Remember, oh, about a year ago when most new synths were coming out for desktop/laptop computers? Now it seems like you could start an entirely new KVR Audio-style site just to keep tabs on mobile synths on handhelds – okay, on the iPhone.

Nonetheless, megaSynth looks pretty delicious. On the synth side:

  • 3 oscillators, 7 waveforms
  • Triad arpeggiator and “Chordmatic” chordmaker with 23 scales
  • 24-bucket step sequencer
  • LFOs: filter, pitch, volume, plus an audible LFO
  • Reverb and modulation effects
  • 209 factory presets, or save your own

Also, it’s nice to see the megaSynth developers thinking about the unique features of a mobile device:

  • Two keyboards (or “manuals,” if you like!), which makes better use of the aspect ratio of the iPhone screen
  • 5-voice polyphony – exactly the number of fingertips the iPhone/iPod can track
  • Recording – including mic input from the 2G iPod and iPhone
  • Accelerometer control for pitch, cutoff, and resonance

From the makers of miniSynth, which, accordingly, costs just $1.99.

Of course, at the risk of raining on everyone’s parade, I do have to point out the elephant in the room with all of these apps: they don’t allow tangible input (at least until we get MIDI input working on the iPhone), and for years, we’ve been spoiled by the convenience of having a plug-in architecture on desktop computers. It’s not as though you’re going to have half a dozen iPhones sitting around your studio. The cost of a netbook is plunging low to the point of an iPod touch – far less than an iPhone, if you consider the contract. Don’t get me wrong: mobile synths can be fantastic fun, and great for sketching out ideas on the road, and they’re just a few dollars. I’m just saying, it’d be pretty silly if we nonetheless forgot about the cheap and free synths for computers.

Happily, we don’t have to choose, so let the synthy goodness – mobile/handheld and desktop/laptop/netbook – continue.

iTunes App Store Link [US$4.99]

Note the requirement spec update, iPod touch or iPhone with OS 2.1 or later

Now I just need to grab all these synths at have a deathmatch. Stay tuned.

  • What Android developers do we need to light fires under to get some stuff in Google-land? There's the Electrum drum machine but not a whole lot else…

  • The problem is what's in the SDK. Actually, the Android out of the gate does some stuff a whole lot better than the iPhone – the intents system means that you can get a lot more interactive with, say, editing a contact or exchanging data between apps (not just copy and paste). The problem is, none of this stuff is the sound-related goodness we like. 😉

    I'm looking at the 1.5 "Cupcake" SDK now, and it looks a whole lot better. The JET interactive music engine is baked into 1.5, which gives you some nice MIDI stuff and basic sampled soft synths. I'm not entirely sure the buffer callback stuff is what we were waiting for, but I'm looking into that. You're still writing in Java, which isn't always ideal for life synthesis, and I have a lot more questions about timing and audio. But my suspicion is you'll be able to do *something* interesting. And in fact, if it's a little different than what you can accomplish on iPhone, maybe that'll force us into exploring some different areas in mobile apps.

  • <cite>Now it seems like you could start an entirely new KVR Audio-style site just to keep tabs on mobile synths on handhelds – okay, on the iPhone.</cite>

    Actually, this site does a pretty good job:

  • From

    1.0.1 was submitted to Apple earlier today; it’s designed to address issues caused by saturation, i.e. the so-called “glitch,” among other things.

  • niko


    I'm the dev of Electrum drum and yes the cupcake release will support audio from memory, which is what we need for synths. I've updated my machine to work with it but the official SDK is not out yet so I can't release it yet. It does work much better now with live audio and you can change parameters now while it's playing.

    I planned on looking into adding a synth to the drum as well, but another issue is that Android is written in Java, so I don't know if it will have the speed required to create and mix so many waveforms and keep up.


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