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zMors Modular review – A new modular synth from Sven Braun

Modular synthesizer.

How do those words make you feel? Did you get excited? Or did you feel overwhelmed? Admittedly, I usually fall into the latter camp. I have no experience with physical modular synths, and my knowledge of sound synthesis has only just started growing in the past few years, thanks to my iPad.

Sven Braun, the developer of zMors synth, has just released his new entry into the world of iOS modular synths, called zMors Modular. Coming in at a very reasonable price, and with a nice interface and some good help features, this may be a good app for you to wrap your head around modular synthesis. And, if you're already comfortable with the basic concepts, I suspect you'll find plenty of tools here to satisfy your inner mad scientist.

Check out the promo video below, with an additional tutorial by Discchord's Tim Webb:

As you can see from the video, the interface of zMors Modular is very modern, and has a look not unlike Audulus, another iOS modular synth. No skeuomorphism here. Everything that you need will all be on one screen, right in front of you. In the upper-left corner of your screen will be the preset menu, which will be your friend if you are somewhat inexperienced with modular synths. I'll certainly be touching on those in a bit. A simple volume slider, setting menu, screen lock and the module menu round out the controls on the top of the screen. Other than that, the rest of the screen is open real estate for all of your modules.

The modules are what it's all about here, and there is a good selection to choose from. Tap on the "+" in the upper-right corner of your screen, and you will see all the toys. Thankfully, each module comes with a nice description of what it is and what it does. For some, this may be unnecessary, but I certainly appreciate it. Not only did this help me build some (very) rudimentary presets, but it's helpful to build my overall knowledge of modular synthesis in general.

Along with the standard oscillators, filters, and such, you can also add in a step sequencer, wavetables (fun to play around with), and some built in reverb and delay effects. If you'd like to see your waveforms, a simple oscilliscope can be added to your chain. There is also an option for a small simple one octave virtual keyboard. If you prefer, plug in an external MIDI keyboard for more range.


There are quite a few presets included, and these give a very good representation of what can be done in zMors Modular. Taking advantage of the step sequencer, the 'Chord Sequencer' preset gives you an idea on how to utilize that module, for example. There are some basic drum presets, pads, and even some wobble bass (go crazy, you wacky club kids!). I definitely recommend taking a long look at how these are all wired up if you are still a novice at this. Turn some dials and see the results.

Speaking of dials, these can be a bit tricky in this app. As these are a bit small, and feel a little over-sensitive, it takes a little while to get used to adjusting these without going too far with them. I found that using a stylus really helped here, as I was able to see both the dials and the connections better without my fingers getting in the way.

There are some features which I believe to be unique to other iOS modular synths. For example, zMors Modular has a nice Chord Generator module, which allows you to play chord sequences in major, minor, etc. at the touch of a button. There is a Notes module, which simply allow you to enter some text notes about your preset, which could come in handy on down the road, after the memories of creating the patch have faded. There are also X/Y pads that you can add to control such parameters as filter in real time. C'mon, who doesn't love X/Y pads?


Inevitably, comparisons will be made to the other iOS modular synth apps. I have many (most?) of them, but I don't consider myself an expert, so take this with a grain of salt.

The user interface is immediately more user-friendly than Jasuto or SunVox, and is right on par with Audulus. Modular Synth by Pulse Code goes for much more of an authentic physical look than zMors Modular, if you're into that.

I don't believe that zMors Modular is nearly as deep as Audulus, based primarily on the number of modules available for both. It would seem to be more robust than Modal Pro, however.

For ease of use for beginners, however, zMors Modular might be a good place to start. While it lacks any type of manual or tutorial (whereas Modal Pro excels here), the range of presets and the easy interface keep this app from being overwhelming to the novice. I've stared at SunVox and Jasuto long and hard, and had almost no idea where to begin. With zMors Modular I was able to piece together some basic patches based off of my limited knowledge, and using some presets as guides.

The app size is almost nonexistent, coming in at only 1.3 mb. This is a huge plus. Not yet mentioned are the sounds. This app can definitely bring it in this category. Many of the included presets alone almost make this app worth the price. From what I've read, developer Sven Braun already has at least one new module cooking, and I wouldn't be surprised if there are more updates in the future, based on the work he's put into his other app, zMors Synth.

Modular synths can be either a playground or a nightmare, depending on who you are. I'm becoming more knowledgeable and more comfortable with the idea of building my own sounds from the ground up. I still appreciate an app that ships with tons of presets, but I don't necessarily feel intimidated by modular synthesis any more. I think at my stage of development, zMors Modular is the perfect app for me right now, and will continue to grow with me as I develop. Not overwhelming, but certainly powerful. At the current price, it fits right into a sweet spot of modular synth apps in the App Store that would definitely make this worth a try.

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

[app 926789929]

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