by Paul McBride
Synthesizers arenâ€™t Â new to the iOS scene, by any means. They seem to appear on a daily basis, ranging from the free, fun-for-the commute variety to to the expensive, studio quality interfaces that belong in the hands of electronic music wizards. The Magellan synthesizer app for iOSÂ ($5), bucks the trends towards free or super-expensive with an immersive, easily navigated app at a great price, with the muscle to go against the big boy apps from Korg and Moog.
Magellan has over 240 presets out of the box (!), the ability to save presets, several FX options, MIDI compatibility,Â a 16- or 32-step sequencer, polyphonic capabilities, an arpeggiator, a chordmaker, an extensive modulation matrix, multiple XY pads, pads for chords, several filters and much more. The number of features and options you get for five bucks is truly staggering, and impressive enough to justify the price.
However, the option to combine two synths at once puts it over the top. One touch and youâ€™ve combined two different synths to create one a new sound that can be further customized and tinkered with â€” something you canâ€™t exactly do with their hardware counterparts.
I found the app easy to use, and gorgeous to look at, with a taste of the old-school feel of an analog synthesizer. I am not exactly a stellar musician, but I know my way around music gadgets for the iPad, and found myself enjoying Â it a bit much for an office setting.
If thereâ€™s a downside to this app, itâ€™s the depth of its features. A basic- to mid-level knowledge of synthesizers is necessary to enjoy the full breadth of options. However, thisÂ depth is also Magellanâ€™s biggest strength, as there are no other synthesizer apps at this price that offer this many features (if you know of one, please let us know).
If youâ€™re on the prowl for an iPad synth that goes beyond the simple ones in the free-to$2 range, but youâ€™re not ready to drop 30 bucks or more on the really high-end ones, youâ€™ll be happy with Magellan.