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.
THE BEST Synthesizers
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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