Arctic Keys For iPad Now Available – Here Are The Details

iPad Music Software: Developer One Red Dog has released Arctic Keys – described as a ‘hardware quality synthesizer” for the iPad.

Arctic Keys is a virtual analog synthesizer for iPad that features a classic dual-oscillator subtractive synthesis design.


  • Alias-free analog modelling oscillators
  • 16×4 gate step-sequencer with deep modulation routing
  • Effects processors including EQ, distortion, chorus, and stereo delay
  • Multi-touch performance oriented keyboard with pitch bend, velocity and aftertouch
  • Real-time phrase recorder with audio, MIDI, and patch file sharing
  • CoreMIDI support with Virtual MIDI Ports

Arctic Keys is available now in the App Store for USD $4.99.

Details and demo video below. Check them out and let us know what you think of Arctic Keys!

Here’s what the developers have to say about Arctic Keys:

  • Tweak. With all the synthesizer parameters immediately available on one page, you get instant feedback as you tweak. The two low frequency oscillators (LFOs) each have three modulation destinations. Each LFO may be free running or synched to tempo and the timing rate adjusted. The modulation matrix allows for deep routing between the Mod Wheel, aftertouch and 16 x 4 analog-style gated step-sequencer. Quickly change pages to edit effects and sequences.
  • Perform. The classic arpeggiator is complimented by the 16 x 4 gated step-sequencer. Play a note to trigger the sequencer. Step through a sequence to play short melodic lines or let it modulate the synthesizer. The different key gating options may be used to change how the sequence is triggered. Each of the four tracks has an assignable modulation destination and loop point. Along with traditional Pitch and Mod Wheels, adjust the velocity by tapping along the length of the key from top to bottom. Change the key mode to mono for retro lead lines. Adjust the size of the keyboard to suite your style or use a gesture to scroll through the octaves. Place the keyboard into Pitch mode and use multi-touch gestures to bend individual notes, while sliding up and down the keys to add aftertouch.
  • Share. The live phrase recorder lets you save your performances as 44.1KHz 16-bit WAV files and as a Standard MIDI File. The MIDI File includes all the knob control change information along with the notes you play. Use Sonoma AudioCopy or Intua Audio Sharing to paste recorded audio directly into other apps. From within Arctic Keys, email the patches you make, then open them directly and save into your patch library or share them with Wi-Fi and iTunes File Sharing.

Here are a few patch demos for Arctic Keys:

31 thoughts on “Arctic Keys For iPad Now Available – Here Are The Details

  1. Lots of features and it can be used with soundprism. Although it feels quite buggy and there are clicks and pops when turning the buttons. The preset sounds are quite harsh sounding imho, but those can be tweaked, if you are willing to deal with the clicks that is.

  2. @Sparky – re: clicks & pops – Please check Arctic Keys’ CPU meter to see if you are running out of CPU. In the Prefs. menu change the Peak Meter option to CPU. The meter bars at the top of the GUI will then show percentage of CPU usage. If this is in or near the red line then you are likely to hear clicks & pops. If that is the case, please quit as many background apps as you can. If this is not the problem, please email us at support(at) and we’ll work with you on trying to understand the problem.

  3. Running this on iPad 1st gen.

    Lots of pops and clicks. CPU usage does not reach 50%. Some patches even glitch on single higher notes, without even touching the knobs.
    A reset on the iPad alleviates this to some extent, but start playing with the cutoff and high resonance and it will glitch again like hell.

    Keyboard needs some work. When you press a key and with another finger press it again (to prepare for the next chord) the note is re-triggered.

    The sounds seems a little hollow. I was expecting deeper strings and warmer patches.

    Sequencer is a little puzzling. How does it work? Where is the manual?

  4. The pops and clicks you hear might be clipping distortion. Try turning the Osc Volume knob down and see if that helps, also if the red light shows up it will be clipping.

    With the key re-triggering are you in MONO or UNISON modes?

    The sequencer is a gated step sequencer. Which means you need to press a note to start it, like an arpeggiator. The keyboard has to be in SEQ mode to send the note to the sequencer. On the Seq interface there are 16 steps and 4 tracks. Each track can be routed to a different parameter including note. The top row of buttons for each step has 4 different states: off, red, blue and green. These modes are:

    Off – step is not played
    Red – record from keyboard, when you press the piano key the step value is entered based on note value
    Blue – step is on
    Green – repeat

    Make sure the step buttons are not in red record mode and it will play back as you play the keyboard. Keep in mind you don’t have to have notes in the sequencer it can simply modulate. You can also drag the bars to change values. Hope that helps.

  5. After playing around with this synth last night for like 2-3 hours (on ipad2) can say that it seems like a useful tool in the arsenal albeit it crashing on every second preset .
    i was working on the ipad2 with 30% battery left and it kept crashing over and over again.
    i checked sunrizer to see if battery inflicts same behavior but nope sunrizer was working perfectly.

    so my advice to all those who might be interested is wait for version 2 .
    there also seemed to be a problem erasing the factory patches as i didn’t find a way to delete them .

  6. @javafix Factory presets cannot be erased, but don’t worry, you can add as many as you like.

    Specifically what are you doing to cause it to crash? Is the app shutting down or is it simply not making any sounds anymore?

  7. Hi there,
    Made a list of stuff that don’t work and causes crashes only to 4get it @the kitchen @work so will have to wait 1more day for it.
    Meanwhile i was doodling around some more and just as i was about to be happy with a new good sounding preset and upon reaching the user area in presets zone to save it – – APP CRASHED 🙁
    I have tried to find what caused it to crash and have noticed that Every time i choose the user (empty) category from the preset categories and then choose a different category other than “user” a Crash will Occur .

    Kindly see for yourself.
    Good luck fixing this.
    Arctic seems so promising and to buy an app from the appstore and to find it crashes and is buggy and shit.. dude.. This is the last app im getting @ V.1
    from now on ill be much more pickier and cautions even on a 5$ purchase.
    Even an old dog can learn a new lesson every now and then 😉

    no hard feelings ORdogM.

  8. I haven’t experienced the app crashing, but did encounter the crackling using the reverb effect abnd eq together along with delay.
    The sequencer is also kinda buggy when coming out of seq mode back to poly etc., Seems like the app won’t respond properly to keyboard keys being pressed. Then have hard reset the app.

  9. @onereddogmedia
    Yup it worked and stoppied the crashing on this one.
    Still had an init. Preset stuck there with no way to delete so uninstalling it and reinstalling solved that.

    Note: the user category was empty when the switching category crash occurred.

  10. Oh man…

    Got the sequencer working, the key mode (on the left) has to be in “SEQ”.

    The keyboard mode (large button on middle right) played a trick on me. I accidentally pressed it without realizing and it changed to “SCROLL”. In this mode, the keyboard wont register notes. It will only scroll the keyboard. A manual is really needed.

    About the notes retriggering, it does not matter in which key mode I’m in.

    As for the clipping, it does not matter how the volume is adjusted. The problem is not in this final stage. The clipping must be occurring sooner in the signal path. And about this volume meter, it’s confusing to have the last bar on the volume meter always set to red. Leave this color for when the bar reaches the right end.

    I’ve just tested the “Pinata Elektro” patch. It clips a lot, even with a single note, chords only make it worse. I’ve disabled the EQ and Distortion and it made things a little better. Distortion, like it is now, is rubbish btw.

    Then I set the “keyboard mode” to Pitch and noticed a curious thing, press a note and hold the finger still, the sound evolves normally, now move the finger just a little and the tone will change because the LP filter suddenly kicks into full force… is this supposed to happen?
    And the Pitch mode… slide a finger up and down at it will change the frequency cutoff, it is a nice feature, but the initial jump is annoying. I guess this is related to the the previous problem.

    Now about the Resonance knob, what is wrong with this? In some patches, at 12″ it rings a lot and I still have half way to go, it only gets nastier (digital nastier) the more I turn it to the max.

    Bottom line is, this version is buggy, do not waste money on this right now. I prefer to believe that the devs sent the wrong version to the app store (it happens). I hope the next version will be the working one.
    As it is, it sounds awful and clips a lot.

  11. @Djizasse “Pinata Elektro” is supposed to distort at lot. Adjusting the Osc Volume, disabling the distortion fx will clean it up.

    The effect you see in Pitch mode is intentional. Up/Down movement adjusts the aftertouch which may be routed via the Pref. menu to a number of settings. By default it adjusts the cutoff. Sliding left/right will pitch bend that note.

    The Resonance knob will do that.

  12. Just updated. It is as I expected. You sent the wrong version to the app store didn’t you? 😀

    It’s way better now. First thing to do is to reduce the volume slider. It works as expected now, when you hear clipping, you’ll see the meter clipping also. But many patches clip with the slider on the middle position.
    It seems many patches are abusing the Chorus FX. And sometimes the patches sound better with no effects.

    Distortion is better, here’s how it works:
    – the Level knob controls the level of the original signal, if you let this at 0, you won’t hear a thing
    – Overdrive controls the distortion level
    I’m mentioning this because it does not make sense. When I activate this effect, the volume will change accordingly to the level knob. The 1″ position seems to be very close to a gain 0. This should be the default.

    The patches need some work:
    – turn off the FX on most of them, it just makes them worse
    – choose the names accordingly. Is this really a Harp? A Mandolin? You could do better.

    The status on the top left could be more useful. I don’t want to know the current percentage of the cutoff knob, for that I just look at the knob. I want to know the Hz. Percentages aren’t really useful.

    To fix:
    – pitch mode. If you slide the finger up or down right after you press the note, it will work as expected, but if you wait for a while and the move the finger you’ll get the filter jump. Maybe related to the ADSR on the filter or amp. As it is, I prefer to use Glissando mode.
    – rework the volume slider, the patches, or both. It is not acceptable to have patches that clip with the volume slider on middle position (ex: Harpsichord)
    – fix Distortion. It does not work with chords. It clips a lot. And it does not make sense how the level knob works.
    – touching a hold note note turns it off
    – rework the patches

    Feature Requests:
    – manual in PDF format
    – use combo boxes, I don’t want to cycle between values. I want to press one time, scroll my finger and then release it on the chosen value
    – remember the last category browsed

    This is it for now. I have to delve deeper.

    Revised bottom line. It’s still no sunrizer and it still needs adjustments to make it sound better. For me, it is not worth the $4.99 right now.

  13. @One Red Dog Media
    I’ll delve deeper, I think some problems I’m having are related to the relation between the various controls, but it is not very friendly to experiment an app for the first time and have so many problems.

    The factory patches should show what a synth can do, but they have to sound good. And many of them do not sound good due to clipping problems. Distortion is really nasty, but in moderate amounts it sounds good.

    This app seems promising, but it seems you really have to understand it fully to make it sound good and do what you want. Once again, the factory patches are critical.

    The aftertouch should not have that initial jump.

  14. —Notes from yesterday—
    @One Red Dog Media
    Crashing of the app is quite random. yes the app also shuts down but upon playing say the sub bass patch and making some tweaks got the no sound issue started and kept dragging on even after complete app shutdown + pad shutdown.

    on other occasion Ive found that pressing panic button helped but no sounds were able to play post pressing it.

    upon playing with the delay effect and pushing it to limits caused crash.
    furthermore: mod wheel reacts very poorly to screen and must be very precise upon touching the GUI in order for it to catch on.

    also whats the deal with not being able to delete sounds? i like to have only my own sounds in my audio gear for easy navigation and simplicity and keeping focus.

    are there any plans to support midi mobilizer 1 ? i dont have other options currently available and wouldnt want to buy another interface (midi)

  15. @robert thanks – it’s more Nord Lead than Virus or JP-8000, that was the inspiration.

    @Javafix. The 1.0.3 update currently waiting review in the App Store queue will fix your first set of problems. Sorry for the delay and inconvenience. I hope I tested it thoroughly including 1 hour of continuous sequencing by Logic over wi-fi MIDI. I didn’t find any problems.

    In the 1.0.2 update I made the mod wheel thumb detection area bigger, still too small?

    Factory sounds cannot be deleted. It seemed like a sensible thing to do to prevent accidental deletion and overwrites. Obviously I was wrong. I can change this to allow those sounds to be removed but once they’re gone from your device there will be no way to restore them in app and no undo. Though I might be able to put a web page together which has them all available individually for download. Would that work?

    Mobilzer 1 – sorry no, only CoreMIDI compatible devices. The app requires CoreMIDI’s timing characteristics and broad range of hardware support. Very unfortunate Line6 chose not to support Apple’s standards, they should offer a free update or something.

  16. @Onereddogmedia

    Mod wheel now works much better.

    Regarding factory sounds being uploaded for backup etc sounds great to me as long as I can delete them altogether as i don’t see the purpose of using them other for debugging and the Detroit bass patch actually is a keeper after a slight seq change but given the potential of this /mytake/ms2000esque characteristic I can definitely see how I will be getting my own patches on it as soon as most issues will be ironed out.
    Regarding mobi1 – not expecting anything from line6, such is fate,.. We live we learn! Will just wait patiently for my iodock to arrive .

  17. @Onereddogmedia
    I like it, but want it to be better. I already said it is very promissing.

    As for the factory patches deletion, when the user deletes one of these patches, just hide them. In the preferences menu you could then have a button to restore the “deleted” factory patches.

  18. @Onereddogmedia

    The current synth app layout could really use some animated bg or bg color scheme modification by mod or something else clever with an option to disable in settings. Overall I really like the name and knob+panels color schemes.

  19. @Djizasse Good idea didn’t think of that 🙂
    @Beat I’m sure they make some good products. They tried to pioneer MIDI interfaces and got caught out by CoreMIDI arriving unannounced in iOS4.2

    Thanks for all your other suggestions, I’ll look at adding factory patch deletion / hiding and I’m taking on board everything you guys are saying.

  20. A lot of bugs working with iRig MIDI. CPU usage reaches 90%…plops and other ugly noises. The app crashes the iPad and specially destroyed an excellent app : Funkbox. This app was perfectly working , in external sync, but after having used Arctic Keys,it could not start anymore, and after a reboot, has no more audio out. I had to uninstall it and reinstall again.
    I am just asking myself why i have to pay for such a fail app. I would appreciate to get my money back, which is naturally impossible.
    This is quite weird, and by the way against european laws, and i will probably call Apple France tomorrow to ask for a refund. 
    Dont smile: its illegal in Europe to sell thru internet anything without letting the right to the consumer to cancel his purchase if this one is unsuitable.
    See this official pdf brochure in english

    I think the creator has to stop selling this app, and must finalize and betatest this thing which is actually a source of problems for the consumers. I dont pay an app to have my ipad crashed and other good apps destroyed by this freeeeezing Arctic Thing.

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