Calling Jordan Rudess a legend is a bit of an
understatement. From his pioneering work with prog-metal band Dream
Theater to his forward-thinking apps for the earliest versions of iOS,
Rudess has remained at the forefront of both progressive rock and
synthesis technology for over 20 years.
Rudess’ latest foray into iPad synths is a collaboration
with Omenie, makers of the wonderful M3000 virtual Mellotron for iOS
(reviewed Aug. ’13). The concept behind Jordantron is straightforward:
Start with the M3000 architecture, then load it with a 1GB library of
Rudess’ favorite sampled instruments. The result is quite impressive and
musically useful, regardless of whether you’re even a prog fan at all.
Here’s a quick recap of Omenie’s architecture. Up to three
simultaneous layers of samples can be blended, then modified via simple
controls for volume, pitch, tone, and a basic integrated reverb. The
resulting patch is assigned to a dual-manual virtual keyboard with
wonderfully large keys, making it possible to play basic riffs directly
on the iPad. Since chording on a touchscreen keyboard is always tricky,
one of the keyboards can be swapped for a set of 12 configurable “pads,”
with each pad triggering a different user-programmed chord. In
practice, this is a rather elegant way to get the most from an iPad as a
On the downside, presets are selected via tapping on
left/right arrows for each layer, with no direct menu selection, which
is a bit cumbersome. Fortunately, there are 32 “Voicebanks,” which are
user-programmable combinations of layers and tone settings. In addition
to the sample layers, the factory Voicebanks were also designed by
Rudess and are astonishingly rich and spot-on when it comes to capturing
his trademark sound.
While Omenie’s M3000 included basic MIDI features, the
Jordantron sports a more advanced complement of performance options,
which are accessed via the iOS settings app rather than the synth
itself. Here you can customize the behavior of pitch-bend, velocity,
aftertouch, expression pedal, and other controllers. The app also
includes the ability to assign a fourth preset to an external MIDI
controller, allowing you to perform the main trio of blended sounds on
the iPad with an additional sound, called “Voice D,” assigned to a
second keyboard. You can even set up the pitch wheel range to duplicate
Jordan’s trademark octave dive-bombs.
In addition to the MIDI features, iOS amenities include
support for InterApp audio and the Audiobus 1 and 2 standards, making
Jordantron a team player for iPad diehards.
It’s not often that an artist of this caliber offers their
personal collection of handcrafted and instantly recognizable sounds to
the world—and certainly not for ten dollars—so Dream Theater fans
should leap on this opportunity. Even for those who are unfamiliar with
Rudess’ discography, Jordantron is a fantastic collection of rich
orchestral and progressive textures that fit beautifully into a wide
range of styles.
Sounds drawn from Jordan Rudess’ famed patch library.
Large keys and chord mode make performing directly from an iPad viable.
Lets you play a secondary patch from an external keyboard. MIDI options
reflect Rudess’ own performance approach. Audiobus integration.
No menu or pull-down for patch selection makes sifting through presets a bit tedious. Requires 1GB free space for installation.
The ultimate app for Jordan Rudess and Dream Theater fans.
$9.99 | wizdommusic.com