[LAU] Hardware synths

Malte Steiner steiner at block4.com
Sun Dec 2 12:05:59 EST 2007

I create electronic music since 1983 and while I use a lot software 
synths like Csound, PD, AMS and my own upcomming open source synth 
'Minicomputer', I still love to use hardware based systems additionally 
and still buy them. Its less about sound but more the workflow. I do 
sometimes freelance jobs requiring me to stare at screens overtime and 
after that I feel more the urge to grap my rather recent analogue 
modular system, which is in my case a Doepfer.

Its not a problem with Linux either, I used to work with Windows and 
Macs and workflow was not better.

This year I am about to finish the above mentioned synth which was all 
about sound but 2008 I am thinking more about UI and workflow. 
Computermouses gave me serious health problems (which I solved by using 
graphic tablets) but it was never inspiring to create music with point 
and click interfaces anyway. I will take a look at Akais MPC which still 
bears the legacy of Roger Linn's Linndrum and his ideas of an ideal 
sequencer. There is something about it, one reason might be dedicated 
buttons for main functions, I dont know.

But even in the hardware world there are more and less accessible 
machines. The samplers of EMU used to have an intuitive user interface 
while the Yamaha TX16W sampler was practically unusable until there was 
a third party OS. And DX7 was used mainly as preset machine because 
programming was tiresome on it. It was solved by an dedicated third 
party hardware controller (which was more expensive then the actual 
synth) and software editors.

 >. The SID chip falls in that
> category, for example. (Digital oscillators, analog mixer, analog 
> resonant filter, IIRC.) Didn't some early Ensoniq synths use a 
> similar approach? (Per-voice DACs, that is.)

No coincidence, the founders of Ensoniq were the designers of the SID.

About alternative controllers:
The P5 glove is incredible jumpy, I use it for live but I am not 
convinced, maybe someone saw me at this years ICMC in Copenhagen. More 
hopes I have with WII controller but had no time yet.


Malte Steiner
media art + development

More information about the Linux-audio-user mailing list