The last couple of years has seen some of the big names in hardware synths step into the iPad app market, and the latest to enter the fray is Waldorf, with its new Nave Advanced Wavetable synthesizer.
Long known as kings of the wavetable following classic synths like the Microwave and software versions of the PPG Wave, Waldorf has ported its considerable talents to a tactile yet deep iPad interface.
At its heart, Nave features two wave modules and a more traditional oscillator module complete with typical analogue waveforms that can be mixed together. You can choose from 86 waves, create your own using the built-in text-to-speech synthesizer, or import (and export) waves using iTunes File Sharing and the Beatmaker and Sonoma pasteboards.
The main page features controls for tuning, selecting and modulating the wave start point, plus adjusting the spectrum and adding noise and brilliance. The most striking part of the GUI, though, is the large 3D wave display, which can be zoomed full-screen, rotated and manipulated, allowing you to shift around or raise and lower different sections of peaks. In practice it can be fiddly to get predictable results, but with patience you could use this tool to edit down harsh frequencies or draw in stuttered grooves. The fact that you can load your own waveforms massively opens up the sound-design possibilities, although a live audio-record function would make this even more fun. To thicken sounds you can add in the analogue-style oscillator, which has an Uberwave button to add and detune up to eight further oscillators.
However, this only scratches the surface of what Nave has to offer. Across the remaining four pages you have an incredibly well thought-out set of editing tools, including a multimode filter with five distortion curves, three envelopes, two LFOs, Mod, Delay and Reverb FX, an EQ and compressor, an arpeggiator, a mod matrix, X/Y pads and different keyboard layouts, plus a 4-track recorder for laying down ideas.
Sound-wise, Nave lacks the fat organic sound of Moog’s Animoog, but for sound design, there’s no contest. Nave is a much more versatile instrument that’s capable of some very complex spectral textures, yet is intuitive and easy to program.
A powerhouse of a synth with a great GUI that’s well thought-out and packed with features.