Steinberg Retrologue Hardware Synth Debuts At Superbooth 2019

Ahead of Superbooth 2019, Mind Music Labs and Steinberg have announced that they will be showing a prototype of a hardware version of the Retrologue VST synthesizer.

Mind Music Labs has been working with Steinberg to get the VST (Virtual Studio Technology) plug-in format natively on ELK MusicOS, allowing VST- based plug-ins to run seamlessly in ‘Powered by ELK’ musical instruments and audio processors. The hardware Retrologue – a co-developed desktop synth prototype with full MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) support – is a continuation of that work.

“Plug-ins and software synths have brought amazing power and flexibility to computer-based recording, but now musicians want to harness all that power without the computer; there are times when you want to twist real knobs, rather than wiggle a mouse,” says MIND Music Labs CEO Michele Benincaso, before adding: “It’s really exciting to be empowering those users with ELK MusicOS.”

Florian Haack, Senior Marketing Manager at Steinberg, adds “With the help of ELK MusicOS, VST can become a standard for not only software, as it is today, but also for hardware.”

The Retrologue 2 desktop synth prototype — running Steinberg’s Retrologue 2 VST Virtual Analog Synthesizer — will be available at Yamaha’s booth at Superbooth in Berlin, May 9-11.

20 thoughts on “Steinberg Retrologue Hardware Synth Debuts At Superbooth 2019

  1. Nice proof of concept, but given that we are awash with virtual analogue synths, it will be very interesting to see what hardware interfaces work well for more fancy synth engines. e.g. a hardware version of the new softsynth Respiro could be a lot of fun

    1. What I see is the ability for softsynth developers to easily get into the hardware market. They just need to design a case with the controls they specifically need. They OS is done by ELK and the synth is supposedly already done in this case.

    2. Its not proof of concept, this has been worked on for quite some time and was announced in January. They also support Propellerhead REs

  2. This looks brilliant, but I think they need to make clear the advantages of something like this vs the inexpensive analog synths that are now available.

    Can you share patches between this and software? Use it as a controller or interface? Automate it with the VST? Etc.

    1. Actually all the things you write about are great possibilities!

      I know the Roland System-8/System-1 devices work in the way you describe in conjunction with their VST’s – the hardware controls the software, patches are compatible, and the control messages recorded for the VST can also control the hardware – it’s just MIDI after all.

      But in this case it is not a proprietary technology that only Roland can use, but a tool any synth-maker can license.

    2. I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t be able to, as it’s running the exact same VST. But I don’t think they plan on actually making this, I think it’s just a proof of concept to show what could be done.

    3. at a later Synthtopia post, the ELK guy said that yes, you can share patches between a computer and a hardware version

  3. Aren’t there enough (virtual) analogue synth boxes now? Wish they would put the GSI VB3 organ into an affordable enclosure…..

    1. This is a proof of concept, of the ELK platform, in collaboration with Steinberg – it seems they will not release this as a product ever. VST companies can license ELK and use it to make hardware devices of any one of their VST’s, that’s the real news here – including one can hope someone with a Hammond emulation 🙂

  4. This is a missed opportunity. Providing a form factor that simply copies a “retro” design will not allow this to stand out. A slim display atop this synth that ran along the width and provided critical information, and graphical representation would have allowed this stand out coupled with the tactile controls.

    1. “A slim display atop this synth that ran along the width and provided critical information, and graphical representation would have allowed this stand out coupled with the tactile controls.”

      You’re missing the point of hardware. Especially since Steinberg is essentially replacing the virtual knobs of the software version with physical knobs.

      A bigger issue is that there are now a lot of hardware analog mono synths available for $300 or under. I don’t see this synth coming with a price tag lower than that.

      So, if they’re going to make a premium hardware device, they’ve got to make it clear why you’d want this over analog hardware.

      1. You seem to be missing the point entirely. By your assessment hardware synths somehow have less credibility by have a display that better aids and provides useful information to the end user? The coupling of hardware and the flexibility of hardware could have been the absolute strength of such a device.

        I am not certain I even understand the point you are attempting to make.

        1. Anyone that’s used a Minimoog will understand the pointlessness of adding a screen to the hardware version of a virtual version of a Minimoog.

          Unfortunately, that’s too many levels of pointlessness to try to explain to you.

          But, if you’re into it, stick an iPad on a Minimoog and have at it.

          1. Right…….thank god you were present to explain that pointlessness to me at the precise hour, otherwise I would have wasted much of my life designing synthesisers for a living.

            Evolution is a nice theory, even if it skips a bloke or two.

  5. I really don’t see the point of this with so many affordable analog synths out there right now. If your going to go Digital do something more interesting than a VA.

  6. The SM Pro – V-Machine (not produced anymore) is a standalone box that can host VST’s.
    Alas it has a quirky system of templates needed for each VST .dll install.

    A version 2.0 with more resource power (CPU, RAM) of this would certainly be popular.

  7. i’ve been wanting a controller for my VST’s that feels like a real synth instead of a cheap plastic box.

    Quite interested here. Looks like it would sit nice next to the Mother32.

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