Fig. 1 First came the exotic Korg Wavedrum, converting acoustic vibrations into complex resynthesized sounds with an almost organic expressivity. Now, the Mogees Pro ($129.99 street; mogees.co.uk; US distributor mvproaudio.com) lets you play up to five acoustically resynthesized sounds at once, all from a controller the size of a Swedish meatball (see Figure 1). And unlike the Wavedrum, it also speaks MIDI.
The Mogees system (pronounced mo-jeez) has two parts—a hefty, metal vibration sensor and synthesizer software for iOS and Mac. (A Windows VST is in beta.) After you attach the gooey bottom of the sensor to a resonant object, such as a metal bowl, and plug the cable into an iOS device or Mac mic jack, you can train the software to recognize and map up to five gestures, such as slaps and scrapes, to five different patches in the app’s four synth engines (see Figure 2). It includes two simple drum synths, a physical modeling percussion synth, and a string resonator. The majority of expressiveness comes from the input signal; the synth parameters are quite basic and there are only five scene memories.
Fig. 2 A second iOS app called Mogees Keys uses incoming sound to control an arpeggiated instrument—a rudimentary FM percussion synth. The overall sound reminds me of 4-operator FM. I hope the depth of Mogees’s synths someday matches the brilliance of its gesture-detection software. A future update will enable incoming MIDI notes to change the pitch.
You are probably thinking, Why not go with a cheap contact mic and the great-sounding Impaktor app (beepstreet.com; $4.99), instead? I tried that and found that the Mogees hardware performed significantly better, had more convenient I/O, and worked with Impaktor, too. Furthermore, the Mogee software’s multitimbral design and growing MIDI prowess deliver unique sounds and control. Based on the updates I’ve seen so far and the outstanding creativity in Mogees’s videos, I’m expecting a bright future for the system.