La Voix du Luthier Onde & Pyramid Speakers Bring Acoustic Resonances To Electronic Instruments

The Pyramid

La Voix du Luthier (The Voice of the Luthier) has launched a Kickstarter project to fund production of two unique speakers for electronic musicians.

The speakers are designed in the tradition of the diffuseurs of French instrument designer Maurice Martenot. Martenot is known for the expressive Ondes Martenot electronic instrument, and to amplify it, he created a system of three diffuseurs, each of which was designed to add a different type of acoustic resonance to the electronic sound.

La Voix du Luthier has created two wood resonating speakers, the Onde and Pyramid. These are powered resonators, with the sound directly emanating from 2 separate soundboards, similar to guitar soundboard, designed and tuned by a master luthier.

The Onde and Pyramid were unveiled at ContinuuCon 2018 (the Haken Continuum Fingerboard conference) in France and they made their public debut at SuperBooth 2018 in Berlin.

The Onde & Pyramid are not intended to transparently amplify your electronic sounds. Instead, they’re designed to resonate like traditional acoustic instruments and impart these acoustic resonances to your electronically generated sounds.

Here’s are some sound examples, created by composer & synth designer Edmund Eagan, using a Haken ContinuuMini synthesizer and a La Voix du Luthier Onde resonator. He used a stereo mic configuration to capture the sonic space created by the Onde. The video demonstrates how the Onde turns your synthesizer into a hybrid electroacoustic instrument:

Features of the Onde & Pyramid resonators:

  • They generate a 3D auditory space, just like a traditional acoustic instrument  (as opposed to traditional speakers being very directional).
  • They are not sonically «neutral», but are not meant to be: they offer a colored sound carefully tuned by the luthier.
  • They offer a highly dynamic sound: users report that all the transients, like the attack off sounds, mechanical noises, etc., are perceptually better than on traditional speakers.
  • They enhance any electronic signal, imparting a carefully balanced acoustical environment into the source, immersive like an acoustic instrument.
  • They have two fine wooden soundboards with oppositional placement that are complementary sounding, further enhancing the 3D experience. Each soundboard has a separate volume control allowing for fine-tuning of the tonal balance.
  • They are designed to be able to transmit surface vibrations to your instrument, and offer a high number of possible mounting options to be attached to electronic instruments. This means that electronic musicians now can feel the vibrations of the sound they produce while playing, like any acoustic instrument player.
  • Like acoustic instruments, they are interact with their environment, letting you take advantage of the specific tonal characteristics  of a venue.
  • They integrate electronic instruments with an acoustic ensemble.
  • They offer an elegant wooden design (different finishes are available).

Here’s the official Kickstarter video:

Here’s a quick introduction from developer Christophe Duquesne at Superbooth 2018:

Pricing and Availability

Production of the Onde & Pyramid are being funded via a Kickstarter project. The resonating speakers are available to backers starting at €570 (about US $658).

15 thoughts on “La Voix du Luthier Onde & Pyramid Speakers Bring Acoustic Resonances To Electronic Instruments

  1. I’m a bit annoyed that the Continuumini seems currently to be only offered as a package deal with the Onde speaker. This is not the impression I got from the Superbooth demos. I was hoping the Continuumini would be available as a separate Kickstarter.

    1. We are working on it – hopefully ContinuuMini will launch separately end of next week. Originally we had planned to launch simultaneous with La Voix du Luthier, but Real Life got in the way.

      1. Wow many thanks for the personal reply. Not that the Ondes doesn’t look like an incredible partner to the Continuumini, it’s just that I don’t have a budget for both at the moment. Looking forward to it!

  2. Watching a couple videos my first impression was that they weren’t well recorded, then i realized what sounded like loss of detail and over-emphasized harmonics was actually what it sounded like.

    i don’t say that as a criticism, just that it made me think that 1) synth sounds with characteristics similar to an acoustic instrument are best suited, and 2) no doubt the sound when actually in the same room is fantastic, maybe best served by binaural+headphones or surround?

    1. I’m not sure why people would expect this to sound like Genelecs or something like that.

      The entire reason for something like this to exist is to explore a different approach and to create sounds that have an acoustic element that you can interact with and explore.

      The closest thing I can think of to compare it to is the way guitarists use feedback with their amps – that sort of feedback loop is essential to being able to get the sound that they want, though it’s not ‘accurate’ in any way.

      Looks like this Kickstarter is going to be a big success – so some people clearly ‘get’ the point of this type of speakers.

      1. When I was a kid, I used to see commercials for high quality TV screens on our crummy little family TV. The commercials had images of much better TV screens, but I could only see them on our crummy TV. These resonators have a bit of that problem — they color the sound in a likable way to make it sound more “acoustic-like”, but my favorite part of the Ondes is how the sound emanates from it; it feels like the difference in how an acoustic piano has a different sound-space in a room than an electric piano. That feeling is impossible to transfer in videos, where people are listening through headphones or speakers — so it is a leap of faith the buy into the idea.

      2. i think i get it too, that this is a novel way to lend a synth the unique richness/presence/? of an acoustic instrument, and that you have to take it on it’s own terms to appreciate it.

        I would love to experience it live. I guess what I’m pondering is the best way to capture it in recording. Seems trickier than miking an traditional acoustic instrument.

        Obv this is all based on a youtube-compressed listen and idle speculation, no offense intended.

        1. You are probably right when it comes to miking it. it doesn’t have vibrating strings that can be recorded and them amplified if needed. So it would be more similar to miking the soundboard of a piano for example, and that isn’t how it is typically done.

          Probably best captured with a stereo mic set-up at listening position in the room (one of those head-microphones), to capture the room effect, and then going untreated to the listener listening via headphones.

          I wish though that more music was captured in that way;
          With resonators like this (perhaps a bit more neutral for other types of instruments), and different sorts of speakers, it would then be possible to place sound sources in an actual room and have it spread in a natural way, and then capture it, so it plays back the most realistic way in headphones.
          A way to live-record pre-recorded and treated sound.
          And since using headphones would be like re-versing the microphones in a head mic, it would be the most realistic way of actually capturing and re-creating a room experience.

          There would be no need to pan instruments in the mix, as they would instead be placed in a physical location, thus actually sound like they come from the right location, instead of being panned to feel.

          No more room reverb effects used to feel, instead capturing an actual room, in a realistic way…
          Sure, that would require access to the type of room one wishes to record. And perhaps even filling it with people or dummies, to capture the sound like it would sound in a crowded space.
          If the sound engineer is good at its work, in preparing, the need for access to that room, would be limited. But sure, stadiums would be out of the question for most artists (sure the room could be recorded while booked for a gig, but then, why not just record the actual gig).

          The sound would be way more realistic that doing it by feel in the mix.

          And I think it could be cool for electronic music as well, putting sounds in an actual space (I think it will open up for way of thinking about placement of sounds in a space that typically isn’t used for electronic music). At times even requiring setting at lot of speakers up in a surround configuration in the room.

          Perhaps though requiring a bit of cheating with the low end (perhaps complete low-cut or layering with the clean track). As long as it is beneath 120Hz or so, we can’t locate the sound at all, and it would be possible to go even higher using panning, as our ability to actually pin-point is even higher, so we would not be able to tell it wasn’t recorded at location.

          The back side of it, is that we would be back in a situation where doing high quality recordings and mixes would require a bit of money, and a different skill set (being able to mix for playback in a room, with the right type of sound sources).
          But I’m sure some independent artists would be able to rent a room that fits (although perhaps not the perfect room), and the needed speakers/resonators, but the skill set of mixing for them and the live-sound engineering would till be needed.

          And of course, it would challenge the hifi-speaker industry.
          I do love speakers. But headphones are superior in that they remove the room, and that the same kind of quality of sound can be much cheaper.
          And it is portable.
          And it is the way most people “actively listens” to music today.
          I’m sure we can get “augmented reality” headphones, that would enables us to get sounds from the outside in, so that social listening would still be possible.

          1. Thanks Jon ! yes you perfectly got it. It is also a very nice toy for sound engineers, and it also can be used by studios to offer some alternate sound colors to record synth. At that point the different ways of using it are not “fixed” and we are impatiently to see how musicians will use them (Onde and Pyramid).

  3. I thought that the Eagan demo was excellent and clearly demos how this works and sounds – there’s some ‘woodiness’ to the tone that makes it sound like an acoustic instrument is making the sounds.

    Very interesting, too, because it sounds like an acoustic instrument that you haven’t heard before.

  4. Love the idea of “feeling” the sound throug my fingers. I have been trying to work out how I could fit in an acoustic piano into my small space for the very reason. Music is different when you can feel it not just with your whole body but specifically with your fingers .. this with something like a Seaboard might give me what I was looking for from a piano. Brillaint … will start saving. You got me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *