Wow. My jaw dropped when I saw this app on Matrix Synth blog. I left Apple a year ago for Android and the future of touch tablets only to find an extreme lack of 3rd party software. I missed the iElectribe a ton. My envy grew and grew when Gravy showed up in Denver with his, making beats with it for the newest Toxic Coma track “DIGITAL GRAVY”. Already jonesing for an ipad for the iElectribe, seeing the ims-20 videos on Matrix Synth sent me over the top (I HAVE TO SELL STUFF TO PAY FOR THIS NOW). I bought an ipad again. And immediatly bought the ims-20 app. This is a xox style sequencer drum synth groovebox app.
Think of this as rebirth. Except this time it’s a pure synth engine doing all the work. Not pcm sample drums, but rather that all the drum sounds are made with the ms20 VA sound engine. This rocks. The iElectribe was a hybrid engine, half VA and half pcm samples, which does offer more variation for the percussion, but for some reason I really love how this synth engine sounds. Then there is one dedicated true mono synth engine that replicates the ms20 vintage analog synth from korg. I have actually used the ms20 a bit at a friend’s house years ago and thought it was over rated next to my sh2 for bread and butter sounds. The thing is, for out there sci-fi, buzzy, aggressive in your face sounds, the ms20 can scream bloody murder in the right hands(think old aphex twin, and most goa trance). Although it still retains most of it’s sonic character, the VA ims20 is not as beefy or as raw sounding as the real thing. The synth is very easy to use. The mono synth that is. It’s straight up like a real analog synth. The drum parts are pretty much the ms20 engine as well, and you can edit the sounds for each drum sound by hitting the edit button in one of the sections of the drum edit sections. So essentially this is a 7 voice VA. You can use the drum parts for synth sounds and sequence them as well. Some of the demos that it comes with show this off. There are only two fx engines. Very limited. The typical korg fx, delays, chorus, verbs, and grain shift etc. The effects can change from pattern to pattern as well. They sound pretty good though. The sequencer is modeled after the old korg sequencer that came out about the same time the ms20 did, the Sq-10. Except you get 16 steps instead of 12. This took me some time to get used to. You have 3 knobs. The bottom one is the gate, which determines the length of the note. The middle knob is the octave, which controls which octave to play. The top knob is the note to play. As you turn them text appears on the screen and tells you what the value is. There is no slide and accent like on the 303 and rebirth, so no super acid for you here. You get those 3 knobs for each step of the sequence, which is 16th notes for one measure. There are also patterns, and you can make songs out of the patterns. While in pattern edit modes you can use the utility button on the top right of the screen to copy patterns which contains the seq for drums and synth parts for one measure. You can also render the patterns to a .wav file and import them into your favorite daw and do whatever you want to them, loop them etc. In order to accomplish this you have to connect the ipad into a mac or pc via usb, then run itunes, under apps you should see if you scroll down the files section for the different apps, there you can drag and drop the .wavs to any dir on the computer. This app also supports Soundcloud, so you can export to Soundcloud from the app itself. Below is a clip I made for Toxic Coma. It will be in one of the new songs I am working on.
This is where the Ipad apps always shine: the ease of use, being able to tap the screen, use your finger on a knob and tweak it more like real hardware, in some cases better. In this case, I am floored. It’s a little strange at first look. At the top of the of the screen there are tons of these buttons, like synth, drum, effects global utility, etc. These navigate you to all the sections you need to jump to. What is really cool is that this is a semi modular synth, and you can tap and drag to connect virtual cables to the cv matrix on the right hand of the synth. You can really jack the sound up if you know what you are doing. You can also cv in and out of the seq to get really cool results. There are two virtual keyboards, a small one that is default and a bigger one you can call up; and two, yes, two, koas pads to tweak the sound. TWO KAOS PADS. You wont find that on any real MS20. You scroll the screen on the synth screen to scroll up and down to and from the seq. Its laid out pretty well. Because the Ipad is multi touch, you can mess with two kaos pads and tweak the knobs at the same time. KILLER for tweaking stuff. You can record all the tweaks into the pattern so it plays back your tweaks! This is AMAZING. You can play live into the seq then edit and tweak, or you can use the step editors. The drum sequencer is cook. It’s like the Roland tr808 etc.
This is where I was surprised. I thought the iElectribe could sound a little hollow in the 60hz to 200hz, but this is a little thicker and more present down there and in the midrange. I love both of these Korg Ipad apps. They both sound pretty good. With enough post production you can get it to sit in a mix pretty well, but only when you render it to .wav and bypass the ipad’s DAC headphone/line out. The Ims20 sounds like the little brother of a real ms20, I can make it scream and sound aggressive, especially with the fx. The ms20 was always more of a lead/ sound fx acidic synth. It can do bass pretty good on this version. I thought the real version was a tad weak on bass compared to the ms10. This thing can do dance lines and aggressive industrial no problem. It still has that plastic sheen that most software VAs have, but if you put enough saturation vst plugs on it, you can make it sound more like the real thing, just a tad fainter with less juice on the resonance. I think this is the sound of trance / techno and old school industrial / glitch. This is not a super fat synth. This is good for melodic, weird acid lines, and grooves. What makes this better than the iElectribe is the 2 osc setup, hp and lp filter at the same time, ring mod, and the mod matrix with the semi modular patch bay. You can really make strange and messed up sounds with this synth engine. The lame synth presets don’t even scratch the surface. The main character comes from the two resonant filters, hp and low pass, mess with them just right and you can make it scream in this really cool way that no other synth or VA can.
Because this is on the Ipad it makes it so easy to pick up and use anywhere to get ideas out, simple beats and synth lines. I find this a very inspirational tool. The iElectribe is more for beats. There is no real synth engine with a keyboard. This is the game changer. This is for real. Delivering on both fronts of a drum machine that is highly customizable and uses a real analog synth style engine. The sound is pretty good for a software VA.
Pros: Very easy to use, sounds great, laid out very well, touch screen, Soundcloud support built in, can export seqs to .wav files. This is a powerhouse seq, drum machine, synth with the ms20 character.
Cons: Not as good as a real ms20 sound wise. Sometimes the timing is glitchy when switching screens and doing certain actions while using the program. Hope they fix this in a future update. Lacking presets compared to the iElectribe. What is there does not show off the beef of what this has to offer.
Bottom line: If you have an Ipad, got it for music, and are into dance style anything, this is a MUST HAVE. I am very impressed. Right now it is $15.99, Sixteen dollars. WOW, this will only last until jan 2011. So get this soon, before the price goes up to 30 bucks!!!