I’ve always been a lover of synths since I was a teenager and bought my first mono synth of a friend. Synthesis on PDAs is difficult as the devices themselves don’t have anything like the processing power of desktop or laptop computers, and depending on the kind of device and operating system you choose, there are big differences in terms of what you can achieve.
Windows mobile music applications actually do very well when it comes to synthesis, and there are a number of different applications to choose from. One of my favourites is AudioBox from 4Pockets. This application has a number of different synths available to it, and works in many ways like a mini studio application giving you synths, sampling, sequencing etc. In terms of the synthesis options avilable they are very good indeed. AudioBox offers an an analogue synth and dedicated string pad synth amongst it’s capabilities.
Griff is also an excellent contender for synthesis on the go, and boasts an array of synth plug-ins which are worth looking at such as pSyn, or Goldfish. If you want to know more about Griff, I have written a whole post on it here.
Other useful applications for synthesis are Phoenix Studio and of course, Syntrax, which has some truly amazing synthesis capabilities, although I have never really got to grips with it.
Synthesis options are far fewer on the Palm operating system. Microbe is a great starter application for Palm and includes two monosynths. SoundPad from miniMusic is a dedicated synth application, but in order to use the sounds from it you need at least one of the other applications from miniMusic such as BeatPad or NotePad.
Of course, Bhajis Loops has a range of synthesis options within it, but of course you always start with a sample as the basis for your sounds.
As far as other platforms are concerned, Syntrax is available for Symbian Series 60 and UIQ devices.
As time goes on I’m sure we’ll see synth applications for the iPhone / iPod Touch platform coming out too, but so far there’s not much available. In early 2008 the SDK for native applications for this platform will be released, so let’s and see what happens.
Hopefully this gives you a brief overview of what’s available, if you find anything that I haven’t covered, please let me know.