Musicians, here’s a great way to keep track of the passing days. Ingrana’s perpetual calendar is inspired by the design of a classic modular Moog synth. Use the included patch cables to mark the day of week, month, day, and year. While it won’t make any sounds, you can press its keys.
This amazing gadget for guitarists takes the analog sounds of your instrument and layers them with thick synthesized enhancements. The Boss Synth SY-1000 pedalboard gives guitars a whole new range of capability, with its sophisticated sound engine, and the ability to produce a mix of rich acoustic and electric tones.
Artiphon’s Orba is a unique instrument that is sort of the musical equivalent of a fidget spinner. It combines a synthesizer, looper, and MIDI controller all in one, and is small enough to hold in the palm of your hand. It’s great for tinkering around with all kinds of sounds whether you’re bored or working on your next great composition.
Expressive E’s keyboard gives musicians an incredible amount of expressiveness, with each key capturing subtle movements that influence pitch, loudness, and many other attributes. It works in concert with a robust sound engine by Haken Audio to produce amazingly warm and enveloping sounds. It also works as a MIDI controller.
Artist and designer Love Hultén shows off another one of his amazing custom builds. This time, he took a modern Korg Minilogue analog synthesizer, and built a Commodore SX-64-inspired portable wooden enclosure to house its electronics, then outfitted with cool orange knobs, and a matching keyboard in retro shades of tan and brown.
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 was able to jam out some iconic rock riffs on the monophonic keyboard. More here.
Go back to the 80s with musician Mario Mathy, aka Belgium’s “King of Synths,” as he jams out on his ridiculous rack of keyboards which would require Doc Ock’s tentacles to play at the same time. From his white outfit, to his pink headband, to his Keytar, the video is a joy to watch. Need more Mario? You’re welcome.
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.
Korg’s recently launched Nu:Tekt line will create DIY instruments, effects, and utilities for electronic musicians. First up is the NTS-1 a tiny, build-it-yourself polyphonic synthesizer with a digital oscillator inspired by the prologue and minilogue xd. Sound demo here.
Korg’s portable drum machine is packed with 60 patterns and 120 fills, and has 16 Velocity-sensitive performance pads for editing your own patterns. It can run on AA batteries or AC power, has a built-in 2-watt speaker for practice sessions, and a 1/8″ stereo output and footswitch inputs for live performances.
From Earth, Wind, and Fire to Kraftwerk to ELO, the vocoder has been part of some of the most famous dance, disco, and electronic tracks ever. Musician Doctor Mix shows off his vocoder skills along with his nifty Behringer VC340, a modern day synthesizer that replicates the analog sounds of the ’70s and ’80s.
Look Mum No Computer has been working on and off for over a year on this incredibly complicated electronic music maker, a wall full of Nintendo Game Boys which work in perfect sync to produce richly-layered polyphonic chiptunes. It’s still not finished, but even as a work in progress, it’s still quite impressive.
IK Multimedia’s compact beat maker was developed in collaboration with Italy’s Soundmachines, and cranks out a mix of analog sounds and PCM sound samples. It can play up to 12 sounds at once, has on-board effects, and can be controlled via USB or MIDI. Demo performance here.
Curious Sound Objects’ Bitty is a tiny drum machine and synthesizer. You can use it to create beats, melodies, or noise. It has four buttons, a time knob, a pitch knob, two function buttons, headphone in and out ports and an aluminum speaker often used in car door panels.
A droolworthy tool for any musician’s arsenal, Headrush’s looper pedal on steroids features a 7″ touchscreen UI, an onboard mixer and effects, and up to 9 hours of internal recording time. It offers numerous inputs and outputs, and comes pre-loaded with 300 percussion loops.
Teenage Engineering’s OP-Z combines a synth and sequencer in a minimal device. It can record 8 audio tracks and 8 control tracks at once, and has a 2-octave keyboard, speaker, microphone, headphone jack, and USB-C/MIDI ports built in. It also works wirelessly with iOS.
Jamstik’s new smart guitars offer portability for both pros and newbies. The Jamstik7 is perfect for beginners – it has 7 frets and works with Jamstik’s educational apps. The Jamstik12 is a 12-fret smart guitar with low latency, palm mute sensing and MIDI compatibility.
Artist, designer, and musician Tim Alex Jacobs or Mixtela shows off one of the coolest business cards ever. His custom-designed card has a built in printed circuit board and metallic keys that serve as a tiny stylophone-style MIDI controller when plugged into a USB port.
IK Multimedia proves you don’t have to be big or expensive to create fat analog sounds. Their portable synth costs less than $200, and features a pure-analog audio path with 2 VCOs, noise generator, resonant multimode VCF and VCA, MIDI, and a 27-note multitouch keyboard.
With the right synth patches, bass, brass section, and recording talent, Doctor Mix shows us how its possible to replicate the distinctive sound of Michael Jackson’s 1984 mega-hit Thriller incredibly well. Even with the King of Pop’s vocals gone, it’s an amazing performance.