Review: SynthMaster One iOS gives your iPad Desktop Synth Power

The folks at KV331 did it again. This time out, they successfully ported their desktop synth plugin – SynthMaster One – to the iOS platform. Any sonic differences between the two are barely noticeable, if at all. iPad synth aficionados need to add SynthMaster One iOS to their shortlist.

SynthMaster One iOS Features

  • Semi-Modular Architecture with 2 OSC, 2 Subs, 2 Filters, 4 Envelopes and More
  • Wavetable Synthesis with Large Wavetable Library and User Import
  • 16-Step Sequencer/Arpeggiator supports those Weirdo Time Signatures
  • Synth Presets are Compatible with Desktop Version
  • 11 Different Effect Types
  • 500 Factory Presets by Leading Sound Designers
  • Support for Microtuning
  • Robust Modulation Matrix
  • Support for AUv3, IAA, Audiobus
  • Share Presets using AirDrop, Mail, etc.
  • Available for $19.99 at the iTunes App Store

On release, SynthMaster One establishes itself as one of the top synths on the iOS platform. The desktop version is an award-winner, thus it is reasonable to expect a similar reception from iPad musicians. Read on to find out more about this top notch synth app.

SynthMaster One iOS is Essentially Identical to the Desktop Version

The fact SynthMaster One iOS sports an identical feature set as its desktop older brother reveals the quality of this app. Any differences are only minor. The mobile version supports 16 voices compared to 32 on the desktop. There are also 300 fewer presets on the iOS app. That’s it!

SynthMaster One iOS-1

SynthMaster One sports an intuitive interface. Screenshot by author.

I had difficulty finding any audio differences between the two apps in my studio. We give much kudos to the team at KV331 for a great job porting SynthMaster One to the resource-constrained environment of the iPad. Other synth (and effect) plugin developers need to look at the iOS platform to port their wares. As always, revenue is the prime driver when making that decision.

An Intuitive iOS Synth App Interface

Just like the desktop version, SynthMaster One iOS features an easy to use interface. Anyone familiar with subtractive synthesis simply needs to dive right in. In a similar manner as SynthMaster One Desktop, the iPad app fits everything onto one screen.

SynthMaster One iOS-2

SynthMaster One iOS with the modulation matrix and sequencer displayed. Screenshot by author.

Patch management and other utility functions lurk at the top of the screen. The meat of the synth architecture is housed below in an array of tabbed windows. Everything is clearly laid out and easy to follow. Oscillators, filters, envelopes, LFOs, routing, effects, sequencer, a modulation matrix, and the expandable virtual keyboard are all easily managed.

When tweaking many of the synthesizer controls, a graphical indication of the setting – in real time – magically appears in the center of interface. It returns to normal when complete. This provides another example of the usability of SynthMaster One.

Sliders, buttons, and switches are clearly displayed. If you are new to synthesis, the manual helps to explain some of the more esoteric concepts. Additionally, check out the iOS tutorial videos for additional insights into SynthMaster One’s functionality.

A Top Notch Synth Engine

If you read our review of the desktop version of SynthMaster One, you understand the care KV331 took in giving the app many of the same characteristics of a hardware synthesizer. For example, support for free oscillators and drift simulate some of the unique behavior of a vintage piece of gear. Each oscillator also gets its own suboscillator, making it easy to create those synth patches of doom.

Support for both wavetables and waveshaping algorithms is another welcome feature of SynthMaster One iOS. Waldorf Nave is one other iOS synth featuring wavetable architecture. This functionality, including the ability to import your own wavetables, also greatly adds to the sonic scope of the instrument.

The arpeggiator/sequencer is easy to use and supports odd time signatures. 11 different effect types add to the fun. Each synth patch has five effect slots. They are perfect for finishing off the perfect sounding preset.

Browse the 500 factory presets to get a feel for the possibilities with SynthMaster One. The patch browser uses an attribute-based identification system, making it easy to find something suitable for exploration. Some of the top sound designers in the business built patches for the instrument. Remember, your desktop patches are compatible with the iOS version!

Thankfully, SynthMaster One iOS supports the AUv3 plugin format. The app also handles Audiobus and Inter-App Audio, making it easy to use the synth in your current and future mobile music projects.

Since hitting the App Store, SynthMaster One iOS quickly rose to the top of the list of iOS synth apps. Its compatibility with the desktop version makes it easy to swap patches between the two platforms. If you are in the market for a top shelf iPad synth app, put it on your shortlist. KV331’s first mobile synth app is that good!