Is This The Future Of Synthesis? (iPad + Modular Synth)

Twisted Tools put together this demonstration of using Konkreet Labs’ Performer, Twisted Tools’ Twisted KP and a Doepfer modular synthesiser.

And, while we’re pretty sure some readers will dismiss the demo as complete wankery – it does make interesting use of the iPad to extend the expressive capabilities of a modular synthesizer in a way that’s spatial, tactile and visual.

For musicians with an investment in a modular synth, this approach is a relatively inexpensive way (compared to other alternative controllers) to introduce new gestural control to your synth.

And while this current solution requires multiple components, it’s likely that future apps will simplify this.

Details on the setup below.

Check out the demo and details and let us know what you think. Is a combination like this the best of both worlds?

Here’s what’s happening in the demo:

  • Twisted KP converts OSC from Konkreet Labs Performer to control voltages;
  • The control voltages are routed to a Doepfer modular rack;
  • Gate mode in Performer allows for control voltage messages to be sent only sent on touch.

Gear used:

  • Twisted Tools’ Twisted KP – a $9 dedicated OSC converter for Konkreet Labs Performer application for the iPad. Requires REAKTOR 5.6+
  • Konkreet Labs Performer for iPad – an app that’s designed to let you use multi-touch and gestures to manipulate shapes to dynamically control software instruments or, in this case, hardware.
  • Control voltage interface – Control voltage output made possible by using MOTU 828MKII interface. Note that you’ll need a similarly capable DC-coupled audio interface.
  • Eurorack modular synthesizer – Livewire AFG, Doepfer A-105 VCF and A-188BBD and A-180 Mult

23 thoughts on “Is This The Future Of Synthesis? (iPad + Modular Synth)

  1. Christ on a bike, enough! Every other post is about iPad this or iPad that, I get it, it's awesome. However, like most people I don't have one, so 3/4 of your posts now are totally irrelevant to me. Unsubbing my RSS feed.

  2. A lot of modular controllers are quite….. "experimental" anyway (i.e. buchla controllers) and if you've got the $2k-$20k required for a modular, i think you might aswell fork out the extra $500 for an excellent multi-use controller (the ipad), that's capable of both more traditional playing, and the "experimental" thing that so many modular users seem to go for.

    This is where the ipad really excels, it's not a "studio replacer" like you keep pushing, and it never will be, it's an interesting and dynamic multi-instrument.

  3. The future of synthesis? We can already use iPad apps to land in that expressive area that lies somewhere between keyboard and guitar. Apps like SynthX and MorphWiz give all the "slide around" feel of the above video while also giving us visual and audio reference locked to standard musical tunings. As a player of both guitar and keyboards, I find it super cool to be able to glide between the notes of a synth patch and add vibrato at any stage via a finger rather than a controller.

  4. For the record, though, 1 out of the 10 posts on the Synthtopia home page today (this post) is iPad/iPhone/iOS related.

    1/10 ≠ every other post ≠ 3/4

    We understand that some readers, like you, don't have iOS devices and aren't interested in understand what's happening on this platform.

    We're not sure we understand, though, why iOS music apps inspire so many more gut-level negative reactions than other platforms that have a limited audience that we cover on a regular basis.

    Fear of the new?

  5. Naaaaa, not fear of the new, iOS is just all around us, you can walk down the street and trip over 8 iOS devices. It's just a moderately "oppressive" OS, in a manner of speaking.

    Other limited audience platforms (im assuming you mean something like the monome) are at least interesting from an innovation standpoint, and unlike apple, these limited audience platforms don't have multi-billion dollar ad campaigns, and a dedicated fan base that's millions strong.

  6. I wish someone would update hardware MIDI to a higher resolution and bandwidth before we get all these amazing looking controllers which will all essentially be restricted to the psychical limitations of a 30yr old 4bit digital connection.

  7. There's a lot of iPad apps, but the demos fail to make an impression.
    The grafix are very cute, and they make fairly complex sounds at the flick of a finger, but
    (a) few would actually look at the gfx for 20 minutes to get good entertainment, and
    (b) it's hard to imagine a lot of the sounds making it into the mix of a good song.
    (c) where's the sound innovation? It's like remake of all the VST's of yesteryear, but with cuter visuals.
    (d) Multitouch is truly great, but you can get a lot of that with some cheap MIDI gear.

    So, the apps look like they go to fun toy level, but not much beyond.
    This might be misinformation due to quick non-pro demos, but there you are.

    More active negativity might be a product of
    (i) Massive commercial exposure
    (ii) peer fanaticism
    (iii) obvious greed on Apple's part
    It's the little things.
    Just looked at the Mac Air. The barely-adequate hard disk is glued in place and can't be changed. Larger HD adds $350 on the price — a price per Mb we haven't seen since the 1990's. Yes, faster Mb's, but still…

    Since everything in Mac products is so thought through, it seems the small irritating things must be equally well planned. And if that were true, it looks like Evil is behind the scenes.

    (Now *I* would never fall for such thinking, it's just a hypothesis about how the haters' minds might grind…)

  8. Because it's the marketing hype. When you post a Monotribe article it isn't titled "Is this going to replace Moog in the studio?!". If you did that people would be like "damn this site is stupid" and stop reading it.

  9. I admit that multitouch devices have some potential, but this is nothing that can't be done with cheaper equipment (and by cheap I don't mean ultra cheap but a decent graphics tablet for instance). To be the future of something it has to be reasonably "new" and, more importantly, be a real advantage. I'd say that this is what the present looks like, both iPads and modular synths are quite popular. We will see how the market will look like in 5 to 10 years. The basics of modular synthesis won't change, but the basics of interacting with digital machines and the different kinds of "personal computers" we'll use will probably have changed again. The iPad seemingly came out of nowhere and took the industry by storm. Don't think Apple or even someone else could come up with a device that is different and will be similarly popular?

    Bottom line: Have a little more faith in the future. Things will change (again and again). Nothing like rejoicing in the present and seeing it for what it is: the present, not the past and not the future.

  10. I'll admit, making music on a phone/mobile device sounds about as fun as jerking off with barbed wire, but just because you don't have an iPad doesnt mean an entire synth blog has to cater its posts strictly to your tastes.

    As far as synthopia goes, I think it does a great job of balancing all synth related topics under one roof. A little music, a little software, a little hardware…. shit man what more do you want? If youre not happy with whats being posted, go look for the news yourself, prima donna.

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