Dasz Instruments Intros Alex Expandable Synthesizer System (Sneak Preview)


At Musikmesse 2016Dasz Instruments is previewing Alex – an integrated multitrack synthesizer and sequencer platform.

The Alex system is composed of modules. Each module includes 4 tracks – each track contains synthesizer/instrument, effects, looper and sequencer. The modules can be used as hardware modules, to sequence internal modules and to sequence external MIDI and CV gear.

Each module includes track buttons, a high resolution TFT screen, 8 RGB push encoders, 8 RGB buttons, a powerful processor and one I/O expansion and one DSP expansion slots.

Here’s a couple of video overviews from Musikmesse. 

via BPB:

via Sonic State:

Dasz Instruments plans virtual analog, sampling, and external control instruments, effect and sequencer models.

External instruments can be controlled via MIDI. If equipped with our EXP-A I/O expansion card, external instruments or effects processors can also be mixed, and/or controlled via CV. Up to 4 different I/O expansion cards can be added to a full system (16 track).

The Alex system is composed of one MAIN and up to 3 ADD modules.

  • The MAIN module contains 4 synthesizer tracks plus the MAIN mixer for the system. It includes track buttons, a high resolution TFT screen, 8 RGB push encoders, 8 RGB buttons, a powerful processor and one I/O expansion and one DSP expansion slot. The MAIN module also contains system and common navigation and mode controls, transport, power, main outputs, headphones outs, MIDI In, MIDI Out, USB Device and Host, and SD Card storage.
  • ADD modules add an additional 4 synthesizer tracks, track buttons, a high resolution TFT screen, 8 RGB push encoders, 8 RGB buttons, a powerful processor and one I/O expansion and one DSP expansion slot. The output of each ADD module is mixed in the MAIN module.

The Dasz Instruments Alex system is currently in development and subject to change. Dasz is planning to ship later the Alex later in 2016. See the Dasz Instruments site for details.

28 thoughts on “Dasz Instruments Intros Alex Expandable Synthesizer System (Sneak Preview)

  1. I am actually excited to see how this evolves… The screens need to be touch screen though at this point in the game… It would add some control as X,Y pads and stuff like that as well as ease of editing IMO.

    1. I think the way the knobs are laid out pretty effectively eats the need to have a touchscreen.
      As a whole the interface looks amazing, and touchscreens might raise the cost too high.

      Even Yamaha seems to have cut some corners in the much, much more expensive Montage, by choosing a resistive screen. (which I love)

  2. Looks like an extremely powerful engine, but videos with mainly talking and excuses for the system not being ready are not yet convincing. Still, I’m well aware of the potential and power of such a system. Great idea, great development, and I’ll be following you!

    One question upfront: Will the final version be a little less nervous in blinking and flickering its lights? Any musician or fan with a touch of epileptics is bound to have some serious attacks …

    1. didn’t watch the video and I’m sure a million other will reply to say the same thing… but you’re probably seeing camera framerate artifacts. LED’s refreshing at some frequency, camera at 24fps or whatever, results in LED’s looking all blinky etc…

    2. You wouldn’t see the lights flashing, it is a sync of the led blinking which is conflicting with the video frame-rate. I think it is done for energy saving purposes, so the LED is is a constant on/off cycle which is much faster than human persistence of vision, but not the video frame-rate.

      Like how a TV or monitor can band and strobe when you see it on video.

      1. It’s usually either to control the brightness, or because the LEDs are connected as a scanned matrix, to reduce the I/O needed. I’ve been trying to balance out the flicker on a scanned matrix on one of my projects lately. But yes, that’s what’s causing the issue.

    3. I think the blinky-ness might be an artifact from filming LEDs, sort of like the effect of filming an old CRT where the frame rate of the camera doesn’t line up with the refresh rate of the TV. In this video, when the camera moves around, some of the blinking seems to stop. I bet they are using PWM for the brightness of the LEDs, so the blinky lights are actually off some of the time. In practice this happens so fast that your eyes can’t usually tell and they just appear dim. Digital cameras might capture frames when the LEDs are off though.

  3. hmmm – I want to like this. It seems pretty but so far not compelling in any way. It’s a box of knobs and buttons that makes noise, but is there something that makes the noise or the UI better than, say, an Electribe or a Monomachine?

  4. I wish it would be Virus killer, but it reminds me a lot of Alesis Micron. Don’t really like its design. Should be thinner from front side and encoders never have a good feeling.
    But if it would work as a synthesizer and could also work as a live mixer, it could be something really cool.

  5. haha you guys are impressed by a digital 4 track lol,
    the price of 24 channel analogue desks are low at the moment ,i saw a allen n heath go for 500
    ,get a laptop and you have a awesome system ,you would have to expand this system to get anywhere near that,and that would make this digital solution more expensive then a analogue/digital mix with send/returns on every channel in the real not some connection on a screen ,

    this is the worst solution i have ever seen ,and only serve’s to commit you to a platform where you are tied to keep adding modules ,nice for dasz to get rich but bad for a music creator who just wants to make good tunes very bad indeed , if your wise you will stay away from this the 2016 lemon of the year

    1. It’s not just a mixer. It has an expandable DSP core that will have models for sound and effects generation. It also has a sequencer for each of the four tracks and optional I/O expansion (CV I/O, Audio I/O etc..). I do agree though that just for four tracks is a bit weak. Also the way the modules attach together is a bit wonky… connector between modules with some sort of locking mechanism and a couple rails across the bottom and you can still see it flexing in the videos. If it works well and the sound is exceptional then maybe it would be useful for live, but then you may have to take it apart every time you setup. Maybe a case of ‘just because you can doesn’t mean you should’.

      1. the system i outlined above also has the option of adding a midi to cv module too,
        so the only thing this has going is the dsp core ,and with amd’s new zen cpu i will not need sharc
        sharc is so dated

        sidenote in pc gaming amd has caught up with intel with their multicore cpu with internal gpu,and later this year the new zen cpu/gpu is released giving many more cores,so we are currently at 10 cores ,i’m thinking zen will be a 20 core powerhouse

    2. All studio gear is expandable with other gear, just telling someone to buy a large analog mixer and laptop is superfluous. You could just start with a computer but this is obviously trying to be a groovebox/instrument that will work with modular or other boxes like most things in the studio, part of the I don’t need a computer to make music movement. A groove box or live performance instrument not an entire studio but it could be for the groove box heads if expanded or supplemented with other hardware. But heck we don’t know the sound of its effects / synths it may end up being awesome as a studio tool/live as a send/return for effects/looping or for the individual that is away from the studio and just wants to write parts / sound design without a laptop or wants to perform without a laptop on stage. We really just have to wait and see what it becomes.

  6. I recognised the name as Dasz contributed greatly to the Nord G2 forums and patch library back in the day .Alex System has a lot of Potential design architecture and flexibility wise, but as mentioned most people would be keen to see product at a release stage along with price info.I am quite sure with a mature TFT interface using colour,it will be the sort of device that once you get hands on,it will give a lot of mileage.

    1. Because it’s finally a real (modular) hardware / synth / sampler / groovebox etc. and not the simulation of it = hardware controller +notebook. I think the world’s a bit bored now from hardware-controllers that look like “hardware” but ain’t …

      1. Bob, this is no more “real” than a laptop and a hardware controller. It is still a computer… a piece of hardware running software. It’s just in a different shape, and one that will get far less support overtime and give you far less options.

        1. Just like the mpcs, octotracks, viruses, electribes, n all other digital gear who needs em! Just use your computer and buy midi controller!

    2. I completely agree – most custom hardware platforms fail because they cannot match the power and speed of Intel/ARM chips over time. It makes a lot more sense to be designing custom controllers that connect to a laptop or tablet than it does to be doing DSP in custom SHARC-based hardware. Hardware manufacturing and design simply cost too much, and don’t get refreshed often enough if a small boutique manufacturer is doing it.

  7. I’m interested to see the flexibility of the interface when it’s finished so far seems like a good idea. Just to have a 4-8 tracks of synth/drum/sampler/efx is very useful esp with it being able to sequence external gear and be able to receive i/o efx, and do loopers, mix and mutes. If priced right for the main brain and the quality of effects and synth archeticture is exceptional in sound and options then people will buy it, there are amazing digital sounds outside of the computer like the viruses, old waldorfs and eventides/strymon, i just hope whomever is working on the synth and efx engines is legit as that is what will make or break it imo. People love hardware and have been getting away from computers like it’s religion. So its Nice to have competion from the elektrons, electribes, n mpcs. You don’t need to buy into the whole system even if 4 tracks is limited, really depending on the price and which box your lookin at,the elektrons are in a similar camp and they keep their boxes functionality very seperate, so you need more than one box anyway. I like that it can be used as a modern va/sequencer/sampler/efx/ whichever your missing in your current hardware rig which makes it pair up with any additional hardware easily to fill whatever function your lacking. Staying tuned to see more!

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