Phase84 is a next generation phase distortion synthesizer. It fuses gritty digital sounds with traditional analog punch.
Phase84 is a Tabletop Ready App. Combine Phase84 with drum machines, sequencers, effects, and more inside Tabletop — a free modular music app for iPad.
Phase84 is an extremely capable synthesizer and features over 110 presets, containing all sorts of basses, leads, pads, bell tones, sweeps, atmospheric sounds, pseudo-realistic tones, and more. While you don't need to know much about synthesizers to get a lot out of Phase84, experienced synth tweakers will be thrilled at the sheer variety of unique sounds that can be produced with this incredibly versatile synth.
So What's Phase84 All About?
Phase84 is what's known as a Phase Distortion synthesizer. This form of waveshaping synthesis has its roots in Casio’s brilliant CZ line of digital synthesizers from the 80s. It is designed to have the warmth of a subtractive (analog) synthesizer, yet be capable of the squelchy tones and sharp attacks of an FM synth. Phase84 in particular can create warm pads, glitchy sounds, dirty basses, filthy sweeps, screaming leads, and anything in-between.
For those familiar with the typical Moog-like (or iMini-like!) synthesis, think of the "shaper" as being synonymous with "brightness" or "filter cutoff”.
More than 100 presets.
inter-App Audio support.
Advanced Keyboard section.
Expressive Perform Mode with Groove Gate.
Tabletop Ready App.
Precision Knob mode.
Phat, naturalistic unison feature for super thick pads and sweeps.
Oscillator Section: 9 Params, 2 General-Purpose Oscillators, 1 Formant Oscillator.
Mix Section: 8 Params including Delay Amount and Pulse Width.
Envelope Section: Amplitude and Shaper Envelopes. Fully visualized and interactive ADSR plus special Fade Param.
Delay/Filter Section: Stereo delay with loss modeling and a punchy overdriven analog-style filter.
3 LFOs: More flexible than your average LFO, this has 4 waveforms, optional delay and repeat count, and can go into the audible frequency range.
- Fixed random crash on startup on some 64 bit / iOS 9 devices.
Ratings and Reviews
Excellent synth with a slightly different flavor
There's a lot of criticism of Retronyms apps for some of their marketing tactics and resistance of implementing AudioBus connectivity in their apps. (Retronyms instead provides IAA support and steers you towards Tabletop, their own free but also very problematic ecosystem for housing music apps). But I actually find Phase84 to be a very nice and somewhat unique synth, especially if they continue to offer it at 4.99. Phase84 has an "FM Synth" flavor to it, but they introduce phase distortion for some gritty sounds. There's a decent wealth of presets and they are well sorted - ranging from basses to leads and stabs. The control parameters for the synth are laid out almost entirely on a single screen, which is nice. Plus, as others have noted, there are plenty of workarounds for using the synth via AudioBus (by way of AudioShare or AUM), or just recording the synth using IAA, which is pretty widely implemented nowadays.
nice potential, frustrating bugs
So this can make some great sounds, and phase distortion + fm + filter is extremely powerful yet retro, but the bugs are painful. Can't open in tabletop. Sustain pedal doesn't work.
The user interface is also confusing and kind of a pain to use. Retronyms continues to disappoint - no audiobus?
To whoever said 'presets are uninspiring' I would suggest that you can get some great sounds out of it if you understand the underlying phase distortion + fm + subtractive synthesis engine. It is a nice digital synth that can produce anything from metallic tones to glassy to wooden to warm analog-ish to cold to fuzzy to percussive, but its main feature is channeling Casio's phase distortion synths (though with fewer envelope stages.)
Fantastic synth and awesome support
The synth itself sounds great - you can clearly see that from the reviews.
What really makes it awesome is the support! Retronyms was extremely quick to reply to an issue I had, and had already prepared and submitted a fix. After the fix was published they even followed up with an email to let me know. Great service and great sounding addition to my sonic toolbox!
With Family Sharing set up, up to six family members can use this app.