Thor Polysonic Synthesizer is a highly-programmable monster, and it doesn’t take much scrolling through the 1000 included presets to get a great taste of what it’s capable of – which is truly rich, thick sound, even when played polyphonically. From subtle bass and pad sounds all the way to animated, pulsing soundscapes, Thor packs a powerful punch. Listening to it through headphones or decent speakers is a must, as the tiny iPad speaker really can’t do it justice.
Waldorf is a German synth company with a pedigree that dates back more than a couple of decades, and specializes in a branch of sound generation called "wavetable synthesis," which blends sampled sounds and synthesized filters together for slick sonic goodness. Its new iPad app, Nave, is a bold monster, with tons of deep programmability, and a thick, gorgeous sound that truly rivals hardware synths that cost more than the highest-capacity iPad.
Talk about perfect timing. Just days ahead of this year's WWDC, AllThingsD reported that Sony signed an agreement affirming its participation in Apple's highly anticipated free music streaming service this morning. With that signature, Apple now has the blessing of all three major record labels to proceed with the project, making it extremely likely that we'll hear an official announcement (but not a launch) at WWDC.
Many different genres and software types are well represented in the App Store, including games, musical instruments and recording options, science tools, and loads of other choices. However, so rarely does one app meld together varying experiences in a way that yields something as downright cool, fun, and creative as Musyc. It comes as no surprise that this amazing little gem was created by the same minds behind the excellent drum app DM1, and while it’s hard to completely control at times, the entropy is a big part of the absolute fun here.
One of the most amazing things about the App Store's offerings is the fact that you get so much punch for relatively few bucks; so when a drum app shows up that costs a whopping $49.99, it’s hard to think that it’s truly better than 10 existing $4.99 drum apps combined. While Different Drummer does indeed offer a unique take on the process of laying down a beat, it’s a bit rich at the current price, which is a pity – there's some real innovation to be found here. Different Drummer really lives up to its name: It’s a drummer, alright, but it’s radically different from any other iOS beat machine – or most plugins we’ve ever run into on the desktop.
Ever since iTunes was introduced in 2001, Apple has continued to tinker with it, updating how it works and how you access and play music. iTunes 11 has introduced some interesting new interface components, but simplicity and elegance within iTunes are only skin-deep. The app remains a complex, frequently unwieldy beast, primarily because it now has to deal with managing all kinds of media on your Mac, including books, TV shows, movies, and apps. At best, you can sometimes hide the clutter, but iTunes is no longer an app with a razor-sharp focus.
The purpose of this group test, then, is to explore alternative apps that focus on the single act of playing music.
There are many iOS music creation apps, but very few that are designed primarily as real-time multi-FX units. Turnado instantly takes the throne as the king of iPad audio processors. It’s a powerhouse of 24 different audio effects – all highly programmable and sonically luscious – resulting in a monster effects unit suitable for both studio and live performance that sports excellent audio quality and some truly insane sound mangling potential.
Twitter has long been a way for musicians to connect with their fans, but the standalone Twitter #Music app is something different: It's an opportunity for the social networking company to leverage its ubiquitous service to turn users onto new artists. The glossy iPhone and iPod touch offering pulls data from tweets and trends to build visual grids of artists in different categories, with iTunes audio samples just a couple of taps away. Twitter #Music looks the part, but while you might find some diamonds in the rough, it won't necessarily be due to the app's calculations.