NLog MIDI Synth for iPhone, and its more expensive sibling, NLogSynthPro for iPad, will never be mistaken for novelty apps like those virtual drumsets or karaoke-to-Facebook type deals. These are real instruments that you can connect to Akai Workstations or any other MIDI device or app, and which allow you to sculpt new sounds with freedom. Developer tempo rubato even says they’re “stage safe.”
NLog MIDI Synth ($5) — among the first-ever synths for iOS — was designed with the look and functionality of modeling synthesizers. Anyone familiar with hardware gear like the microKORG should feel right at home with its pitchwheels, sliders, and other controls.
Knobs for cutoff, attack, release, and dry/wet signals are right up front, but for this app to really shine you’re going to need to get under the hood a little bit more than that. The factory soundbank patches are passable, but they’re really just starting points for your sonic exploration. By tweaking the app’s many settings, you’ll be able to adjust arpeggiators, delay, chorus, waveforms, and essentially everything else you would expect from a digital modeling synth — except this one only costs $5.
It even has an X/Y controller axis in the event you need a makeshift Kaoss Pad.
There is a tradeoff: The sound retains a bit of digital ‘tinniness’ when compared to true analog counterparts — but you can’t put those in your pocket. Considering the depth of functionality you get for a mere five bucks, we consider this a worthwhile app for both hobbyists and musicians with a serious interest in sound synthesis. When analog fetishists gladly pay over two hundred times the price of this app for an EDP Wasp that has far more limited parameters, why not treat yourself?
Before we get to our audio sample, we did have one bone to pick with NLog MIDI Synth: It took about a half an hour to transfer a minute-and-a-half WAV file out of the app via email using the record/export feature, is a lot. We expect that to get fixed in future updates.
Here’s a sound sample of what I was able to do after five minutes of familiarizing myself with this fun, powerful, relatively inexpensive synthesizer app: