With 3 Sketch Synth products out there you have to start asking the question which Sketch Synth is for me? Well, each Sketch Synth works with a different paradigm and so lets start by describing those paradigms:

  • Sketch Synth 3D came first, the concept is fairly simple, you have 4 channels of music playing and you modulate each channel independently in three different dimensions in order to communicate geometry and shape in your music, starting with the built in synth and then moving to using MIDI and OSC to control powerful desktop synthesizers. Over time Sketch Synth 3D was adapted to meet the requirements of the app store market and so has many more internal synth like features than originally intended.
  • Sketch Synth FX came next. It is a much simpler 2D tool designed for the app market. The premise is that you have a sample playing and you apply a range of effects to it in different layers until you get your desired sound and then you can record and share easily. It has simplicity on it’s side.
  • Sketch Synth 2 is a potential Leviathon in waiting, it’s premise is different. You have 10 crossfadable loops which you can bring in and out using the XY pad. This means that once you’ve created a bunch of loops in Ableton or what have you then you can bring them across to Sketch Synth 2 and experiment with their arrangement. Their are 4 fx channels too so you can bring in effects to accentuate or muffle parts of the performance. In Blueprint mode all the visual elements of the instrument are customisable as well so you can completely make up your own instrument.

Three different products, three different paradigms. So lets look at which to buy?

Well, which has the best reviews? Sketch Synth FX:

Fun ★★★★★

Sketch synth ★★★★

Superbe processeur d’effets ★★★★★

What about Sketch Synth 3D? The product is bigger with higher risks attached and the reviews are more mixed:


clunky ★

And Sketch Synth 2, version 1.0.0 was a bit limited, but now that the blueprint and fx modes have been added the product is expanded dramatically and the result?

Awesome! ★★★★★

by Dpg499 – Version 1.2.0 – Jun 20, 2013

Downright awesome!

Sketch Synth 3D has two variants, Sketch Sound and Sketch Synth 3D. Sketch Synth 3D is by far the better product although has worse reviews because it was initially much more expensive, it is now a bundle of all the Shape of Sound bits and pieces, whereas Sketch Sound was an older reduced price product that I keep on the app store so that people who bought it way back can still download it. I don’t really recommend Sketch Sound because it lacks the MIDI capabilites of Sketch Synth 3D and when you actually come to doing something properly, thats whats important.

Some people may hate me for saying this; but I’ve never heard great sounds come out of an iPad synth. I’ve played with a lot and compared to Desktop synths they do sound like they cost $5 instead of $100. If you don’t believe me then try listening to some of the samples for Sylenth 1, ElectraX, Gladiator, Massive and see if any of your iPad apps can match them. When I did Sketch Synth 2 I always intended it to be used with samples from a Desktop machine because otherwise I’m afraid the output will sound like it’s come from an iPad. I do put Audio Copy & Paste in there so you can use it on the go and in fact Ed at the Apps4iDevices magazine was able to make some pretty cool sounds, but not enough to convince me to leave my Desktop synths. The closest anything has come to swaying me from that opinion is when I saw DJ Sasha mention that he was using some iPad synths on blogspot, especially for some of the granular stuff.

Although, just adding to this I got Proppelerhead’s Thor recently and the sounds coming out of it are tight, I like the slot like modules and it’s one I think I could recommend. I could also recommend Sunrizer and an introductory synth, great to learn on. But when it comes to the crunch neither of them match up to what you can do with a desktop, so I’m going to put my money where my mouth is and create an ordinary synth instead a Sketch based one. I doubt I will do audio bus, so I am planning a new feature for the synths which will be a communication channel to a headless VST on your machine, it can then communicate via midi to this VST and act as the UI. I think it’s better than audio bus because it means you can integrate it with your performance.