I’ve been a fan of Tempo Rubato’s NLog iPad synth for
several years now, so I was expecting big things from Waldorf’s
collaboration with Rolf Wöhrmann (the designer of NLog), especially
considering that they also enlisted the brainpower of Axel Hartmann,
designer of the near-mythical Neuron digital hardware synth from 2003.
With a pedigree like that, I anticipated that Waldorf’s new iOS
wavetable synth Nave would knock my socks off, and that’s exactly what
PROS: Best-of-breed wavetable synthesis. Ability to create new
wavetables via WAV import and speech synthesis. Extremely flexible
envelopes. Integrated effects. Four-track audio recording.
CONS: Preset management could be a bit smoother. Requires iOS 6 or newer.
Bottom Line: The current benchmark for wavetable synthesis in iOS.
$19.99 | waldorf-music.info
The core of Nave is a pair of wavetable oscillators with
one of the best visual interfaces I’ve ever seen. Imagine a fully
rotating, Fourier-style, 3-D view of the wavetable that clearly displays
each slice as you scan through the waves, then multiply that by two,
and you’ve got the general idea. Each wavetable can be further modified
with aptly named parameters like “noisy” and “brilliance.” What’s more,
every wavetable includes built-in forward and backward scanning via an
integrated LFO. In addition, you can apply one of Nave’s many modulation
tools for more customized animation.
If the 80 or so factory wavetables aren’t enough for your
sonic endeavors, you can import your own WAV files and have Nave scan
them. There’s also a remarkable speech synthesizer that will take any typed
phrase and convert it into a Nave wavetable (Navetable?) that recites
the phrase as you scan the wavetable. The result sounds like a cross
between turntable scratching and Daft Punk robot voices, and gives Nave
an unheard of level of flexibility in this area.
In addition to the dual wavetable oscillators, Nave
includes an “Uberwave” feature that blends in a supersaw-inspired
oscillator with selectable waveform and up to eight detuned instances,
which is perfect for festival-ready EDM leads.
Nave’s filtering tools are beautifully designed as well,
with lowpass, highpass, and bandpass options combined with two- and
four-pole slope options. The filters are solid and sound more digital
than analog, but in context that pairs well with the oscillators’
character. There’s also a drive module with five distortion options that
can be placed either pre- or post-filter, which is a nice touch.
Nave’s modulation section includes the same attention to
detail, with three envelopes, two LFOs, and an array of MIDI and iOS
performance tools. The filter and amp envelopes are especially nice,
with selectable curves for each segment, making sharp transients a
breeze to whip up.
Rounding out the sound design tools are five simultaneous
effects including EQ, compression, reverb, delay, and a modulation
effect for chorus, flange, and phase. There’s also a capable arpeggiator
included for trance fans.
As if all of that weren’t enough, Nave includes a
four-track recorder for composing on the go. While these tools aren’t
quite enough to create a fully produced track, it’s a great way to
experiment with Nave’s features, and then transfer the best results back
to your computer for further development in your DAW.
It’s astonishing how rapidly the iOS app scene has
evolved, with ever more complex synthesis tools, thanks to the
processing power of Apple’s most recent iPad models. With Nave, Waldorf
has cross-bred their legendary Wave with elements of Axel Hartmann’s
Neuron to deliver a digital synth that goes far beyond most iPad synth
apps and is an absolute joy to program.