Two major synth and drum machine apps make music making easier on the iPad

We don't generally spend too much time talking about gear here, but over the last couple of days, two incredibly rad and hard to ignore apps made it onto the iPad. We're talking about the release of ReBirth and the Korg iMS-20 -- both of which, even if you're not a musician, are exceptionally keen.

The release of ReBirth on the iPad is exciting news for anyone who has used the software on PC -- or for folks who've actually used a TB-303 or TR-808. We talked about the music making potential of the iPad before its release, but with the exception of a few apps, we haven't seen much from the heavy hitters in the industry, like Propellerhead.

ReBirth has been a popular standby for electronic and experimental musicians for a long time, and it's often credited as helping push along the electro revolution in the '90s. It's possible that the iPad could allow for a new portable device that frees musicians up to take on other instruments without having a big laptop in front of them. It has the benefit of touch control, and while it will never replace real knobs, it's far more intuitive than using a mouse. Another big bonus: iPad owners will be getting MIDI support in the next update.

It's not just ReBirth that's interesting, though, Korg dropped an emulator for the much-loved MS-20. This is their second music making app for the iPad, the first being the exceptionally awesome iElectribe, a fully functional sequencer and drum machine.

The MS-20 is one of the most classic analog synths, generally selling on eBay for around $1,500. It's also one of the choice instruments of Aphex Twin and many other electronic musicians. For those who can't afford an actual MS-20, or who would be too scared to take the thing on tour even if they could, Korg's emulated version is a great stand-in.

You'll actually get more than just the MS-20 here; you'll get a sixteen-step analog sequencer based on the Korg SQ-10, a six-part drum machine, a Kaoss Pad and a seven channel mixer. That's a hell of a lot of bang for $15.99. It's not the first time Korg has emulated to MS series for touch screens, the DS-10, which was made for Nintendo's handheld system was essentially a very, very small MS-20.

This biggest drawback here, though, is the fact that even with multi-tasking enabled in the next iPad software update, you can't really switch between the instruments very easily. While it's a great step forward for digital production, and an incredibly cheap alternative to the real thing, there will always be something special about a real analog instrument. Even if that means you have to bang on it a few times to get it working.

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Thorin Klosowski
Contact: Thorin Klosowski