Over the past year, we’ve reviewed a slew of analog-style
iPad synths. Each relies on the familiar oscillator-filter-envelope
architecture we all know and love. On the surface, it seems like one or
two of these would be sufficient for your mobile synth needs, but the
majority of these apps are so affordable that there’s no reason not to buy a bunch—since they each have their own distinctive sound. Case in point, IceGear’s Cassini synth.
At first glance, Cassini’s overall architecture is fairly
standard. Three oscillators feed a pair of filters, followed by a delay,
with an integrated arpeggiator. Familiar stuff. What separates Cassini
from many other virtual analog iOS synths is the depth of parameters and
options for each of its components.
For example, each of the three oscillator pages includes
the usual selection of waveforms but many of these waves have alternate
variations, in addition to an FM mode with a wide selection of ratios.
What’s more, there’s a dedicated amp envelope and ultra-deep LFO for every oscillator.
The LFO is of special note to sound designers. While the
usual waveforms are all present, there’s an additional waveshape knob
that skews the overall shape of each waveform. With it, you can
continuously vary the shape of the “sawtooth” from downward ramp to
triangle to upward ramp. For the square wave, this knob serves as a
pulse width control, so the positive and negative phases of the square’s
cycle can be set to different durations. There’s also a cool option
that turns the LFO into a 16-step set of sequenced values.
Both of Cassini’s dual filters include these same
modulation tools, giving them a depth that most other iPad synths can’t
touch. The filter modes cover all the bases and then some, with four
lowpass options, bandpass, highpass, and the now ubiquitous formant mode
for vowel effects. Of course they can also be set up in series,
parallel, or a blend of the two, which makes for some rather exotic
The integrated delays don’t disappoint either. There are
two distinct delay sections, one mono and one stereo. The mono delay
includes a triangle LFO for chorus/flange tricks and basic filter and
auto-pan options. This is followed by a stereo delay with independent
sections for the left and right channels, including multimode filters,
each with their own triangle LFO for swirling, evolving delay effects
that you just don’t hear that often.
Rounding things out are a deep but easy-to-use arpeggiator
and some unusual MIDI filtering options, like the ability to remap
incoming and outgoing notes, similarly to Ableton Live’s “Scale” MIDI
processing device. Throw in WIST integration and the ability to record
your performances as audio for export, and you have an extraordinarily
flexible subtractive synth for a measly five bucks. Go snag your copy
Pros: Three oscillators with flexible waveforms. FM and
integrated envelopes for each. Dual multimode resonant filters. Complex
LFOs with waveshaping and sequencing options. WIST, CoreMIDI and and
Cons: Sheer depth could be confusing for beginners.
Bottom Line: A surprisingly deep and capable subtractive synth app for only five bucks.
$4.99 | iphone.icegear.net