Ashun Sound Machines (ASM) has announced Hydrasynth: a polyphonic wavetable synthesizer in both keyboard and desktop forms that are expected to ship in November.
It’s a digital polyphonic synthesizer based on 3 oscillators per voice and up to 8 voices. The 3 oscillators can take on any of 219 waveforms or you can turn on the mighty morphing synthesis engine and talk oscillators 1&2 into choosing up to 8 waveforms to morph between. The synth engine is packed full of mutators for complex FM synthesis, pulse width modulation, hard sync and harmonic sweeping. The very cool Wavestack function can generate 5 copies of an incoming wave and detune them for some super-dense sounds. These mutators can be routed to all sorts of things in all sorts of places and sound like a lot of fun.
After all the digital wavetable shenanigans there are two filters that can be run both in series or parallel and the first one features 11 filter models while the second is a continuously variable multimode filter. For modulation Hydrasynth has 5 loopable envelopes and 5 LFOs that can act as step sequencers or one-shots. These all pile into the Mod Matrix with 32 slots to pack the movement into as many places as possible.
On the connections front there’s the usual MIDI and USB, but it’s good to see a bit of space given to Control Voltage. Rather than the usual pitch and gate CV outputs there’s also 2 modulation CV inputs and outputs plus a clock.
A lot of space is also given over to the Arpeggiator with controls over Ratchet, Chance and Gate as well as multiple modes, octaves, division and swing. On the right hand side there’s a panel that initially looks like an algorithm diagram when actually it’s the layout of all the modules inside the synth so that you can directly select them and get editing in the large Master Control panel. The 8 central rotary encoders are ringed with LEDs which gives a great visual indication of where things are at.
Hydrasynth gives the impression of being a very controllable synth with a large array of knobs and buttons. But inevitably you’ll find yourself leafing through menu pages to get to all the parameters.
Keyboard or Desktop?
ASM is releasing a keyboard and desktop version simultaneously. The keyboard features polyphonic aftertouch with it’s aptly named “Polytouch” technology of their own design. There’s also a ribbon controller hidden in plain sight which can be assigned to anything you want. ASM are definitely going for a CS-80 vibe with this. The desktop version replaces the keyboard and ribbon with 24 velocity and pressure-sensitive pads that also feature polyphonic aftertouch. They appear to offer a pad-based melodic alternative to the keyboard rather than being any sort of sequencer, loop trigger, sampler or drum kit performance tool.
It’s a sizable synth even with only having 49 keys. It looks great, ordered and inviting and doesn’t look either too digital, complex or daunting. There are several sound demos out on YouTube now and it has that big digital sound like you’d expect from a Waldorf synth. But what I like is how calm and straightforward the interface is. It doesn’t appear to have horrible depths that you have to navigate, instead, it offers up a bunch of knobs for the most immediate sound mangling options and that very useful Module Select panel.
The Hydrasynth should be available in November for $1,599 for the keyboard and what feels like a more reasonable $999 for the desktop version.
- ASM website.