I reviewed Bram Bos’ new Phasemaker iOS synth app here on the Music App Blog just a couple of weeks ago. It’s a brilliant little synth inspired by the FM synth engines of the 1980s (such as the classic DX7) but with a few modern twists thrown in for good measure.
And, in iOS terms, the other modern twist is that the app support the AU plugin format, although it can also run as a stand-alone app… And while it is designed with the AU format in mind, like iSEM or Poison-202 (for example), this is a ‘proper’ synth engine. So, if you are keen to take your iOS music app collection down the AU route, Phasemaker is certainly worth a look. The app is launched at UK£7.99/US$9.99, requires iOS9.0 or later, is a 10MB download and, on launch, was iPad only.
However, this last technical detail has now changed. Bram released v.1.1 a couple of days ago and the headline new feature is that the app is now universal; it will run on a suitable iPhone and iPod Touch providing you have a capable AU host available. There are other welcome new feature in this version also. For example, import and export of user (not factory) patches has been made possible. In addition, the ‘mutate’ function, that allows you to randomise a patch in various ways, has been improved. The synth engine now also has a new ‘Strong Operator’ option which is apparently for ‘extra wild frequency modulation’; try it if you dare :-)
Yes, you are perhaps going to need to be an FM synthesis fan (and not everyone is) to want to take a punt on Phasemaker but Bram deserves both a pat on the back and some user support for taking the plunge with AU for Phasemaker. The execution is very well done and it demonstrates that, when starting a new synth design is iOS AU at the front of your planning, offering a fully-programmable synth engine is a viable proposition.
Phasemaker is another top-notch release from Bram Bos and I, for one, can’t wait to see what he might have in store for us next. FM might not be for everyone, but Phasemaker is well worth auditioning if you want the essence of the DX7 sound in a cheap-as-chips app.
Oh, and check out the video from regular iOS music maker Pants of Death which gives a nice introduction to FM synthesis via Phasemaker; top notch stuff :-)