Just when you think there is nothing really new or innovative left in the world of hardware synthesisers along comes a company that turns things on its head. That company is Ashun Sound Machines (ASM) and it would not be overstating it to say they are about to change the whole synth market in a big way.
Let’s take a look at the specs.
The new ASM Polytouch® keybed allows not only the standard velocity and aftertouch found on other keybeds but we support fully polyphonic aftertouch.
In recent years companies have been trying to find ways to give the keyboard musician more ways to better express themselves. The problem is that their solution is almost never a keyboard, so you have to learn a new technique to play them.
The Polytouch™ keybed features a high quality, standard sized keys, so you can start playing it instantly.
The tone generation capability is the heart of any synthesizer.
The 3 oscillators allow you to choose from a selection of 219 single cycle waveforms.
Wavemorphing is a feature usually found on synths with preset wave tables. Creating user wavetables is arduous or downright impossible. Unlike most wavetable synths, our oscillators 1 & 2 have our WAVELIST mode.
This mode allows you to pick and choose 8 waves, from our bank of 219, arrange them in the order you want, and then morph from one to another.
Oscillators 1 & 2 are routed into our MUTATORS. The Mutators allow you to modulate, bend and sculpt the sound in new (and old) ways.
Each MUTANT allows you to choose from the following processes:
FM-Linear – for making classic FM sounds. Choose multiple FM sources, including external inputs.
Wavestack™ – creates 5 copies of the incoming sound and allows you to set a detune amount.
Hard Sync – This gives you those classic hard sync sounds. Try hard syncing a morphing wavetable for some fun.
Pulse Width – This will pulse width modulate ANY input sound.
PW – Squeeze – This is a different form of pulse width mod that creates a smoother sound.
PW-ASM – this mode divides the incoming wave into 8 slices and allows you to set how much pulse width mod will happen in each section.
Harmonic Sweep – this will sweep the harmonics of the incoming sound.
The Mutant’s can also generate its own waveforms in both FM and Sync modes so that you do not have use another oscillator….Of course the routing is flexible so you can choose the other oscillators as mod sources if you like.
Mixer/ filter routing
The 3 Oscillators are fed into a mixer along with the Noise generator and Ring Modulator.
The Mixer allows you to mix levels as well as pan the input source.
There is a balance control that allows you to choose how much signal of each source is routed to filters 1 and 2.
The filters can be set to be parallel or series for ultimate flexibility.
If oscillators and tone generators are the heart of a synthesizer, the filters are the soul.
The Hydrasynth has two filters that can be configured in series or parallel.
The first filter has 11 different filter models, giving you multiple options for tailoring your sound.
The second filter is a 12db per octave has a continuous sweep from Low pass to bandpass to high pass, similar to the way the classic SEM filter worked.
5 Low-Frequency Oscillators…YES, 5.
Much like our sound engine, the LFO’s are not ordinary by any means.
The Hydrasynth LFO’s feature a STEP mode that allows you to create patterns with up to 8 steps. Having 5 mini step sequencers gives you an amazing amount of possibilities for further shaping your sound.
Of course, there are also 10 standard waveforms to choose from.
The LFO’s all have delay, fade in, 3 triggering modes, smoothing, start phase, one-shot mode so that they can act as envelopes and BPM sync.
5 DAHDSR Envelopes……YES 5.
An advanced sound engine needs plenty of modulation sources. Our 6 stage envelopes feature Delay, Attack, Hold, Decay, Sustain and Release stages.
The time settings for the stage can be set in seconds or in time divisions, giving you envelopes that play in
sync to your song.
You can also loop the envelopes to create LFO’s whose shape can be voltage controlled in the modulation matrix.
The modulation capabilities on the Hydrasynth are endless.
With 32 user definable modulation routings, you will have plenty of ways to use the 29 modulation sources and 155 modulation destinations.
Almost everything in the synth engine can be a modulation destination including the effects and arpeggiator.
The Modulation matrix points themselves can also become modulation destinations.
Modulation sources & destinations include the CV Mod In & Out jacks as well as MIDI CC’s
The arpeggiator allows for standard note arpeggiations but also has a phrase arpeggio built-in. Parameters like RATCHET and CHANCE will generate other rhythmic patterns with some randomness to add life and spontaneity to your performance.
You can also modulate most of the parameters in the arpeggiator so imagine using LFO’s, Envelopes, Polyphonic Aftertouch or the Ribbon controller to modify your arpeggios in real time.
CV/GATE – MIDI – USB
There is the standard MIDI and USB/MIDI interfaces on the synth but we go deeper and allow the use of CV/GATE interfaces for connecting to the modular world.
It supports the standard voltages for Eurorack modulars as well as some of the Japanese Volts>HZ products. The MOD in and outs allow for modulation from DC to full audio ranges, expanding your modulation capabilities.
The Main system controls are where you navigate your patches, configure system settings and see parameters like the envelopes, waveforms, filters in the OLED screen.
Init and Random buttons will allow you to initialize or randomize a complete patch or specific modules with a press & hold + module select button.
Pressing the HOME button returns you to navigating patches in a simple and easy way.
The Master Control section is where all parameter editing, patch naming, and Macro performing is done.
Using OLED screens, high-resolution encoders with LED rings, and 8 buttons, this section is designed to give you good feedback on what is going on.
The VOICE parameters give you access to play modes, analog feel, voice panning and many other features.
The patch MACROS are designed to allow the user deep control over the engine in live performance.
The 8 assignable encoders and buttons can each be routed to 8 destinations. Complete sound transformations can take place with the press of a button or turn of a knob.
The Hydrasynth comes with 4 banks of 128 patches in total. We hired some of the best patch designers around to create the 256 factory patches.
Finding the patch you want and searching the library is made easy with our BROWSER. Our PC/MAC based Patch Manager plug-in also allows easy moving of patches to create your favorite order as well as load in new patch libraries in the future.
The effects chain goes beyond the typical ones found in other synths. Pre-effects and post-effects give you some unique ways to process your sound.
The delays and reverbs were modeled on some of the most popular effects on the market.
The effects are the perfect way to complete your sound, in the box.
For a keyboard which comes in at just $1299.00 I would say that is mighty impressive, especially that polyphonic aftertouch!
There is also a desktop version minus the keys which retails at $799
Let us know what you think over on the forum.
For more info on the ASM Hydrasynth check out their website at http://www.ashunsoundmachines.com