By Francis Preve
IN THE EARLY 2000s, VIRSYN DEVELOPED SOME OF THE COOLEST VST SYNTHS for Steinberg. Even now, they’re among the companies leading the pack on the VST3 standard, so when they started making iPad apps, I was intrigued.
What makes Addictive Synth so interesting to power programmers is its approach to sound design. The core engine is based on two additive oscillators that let you sculpt their harmonics by sweeping your finger across the iPad. If you have any experience with additive synthesis, perhaps by way of Ableton Operator or Camel Audio Alchemy, you’ll be at home here.
Each oscillator has its own filter, the curve of which can be drawn with your finger. You could draw simple lowpass or highpass curves, but things get more interesting when you draw more peaks and valleys. In some ways this is like a complex EQ, but thanks to the cutoff knob, it still feels more like a synth.
The modulation options are extensive, with four LFOs, three envelopes, and tons of scaling options like X/Y tilt and touchpad control that’s like a cross between a Korg Kaoss and a joystick. You can apply these to cutoff , oscillator morph, pitch, and volume. More destinations would be nice, but those four are more than adequate for serious sound design.
Finally, an “arpeggiator” is really more of a programmable step sequencer that interacts with the notes you’re playing. It includes controls for octave, ties, accents, key, and notes, making it more powerful than the usual up-down fare.
The app works beautifully with available iOS MIDI interfaces. I tried it with both IK iRig MIDI and the Line 6 MIDI Mobilizer without a hitch. Addictive Synth can also record audio of your performances for a configurable number of bars and import the results into your computer when you sync your iPad. From there it’s easy to get it into your DAW.
With these kinds of features for ten bucks, Addictive Synth is a no-brainer addition to any iPadequipped studio or gig rig. Two thumbs way up.
PROS Each oscillator has its own harmonic spectrum. Touch-designable filter curves. Extensive modulation control. CoreMIDI capable. Can capture your performances as audio files.
CONS More modulation destinations would be cool.
Deep additive synthesis tools with an easy-to-understand interface.
$9.99 at Apple App Store