Published On February 7, 2019 | Reviews

Review: Preshan John

iPad apps are incredible value for money. At just over $30, Korg’s Electribe Wave iOS app isn’t far short of a fully-fledged beat production tool. With 16 tracks on offer, it can create polished tunes that sound way more expensive than the app’s price. 

The layout is divided into five tabs — Mixer, Sound, Sequence, Motion and Utility. With Synth and Drum instrument divisions within the Sound tab that flip the layout between keys or drum pads. 

Synth selections are split up into a PCM or Wavetable menu. While there are plenty of ways to tweak a sound, synth connoisseurs may be disappointed. For example, there’s only one envelope generator and it affects both the filter and amp. The two LFOs come in a variety of shapes, can be tied to a number of parameters and easily locked to the song tempo. The effects sound reasonably good.

Getting started is a doddle with scale choices reflected in the keyboard layout. Hit Chord mode, engage the arpeggiator, spin an LFO, throw on some reverb, and you’re off. It doesn’t take long to generate complex and lush synth tones. Pure, iPad-poking fun.

I expected MIDI editing on a seven-inch iPad screen to be a nightmare. Thankfully, Korg makes it very intuitive. The approach takes a little adjusting to but once you ‘get it’ you can drop in notes, build chords and change expressive parameters with ease. 

Electribe Wave’s drum sounds were close to what I’d expect in a third party producer’s sample pack. It doesn’t sound cheap. You get eight drum tracks and a drop-down menu on each track lets you swiftly build your kit of choice. Sequence beats or perform them in Record mode, then hit the Sequence tab to dial in expressive parameters — rolls for single beats, MIDI velocity, the usual stuff. The Groove setting is a fantastic value-add. If you’ve sequenced a straight 16th-note hat pattern, choosing a ‘groove’ for that track will alter the velocity of the hits; introducing movement without manual intervention.

There’s plenty of storage for patterns and you can launch patterns in real time like Ableton or Bitwig’s clip launchers. It could turn the app into a backing track platform for a musician or singer on stage. You can easily save patterns to another slot as a starting point for the next section of your song. Automation is accessed via the Motion tab where you can insert real-time tweaks over a long list of parameters. 

From the user experience to the song-creating potential, Korg’s app implementation is top notch and I’d highly recommend checking it out — even if it’s just to stretch those musical muscles on your sofa after work.  

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