Based on the 1971 Minimoog synth, Arturia (along with Retronyms) recently released iMini for iPad. Powered by their signature analog modelling technology (TAE) this iOS version feels like a mobile successor to the massively popular Mini V, available for PC and Mac. So, iMini is optimized for touch, comes with great compatibility out of the box and recently introduced Audiobus and Virtual Midi support in its 1.1 update. It’s time to take a closer look at this synth.
First thing you’ll notice when you fire up iMini is that the app sports a great, clean design. It’s the classic Minimoog front updated for iPad and the knobs feel in no way crammed onto your screen, something which other apps often get wrong. You start off with the familiar oscillator bank and signal modifiers of which everything seems to provide instant gratification. If you’re not yet familiar with the functionality, the app contains a great user guide when you tap ‘Info’ explaining the synth on a knob-by-knob basis.
A special part is reserved for the keyboard controls which open when you tap the gear icon above the keys. Here you’ll find controls such as glide and decay as well as a scale selector, which allows you to play in specific keys and tone scales, similar to those in say Animoog. This really adds to the playability when you don’t have a midi keyboard around.
For those that are not fond of endlessly fiddling with the main board to achieve the sound they want, iMini offers a wide selection of presets, 500 in total, that are imported from the Mini V software. It’s safe to say that the sound is definitely on par with its bigger brother. The presets can be selected at the top of the screen spanning over multiple categories of sounds and sound designers. Of course you can also save your own banks or even import new ones through iTunes File Sharing.
Perform & FX Mode
When you’re happy with your shaped sound and you want to rock out, the Perform mode assists you in the form of an arpeggiator and two customizable XY-pads. Since there’s no way of recording a performance within the app itself (also see Midi & Compatibility) you’ll have to resort to playing keys and operating the XY-pads at the same time like a true virtuoso or just activate the arpeggiator.
Next to the Perform mode you’ll also find an FX section where you can apply a Chorus and Analog Delay effect to the audio signal.
Midi & Compatibility
iMini was released with great support out of the box. Next to supporting WIST, iMini also plugs into the Retronyms’ Tabletop system providing you with more options for performance and composition, as well as the ability to route other sounds through iMini’s filters. Unfortunately, using iMini within Tabletop seems to disable polyphony, somewhat crippling your output.
If you’d like to connect iMini outside of Tabletop’s ecosystem, the latest update (1.1) adds Audiobus support allowing you to feed the signal through and to other Audiobus-enabled apps, this way you can record your performance in countless other apps such as Garageband.
iMini is also very MIDI-friendly. Besides the midi assignments possible in Tabletop the app itself also allows you to freely assign all the parameters to a connected MIDI device. Naturally, the Arturia Minilab keyboard seems like a great companion for the iMini.
It’s obvious that Retronyms’ experience have made the iMini a solid sounding first iOS-release for Arturia. The app is a great addition to the already large list of useable synths for iPhone & iPad. It appeals to both ‘ready-to-go’ performers as well as sound designers that love to dig deep. We believe that the app would benefit from an internal recorder (like Animoog) so you can lay down a performance and further tweak it during playback, without using any external apps.
Check out the impressive promo video for Arturia iMini below.
Here’s a tutorial that goes over the basics.
iMini is available for iPad 2 and up.