How to use the OP-Z’s new sampler with your iPhone

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This is all you need to make a hit record. Well, maybe a few dongles, too…
This is all you need to make a hit record. Well, maybe a few dongles, too…
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Teenage Engineering’s awesome, pocket-size OP-Z synth can now record and use samples. Thanks to a massive software update, it can now sample live audio in through its mic, or via its USB-C port. And yes, if you hook it up to an iPhone or iPad via USB, it shows up as a standard audio interface: You can record from, and send audio to, the OP-Z in lossless digital quality.

Today we’re going to check out these new features. A few limitations prove annoying, but Apple users should feel accustomed to that by now.

AudioKit’s retro ’80s synthesizer now works inside your favorite music app

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Even the promo pictures are pretty 1980s.
Even the promo pictures look pretty '80s.
Photo: AudioKit

Here’s some pretty big news for iOS musicians: AudioKit’s Digital D1 synth is now an Audio Unit. What? That means that, instead of running as a standalone app, you can now run it as a plugin inside your music app of choice. It also means you can run more than one copy, putting one instance on each track of GarageBand, for instance.

And what makes D1 more interesting than other synths for iOS? A few things. One, it’s open source and built by volunteers. Another is that it looks and sounds amazing. And finally, it’s totally ’80s, giving you the synth sounds of pop music’s best decade. Radical.

Ableton puts a synth inside your browser

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Ableton has put a synth school into the browser.
Ableton has put a synth school into the browser.
Screenshot: Cult of Mac

Did you ever wonder how a synthesizer works? It’s all just “electronic noise,” right? Well, yes, it totally is. But if you’d like to know a bit more than that, Berlin-based Ableton will teach you. The electronic music giant launched a website that puts a synthesizer inside your browser, and uses it to teach you exactly how a synth works.

The synth simulator works great in Mobile Safari, too, but if you use Google’s Chrome, you can hook up an actual keyboard to your Mac and use it to play. That’s thanks to Chrome’s support for Web MIDI, which Safari doesn’t offer.

Let’s have a quick look at this cool teaching tool.

Factory makes other iPad synths look like toys

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Factory sounds great, and looks ok.
Factory sounds great, and looks ok.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Factory is an aptly-named new iPad synthesizer from SugarBytes. In fact, calling it a synth is underselling it — kind of like calling GarageBand a “tape recorder”. Factory does synthesize sounds, but it also has built-in effects, a sequencer, an arpeggiator, and a totally wild DJ-style crossfader, which lets you morph between presets.

The app is ultra-flexible, as capable of finely-crafted sound design as it is of sonic mayhem.

This single iPad knob costs almost $400

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My, what a beautiful knob!
My, what a beautiful knob!
Photo: Synclavier

The Synclavier is a digital synthesizer from the early 1980s. Synclavier Go! is an iPad app that mimics the classic synth. But this post isn’t about those. It’s about the Synclavier Knob, an accessory for the app.

The Synclavier Knob is a single knob on a mounting plate the size of an iPad mini. That’s it. Oh, and it costs $399.