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.
THE BEST Synthesizers
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
Sonicware’s little electronic music maker cranks out some seriously fat sounds. It packs four synth engines, including 8-bit frequency modulation, as well as a step sequencer, effects, and looping, all for less than 200 bucks. It has 27 keys, MIDI in/out, stereo in/out, headphone out, and can run on batteries too.
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.
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.
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.
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