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Laplace – a new resonator synth from iceGear

It seems as though, every time a new synth is released, the common question in the iOS music community is "Do I need another synth?" Well, that question needs to be answered again, as iceGear has just released Laplace, a resonator synth. Being an unabashed synth collector, my first instinct (against my better budgetary discretion) is almost always "Yes!" As would be expected with such impulsive behavior, I also now have a separate folder of "Unexplored Apps", filled with synths purchased almost solely to momentarily satisfy my App Acquisition Syndrome (AAS). So, where will Laplace end up? Part of my workflow, or relegated to the barren wastelands of the "Unexplored Apps" folder?

Many of you will already be familiar with iceGear's previous synths, as they've been in the game for a long time now (in iOS terms). Argon was released in 2009, followed by Xenon in 2010, and Cassini in 2012. I've never used either Argon or Xenon, but I became familiar with Cassini through Tim Webb's excellent "Let's Play" video. (Shameless plug alert: Check out all of Tim's "Let's Play" videos, and consider sponsoring him on Patreon!). Tim's video convinced me to buy Cassini (available for both iPhone and iPad) immediately after the video ended. I've used it a bit, but not a lot, admittedly. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, so I'm hoping to find time soon to really dig into Cassini.

all-work-and-no-play

The life of an iOS music app blogger, minus the axe murdering

Which brings me to Laplace (finally!), and one of the main reasons I have really taken to it so quickly - the immediate usability. Laplace features one screen, with a few pop-up boxes for additional features. Everything you need is right there. Admittedly for a synth noob like myself, Cassini is overwhelming at first. So many screens! I know that this is one of its selling points - the massive power and flexibility under the hood - but for me it's  just so much at first to take in. Much like Thor or Z3TA+, I know that time and experience will reap great rewards, but I also really appreciate being able to instantly tweak sounds. Laplace lets me do that.

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As you can see from the screenshot above, the layout is very simple. Up top you've got your preset drop-down box, as well as the arpeggiator features, MIDI learn, and Settings. Keyboard, as is pretty standard across most iOS synths, is located along the bottom, with an ARP on/off button and a note "hold" button as well. Beautifully laid out in between are the knobs for adjusting parameters, as well as an octave selector, vibrato controls, and some basic effects.

It is these knobs that are going to make all the difference. I'm not normally a "start from Init" kind of guy. I've learned the basics of sound synthesis, but my brain doesn't go into programming a sound thinking "I need to set my LFO at halfway, and then modulate the LPF with the envelope, and then route the flux capacitor...". I need to twiddle some knobs until I stumble into something. With Laplace, having all of your knobs on one page makes this so easy. Similar to playing with Sunrizer, I feel like I can actually do this. With Thor and Z3TA+, I'm lost (thankfully, they each come loaded with a million presets designed by people who know what they are doing).

The knob section (surely there is a better way to describe it?) is divided into two main columns - the Exciter and the Resonator. The Exciter (no, not the Judas Priest song) is where you will find the controls for the "Click" and "Noise" parameters. There is a mix knob that allows you to set how much of the Click or Noise will come through. Familiar controls such as an ADSR and LPF/HPF are found here, as well as the button to switch between the envelope or the gate.

The Resonator side is divided between the Resonator and the Sine sections, and the mix between the two can also be controlled with the mix knob, similar to the Exciter side. Here you'll also controls for LPF/HPF, envelopes and the FM depth and ratio.

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Here's the beauty of Laplace. I may not be able to explain to you exactly what each knob does, or how they interact, but I was able to create some awesome sounds in minutes. Experts in synthesis will be able to leap right in and create the sounds they envision in their heads, and novices like me will be able to craft some gems in no time. Check out the developer demo video below, where a simple arp pattern is transformed in so many ways.

As you can hear from that demo, you can get some great noises out of this synth! Very warm sounds come naturally to Laplace, but you can also get a bit gritty if you'd like. Take a stroll through the presets, and you may find some that already suit your needs. The pad sounds are very nice, and I particularly liked the "Moon" and "Sirius" presets right out of the gate, no tweaks needed. But these can be a great starting point for you to sculpt as desired.

I'm a big fan of creating drones, and find myself latching a note and just letting it go. I turned a couple knobs, and came up with this below. It's not much, but it shows what can be done by holding a note and slowly tweaking some knobs (nothing too drastic here). Fair warning, this is four minutes of one note, droning away. Does not have a beat, and you cannot dance to it.

A quick note, and this may be important to you, is that Laplace is not currently Audiobus compatible. I'm guessing that iceGear had a good reason for that decision, but for the life of me I can't figure it out. It is IAA-compatible, so it is possible to route Laplace to your favorite DAW. But still, c'mon. On a brighter note, it is Core MIDI and Virtual MIDI ready, and has MIDI learn functionality as well.

Ultimately, you'll have to decide if you need another synth. For me, this is an easy one to recommend, and will certainly get some play in my future tracks. The sounds are unique compared to many iOS synths. I'm sure that with plenty of work in programming you could get similar sounds out of the big, powerhouse synths. But for me, why would I do that when I can get it in seconds here with Laplace? The ease of use here is a big selling point for me. Some day I will buckle down and really learn more about sound synthesis, and tackle the Thors and SunVoxes of the world. But honestly, today ain't that day. Right now I'm all about making music. Laplace helps me do that. And at an incredibly reasonable price ($4.99 at the time of this writing), and a small footprint (1.7 mb!!!), this is one that I recommend all iOS musicians should check out.

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

Laplace Synthesizer (AppStore Link) Laplace Synthesizer
Developer: iceWorks, Inc.
Rated: 4+
Price: $10.99 Download

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