Thor Polysonic Synthesizer

Thor Polysonic Synthesizer
Made by: Propellerhead Software

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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:



20130627-151954.jpg Turns 2 & Thanks You.

It had been nearly 2 years of making music on iOS. I made my 1st all iOS track on my birthday May 2nd 2009. I had already signed with an indie music label that would release my first all iOS made electronic music. That was FatelessFlowsRecords, (who had been and I think is still working their website?) and they released my first album “Technopolis Lost” in October 2011. Before that release, one of the things they asked me to do was a blog of some sort. I hated the idea. I didn’t want to do it at all. I didn’t think anyone would care, so what would be the point? They suggested (insisted really) I just write about what I was doing musically with my iPod Touch and iPad; the experiences and such. Again I thought it was uninteresting.
I just wanted to make music and thought a blog would only be a distraction. After some thinking and a little pressure from FF to get moving. April 20th 2011, I decided to build a small page, tried out some names, and was gifted my domain name shortly after. I consider April 21st 2011, the “Birthday” as that was the day I committed to doing this and built the first page, but later scrapped it. It wasn’t until early May around my actual Birthday (May 2nd) I settled on a name, theme, and started posting, first official post was May 11 2011 on this blog. I decided to just write reviews of the music apps I liked and a little bit about how I used them. My niche would be that I would only write about the best apps I felt were good for people taking iOS music seriously from the artist perspective. I wouldn’t accept payment, or use LinkShare. If I don’t buy an app myself, I only accept promo codes to redeem music apps in exchange for an honest review. It would be, and has been, a service I hope to provide to anyone interested. I only want to be of some help. No news, press releases, or sales involved. Just reviews of the apps I use or would recommend, and sometimes post about my personal experiences as an artist using them. Simple. I am glad I did it. I’ve met (none in person) loads of really interesting, and talented people who have largely been very supportive of my blog and music. I have made friends, and learned a lot from everyone that has interacted with me.

I have had the opportunity to experience numerous music apps I may not have otherwise had the chance to were it not for my blog. Some great apps, some mediocre ones, and on occasion a real turd hit my devices. I just didn’t write about the turds.
Most developers I encountered were happy to have me write a review of their music app. Some ignored me completely, but those jerks were expected since most were huge names in the music business. They have no interest in real world end users with names they’ve not heard or seen in lights.

The existing iOS music bloggers welcomed me warmly. I honestly was not expecting a friendly greeting. However they did just that. A few even very kindly helped me with my questions and offered helpful advice. They followed me on Twitter quickly, reTweeted my posts, invited me to write a few guest reviews for their .com, and even reposted my reviews on their site. They continue to show support today.

It’s been a lot of fun, and only mildly stressful. I remember being contacted by a couple developers who I hold in high regard. Two developers in particular wanted to speak with me. The first developer invited me to a Skype chat. He wanted to tell me some things he thought were very important. Not one to ignore free advice from a knowledgable source, I accepted. We had a very friendly conversation, he offered great advice and I was very grateful. Its hard to remember the details but I won’t forget his name. Sebastian Dittmann.
The other developer sent me a private message asking for my phone number and a good time to call me. I was really surprised, and it made me very nervous. I gave him my phone number, and waited for him to call. I was overly concerned about his intentions, and kept thinking I had somehow done or said something terribly wrong. When that call came, my nerves subsided and we ended up having a friendly chat about his music apps, and iOS music in general. When I asked him why he wanted to call me, he said, “just to say hi”. It was an enjoyable and enlightening conversation. Particularly memorable to me since it was Jordan Rudess, and I am a fan of his music and skill.

Most interactions have been just as friendly, but always online somehow. Communications have been largely by email, or Twitter.
My point is that I am very grateful to everyone who has taken the time to converse with me in any form. Whether it was just to say hello, chat, advise, help, or even counsel, all have been instrumental in how and why I continue on with my blog. Not to mention the support of my music in many cases as well.

In closing I want to say with much sincerity, thank you for reading and supporting my little blog, and music for these first 2 (4 for the music part) years. I really hope you have found it helpful, useful and/or enjoyable. I will do my best to continue bringing much more as time goes on. Your support has made all the difference.
If anyone feels especially supportive of my efforts, and since I do not ask for donations, preferring to exchange something for another, some of my 100% iOS-made music can be purchased from iTunes, Amazon,, or most online digital music retailers. Just look or search for: SmiteMatter “Technopolis Lost”.
No links, just if it feels right to you. It would certainly mean a lot to me. Artist first, blogger second.

Additionally I want to thank the following blogs for early support, regularly reposting and or referring my reviews on their blogs and websites.
iDesignSound, PalmSounds, iOSMusicianBlog, iOSMusicAndYou.
I hope I didn’t leave anyone out. Tell me if I did so I can fix that.

P.S. Say no to wires!