Very fine tuning is easily done by touch to fully customize any wavetable. Full ADSR envelope controls over each oscillator, 2 multi waveform LFOs, fully adjustable pitch/bend wheels and modulation options at every corner. The amount of modulation options really are nothing short of amazing.
At last count there were 500 plus factory presets being shipped with Nave at launch. Nave is pure sound design heaven!

The integrated ( and beautifully emulated ) Waldorf Multimode Filter with the Drive function that has a selection of 5 curve types to 4 location options offer you amazing control of the wavetable oscillators to craft the wildest of imagined sounds from morphing, teeth mashing leads on overdrive steroids, to silky and mesmerizing pads. The ten source to destination modulation matrix extends sound designing possibilities dramatically. Truly limitless.

Playing Nave on screen has a couple options. It has a classic, scrolling virtual chromatic keyboard. Then there are the “Blades” which can have x/y modulations, and velocity programmed to them giving you full polyphonic modulation control. I got caught by my wife gesturing my fingers in strange massaging motions over the Blades manipulating the sound in a way she referred to as “Romantic”.
Plugging in your MIDI controller/keyboard (iRig Keys in my case) was about as difficult as just that. Plug in, start playing. All significant parameters can be mapped and MIDI controlled either virtually or with compatible hardware.

As for FX, Nave has that covered also. 7 effects units are onboard and sound really good. I actually like the reverb on this synth. A delay, chorus, phaser, flanger, 3 band EQ, and compressor round out the options. I have found each to sound excellent. Though, at times if I had applied the reverb with a few others and played some chords, I got a bit of clipping. Could have just been I forgot to close a background app, or the CPU on my iPad was over burdened. Lowering the amount of reverb used and set to %50 wet vs dry helped. That was on my iPad 3. No such experience was repeated on my iPad 4.

On the same page with the FX, is a competent arpeggiator with better than normal options, but still kind of basic. That’s not a bad thing. I actually like this arpeggiator better than most iOS synths. It has a fair amount of options to make some unique, and melodic patterns including your own notes. Using the arpeggiator with the 2 large programmable x/y pads adds much to experience. Nave is multi dimensional doing everything splendidly.

All in all the specification list is quite large so please check out the Waldorf website for all the details. There’s too many to list here.


Lastly is the vintage styled 4 track recorder. You could use it to make a whole Nave song, or sketch out some things. I’m enjoying using it to layer on some interesting and varied synth sounds for creative loops. Each track can be panned, leveled, split, and or duplicated.
In loop mode (iPads 3&4) I heard some clicks where the loop ends meet, but they didn’t translate to the recording I made while using Audiobus to an output app. In addition to Audiobus input support Nave has AudioCopy/Paste, “Open In”, & Save to iTunes Folder.
I’ve had no crashes, or weird mishaps at all with this final version of Nave. They did a great job with this ambitious synth, and it is full of impressive bits all around. If anything looks confusing there is a manual accessible from the “?” button on the “Tape” screen.

The amount of tools and options for creating sounds strait from your imagination are fantastic. Nave has become one of my most favored iOS synths and I easily consider it a must have. The audio quality is second to none. This is one massive, beastly synth that raises the bar.
Whatever the price is in your iTunes Store, it is my sincere and honest opinion it’ll be worth it.

Yeah, I recommend Nave. Duh.

Here’s a couple more screen shots from the Wavetable edit full screen. You can even manipulate the colors.



PPG WaveGenerator – Review

I reviewed WaveGenerator as a guest for a little while ago. I seem to have neglected to link it up. Sorry about that.

It is published on their site. To read my review please click HERE to be directed to iDesignSound.



Let me know what you think. Comments appreciated and welcome! Thank you for reading 🙂

Gestrument – Review

Created by: Jesper Nordin and Jonatan Liljedahl

Created by: Jesper Nordin and Jonatan Liljedahl

Gesture and Instrument met one crazy night on a blind date set up by their friends. It was love at first touch. They had a child and named it Gestrument.
Gestrument grew with the best attributes of its parents into the perfect combination.

Alright, enough of that. You get the picture. Gestrument is a new MIDI controller and instrument created by Jesper Nordin and Jonatan Liljedahl.
Designed for ease of use to comfortably perform a multitude of musical styles, Gestrument delights the senses.

Controlling other iOS music apps via virtual MIDI is, as it should be, a simple process. Simply put, you just load another synth, enable its background audio and MIDI out, wallah, you’re in business. Gestrument just knows what to do. You can expect that further MIDI development is underway.

Gestrument is shipped with its own synth and dozens of great preset sounds, assignable to 8 instrument banks. These can be played simultaneously or in any combination along with whatever is being controlled in the background. Tap the instruments 1-8 on or off on the fly. Some pretty interesting combinations are at the ready awaiting discovery.

Each instrument can have its own settings, such as pitch, note length, range etc. A nice reverb with 3 quality settings can be applied to the overall mix. It would be nice if each instrument could have its own FX setting, but for now its global. All On or all off.

Playing Gestrument is intuitive and uncomplicated. Your iPad screen is the whole playing surface. It’s a nice use of screen space without waste. One finger controls the instruments, the other controls selectable parameters (Like pulse, pitch, scale morphing, and rhythm) by dragging away and angling from the first. It’s a snap. Depending on where you touch the screen and how you combine the second touch will impact the sounds the instrument makes. It’s a very clean and expressive way to create music. It’s easy for anyone to start making great music right away. Gestrument also has just the right amount of options for the experienced musicians who desire a greater amount of control.
Although a little light on programmable options now, further development will surely add more complex options as Gestrument grows. The developers are open to user feedback. So if you want something, just ask them. You may get it.

Gestrument Features
Visit HERE for more on Gestrument from its creators.

It would be really nice to see some more gesture, or multi-touch controls. As is, the multi-touch is limited to 2 fingers. It’s all in how you combine the movements. It may sound like that’s not much, but a lot can be done with some creative use in how you play it.

Recording and playback looping are available. AudioCopy and direct link to AudioShare are also included. Gestruments recorder however doesn’t seem to record MIDI controlled sounds. You’ll have to use the record function from the other app for that.

I have found Gestrument to be a very pleasant app. It’s a synch to use, and sounds great. This is a quality instrument and is highly stable. It’s not crashed on me once even while playing all 8 instruments and controlling the two synths from Magellan.
This is the chocolate and peanut butter of gesture and instrument. Yum.

4 stars Recommended. Buy Gestrument HERE at iTunes.

iPulsaret – Review

By: apeSoft
Visit the website for iPulsaret and more HERE


Designed for iPad 2&3

apeSoft is well-known for its Density/Pulsaret Granular Synthesis programs for Mac/Windows. Having happily experienced their first entry into iOS with iDensity, it took little for my ears to perk up at the mention of iPulsaret joining the club.

iPulsaret is an audio sandbox where you can manipulate all the time-domain varieties of granular synthesis in real-time. Huh? Basically, you can take your music, audio files, and  audio recordings and create some great detailed textures from subtle to wildly dramatic effects.

All on one responsive screen

“microsound granular synthesis for iPad”

The interface is very familiar to those who have had the pleasure of using iDensity. Everything is right there on the screen. I found it to be similar in appearance, and extremely user-friendly. No confusing menus, or hidden functions that can’t be found intuitively. You can see from the screenshots various icons representing the many effects & tools, as well as the slider controls for the primary grain manipulations.

The many effects icons are not obvious at first glance as they are not labeled, but after a brief period of getting familiar with them, the waveform illustrations for each will make sense fast. Learning as you explore is always fun, especially here.

Take a snapshot of your sound “A snapshot is a photo of all parameters Granulator and FX values.”

As you go try taking “snapshots” ( just tap the camera icon ) as you progress with tweaking. They can be assigned manually but the first 4 snapshots are assigned by default to the snapshot pad. Bring up the snapshot pad (even to full screen) and a grid containing the 4 snapshots can be controlled by touch. Theres lots of math and complicated terms, but essentially moving from the center of each to and fro will control hundreds of parameters impacting what you play out on the keyboard. This is very cool!

iPulsaret is clearly made to be easy to use and understand. It’s perfect for spontaneous use. Since it allows you to record using your iPads built-in mic, you’ll rarely miss a opportunity to capture some interesting audio anywhere you and your iPad happen to be. Of course you can use a separate mic like the iRig Mic, and that would be recommended over the built-in mic. Ive been experimenting a lot with iPulsaret to see what new things it will allow me to do. I’ve found it to be very stable, for one thing. It also is amazing for taking a simple, mundane sound and turning it into a new playable synth sound. It appears what really separates iPulsaret from iDensity is its more synth-ish where iDensity is more drone-like. They are different nonetheless in that iPulsaret can generate thousands of grains dynamically. This is quite different from traditional synths with fixed voices or oscillators. I suggest for a more comprehensive explanation of granular synthesis to click HERE for the full skinny.

“Control and shape grains, anytime, anywhere with iPulsaret for iPad.”

Complex, and beyond my technical understanding as granular synthesis may be, as an artist using the software myself I can say that iPulsaret is extremely well made. It fits in perfectly to my workflow offering a great many options to create unique sounds you wont hear anywhere. I’m sure anyone would agree iPulsaret is a highly capable, useful program. I havent had it crash, or fail at all. Getting started with the included library of samples leads the way to inspiring user creativity. As I mentioned you can record directly with your iPad or other compatible microphone. Additionally you can easily add your own WAV, AIFF, files via iTunes File Share, Sonoma AudioCopy/Paste and Dropbox are also supported.  iPulsaret plays well with others and can be run in the background.

Saying “I dig iPulsaret”  might be an understatement. So far as granular synths go it has the greatest capabilities, and is very playable. They really put a lot into this making it very strong. The last update (1.0.3) increased its iOS compatibility back to iOS 5.1. Also added in that update was MIDI in keyboard support with pitch bend. There weren’t many to begin with but the bugs were fixed, and some more improvements were made improving the UI and routing. I certainly recommend iPulsaret highly, a truly 5 star app.

Buy iPulsaret in iTunes HERE and get grainy!