iSEM updated – Arturia’s Oberheim SEM virtual synth becomes first iOS AU virtual instrument

Download from iTunes App Storeisem logoArturia tend to keep the updates to a minimum once they have something that is working well. As such, having given the excellent iSEM synth app a spruce up to provide iOS9 support a few weeks ago, it was quite a surprise to see a further update appear on the App Store late yesterday.

However, perhaps the biggest surprise was that the headline addition to iSEM is support for  the new Audio Units (AU) format available under iOS9. And while we already have one AU DAW/sequencer host – MultitrackStudio for iPad – and three AU format audio effects in Remaster, Zero Reverb and Zero Chorus, unless I’ve missed something, Arturia’s iSEM has just claimed the ‘first off the blocks’ award in the AU virtual instrument category.

iSEM is now the first iOS synth to get AU support...

iSEM is now the first iOS synth to get AU support…

As I commented when MultitrackStudio added AU hosting, I really hope this initial sprinkling of apps turns into a full-on flow; If, between them, Apple and our favourite iOS music app developers can get it right (and maybe that’s a big ‘if’), then AU could be a very significant step forward for those interested in recording under iOS. AU under iOS could give us the more streamlines and coherent workflow that is currently possible under Windows/OSX through using VST/AU format effects and instrument plugin within our DAW/sequencer of choice.

iSEM looks great as an AUi within MultitrackStudio.

iSEM looks great as an AUi within MultitrackStudio.

Anyway, iSEM takes the prize as the first AUi to appear…. and having given it a quick try out within MultitrackStudio this morning I think Arturia have done a pretty good job in translating the UI of the app from the standalone version into the smaller space offered by the AU panel in MultitrackStudio. You still get all the key controls and access to the preset browser…  and I had no problems using an external MIDI keyboard to play and record MIDI parts through the synth….

Oh, and thanks to reader Riccardo (see comments below), I should also note that I was able to run multiple instances of iSEM in the same MultitrackStudio project…  It’s an impressive sight and great to see this next stage of AU’s development under iOS take place…

You get full access to the iSEM browser in the AU plugin.

You get full access to the iSEM browser in the AU plugin.

When it comes to iOS synths, there really are some excellent choices available. iSEM is a seriously good synth app and sounds absolutely fabulous. You can read the full review of the app if you want to find out more but, if you are an iOS synth collector then this is definitely one to add and, if you are a newbie iOS musician building your synth app collection, this is yet another contender to add to the best of the rest on the App Store.

Like iProphet and iMini (both of which I hope have similar updates in the pipeline), iSEM is priced at UK£7.99 and is an absolute snip given the quality of the sound. Highly recommended….  and well done to Arturia for taking the plunge with the new plugin format….  top notch stuff.


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    1. If some more of my favourite iOS synths get AU/iOS support (iMini would be welcome, for one), and the forthcoming Auria Pro ends up being able to act as an AU/iOS host… I think it would get me off the fence re whether to splash out on the AP upgrade.

      This certainly looks like one of the most exciting developments in iOS music-making, since Audiobus and IAA were introduced. I’m just concerned that some of my favourite instrument apps may never get AU support – would some kind of IAA-AU “gateway” mechanism be possible?

    2. Surely it is just the beginning. We will see all of the ‘big) iOS developers to jump on the AU bandwagon…

    3. The all important decision from my point of view has to come from Steinberg. Or maybe they have already decided against the AU format which would not be too surprising either. Does anybody know if they have already made a statement?

      • Hi Patrick… I’ve not heard anything officially or otherwise from Steinberg about possible AU support in Cubasis but I agree that it could be both a key decision (given how popular Cubasis is under iOS) and also a difficult one for Steinberg to make as the founders of the VST format and with desktop Cubase not have any support for AU at present (other than via some non-Steinberg AU/VST ‘wrappers’). I’ve really no idea which was any decision might go… but I know what I’d *like* them to do…. and if AU does take off under iOS, eventually, this might make it difficult to resist… Tricky call…. Best wishes, John

    4. Did you run more than one instance of iSEM in the same project? You did that with your recent AU effect review but I don’t see a mention of it here.

      • Hi Riccardo…. thanks for prompting me! Yes, you can run more than one instance of iSEM at the same time. Obviously a big step forward…. Very best wishes, John

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