16.05.2022

Superbooth 2022 Report

superbooth 2022
(Image: Angela Kröll at Superbooth 21)
Words by Cambell Courtney

Recapping a huge weekend of electronic music technology and synth releases

Superbooth is perhaps the biggest expo for synthesisers and electronic music technology currently running, where manufacturers come together to announce and demonstrate the latest in their product lines.

Read all the latest product news here.

With Superbooth 2022 just concluding after its annual showcase in Berlin, dozens of new products have got the music world talking. 

Here are some of the more notable announcements and some of our favourites. 

Teenage Engineering OP-1 field

The new OP-1 field from Teenage Engineering is the long anticipated update to the original OP-1 from 2011. With over 100 new features added to the design stemming from 10 years of user feedback, the OP-1 field aims to improve on its older sibling in every way.

What makes the OP-1 field so impressive is the amount of functions and features you get for such a small and portable form factor. The OP-1 is entirely capable of producing fully realised compositions due to its range of recording options, internal sound engines, sampling capabilities, and effects.

For more information, visit the Teenage Engineering website.

Polyend Play

The Polyend Play is the new sample-based groovebox and performance tool from Polyend. Capable of sequencing up to eight tracks of samples and eight tracks of MIDI simultaneously, the Polyend Play will make a fine addition into any live performance setup in need of a ‘master’ or ‘brain’ device. 

Along with the eight tracks of sequencing, the Play also has a range of effects that allows for extreme modulation of playback samples in real time, and proposed software updates in the future will allow the Play to communicate with other Polyend devices such as the Tracker.

For more information, visit the Polyend website.

Crea8audio & Pittsburgh Modular East Beast

The new East Beast from Cea8audio & Pittsburgh Modular is a stripped down semi-modular synthesiser that prioritises an open ended patching system and high quality components over a vast array of features and parameters. 

The East Beast only has one oscillator, an envelope, filter, and an LFO, but the quality and attention to detail of each component, along with the open patching system, means this little synth is far more capable than what it may seem. It would make a perfect synth for beginner and intermediate players aiming to learn more about synthesis and modular synthesis.

For more information, visit the Cre8audio website.

 

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Qu-Bit Electronix Aurora

The Aurora from Qu-Bit is a new spectral reverb unit for Eurorack and modular systems that utilises a phase vocoding engine to create deep, lush, and sometimes whacky reverbs. 

What separates the Aurora from other reverbs is its control and manipulation over the incoming sound and the reverberations. Lots of tone shaping control allows for freeze, reverse, timestretch, filtering, and morphing of signals, meaning players can get long modulated reverbs from even the shortest of input signals.

For more info, visit the Qu-Bit website.

Finegear The Dirt Magnet 

The Dirt Magnet from Finegear is an analogue hardware multi-effects processor, that aims to provide a gritty, lo-fi sound to your productions. 

Included in the units is a noise generator, a vinyl crackle emulator, a filter, two LFOs and most notably, a physical tape delay which can be seen at the bottom of the unit. All parameters can be modulated by the two LFOs or through CV/Gate inputs from external gear. 

For more info, visit the Finegear website.

IK Multimedia UNO Pro Synth Black Edition

IK Multimedia announced the new Black edition of their flagship UNO Pro synthesiser at this year’s Superbooth. Functionally the same as their desktop model of the UNO Pro synth, the Black Edition gives it a sleek cosmetic update to feature all black hardware. 

The UNO Pro synth is an affordable, three-voice monophonic synthesiser with a ton of modulation parameters, making it quite versatile and a great choice for those looking to get their first synth. The Black Edition will be limited to 500 units, although the standard edition will still be available. 

For more info, visit the IK Multimedia website.

 

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Twisted Electrons Blast Beats

The Twisted Electrons Blast Beats is a 10-voice digital FM drum machine that utilises a sound chip that could be found in many home computers from the ‘90s. With just a little experimenting, the chip is capable of both rich and dirty sounds.

The drum machine has six voices for drum parts and four separate synth voices for basses and melodies. All voices have a dedicated fader section for control over the signal, as well as parameter locks, allowing for a preset or configuration on each step, meaning the possibilities for combinations of sounds are almost endless.

For more info, visit the Twisted Electrons website.

Soma Labs Terra

The new Terra synthesiser from Soma Labs is definitely one of the more interesting and unique designs to come from this year’s Superbooth. The Terra is a 12-voice polyphonic synthesiser that utilises touch control and is housed in a slab of wood. 

What makes the Terra so interesting, other than its unusual enclosure, is its approach to user controls. The Terra has a myriad of touch sensitive metal pads arranged in an unusual ergonomic layout. The notes are arranged in a microtonal scale that can be adjusted with face controls, with the knobs and extra pads all being some sort of tone control to modulate the sound. It is certainly a new and unique approach towards the user interface.

For more info, visit the Soma Labs website.

 

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Fred’s Lab Manatee

The Manatee is the new desktop synthesiser from Fred’s Lab, which has been touted as the prototype for their new approach to synthesis. The Manatee is a digital, nine-voice multitimbral synth in a small desktop form factor. It is capable of playing up to three separate sounds/presets simultaneously, making it a great studio and live performance tool.

What makes the Manatee so interesting is the new synthesis engine. By combining elements from resynthesis, additive synthesisers, and wavetable synthesis, Fred’s Lab has created an entirely unique sounding instrument. With the Manatee being a mere prototype for this new form of synthesis, it will be interesting to see where Fred’s Lab takes this technology in the near future.

For more information, visit the Fred’s Lab website.

Stimming Instant Mastering Chain

The Instant Mastering Chain is a new analogue master device from electronic music producer Martin Stimming. The small box features an EQ, compressor, and drive section to add thickness and harmonics to a signal. It features all analogue, hand-built parts in a small carbon fibre enclosure.

It was originally designed to be used with live hardware sets of which Stimming is known for, however it has been found to be just applicable in the studio as it is onstage. The IMC is great to chuck at the end of your signal chain to help boost the signal and glue the mix together in a quick and easy manner that lends itself to a live situation. It can also be used in the studio for easy, instant, and professional sounding signal processing. 

For more information, visit the website.

 

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Dreadbox Dysmetria

The new Dysmetria from Dreadbox is a new monophonic rhythm and bass synthesiser which is available to users in the form of a DIY assembly kit. The kit can be assembled as a standalone desktop synthesiser or as a Eurorack-compatible module. Dreadbox stated that assembly of the unit should take around five hours to complete.

The synth offers two analogue oscillators, two envelopes, a filter, and a 32-step sequencer. All parameters can also be controlled with the CV/gate inputs to communicate with any other modular gear you may have.

For more info, visit the Dreadbox website.

 

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IK Multimedia X-Gear pedals

IK Multimedia have entered the pedal market with their new series of X-Gear pedals. The range includes four types, including a modulation, reverb, delay, and drive options. All pedals feature a range of connectivity options, with stereo ins and outs, MIDI in and out, USB, and external control for an expression pedal.

The X-pedal range can be controlled with Amplitube 5 on your computer, allowing better monitoring over controls, with the ability to save presets from the computer to the pedal. Each pedal comes with a range of settings which emulate classic gear or have their own unique sound, all powered by DSP for high quality signal processing.

For more info, visit the IK Multimedia website.

Erica Synths Pērkons HD-01

The Pērkons is the new drum machine from Erica Synths. It is a digital analogue hybrid, meaning it has four digital drum voices with analogue filters and drive to add grit and extra harmonics into the signal.

Although it only has four voices, the capabilities of the Pērkons cannot be understated. Each voice has its own dedicated section with knob controls over each parameter, which can be recorded in the step sequencer, allowing for dynamic sequences that can easily be deleted or overdubbed during a performance. The Pērkons is shaping up to be an incredible performance tool for live electronic music, especially in the techno and electro genres.

For more info, visit the Erica Synths website.

 

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Oberheim OB-X8

The new OB-X8 from Oberheim marks the first true Oberheim synthesiser with input from Tom Oberheim himself in over 30 years. A fully analogue signal that sounds just like the legendary vintage Oberheim synths from the ’80s, as well as building on that foundation to produce something to please fans both new and old. 

The OB-X8 faithfully recreates the components and interaction between these components from the OB-Xa, OB-8 and OB-X and combines it with modern connectivity to create a classic Oberheim synth for the modern day player.  This allows players to rebirth classic Oberheim sounds, as well as mix and match different components from each to create something new. 

For more info, visit the Oberheim website.

 

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Erica Synths LXR-02 Module

The LXR-02 digital drum synth by Erica Synths and Sonic Potions is coming to Eurorack. The popular drum machine will finally be available in a Eurorack module, so it can be paired with other modular gear, of which Erica Synths is most well known for.  

What separates the module from the desktop version is the omission of the built in sequencer. Rather, the module is designed to be sequenced by external gear, taking advantage of all the options provided through CV and gate controls. The digital sound engine is capable of classic drum sounds, classic synth voices, and more whacky percussive bleep and bloops, and can morph between two presets with the use of one knob, creating new sounds on the fly.

For more info, visit the Erica Synths website.

 

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Roland AIRA Compact Series

Roland have released their new AIRA Compact series, which features three small form factor devices designed to be used on the move or for those looking for accessible hardware versions of classic Roland gear. 

The series includes the T-8, a drum and bassline synthesiser, loaded with classic Roland drum machine sounds from the 909, 808, and 606. The J-6, which is modelled after the Juno 60. And the E-4, which is a vocal effects processor with pitch shift, vocoder, harmoniser, and loop functions. 

For more info, visit the Roland website.

 

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Gamechanger Audio Motor Synth Mk II

The Motor Synth Mk II by Gamechanger Audio is one of the more unique designs to emerge from this year’s Superbooth. With the Mk I originally announced at Superbooth 2019, the team at Gamechanger have updated their design with all they have learnt over the last three years.

What makes the Motor Synth so interesting is its oscillators being driven by physical motors. Eight small motors, which are commonly used in drones, can be seen on the faceplate which spin and create frequencies for the synth to work with. It creates an entirely unique sound due to its unusual design and is certainly one of the more creative ways a company has approached synthesis.

For more info, visit the Gamechanger Audio website.

Erica Synths SYNTRX II

Erica Synths have also updated their SYNTRX model to the Mk II. This update builds on the previous design by adding more accurate and tuneable oscillators, new filter design, a digital DSP effects section, recordable joystick movements, and a built-in sequencer. 

What makes the SYNTRX interesting is its inspiration and similarities to the Synthi AKS from the ‘70s. It’s a unique design that forces you to think about synthesis differently due to its unusual workflow, mainly the matrix style mixer for combining and routing signals.

For more info, visit the Erica Synths website.

 

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Head to Superbooth’s instagram page to see their updates.