Way Out Ware SynthX

IF YOU’RE AMASSING AN ARSENAL OF IPAD SYNTHS FOR LIVE AND STUDIO use, you’re probably looking for a collection with range.

IF YOU’RE AMASSING AN ARSENAL OF IPAD SYNTHS FOR LIVE AND STUDIO use, you’re probably looking for a collection with range. This year, we’ve covered mainstream hits like Animoog, Addictive Synth, MorphWiz, and Korg iElectribe, but there are quite a few distinctive apps that are further off the well-worn path.

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Case in point: Way Out Ware SynthX, which uses the keyboard-plus-X/Y approach to realtime performance that has become so popular with iOS instruments. What makes SynthX stand out from the pack is its incredibly retro sound. When I say retro, I don’t mean analog-fueled ’80s new wave or ’90s digitalism, I mean ’70s-era greasy cheese. Part of this comes from the preset design, but the majority of the sound comes from Way Out Ware’s approach to modeling synths. After all, this is the company that nailed the ARP 2600 sound so well that Alan R. Pearlman himself gave his seal of approval.

Once you get past the user interface, which evokes a 1978 video game, the architecture comes into focus. A single oscillator feeds a resonant lowpass filter into an “amp.” The oscillator waveforms are mixable, much like on a Roland SH-101, and there’s also an LFO and an ADSR envelope that can each be routed to control pitch, filter cutoff, and volume in varying amounts simultaneously.

From there, an onboard effects section can be applied to either the synth output or—in a rather clever twist—the audio input of the iPad itself. The effects include distortion, flanger, chorus, and delay. Each of the effects includes its own little X/Y pad for adjusting the parameters Kaoss-style, which makes tweaking pretty darn intuitive.

The keyboard can be tuned to any key and a wide variety of scales including major, minor, blues, lydian, pentatonic major and minor, and a few others.

Most iPad synths include a system for recording your performances as audio so you can transfer them to your desktop or DAW, and SynthX is no exception. You can even record a new passage with the synth as one of your recordings plays for old-school bounce-o-mania.

All in all, SynthX is astonishingly good at a very specific type of ’70s lead. Because of its straightforward implementation, its easy to get up and running with the synth and effects parameters. If you’re down with the disco and prog rock era, SynthX is ten bucks well spent.

Snap Judgment

PROS Straightforward set of synth parameters. Super retro sound. Cool visual display of waveform for each note you play. Built-in delay effects. Audio recording.

CONS No MIDI implementation. Whether you love or hate the distinctly ’70s vibe is a matter of taste.

BOTTOM LINE A handy vintagesounding addition to your iPad.

$9.99 | wayoutware.com