One Moog modular runs everywhere (nearly) on the current Apple ecosystem, so your patches go gracefully from Big Sur Mac (M1 or Intel) to iPad to iPhone.

Modular synths are fantastic. But they do cost some money, and you can’t take them into bed with you (not without significant damage to the wallet and mattress, respectively).

So the Moog Model 15 is already a beautiful thing. It’s deep enough for expert modular aficionados, it sounds great, but it’s also – as Moog rightfully claims – a powerful teaching and learning tool if you’re new to modular synthesis. The similarity of an iPad to a book is perfect for that personal experience of the synth, too. (Even on the iPhone and iPod touch, it’s usable, too.)

That beautiful display is the ultra-pricey Apple one, but even an inexpensive monitor with vertical mode will work really well.

Putting it together

If you do have more than one Apple-thing, this opens up some new possibilities as Big Sur becomes more practical. Let me just come up with – let’s call it a pandemic workflow here.

You’re exhausted (by Zoom calls, by front line work, by stress). You’ve watched everything online. You’ve even read all of CDM. (I’m sorry.) So you curl up with your iPad in bed, and say it’s time to actually learn the Model 15. And you come up with a great patch. You even fiddle with a bit on your iPhone (or iPod touch) on the toilet chair.

Wait, this sounds good. Now, if you have a Mac running Big Sur, you can take that same Model 15 instrument and load it on your Mac, then drop it as an AU in Logic Pro, GarageBand, and MainStage. (Logic’s new features actually make sampling the Model 15 really powerful.)

Hosting. It’s just those Apple apps, but that’s a lot already, and we’ll see if other hosts and support in the future. You can also try something like the simple Hosting AU “micro DAW” from JU-X – which you could use with a tool like Ableton Live. Just add the excellent Blackhole or similar to route audio between tools.

Note that this is also native on Apple Silicon Macs. That even means that someday when gigs are back, you could, for instance, tote an M1 Mac mini running the Model 15 in MainStage alongside other devices for a powerful instrument rack on the go.

Just one specific warning: if you have an older Mac, make sure you check compatibility of device drivers, plug-ins, and the like before upgrading. A smart move is to install Big Sur alongside your old OS and keep both. I’ve recommended this before; see updated instructions at Pro Tools Expert. Likewise, while Apple Silicon Macs do have unprecedented high-performance compatibility with Intel-native software, you should not dump your Intel machine just yet if you have mission-critical, performance-critical software that isn’t yet native. Also, don’t run with scissors and wait to go swimming after eating and something something about Gremlins.

Full news on the Moog blog:

Model 15 App Is Now Available for macOS Big Sur

And the app:

Model 15 App

What you need. Macs have to have Big Sur for now to get the seamless AUv3 support between iOS and macOS.

iOS support from Moog is exceptional, though – all the 64-bit iOS things work, so iPhone 5s or newer, iPod touch 6 or newer, iPad Air or newer, and the iPad Pro (any of them), plus iOS 12 or later. That’s rare these days. (The previous version of Model 15 even supports iOS 9.)

Now that we have a final M1 version, I’ll put this through its paces on the Mac mini, as it seems to me an ideal test case. But you can bet more apps like this are coming – and Moog’s app development and fierce advocate Geert Bevin have done a great job evangelizing these kinds of apps for the whole platform.

PS, if you want even more modular action between iPad and desktop, there’s miRack, which has done the same trick since May. (Via Synthtopia) The two together should be a great combination – though I still prefer the full VCV Rack and all its newest modules in the desktop-native version. (miRack is based on an earlier, if still pretty capable build of Rack.) Then again, I’ll probably wind up with all of them.

This video is now years old, but still relevant – and it’s nice to see my former Keyboard Magazine colleague Mitch Gallagher: