A few months ago, I reviewed SynthMaster Player from KV331 Audio. The SynthMaster line exists on the desktop in a plugin format and includes both the ‘Player’ version (around the US$30 mark) that has now been ported to iOS and the ‘full’ version that is both more expensive (starting at about US$129) but also fully programmable.
The iOS ‘Player’ version is a free download as includes 100 preset sounds and you get 100 more when you register the app (done via the Menu button). However, there is a ‘PRO Upgrade’ (usually UK£7.99 but currently included in an IAP sale that KV331 have going on so available for just UK£3.99) that expands the available presets to a fairly impressive 800 and, if you do tweak a preset or three, the option to save that tweaked version. There are also further IAP sound sets and, if you happen to use the desktop version, then any preset banks you have purchased for that can also be made available in the iOS version.
I was really impressed with the original release. It was my first encounter with SynthMaster even though it has been around on the desktop for a while. It has now become a firm favourite, however, and is one of my ‘go to’ synth sound sources under both iOS and OSX.
Anyway, a further update to the app hit the App Store just before the week-end taking the app to v.1.1.0. This is actually quite a significant update as it brings (a) universal support and (b) a complete re-fresh of the interface. In addition, aftertouch support for those using 3D Touch capable iOs hardware has been added.
Further new features include both Fretboard and Drum Pad options plus the option for a second piano keyboard display. Note bending is now easier via a ‘bend bar’ feature added just above the virtual keyboard.
However, the release does – initially at least – come with a bit of a health warning though. Some users have reported issues under iOS8 (so, if you are still on iOS8, the advice it to not update SynthMaster just yet) and there have also been some reports of bugs under iOS9 (for example, the app crashing when the Menu button is pressed; I’ve experienced this one myself). While this kind of issue is never something either user or developer wants to see, existing and new users should be reassured that KV331 Audio are ion the case and I’d expect a further update to appear shortly that addresses these issues…. fingers crossed because this is a brilliant app with some excellent sounds.
NOTE: A further update has appeared today (one day after my post) that addresses some of these issues and, I think, also issues with non-64-bit iOS hardware. While bugs are never welcome a rapid response when they are found is….
In terms of the new features, I really do like the new graphical look. It doesn’t change the functionality much (so existing users won’t feel lost) but it does make the app feel like it belongs in this century rather than paying homage to the previous one :-)
Equally, the new Fretboard and Pad options are very good. The Fretboard view is not a million miles away from an app like Synthecaster and, if you are a guitar player rather than a keyboard player, it does provide a performance interface that you might be more comfortable with than a virtual piano keyboard.
The app is iPad-only and a 225MB download. It requires iOS7.0 and, while it will run on an iPad 3, an iPad Air and above is recommended. It’s not often you get something for nothing that is actually worth having but, in that respect, SynthMaster Player is yet another App Store exception to the rule. In short, as the app is free to at least get a flavour of what’s on offer, just download it and give it a try.
That said, if you have a synth-loving bone in your body, I suspect the Factory Preset/PRO Upgrade IAP at current UK£3.99 may well prove just a little too tempting. No, SynthMaster Player is not the prefect preset playing synth but, in terms of sound and usability, this is very good stuff indeed…. and the shiny new interface is a very welcome change. here’s hoping the initial issues with the v.1.1.0 update can be addresses as soon as possible.