The Daryl Hall & John Oates track I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do) is a true classic. KOSMusic teamed up with saxophone player Kevin Bene to perform this instrumental cover that nailed the 1980s synth sounds of the original so well that we kept expecting the vocals to kick in.
Jung Jae-il’s soundtrack from the hit show Squid Game is equally intense, memorable, quirky, and creepy. YSSY combined the tracks Pink Soldiers and Way Back When and transformed them into a 1980s inspired synthwave song suitable for another Netflix series, Stranger Things.
The Stylophone is a very basic analog electronic instrument that uses a conductive pen and a metal circuit board of “keys” as its input device. But with the help of a Digitech Whammy effects pedal and some quick pen play, maromaro1337 jammed out some iconic rock riffs on the monophonic keyboard. More here.
Rather than go with an off-the-shelf synthesizer, Edward Black Rose built his own from scrap wood. Its wooden keys make strings vibrate between a laser and a photocell, then send that signal to a software synthesizer. It’s not ideal for creating polyphonic sounds, but it’s a clever design nonetheless.
Artist Love Hultén is a genius at designing and building retro-modernist technology. His EC1 is a custom analog synthesizer and beat making machine that folds up briefcase style when not in use. Someday, we hope to commission Love to build us something for The Awesomer HQ.
Bell Tone Synth Works provides a look inside a keyboard that predates the digital sampler. The Mellotron used multiple strips of magnetic tape to play sounds recorded from other musical instruments. The M400 shown here is from the 1970s, but you can see an earlier model here.
Stone-faced musician Seth Everman is back at his synth with a performance of Nirvana’s 1991 classic Smells Like Teen Spirit done in a bunch of different styles. The steel drum version makes us want to lie on a beach sipping Piña Coladas while the sun beats down on us.
KOSmusic is a master of the synthesizer, but in this clip he makes it clear he can play the guitar too. Crank up your speakers to 11 for this perfect extended cover version of The Alan Parsons Project’s epic 1982 track Sirius, also known as the entrance music for the Chicago Bulls.
Electronic gadget maker Love Hultén expands on his Carrier 37 synthesizer with this awesome looking modular synth stack that folds into itself for portability. The MDLR-37 packs in a Korg Minilogue, Korg Microkey 37, Meris ENZO, T-Rex Replicator, and Doepfer A-199 for a complete analog performance system in a briefcase.
To celebrate his 500,000th YouTube subscriber, musician PACIL created this lighthearted video in which he plays 50 different instruments, most of which could be considered a piano of some sort. He even included a Keytar, and a couple of those piano mats like the one Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia stomped on in Big.
IK Multimedia’s virtual instrument can replicate the rich and emotive sounds of tape-based samplers like the Mellotron. SampleTron 2 comes with over 400 virtual tape tracks, including choir, strings, brass, organ, piano, bass, synths, and vocoders. You can also load your own samples and run them through the tape sound engine.
Are you an ’80s or ’90s kid? Then you’ll want to hit play on Estuera’s two-part video series about the synthesizers and presets that defined the sounds of two decades. Along the way, he performs excerpts from more than 40 tracks and makes them sound just like the originals, thanks in part to Arturia’s synth emulation tech.
The Vector is one of the niftiest electronic music makers we’ve seen. Its 16-voice hybrid synthesis module can create some badass sounds. Its touchscreen lets you manipulate complex sounds visually, as shown in this in-depth video from Red Means Recording. It’s currently sold out but its makers are working on more.
If you’ve ever attended an EDM concert, you know that most of the performing is done on laptops, synthesizers, and other instruments with buttons and knobs. Norwegian comedy show Kollektivet pokes fun at the experience when a duo of DJs gets a new piece of equipment and doesn’t know what any of its buttons do.
Do you have a place in your heart for the sounds of the 1980s? Sonicware’s portable synthesizer makes FM sounds like many electronic instruments of the era, but can merge multiple sounds into one. It has a built-in 4-track sequencer, effects, filters, and more than 300 preset sounds. Their 8bit Warps synth looks nifty too.
Artist Alona Dudich runs a shop called Crazy Pillows. There, she specializes in handmade pillows that look like classic electronic instruments like the Roland TR-808 and SH-101, along with some playful original designs. She also makes pillows that resemble Technics turntables. They’re great gifts for musicians and DJs.
IK Multimedia’s duo of analog synthesizers offer triple wave-morphing oscillators, 256 presets, a 64-step sequencer, studio-grade effects, and a variety of connections, including USB, MIDI, and CV/Gate, along with audio inputs for filters and FX. Available in a 37-key model with aftertouch, and a mini version with capacitive keys.
Love Hultén has designed and built many wonderful things over the years. His latest creation is a synthesizer that moves 25 sets of mechanical teeth in concert with its keyboard. It’s both disturbing and fantastic at the same time. If the idea seems familiar, that’s because he was inspired by Simone Giertz’s toothy instrument.
Korg packs the awesomely rich and rhythmic sounds of its classic Wavestation synthesizer into a compact 37-note model called Wavestate. Its wave sequencing sound engine generates totally unique tones, and can produce up to 64 stereo polyphony. In-depth demo video here.
“You make the lyrics with your mouth. But you cannot use your vocal cords.” Ever wondered how musicians like Daft Punk make their voices sound like robots? Lorenz Rhode provides a lyrical instruction sheet for creating the electro-funk sounds of talkbox vocals. We think every “how-to” video should have a song.
For some reason, music from 8-bit and 16-bit games seems more memorable than most modern games. It probably has something to do with retro synthesizers drilling the sounds deeper into our brains. If you love retro game music too, hit play and listen up as BearKeys performs on a Roland Jupiter-6 synth. Part two here.
Hadouken! Teenage Engineering has teamed up with Capcom to create two pocket-sized sound makers, the PO-133 Street Fighter, and the PO-128 Mega Man. The Street Fighter model is a micro sampler with a built-in mic, while the Mega Man version is an 8-bit synthesizer. Both include sounds based on the games.
Look Mum No Computer is always building strange and wonderful electronic musical instruments. His latest creation is a massive wall full of oscillator circuits, which, when played together, create an equivalently massive wall of sound. If a symphony played synths instead of strings, it might sound something like this.
Roland’s latest electronic rhythm maker, the TR-6S packs a six-track sequencer into a portable, battery-powered box. What really makes it special is its ability to play sounds from famous drum machines like the 808, 909, 707, 606, along with preset and custom samples, as well as FM-generated tones.
French musician MEZERG kicks out some groovy sounds using one of the silliest musical instruments – a watermelon. He connected slices of the melon – along with cantaloupe and a kiwi – to a Playtron MIDI Controller to create an edible keyboard. His cover of The Doors’ Light My Fire is pretty awesome too, even if it has no fruit.