The Ultimate Synthesizer 4U

by Anatal Electronics

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About this project

The Ultimate Synthesizer

We from Anatal Electronics worked for many years on an extendable modular synthesizer with real analog sound that can be controlled with software instead of cables. All analog settings and patch configurations can be saved and restored. For your reference it can be seen as a real analog Nord Modular or a polyphonic Arturia Matrix Brute with up to 256x256 modulation matrix size.

Affordable quality

Because every aspect can be controlled digitally, there is no need for physical buttons or sliders. This saves a lot of development time and production costs and is the reason why we don't need to compromise on quality for an affordable price.

Proven technology and components

The underlying concepts for the switching modulation matrix is like other networking technologies, complex but around for many decades. The audio signal switching chips we use are in production for more than 25 years. Our effort made it possible to have such a matrix in a small enclosure so that it will fit in a 19" rack.

The synthesizer modules are implemented with reissued, cloned or original chips from Curtis Electronics and SSM. By many considered as the best choice and many well known vintage synthesizer from the 70's and early 80's are implemented with these chips.

How to play

Connect a midi keyboard or midi software like cubase and control it like any other midi device. Modular connections and analog setings can be applied with our software that runs on devices with internet browsers. Also over WIFI for phones and tablets. Seperate mouse and touch interface is provided.

Studio integration

If you already have audio equipment then that can connect to the modulation matrix too. The consequence is that you can make a snapshot of your studio at any point and store it on disk for recall later. Any patchbay will be effectively automated when it is fully connected to the modulation matrix. Our software offers several mono and polyphonic modes that also apply to connected external modules. You can easily play one complex chord with several completely different VCO modules without any effort. The software will find a way to use your modules to their maximum polyphonic potential.

How to choose

Since the system is designed to be as flexible as possible we don't offer a "one fits all" solution. Instead we break up the system in the smallest possible parts. You can select items based upon your personal needs. Some have hardware already and might want to have the DB25 connector board for half of the channels. Others prefer to have one box and only use X-Mods. It makes as much sense to work with external gear only and use your own design enclosure and existing power suply, in that case you only need a certain size modulation matrix. We offer 15 items to start with, the amount of possible combinations therefore is endless. 

Because the modulation matrix is extendable you can start small and let the system grow to your needs and budget.

What others think

We wrote many articles on forums about our plans and ideas. The feedback we got was hartwarming en encouraged us to keep on going. We like to share some reactions here to support our claim that we made The Ultimate Synthesizer.

User jvd1291@gearslutz.com : This seems to me to be a thing that could be somewhat revolutionary. It looks incredibly deep and flexible.

User midiquestions@gearslutz.com : Looks really promising. I don't do modular ATM but am tempted by your invention.

User Tangent@gearslutz.com : This is an excellent idea!

User kkonkkrete@gearslutz.com : Potential applications of this are very exciting. Please keep going with this important project!

User RecMyWorld@gearslutz.com : Incredibly cool.

User Tempertemper@gearslutz.com : Really cool stuff going on here.

User mojopin@muffwiggler.com : This sounds super awesome! I once spent a good deal of time dreaming up something like it.

User nigel@muffwiggler.com : I can see using this to build a programmable VCS3 or ARP 2500 type synth. Hmmm. Anyone for a new modular format?

User daveholiday@muffwiggler.com : then you could eliminate cables and do all your patching via software....and save the results for recall? If that is correct, that would be a very cool project indeed!

User calaveras@muffwiggler.com : Questions, are you a super-villain? If so do you need henchmen?

User mojopin@muffwiggler.com : Being able to quickly patch would really change my approach to writing music. Even being able to randomly patch might be fun.

User Paranormal Patroler@muffwiggler.com : 256 inputs would be crazy. I am extremely curious to see this beast patched up entirely.

Roadmap

Many years went into development of the modulation matrix and it is ready for production now. Since a few months we are working on the analog synthesizer modules we call X-Mods. The VCO, VCF, ADSR and VCA we offer are the first that are ready for production and are the ones we offer for sale here. Several independent module developers are working on the following modules that we will also offer once they are ready for production.

- Jupiter 8 discrete VCO,VCF,ADSR and VCA.

- Advanced multimode version of the Jupiter 8 VCF, offering much more functionality. 

- BBD analog delay chip board

- SEM discrete VCO,VCF,ADSR and VCA.

- Minimoog discrete VCO and VCF.

- Digilog digital reverb.

We are constantly looking for new independent developers or will make  ourselfs the following 

- Drum voices from 909,808 DMX and Linndrum.

- Vocoders

- Equalizers

- Compressor

- Dedicated surface controller.

- Keyboard version with keyboard wide touchscreen that can project vintage synthesizers so that the vintage X-Mods can be controlled as intuitive as could be.

What is probably clear by now is that we are working towards the Ultimate Studio in a box that fits under your arm and will offer the possibility to take your completely Analog studio to stage with minimal effort and risk.

Risks and challenges

As with some Kickstarter projects it happens that eventually products could not be delivered because there are too many custom parts involved and it is underestimated how easy things can get out of control.

The only custom parts we have are the pcb's and a 19" frontplate. Those are not very exotic items. Making a pcb is not something new. It is a well established industry. It is our design that makes the end result very special. Since that has been ready for a while we don't see major risk involved.

Since we develop new exciting hardware there is a risk that we not covered every possible situation and set up with our tests. It might be possible that not everyone is completely satisfied with our delivery. That is why we include one hardware update in the price. When we come with improved boards then you also get those boards at no extra cost. The chips need to be transferred to the new boards, that's all. We place them in sockets for this reason. The chips can be taken out of those sockets at any time and plugged into the sockets of the new boards. A special tool is provided and an instruction video how to do this safely.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge €5 or more About

    You were here

    Pledge 5 euro or more and help us bring analog music back to you, you will also become famous on our online wall of fame.

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    MINI board only, 1 chip for free

    Yes it is true for only 10 euro you can have a 16x16 system. Analog devices, the chip manufacturer, will supply one chip per person for free. You have to contact them and request a sample of the chip. The chip can be plugged into the socket on the board. No soldering required.

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    Pledge €29 or more About

    X-Mod DB25 for external IO connections

    X-Mod for connecting external audio and control voltages with protection circuitery so that your existing hardware and all X-Mods are protected from over voltage and other mistakes.

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    The DIY Mini

    Pledge 49 euro and you will get the real deal : the DIY X-Bay with 16x16 IO channels. It’s the bare pcb version with an arduino, the AOS software and an X-Mod connector.

    One hardware update included, excluding crosspoint chips.

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    X-Mod proto

    5 pieces proto board for DIY minded users. If you like to build your own module and like to integrate them with the modulation matrix you can implement your design on these boards and instantly control them with the software and connect it to any other X-Mod or connectd external equipment.

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    Pledge €59 or more About

    X-Mod VCO with reissued cem3340

    One of the best Voltage Controlled Oscillators around. A 70's design and implementation, now adapted to the X-Mod protocol for plugging into X-Bay.

    One hardware update included, excluding socketed chips.

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    X-Mod ADSR with cloned Juno/Jupiter chip

    The most compact discrete Envelope Generator around. A proven component that has been around for awhile already but now adapted to the X-Mod protocol for plugging into X-Bay

    One hardware update included, excluding socketed chips.

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    X-Mod VCA with cloned SSM2164

    An SSM2164 VCA clone. A proven component from Cool Audio that has been around for awhile already but now adapted to the X-Mod protocol for plugging into X-Bay

    One hardware update included, excluding socketed chips.

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    X-Mod VCF with original SSM2044 chip

    The successor of the well known SSM2040. A proven component that has been around for a while, now adapted to the X-Mod protocol for plugging into X-Bay.

    One hardware update included, excluding socketed chips.

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    Enclosure with drawer

    A 4 unit height 19" enclosure with a drawer so that new X-Mods can be installed easy without the need for tools and without the risk of loosing screws or parts.

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    Power supply

    High quality linear power supply. It is vital to have a stable power supply. You can also directly connect any eurorack format power supply if you already have one to your satisfaction. In that case you don't need ours perse.

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    X-Mod 32-channel DAC

    High quality modern nano DAC technology for midi to control voltage and digital audio conversions. Any digital audio signal can be mixed with the analog sounds in the modulation matrix. With this board channel volume can be set. Also signals can be splitted and mixed.

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    X-Bay 32

    32x32 modulation matrix. Extentable up to 256x256

    One hardware update included, excluding crosspoint chips.

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    X-Bay 64

    64x64 modulation matrix. Extentable up to 256x256

    One hardware update included, excluding crosspoint chips.

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    X-Bay 128

    128x128 modulation matrix. Extentable up to 256x256

    One hardware update included, excluding crosspoint chips.

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    X-Bay 256

    256x256 modulation matrix. The ultimate audio matrix

    One hardware update included, excluding crosspoint chips.

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