In this week’s episode of Logic Pros, we are taking a look at the new Unique iOS synth from Sugar-Bytes. The company has been making some of the most wild audio effects processors and instruments for quite some time now. Turnado, Effectrix, Artillery and the more recent Looperator provide some of the most interesting and crazy beat slicing/glitch effects out there. We got some awesome news last week when Sugar-Bytes released Unique for iPhone and iPad. This isn’t some hacked-up port or a thinned out version either. This is now one of the best dual-oscillator analog synths on the platform. As a long-time user of the company’s products, I couldn’t wait to go hands on with Unique for iOS.
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We are getting the same polyphonic dual-oscillator setup with 5 different waveforms (each with unique tone/waveshaping controls), auto panning and an octave selectable sub oscillator as the desktop version. Then add in one of the most interesting filters on the market and a massive array of modulation destinations. Two effects slots, an arppegiator and full Audiobus, MIDI and Ableton Link compatibility round out the instrument’s major highlights. We can even use the Network MIDI option to rifle MIDI performances from Logic Pro X (and other major DAWs) directly to Unique on iPad or iPhone over the air. All iOS instruments should have this. We will be covering this tech in more depth down the line.
The UI is clean and easy to use, especially on iPad with the extra real estate. The synth is basically spread across three pages: the Main synth engine page, the Controllers modulation source page and a basic Settings page. As you can see, the Main page is nicely organized into modules with all of the available controls readily available. It comes packed with 300+ pro sounding presets across every category of instrument from bass and keys to strings, synths and weird effects. Along the top there is a nicely categorized menu, or you can flip through with the arrow buttons to quickly audition sounds.
All of the knobs and controls, and well almost everything, you see on the Main page can be modulated by any of the sources found on the Controllers page above. Simply press and hold any of the controls to bring up the modulation source menu. From there we can choose from any one sources on the Controllers page. Those include an LFO, envelope, sequencer and an X/Y Motion pad. You can hit the Record button under the X/Y Pad and then swipe in your own patterns. In contrast to fixed rate LFOs, the ability to record oddly timed finger motions here is great for weird filter sweeps and modulating the feedback/depth parameters in the FX section and more.
Unique has a wicked multi-mode filter. It does all the usual stuff with fully resonant high/low/band-pass and comb filter options. But you can also set the filter into a formant or Vowel mode which replaces the typical cutoff and peak pots with two Vowel selection menus. Both of which can be modulated to flip through each of the various vowel sounds. Awesome, but it gets much deeper than that.
At the top right hand corner of the Filter section, there is a pull down menu where we can actually choose how we want to modulate the filter. So yes, we can have a dedicated filter envelope, but we can also opt to modulate between Vowel menu 1 and 2 using an LFO, the pitch or mod wheels and a pretty phenomenal “4 Step” mode. This final mode actually allows us to modulate between four different Vowel filter settings of our choosing. We can set the speed, resonance, drive and overall mix blend of the filtered sound. Manually setting up a modulation and filter patch like this without a dedicated “4 Step” setting of this nature would require a beast of a desktop synth, multiple filters/settings and quite a complicated modulation routing path, all at about 10 times the price.
In fact, we can use the 4-Step mode without the Vowels. This allows us to flip through four different cutoff frequencies at a selectable speed with the same glide, resonance, drive and mix controls. Again, this is a very simple way to almost sequence filter cutoff settings and a wonderful feature you certainly won’t find very often in competitive products.
I think this thing is easily worth the $99 Sugar-Bytes charges for it on Mac, so starting at $5 on the App Store, it is a must-buy synth for anyone making music on Apple’s mobile eco-system. Sure, who doesn’t want a second filter, a more robust sequencer modulation source and an extra Envelope or three? It would also be nice to be able to choose multiple modulation sources for a single parameter (destination). But the filter is bananas, the built-in polyphonic auto-panning with selectable rates does wonders for the dual oscillator setup and it sounds great alongside any of the $200+ synths in my Logic Pro X arsenal.
Unique for iPad: $14.99
Unique for iPhone: $4.99
Unique for Mac: $99.99
Do yourself a favor and go check out the rest of the Sugar-Bytes products. Anything I mentioned above along with Obscurium and the rest of its iOS lineup is definitely worth your time. If you’re thinking about grabbing some of its iOS stuff, the Sugar Bytes FX Bundle brings some of its best together with a nice deal.
ICYMI: Here’s all of the biggest news and updates from last week and even more Logic Pros
See anything cool in the world of music production we missed? Have anything you want us to review? Let us know in the comments below.
The Logic Pros are: Justin Kahn and Jordan Kahn, who also front Toronto-based electronic/hip-hop group Makamachine.
Want more Logic Pros? Check out the archives here and stay tuned for a new installment each week in 2017.