Arturia have released the first update to their iSEM iOS synth app today. This new version – v.1.0.1 – brings a number of new features plus what sounds like some performance improvements under the hood.
The main features of the synth remain the same as when I originally reviewed it. At UK£6.99, iSEM is a virtual recreation of Oberheim’s classic SEM (Synthesizer Expansion Module) that dates from the mid-1970s and was used by folks such as Jan Hammer and John Carpenter. Given that a an actual hardware recreation of the hardware version released in 2010 had a list price of about UK£750, if you already own an iPad, the iOS app might be considered a bit of a bargain :-)
The update brings support for poly aftertouch and channel pressure providing, of course, you have an external MIDI master keyboard that can generate that data. If so, it does add another element of expressiveness to your performance. In addition, as well as the usual array of minor bug fixes, this release brings improved IAA support and some improvements to the way MIDI is handled under iOS7. While iSEM was never a particular problem in this regard for me, it is nice to see MIDI implementation getting some attention from developers.
However, if you own one of the newer 64-bit iPads (Air or Mini), the app is now offering native support for these CPUs. I can only assume this would result in some significant improvements in the efficiency of the app’s operation on these devices. In other words, less CPU load and, presumably, more apps running at the same time before you max out your CPU resources.
When it comes to iOS synths, there really are some excellent choices available. iSEM is a seriously good synth app and sounds absolutely fabulous. Read the full review of the app if you want to find out more but, if you are an iOS synth collector then this is definitely one to add and, if you are a newbie iOS musician building your synth app collection, this is yet another contender to add to the best of the rest on the App Store. Highly recommended.