Arturia’s iSEM versus the PRO-SEM

iSEM App

Last week Arturia released its latest synth call iSEM for iOS and I decided to put it up against the real thing, which I happen to own and use on a regular basis. I am always impressed with Arturia because they are bringing classic synthesizer technology to a new generation of mobile musicians and they are doing a great job!

The first thing I noticed is that the iSEM has all of the bells and whistles from a heavily loaded Oberheim synth. You get the basic voices but also a ton of effects and an arpeggiator. If all you want to do is use a classic synth then this is the perfect app.

If you want to see how closely the emulation is to the real thing then check out the video below. I put them side by side to see what I thought and I have mixed emotions about what I found. The truth is that iSEM is a very good synth and all of the buttons do what they promise but the ‘real thing’ still stands alone. There is something about its sound that always surprises me and elements of using it that are still not replicated.

The real difference? The SEM-PRO that I used in the demo cost $1199 and iSEM costs $9.99. The Oberheim Four-Voice (which is closer to the iSEM in functionality) starts at $3995. Even with the cost of the iPad, iSEM is a steal. But when my iPad is old and discarded, my SEM-PRO will still have a beating heart and that’s what I love about it.

Here is a list of iSEM features:

  • iPad app recreating the classic Obeheim SEM synthesizer.
  • Hundreds of sounds created by some of the best sound designers around.
  • Audiobus support (to interact with other apps).
  • Core MIDI (to control your synth from a Hardware MIDI keyboard).
  • Apple’s Inter-app audio (to work in conjunction with Garage Band and other audio apps).
  • Preset transfer and sharing via email & iTunes file transfer.
  • Preset compatibility with the Arturia SEM V Mac/PC software.
  • WIST clock sync support (to synchronize two iPad).
  • Real analog sound based on our TAE® analog modeling.
  • Voice Programmer allows for recreating the rare and classic Oberheim 8 Voice.

About Sam: Teacher, writer, composer, and family man. Maker of delicious Halušky. Contact me via Twitter: @Sam_Denver

  • Lory Gil

    Wow. Great video. You can really hear the differences between the two. Thanks for this review.

    • Sam

      Thanks! I do love a good synth…