NICK'S WORLD OF SYNTHESIZERS

THE HARMONICON

Polyphonic Synthesizer
loudspeakerSound 1 spooky.mp3
loudspeakerSound 2 Ghost.mp3
loudspeakerSound 3 sad.mp3
loudspeakerSound 4 horror.mp3

This is a polyphonic synthesizer. It was the hardest of all my machines to make because there is a separate synth circuit for every note on the keyboard. The synth circuits are made from; 22 oscillators+octave dividers from early 70s Yamaha organs, 88 square wave to sawtooth converters, 88 envelope generators, 88 VCAs, 88 state variable filters, 88 LED drivers.

What does that block of LEDs do

If you look at the top photo, above the keyboard there is a cluster of LEDs. The LEDs are a representation of the keyboard and each LED outputs a note from the keyboard. I use a hand held light sensor to pickup the signal, and turn it into sound. You can play a chord on the keyboard and use the light sensor to fade from one note to another.



Electronics

I think I damaged my eyesight making it because of all the hours spent staring at tiny components.

Keyboard

The filters

Each of the 88 notes has it's own filter. The filters are tuned to the note to which they are attached. I guess this is similar to a vibraphone with it's pipe resonators tuned to each note, only with this synthesizer they can all be swept together using one fader. You can hear the polyphonic filter sweep at the beginning of this sound.

loudspeakerSound 1 spooky.mp3


Just Intonation

The tuning

Most instruments we use today are tuned in equal temperament. This one is tuned in Just Intonation. You may think that my system looks complicated but it is tuned to simple frequency ratios, the same ones that have been used by musicians for thousands of years. They are so natural that I was able to tune them all by ear, and I've got a terrible sense of pitch, I can't even sing Happy Birthday in tune.

Most musicians don't understand the science of tuning and are unaware of just intonation, but to the ears the difference is obvious. Listen to my sound files. You can hear something special in the sound even though I am not playing anything that special.

loudspeakerSound 1 spooky.mp3
loudspeakerSound 2 sad.mp3
loudspeakerSound 3 horror.mp3
Major Scale

Major scale


Minor Scale

Minor scale

When I finished making it I was very pleased with how rich the sound was. I don't really know why it sounds so good.


 
Contact me crazylegsnick@gmail.com
 
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Please Leave a comment


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Name: kay bee
E-mail:
Date Posted: 19:49, 02 11 2014
Message: GREAT WORK BRO

thanks

peace and musica always


Name: Schuyler Hupp
E-mail: germaniuman@gmail.com
Date Posted: 20:08, 30 11 2013
Message: Amazing! When I look into your synth and see all of those perf boards, I realize what a labor of love and adventure you engaged in. Wow! And I definitely dig and appreciate. I love electronic music & have been making a living as an electronic tech for 30+ years. The samples for the simulator have a beautiful timbre too. And microtonal! Very nice synth, very nice! :-)


Name: chad carr
E-mail: chadeacarr@gmail.com
Date Posted: 20:13, 05 09 2013
Message: That's one of the coolest things i've ever seen


Name: Johan
E-mail: scan4jopi@hotmail.com
Date Posted: 19:44, 17 05 2013
Message: Great machine,,, good job man,, thanks for sharing this artwork,, it tooks alot of time to make this synth

Greetings from Holland


Name: Kicko
E-mail: watsonan@tcd.ie
Date Posted: 15:35, 31 03 2013
Message: This is amazing and it sounds superb. The "spooky" sample is just beautiful.

Does each voice have it's own filter? Like voice modules on old yamaha synths? what are the oscilators? What does it do?! I'm blown away...


Name: Paddy Steer
E-mail: madwaltz@hotmail.com
Date Posted: 12:31, 26 12 2011
Message: Great ideas here. Brilliant. particularly love this just intonation keyboard set up.


Name: a
E-mail:
Date Posted: 16:46, 12 12 2011
Message: a


Name: Josue
E-mail: josuedavis@yahoo.com
Date Posted: 23:48, 13 10 2010
Message: Hello!

I am highly impressed by your creation. I really like the sound and how you can make really a wide variety of harmonies with it. To me, personally, it sounds like an Organ. 100%

You should make a version the you could use with the keys, that would be most entertaining and fun!

Cheers

Josue


Name: Chris
E-mail: kurisuuu@yahoo.co.uk
Date Posted: 04:30, 06 08 2010
Message: That is completely amazing. I salute your endless patience and dedication to your vision. You have made an incredible unique sounding instrument!


Name: pere
E-mail: pgudzov@yahoo.com
Date Posted: 11:51, 12 07 2010
Message: the sound of this thing is simply amazing.honestly i haven't heard something this inspiring in ages.you are a pure genius my friend.you wouldn't happen to have one for sale would you?


Name: Dan
E-mail: lovetohit@gmail
Date Posted: 03:42, 15 06 2010
Message: Wow! Exercise in patience! I thought a PolyMoog was confusing, you have enough wire to send a signal to the moon!
So close to the bone it's both cool and frightening! Nasa could use you for sure!


Name: Stiles
E-mail: jason@valentinomusic.net
Date Posted: 22:24, 02 06 2010
Message: Oh my God, I don't know how you retained your sanity after all that point-to-point soldering. :) Great work!


Name: Nicks world of synthesizers
E-mail: a@a.a
Date Posted: 22:41, 31 03 2010
Message: In reference to comment below

The oscilators and frequency dividers are from 2 Yamaha organs.


Name: frankle
E-mail: clam@bake.com
Date Posted: 03:53, 30 07 2009
Message: Nice machine, demos sound very interesting, and playing with the flash version of this was quite an ear-opener. Those master oscillator cards from a Yamaha organ? They sure look it with the alternating coil orientations.
F