AI-powered synthesizer lets you create tailored music just by pressing buttons

AI has become a powerful and controversial tool that’s being applied to the creation of many things in different industries. The most well-known are, of course, images and text, but these same technologies can also be applied to other fields, even ones that are considered to require more human creativity than others. Music, for example, is believed to be an art that’s hard to master and difficult to quantify in a way that would be of use to AI, but that’s exactly what’s happening here with this “artifact from the future.” That said, the suitcase-sized synthesizer doesn’t completely wrest the act of creation away from your hands but turns it into a creative collaboration between man and machine.

Designer: Arvind Sanjeev

Imagine having to only press a few buttons and you’ll have tunes that are specifically crafted to suit a given mood or genre. Most synthesizers simply give you the raw controls to mix and match to your heart’s content, but you’ll have to draw from your own creativity to actually come up with a pleasing harmony tailored to fit that situation. SPIN, the name for this AI-powered music synthesizer, actually helps you in this creative journey by serving ready-made ingredients to put into your mix without taking anything away from your freedom. It’s like the difference between buying a can of tomato sauce for a recipe versus making your own from scratch.

SPIN has buttons for different moods, genres, and sounds that you can mix and match to your heart’s content. How does happy death-metal disco sound? Why not try some dark jazz opera to really turn heads? Not every combination is going to work, of course, so you’ll still have to step in and fine-tune it to your tastes, no pun intended. And with sliders for BPM or duration and a turntable to scratch, you also have the tools to make your own style shine, with or without AI’s help.

The synth is just as much a work of art as it is a demonstration of the power of AI. A variety of off-the-shelf components are assembled to provide the brains and muscle behind the scenes, almost literally. You won’t see any of these while using SPIN, as all are hidden behind an interface and a design that’s meant to encourage playfulness and experimentation. Even the choice of bright yellow and white colors, unusual for most synth designs, emphasizes that rather jovial character.

Generative AI has been receiving a lot of flak, in no small part thanks to abuse and misuse of the technology rather than anything inherent. SPIN is an attempt to reverse that perception and present AI not only as something approachable but even fun to use. Given how it works, you won’t even have to worry about infringing on anyone’s copyright or intellectual property, leaving you free to explore that harmony between human creativity and machine learning.

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Suzuki Omnichord is back to offer a fun and interesting way to make music

When you think of musical instruments, you will probably first think of things like pianos and guitars. Electronic musical instruments, on the other hand, conjure up images of keyboards, electric guitars, and complicated synthesizers. Suzuki’s Omnichord, on the other hand, is an odd yet curious duck that stands somewhere in between these two extremes. First launched in 1981, this electronic device empowered anyone to make music or accompany a song even without previous musical experience or even reading notes. The Omnichord’s distinctive electronic sounds and novel design made it quite a hit, but the product faded into obscurity back in 1996. To commemorate its upcoming 40th anniversary, Suzuki decided to give today’s generation a taste of that unique experience with a new model that recreates the original so faithfully down to using the same analog circuits.

Designer: Suzuki

Imagine just pressing a few buttons and sliding your finger on a flat surface and then suddenly producing wonderful music. That’s pretty much the experience that the Suzuki Omnichord offered, presenting people, whether musically trained or not, the joys of creating music with ease and freedom. There are no wrong notes, just new harmonies and beats to be discovered and incorporated into your masterpiece. It’s like an adventure for novices but also a new territory for veterans who want to add a unique flavor to their music.

The new Suzuki Omnichord OM-108 tries to bring that 80s experience to the 21st century, reproducing the tonality that characterized that period while also adding modern features that cater to today’s more demanding audience. To accurately recreate the same tones of the OM-84, perhaps the most popular Omnichord ever released, Suzuki opted to go completely old school and apply the same analog circuitry that gave the original its distinctive electronic sounds. It also has that popular harp sensor or strumplate that lets you easily slide or tap your finger to produce the “notes” that will make up your music.

The new OM-108 model boasts 108 chords, hence the name, as well as many new functions, like a switch that changes the way chords and rhythms are played. There’s also a drum pad mode that turns the chord keys as well as the sturmplate itself into beats. And like with many modern electronic musical instruments, you can connect the Omnichord to external MIDI devices to mix tones to your heart’s delight. Plus, the built-in speaker can be turned on or off when you connect an external speaker, useful when you want to monitor your own sound during a live performance.

The Suzuki Omnichord OM-108 may look like a toy, but the unique sounds it lets you produce are pure joy, at least to fans of the electronica genre. Its revival coincides with the retro craze gripping many industries and is a perfect example of a design that manages to remain relevant decades after its last appearance. That said, you’ll have to wait a bit before you can get your hands on the newest Omnichord, as sales aren’t expected to start until July, with the price and market availability still unknown.

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Teenage Engineering made a tricorder-like gadget that’s actually a portable synthesizer

Teenage Engineering is best known for audio equipment with unique aesthetics, though it does sometimes put out unrelated products, such as a desktop PC tower, wooden “choir” mini figurines, and a toy car. That last one was its prelude to the real product launch it had planned, a product that seemed to straddle the line between a full-fledged tool and a sophisticated toy. Given its size, design, and pedigree, Teenage Engineering’s shiny new EP-133 K.O. II is something you might find hard to take seriously at first glance. Fortunately, it seems to have just the right knobs and buttons, literally, to make it a real tool for music makers, at least those that will be able to shoulder its price.

Designer: teenage engineering

This new sampler, sequencer, and composer takes its inspiration from the brand’s Pocket Operator PO-33 K.O. I back in 2015. This device’s small, calculator-like design and accessible price point really made it look and feel more like some fun gadget for some whimsical music mixing. In contrast, the EP-133 K.O. II, or just KO II, for short, is way too large to fit in your pocket, which is the price you’ll have to pay for significantly more functionality that makes this portable synthesizer worth its weight in gold.

The aesthetics are also worlds apart as well. While the Pocket Operators really looked more like black Pocket Calculators, the KO II more than doubles the size and injects a mix of grays, whites, and oranges all over the place. The large buttons, tall knobs, and industrial aesthetic might remind some of the props from sci-fi shows during the 60s, specifically those from Star Trek. The rectangular screen’s choice of colors and shapes to display the user interface is also reminiscent of the show’s LCARS user interface. It might even be able to play those tricorder sound effects because, after all, it is a portable synth anyway.

It actually has quite a lot of features for that purpose, including 999 sample slots and a built-in speaker. There’s also a built-in mic to let you record your own samples right then and there, as well as a selection of drums, bass, and keys to help you get started. There’s a 3.5mm headphone jack in case you want to extend the sampler’s features, but do note it only has 64MB of memory, which is probably the biggest deal-breaker for this product. Apparently, the limitation is there to encourage musicians to finish their creations in one go rather than delaying them forever.

Teenage Engineering is slapping a $299 price tag on the EP-133 K.O. II, amusingly just $50 more than its toy Grip Car. It’s still considerably lower than its other synths, enough to entice music makers of all skill levels, but still quite a hefty investment. Then again, it’s a fully functional portable groove box that has quite a distinctive design you can flaunt around, giving you an image of a retro-futuristic music genius controlling the beat with your hi-tech tool.

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2.1 Million Views in 6 Days… What Made This MIDI Synth’s Launch Video SO Viral?

Visually, the Nopia looks like quite a basic synth. No display unit, no labeling, basic construction, and just 12 keys… yet the synth’s launch video has over 2 million views since its debut last week, and the Nopia Instagram page has more than 17 thousand followers. If you’re wondering why, just give the video above a watch and you’ll realize what makes the Nopia so special.

Unlike any other MIDI synth I’ve seen before (and I’ve seen quite a few), the Nopia v1 isn’t as much a synth as it is a chord generator. This means that when you hit a key, instead of hearing an individual note, you’ll hear a pre-ordained chord that’s programmed to that note. Press another key and you get another chord within the same tonal scale. Buttons on the right side let you change your scale, but whenever you do, the synth keys never play notes… they only play chords, and they play chords within the same “tonal harmonic scale”. The result is fantastic to the ears, and opens up a myriad of possibilities for amateurs and professionals alike.

Designers: Martin Grieco & Rocío Gal

Playing chords are tricky. You need to learn which notes make up which chords, then you need to figure out where they’re located on a keyboard, and then struggle as your fingers work up their muscle memory as you switch between different chords. With the Nopia v1, it’s as easy as just pressing a button. Moreover, the Nopia v1 also lets you accompany your chords with bass notes, drums, and arpeggios by just pressing a button or flipping a switch.

The different buttons, knobs, switches, and sliders on the Nopia v1 help layer your chords with more complex elements. A bass option gives a punchy root bass note, while the arp option turns your chord into a dreamy chordscape of dancing notes. The Nopia v1 even has a built-in vocoder that lets you almost instantly turn your song into something very Daft Punk-like, helping modulate your voice along with the synthesizer to create something robotic yet melodic.

The synth works on the concept of “Tonal Harmony”, which maker Martin Grieco mentions that no other synthesizer on the market does. Tonal Harmony looks at chords related to a particular scale, and lets you play them instead of playing ‘any random chord’. It’s a lot like choosing your toppings for you, based on an ice cream flavor you pick. Choose a sorbet and your toppings get limited to fruits and syrups. Choose a chocolate or vanilla and you get options like oreo, mint, and choco chips. This ability to offer a select number of chords makes playing/ideating/jamming a whole lot easier and fool-proof.

The Nopia v1, built as a prototype by Martin Grieco and Rocío Gal, has an incredibly basic aesthetic. There’s no labeling, no branding, and really no display to tell you what you’re doing, what features are on, or what preset you’ve selected. The synth looks basic, almost to a fault, but it’s all by design. The reason it looks so bare is because it’s an audio playground for anyone to tinker with. I’m assuming Grieco and Gal will probably make a few tweaks to the overall design as time passes by, but for now, the Nopia is simple… and that’s just the way it should be.

So what’s the hype around Nopia v1?? Why does this simple-looking synth have millions of views online and upwards of 17 thousand followers on Instagram? To understand what makes the Nopia so special, it’s worth comparing it to ChatGPT. The reason ChatGPT became so popular is because it was intelligent, unique, and had the ability to turn practically anyone into a specialist by providing them with a vast amount of tailored information on any topic. Google Search could never do that. Nopia works sort of the same way. Instead of having you learn chords, harmonic scales, modes, synthesis techniques, etc., Nopia just invites you to press keys and play with controls. There’s no judgement, and there’s absolutely no way you’ll be able to play anything “wrong”. Everything you do sounds melodic, sort of like playing a harmonica, but with a whole lot of sonic complexity built in.

Makers Grieco and Gal just dropped this video announcing the Nopia a week back, and the response has been absolutely overwhelming. We’re still awaiting details on availability, interoperability, price, etc… so stay tuned for more!

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‘Pocket Miku’: A Synthesizer That Sings

The Pocket Miku is a tiny synthesizer that turns its key presses (or audio input) into Hatsune Miku’s voice. For those of you unfamiliar, Miku is a Vocaloid software voicebank created by Crypton Future Media and its official anthropomorphic mascot, a Japanese idol with long, turquoise hair. And now I can make songs with her! I guess I can go ahead and add Music Producer to my résumé.

In the video below, YouTuber David Hilowitz Music actually does a fantastic job using the synthesizer to create a song with Miku on vocals. I probably don’t have the necessary musical talent to do the same and suspect my song would end up sounding like Miku yelling for me to take her batteries out.

If you’re seriously interested, some Pocket Mikus are available on eBay, but they’re going for around $400, so I guess you’ll have to be SERIOUSLY interested to buy one. Me? I’m not really that serious about anything besides what’s for dessert. I’m hoping for a berry crumble with ice cream!

Teenage Engineering OP-1 Field is one major synthesizer upgrade

Teenage Engineering is a company that comes up with electronic products like synthesizers, speakers, and mixers. The brand has also collaborated with other big names and designers to design creations that feature sublime designs.

The brand is known for its products that let you become creative, especially with sounds. We remember the most notable, the TE-LAB by Love Hultén, although the design only used the Teenage Engineering PO Modular series. That Teenage Engineering Computer-1 Case was also remarkable. The latest is the OP-1 Field which is an obvious follow-up to the OP-1.

Designer: Teenage Engineering

OP-1 Field Function

The all-new OP–1 Field is another synthesizer that improves on the previous model. This evolution delivers several improvements and refinements. This features a more updated design plus the latest technology.

Teenage Engineering improved on this synthesizer and fined tuned the features to benefit more sound designers, professional musicians, and recording artists. It’s an updated version of the already impressive OP-1, but there is still plenty of room for improvement, as with most gadgets. It is a more professional version with its new features and functions.

OP-1 Field

Design-wise, this one is set in natural anodized aluminum. Its frame is more low profile now. There is a new field color palette, a floating keyboard, and a high-resolution screen. It also comes equipped with Bluetooth midi, stereo all over the signal chain, different styles and recording formats, and multiple tapes. Its battery can last up to 24 hours, and the company also added a ‘dimension’ synth engine and a new reverb. There is also a new FM antenna and a new speaker system.

Teenage Engineering continues to apply its signature mindset to a new breed of technologies. This OP-1 Field results from previous products like the OP-1 portable synthesizer, OD-11 ortho directional speaker, and OB–4 magic radio. The designers have combined the best functions and improved on them to add to the new version.

OP-1 Field Design

Other changes include updated graphics screen by screen, USB-C connectivity, more durable line in/line out sockets, and a 4-pole audio jack for headset mic support. There is also the 32-bit audio, MFi for iPhone USB midi and audio connectivity, and a new speaker with passive radiator dimensions. The synthesizer comes with dual velcro back fasteners and measures 28.8 cm x 10.2 cm x 2.9 cm. There are now eight tapes to record for added convenience.

OP-1 Field Details

Teenage Engineering’s vision is to create products that bring creativity into the everyday. Its efforts include teaming up with brands and artists that share their vision, as with its deal with IKEA. Teenage Engineering and Ikea designed some downloadable 3D printing files to amp up home sound systems.

OP-1 Field Features

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Circuit Garden offers purely analog electronic sounds that mimic nature

Kelly Heaton Circuit Garden Machine Intelligence

Synthesizers serve several purposes, including allowing a person to compose music. It’s mainly electronic music that others will probably say is not real music, but to many, notes combined make a beautiful melody. The “Circuit Garden” by Kelly Heaton is a project that will make us think about nature and enjoy the electronic culture.

What you will hear are birds chirping repeatedly. In addition, there are different shapes of birds singing other tunes. The chirping isn’t annoying it offers a relaxing mood—that is if you are into stress relief music.

Designer: Kelly Heaton

Kelly Heaton Circuit Garden

Kelly Heaton Circuit Garden Studio

The Circuit Garden shows off machine intelligence combined with human nature. The bird-shaped boards are not the only circuit items. Other shapes are mimicking different animal behaviors and sounds. So aside from birdsong, you will also hear chirping crickets and more.

Kelly Heaton Circuit Garden Design

Kelly Heaton Circuit Garden Sample

The designer has created analog electronic designs that generate realistic sounds. What you hear are not real birds. They are not even actual recordings as everything is electronic. They are merely electric vibrations of artificial origin.

Kelly Heaton wants more people to discuss nature together with electronic culture. The designer focuses on electronic hardware. She wants to go basic with the circuits as they are what allow digital media to happen.

Kelly Heaton Circuit Garden Details

Kelly Heaton Circuit Garden Concept

Heaton thought in terms of energy, frequency, and vibration as she learned from Nikola Tesla. She says her unique art explores different concepts while allowing those circuits to vibrate in natural patterns. Heaton explains that the “Circuit Garden pays homage to electrical oscillation, specifically the astable multivibrator, which is my favorite method for generating life-like waveforms.”

Heaton also describes her work as printed circuit birds. They are self-contained sound generators and are purely analog. There are no software or no audio recordings used here.

Kelly Heaton Circuit Garden Demo

Kelly Heaton Circuit Garden Synthesizer

The Circuit Garden is like a collection of synthesizers producing almost natural sounds of birds and other insects. To change the quality of a song or sound, resistance in the circuit is adjusted. The designer is re-introducing us to the beauty analog hardware can bring. Creative electronics is a category that can still be explored further. We know it’s just there, but it takes a lot of effort to preserve the art.

There are plenty of synthesizers available that produce beautiful electronic music. We have a few favorites here including those by Love Hultén: the foldable synthesizer, the EC1, and the TE-LAB. We realize we’ll never live without music or sound effects that’s why we value these synthesizers.

Kelly Heaton Circuit Garden Synthesizer

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NES-SY37 synth project by Love Hultén is inspired by the retro gaming console

Only real musicians can understand the beauty and benefits of synthesizers. Those who are not into music may only appreciate the cool sound effects when you press or play with the buttons. But if you are into electronic 80s or synth-pop music, you will love anything with synthesizers. Many may also be amazed at how a synth looks, especially if Love Hultén designs it.

There is a reason why this designer is always featured here. His creations always show retro-modern style and jaw-dropping craftsmanship. The last one we noted was the TE-LAB handcrafted sound machine. There was also that MIDI Synth designed in collaboration with digital artist Lirona. We remember a few memorable ones too like the EC1 modular synthesizer that can fold up and fit inside a slim wooden suitcase and the MDLR-37 foldable synthesizer that wowed us with its spring reverb and tape delay.

Designer: Love Hultén

Love Hulten NES-SY37 NES inspired Synth Project 2

The latest design is based on an old Nintendo Entertainment System, so this is another retro-modern creation. Officially called the NES-SY37, this is a conceptual synthesizer that will let you play synthesized music and old NES games. This thing accepts NES cartridges, and you can view the games on the 8-inch LCD screen with 800 x 600 resolution. You can control the game with the keys, but you can also use an old NES controller attached to the 7-pin port.

NES-SY37 NES inspired Synth Project Launch Love Hulten

The NES-SY37 is an NES-inspired synth project that pays homage to the old way of playing video games. Those who grew up playing NES will love this sound machine as it brings back memories of when we were young and carefree. It combines several components like an NES Poly Chiptune Synthesizer, real-time MIDI visualizer by p1xelfool, Twisted Electronics’ hapiNES L, and spring reverb.

The Swedish craftsman and audiovisual artist Love Hultén loves to capture the old and combine it with the new. When put into work, the results of his passion and talent are beautiful, unique projects that evoke feelings of nostalgia. One glance at this creation is enough for you to love Love Hulten once again.

NES-SY37 NES inspired Synth Project Information

The NES-SY37 is wooden with details based on the old gaming console. The red buttons and black D-pad are very NES-inspired. The synth part of this machine includes an 8-bit MIDI visualizer, a keyboard, NES Poly Chiptune Synthesizer, and a multi-track chip-tune synth. You can say this is more of a mod, but wow, it really is one quirky and awe-inspiring creation.

NES-SY37 NES inspired Synth Project Design

NES-SY37 NES inspired Synth Project Information

NES-SY37 NES inspired Synth Project Details

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The Santasizer: 11 Synchronized Synthesized Dancing Santas

Crafted by musical mad scientist Sam Battle of Youtube channel Look Mum No Computer, the Santasizer isn’t an antibacterial hand gel to help keep the coronavirus at bay, but eleven dancing Santa toys from the 90’s connected to a synthesizer that reacts to the input being played through them. Fingers crossed, my company booked them for this year’s holiday party!

In the video, Sam and the Santas perform a funky rendition of the Christmas classic ‘God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen,’ complete with all the Santas’ sunglasses moving up and down as they bob to the beat. I only wish I could dance that well, then maybe people wouldn’t point and laugh so much when I hit the dance floor, usually with my head or face.

Now Sam just needs to install lasers in all of Santa’s eyes, so whenever they lift their sunglasses, they produce a laser light show, and he’s got himself a Christmas concert I would pay to go see! Not that I’m not excited to go see my nieces and nephews sing a bunch of carols off-key, there’s just always a very noticeable lack of laser beams.

[via Laughing Squid]

Love Hultén’s latest synth comes with a 15-inch display that serves as a music-based NFT Visualizer

Collaborating with digital artist Lirona over his latest synth creation, Love Hultén’s latest synth is an audiovisual treat. The MIDI Synth, handcrafted by Hultén, is paired with a 15-inch display that showcases Lirona’s digital work, titled #synthboi. Limited to 10 synths, each digital work is, in fact, an interactive NFT that the buyers get to own when they purchase the synthesizer.

Synthboi falls perfectly into Hultén’s portfolio of quirky, bizarre synths, with its odd human-shaped visualization that lights up as you play the tunes. The collaboration bridges the worlds of bespoke electronic instruments and NFTs, allowing music enthusiasts and collectors to also own their own one-of-a-kind non-fungible digital artworks along with their music instruments!

The synth features a 25-key MIDI keyboard that plugs via USB into an Intel NUC i5 computer that’s also connected to the circular 15-inch display on top. The electronics sit within handcrafted cabinets that boast of an alternative 90s Apple-esque design with terrazzo and matte metal materials. Each Synthboi ships in a wooden crate to its 10 owners, and comes marked on the back with a QR code linking to Dissrup’s website, which powers the NFT experience.

Designers: Love Hultén & Lirona

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