Oli Freke

Tech House / Techno / House

Moog Modular 15 – iOS app mini-review

I’ve tried a few synths / sound generators on the iPhone, but have never really got on with them – the Audulus is too confusing; Wobble is silly (but fun for a few minutes); Technobox is actually a really good 303 emulation (but such tiny teeny controls). 

And now Moog have got into the act with a highly faithful reproduction of their classic Moog Modular 15 system from 1973:

Of course, that cost £5500 when released in 1972, and the iPhone app costs only £22! 

And as the price has shrunk, so has the interface. Like really shrunk — onto an iPhone. And this is the problem – time and time again manufacturers of all software emulations of classic synths all make exactly the same mistake: reproducing physical hardware in graphics. It just doesn’t translate. It’s too small, it’s too fiddly and my eyes are now killing me from the strain of looking after only 30 minutes. It’s kind of compounded on the Moog 15 as unlike the Technobox they can’t show the whole system on one screen, you have to scroll around madly zooming back and forth to work out where you are, all the while trying to drag little simulated cables that obscure the names of panels and controls.

You get the idea. I wouldn’t mind having that version if they also had an alternative interface which was quicker to use. One quick idea - given that modular synths are all about the patching, why not just have two columns of drop down menus and select your ‘in’ and your ‘out’. Man that would quicker than trying to  drag cables across this thing. 

Then a couple of simple pages with BIG fader controls for filter cutoff, resonance, envelopes.

I mean the thing sounds amazing and rewards work with beautiful sounds, and it can be synced with Ableton and all kinds of cleverness. It just needs to be a pleasure to create patches with as well. And yes, I could have used an iPad, but my iPad 2 is not supported and why sell it for iPhone if you're going to recommend using it with an iPad?

So, back to you at Moog to make the worlds first useable iPhone synth!