ANILOG Help – User Manual

Download ANILOG on the app store

Thanks for buying this app! You support my music and further development of this synthesizer. It means a lot. ANI signature

What’s New

  • You have the first version of the app! It’s all new!
  • Play the demo songs to hear the awesomeness.
  • Definitely check out the Synthesizer Cookbook for tasty sonic recipes
  • Problems? See the troubleshooting guide.
  • Please give feedback—go to www.seqmedia.com

Getting Started

Just start pushing buttons! That’s the fun of it! (Worst case: just reset back to factory settings.)

There are three main modes:

Setup screen thumbnail Demo songs screen thumbnail Instrument editor screen thumbnail

On an iPhone you may need to hide the keyboard with Keys to see some of the interface.

Main UI diagram
  • ?: show this help screen
  • Mod: sound shape and amplification adjustment
  • Status messages: messages and fine adjustment values
  • Pitch: bend pitch of playing sounds
  • Hold: tap to sustain. Tip: double-tap as a “MIDI panic” button if notes won’t stop playing.
  • Octave: choose visual octaves from 2 to 9, hold to reset to 4
  • Sound select: 8 factory banks and 8 user banks, each bank has 32 programs. Tap the program name to show a scrolling list of programs.
  • Soft / hard velocity: the top of the keys is low velocity (MIDI velocity 1) and the bottom of the keys is hard velocity (MIDI velocity 127)
  • Keys: show / hide the onscreen keyboard, expands the editor region

Demo Songs Page

Hear what ANILOG can do! Or play along with a beat.

Note: You can’t edit or record songs … yet.

Demo songs page
  • Play: Play or pause a song.
  • Song button: Name of the current song. Press left/right sides to select a different song.
  • Song position: Shows current song play position in minutes:seconds. Drag left/right to seek through the song.
  • Tempo: Beats per minute of the song. Drag to change. Tap the center marker to reset to the song’s default speed.

Instrument Editor Page

Changing sounds is just as much fun as playing them! There are 3 Oscillator pages (with generators and envelopes), 1 Noise Generator Page, and 1 Properties Page. Change pages with the Prev Page and Next Page buttons. Here’s what’s on each:



Some notes about the sliders:

Sliders go up/down or left/right, and you can touch anywhere on the strip—not just on the tiny current value! Each has a default value indicated by a thick bar. Tapping above/below the current value will step up/down. For more precision tap, hold, and then drag outside the slider.

ANILOG sliders diagram
  • Current value: white bar is the current value, and you can touch anywhere on the slider strip to change the value!
  • Tap above/below: step up/down the current value
  • Tap thick bar: touch to reset to a default value
  • Drag outside: tap in the slider strip, then drag outside to make smaller increments

Oscillator Pages (OSC1, OSC2, OSC3)

Oscillator page, generator tab

Generator Tab

Each Oscillator makes sound from its Generator engine and are added together:

  • Gain: oscillator loudness, values above 1.0 are hard-clipped. Tip: set it high for square waves or overdrive.
  • Tune: adjust frequency by semitones. Tip: add a second Oscillator slightly detuned for a chorus effect.
  • Saw Ramp: the waveshape—this is really the “special sauce” of ANILOG! Far left is 100% Saw, in the middle is 100% Sine, far right is 100% Ramp. (In reality, the actual saw/sine/ramp is passed through a sine function to smooth the wave a tiny bit, so this is not pure digital saw/ramp but a more “round” midtone-heavy generator.) Tip: set the value to full saw or full ramp for a sharp buzzy sound, set it right in the middle for a smooth sine.
  • Left Right Output panning Tip: make a wide stereo effect by panning two Oscillators left/right and detune one of them.
  • Noise Add sample-and-hold style noise—see the Noise page for envelopes. Tip: add breath effects with a tiny by of noise
  • Out Level: Overall output after clipping. Tip: over-Gained Oscillators seem louder so turn the Out Level down.
  • If you don’t see the X/Y graph try hiding the keyboard by tapping KEYS.
Oscillator page, shape tab

Shape Tab

This is part of the “ANILOG magic” that affects the Saw/Ramp values with an envelope:

  • Delay: Milliseconds before beginning the Attack phase.
  • Attack: Milliseconds to go from pure Sine (middle of the Saw/Ramp slider on the Generator tab) to the Saw/Ramp value. Tip: small values for plucked instruments, 100.0ms for horns or woodwinds, and longer for strings or pads. This can be affected by key Velocity.
  • Decay: Milliseconds to go to the Sustain value. Tip: small values for plucked or synth instruments, longer for natural instruments.
  • Sus: Sustain amount of Saw/Ramp in the Generator tab when a key is held down. Tip: use 1.00 for pads or strings or bells, small values for pianos and synths.
  • Rel: Milliseconds for the Generator to return to pure Sine after a key is released.
Oscillator page, amplifier tab

Amplifier Tab

The amp envelope controls the loudness of the Generator:

  • Delay: Delay (milliseconds) before Generator begins making output.
  • Attack: Milliseconds for the Generator to go from 0% Gain to 100% Gain. Tip: shorter values for hard attacks and plucks, longer values for soft pads.
  • Decay: Milliseconds from 100% Gain to the Sustain amount. Tip: shorter values for plucks and synths, long for pianos.
  • Sus: Sustain percent of the Gain when a key is held down.
  • Rel: Release (milliseconds) from the Sustain percent to 0% Gain when a key is released.
  • Touch parts of the graph to modify the corresponding slider, the dotted line is the Sustain point.
Oscillator page, effects (FX) tab

FX Tab

Various effects such as pitch change, velocity-to-envelope, and bit crushing:

  • Tune Inc: automatic pitch glide over time. Tip: very big or very small values sound unrealistic or electronic, moderate negative sound like drums, and tiny values sound natural.
  • Vel->Shp: amount of key velocity to affect the Saw/Ramp value of the Generator. Tip: set your initial Saw/Ramp to its harshest sound and set Vel->Shp high to make soft keypresses mellow out the sound and hard keypresses really ring out.
  • Vel->Out: amount of key velocity affecting the Generator’s Out Level. Tip: set this medium-high to make soft key presses quiet and hard key presses loud.
  • Vel->Atk: amount of key velocity affecting the Attack values of the Amplifier and Shape tabs. Hard velocity shortens the attack, soft velocity lengthens it. Tip: if your Amp and Shape envelopes have a small Attack (16.0) then hitting keys hard makes a metallic pluck sound, while soft key presses make a softened sound!
  • Vel->Dcy: amount of key velocity affecting Decay values of the Amplifier and Shape tabs. Hard velocity lengthens the Decay and soft velocity shortens it. Tip: with a short Decay (120.0) hard presses make the Generator ring out long but soft key presses make the Generator brief and soft.
  • Bit Crush A value quantizer that adds some digital distortion for a harsh distorted metallic sounds. Turn up for very hard digital distortion!

Noise Page

Noise is not a white noise but more of a sample-and-hold randomizer which creates weird overtone effects.

Noise page, envelope tab

Envelope Tab

Like the Oscillator Amplifier tab, this is the output level envelope of the noise generator. Tip: for sustained noise set the Sustain and Release values to maximum.

Noise page, effects tab

Noise FX Tab

Applies various effects to the noise generator:

  • Noise Color: high values cause white noise effects, medium values make brown noise, and low values sound like bit rate errors.
  • Noise Inc: adjusts the Noise Color over time
Properties page

Properties Page

Settings that affect the overall instrument:

  • Mstr Gain: overall gain of the instrument, high values may cause digital clipping. Tip: most instruments sound best between 0.30 to 0.60.
  • Glide, Poly: at the bottom this instrument is in Polyaural mode (each key press is a new instance of the instrument), any other value is the milliseconds of glide time when more than one key is held down. Tip: use 0.00 for pianos and synths, use 60.0 for a nice glide with woodwinds and leads.
  • Feedbk Length: ANILOG uses a looping feedback buffer that has two modes:
    • Milliseconds Mode: move the slider up to set a fixed length buffer. Tip: this is good for creating robotic sounds or delay/tap echoes.
    • Percentage Mode: move the slider down to set the length of the buffer based on the length of 2.0 periods. (It is similar but not quite Karplus-Strong resonance.) Tip: this mode creates metallic sounds best used in bells, guitars, and pianos.
  • Feedbk Incr: increment of the Feedback Length over time, and creates a phasing effect.
  • Feedbk Amount: the percent of feedback added back to the generated sound. Greater amounts create very metallic sounds or long tap echoes.
  • Aft=>Shape: the aftertouch amount (dragging fingers after holding a key) that affects Oscillator Generator Saw/Ramp shaping. Tip: set it to 0.0 for piano sounds, but set it to 2.0 for expressive wind, strings, and brass sounds.
Edit tools menu

More Tools Menu MENU

Various tools are tucked away:

  • Save instrument: save instrument
  • Copy …: can copy the whole current instrument or just the current generator/amp/shape tab. Tip: to swap two instruments, copy the instrument, change to a different patch, then reopen the More Tools Menu and choose Tools > Swap
  • Paste …: can paste the copied instrument or just the generator/amp/shape tab
  • Rename instrument: instruments can have up to 30 ASCII characters
  • Tools …: powerful extra tools:
    • Export instrument to clipboard: exports a JSON format of the current instrument to the system cut/paste
    • Import instrument from clipboard: imports the JSON format of an instrument that was copied to the system cut/paste
    • Swap instrument bank – prog – with bank – prog -: an instrument that was copied with the “Copy instrument” menu will be swapped with the current instrument
    • Reload factory instrument: current instrument will be replaced with the original factory version if it’s in one of the factory banks (0-7)
    • Reset instrument to blank: initialize the current instrument to a default sawtooth patch with some basic shaping options

Global Setup Page

The Setup mode shows you system status, how many voices are being played, global tuning, user interface changes, MIDI commands heard by the system, and other tools.

  • Status Tab: shows current instrument voices being played (up to 16 voices at one time) and the current CPU load
  • Globals Tab: various global settings:
    • Global Tune: tune the base keyboard pitch up/down
    • Bass Freq: set the cutoff frequency where bass oscillators begin to taper off to 0% volume. This is a kind of EQ. Set to a low value to get a big thump, set to higher values to reduce the “muddy” bass notes. Tip: mobile phones have weak bass response so lower values are better, large stereo systems have subwoofers so higher values are better. If doing studio recording then a cutoff around 50hz-65hz is ideal.
    • Bend Range: change the pitch bend slider’s range in semitones
    • MIDI Vel: multiply the MIDI keyboard velocity by a factor up to 250%
    • Key Octs: show more/less onscreen keyboard
  • MIDI Tab: realtime MIDI log of events being received
  • Utils Tab: more utility functions!
    • View help documentation: another way to see this page
    • Reset factory banks: hard-reset the factory bank programs
    • Export factory banks: export banks 0 – 7 in JSON format to the cut/paste buffer
    • Export user banks: export banks 8 – 15 in JSON format to the cut/paste buffer
    • vX.X.XX: current version number of this app!

Note: reset patches to factory will totally erase all instruments and set things back to the original sound set. Proceed if you are sure!

You can also export the entire sound set as a JSON blob for sharing. At this moment you cannot import.


Synthesizer Cookbook

Part of the fun of playing with synthesizers is sharing what you’ve learned! Here are a bunch of recipes for various instruments:

Tips
  • Electronic sounds have unrealistic attacks/decays/sustains.
  • Electronic sounds have raw/harsh generators like strong saws/ramps, over-gained square waves, or perfect sine-waves.
  • Pads have long attacks, strong sustains, and long releases.
  • Piano/keyboard instruments have long decays and short releases.
  • Wind instruments have puffy short white noise in the beginning and maybe a little sustain.
  • Brass instruments have strong saw/ramp characteristics but often taper to more mild shape sustain.
  • Make chorus effects two similar oscillators but slightly detuned.
  • Drums often have very sharp attacks with lots of noise but taper off quickly.
  • Real kicks and snares have two drum heads that are slightly out of tune with each other.
  • Real snares, kicks, toms, and congas have pitch that decays pretty quickly after contact.
  • Create bells or metallic sounds by over-gaining (to create square waves) or bit crushing (which also creates square waves).
  • Wide sounds have slightly detuned or slightly delayed left/right generators.
  • Realistic attacks are shorter with high velocity, and longer with low velocity.
  • Realistic decays are longer with high velocity, and shorter with low velocity.
  • Adding a faint second oscillator at a fifth (7.0 semitones) can make more realistic sounds because that’s the next harmonic in the series. (The third harmonic would be about 4.9 semitones, just a little flat from the fourth.)
Chorus Saws recipe

Chorus Saws Recipe

Want a bright, wide synth? Keep that Shape at max sawtooth, sprinkle in a little detune, and use a little stereo panning to widen the effect! Try this:

  • Reset the instrument to blank (MENU → Tools → Reset instrument to blank)
  • OSC1 GEN1: Set Saw/Ramp to far left, set the Left/Right to a little bit of Left.
  • OSC1 AMP1: Set Attack to very quick (0.0 to 8.0).
  • OSC1 SHAPE1: Set Sus to max 1.0.
  • OSC1 FX1: Set Vel->Shp to nothing 0.0.
  • At this point you should have a fairly bright sawtooth that sustains its brightness. If you want the brightness to diminish over time try setting the SHAPE1 Sus to 0.9 and set the Decay to a long 2500.0.
  • Now use the More Tools Menu to “Copy note oscillator 1”.
  • Tap the Next Page button and paste the note oscillator back.
  • Detune OSC2 GEN2 by changing Tune to -0.2. Tip: if you’re having a hard time sliding values accurately, after touching down on a slider move your finger away from the slider and slide outside the slider. The farther you go away the finer grain control you have!
  • Finally, change the Left/Right to more Right of center!
  • Serve with a heavy dose of 80s hair. Pairs well with 7th chords.
Plucky Bass recipe

Plucky Bass Recipe

Plucked instruments often feature a quick fall-off of overtones which you can get by making the generator Shape envelope sustain at 0.0. Bass instruments often begin 1 octave lower. Tip: the “blank” settings for the FX are pretty good at adding character to most instruments via key down velocity. In this recipe you will hear bright tones with high velocity and soft muted tones with low velocity, making it sound much more organic.

  • Reset the instrument to blank (MENU → Tools → Reset instrument to blank)
  • OSC1 GEN1: Set the Tune to -12.0. Set Saw to far left.
  • OSC1 SHAPE1: Set Decay to semi-short values (110.0). Set Sus to 0.0.
  • Pairs well with organic melody instruments.

Troubleshooting Guide

  • PROBLEM: Audio is stuck on
    Double-tap the Hold button to “MIDI panic”.
  • PROBLEM: Audio sounds very quiet or “soft”
    The Mod slider might be turned all the way down. Try pushing it all the way up.
  • PROBLEM: Audio seems to stutter when connected to Audiobus
    Try increasing the latency: 1) Launch Audiobus, 2) tap the Settings gear, 3) tap Latency Control, 4) select a larger number like 512 frames or 1024 frames.

About ANILOG Synthesizer

Thank you again for downloading ANILOG! This has been a labor of love for many years to try to bring something new into this world. There are so many great synthesizer choices out there, but I had a few design goals in mind:

  • Quick, responsive, concise: It has to work lightning fast. I use this synth in live performance so the UI should favor high-contrast, low-light-friendly, and should not require “menu diving”.
  • Mobile-first: From the ground up it was designed to work on the smallest screens as well as scale up to large tablets. It is admittedly a bit cramped on a phone form factor, but since it’s the same app you should be able to make music wherever you go: the best synthesizer is the one you always have with you.
  • Expressive: ANILOG heavily relies on keydown velocity to impart effects to the output levels and envelopes. With just a couple of sliders you can affect sharp attacks and long decays. Oh, also, many patches support aftertouch drag up/down for more modulation!
  • Simple-ish: Math-based synths like ANILOG can cause you to get lost in endless parameters. But here I’ve tried to make the UI predictable with grouping oscillator settings together, and having consistent 1) generate a tone, then 2) adjust the shape, then 3) amplify it, and then 4) sprinkle in effects. Most of the options are exposed to you instead of tucked behind menus, so you should just be able to twiddle until the sound “feels right”.
  • Opinionated Engine: The engine has a number of “secret sauce” shaping that goes on that gives it its character: the oscillator waves are passed through a sine function to give perfect sine waves, but also saw waves that are more rounded; note oscillators auto-taper off volume at very low tones and above C8; higher notes are forcibly made more sine-like to give smooth highs; the most saw you can have is 0.05 or the most ramp is 0.95; noise is really more of a sample-and-hold/granular effect.
  • Shareable: The main storage format for all instruments is a common web format called JSON. It’s human-readable and easy to send around the internet. Please share your sounds with your friends, build a community, make an instrument portal, and teach others!

There are lots of other small details that went in to the building and sound design. Big thanks to the many many people who gave beta test feedback. Hopefully the end result is you have a great time making music.

Thank you, have fun!

Download ANILOG on the app store