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REVIEW: Korg iWavestation app

REVIEW: Korg iWavestation app

There seems to be no stopping the R&D team at Korg these days. The Japanese musical instrument and software giant continues to push the boundaries with its virtual incarnations of synths and gadgets from a bygone era, embracing the iOS market with apps such as Module, iMS-20, iPolysix, iM1, iElectribe and ARP ODYSSEi to name but a few.

Now the team has turned its attention to one of Korg’s classic synths, the Wavesation, bringing a wave sequence synthesizer for iOS.

The Wavesation was very much a synth in its own right, packed with innovative sounds and a powerful vector synthesis technique allowing multiple oscillators to be blended together to create complex textures and rhythms, quite unlike any other synth of the 90s.

Early pioneers of the instrument included revered artists such as Gary Numan and Depeche Mode. In fact, it was so of its age that American film and television composer Mark Snow used a Wavestation for his work on The X-Files. Think of the rhythmic, dark, shimmering tones – perfect for Moulder and Scully to wander around lost in the dark to.
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The clever part of the original Wavestation was the mix and morphing function that was operated by a joystick to change the balance of four oscillators and wave sequence function, allowing the user to position waveforms in sequences to create a stunning sequence of patterns and a truly unique sound.

The iWavestation app for iPad/iPhone reproduces those original programs in an intuitive, user-friendly design perfect for iPad and iPhone users where touchscreen application is considered the norm.

The graphics are great too, and make for easy editing of tones, although I have to admit that while the app comes with an on-screen keyboard I opted to plug in my controller keyboard and use the app as an external sound module. By doing this you have more iPad screen to play and shape the sounds, plus I would imagine anyone considering buying the app would be doing the same. That all said, the on-screen keyboard is extremely functional and I wouldn’t think twice about pulling the iPad out and plugging headphones in to compose on a long journey.

Expansion packs are available and with the app full loaded there are 1,500 sounds, over 700 waveforms, 55 effects and an extremely powerful random sequence ending to play with. In other words, you’re not likely to get bored anytime soon playing with the presets, and once you have exhausted them it’s time to get out the on-screen joystick and start creating.

This is where the iWavestation really stands apart from other synth apps. The ability to create deep timbral patterns and textures is something else. As for the sounds, they’re totally convincing of the original synth and, frankly, it’s utterly mind-blowing that Korg have managed to take the earlier technology and place it into this iOS app. If I were team Korg I’d be considering bigger shelves to display all those imminent innovation awards on.

The app comes with MIDI support, and for the sounds to truly take shape in your chosen DAW then it's definitely worth considering purchasing Korg’s plugKEY device, which is basically a mobile MIDI and audio interface that you can use to connect your iPhone, iPad or keyboard to.

My own meanderings with iWavestation came via an Apple Firewire/USB convertor, taking a line out of the iPad and into my audio interface, which worked fine. However, with the breadth of apps now on offer from Korg (and the speed in which they’re delivering new apps), plugKEY will most definitely be on my Christmas list.

And, to top it all off iWavestation can be used with the separate award-winning Korg Gadget app, which is the company’s very own mobile music production DAW. When both apps are installed, iWavestation can be used inside Gadget as ‘Milpitas’ delivering the iWavestation preset and any user sounds created, along with another 20+ classic drum modules, bass machines, synths and percussion synths that are included within Gadget.

Korg iWavestation is available now from the App Store for an introductory price of £14.99

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Tags: korg , synthesizers , synth , Reviews , iWavestation

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