By Daniel Resnick
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Synthecaster fuses elements from guitars and keyboards into a full range polyphonic instrument that is intuitive, accommodates a wide variety of playing styles, and generates an even wider variety of sounds. The instrument allows for technical playing styles such as shredding and complex chord formation and can be used as a MIDI controller. Now with Motion Modulation, Synthecaster is more expressive than ever.
- Keys are arranged in string-like rows (tuned in perfect fourths by default)
- Sliding across keys in a row results in legato sliding or portamento gliding from note to note
- Sliding a key up or down will bend its pitch in the same direction
- Several notes can be played on the same row simultaneously
- Simultaneously play up to 10 notes on iPad Pro, 7 notes on iPad, or 5 notes on iPhone
- The entire keyboard spans over 6 octaves (not including the range added by oscillator tuning)
- Tune each row individually
- Highlight or show only the notes from any scale
How Motion Modulation works:
- Any slider-based synth parameter with blue or green text can be tapped to view its motion settings
- The parameter can be modulated by the device's roll (tilting vertically clockwise or counterclockwise) or pitch (tilting upward or downward)
- The position of the parameter's slider is the base setting for the parameter
- Tilting the device modulates the value either from its base setting to its minimum or maximum setting depending on the tilt, the modulation amount, and the modulation direction.
Synthecaster's audio is generated by a powerful and highly configurable polyphonic synth engine:
- Dual oscillators with individual tuning
- Filter with envelope sweeping
- Amplifier ADSR envelope
- Soft clip, hard clip, bitcrush, and downsampling distortion
- LFO assignable to amplitude, filter cutoff, or oscillator tuning
- Stereo flanger, chorus, and delay effects
- Over 55 preloaded synth presets including 7 motion presets
- Create custom presets and share them using AirDrop or Mail
- High quality 44.1 kHz stereo audio output
- Inter-App Audio support
- Audiobus compatibility with state saving
Synthecaster is Core MIDI compatible as a MIDI controller. In Multi Channel mode, MIDI messages are output in OMNI mode, where each MIDI channel represents a synth voice (channels 1-7 on the iPad, 1-5 on the iPhone). To best replicate Synthecaster’s polyphonic expressiveness, try setting a separate instrument voice for each channel.
The following MIDI messages are supported:
- Note on/off events, by touching and releasing keys
- Pitch wheel change, by sliding a key up or down
- Polyphonic legato ties by sliding across keys. Compatible with a variety of apps including Animoog and ThumbJam.
- Legato pedal on/off for legato ties, by sliding across keys
For best results, play through speakers or headphones.
Note: Not recommended for iPhone 4 due to performance issues.
What's New in Version 3.3
- iPad Pro support, with the ability to play up to 10 notes simultaneously.
- Updated Audio's SDK to 2.3.1.
- Added ability to handle sample rates other than 44.1 kHz, as well as changes to the sample rate while the app is running. This fixes issues with using the speaker output on iPhone 6S.
Note: When using speaker output on the 6S, if Audiobus displays errors while attempting to connect to Synthecaster, try plugging in headphones.
Powerful, Fun, and Highly Customizable
So far so good! I've been playing around with this App for a few days on my iPad Air 2 and I'm really impressed. It's really a great way to jam when all I have is my iPad, offering a wide array of customizations for the interface and the instrument. I've also successfully used it to connect over network to my MacBook Pro and control Ableton Live 9, so I'll likely be using this to write and record as well. Highly recommended.