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Synthesizers

Famous Vocoder Songs

Famous Vocoder Songs

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.

Game Boy Megamachine

Game Boy Megamachine

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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Keyboard Drummer

Keyboard Drummer

Say you want to make some beats, but you don’t have a drummer in the band. While you could buy a drum machine or some sampled loops, or you could do like musician Yohan Kim and use your keyboard to perform as your rhythm section.

From 0 to 100000

From 0 to 100000

Marioverehrer presents an epically exhausting level design for the piano training game Synthesia. It takes a solid 21 hours to get through the entire sequence, which is simply a musical representation of every number from 0 to 100,000.

Motor Synth

Motor Synth

Gamechanger Audio’s insanely cool desktop synthesizer combines electronic and mechanical components for the ultimate in analog sound. Its sounds are generated by motors, magnetic pickups, and infrared sensors, which serve as waveforms to produce truly unique sounds.

The Mighty DX7 Medley

The Mighty DX7 Medley

Do you love classic ’80s music? Many of the songs of the era relied heavily on Yamaha’s vaunted DX7 synthesizer, which was the first mainstream synth to use FM synthesis, creating a variety of uniquely textured sounds, like the ones in Power DX7’s medley.

UNO Drum Machine

UNO Drum Machine

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.

Bitty Pocket Drum Machine

Bitty Pocket Drum Machine

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.

Headrush Looperboard

Headrush Looperboard

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.

Device Orchestra: Happy

Device Orchestra: Happy

12 credit card terminals and a small sewing machine, members of the ever-changing lineup of the Device Orchestra, perform a rendition of Pharrell Williams’ hit track Happy, bringing a smile to our faces, and not wasting too much receipt paper in the process.

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.

The Furby Organ

The Furby Organ

For no other possible reason than to create nightmare fuel, modder Sam Battle of Look Mum No Computer rewired 44 individual Furbys and programmed them to do his bidding, creating a nightmarish organ that emits the song of the damned when he tickles its ivories.

OP-Z Portable Synthesizer

OP-Z Portable Synthesizer

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.

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Roli Beatmaker Kit

Roli Beatmaker Kit

This set from digital instrument maker Roli includes everything you need to play drums and other rhythmic sounds with your fingers. The kit includes a touch-sensitive Lightpad Block, a Loop Block, synth apps, over 300 sounds, and a 6-month subscription to Melodics.

Around the World: MPK Cover

Around the World: MPK Cover

Musician Koji Kobura shows off his $99 AKAI MPK Mini keyboard with a great solo performance of Daft Punk’s classic Around the World. The keyboard pairs brilliantly with FL Studio digital audio workstation software to bring it all together.

Jamstik7 & Jamstik12 Smart Guitars

Jamstik7 & Jamstik12 Smart Guitars

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.

Stylophone Business Card

Stylophone Business Card

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.

Uno Analog Synthesizer

Uno Analog Synthesizer

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.

How to Play Thriller

How to Play Thriller

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.

Joué Modular MIDI Controller

Joué Modular MIDI Controller

Joué is an incredibly versatile MIDI controller, thanks to its swappable modules. The modules’ buttons are made of soft and elastic material that responds to pressure very nicely. There are eight modules to choose from, some familiar and some quite unorthodox.

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Synthesizer V Virtual Vocalist

Synthesizer V Virtual Vocalist

Software engineer Kanru Hua shows off an impressive application he’s currently working on – a synthesizer that can emulate different vocal styles and sing in multiple languages. It shows quite a bit of promise, and could take on the big dogs like Vocaloid and CeVIO.

ROLI Songmaker Kit

ROLI Songmaker Kit

The ROLI Songmaker Kit combines the Seaboard Block with the Lightpad Block M, the Loop Block and $400 worth of mobile apps and desktop software in one bundle. You also get a carrying case and hundreds of sounds.

Virtual Pipe Organ

Virtual Pipe Organ

Don’t have the room for an entire pipe organ in your home (or theater or church)? Musician Andrew Anderson shows off his rig, which uses Hauptwerk’s virtual pipe organ software, loaded up with Paramount Organ Works‘ set of incredibly accurate Wurlitzer samples.

Yamaha DX7: The Synth of the ’80s

Yamaha DX7: The Synth of the ’80s

If there was one new sound that turned up more than any other back in ’80s music, it was the Yamaha DX7 and its cutting-edge FM synthesis. Polyphonic explores what made the DX7’s sound and tech unique, and some of the many artists who incorporated it in their music.

Pocket Operators Metal Series

Pocket Operators Metal Series

Teenage Engineering’s third batch of Pocket Operators is now complete. Accompanying the PO-32 Tonic drum machine are the PO-33 K.O.!, a micro-sampler with 40s memory, and the PO-35 Speak, a voice recorder and sampler.

The Rubber Chicken Synth

The Rubber Chicken Synth

We already know that a rubber chicken can be used to make music. But Andrew Huang amped things up with Hexinverter’s mutant rubber chicken that uses compressed air to allow it to be played electronically. This is some serious mad scientist sh*t. Crazy sounds start at 1:59.

Moog DFAM Percussion Synth

Moog DFAM Percussion Synth

The latest creation from the analog synthesizer greats at Moog, the semi-modular DFAM (or Drummer from Another Mother) is designed specifically to create distinctive rhythmic sounds for use as the backbeat to electronic music tracks. Listen to sample tracks here.

Wonderwall Synth Fun

Wonderwall Synth Fun

Musician Seth Everman decided to test out a bunch of different sounds and beats that his Yamaha PSR-S670 synthesizer can make, all while only performing Oasis’ hit track Wonderwall. We enjoyed the bassed-up Russian techno version best. How about you?

Mechanical Speech Synthesis & More

Mechanical Speech Synthesis & More

The Royal Institution shares a 1985 lecture by professor David Pye as he shows off a vintage analog device which allowed a skilled player to synthesize sounds that approximated a human voice. He then showed off what was then state-of-the-art electronic speech synthesis.

character.animation.synth

character.animation.synth

Animator Eran Hilleli shows off an awesome work-in-progress system which allows him to animate the movements of a character using a series of faders and knobs, not unlike a sound mixing console. The system is based on code by keijiro takahashi. We want this now.

Andrew Huang: Modular Synthesizers

Andrew Huang: Modular Synthesizers

YouTube star Andrew Huang made this wonderful introductory video about modular synthesizers – both the software and hardware kind. He not only simplifies and shows how they work, he also shares what he loves about them.

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