The Panoptigon Offers ‘A Whole Range Of Weird Sounds’

At the 2019 NAMM Show, Quilter Labs introduced the Panoptigon, an optical sample playback device, based on the rare Optigan and Vako Orchestron instruments of the 1970’s.

Both vintage instruments use optical sample discs, which have concentric rings that encode the samples for each note of the keyboard. The intent of the design was to accurately reproduce the original sounds, but the 70’s mechanical technology gives the samples a haunting, warbly effect when played.

The Panoptigon updates the original technology in many ways, letting the discs be played back at higher fidelity, while still retaining the strange essence of the original.

Here are some examples of the Panoptigon in action:

13 thoughts on “The Panoptigon Offers ‘A Whole Range Of Weird Sounds’

  1. > The Panoptigan Offers ‘A Whole Range Of Weird Sounds’

    which you all definitely not need to become a billboard charting artist. and we all want that, do we?

      1. Of course we can easily achieve these sounds with software! (dating myself) Grasshopper, when you can snatch the flawless executable from the K&R compiler and lint that produces no warnings, you may leave the monastery. (/dating myself)

    1. unless you use Ultramaximizer and get DJ Khaled’s blessing u will never be a True Star EVEN WITH the mighty optigon.

  2. As an Optigan owner, I’d love to see them take the electronics they’ve come up with for this and create a kit for upgrading the electronics for vintage Optigans.

    The electronics for the original Optigan were pretty crummy to begin with, and the amp in mine has a lot of hum.

    So I wonder if they could do something like what Vintage Vibe has done for the Clavinet, and make an amp kit that would upgrade the originals. Seems like something that other Optigan owners might be into, too.

  3. I met this guy at NAMM and this thing is really well made. His heart is 100% in this and it’s a labor of love. Learning about everything he went through to get it right was really inspiring. It’s obviously not for everyone at the price point, but I hope the people who can buy this up, because its great. This guy is the kind of person the industry should be supporting: knows his history, has a genuine appreciation for the craft, and he is obviously a brilliant guy.

  4. I had to grin over this. I once owned an Optigan and really enjoy M-Tron, so I get it. The price makes mere mortals gulp. I hope a few savvy oddballs will make some good use of it. Its on the line between Intriguingly Quirky and Way Too Boutique For Reality. I can easily see one sitting next to some guy’s Schmidt synth. Only 50 or so of those were made, so it’ll be in good company. Scratching an Optigan-type disk employing a built-in reverb is sideways steampunk.

  5. News flash YouTube offers “a whole range of weird sounds’ for free. Sample and tweak to your heart and imaginations content.

    ‘Not for everyone at this price point.’

    lol ya think? Gee isn’t this thing like $5k?

    And yet, here on Synthtopia, almost daily… posts with scores of comments about lusting and crying tears of joy over Berlinger’s super cheap clones, but yeah this thing is definitely worth thousands. I’ll take two. The sitar disk is a must have lol. What a world.

  6. Wow what a fantastic instrument! I totally dig the sound of the demo. Re: pop – I could easily see this on a Damon Albarn record, or a Thom Yorke record, both artists into whose sound paradigms this would fit and who I guess could afford buying one. Also can someone invite this guy to superbooth? I’d really like to play this thing!

    1. BOC in a BOX.

      Love the weird, retro future sound.

      I would also be interested in a kit to upgrade vintage Optigans. Seems like you could replace the guts of an Optigan with a modern PCB and eliminate a lot of the problems of the old ones. These guys are probably more interested in doing the new version, but I’d bet they could sell an upgrade kit to a ton of Optigan owners. The one I had hummed as soon as you turned it on, and I couldn’t find anyone that could repair it.

  7. For what they’re asking, I think they should bundle some of their “discs”. I’d love to have one, but once you pay what they’re asking and actually own it you would quickly realize that they are the only source of software for this cool vintage tech, and they’re not exactly giving those discs away.

    I understand the R&D behind this whole thing is costly (financially and otherwise), and that a guy’s gotta eat. But given that I don’t already own any discs, I couldn’t imagine getting hooked into this sonic ecosystem unless I had unlimited cash.

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