Thursday, December 20, 2012
Korg gets iOS
I think CPU wise, the iPad is maybe equivalent to my old Apple G4 table lamp iMac on which I first started making music with Garageband around 2004 or so. So its not going to outpace laptops or computers but it more than makes up for that with the touch interface. There is something more intimate or direct about dragging musical ideas around. An analogy might be when Nintendo brought out the Wii. Very underpowered compared to its competition but it took off due to a more direct interface.
So with all the music apps and software coming out, several established synthesizer companies are starting to take notice. Moog has 2 excellent apps - one basically just an effects processor - Filtatron and the other, Animoog is a wave table synth with great samples from Moogs and other sounds - just today they put out an update with Audiobus support, a 4-track recorder and what got me (sucker that I am!), Grateful Dead samples to use as timbres - Dark Star no less!!!
I think that the company best positioned to deliver on iOS though, might be Korg. Korg is a large company with a rich history of analog and digital synthesizers and some years ago they created incredible emulations or ports of their classic synths as plugins for computer DAWs. With iOS, Korg has ported a few of these to the touch screen with great success (and the help of DeTune - a contracted company).
The first app was the iElectribe which is an almost perfect emulation of their hardware drum machine. Every knob moves - every button works and the app goes well beyond what the actual hardware can do by adding in audiobus support, saving patches etc.
My favorite app is probably the iMS-20 which is an incredible emulation of their MS-20 analog synth. They do a great job of recreating the entire hardware along with virtual patch cables. In fact, when I first got it, I looked at videos by Marc Doty on the actual hardware synth and everything he showed, worked on the iMS-20 exactly as the hardware. They went further though and included a virtual sequencer and the Kaoscillator based on their hardware add-ons. Factor this in with 6 tracks of drum or synth backgrounds and its a sort of retro all-in-one DAW.
They followed this up with the ikossilator which perfectly emulated their hand-held hardware only it did it much better.
Just a few weeks ago they came out with the iPolySix which provides 2 instances of the iPolySix with up to 6 drum synths (or limited polysix parts). This is even better than the iMS-20 in many respects due to the polyphony. All of these offerings also support Audiobus so you can record them into a DAW.
The original Korg legacy collection for Windows and Mac includes many more soft synths and I expect that one by one these will find their way onto iOS since they are not all that CPU demanding yet they are emulations of classic hardware. I anxiously await the M1 (which I have on OSX already).
Its always interesting to see how hardware companies will treat software emulations. They have to tread a fine line of offering something valuable without making their hardware irrelevant in the process. I have seem a few examples where the software versions in most ways surpass the hardware. The ikaossilator and Yamaha's TNR-I are examples.
It will be exciting to see what other companies come up with next. PPG has the Wavetable - Moog, the Animoog. Roland? We're waiting!