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Tera Synth review – A brand new synth from VirSyn

Tera Synth is the latest in an impressive catalog of iOS synths from VirSyn. There's a good chance that you've already got one of their synths on your iPad, as Addictive Synth, microTERA, and Cube are just a few of their outstanding previous synths.

What separates Tera Synth from these others (and from most other iOS synths) is the depth available. Containing 25 sound modules in a modular synth approach, Tera Synth provides nearly limitless sound creation options.

As mentioned, VirSyn has taken a modular approach to Tera Synth, but in a way that is not intimidating to users who may be inexperienced with modular synthesis. Taking a "no-wires" approach, modules are connected virtually, which makes learning and exploring different connections easy. By simply selecting modules within the main "SYN" screen, you can create patches worthy of any existing iOS modular synths.


The Synthesizer screen in Tera Synth

The layout of Tera Synth shares many of the same features and layout options of other VirSyn apps. Recognizable is the keyboard, the arpeggiator section, and the preset selection menu. And when I say preset selection menu, I am referring to the 920 presets that ship with Tera Synth, giving Thor a run for its money.

These presets are divided into categories such as Leads, Bass, Arpeggiators, Pads, and Percussion, among others. Don't overlook the Special FX group, as there are some gems in there, along with some that frankly are a bit noisy. Exploring these presets gives you a great opportunity to see how the modules are combined. Editing these presets to suit your own taste is part of the fun here, and your creations can be saved easily for future use. If you're just starting out, exploring these presets is recommended.

You could very easily buy Tera Synth for the presets alone, and be very satisfied with your investment. There are some huge bass sounds, and the pads provide some nice evolving swells (VirSyn, you had me at nine different pads starting with "Ghost"). While many of the presets do sound very similar at times, there are some unique sounds that you won't find on other VirSyn synths. One issue I've had with synths such as Addictive Synth and microTERA is that they do tend to sound alike. With Tera Synth, you have the capability of truly altering the modules and parameters to make a sound that is very much your own.

While in the "SYN" screen, you will find all of the modules that are the building blocks of your sound. Here is where some modular synthesis knowledge is helpful, but certainly not required. The chain of modules works from left to right, and by swiping the screen, you can work from beginning to end. Early in the chain is where you will find your three oscillators, with the waveguide, ring modulator, mixer, filters, and amplifier to follow. Within each of these modules are a wealth of options to choose from.

Moving into the "MOD" screen, here is where you will find your modulation options - namely ADSR, LFO, and envelope. The ADSR and LFO are standard options here, with four ADSR envelopes and four low-frequency oscillators available. The "MENV" are the multi-segment envelopes, which may look familiar to users of Cube Synth.

The "ARP" section is where you will find the standard VirSyn arpeggiator, which is a dandy. For me, this is one of the strengths of VirSyn's apps, as it is not only easy to program, but the "random dice" feature is always helpful for breaking out of a rut. Whether randomizing the whole kit and kaboodle, or individually "rolling the dice" on the ties, accents, notes, octave and key, you may just stumble onto your inspiration.


The arpeggiator screen in Tera Synth - take note of the dice

The "FX" screen is the final option. As expected, these are your effects options, containing a distortion, phaser, delay, chorus and reverb. These all seemed fairly similar to the effects in other VirSyn apps, but always a nice option to have them available when sculpting your sounds.

As one might expect from VirSyn, the app comes with Audiobus and IAA compatibility, as well as CoreMIDI and Virtual MIDI functionality. The parameters in Tera Synth can be mapped to an external keyboard via the MIDI learn function, which is very easy to accomplish here (always appreciated).

I usually like to include my own sound demo for my app reviews, but for this review, that would be completely unnecessary. Our own Ryan Hemeon has created a massive preset demo video below, walking through many of the 920 presets available. Put on some headphones, sit back and enjoy.

Like many musicians just getting their hands on Tera Synth, I have yet to even begin to explore the depths of this synth. The presets alone have triggered so many songs ideas already. Luckily, the user manual and in-app help provides assistance throughout the way in exploring its capabilities. As time goes on, I will be coming back to Tera Synth to give it its full shakedown. With so many sonic possibilities, Tera Synth sits firmly on the shelf with Thor, Mitosynth, and Z3TA+ as iOS synths that dare you to create. Highly recommend this synth.

If you are thinking about buying Tera Synth, please consider clicking through our App Store link below. Thanks!

Tera Synth (AppStore Link) Tera Synth
Developer: VirSyn Software Synthesizer
Rated: 4+
Price: $27.99 Download

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