Rare Helmholtz Sound Synthesizer Auctioned For $20K


Last month, we shared news about a rare Helmholtz Sound Synthesizer that was up for auction.

The Helmholtz Sound Synthesizer is considered by some to be the first electronic synthesizer. It uses tuning forks, controlled by electromagnets, to generate fundamentals and overtones, the intensity of which can be varied to create different types of sounds. While it was a synthesizer, it was more a scientific instrument than a musical one.

The Helmholtz Sound Synthesizer above, built around 1905, sold today for US $20,000. 

Helmholtz used his system to identify the frequencies of the pure sine wave components of complex sounds, demonstrating that the different combinations made could reproduce vocal sounds.

This particular (scientific) instrument was built by Max Kohl of Chemnitz – who, according to Bonhams, was one of the more respected scientific instrument makers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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