Now, your iPad can go from sweet-sounding pads to hordes of angry bees and back again, all by modeling physical behaviors of flocking. It’s called the Photophore, and it’s a “flock synthesis” instrument.

You may have seen synths that produce lush sounds by combining oscillators – the eight-oscillator Swarmatron springs to mind. Well, this synth puts the “swarm” in “Swarmatron.” With up to one hundred oscillators per patch, it uses physical modeling to transform sound by simulating flocking behaviors.


I’ve seen experiments that have done things like this with flocking algorithms and particle systems, but this must be the first serious attempt I’ve seen to make a dedicated iOS instrument. For a previous incarnation of the concept on desktop, check out AnarchySoundSoftware’s SwarmSynth – which is still available as a free Windows VST. (Just enter a serial. That app has particles flocking through an “envelope-constrained 5 dimensional parametric hyperspace.”)

And it’s not just a toy – inter-app audio and full MIDI support are built in, so this can fit nicely into your production workflow. (And, oh yeah, I’m keen to combine these sounds with our WretchUp app, which now boasts expanded Audiobus support.)

Full feature list:

Unique flock synthesis engine
Up to 100 oscillators per patch
Monophonic or polyphonic operation (up to 6 voices)
6 oscillator waveforms (saw, square, pulse and more)
Low pass/High pass filter with resonance
Dedicated amplitude and filter envelopes
Stereo echo effect

Use an iPad-compatible MIDI keyboard to play notes and perform pitch bends
AudioBus and Inter-App Audio support for streaming audio to other apps
Control Photophore from other apps via CoreMIDI
Tech Requirements

iOS 7 or later required



The app is the work of Nick Dika and UK-based Taika Systems.

US$4.99 intro price.