Gamechanger Audio brought a huge version of this idea to NAMM in January. Now they’ve reinvented it as a much more compact and extremely cool Motor Synth – wow!
So, right up front, you have 8 electromotors, which are like those little DC motors you get in toy cars or mechanised Lego sets. They spin depending on the applied voltage which makes them voltage controlled oscillators – great concept! Motor Synth produces sounds by accelerating and decelerating these electromotors to precise rpm (revolutions per minute) that correspond with specific musical notes. The 8 motor configuration gives 4-note polyphony with 2 voices per key.
The sound comes from 2 directions. Firstly magnetic pickups placed on top of the motors and they collect the mechanical sound of the spinning motors. They say you should think of it as “eight harmonious revving engines pumping out an intimidating noise!” And then secondly the shfts of the motors hold specially designed reflective optical disks. They contain a graphical representation of 3 standard wave shapes. As they spin they are read by infrared sensors and converted into audio.
It sounds like this:
Yeah, it’s really hard to connect the Motor Synth in the video to what’s actually going on.
The rest of the synth has all the regular synthesizer sort of things. There’s a multimode filter with drive, modulation options, envelopes and wotnot. It has an inbuilt sequencer and arpeggiator and an innovative looping system for layering up rhythms and melodies. The little white buttons can act as a keyboard so you can play it out of the box. It has a tracking input for following external signals providing harmonisation for guitars and other instruments. You can even create chords based on the incoming signal. So it’s not just about connecting a MIDI keyboard – there are other ways to play.
The Motor Synth looks totally amazing and they are really milking those spinning motors with the transparent window into the workings. Quite how well it works in practice is still another thing to be discovered. I’ll keep my eye open for demo videos as they emerge from the show.
The Motor Synth will be Kickstarted at the end of May at which point the price and availability will be revealed.
- Gamechanger Audio website.
Found some video!