Using an iPhone as a type of theremin has been around for quite a while now. In fact some of the earliest iOS apps were exactly that. But even though it’s something that’s already been done before it doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for something new. Along comes iAbyssal, which describes itself as a virtual analog photo-synthesizer / noise machine.
The app is based on the Abyssal analog photo-synth released by AtomoSynth in 2008. The iAbyssal iOS app is a virtual analog synthesizer that can be controlled by light using the device’s frontal camera. According to the developer this design allows using the app for expressive live performances whilst also having fun by creating crazy sound effects, incredible sound textures and big soundscapes. We shall see if that turns out to be true.
The app uses your device’s front camera as a light sensor and translates that to altering pitch, filter frequency and resonance.
It describes the front camera as a “Photocell” and allows it to be calibrated so you can adjust its sensitivity to different environmental light conditions. Apparently the app can be used in low-light environments due to an inverse calibration feature that’s built in.
In terms of the actual synth in the app it has one oscillator with square and sawtooth waveforms, together with a white noise generator. There are two low frequency oscillators (LFOs) which are available to modulate various parameters of the oscillator, noise generator and filter. The filter has a low pass and high pass mode and resonance (peak) control. In terms of effects there’s an adjustable delay effect.
The app comes with a set of built in presets including many factory setting that can be used as a starting point to develop your own sounds.
iAbyssal also has Inter-App-Audio and Audiobus support (as generator unit) so you can integrate it into your existing workflows.
iAbyssal costs $4.99 on the app store: