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Venerable music gear maker KORG has already brought some very cool audio apps to the iOS universe, and it continues the onslaught with Gadget, a slick, lovely-sounding iPad app with 15 synth devices — each capable of some true sonic mayhem, and all wrapped into a productive sequencing environment. It’s not hard to quickly whip up some pounding electronic dance music (EDM), especially once you get the hang of the interface, but there are significant holes in the slick veneer.
Those aforementioned sound devices form the core of Gadget, and deliver a fairly wide range of sounds: a few beat boxes, half a dozen polyphonic synths, a pair of mono synths, and a handful of weirder gadgets, including an 8-bit synth that's meant to provide video game-style sound effects. The overall aural orientation is definitely towards electronic and dance music genres; if you’re looking to compose folk or classical tunes, look elsewhere.
The polyphonic, Marseille sample-based synth does provide some real-world instruments like pianos, organs, strings, and other real-world analogs, but there’s currently no way to bring in your own samples. The fact that KORG decided to include all 15 devices at once is the reason the app is priced at just under $40 — which, while expensive on the surface, is still an excellent per-device value.
Gadget's recording and sequencing interface for putting down layered compositions is really a study in clear interface design, and you’ll find yourself quickly pounding out slick little dance tunes without breaking a sweat. Any synth or virtual mixer knob movements can also be recorded into a track, providing an excellent amount of automation, which is critical for using Gadget as a recording tool. While you can quickly bring your iPad to a halt with the CPU-hungry gadgets, a track freeze command lets you maximize your processor usage — a truly useful addition for older models of the tablet.
While this all sounds great, not everything is quite on point. Very limited MIDI implementation means that you won’t be able to take maximum advantage of this app in live performance, or with other MIDI-capable iOS apps. It doesn’t support AudioBus or IAA (Inter-App Audio) — a huge drawback for recording your work — and the effects offerings are inconsistent and tied to specific gadgets. It’s sadly not as capable as Caustic’s extensive effects offerings and routing options. The portrait-only layout is somewhat maddening, as well, and makes onscreen playing of the synths a bit tricky at times.
The bottom line. For a little less then a few bucks each, KORG Gadget delivers a great array of sound toys in a nice interface — but it still needs some work to be an absolutely essential tool.
iPad running iOS 7.0 or later
Excellent synths and drum machines. Track freezing feature is a great perk. Intuitive multitracking and recording tools.
No AudioBus or Inter-App Audio support. Portrait-only operation can hinder use. Weak MIDI implementation.