Retronyms Tabletop review

  • £10.49
TODO alt text

Our Verdict

Shows potential, but needs to try harder.


  • Brings modular environment to iPad.


  • Disappointing feature set.

Ever since the iPad was launched, many electronic musicians have been dreaming of a modular, Reason-style app for it.

So when Retronyms announced Tabletop - billed as a modular audio environment - excitement levels were high (particularly since this was the company that handled the iOS conversion of ReBirth so effectively).

"The sound library has a minimal, slightly experimental feel, but this fits with Tabletop's 'techy' design and image."

Open Tabletop and comparisons with Reason initially seem justified; it ships with a range of devices - including a pad sampler, a Tenori-on style 'tone matrix', a keyboard, a mixer, a sequencer and more - and these can be hooked together on a desktop with virtual patch cables.

The sound library has a minimal, slightly experimental feel (don't expect real instrument patches), but this fits with Tabletop's 'techy' design and image.

However, elements of the feature set disappoint: the keyboard has just a two-octave range, and as yet there's no support for external MIDI. You can't edit notes in your recordings, either, though quantise is an option.

On a more positive note, it's nice to see support for Korg's WIST, which enables two iOS devices running compatible apps to be synced.

One controversial aspect of Tabletop is its in-app purchasing model; nine of the 15 devices available are included, but you'll have to pay extra to get the more fully-featured mixer and most of the effects (only a low-pass filter is bundled). You might feel that you need to spend more money immediately, then.

A greater range of devices wouldn't go amiss, either, though Retronyms says that more will be forthcoming, and third-parties have been invited to contribute to the platform, too.

Right now, however, Tabletop feels like less than the sum of its parts, and very much a work in progress, albeit a promising one.

Get 69 FREE plugins plus this new MIDI scales app…
…all with the latest issue of Computer Music magazine

Tech Specs

Country of OriginUSA
DescriptionModular audio environment for iPad