SynthStation First Look

Well there’s already been lots of debate about SynthStation since this morning so I thought I’d post a few initial thoughts on SynthStation, and list out what I think are the good points and the bad points of the app. So far I’ve only really used this on my iPad and not my iPhone, and the reason for this will become apparent as you read this post.

The good stuff …
Once you’ve worked out how this app gets things done then things are very straightforward indeed. The step sequencer is very easy to use and in some ways reminds me of Bhajis Loops.

The synth editing controls are very comprehensive, there’s lots in here and the synth sounds are very clear and crisp.

Now on to the not so good stuff …
One of the comments on this was that the app is ugly, and it is, really ugly, right down to putting large X’s in the drum pattern editor. Some of the controls are very clunky and overall it looks like it wasn’t designed with a user in mind.

The interface is difficult to use because it is non-intuitive. Some parts of the app like the drum editor has a button for selecting the kit so you can go to another section that you’d reasonably want to, other parts of the app require you to go back to the main menu and then out again to the section you need.

When I first loaded this on my iPhone some of the controls looked so small I wasn’t sure I would be able to use them at all, which is why I moved on to the iPad to try it out a bit more.

But …
We have to remember that this app was built to sit inside the SynthStation most of the time, and as you look at some of the sections of the app they are there solely to support the SynthStation hardware.

So for that reason I’m going to put my negatives to one side for the moment and wait until the SynthStation hardware is finally available. Gear4Music have Akai’s SynthStation listed as being around from the 13th of July. I hope that they’re right, although now that we’ve got the software I have a bit more confidence about the hardware turning up.

I really want to be able to use this app with the hardware and then I think we’ll get a real feel for what it is capable of.

SynthStation at the app store:


  1. 3 Questions if you don't mind:

    Does the MPC drumpad section offer wav/sample import?

    Is there any way of exporting/recording a song and moving it off the ipod/ipad?

    Are the 3 synths polyphonic? If so how many voices?


  2. I just don't understand how you're supposed to use those micro controls when the device is 'docked' into the keyboard. Or why you'd even want to, given the kb has no knobs or faders. Can someone please explain to me it's appeal?

  3. The first synth is polyphonic (don't know how many notes though), the 2nd and 3rd are monophonic.
    This app makes some good noises, but it's really clunky and feels like they've rushed it out.
    For example you can't record to a sequence using the mpc pads or keyboard! They'd better start releasing updates for this. It has the potential to be good, but at the moment it's fiddly. Where's the mpc style usability?
    On the plus side the arpeggiators and performance mode with touch pad are good.

  4. I think this is not good. Have not realtime recording… realtime performance impossible. I bought and I'm disappointed.

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