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Scythe by Bitmask Studio Ltd.

Today Bitmask Studio Ltd. released Scythe, offering wavetable synthesis with Inter-App Audio. This one arrives at a premium price with some caveats. The first being: Holy shit, their website is still "under construction" after over 3 years!

It is also worth pointing out that their last app was abandoned abruptly. Mutate was released in March 2015. It was updated a month later with the promise of "Audiobus and AudioCopy/Paste coming soon" and then forgotten entirely before keeping their word.

Scythe iTunes Description:

Scythe is a powerful wavetable synthesizer with modulation and Inter-App-Audio Support.

Import your own sounds using iTunes file sharing and AudioPaste and generate wavetables from these. Please note that loading sounds with low frequency content is required for best wavetable generation results.

Top Features:

- High quality wavetable synthesis
- Inter-App-Audio for connecting straight to Logic Pro X/Ableton or other apps
- Modulation control of all oscillator parameters
- Global tempo control for syncing LFOs to note duration
- Easily record, playback and export audio
- Library wavetables and presets
- Max waves = 48 = 3 voices * 2 oscillators * 8 unison
- Dark and Light modes

Full feature set:

Synthesis

- 2 Wavetable oscillators with full modulation control
- Load audio files from iTunes file sharing
- Load audio from other apps using audio paste
- Load library wavetables
- Save wavetables
- Unison up to 8 waves

Modulation

- Global tempo control in top bar
- 2 Envelope generators with controllable ADSR graph
- 3 LFOs with 8 wave modes, Note duration sync, lfo wave amplitude, 3 run modes
- Global modulation matrix control
- Modulation override

Keyboard

- Currently max voices is 3
- Scrollable keyboard
- Hold mode (enabled by tapping octave control in scroll section)

Presets

- Library presets
- Save your own presets

Recording

- Record audio
- export audio using iOS export options, e.g. Dropbox

Notes:

- Hardware capabilities will impact max number of waves. If your device CPU cannot synthesize the max number of waves, either adjust the unison value/modulation or reduce the number of simultaneous keys pressed
- Modulation is initially enabled by dragging the modulation link icons onto the control to be modulated.
- Hold mode is enabled/disabled by pressing the control in the keyboard scroll section

There's no official demo... but reader Meerkat Music did a First Look for the new app. He notes that this demo was unfortunately recorded in mono.

Reader Comments 28

Eeesh. Thanks for the caveat Tim. Sonically, seems a bit of a one-trick pony too.
October 24, 2017  | person Nonny Moose
"Inter-App-Audio for connecting straight to Logic Pro X/Ableton or other apps"
Sorry, doesn't sound very reassuring to me. Not shure what this means.
Seems to lack all basic connectivity otherwise.
The demo isn't very musical at all and there's no mention of MIDi I/O anywhere in the spec !

There's better wavetable alternatives from Wolfgang Palm / Waldorf / Animoog ...
October 24, 2017  | person Nozomi
Be very careful with this developer. He promised everything and delivered nothing (no updates...)
Website is still in development since years. Don't know if I will cover it. I love to support developers but this looks not so promising with his back story.
October 24, 2017  | person_outline Tom
To be confused with Scythe (formerly GrainBender) by Plastaq???
http://www.plastaq.com/scythe/
October 24, 2017  | person BDBaker1958
Why would you take the risk with a developer with a track record like this when there are so many other great synths out there?

Give you $$$s to devs who back up their products with updates and bug fixes.
October 24, 2017  | person_outline Simon
On October 24, 2017 - @BDBaker1958 said:
To be confused with Scythe (formerly GrainBender) by Plastaq???
http://www.plastaq.com/scythe/
Yeah, that seems a bit iffy but it is a generic word that sounds cool.

Oh wait... the old Scythe has been pulled from iTunes. I'm sad to see it go!
https://discchord.com/appDB/id451337446

This might be a mistake. It is definitely not on iTunes right now, but it was just updated with iOS 11 support a couple of weeks ago!
On October 24, 2017 - @Tim Webb said:
Yeah, that seems a bit iffy but it is a generic word that sounds cool.

Oh wait... the old Scythe has been pulled from iTunes. I'm sad to see it go!
https://discchord.com/appDB/id451337446

This might be a mistake. It is definitely not on iTunes right now, but it was just updated with iOS 11 support a couple of weeks ago!

You got it right, Tim. On the Plastaq.com website, (old Scythe)...below each of the three apps that were previously available for iOS is this comment..."Due to Apple's App Store policies, Scythe is no longer available for iOS." The other apps were MidiME, and Liquid Lens. For anyone interested, I did see a link for a VST version of Scythe, which I guess is free:
http://www.plastaq.com/scythe_vst/
Woah! Hmm, I emailed Miles to see what that's about. Thanks for the clue, Toz! It doesn't have that message on the Scythe page that BDBaker1958 linked too above, only on the main:

http://www.plastaq.com/
Where are the filters and stuff? What am I missing here?
October 25, 2017  | person_outline ChrisG
Hi guys,

I am the developer of Mutate and Scythe and it really hurts to see these comments.

I'm sorry to see that you all had a bad experience with Mutate and how that influenced your opinion on Scythe.

Finding this post and the link to the old post, all I can do is apologize to everyone that was ripped off and let down with Mutate, I hope you got a refund for the app from Apple.

Mutate on iPad was an absolute fail, no doubt. Deciding to have sound packs as in-app purchases that were downloadable from a server was a mistake. We had hosting issues, some sound packs were downloading, others were not. After we changed the hosting some of the filenames of the sound packs didn't match what the code was trying to unzip, it was a mess! and it meant even after purchasing sample packs, the app would just have no content. That was a terrible experience.

I don't work on these apps full time, unfortunately. It's been blood sweat and tears to complete Mutate and this new synth on the side of my day job.

The lack of time has led to the website being "under construction" for so long and the inability to fix/recover the data from the hosting and add additional features to Mutate. I took Mutate down for now and I do plan to rewrite it.

I would like to offer everyone that had a bad experience with Mutate to contact me and I will add you as a beta tester for Scythe so you can get the app and all future updates for free if you want. Otherwise I could send you redeem codes if you like, the codes are only valid for a few months though. jarryd@bitmaskstudio.com

The naming clash with what I now see is an existing synth, that is unfortunate, it was not on the app store when I submitted the app which meant Apple approved the synth anyway.

I admit, the passion/obsession with sound meant I have slipped on other things, I'm really sorry and I would like to make it up. I had no bad intentions.

I will get the website done so I can provide support for the apps.

Once again, I'm truly sorry about all of this.

Jarryd
October 25, 2017  | person_outline Jarryd
Hi Jarryd,

The video looks like a whole lot of fun to me. There is something with 3D wavetable graphics and scanner/playhead that puts me into creative-mode. Nave is one iOS synth that ticked all the right boxes for me. But I can't see any filter(s), I might be missing something (I always go thinking Waldorf or Palm when seeing wavetable stuff), but are there any plans on adding stuff like that?

Is the 3 voice limit universal? 4 voices would've been eoepsop
October 25, 2017  | person_outline ChrisG
Eoepsop - Now there's a word you don't see everyday. It only makes sense when you're using your tablet or phone while sleeping:-)
October 25, 2017  | person_outline ChrisG
Hi Chris,

I initially had the default audio-unit reverb and a custom filter delay effect included in the app. A lot of performance optimization work went into getting this synth to run on iPad devices.

So I made the trade off of being able to wire the app into Ableton or Logic etc. using IAA and adding much better filters and effects to the processing chain on the DAW channel, rather than being able to get half decent filters and effects in the app and lose the performance (possibly reducing to 1 voice).

To me it was a no brainer to rather get the best possible sound synthesis out of the app, and allow external processing. After comparing the sound quality of the synthesis with other apps, I thought the tradeoff was worth it.

Regarding the voice limit, that is purely based on device performance and hard coded to 3. I have tested it on an iPad air, which struggles with 3 voices and unison of around 4-5 on both oscillators (if I remember correctly), and on an iPad 5th gen, which can handle 3 voices, at around 6-7 unison level.

I have a task in the backlog to add device detection to then set the limits on unison and voice count to a higher amount for iPad Pros. Max unison is 8, but voices could be as many as the hardware can handle.

I will start working on 2nd level modulation (allowing LFOs and Env Gens to modulate each other), IAA midi support, new dsp processing modules, and a user manual.

I cannot give time frames, but will try my best to get this done as soon as I can.

Once the website is up and running I will add a support email address for any feature requests or issues, as I do want to add features for users' requirements, where possible.

A failure on my part has been to create things that are more specific to my workflow/setup and then being blind to other requirements. E.g The sound is definitely more geared towards pads/drones/effects/noise etc. I love the Sherman Filterbank and I think I was going for a more gritty kind of sound with this synth. Also Midi over IAA, I totally missed this, but I will add it for those needing it.
October 25, 2017  | person_outline Jarryd
I see, thanks Jarryd. I missed the unison part (which might yield interesting depending on the behavior of each voice). Ok so no filter, in favor of better sound/performance with what's already there. A quick question....Can you loop just a part of a wavetable, have the playhead scan a part of the table, akin to Nave and similar? And can you have it loop down to single cycles or thereabouts to create more grain-synth sounding kinda stuff?
October 25, 2017  | person_outline ChrisG
I'm on Air 1. And I'm using Windows (can't plug iOS straight into a daw in Windows-land). So hence the Q. I'm thinking it might be a great sample fodder creator even without filter etc if you can mess around with the scanning etc
October 25, 2017  | person_outline ChrisG
Hi Chris,

I need to do a manual :D

So, initially it loads the preset, there is a preset in there called default (it should always be on top of the list under library segment), which initializes an empty preset.

Alternatively if you would like to keep the current parameter settings and wavetables etc., and only redo the modulation, you can press the X next to modulation matrix in the section on the right, which will clear the modulation matrix.

There is full control over the index in the wavetable and the range.

For staying on a single wave, which generates some good results, just slide the modulation down to zero for the wavetable index of that oscillator, and then use the wavetable index control to choose your position in the table.

Modulation is currently centered around the index controlled by the oscillator control (left and right modes were buggy and removed for now)

Regarding modulation within an index range, you can set the modulation depth accordingly and then use the control to get the mid (starting) index.

One control which is hidden, but handy, is that when dragging a modulation link icon onto an oscillator control, the value box that highlights and generally shows the modulation depth value. This control can be used to set the depth by tapping in it and then scrolling up or down. For fine tuning the mod matrix row sliders on the right are better, but for general experimentation the value control is easier.

For direction and cycle control of modulation, the LFO has dSaw and uSaw, which will essentially go up from the index to modulation depth max and then restart from the other side (modulation depth min) and dSaw is the reverse. Experiment with the LFO waveform modes, there are loads of possibilities.

When the 2nd level modulation is in its going to add even more.
October 25, 2017  | person_outline Jarryd
Y'know, Waldorf and Wolfgang aren't really the first names that would come to mind as examples of stellar app-updaters...
@Jarryd: I don't intend it mean-spiritedly when I say it sounds like you're in a bit over your head. You acknowledge mistakes, which is good, but the next step is to reassess realistically what your current capabilities are and work from there. This app may have been overly ambitious right now. Optimization, documentation, and bughunting aren't nearly as fun as adding new features but they're necessary tasks, and from what I'm seeing here it seems they're skills you need to hone before taking on a project like this. As Harry Callahan said, a man's got to know his limitations.
October 25, 2017  | person_outline Blaaaaarghonaut
Jerryd,

Cheers. That definitely sounds good to me (and I take it that the two wavetables can each have their own modulation of both range and starting index etc, thay they aren't synced so to speak). I'm curious about the unison, I obviously know what it does, but not sure I've messed around with unison on a wavetable synth before, Nave and Blofeld are pretty much the only wavetable synths I've spent alot of time with. Not going to bother you with that, I'll find out how it works/sounds when I get around to give it a spin:-)
October 25, 2017  | person_outline ChrisG
Oh but, Audioshare. Por favor, Audioshare import/export:-)
October 25, 2017  | person_outline ChrisG
hello jarryd, will a video tutorial be posted soon?i saw meerkats video .good luck with the new app. i had so e with mutate actually, withh the exception of download issues for the iap soundbanks but i kind of like the app.scythe looks cool and id like to hear more variety of sounds in a demo if yo can post one, thanks!!
October 25, 2017  | person_outline mutatoe
Hello @Jarryd
I'm having fun with Scythe, I didn't know about the Mutate thing, I'm hoping you'll implement Core Midi soon. Hang in there
I bought this scythe synth to try it and it seems good. The sameness you here is because those videos are focused on bass sounds but it has many different sounds. I played both PPG Infinite and scythe through AUM and they complement each other well. Or maybe is just that I’m crazy about sound. Not for everyone though but for me both this apps are ear candy. Of course Infinite is way deeper. I would like scythe to get a keyboard that can give lots of different scales to play on and audio unit but as far as it goes it’s ok
October 27, 2017  | person Fred
Updated with Audioshare the other day, so that was fast, awesome work Jerryd. I have a feature request that might fall in the "reeeally not necessary though" category. I'd love to be able to bring up/zoom in on the wavetable I'm messing around with, have it occupying at least 25% of the screen or thereabouts? Partly because 3d wavetables+large screen will nerd out anyone, even guitarists. Partly because it will give you a slightly better view of the areas in a wavetable that you wanna concentrate on.
October 29, 2017  | person_outline ChrisG
Yo Jarryd, really enjoying this app, I think it has a lot of potential but have a few bugs to report (iOS 9.3.5)

1. After the most recent update the app is unplayable on its own, descends into crackles, pops and glitches as soon as a note is pressed. Thinking a built in latency control could fix that issue for those of us with older ipads, I find I have to run most apps at 1024 without any sacrifice in response. After trying it in Audioshare and Audiobus the results are better but again I can control the latency through those apps and think that's largely contributing.

2. The preset window shows up as a white square with nothing in it but if you press on it the names flash up for a second in a grey bar and then it loads.

3. Sometimes the modulation link chains get stuck floating around on screen somewhere and they then cant be used again without reloading the app.

+1 for Core MIDI support :)
November 07, 2017  | person_outline konchis141
Hi konchis141,

Thanks for the feedback. Please contact me at support@bitmaskstudio.com so I can help with these issues.

Cheers

Jarryd
November 10, 2017  | person_outline Jarryd
Hey Jarryd,

Newest update fixed my glitching issues, thanks!
November 19, 2017  | person_outline konchis141
For anyone concerned about the developer not supporting it. I just want to say I bought it, there was an issue with it not responding to MIDI note off (which some things don’t use apparently). The developer was notified and he fixed it, and the update was out within less than a week.
December 02, 2017  | person_outline Dan
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