Arturia iMini

July 12, 2013
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Arturia’s reputation for impeccable emulations of classic analog synths borders on legendary, so when they dropped their iMini—a full recreation of the Minimoog—the iOS synth community got very excited.

The attention to detail in this app is exceptional. Rather than load the iMini down with tons of extraneous bells and whistles, Arturia kept the experience clean and tidy, focusing on the Minimoog’s original architecture: three oscillators feeding a four-pole resonant lowpass filter, along with a couple of envelopes.

As with the original Mini, there’s no dedicated LFO. Instead, oscillator 3 can be switched to low-frequency mode and used for vibrato, trills, and such. Tuned in the audio range, oscillator 3 can be the modulator for FM synthesis. This is true to the original and great for harsher, more industrial sounds.

While the iMini’s additional features are kept to a minimum, there are several amenities that are extremely useful. On the vintage side, a chorus and analog-style delay do a great job of enhancing the iMini’s sound in a contextually appropriate way. After all, back in the ’70s, chorus and delay pedals were as commonplace in touring rigs as the synths themselves—and Arturia’s versions sound wonderful.

The iMini can play polyphonically, with the number of voices being determined by your iPad’s CPU. On an iPad 1, you’re limited to monophonic use, and that’s with the effects off and basic patch settings. Newer iPads can handle the app much more effectively, but it would have been nice for Arturia to include a “lite” mode as we’ve seen on some other synths, so that first-gen iPad owners can get into the game too.

Another retro addition is a basic arpeggiator with up, down, up/down, random, and note order modes. You can also set the octave range, speed, number of repetitions, and latch mode, but other than that, it’s strictly the essentials.

Touchscreen-based goodies include a pair of Kaoss-style X/Y controllers, with each axis freely assignable to any of the iMini’s knobs. The app also supports Korg’s WIST protocol, so you can jam with other iPad-based musicians. Arturia also included support for the AudioBus and TableTop inter-app audio systems (for piping audio from iMini directly into GarageBand or other iPad DAWs), as well as virtual MIDI, making iMini a true team player in the iOS ecosystem.

All in all, the iMini is an outstanding entry into the iOS universe from Arturia—a company that really knows how to make soft synths sound warm and rich. Everything is extremely well implemented, and Arturia donates a portion of the sales proceeds to the Bob Moog Foundation. If you’re on a newer iPad, this is 20 bucks very well spent, and an obvious Key Buy.

PROS: Accurately and warmly recreates the overall Minimoog sound. Built-in arpeggiator, chorus, and analog-style delay. Supports WIST, AudioBus, Virtual MIDI, and TableTop protocols for robust iOS integration.

CONS: Requires iPad 2 or newer to be really usable. AudioBus and AudioCopy not supported at this time.

Bottom Line: A convincing and faithful Minimoog emulation for the iPad.

$19.99 | arturia.com

 

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