As 2016 draws to a close, we’ve been reflecting on the year in hi-tech music-making gear, asking you to vote for the best new hardware and software products to have been released over the past 12 months.
Now it’s time to bring you the results of our polls. We drew up the shortlists, but the rankings and overall winners in each category have been decided exclusively by your votes.
Over the next 10 slides we’ll be revealing what you’ve decided are the 10 best new iOS music-making apps 2016, counting down to your number one. We’ll start with the friendly FM synth that is IceGear’s Mersenne...
We said: “Mersenne is a polyphonic melodic percussion synth. It may not look like your average FM synth, but boy is it fun and easy to use. All your classic metallic FM tones are here, but with bags of character. IceGear has really struck gold with Mersenne in our book.”
We said: “The premise of Skram is that it hides its complexity behind a simple control set. Sitting at the heart of it is a range of Devices (which make sounds) and Widgets (which trigger these sounds), and there are global features, too."
We said: “The beauty of VoxSyn is its flexibility. The app follows even the most subtle pitch and timbral changes in your voice to create, as VirSyn puts it, ‘signature vocal sounds far beyond traditional vocoding.’
“Synthesis is taken care of with the onboard TERA engine; however, the sounds are only available as presets, so VirSyn has included a random sound generator to expand the sonic pallette.”
Electro Harmonix Mini-Synthesizer
We said: “Electro-Harmonix has relaunched its 1980s cult classic, the Mini-Synthesizer, for iPhone and iPad. The app comes with 22 presets and the ability to store user preset programs.
The Mini-Synthesizer also includes a virtual MIDI input, aftertouch (iPhone 6s and 6s Plus), an enhanced effects section and Audiobus and Inter-App audio support.”
They say: “With Audulus, you can build synthesizers, design new sounds, or process audio. All with low latency real-time processing suitable for live performance. Audulus's user interface is clean, simple, and easy to learn, allowing you to focus on sound - now made easier than ever with nearly 100 built-in Eurorack-style modules.”
Yamaha FM Essential
They say: “Featuring an FM tone generator, FM Essential is a synthesizer app for the iPhone and iPad that provides for real-time synth performances and also lets you edit voices.”
We said: “Wave is a track-starting instrument from Novation's app's development arm, Blocs. The app is divided into browsing, editing and recording. At its heart Wave, is a sampler with a powerful timestretching engine and waveform editing.
“Wave is very well thought out and, with Ableton Link compatibility, even more useful than it might at first appear.”
We said: “For us, Arturia's Spark drum machine really got into its stride when the LE hardware was teamed with the second edition of the software - it all seemed to click rather nicely. So, we weren’t surprised to learn that Arturia had chosen this latest iteration as the basis for a new iOS app called iSpark.
“The app comes with a hugely impressive catalogue of sounds and Arturia has done a great job for porting most of the key features. In fact, we'd say that we have just found a new favourite iOS beat-maker.”
We said: “This app version of the Odyssey was developed using Korg's CMT circuit modelling technology and features various enhancements in comparison to the hardware version. These include polyphony and an effects section.
“Odyssei enables you to switch between all three versions of the Arp Odyssey (Rev1, Rev2 and Rev3) and also features the Drive function that Korg added to its hardware. There's a voice assign mode that enables you to play chords, an arpeggiator that can be programmed like a step sequencer, and an XY pad with Touch Scale function.”
Winner: Moog Model 15
We said: Moog's software engineers have pulled out all the stops to recreate both the sound and appearance of the real Model 15 modular, drawing upon Apple's Metal graphics acceleration technology to ensure the interface's authenticity.
“We weren't able to compare it to a real Model 15, but it held its own against a restored Minimoog Model D, giving that familiar full-bodied Moog tone. There are other iOS modular synths, some far more complex and flexible, but the Model 15 is one of the few that just might satisfy the retro-fetishist.”