Breath-Controlled Modular Synth Jam

Sunday Synth Jam: This set of videos, via nnoiz Papp, capture a series of modular synth jams that explore breath-controlled synthesis. 

In each of the videos, a Hornberg HB1 breath controller is used to modulate a patch on a Eurorack modular synth.

Each video explores using breath control for different effects – including creating didjeridoo-style sounds, funky modulations and creative sound shaping.

11 thoughts on “Breath-Controlled Modular Synth Jam

  1. At $973 USD, the Hornberg is the most expensive breath controller I’ve seen (with the possible exception of what it might take to build your own 33.

    I have no doubt it is a high quality product, and for those of us who love breath controllers, it looks like a fabulous one– for those who prioritize this, and who have deep enough pockets.

    There are some cheaper options out there. TEControl makes a few models, MRT sells one (I’ve seen them on eBay), and a company called Kelfar. I have a TEControl USB model that works well– however, my version did not have a proper mouthpiece or vent control. New models have better headsets and even an additional bite control.

    I like the above use of it just as a rhythmic realtime control element. However, IMHO, breath controllers are so great for expressive melodic work. Still, this shows the versatility of a control source that doesn’t require use of your hands or feet.

    1. Hi stub,

      I have the basic TEControl model too, and I later bought the headset

      The mouthpiece with bleed valve that comes with it is like the BC3 and works great. Someone on a forum pointed out that both devices use the same pressure sensor. I really see no reason to pay 5 or 6 times more for a luxury box and a mouthpiece made of unnecessarily rare wood.

  2. yes, you´re right, its expensive. I got a test hb1 and I bought it after 2 days of testing. Its for me the easiest way in programming and its a standalone unit. you can program nearly everything (ch, burst, offsets for example), it has a release funktion and 2 midi out ports. also its possible to send two programs at the same time (in the next time 4 programs), to control two midi messages at the same time.
    I`m an obist and keyboarder with, and so it bought it nevertheless….

  3. This is an overpriced device, what a rip off! There are a few reasonably priced alternatives starting about $100. If you really want to splash out, for less than a third of the price, you can get TEControl’s latest model which has breath, bite and head tilt sensor in two directions:

    1. I strongly disagree. Just because you can find more inexpensive alternatives doesn’t mean that the Hornberg is overpriced. It is out of most of our budgets, to be sure. And the fact that cheaper alternatives exist means that only people who are looking for the very best version might consider it.

      I listed some less expensive alternatives in my post, but was careful not to assume that this product didn’t deliver something special (as I have not tried it).

      It is a well-designed and well-made product. The oboist above is a good candidate. I play trombone & melodica so I can really appreciate a very well-made breath controller.

      But perhaps we can agree that spending $300 on a used Yamaha BC-3 is overpriced!

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