The idea of a synthesizer might seem like an oxymoron, but it’s exactly the kind of unexpected concept that makes people laugh Korg Berlin Created to continue. This independent, R&D-focused division was founded in 2020 by Maximilian Rest and Tatsuya Takahashi, the man behind Volcas, Minilogue, and countless other modern classics. But it has remained fairly quiet since its inception. That changed this week at Superbooth, where the team showed off their first prototype, the Acoustic Synthesis_phase5.
Unlike traditional synths that use oscillators, Phase 5 uses metal tuning forks. These forks are specifically designed to produce specific base notes and tones. Since the primary sound generation here is an acoustic resonator, it has certain qualities that the normal combination does not have. For example, it will bounce like a guitar when held near an amp and a loop when hit on the side. Takahashi told Fess Grandiose of Reverb, “We’re kind of trying to capture that rawness of the instruments, while at the same time, it’s manageable like a synthesizer.”
This is the “sound” part: metallic thorns that resonate and reverberate and decay, almost like a Fender Rhodes. The synthesizer part comes from the magnets inside the phase 5 that allow it to sustain only the basic overtones, overtones and overtones, or overtones only. Tones can also be modulated with the LFO resulting in a sound that can only be described as a sea sickness bell.
Overall, the sound it generates in the short demo video above is quite unique. It has a vague Rhodes-like ringing quality. But it also sounds kind of like what you might expect from a pot-singing-on-synth sampler-based vamp from the ’90s. It is a touch from another world.
For now, Phase 5 is just a prototype and will likely stay that way. For now, Korg Berlin is simply gauging interest in technology. And if there appears to be a market for this kind of exotic hybrid acoustic synthesis, he will explore ways to develop it further into a final product.
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