ASMHydrasynth Explorer Digital Keyboard Synthesizer
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ASM Hydrasynth Explorer
For those desiring deep dives into sound design but don't want to break the bank, Ashun Sound Machines presents the Hydrasynth Explorer, a smaller instrument that offers the same great sound engine found in their keyboard and desktop models. This one-of-a-kind, eight-voice polyphonic digital synthesizer is loaded with sonic sculpting and performance features that go beyond the typical scope—and despite its mini-keys, it still offers ASM's PolyTouch polyphonic aftertouch technology, bringing the playing experience of the Hydrasynth to a fantastic, portable format. Whether you want to browse the wonderful presets or start from scratch, there is a lot to uncover in the Hydrasynth Explorer.
At the core of this beast lies two customizable wave-morphing oscillators and one standard oscillator, all accessing a large library of 219 wave-shapes. The first two oscillators can then be molded and processed through ASM's Mutants, a unique take on synthesis techniques to add texture and liveliness to the sources, be it FM, PWM, Sync, or even some stranger ones like phaze differentials. In addition, you get a colorful array of noise types and customizable ring modulation to further sculpt your ideas.
These sources are mixed and routed through two filters: the first offering 16 models to choose from, and the second giving you two different configurations of a continuous multimode model. Passing through the amplitude stage, we arrive at the effects section providing an independent delay and reverb with multiple options and flavors, and to make it even tastier, there are a pre-fx and a post-fx block that provide a wide variety of effects from flanger and chorus to compression and distortion.
Even with all these features to play with, it wouldn't be fun if we couldn't shape things over time, right? Thankfully, ASM has provided a generous amount of modulation with five envelopes and five LFOs. The envelopes have six (count 'em) stages with flexibility over curvature, sync to tempo, and trigger source. The LFOs bring some basic shapes we all know and love, but really come in handy with an option for 64-step sequences to customize your modulations. There are very few controls you can't modulate, so the possibilities for sonic shaping can feel truly endless.
To tie everything together, the performance capabilities provided are quite stupendous. The onboard arpeggiator gives you control over time division, gate size, swing, and even some rarer options like ratcheting and chance. Along with the provided pitchbend and modulation touchstrips, the Hydrasynth Explorer accepts MPE messages and even provides polyphonic aftertouch, something already rare in full-sized key synths, let alone a compact synth. These features provide variety and individuality to each voice you play, while the eight macro knobs make it easy for large sweeps and changes over multiple parameters. And to top it off, MIDI In/Out and multiple CV outs allow for the perfect integration in any studio or live setup.
Capable of battery power via eight AA batteries and built to fit anywhere, the Hydrasynth Explorer is sure to be a staple for sound designers on the go.
Hydrasynth Explorer Features
- Eight-voice polyphonic wave-morphing synthesizer
- 37 mid-sized keys with polyphonic aftertouch
- Battery-powered option
- Two OLED displays for waveform visualization and patch editing/performance display
- Four endless encoders for individual or macro controls
- Complex arpeggiator with extensive control options
- Extensive modulation matrix with up to 32 paths
- Three oscillators per voice with 219 selectable waveforms
- Oscillators 1 and 2 offer Wave Scanning between user-definable wave lists
- Four mutators per voice, allowing FM, several flavors of PWM, Harmonic scanning, Sync, and more
- Open-ended ring modulator and noise section
- Two filters per voice, with parallel or series configurations
- Filter 1 offers tons of distinct types, including LPG and Formant filters
- Filter 2: classic state-variable 12dB/octave morphing filter
- Five looping DAHDSR envelopes with option for relating segment duration to current BPM
- Five complex LFOs
- Integrated delay, reverb, and various modulation effects
- CV & Gate outs for easy integration into modular synth workflows
- Global & per module randomization and initialization always accessible straight on the front panel, with several intelligent randomization features
- Easy access to each module's internal parameters via dedicated Module Select buttons
- Outputs: Stereo 1/4"
- MIDI: In/Out & MIDI via USB Type B
- CV/Gate: 5x 3.5mm outputs (CV, Gate, Mod1, Mod2, Clock)
- Headphones: 1/4"
- Sustain: 1/4" input
- 12V DC PSU included
- Optionally battery-powered using 8xAA batteries (not included)
Most of these tips can be applied to any version of the Hydrasynth, meaning that regardless of your preferred flavor of Hydrasynth, you can be sure you've got one of the most capable sound engines around.
In part one of this series we asked the crew in the office what they were most excited to see arrive in 2021 in the category of synthesizers and modules!
Jaws of Love is the Solo Project of Kelcey Ayer of Local Natives,
Joining Jaws of Love is vocalist & performer Omatola, (@omatola) as well as Mark Neito (@combatmusic)