I’ve been on a synthesizer kick lately. Check out my Micro:bit WAV Sound player, and from there all the other synth project.


When it comes to synthesizers, people generally think of analog or digital technologies. This time, Gamechanger Audio took a different approach and used motors to generate sound. They used eight high-precision brushless motors, similar to the ones found in drones. Shipping is expected this December but can back it for $899 on Indiegogo, while the retail price will be set at $1,299.


GameChange Audio’s new device runs on two motors, which can be seen at work through the little window display. (Image Credit: GameChanger Audio)


They work by spinning at a specified RPM corresponding to an audio frequency number. If you were to plug in a MIDI keyboard and tap on the middle C button, you would notice the motors start to whir at 261.63Hz. However, this isn’t the actual sound of the motors producing noise, but instead, it’s the magnetic pickups grasping electromagnetic energy through inductors, which gets translated into musical sounds. Gamechanger Audio has also inserted reflective discs that stack on each motor. They also have patterns painted on each disc that allows the markings to absorb heat as the spin around under a light. The unmarked sections of the disks reflect that same heat back to infrared sensors, which is used as data. It will then convert it into audio signals in saw, square or sine waves. They sound nearly identical to modern analog synthesizers.


The accelerate knob control that also works as a brake is the only control that’s not used on other synthetic devices. It changes the speed of the motors by controlling how quickly they go back to their normal speed and how quickly they get up to speed.


It also comes bundled with different connection options, including CV (control voltage) ports for pitch, clock and gate, a ¼ inch output for line-level audio, USB port, and a five-pin MIDI DIN. An audio jack measuring at ¼ inch accepts audio and can do pitch tracking, allowing users to play the Motor Synth with a guitar, bass or their own voice.


The Floppytron synth kit (Image credit: Sampleso)


Similarly, Floppytron can also synthesize music. It uses a custom built, coded circuit that converts MIDI data from a keyboard controller into the correct data for the floppy drive to play a musical sound. The floppy disk was tested using acoustic techniques to offer a more in-depth sound. After successful testing, the samples were put into the custom Kontakt engine, along with features to enhance the sound.


NSynth uses deep neural networks to produce qualitative sounds. (Image Credit: NSynth)

NSynth is also a device that uses deep neural networks to generate sounds at the same level as the samples. It uses data from those sounds, allowing artists to create new sounds that would be difficult to create with a traditional synthesizer. It works by combining the features of existing sounds by using different sounds as input. With an autoencoder, the algorithm extracts 16 different features from each input. These features are used in order to create new embeddings from interpolated data. The new embeddings are then decoded into sounds, creating acoustic qualities of each input.


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