With the deluge of cool audio and synthesis apps on iOS, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stand out from the pack—but the long-awaited iVCS3 is raising eyebrows and potentially blowing out speakers across the land. While it’s billed as a software simulation of an analog synthesizer that found favor with bands like Pink Floyd and The Who, iVCS3 is really a virtual laboratory of sonic mayhem and aural outrageousness. It’s not useful for playing standard musical riffs, but is infinitely capable of generating insanely complex, dynamic, and downright chaotic soundscapes that will amaze, delight, and terrify, all at once.
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.
It sure is something to realize how much power is in your iPad, especially if you’re a musician pining for classic analog synthesizers — heavy, expensive, temperamental instruments that are increasingly hard to find, and even harder to maintain. Arturia, creator of the Minimoog simulation app, iMini, has done it again, delivering an exquisite simulation of the venerable Oberheim SEM (Synthesizer Expander Module), that company’s very first synth. In many ways, iSEM is an improvement upon the hardware it models, starting with the fact that it’s polyphonic.
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.