My Impressions: – PPG Phonem for iPad

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Some of my blogger friends has the big request that PPG Phonem will be ported to iPad. After the trailers in the past two weeks, PPG Phonem is available now for your iPad. You can even use it on an older iPad 3. I was for the last days Beta Tester for this new PPG release. Wolfgang Palm, best known for his legendary Hardware Wavetable Synthesizers mastered the big challenge to port this awesome plugin to the IOS world. PPG Phonem is now available for iPad because he did some important sound engine optimisations. The sound quality is equal to the plugin. In this video, I show you the sound quality of Phonem with some of the included presets 

What you get with PPG Phonem is not the typical Synthesizer at all. For the beginning, you must know that this app is not the easiest one to understand because it doesn’t follow the normal subtractive philosophy where you have a standard oscillator which goes to the filter… What I doesn’t recommend often is to consult the manual of a iPad Synth because most of them are self explained but for this one, I give you the advice to read it or take some time to dive in the different chapters. Before I giving some more information, I must say here: if you search a Synth which offers bread and butter sounds, than you are wrong here. PPG Phonem offers lead, bass and other sounds but the sound characteristics doesn’t remember to classical sounding Synthesizers. 

If you love Vocoder or voice synthesis instruments, this one is the perfect instrument for you. With PPG Phonem, user can create expressive vocal synthesis sounds never heard before. Maybe you know this pretty cool text-vocoder feature inside Waldorf Nave plugin? Do you love it? Sorry Waldorf guys but forget this minimal tool. Phonem goes deeper and explore all kinds of vocal synthesis structures. Anything from a quite whisper, screams or even complete phrases are possible. What is excellent, Phonem can produce a wide range of different sounds, not only focused on traditional vocoder type sounds. 

On the website of PPG, Wolfgang Palm explain the sound engine in theses sentences: The heart of the system is a multi resonator filter with 12 individual resonators which can produce vocal sounds as well as all kinds of filter sweeps and effects. This is combined with a very flexible excitation source which can work as a simulation for the human vocal source (the glottis) but also use wavetables and time-corrected-samples (TCS) to drive the filter.

I must be honest in the point for the understanding. When Phonem was released as plugin, I was a bit lost how this plugin work. Normally you have a clear Synthesizer knowledge how to dive in a new synth but here it was different. It takes a bit longer to understand the structure of it but finally I must say: it sounds excellent. The heart of Phonem is based on a versatile excitation generator but as we know, Wolfgang Palm want to offer more than his. For the reason, you find also the very interesting feature to import wavetables from other PPG apps. So he added a wavetable and TCS system, which adds a new complete new dimension to create sounds. Wavetables can be imported or created /edited from WaveGenerator and TCS files can be imported /modified from WaveMapper 2. This is a good reason to have also this older PPG Apps in your IOS Synthesizer arsenal. 

If want to import the wavetable or TCS files, please look the picture below. On the right side you have “Go WG” (WaveGenerator) and “Go WM” (WaveMapper 2), there you can import them. This features gives you endless of possibilities. 

One of the most asked features in this IOS year is the support of IOS AU. Yes, PPG Phonem comes with IOS AU Version, you can combine multiple instances of it but this version is quite limited in the feature. The IOS AU Phonem version comes only with some sound parameters but it send this app in another sound journey due of the fact that you can combine multiple instances. I tested it with my iPad Air 2, AUM and I can use up to 4 instances without any CPU problems. There is a litte problem about the RAM management of the iPad. It’s possible that Phonem crash inside AUM Host as AU plugin due of a mismanagement of the RAM’s. If you load your saved multi patch and it crashed, please reload it. A reload of the multi-patch doesn’t crash Phonem in the AU Version. Please make attention. For demonstrating you the power of the AU Version in multiple instances, I produced a second video showing you some self-designed multi-patches. 

My conclusion for this app: if you can skip some traditional Synthesizer Apps with a classical subtractive idea and want to explore some new and unusual sounds which can not found in any other app, than PPG Phonem is your app. Some of the readers maybe say: “I have already a lot of different Voice Synthesizer apps from Virsyn or other developer”. I say very clear and I don’t lie: Compared to all other apps available with some similar approach, PPG Phonem has a high-quality and brillant sound and an absolute beautiful and intuitive GUI design. This app is one of these releases where we can say: it’s absolutely equal to the plugin version. With the IOS AU Version, you can even destroy every critics which say: you can only use once this app in your track. I don’t want to push you to buy this app but I recommend you to take a good look at this app. At the moment, this app is unique in the features and in the sound possibilities. If you consider buying this app, please use my purchase link of the app. In this case, you support Synth Anatomy Blog and Video Channel. Your support is my future. 

Phonem is available here:

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