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Uber Synth - Multi-Timbral Synthesizer (Version 2)

Intelligent Gadgets presents a greatly expanded version of Uber Synth. Uber Synth is a polyphonic multi-timbral FM synthesizer that runs on any iOS device. By multi-timbal we mean that it blends multiple sounds or timbres (2 at present although more will be added as iOS devices become more powerful). The underlying sound engine is based on the polyphonic triple-oscillator cross-modulated FM synthesizer first introduced in our xMod app. The original version of Uber Synth, which contains two triple oscillator FM synths per key, offered a spatial mapping of any number of preset or custom sound patches to different positions on the keyboard. This creates a continuous palette of sound by blending individual sound patches across the keyboard.

The new version of Uber Synth (iPad version) provides five multi-timbal options:

  1. Mix the sounds of any two sound patches (e.g., flute and cello)
  2. Using the sound map, "smudge" multiple sound patches (icons in sound space) to create a composite sound
  3. Specify a region in sound space centered on a sound and move a point by a variable randomized amount within the region each time you play a note to create an evolving mix of the center sound and the sound nearest the point
  4. Do the same as above but move the point automatically at a specified rate
  5. Generate specified as well as randomized sound palettes across the keyboard as in the original version.

The first part of the documentation describes the iPad version. Below it is the iPhone/iPod version, which has reduced functionality over the iPad app.

Blend Mode 1 - Mix Synth Sounds

The "<" and ">" buttons cycle through 32 preset and 32 custom (user programmable) sounds. The current patch (sound) is displayed below these buttons. "ADJ" lets you adjust the synth parameters. (All of the FM synthesizer controls are described in the xMod documentation.) After tapping "ADJ" you can switch between the two synth sounds, "SYN1" and "SYN2". The "<" and ">" buttons change the selected synth. Double tap to return to "ADJ" mode. The upper left knob "BLEND" mixes the two synths in this blend mode. The video below shows a short example.

Blend Mode 2- Smudge Synth Sounds

Tap "SOUND MAP" to toggle between the synth control panel and the sound map controls. The sound map displays all of the sound patches in a 2-D "space" of icons. Sounds that are similar in timbre are near each other. Tap an icon to move to that sound. Moving your finger around the sound map blends by "smudging" sound. The amount is controlled by the "INERTIA" knob as seen the example below. Tap an icon to obtain the original sound, i.e., without smudging.

Each preset and custom sound is represented by a 16-dimensional parameter vector that is projected into the 2-D sound map. The projection algorithm (called non-linear mapping) is not unique and gives somewhat different results each time it is computed. Double tap "SOUND MAP" to recompute the sound map if the icons are clumped together.

Blend Mode 3 - Key-Triggered Time Evolution/Blend

Tap "TIME" and unselect "AUTO" for this mode, which moves a point within a region you select in the sound map each time a key is pressed. "RANGE" is the size of the region. "CHANGE" is a randomized amount the point moves each time you tap a key. "INERTIA" controls the blending of sound in time. The "BLEND" knob controls the mix between the sound of the central icon and the sound of the icon closest to the moving point.

Blend Mode 4 - Auto-Triggered Time Evolution/Blend

This is like the previous mode except the point is moved automatically at a rate controlled by the "RATE" knob. Tap "AUTO" for this mode.

Blend Mode 5 - Spatial (Keyboard) Blend

Tap "SPACE" to select this mode. "CLEAR" resets the multi-timbral keyboard. Now press a key and move your finger in the sound space to the sound you want. Press another key and move your finger to a different location in the sound space. Now play the keys between the two notes and notice how Uber Synth blends the two timbres. You can combine as many timbres (i.e., sounds in the sound map) in this way as you like. When playing you can watch the sound map change as different sounds are selected and combined depending on the position of the note on the keyboard. Tap "RANDZ" to assign random timbres to notes on the keyboard. The range is controlled by the "RANGE" knob. Turn "BLEND" all the way to the right to obtain a smooth transition between sound as you move up and down the keyboard.

iPhone and iPod/Touch Version

The functionality of the iPhone and iPod/Touch version is reduced due to the smaller screen size. The octave "FREQ A" and "TUNE" are the only oscillator controls that can be adjusted. Four of the five blend modes (1,2,3, and 5) are available. The first shown below blends any two of the present and custom sounds.

The following screen shot shows the "smudge" mode where you control the sound with your finger. There is no control over inertia.

Key-triggered time evolution mode is shown below. There is no control of range or change.

The last screen shot shows the spatial key blend mode. This mode provides the same functionality as the iPad version.


The bottom right slider changes the size of the keys; the bottom left slider shifts the physical keyboard up-down. The lowest note is A0 and the highest is B7. As mentioned above the keys are after-touch sensitive. Move the slider to turn off "stuck" notes if and when they occur.


Uber Synth is Core MIDI compatible and supports MIDIRTP for wireless control. The synth can be played using an external keyboard like M-Audio's Keystation Mini 32. Using external accessories like iRig MIDI you can also play Uber Synth from any external MIDI control device.

If you use this with other Midi apps, Midi Bridge or a similar app is required to route Midi signals between apps.

N.B. Turn off multitasking gestures in the settings app when playing the keyboard for best results.

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