The Onde Magnétique Is Like A Cassette Tape Mellotron

om-1-cassette-synthesizerReader Scott Campbell let us know about an unusual new synth he’s created, the OM-1 Cassette Synthesizer.

The OM-1 Cassette Synthesizer is an analog musical instrument, built around the concept that when a continuous tone/note is recorded to tape, its pitch will change as the tape’s playback speed is increased or decreased.

Individual notes are playable via the 8 button keys, each with a tuning knob directly above it. The knobs let you configure the speed of the cassette, so you can tune the cassette’s playback.

The volume of the notes can be articulated by using the pressure-sensitive volume control. The harder its pressed, the louder the note.

A three-position switch controls attack/release response of the audio output – Short, Medium, and Long. CV/Gate inputs allow control over the cassette’s pitch and volume from a linear (non-quantized) voltage sequencer.

Other cassette-based instruments include the Motor Keys Tape and the Human Controlled Tape Transport.

Here’s a video demo of the OM-1 Cassette Synthesizer:

Here’s a short guide to operating the OM-1:

The OM-1 includes:

  • OM-1 Cassette Synthesizer
  • Modified Portable Cassette Player/Recorder
  • Two 3.5mm cables
  • Cassette with voice/sound per side
  • 3V Power Supply

Pricing and Availability

The OM-1 Cassette Synthesizer is available now, made-to-order, for US $285.

13 thoughts on “The Onde Magnétique Is Like A Cassette Tape Mellotron

  1. Mmm……nicely put together….has its own sonic mojo. I could see myself playing around its limitations and feeding all sorts of things into it..

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  2. Beautiful. Gotta admit, I’d be slightly more inclined to send $300 their way if it came with 5 or so pre-recorded tapes.

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    1. It comes with one with a different voice/sound on each side.

      I’m glad it comes with the tape player, because hunting the exact model used to develop it would be a pain.

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      1. “hunting the exact model used to develop it would be a pain.”

        It’s not like people made a lot of sony walkmen or anything :p

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        1. Have you bought a walkman lately that hasn’t been thrashed within an inch of it’s life? And there were at least 100 different models made, all with slightly different characteristics.

          It is better to have the exact model this is designed for, without having to look for it.

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  3. It looks great. I like the idea of recording some tapes where the tone changes to different setting every 4-5 minutes. Or even modifying my fourtrack so I could place 8 voices onto each tape. Great concept, this is the stuff that now excites me not another 2 voice mono synth!!

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  4. My question is, how much use can one get from the cassette before the tape snaps, rendering your voices useless? There’s a reason why technology left cassettes and eight tracks in the dust. Having played through boxes of my favorite music over and over, tape tends to start sounding bad after a while, then it eventually breaks. Let’s not even think about the “caught in the mechanism” incidents that forced everyone to have a No. 2 pencil handy for “re-reeling” the cassettes. Love this concept, just concerned that it depends so heavily on wonky tech from yesteryear.

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