Review: Voice Synth (Universal)

When Qneo, not be confused with QuNeo, released Voice Synth back in January I had passed on it as an elaborate auto-tune toy. The recent update to 2.0 brought Pasteboard Audio importing and exporting, as well as MIDI-In, which caught my attention. Qneo graciously sent me a copy to play with, and as soon as I plugged my Rockband mic into my camera-connection kit I was glad they did! There is quite a lot to play with! The sound design options in here are not typical of synths, but they are many and interesting.

There are also a lot of entirely different ways to play with it. Aside from the auto-tune functionality, you can also record/import and sample, as well as loop and layer. All of these modes are different, but rely on the same sound design options. The center of the screen presents you with pitch and formant (vowel resonance) shifting, and differing tuning modes. Alongside is a mode selector. Live will immediately process anything you say, Repeat will wait until you have finished speaking before playing back, and Sampler will only tinker with a specific selected sample. On the other side is specific control for how you want to treat the sound: naturally, robotic, or a breathy whisper.

Things get really interesting with all of the additional knobs all over the screen. Unfortunately the knobs are radial, which seems awkward when most apps have trained us to use knobs vertically. You can use the knobs vertically, but you have to keep your finger on the far edge and even then your movement is restricted. If you can get past that, the knobs will do some wild shit to your sounds. The clipper is mean, the delay is deep and the chorus is rich. The reverb has an interesting slew function that makes things go bonkers, but everything has a dry/wet mixer knob to tone it down.

Voice Synth is really well designed, aside from the knob movement. When you get your head around it you can quickly morph your sounds in subtle or extreme ways. The actual getting your head around it part is made easy as they include a tutorial video in the app! That said, it really pays to have a strong understanding of sound design to get a meaningful experience out of it. It still feels more like a toy than a pro audio app, but it is a toy that pro audio app enthusiasts can enjoy! Below you'll find an embedded clip of me doing just that!

iPad Music App Buyer’s Guide Rating: Meh

Recommendation: Fun sound toy for pros, but perhaps overly complicated to be considered by casual users.

Buy Voice Synth on iTunes: $9.99

Reactable 2.0 Update Now on iTunes

Reactable (Buyer's Guide mini-review) has had a huge jump in their version number, from 1.1.5 all the way up to 2.0.0.
The number is about the only thing that has changed in this version. It's a very nice, round, number though! 

Alright... alright... the patch notes also mention a lot of new community and sharing features.

New features include:

  • Direct access to Reactable Community
  • Save and View Performances
  • Direct table upload
  • Table Meta data
  • Brand new menus
  • and a lot more....

I can't find any details on what this "lot more" is, but for those of you holding off on this one until it had "Table Meta data" you're in luck! For us suckers who bought it and want musical features, we're still fucked.

Buy Reactable on iTunes: $9.99

DXi Updated with Retina for iPad

Takashi Mizuhiki continues to develop his DXi app! This update brings a Retina display for iPad.

DXi started off life as a faithful recreation of the Yamaha DX7, and was infinitely easier to program than the original hardware. The DX7 is the most famous Frequency Modulation (FM) based hardware synth, and the core chip within it was the same one used for all of the sounds in Sega's Genesis gaming console.

These days, DXi far exceeds slavish emulation, as Takashi has modernized the entire instrument. First with the inclusion of a delay and a low-pass filter (uncommon in FM Synths). Now it even sports multiple waveforms instead of the typical sine-only FM synths or yore. 

If you've ever thought about getting a DX7, spend all of that money on a solid MIDI controller instead and then spend $2 on this. If you have no idea what FM synthesis is and want to blow $2 this is a good opportunity for that. ECPM will probably be past Lesson #50 before we approach FM though, so you're on your own!

Buy DXi FM Synthesizer on iTunes: $1.99

Roland Wireless Connect Announced

Roland has put together a fairly cool rig, with bit of new tech to spice up a bit of the old. Roland Wireless Connect, a USB-WiFi adapter that can be connected with many of Roland's instruments, will allow for all kinds of interesting interaction on your iPhone.

They've got a video that does a good job of demonstrates the iPhone sending a song to a synth, and then a synth sending its audio back to the iPhone. I'm a little impressed that Roland can pull this off with their older hardware!

An additional image on their site labeled "Product-Hero" seems to hint at further developments, as Roland expands their keytar range to include Pulse Rifles, from the movie Aliens. I'm glad to see Roland continues to try to make the keytar sexy!

Alesis iO Mix - Read The Fine Print Before You Lust

Alesis has announced their newest iPad docking peripheral, the iO Mix 4-channel Mixer/Recorder. Clearly a very sexy bit of engineering, and lots of people got very excited about it... but then we read the text right next to it.

The marketing copy is just bizarre; actually promoting the fact that it is standards complaint and probably won't break WiFi.

 iO Mix is Core Audio-compliant, allowing you to use it with virtually any app in the App Store. Plus, your iPad's WiFi, Bluetooth, AirPlay, and 3G connectivity, allow you to tailor your sound at a moment's notice or playback audio through compatible wireless speakers.

So-fucking-what? Of course you're using Apple's Core Audio and I'd sincerely hope that your design wouldn't interefere with the WiFi, Bluetooth, AirPlay or 3G!

Things take a turn for the Orwellian when they go on to promote the downside to their design; your video-out options will be severely crippled to just AirPlay, Composite and S-Video. iPad 2 and 3s naturally support HDMI out, so why would the dock have these antiquated options?

Rounding out this disappointment, is the lack of MIDI I/O in the Alesis iO Mix. This might not be important to many musicians, but for those of us who live or die on MIDI this feels like a big step back from their iO Dock. Don't bring your drummer to the session either as there is no way to extend the recording capabilities to include more channels with optical inputs.

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