German based developer of all things innovative sounding, Sugar Bytes, continues the platform porting of its highly respected desktop audio mincing software to the iOS space. The low frequency, speaker popping, bass synth, Cyclop, is the latest arrival for iPad.
At its core, Cyclop for iPad is pound for pound a replica of its older brother for desktop pcs, released a few years back. It’s a monophonic bass synth, meaning only one note is playable at a time, and although gritty basslines are not the sole function for this synth engine, that’s definitely where it’s subby pounding heart is at.
The Cyclop plug-in has already seen plenty of coverage since it was first released, such as the great overview by the soundtestroom here, so I’m not going to delve too much into the inner workings, for the sake of repeating what has already been reported and reviewed elsewhere online.
But at the very least, for those that still aren’t too sure what Cyclop is, here’s a brief overview of the key features.
At the top left of the app, is the first of four unique dials, the wobble knob, which is a controllable parameter allowing Cyclop to generate complex LFO modulations. Of the 12 available slots here, up to 16 different waveforms can be selected, one in each slot.
At the bottom left side are the two main sound makers, which are both packed with 6 synth engines each, including Saw Regiment, Analog Sync, FM, Transformer, Spectromat, and Phase Stressor. Further tweaking of each synth can be made with a series of colourfully labelled knobs such as Syncfreak, Stab, and Digitize. My favourite it the transformer synth, which is combo of a granular synth and wavetable synth, which has some cool vocal samples you can mess around with.
On the opposite side, also at the bottom of the screen, are two filters and a routing section. The router can send the two synths to independent filters, or plus there’s parallel or series mode. There are 10 filter types to choose from, plus the usual cutoff, resonance, and wet/dry mix controls. A unique feature in the filter section is the ‘vowel’ option, which can give bass sounds that ‘mouthing’ style bass effect.
Another key sound shaping component is the distortion knob next to the sub-oscillator, with its 9 different modes, which can really drive new character into a sound. Playing with the sub-osc and bass controls let you dial in additional lows, and the stereo knob, as it sounds, adds a widening effect.
Naturally, modulation is the main drawcard of Cyclop, and the centre of the screen offers access to a customisable envelop, LFO and step sequencer as sources for synths and filters. The same area is where you assign modulation targets for the wobble and sound knobs.
For anyone already familiar with Sugar Bytes previous products, you’ll know they excel at pattern-based effects sequencing, check out Effectrix if you need a refresher. So they’ve been kind enough to pack this same functionality into Cyclop. The dial in the top right corner, in combination with the effects sequencer section in the middle of the screen, allow you to add a variety of programmable effects, ranging from phasing, chorus and looping, to vinyl effects and classic delays and reverbs.
And like all of the key knobs and parameters in Cyclop, these can all be automated for finite control over your sound.
As I said, this was merely a brief overview of the key features of Cyclops, and I haven’t even touched on the excellent preset browser and the cool arcade game style patch preview option.
Most importantly for iOS users are the features that have been included with the iPad version of Cyclop. These include a wonderfully slick touch user interface, and full MIDI support for using external controllers. You can also access audio from your devices music library. iTunes File sharing is available for importing/exporting files, and last but not least the all important Inter-App Audio and Audiobus support for talking with other music making/recording apps.
If a bass line is serious business for you, from cranking EDM to gritty dubstep, there isn’t a better iPad app for creating truly original, sub-ulicious sounds, with almost limitless possibilities, that Cyclop.