Percussa Intros Synthor Modular Synthesis System (Knobcon 2016)

At Knobcon 2016, Synthtopia talked with Percussa’s Bert Schiettecatte, who gave us an overview of their new Synthor Modular Synthesis System.

The Synthor system is built around the idea of tangible computing – where physical objects are used to represent and control virtual objects within software applications.

The system consists of 3 parts:

  • a hands-on wireless patching interface (AudioCubes);
  • synthesis software (SYNTHOR); and
  • an integrated controller (REMOTE).

With Synthor, the Percussa AudioCubes act as wireless controllers that let you create synth patches, while the Remote lets you control things like patch selection and settings for virtual modules.

For more info on the AudioCubes and the Synthor system, see the Percussa site.

23 thoughts on “Percussa Intros Synthor Modular Synthesis System (Knobcon 2016)

  1. I am lost by this product? I do not see this as relevant in a studio enviroment ?
    Peoples focus is interesting but really seen no use for me and many producers I know..

  2. There is a reason people dont use this stuff and its not because it hasnt been invented yet, its stupid and pointless, stop trying to re-invent the tactile music controller, its been done to death already and we already have plenty of options.

    Come back when I can control it with my mind.

  3. The whole point of things like this is to create something new, for people that aren’t interested in doing the things that everybody else is already doing.

    If you’re somebody that wants to play ‘Lucky Man’ or make beats, stuff like this is going to seem pointless.

    I bet that most people that saw Bob Moog’s original synth – which was designed for academics – could not imagine where it would lead.

    Whether or not these succeed in opening up interesting new territory is open to debate, though. I’d like to see some demos of a musician going crazy with these things.

  4. I feel quite sad for the developers, it’s pretty obvious that they’ve spent a lot of time on it. An interface like this is cool and interesting, but it will never catch on beyond the initial “oh that’s neat” moment.

    For one, it’s not as accurate or precise, and in synthesis that’s exactly what we want. A lot of what this interface of cubes provides can be done more accurately through knobs and sliders. We eventually want accuracy because that allows for replicability! It’s easier to determine a range between 1-10 than distance.

    Second of all, the placement of the cubes affect the signal path. This can already be done easily in the modular world and through patch bays. Heck Boss has a pedal that does this, it switches the order of the signal chain. Cool idea, but I can imagine it can get very confusing to tell these cubes apart as they don’t have labels or screens on them.

    And lastly, how will this work in a crowded studio or even more crowded live station? It’s a cool concept, and interesting take on some cool technologies. But what musical application does it have in the real world?

    1. Yes, so sad for the developers that they’re nurturing something they’re interested in. It’s really too bad there is only one solution to every problem, and money is the only reason to ever pursue a creative interest 😉

    2. It sounds like you’re saying that this sort of thing will never be popular, because there are existing MIDI controllers that do a better job at doing the things that mainstream users want to do.

      I’d agree completely with the idea that this isn’t a mainstream product. Isn’t that sort of obvious, though?

      It seems sort of pointless to dismiss an obviously niche product because it’s not mainstream enough for you.

      And how is that attitude different than when people argue that modular synthesizers are wankery, or that things like Dewanatron or Folktronik’s gear aren’t real instruments?

      People dismiss this stuff because it’s strange, and then a musician like Trent Reznor uses a Swarmatron on a soundtrack and suddenly everybody goes crazy for them, and they’re sold out for three years and soon people are putting swarm oscillators in their modulars.

      You’re not going to make interesting music or create an interesting musical experience for people if you use the same gear that everybody else uses and if you do the same things that everybody else uses. That’s the definition of insanity – doing the same things over and over and expecting different results.

      1. btw, thats not the definition of insanity – thats just a quote from Einstein…

        yeh – Im tired of people saying that all the time, like they know what they are talking about. especially when they “know it all”

        just in case you are interested:

        Full Definition of insanity
        plural insanities
        : a deranged state of the mind usually occurring as a specific disorder (as schizophrenia)
        : such unsoundness of mind or lack of understanding as prevents one from having the mental capacity required by law to enter into a particular relationship, status, or transaction or as removes one from criminal or civil responsibility
        a : extreme folly or unreasonableness
        b : something utterly foolish or unreasonable

    3. I must concur, and whilst his resume and education are impressive, the time spent on this “system” of loosely based ideas seems poorly spent when you consider that in an ever increasingly cramped stupid environment, where each piece of gear must justify its viability and allotted space, this would not qualify. More interestingly as you pointed out, there seems to be a lack of precision. This seems to be more a ‘proof of concept’ than something that is both truly viable and workable.

      1. Space seems like a very strange thing to criticize this thing for.

        It’s WAY more compact than any of the hardware modular synths that you see. And when you’re not playing, put the cubes away and they won’t take up any of your work space.

        For me, the missed opportunity is that this really needs a proper performance demo. The inventor obviously knows his stuff, but most people aren’t going to get interested unless they hear some cool sounds or see an interesting performance.

        1. Well considering I loathe modular synthesis, that was not even in my calculus. I don’t a synth that requires “accessories or secondary appendages to be able to use it, I prefer a “system” that is self contained to some extent. Yet a rather restrictive qualifier, yet this to me misses the mark on many fronts. I only pointed out a couple of issues based on my initial impressions.


  5. I’m all for hardware interfaces for digital synths but this just seems largely useless. No visual feedback from the hardware as to what’s going on. Still relys on the laptop screen. Little info screens like the Novation SL series would enhance this greatly.

  6. I just don’t see the point of it – dragging big cubes near each other doesn’t really seem like it is as much a bold new way to make music as it is a clumsier way – I like odd controllers but this just seems cumbersome for no reason

  7. As far as I know theses blocks have been around for around four or more years the controller seems like a logical next step, which I find very interesting and open endeded, and as far as I know the cubes where designed NOT for the studio but for live interactive performance, but what do I know?

  8. For some reason their website blocks Belgian visitors – showing an empty black page while everyone else can see it.

    Weird for a company that was founded in Belgium (IIRC?).

  9. Pretty interesting, though not ground-breaking. I agree the physical cubes do not give enough visual feedback.

    This to me is like the hardware version of the Jasuto app.

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