Phase84 – A Casio CZ Inspired Synth For iPad

phase-84-synthesizer-casio-software-synthesizerRetronyms has released Phase84 – described as ‘a next generation phase distortion synthesizer’, inspired by the classic phase distortion synthesis sounds of the Casio CZ line of synths.

Phase distortion synthesis is a form of waveshaping synthesis that has its roots in Casio’s CZ line of digital synthesizers from the 80s. It is designed to have the warmth of a subtractive (analog) synthesizer, yet be capable of the squelchy tones and sharp attacks of an FM synth. 

Here’s what Retronyms has to say about Phase84:

Phase84 is an extremely capable synthesizer and features over 110 presets, containing all sorts of basses, leads, pads, bell tones, sweeps, atmospheric sounds, pseudo-realistic tones, and more. While you don’t need to know much about synthesizers to get a lot out of Phase84, experienced synth tweakers will be thrilled at the sheer variety of unique sounds that can be produced with this incredibly versatile synth.


  • More than 100 presets.
  • MIDI support.
  • inter-App Audio support.
  • Advanced Keyboard section.
  • Expressive Perform Mode with Groove Gate.
  • Tabletop Ready App.
  • Precision Knob mode.
  • Phat, naturalistic unison feature for super thick pads and sweeps.
  • Oscillator Section: 9 Params, 2 General-Purpose Oscillators, 1 Formant Oscillator.
  • Mix Section: 8 Params including Delay Amount and Pulse Width.
  • Envelope Section: Amplitude and Shaper Envelopes. Fully visualized and interactive
  • ADSR plus special Fade Param.
  • Delay/Filter Section: Stereo delay with loss modeling and a punchy overdriven analog-style filter.
  • 3 LFOs: More flexible than your average LFO, this has 4 waveforms, optional delay and repeat count, and can go into the audible frequency range.

Audio demos:

Phase84 is available for US $12.99 in the App Store.

If you’ve used Phase84, leave a comment and let us know what you think of it!

31 thoughts on “Phase84 – A Casio CZ Inspired Synth For iPad

    1. Hi! If you like PD synthesis, I promise you’ll get a kick out of this synth. It can do a very wide variety of tones. If you want, you can download Tabletop and check out the Digits demo song for free– that one is more of a jazz-funk track. BTW is this an0va? This is Extent of the Jam 😀

  1. I love my old CZ101, but it’s interesting to me that these demos sound nothing at all like the preset patches. I have to assume that it’s guys in their 20’s or 30’s creating the types of sounds that they grew up with, vs the types of patches Japanese guys in the 80’s came u with.

    If any CZ fans have given this a try, I’d be interested in knowing what you think of this. Certainly the interface destroys the original’s.

    1. Or ask the price of that FM synth for iPad last week. So cheap (under €1,-) that lots of people bought it. And, most important, it’s a joy to use and sounds very well.

  2. Not to mention it’s Retronyms… so no decent midi implementation pretty much guaranteed and of course support will consist of positive noises and zero action!

    Sorry, just facts – they only have themselves to blame 🙂

    No buy!

    1. Well said @Baddcr. Release after release after release…. its always the same. Whats the deal with their MIDI support being so poorly implemented all over the place and the poor support for MIDI? I’ve given up emailing them a long time ago 🙁

  3. It should be pointed out that part of what gives the cz 101 it’s unique sonic character are its digital to analog conversion, and the use of some funky comparators In that process. An app won’t give you that warmth, sorry to say.

    1. Not sure if I’d consider that good or bad. The outputs on my CZ-1 are pretty noisy. I usually roll off a little on the high end because of that. It doesn’t really hurt the sound, it makes it a little less brittle/digital, but it would be nice if the outputs were cleaner.

      I have the same issue with my DX-5 – noisy outputs on a digital synth, which seems kind of bass-ackwards to me.

      1. Yeah, +1. Old DACs = quantization noise, not warmth 🙂

        I have the same annoying issue with my DX7II. The main outs are fine (well, better than a DX7). But the headphone amp is noisy. It’s bizarre cognitive dissonance to “hear” a pristine digital evolving signal underneath the noise. This is pure bad amp, not a DAC issue. But it’s point that digital hardware is not by definition better sounding than a software implementation of the same algorithm, far from it. Things can only get worse, not better.

        (well, you can run it loud through an amp and speaker in an interesting space, mic it. THAT can make things better. Not less noisy, though 🙂

        Basically, I’ve decided to go virtual for digital synths, and spend my future money on hardware analog stuff only. Things like my CZs and DXs are fun, but not really quieter better for recording than VST equivalents. FM8 eats my DX, for recording. I’m not selling my DX though, just not buying any new digital keyboards. Same for digital eurorack modules. It makes more sense for me to run Thor on iPad out through a real filter, vs. an e350 for example.

  4. Probably another Retronyms product where all the budget is blown on the announcement campaign and no money is left over to support the initial buggy release … i, for one, learned from the past mistake of buying their “products”.

  5. I just get this feeling that for 12,99 I can get something much better than this in the near future. Not for me this app.

    1. FLUX:FX is out tomorrow 🙂

      To be honest, Phase84 does look pretty nice. It’s got a slick design and a great UI. I’d like to try a it out, really I would. But it’s a reason of customer service which prevents me from doing so. All the retronyms apps we’ve been waiting for updates on…I realize that Phase84 has already been long released, and that we’re still waiting for an update on it too.

      I’m not sure if the guys at retronyms code for a living, or if they’ve got other day jobs, but there are so many independent developers that really go out of their way to make sure they’re putting out the best product possible. When I first got into ios music apps I never thought I’d care who was developing an app, ‘It’s just a tool, and I’ll use it.’ But then I saw how dedicated and interactive some of these devs were with their user base, and some of them have totally won me over! I suppose this is where the term ‘instabuy’ comes from. Retronyms could make them selves part of that list for a great many more people, but they neglect to treat their service as a pert of their product. They now have a long enough history that I (we) needn’t be in doubt about it.

      1. I hate to see Retronyms do 90% of the work of making a great app,but fail on that last bit. Lack of real MIDI on iMPC Pro was what did it for me.

        On the other hand, Taylor Holliday (Audulus) is an instabuy app guy, because he listens to customers, he delivers the updates and he does great work. If Moog were to do more apps, they’d be instabuys. Anything Korg – an instabuy. Holderness Media anything – an instabuy. Michael Tyson (Loopy and Audiobus) – double instabuy.

        The reason that Retronyms gets so much flack over their apps isn’t that the apps are bad, it’s that they are 90% of the way to being great. You get iMPC Pro, but no MIDI.

        I’d rather see a crappy app that you can just dismiss and forget about than one that would be awesome, if the developers hadn’t left out a few key features.

        Fwiw – this app looks pretty cool and I love CZ’s. I’m not buying it, based on Retronyms track record, but I’ll be interested to see what people think of it.

        1. @JP: this list is not complete, just the devs/ teams that came to my mind reading your question. it is in no paricular order. enjoy making music with your iPad!

          Audiobus Pty ltd
          Jesper Nordin
          Sonosaurus LLC
          tempo rubato
          Waldorf Music
          Holderness Media
          Moog Music Inc.
          The Strange Agency LLC

  6. And still no audiobus because retronyms fear it will kill off their cash cow tabletop.. If tabletop is so good it would get more uses from audiobus intergration.
    Not to mention the disaster that is impc pro.. No user song backup still!! So many other issues and bugs. Retronyms.. Hit and run at it’s finest. Funny they teamed up with Akai which use the same tactic in the hardware world (Mpc ren anyone?)

      1. From what I understand, the video I posted is of a faithful recreation of the CZ-101 in iPad format that Casio will release early 2015. That was one of my favorite synths and way more capable than many give it credit for.

  7. Let me see here…those who are on the perennial shit list of Synthotopia expert panel of commentators:

    Teenage Engineering
    Digital synths
    Software synths
    IK Multimedia

    Now I’m not saying I personally endorse any of the above, but people, hold back your dogs…have any of you stopped and wondered what the world was like before Internet forums and the subsequent release of vicious comments from every Tom, Dick, and Henry under the sun?
    Anyway, I think the 84 is bitchin. Tabletop is bitchin too although I must admit it is in need of a major overhaul (although what specifically is something to gather my own thoughts together on the matter), Everytime I have attempted to work on Tabletop (I’ve had it since it first came out) it just hasn’t connected with me as I would hope it would. On the contrary, Korg Gadget has been, for me, a very engaging, inspiring, and immediately inspiring mobile work environment.

    1. There’s a difference between, for instance, Roland hate (release something analog dammit) versus Retronyms hate (release unfinished buggy bullshit and abandon it).

      1. Yeah, I see your point regarding the lackluster frequency of updates for the Retronyms stuff…and once again, comparing that to the stellar track record for the Korg Gadget and its rapid-fire succession of useful updates with their ears on the end-users pulse

  8. Ill pass, Im not a fan of retronyms at all. I bought Impc, Impc pro and Impc for Iphone, and I eventually deleted all of them. No midi support, no audiobus, with Impc pro, you cant even back up your projects to you computer. Sorry, but an app has to REALLY be good if it doesnt have both Inter App Audio and Audiobus, and Retronymns is only pushing apps that integrate fully with Tabletop, and Im not saying Tabletop sucks, but its doesnt work with my workflow at all.

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