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Ondes review – Olympia Noise Co.’s new app

Ondes is the new app from Olympia Noise Co., makers of Chordion and dot Melody. Described as an "expressive electronic instrument", Ondes is an instant joy to play.

As pointed out on the Olympia Noise Co. Facebook page, Ondes is French for "waves", and rhymes with "owned". It is meant to emulate, but not necessarily mimic, early electronic instruments such as the Ondes Martenot or Theremin. With an easy interface that will have you playing immediately, but with a powerful synth engine under the hood, I've been having a blast with Ondes.

At first glance, the minimal interface may remind you of Bebot or ThumbJam. All three apps do work in a similar fashion with regards to how the pitch is manipulated (lower notes to the left, higher notes to the right). That's pretty much where the similarities end.

In the main interface screen, the playing surface dominates the screen. This playing surface remains in place while moving through the menu tabs located on the top of the screen. The two octave playing surface can be moved up or down the virtual keyboard under the 'Keyboard' tab, to facilitate playing higher or lower octaves. Also in the 'Keyboard' tab is the nice option to adjust how strongly the app will "snap" the notes to the specified pitch. In adjusting this vertical slider, you can adjust how much you'd like to glide between notes, or have precise pitches. With this slider all the way up, the interface can play more like a keyboard than a theremin, if you so desire. You can also set the scale here, by note and either selecting Major or Minor scale.


The 'File' tab contains six presets. The "Dark Bass" preset is a favorite of mine, but the others are all very nice, with a good range of sounds. You can also save your own presets here.

Tapping on the 'Oscillator' tab is where you'll discover some of the depth of Ondes. Five different oscillators are available to choose from, ranging from a combination square/saw, triangle/saw, and other combination wave shapes. The oscillator can then be modulated using five different mod types, each with their own control sliders (ADSR, depth, rate, delay, etc.).

Getting into the 'Filter' tab, there are even more options for shaping your sound. You've got your standard cutoff and resonance sliders, plus three modulation types, each with their own slider controls. I'm most definitely not a mathematician, but I know that this is a tremendous amount of permutations available here to alter your sounds.

On top of the different oscillators and filters, you have a standard ADSR 'Amplifier' control, as well as an 'Effects' tab. In the Effects tab, you can dial in some delay, and/or choose to add some reverb from one of the 12 reverb types available. Do you see where I'm going here? This app is deep!

As would be expected of any quality app, Ondes ships with Audiobus and IAA compatibility. The in-app effects are quite nice, and you can really tweak out some nice delay and reverb here. It didn't take me long to start squawking like the middle section of Pink Floyd's "Echoes", drenched in delay. And with the playing surface just begging you to slide all over, psychedelia is just one finger away. But, Ondes is also polyphonic as well. So, creating some chords and shifting them up and down can get interesting real quick.

I've recorded two quick demos found below. The first is just me twiddling around, using all in-app effects, and playing around with the filters and oscillators. The second demo is Ondes running through Crystalline in Audiobus. Simply magical, in my opinion. These two apps are Peanut Butter and Jelly.

I've previously reviewed dot Melody from Olympia Noise Co., and Chordion was the first "controller" app I bought for iOS. The developer Ben Kamen knows his stuff, and his apps reflect that. Nice, clean interfaces. No over-the-top GUI's. These are "launch-and-go" apps. Ondes is one more winner from Olympia Noise Co. Intuitive, fun, deep. Everything you could ask for in a quality iOS app.

If you're thinking about buying Ondes, please consider clicking through our App Store link below. Thanks!

Ribbons : Expressive Electronic Instrument (AppStore Link) Ribbons : Expressive Electronic Instrument
Developer: Olympia Noise Co.
Rated: 4+5
Price: $8.49 Download



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