Is the iPad Becoming a Viable Platform Choice for Classic Synth Recreation?

This idea has been floating around for sometime now, but the release of Arturia’s iMini for iPad really got me to realize – the iPad has quite a variety of classic synth recreation apps…

-Korg iMS-20

-Korg iPolysix

-Arturia iMini

-Peter Vogel CMI and CMI Pro

-DXi FM synthesizer

-iYM2151

Other recreations:

-TNR-i

-Korg iKaossilator

-Korg iElectribe & iElectribe Gorillaz Edition

-iMPC

What is it about the iPad that’s attracting so many classic synth recreations? I’ve got it narrowed down to a few contributing features…

1. Touch – A touch screen allows users to interact directly with the synthesizer, not through a keyboard and a mouse, you can literally drag and drop cables in iMS-20, turn knobs and sliders, ect…

2. It’s a second computerLive setups can be complicated. Having a second computing device (especially on that’s as advanced as the iPad) allows musicians to have an extra screen to use software that may have otherwise been crammed onto a laptop along with several other VSTs. This will get exponentially better as soon as the iConnectMIDI 2+ and 4+ arrive with AudioPass Through.

3. Capable of producing complete tracksAudio copy & paste, Virtual MIDI, Audiobus bring all of these apps together.

4. Portability - This one’s a given.

5. Anything else? What do you like about producing on iPads? Leave a comment below!

8 comments

  1. There is an old saying that you can determine the quality of a society by how it treats its elderly and prisoners. Well, the equivalent of that saying for the computing world is: You can tell the quality of a computing system by how it treats its audio.

    So your question really isn’t that hard to answer, it is 5 Anything else.

    1. Apple cares about the quality of their hardware, including the AUDIO hardware. They don’t treat audio as a second class citizen. If I write something for one iOS device, I pretty much know how it is going to act on all of them. With Android, I cannot be sure the audio hardware is the same from device to device.

    2. Apple cares about the quality of their Audio/MIDI software ( IE CoreAudio and CoreMIDI ). Even, despite the quirks in these APIs, they have been around for years and are rock solid. This compared to the Java Audio APIs are still not complete (much less for Android) and are generally slow, or Microsoft which changes its mind about how developers should access audio/MIDI pipelines every few years.

    Even in 2010′s, audio is still considered a second class citizen for most platforms (despite what vendors might say). Apple is the only company that treats its audio hardware and software with the same respect as the graphics or other systems.

    I am not trying to be an Apple-Fanboy [I am indifferent], but I do give Apple serious admiration because they give audio and MIDI high priority way above of any other vendor does with their hardware/software.

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    • Sean says:

      excellent points. many (including me) criticize apple for not adding this or that to mac osx or iOS, and it’s easy to forget all of the rock solid features that they do provide

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  2. Armando says:

    Affordability

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    • Sean says:

      another great point. instead of buying a crazy expensive physical piece of hardware, just download 15$ app, that’ll sound pretty freakin’ close to the real thing…..

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  3. Phill Wilson says:

    The other BIG reason in my own mind-view is that

    an Ipad with a suitable dock or adaptor ACTS LIKE HARDWARE.

    By which I mean, a traditional computer will always have a physical boundry…sure,it can be suplimented by hardware controllers and such like, but those are acting as a facsimile of the developers intended “virtual buttons and knobs”.

    I find,with my IOS devices, I have used the touch screen long enough for it to be a tangible method of control now, I can drag my fingers or draw articulations, and I KNOW what is going to happen…how buttons will react, how notes will be affected.

    I for one would NEVER use a laptop or desktop computer in my setup, to me the IPADs limitations are also part of its appeal, it (more of less) performs a single task in a stable and reliable way…to me that makes it “hybrid hardware”.

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  4. Derek Jones says:

    Cost.

    Definitely.

    Even the more expensive apps are Waaaay cheaper than desktop counterparts, or, the actual devices There’s a Moog modular on ebay for the moment at $60,000, and an S100 for nearly $15,000, and Minimoogs are around the $3000 mark.

    So, in a portable device you can carry a full music workstation with very capable vintage synth emulations, as well as all the innovative new synths that exist too – all for much less than the cost of a single vintage synth.

    Control – as well. It’s all well and good mapping controls to MIDI keyboards / controllers, and yes, one can mouse over controls in a VST. But, there’s something tactile about the touchscreen and moving the actual controls that beats both. No, not perhaps in terms of the same ease of use as the actual synth, and, perhaps not always as easy as mouse or external physical controller control – more fiddly, less, accurate on occasion esp. with big fingers – but, even so, it provides an interactivity that is unique and brain-maps to the original synths.

    No messy cables. No moving parts. (Main advantage over a PC – no disk to die – and – easy backups – replacement cost of the underlying hardware is reasonable compared to a PC. No dongles either).

    No MIDI controller hardware needed. No Hum. No Maintenance of vintage hardware – no expensive investment in a vintage synth that might die. Access to synths that are out of production. And, all *that* in a portable device. Was composing on the train coming back from NYC a couple of weeks back. Was doing the same on the couch in the apt. there. Would not lug a synth on the train… Could not set it up and work there.

    So many positives.

    But, hey – still not the same as having a real analog synth! Yes, we have those too! Still can’t be beaten.

    Kind regards

    Derek Jones

    Owner, MusicInclusive LLC

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  5. Matt says:

    Cost, cost, cost, and cost. I don’t know how to play the piano (yet), but between CoreMIDI and apps like SoundPrism Pro, I can reproduce the sounds of monster synths with the iPad. I’ve probably spent less on my collection of vintage emulators and modern synth apps than I would have spent on a cheap Casio keyboard, yet I can hold my own on a church worship band playing huge pads. I bought the iPad for other purposes (comfortable reading layout for PocketBible, and productivity tools), so I already had the device. I got Animoog for a buck, and most of the rest of my music apps for under $20 (all the Korg apps, Sunrizer, Addictive Synth, DXi, Arctic Keys, Alchemy, PPG WaveGenerator and -Mapper, Tachyon, Cassini, ThumbJam, NLog Pro, bs-16i, Magellan, GeoSynth, etc.). Even Auria was half-price when I got it. I’d never be able to purchase the hardware versions of the classics, and the other ones don’t exist in hardware form.

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  6. EricT says:

    These are available on the desktop, among a vastly larger collection of such recreations. The fact that a handful are ported iOS leaves it lightyears from being the “platform of choice”, unless you’re only talking about tablets.

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