IF YOU’RE AMASSING AN ARSENAL OF IPAD SYNTHS FOR LIVE AND STUDIO
use, you’re probably looking for a collection with range. This year, we’ve covered
mainstream hits like Animoog, Addictive Synth, MorphWiz, and Korg iElectribe, but
there are quite a few distinctive apps that are further off the well-worn path.
Case in point: Way Out Ware SynthX, which uses
the keyboard-plus-X/Y approach to realtime
performance that has become so popular with
iOS instruments. What makes SynthX stand out
from the pack is its incredibly retro sound. When
I say retro, I don’t mean analog-fueled ’80s new
wave or ’90s digitalism, I mean ’70s-era greasy
cheese. Part of this comes from the preset design,
but the majority of the sound comes from Way
Out Ware’s approach to modeling synths. After
all, this is the company that nailed the ARP 2600
sound so well that Alan R. Pearlman himself gave
his seal of approval.
Once you get past the user interface, which
evokes a 1978 video game, the architecture
comes into focus. A single oscillator feeds a
resonant lowpass filter into an “amp.” The oscillator
waveforms are mixable, much like on a
Roland SH-101, and there’s also an LFO and
an ADSR envelope that can each be routed
to control pitch, filter cutoff, and volume in
varying amounts simultaneously.
From there, an onboard effects section can
be applied to either the synth output or—in
a rather clever twist—the audio input of the
iPad itself. The effects include distortion,
flanger, chorus, and delay. Each of the effects
includes its own little X/Y pad for adjusting the
parameters Kaoss-style, which makes tweaking
pretty darn intuitive.
The keyboard can be tuned to any key and a
wide variety of scales including major, minor,
blues, lydian, pentatonic major and minor, and a
Most iPad synths include a system for recording
your performances as audio so you can transfer
them to your desktop or DAW, and SynthX is
no exception. You can even record a new passage
with the synth as one of your recordings plays for
All in all, SynthX is astonishingly good at
a very specific type of ’70s lead. Because of its
straightforward implementation, its easy to get
up and running with the synth and effects parameters.
If you’re down with the disco and prog
rock era, SynthX is ten bucks well spent.
PROS Straightforward set
of synth parameters. Super
retro sound. Cool visual display
of waveform for each
note you play. Built-in delay
effects. Audio recording.
CONS No MIDI implementation.
Whether you love or
hate the distinctly ’70s vibe
is a matter of taste.
BOTTOM LINE A handy vintagesounding
addition to your iPad.
$9.99 | wayoutware.com