iOS app music production is in a frantic neck and neck race to innovate as fast as Apple adds more horsepower and memory to their devices. For us music makers, this adds up to cooler and cooler instruments popping up on our iPads and phones. The Korg Electribe Wave is a fantastically fun and charmingly creative music production toolkit for your iOS device that allows you to glitch, sequence, and step in your tunes quickly and efficiently.
The first thing that really stood out to me with Electribe Wave is how fun looking and sounding the instrument is in general. It’s definitely an instrument that is far easier to use on an iPad, and on an iPad Pro you really have a lot of screen real estate to work with - but the interface definitely works and is quite optimized for mobile as well. The colors are conservative and the interface definitely embraces the ‘dark mode’ trend we are living in right now. The contrast between the sections makes it easy to differentiate what is where and what controls do what. Points to Korg for making an instrument really easy on the eyes!
Sequencing and songwriting aside, Electribe Wave is really cool if only as a sound generator! The wavetable synthesizer is crisp, diverse, and really unique. There are a TON of waveforms to choose from (and of course, in this age of downloadble content, you can purchase some more) and the synth itself allows for significant customization through the voice, filter, envelope, fx, unison, and EQ sections.
The drum samples are lovingly glitchy and pair up quite nicely with the wavetable synth. The number of factory sound choices are significant, but you can also load in user samples via iTunes file sharing, AudioPaste, and AudioShare. As a (not so) little starter gift, Korg includes a pack of user-loadable samples that spans styles and genres. Packed into that downloadable library is a veritable time vault of Electribe samples of the past - so Electribe fans, rejoice! You can load in a ton of classic Electribe physical hardware sounds right from day one.
In terms of writing and producing music, Electribe Wave is quite the versatile tool. Drum sequences can be entered in a speedy fashion, and you can punch in patterns incredibly quickly and intuitively. The special keyboard designed for synth input is quite well done, allowing for customization of scale to save on space and allow for quicker improvisation. You can choose a key/scale to work in, and all the quick buttons on the bottom keep you in that particular key. You can, of course, also utilize MIDI and enter notes in with a keyboard in a traditional manner.
The motion sequencer is also quite powerful. You can not only sequence notes, but you can sequence events and changes to the FX / sound. The included virtual KAOSS pad allows you to quickly modify a ton of parameters locked in step with your song.
Song mode also allows you to punch in a ton of patterns on the fly, not worrying about overarching song construction until you’re ready. This way you can stay in the flow of things and crank out ideas. When you’ve got enough, you can then arrange those ideas in a traditional linear ‘track’ fashion for your complete song. It not only channels a bit of Ableton Live - Electribe is fully compatible and will export fully editable and mixable files to Live for finishing and refinement.
Electribe is the rare instrument that is not only extremely powerful, it’s an absolute blast to ‘play with’. I found myself ditching my ‘review agenda’ on more than one occasion and simply getting lost in the interface, having fun, and making music. Electribe Wave is well thought out, musical, and extremely entertaining.
Pros: Aesthetic design is nice, well laid out, good use of iOS screen real estate, fantastic wavetable synth, excellent drum sounds, user loadable samples, tons of included sounds.
Cons: The sequencer/song/bar/utility pages can require a bit of study to fully grasp, but it’s a fun bit of study!
Learn more about making music with Korg gear: https://ask.audio/academy?nleloc=category/audio/topic/korg