LayR is a polyphonic multi-timbral virtual synthesizer for beefy iOS devices capable of up 256 voices. I know my wheezing 3rd generation iPad can only cope with a chord or two in most apps so you’re going to need a recent iOS machine to get the most out of this fella.
It’s all about the layers. Hence the clever naming thing. A patch or a sound in LayR consists of layer upon layer of instruments. They call it a “Performance” within which you can stack up over 100 instruments, each with its own MIDI channel. Voices are then assigned to each instrument until you run out of juice. Even though that level of complexity is probably out of reach of most iPads, and our minds, it does give you some idea of the depth of texture that can be created with this multi-layered behemoth.
Each layer has a dual oscillator that can morph between waveforms. Then everything else appears to be in 2’s. 2 filters can scrape away at the tones running through the mixer, where 2 LFO’s can modulate and 2 loopable ADSR envelopes can shape the sound. At the end it ploughs into a bit of EQ, reverb and delay. All the things you’d expect from a decent, well-featured software synth. Good job!
What does it all mean? Well, Living Memory Software put’s it like this:
LayR excels at not only emulating normal analog synth sounds but also at creating ambient textures with extremely long evolution cycles.
Pulling in a bit of the old realism then, is it all about creating a stonking huge patch to stab people with? I don’t think so, no. The emphasis of LayR is on keyboard mapping for live performance. And so we’re probably talking about a handful of layers. Each layer can be easily zoned across a keyboard making it ideal for keyboard artists playing in a live situation. One of the iOS quirks is that switching between apps can be a bit cumbersome. Trying to switch between synth apps to get to the right sound during a gig is a bit more of a nightmare. Something like LayR which has acres of sonic scope within itself is ideal because you can access it all in the one app, from the one keyboard. I like that.
But it doesn’t end there. LayR also has an 8 channel arpeggiator and 16 step sequencer. It can hook up over Audiobus and share the presets over the iCloudDrive. They’ve really gone for making it as rich, controllable and playable as possible.
It looks great. The interface appears to be simple enough for fingers and yet has loads of depth to it. I’m not a fan of the rainbow coloured keyboard, it really clashes against the muted and inviting colours of the rest of the GUI. But that aside if you have an iPad Pro then you’re laughing. If not then I would approach with caution and try not to get your hopes up on the number of voices you’ll be able to pull out of it.