by Robb Romero
November 12, 2010
Overview Half-software, half-instrument, Morphwiz is a feature-packed music app that allows the immediately expressive musical experience of playing an instrument but without the need for an instrument or the skills to play it. Designed by synthesis expert Jordan Rudess, the app provides users with a visual approach to subtractive synthesis, but Morphwiz is much more than just a simple synth toy hidden inside an iOS interface. The included delay engine supplements the synth sounds very well, and also sports an "infinity" button that echoes to infinity, unless you should want to turn it off, in which case the repeats will tapir off gracefully. Rudess has packed this app's interface with lots of creative ideas, like the infinity button, that supplement your sound and playing without requiring a breadth of musical fortitude, making it enjoyable to anyone. Sounds can be edited and played at the same time, which makes creating your own sounds fast and fun rather than tedious and distracting. Recording can be done with an included sequencer and layered with multiple sounds. A mistake during a new layer of recording can be undone with the undo/redo button. Those who seek more complicated creations will enjoy the ability to reverse their sequence of sounds and continue to record over that. Songs can also be exported to Sonoma WireWorks via the popular AudioCopy/AudioPaste. The Good Morphwiz is thoughfully designed with all users in mind. When placing a finger on the screen, it tunes the pitch to where your finger lands and again where it stops. After that, movement side-to-side will induce expressive vibrato. Rudess has also posted several tutorial videos that are sure to get users going once they exhaust their initial curiosity, which could take some time given the sheer fun available just by goofing around inside the presets and toying with the sequencer. The Bad Though Morphwiz works beautifully on iPad, it might be cramped for users on a smaller-screened iOS device. However, Morphwiz is a universal app, and using it with headphones is deeply immersive. Though this app is intended for both beginners and experienced musicians, musicians will likely yield more satisfaction from the time they spend with the app -- much like the time spent with an instrument. The Verdict Morphwiz is something you should investigate if you're at all interested in "app-as-instrument" or "instument-as-app," as its presentation within iOS provides the immediacy and features of a software instrument combined with the tactile response of a real instrument. The lasting value of Morphwiz depends on one's own interest in creating sound on their iDevice, so when considering buying Morphwiz, ask yourself if you have an interest or long-term use for subtractive synthesis and creating sounds, songs, noises, or music. Even at $9.99, Morphwiz comes highly recommended for any musically-inclined individual with a long-term interest in creativity.