Awesome Synthesizers

LEGO Tamburo Meccanico

LEGO Tamburo Meccanico

Inspired by a mechanical drum-playing machine designed by Leonardo Da Vinci, this LEGO music maker by Giuseppe Acito uses a series of pegs placed onto a spinning wheel to trigger sound sequences as its “fingers” press keys connected to synthesizers.

Famous Synth Sounds of the ’80s and ’90s

Famous Synth Sounds of the ’80s and ’90s

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.

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Vector Synthesizer

Vector Synthesizer

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.

2manybuttons

2manybuttons

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.

Sonicware Liven XFM Synthesizer

Sonicware Liven XFM Synthesizer

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.

Synthesizer Pillows

Synthesizer Pillows

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.

UNO Synth Pro + Synth Pro Desktop

UNO Synth Pro + Synth Pro Desktop

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.

VOC-25 Vocal Synthesizer

VOC-25 Vocal Synthesizer

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 Wavestate Synthesizer

Korg Wavestate Synthesizer

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.

How to Talkbox

How to Talkbox

“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.

Retro Game Music on a 1980s Synth

Retro Game Music on a 1980s Synth

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.

Pocket Operator Capcom Series

Pocket Operator Capcom Series

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.

Thousand Oscillator MegaDrone

Thousand Oscillator MegaDrone

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.

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Roland TR-6S Rhythm Performer

Roland TR-6S Rhythm Performer

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.

Funky Watermelon

Funky Watermelon

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.

Game Boy Talkboxing

Game Boy Talkboxing

The Daft Punk track Lose Yourself to Dance has some great robotic vocals that were created with an electronic talkbox effect. StarvingGOGO was able to replicate the sound using a Nintendo Game Boy running LSDj to play the melodies, and a tubeless talkbox gadget called the ElectroSpit ESX-1 he’s wearing around his neck.

Arturia MicroFreak Vocoder Edition

Arturia MicroFreak Vocoder Edition

The MicroFreak Vocoder Edition, is an an updated version of Arturia’s hybrid analog/digital synthesizer with voice-enhancing capabilities. It includes a 16-band vocoder and a gooseneck electret mic for capturing your voice. Those with a standard MicroFreak can add vocoder ability via a firmware update.

Blipblox After Dark Synth

Blipblox After Dark Synth

Playtime Engineering presents a (slightly) more grown-up version of its easy-to-use Blipblox synthesizer. The After Dark model has over 300 new pre-loaded melodies, more sound filters, a drum machine, and more. In addition to the built-in speaker, it has a 5-pin MIDI input and a 1/4″ stereo output so you can use it in the studio too.

TheoryBoard Thy333

TheoryBoard Thy333

This unique MIDI controller makes it easier to play by teaching music theory. Simply select one of its 840 pre-loaded scales, and it maps only the applicable notes to its right pads, and chords on its left pads, so you can’t play a bad note. It has 96 velocity sensitive pads with polyphonic aftertouch and RGB backlighting, plus 24 hotkeys.

How to Create Blinding Lights

How to Create Blinding Lights

Musician and blank-starer Seth Everman is an expert at deconstructing songs and figuring out how to replicate them. This time out, he shows us his method for playing The Weeknd’s hit Blinding Lights using his couch, a toilet, and various other things around his house. Naturally, he still needed his keyboard for the ’80s synth bits.

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Windows Sounds Piano Medley

Windows Sounds Piano Medley

We’re already quite familiar with the evolution of Windows sounds. Now listen to a variety of Windows startup, shutdown, and error sounds played on piano, courtesy of Bored Piano, where you can also check out digital piano covers of familiar game console startup sounds. More on his Japanese language channel.

Earth, Wind & Fire & Synthesizers

Earth, Wind & Fire & Synthesizers

Musician Doctor Mix once again proves he’s a synthesizer god, with an awesome cover version of Earth, Wind & Fire’s 1979 classic ballad After the Love Has Gone, played entirely on electronic instruments. With a heaping helping of vocoder, it sounds like a bonus track off of Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories.

EYESY Video Synthesizer

EYESY Video Synthesizer

Clearly inspired by the old Atari Video Music, Critter & Guitari’s EYESY creates abstract visuals to go with your sounds. Its dials and buttons let you tweak its images to your heart’s content. It accepts audio via a 1/2″ jack, and outputs its real-time art via HDMI or composite video for a retro look. It can also be controlled via MIDI.

MIDI-Controlled Pipe Organ

MIDI-Controlled Pipe Organ

With help from the Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago, musician Rob Scallon got to check out how a pipe organ works, and noticed that the one they have is capable of outputting MIDI signals. After a bit of experimenting, he figured out its keyboard and pedals can also be controlled via the digital music protocol.

Humble Music Producer Bundle

Humble Music Producer Bundle

Music folks, upgrade your digital sound game with this pay-what-you-want bundle of sound packs and synthesizers from Applied Acoustics Systems and Humble. Sounds can be played using the included AAS player, or patched into your favorite digital audio workstation. Spend $20 or more for the full pack. (Expires 4/15/2020)

Video Game Stylophone Medley

Video Game Stylophone Medley

Electronic musician Maro Maro lets his hands fly with an impressive medley of video game music performed on pair of stylophones. He had to tune the rudimentary analog synthesizers to different ranges in order to produce a wider range of notes.

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