The Korg Phase5 Acoustic Synthesizer & How It Works (Sneak Preview)

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At Superbooth 2023, Korg Berlin was sharing a preview of the Acoustic Synthesis_phase5, a prototype acoustic synthesis instrument.

In this video, synth designer and Korg Berlin CEO Tatsuya ‘Tats’ Takahashi shares a preview of the unusual synth with Reverb’s Fess Grandiose.

In the 1850s, Hermann von Helmholtz created an acoustic synthesizer that could create complex sounds using an early form of additive synthesis.

While most electronic musicians think about synthesizers as instruments that generate sound completely electronically, in the 1850s, the German scientist Hermann von Helmholtz created devices that could synthesize sound electroacoustically, using an early type of additive synthesis. The Helmholtz Synthesizer was designed for scientific research, though, not musical performance.

The Acoustic Synthesis_phase5 builds on similar ideas, but seems closer to the work of Paul Vo, who created created the Moog Guitar and the Vo-96 Guitar, instruments that implement forms of acoustic synthesis with guitar strings.

Like the Helmholtz Synthesizer, the Acoustic Synthesis_phase5 is based on electromechanical control of tuning fork, and lets you mix overtones to shape sounds. But Korg’s device is designed to be a musical instrument, so it can be played chromatically. Because it’s built around resonating tines, the instrument can have initial attack qualities similar to a Fender Rhodes. But it can also sustain notes indefinitely and it can feedback like an electric guitar.

While both the Vo-96 Guitar and Acoustic Synthesis_phase5 give you granular control over the harmonics of the sounds they generate, the range of sounds that the instruments can create is constrained by the physical qualities of the instrument. So the VO-96 can create a wide range of sounds, but they all sound guitar-like, and the Acoustic Synthesis_phase5 creates sounds that have a bell-like quality that’s similar to a Rhodes piano.

The phase5 is a prototype, so no details on specifications, pricing or availability have been announced at this time.

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