TF7 Synth iPad App

TF7 Synth

Information and Specifications

Category: Synthesizer Apps
Updated: Dec 26, 2013
Version: 1.30
Size: 9.5 MB
Language: English
Seller: Pier Lim
© Tenacious Frog
Compatibility: Requires iOS 6.1 or later. Compatible with iPad.
Price: Free with in-app purchase to Pro version.
Get it here: TF7 Synth – Pier Lim

Description: TF7 Synth is a FM synthesizer for the iPad. The free version comes with 20 sounds and the ability to morph between sounds. The paid app version includes 7 FM algorithms and a variety of effects. Support for Core-MIDI and Audiobus.


Review
TF7 Synth is a FM synthesizer for the iPad. The free version comes with 20 sounds, a MPC styled pad layout for playing and a morphing pad to modulate the sound you are playing on a square XY axis. The Pro upgrade features access to all the parameters of the FM synthesizer, including 7 algorithms. There are 10 effects: Delay, Flanger, Filter Sweep, EQ, rotary, Compression, Corus, Stereo Reverb, Pitch-shift delay and Auto-Whammy. It also features Core-midi, Audiobus and Inter-app audio.

There has been a few FM synthesizers apps over the years, most notably the DXi FM synthesizer and other apps that include FM, so I’m on familiar ground looking at this new app. While the DXi has a Yamaha DX styled interface, the TF7 completely sets itself apart from the rest by a complete redesign (though retaining the brown color from the DX7!), but still keeping the essence of a FM synthesizer intact.

If you’re serious about delving into FM don’t bother with the free version and get the Pro-upgrade for $3.99. While it has only 20 sounds it features no access to the actual FM synthesizer. The Pro version is a fully fledged FM synthesizer that makes the hassle of understanding FM easy and intuitive.

To get started the preset list is a great place to check out the range of possible sounds on offer. You get all your usual FM tones, so plenty of bells and piano tones, as well as pads, noises, rhythmic and percussive sounds, strings and leads. You get the idea. And a hell of a lot better than what shipped on an original DX7! Presets are also good for being a starting point to creating your own sounds. This is where the fun really begins. While there are a fair amount of modulation options on the Main page, including a nice little XY modulation pad for filter cut-off and resonance (or change this to something else in the Settings page), to access the algorithms you go into the Tone page.

Just before we get to the Tone page, it’s a good idea to check out the Settings page. This is where you can tell the app how to behave. The Controls settings allows you to change the X and Y to a variety of modulation effects such as Tone, Volume, Gain, Filter cut-off and resonance. MIDI settings lets you set up how you want the app to communicate with other devices such as controllers and inter-app connectivity. The Sound Quality page allows you to adjust the quality settings to either low, medium or high. It recommends the low settings if you have a iPad 2 or lower and the higher settings if you have the newer iPads. I am using a iPad 2 on high and there are a few artifacts if you do too much at once. The low setting also introduces artifacts as well so it must be time for an upgrade on my part! The final page is a tutorial that takes you through the basics.

The Tone page is where you get into the guts of FM and start screaming you can’t do it, it’s too hard, it’s too hard! While the Yamaha DX7 has had a lot of bad press over the years, recently we have seen a softening of opinion that FM isn’t that difficult to program and a great alternative to analog synthesis and sample based formats (hello LAS and wavetables!). Native Instruments have been leading the way for years with FM7 and FM8 for instant access to FM for ease of use and clean interfacing. As with the DXi, which offers much for the musician struggling to create something original, TF7 follows the same logical path to give us something that is easy to use and understand. So we have 7 Algorithms (the DX7 has 32) with a variety of modulation options available for each one. For example Algorithm 2, which is the most basic algorithm I suppose, has VCO with the option for either a Saw or Sine wave. Next is the LFO-Amplitude that features 4 waves and adjustment for Amp and Frequency. Next is the LFO-Phase for 4 waves and Amp and Frequency. Then there is ADSR for the usual adjustment of attack, decay, sustain, release and brightness. Finally there is the filter page for cut-off, resonance and additional gain. And that’s pretty basic as far as FM goes. For the person who wants to control every parameter on offer TF7 lets you do that quite well.

The Effects page offers 10 effects and they are listed up the top of the review. To use you press the one you want and either highlight it to activate it or go into the individual effects page and adjust the settings there. There is plenty to adjust and is a nice addition to an already great app. For complete craziness activate all the effects and see what you can come up with! For an effect by effect route, there is more than enough effects to keep you experimenting with for a long time. The delays are a notable highlight. Make crazy feedback sounds by turning it all the way up. For the iPad 2 user (or even worse, using an original iPad) artifacts creep into use pretty quickly so use sparingly.

For a basic intro to this app I’ve barely scratched the surface. Besides having the latest iPad to avoid artifacts there isn’t much wrong with TF7. For a FM synth it’s brilliant. The interface is amazing and as accessible as the best apps going around. The price is right for the pro upgrade. For ease of use and an introduction to FM synthesis this is the best. Get it now!