Remember when some pundits thought we were all going to dump our laptops and switch to tablets and iPads? So – not so much. But mobile platforms are having a big impact on music software – and KORG Gadget, now making the leap from iOS to Mac, may be most emblematic of that.

Who is KORG Gadget for? Well, sort of for everyone. Beginning users can find it a nice way to play around – and might well try this before desktop software. More advanced users are likely to find it an appealing set of tools, but would want to use it to extend other hardware and software – on the go, or integrated with those tools when they’re at home or in the studio ready to work.

If you haven’t tried it and you’ve got an iPad (or iPhone, even), Gadget is great – fun to play, lots of tools, and lots of great sounds. KORG also have nailed the smart approach of adding modules in a way that’s fun, so that adding additional instruments feels a bit like getting a new cartridge for your Game Boy or adding a stomp box to your pedalboard.

Gadget started on these Apple things.

Gadget started on these Apple things.

Now, adding Mac support fills in some gaps – especially because of how KORG has gone about it. This looks like a template for what software development in 2017 should be:

Social. Allihoopa is just emerging as a way of sharing music with other producers, but KORG are embracing it. (The sharing site began its life with Propellerhead before being spun off. So naturally Reason, Figure, and Take all have integration – and KORG Gadget, too.) That seems essential, given the signal-to-noise problems sharing music online.

Synced. Ableton Link support, also quickly becoming a must, means you can sync with Ableton Live, Reason, Maschine, and other apps on desktop, plus loads of apps on iOS – so, easy local sync on your computer between software tools, easy sync between computers, easy sync with mobile, whether you’re playing alone or jamming with other people.

Wireless. There’s Bluetooth MIDI support, too. For new users, this means the possibility of using hardware without thinking about wires and MIDI adapters.

It makes sense on your computer screen. Full-screen apps are a bit silly on the more generous screen real estate on your desktop, so KORG have opted for a four-app split-screen approach that makes loads of sense.

Complete plug-in support, when you want it. AU (for Logic and GarageBand), AAX (for Pro Tools), and VST (for everything else) are all supported. There’s even NKS support, which lets you integrate with Native Instruments hardware and software easily. (For instance, you’ll get physical controls on NI’s Maschine hardware and keyboards.) The upshot of this: all those clever independent instruments and effects from the iPad are now just as modular on the desktop, dropped into whatever your software of choice is.

On the go and back again. The whole point of this, of course, is the ability to complete workflows between desktop and mobile seamlessly. And that’s where a lot of conventional software from Native Instruments, Ableton, Propellerhead, and others are a little uneven (partly because they began their life on desktop). Here, you have essentially the same tools in both places.

Gadget on the Mac also brings some new devices – a 16-pad drum machine, and two new audio recording tools.

But there are two paths here – the beginner and the more advanced user. Beginners may find this a way to start to take steps from mobile to desktop tools (and hardware). Advanced users may come from the opposite direction – trying Gadget with or without an iPad, and integrating on-the-go or casual use with sitting down seriously at a computer and finishing a track.

This gets us out of a cul-de-sac in music making software that we’ve been stuck in for a few years. Desktop software has always tended to be more complex and larger, with fairly monolithic tools that try to appeal to everyone, but then tend to turn off newcomers. Mobile software may seem like a way out of that, except that the low price points users demand on the app stores make it hard to justify development costs. Innovation on both tends to be stymied by those same problems.

So, imagine instead that you combine the benefits of both.

KORG Gadget is then just one small step. And it’s also limited to Apple platforms – just as Windows gets a bunch of interesting hardware. But it could be a nice sign of things to come.

We’ll be watching closely to see how KORG prices Gadget on the Mac versus mobile, what the experience is like on desktop (since we’re judging only by iOS), and who embraces it.

But it’s very nice to see an option like this that looks friendly to beginners, without forcing advanced users to give up their way of working. We’ll be eager to test it.

Also, lest it seem like I’m waxing poetic about Gadget for no reason — I’m very much indebted to other people who have spent loads of time working out how to get the most out of it and making great music. Our friend Jakob Haq has done some nineteen videos so far for Gadget alone, and it’s chock full of tips and musical inspiration.

Have a look – as these videos might be relevant to you for the first time if you’re on the Mac but don’t have an iPad:

  • Chase Dobson

    Korg Gadget – Making intercontinental flights tolerable since 2014. I’m excited to see where this goes!

    • Alessandro Automageddon

      Hey, what a small world!

      • EvanBogunia

        It really is.

    • Justin C. Larwick

      Small small world. Haha!

  • Clif Marsiglio

    My only problem with Gadget on the iPad is that it is damn hard to get to play nice with other sequencers.

    And worse, I’m going to have to buy all this once again to connect it to logic.

    • Well, this is part of why people still use desktop operating systems 🙂 …

      Let’s watch that desktop price point. I would be happy to buy something twice in order to really integrate it with my workflow. But … I bet a lot of people will rebel, yeah. 😉

      • Clif Marsiglio

        If it were on the desktop in the first place, I would have bought it there exclusively.

        That said, my BIGGEST problem with it on the iPad is they used their own standards. They didn’t use AU, they rely on internal midi patching. It isn’t insurmountable, it just isn’t seemless. On the desktop, I’d certainly hope they didn’t create an app that required you to go into AUDIO/MIDI and create a virtual interface instead of allowing AU. I don’t think this is a desktop / mobile problem…I think of it more of a not doing it right process. Then again, I’ve known quite a few developers at Korg over the years (come to think about it, I was one briefly!) and they usually know what they are doing!

        • Fair criticisms, but… what you’re describing I’d say has more to do with Apple than Korg. 😉

          • Clif Marsiglio

            There are ways to make cross platform licensing between platforms. THOUGH it is easier to go that going to the iPad than away from it.

            Regardless, I’m not criticizing Korg for the sales model, I’m grumbling that I’ll have to do it.

          • Oh, I suspect you’re not alone…. but let’s wait to see how they do it.

            Otherwise, from a technical standpoint, the strategy here looks positive.

  • Dubby Labby

    “Remember when some pundits thought we were all going to dump our laptops and switch to tablets and iPads? So – not so much.”

    Well this is right for people who come from desktop/laptop to iOS but hw many people (some musicians) haven’t use a computer for music (or video) and have started with an iPhone? Maybe Korg is pointing these to jump into desktops or pointing those who still have desktop and give them more products… but what I can see from post-pc proposition is a lot of people non mac and non AV skilled messing and getting amazed everytime I show them what iOS (and the proper apps) can do just in their hands. As time goes is more probably developers go with iOS or standalone like Numark/Akai mpc (and also new reloop allinone).
    Apple did “Back to Mac” event but it still seems more and more iOS is the future (or iOSx almost)

    Desktop/laptop is in the low focus at this pendulum moment of their evolution. My bet is Apple going towards cloud computing (for gpus like new nvidia console) and for AV publishing with enough powered well optimized slate devices with ARM inside them (aka iPads or macbooks but with AXX core) but maybe I’m wrong as usual (and early adopter).

    Note aside I also see Blogs going down against Youtubers so maybe it’s a matter of zeitgeist and we only have seen the first wave.

    • Heh, CDM is older than YouTube, so … I hope I outlast the latter. 😉

      It’s going to be *very* interesting to see how they distribute and price this …. I would actually gamble that they *won’t* do Mac App Store distribution. For one thing, I’m not sure it’s possible to support all these plug-in formats that way (though I could be wrong). But it’s certainly possible.

      But with or without the App Store, it’s very hard to offer crossgrade pricing.

      Ironically, the Windows distribution picture I think is much simpler. So it’ll likewise be something to watch, mobile developers supporting Windows or even KORG going that route if this is a success.

      With loads of Mac users, though, this totally makes sense as a place to begin.

      • Dubby Labby

        I was thinking in your other post about keyboard magazine and I’m paying attention to activity on blogs vs youtuber phenomenon. Also AudioBus forum is very active against “older” workflows based ones (djing, standalones…) but very responsive to news related to hardware (maybe just hype… who knows?)

        The point was more focus towards the evolution of personal computing and what it means at last. I was reviewing some old keynotes (next, openstep and Jobs return with Bill Gates on Macworld) and what he said (Jobs) is so futuristic even for today but it was talking about mac OS (8) as big asset of Apple (making a difference) and today all these ideas of business fits better in iOS than macos (sierra). Take a look.

  • Nice, so many possibilities!

  • Kyle Sherrod

    Any hope for cross grade pricing for iOS owners that also want desktop functionality?

    • William Galadakis

      They’ll almost certainly be selling it through the Mac App Store, so no true crossgrade pricing… though this being Korg, they’ll probably do a limited-time 50% off promo that basically serves as a crossgrade.

      • That’s probably the most sensible way to do it… and there’s a precedent in desktop software lately for having steeply discounted intro pricing.

  • Tony Scharf

    I’ve been a big fan of it on my iPad, using it as a sort of sketch pad. I’m very eager to get the desktop version going as it will make it easy to take the software out of the iPad and then bring my whole studio into the composition. I think this is awesome news.

  • Spankous

    What if it cost`s 300-400 euros? This will be 10 times more than on ios. I will not find it that inviting. ANd i somehow strongly believe that this is going to be expensive. So at least for me having live suite there is no way i am spending this amount on gadget. But one person doesn`t define the market so i wish everyone who buys it lot of fun with it. Also if they are at it they might consider refreshing the GUI on the Legacy synths which look like 80`s arcade emulations and are smal as a touchscreen phone but have a normal price tag

    • I’d be really surprised and disappointed if it cost that much. I’d expect up to about double what the iOS version costs.

      • Spankous

        me too man. but to be honest in a world where every “fart” plugin costs 100 euros and Korg Legacy synths with out of date GUI cost 50 euros i think it would be a dream to believe that a modern DAW-GADGET-THINGY will cost 80. I wish. But don`t really believe it. Look at Arturia. I have the Minimoog on ipad and bought it for 10 euros on offer from what i remember. Mac version costs 150….. You get what i mean with the price ratio ios-“main computer” versions Let`s see. Tomorrow we`ll know 🙂

      • Spankous

        me too man. but to be honest in a world where every “fart” plugin costs 100 euros and Korg Legacy synths with out of date GUI cost 50 euros i think it would be a dream to believe that a modern DAW-GADGET-THINGY will cost 80. I wish. But don`t really believe it. Look at Arturia. I have the Minimoog on ipad and bought it for 10 euros on offer from what i remember. Mac version costs 150….. You get what i mean with the price ratio ios-“main computer” versions Let`s see. Tomorrow we`ll know 🙂

  • cpc464freak

    Recently managed to get that overpriced Apple monkey off my back. So I’ll be more interested if it gets expanded onto the PC platform.

    • michaelbarreto

      Good luck with ASIO, mate.

  • heinrich zwahlen

    Well so for this continuity it’s the mac after all because ios music apps rule over androids. I also noticed that some of my ios Arturia synth presets are opening AU mac os format.

  • Vaihe

    I read this and still have no idea why it would be big deal. Good for existing gadget users who want to continue on desktop. But for the rest: Why? If it’s free then i understand, but +9€ i don’t think many will pony up for it.

  • c0wfunk

    I dumped my laptop and have been 100% tablet + circuit + keyboards for a year now. Liberating and I look forward to more computer free advances. Cool to see feedback into the computer world from the tablet world, though.

  • Neil

    I always thought a plugin version of the Novation Circuit would be a great idea, for pretty much all the same reasons this is.

  • Adam

    On their site they say: “The Mac version also comes with “Gadget Plug-In Collection,” a
    magnificent collection of plug-ins that support AU, VST, AAX, and NKS” To me that sounds like Gadget itself won’t be a plugin but only parts of it. That would be disappointing – the whole point would have been to load whole projects from your ipad into Gadget VST (which comes with multiple Audio outs and Midi In/out) so that you could continue to work on your project inside your DAW. If the whole Gadget experience is only available as Standalone App then where is the Advantage over using it on the ipad and syncing via Ableton link?

  • Fayek Helmi

    Korg gadget is honestly the only app on ipad that can be used to easily write down from a simple loop to a full blown song and have fun doing it too….
    I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on apps and while most have excellent sound quality and controls… the way they go about it doesn’t feel intuituve.. most of them either try and recreate the UI of hardware machines (like mpc or electribe or most synth apps) while others try to recreate a desktop app.

    I feel like the korg gadget app figured out the right layout to provide all its functionality and stay intuitive and simple.

    This piece of news about korg hitting the mac was the best news for me… i really hope they don’t price the app in the 100$+ range because that would be sad. (especially considering that it will mostly be a port with some UI adjustments and some behind the scenes add ons like vsts)

    Really interested to learn more about the seamless work at home/work on the go workflow as this is the most interesting thing for me… i often feel too lazy to finetune automation curves or create a brand new patch for a gadget.. but on my mac i’ll be more inclined to do that… excited!

    • same here, completely agreed, they nailed it perfectly. It’s how you see the future sits in these tablets and their apps.

  • toneyrome

    Does this gain new features on Mac that would justify the $260 price difference?

  • I would not completely agree with that, and god knows how much I have been waiting for it. As much I love the iOS app, it has almost drew off ableton out of the picture for sketch, because it’s so intuitive and almost faster than any daw on a computer, and I only got an iPad Air 1st gen. But the price of the macOS app is way too expensive, it will be fine if they had make a way to control the synth still through the iPad as a remote controller, because without that, it not the same fun at all with mouse and clicks, and then the OS app is a bit useless. It’ll be interesting around 150$, or 200$ if the iPad was acting as a controller.