Without much advance hype (save for a few teaser photos on Twitter), iceGear has released LORENTZ, their new polyphonic synthesizer for iPad. This synth is likely to appeal to a wide range of audience, from those seeking lush pads to those looking for some squelchy bass lines.
Much like their previous synth Laplace (which I reviewed here), LORENTZ is a user-friendly, but deep synth. The interface of LORENTZ is reminiscent of Laplace, much in the look as well as the usability. Featuring smooth lines and muted colors, the UI lays out all the controls in one screen (with the exception of the arpeggiator). Using sliders instead of the knobs from Laplace, everything you need to program is right in front of you. Broken record time here, but I love this. As I get better at programming synths, this type of layout makes things easy for me. While I know that iceGear's previous synth Cassini is capable of great things, the interface of that synth has always put me off. Not so with LORENTZ.
So, some basic details. LORENTZ is a polyphonic synth. You can choose between a sawtooth, pulse wave, noise generator, or a square sub oscillator. Sliders to control the levels for each are available, so you can blend these to your liking. For each waveform, there is also an additional control to affect the output. Namely, these are Detune (Saw), PWM, which can be controlled by LFO or manually (Pulse), Pitch (from +19 to -24, in five steps), and LPF (Noise). Tons of tweakability here.
As with Laplace, one of the cool features here is the Resonator. You can alter where the resonator sits in the flow by either having the filter feed into the resonator, or have the resonator before the filter. Additionally, you can control the pitch and feedback amount, as well as using an LFO to control the depth of feedback. There is a dry/wet knob here as well.
Along with the expected high pass filter and low pass filter (which has additional controls for LFO, envelope, resonance and drive, LORENTZ also includes some decent effects. You get a chorus and delay effect (again, with many controls for LPF, left/right channel delay amount levels, feedback, etc.). While there are deeper and perhaps better individual effects units out there, being able to use these in-app while creating your sound is a great bonus.
If you've played Laplace, you'll be familiar with the built-in arpeggiator in LORENTZ as well. It includes the option to go up to 16 steps, with a two octave range. You can select the standard arp options (up, down, UpDown, DownUp, or random) or create your own pattern. Admittedly, this one took me a bit to figure out how to get it to work. After selecting 'Program', you move the sliders to the corresponding numbers, based on the notes in a chord. As explained in the manual, "The program row can be used when the style is set to "Program". It specifies which of the held notes on the keyboard will be played. Example: When you hold down C,E,G,A keys, C is 1st note, E is 2nd note, G is 3rd note. A is 4th note." While this didn't feel intuitive at first, it does make sense, and you can get to programming pretty quickly.
I played around with the resonator quite a bit, and I loved how hard you can drive a sound manipulating just the resonator. Below is a sound demo of just a held 'C' note, and me just playing around with the pitch and feedback. Now, this is not pretty sounding. It is gritty and distorted and loads of feedback squeals. But, it is an example of how you can go from pretty bell sounds to an all-put assault of cacophony with LORENTZ.
Now, you shouldn't leave thinking that all you can do with LORENTZ is recreate Neil Young's ARC album. LORENTZ is capable of some beautiful tones, including some squelchy bass, nice brass sounds, and some smooth pads. The developers at iceGear have been putting out some great demos to show off the sounds, including this one that shows some tweaking of the pads. Jakob Haq at The SoundTestRoom has a great "First Impressions" video that you'll want to see as well.
The app is iPad only, and is completely compatible with Audiobus 2 and Inter-App Audio. Core MIDI and Virtual MIDI are here as well, and both worked great with my testing. MIDI Learn was a breeze here as well, and the controls mapped to the knobs on my M-Audio Oxygen 25 with just a tap and a turn.
As I've become more familiar with sound synthesis, I've started going back to my "old" apps and creating patches from scratch. Sometimes more successfully than others. To that end, I've started off with apps that I can easily understand (I'll leave Thor to my friend Jakob Haq for now!). Apps like FM4 and Laplace have been great for me, as the controls are all laid out right in front of me. The flow of these apps make sense, and I can anticipate what sounds I'll hear when tweaking the knobs. LORENTZ is now another app that I will be able to use to create my own presets. This layout is fantastic, and the sheer number of options for parameter control mean that it will be a long time before I am bored.
At the somewhat surprisingly low price of $5.99 USD, I can very easily recommend this synth. It's no one trick pony, and has so many great features (resonator, arpeggiator) that I think even the most full iPad could make a little room for yet another synth app.
If you're thinking about buying LORENTZ, please consider clicking through our App Store link below. Thanks![app 1016055431]