Steinberg Retrologue Synthesizer Sneak Preview At Superbooth 2019

At Superbooth 2019, Steinberg & Mind Music Labs were showcasing their Retrologue hardware synth prototype at the Yamaha booth.

We talked with Dom Sigalas, who demonstrated the Retrologue prototype and discussed some of the capabilities that ELK Music OS offers.

The Retrologue hardware synth is a project that demonstrates the capabilities of Mind Music Labs’ new ELK Music OS, which makes it easy to port VSTs and Rack Extensions to standalone hardware. The hardware synth is based on Steinberg’s Retrologue VST running on ELK.

ELK is is an OS that’s specifically for running audio software and offers built-in I/O support, which makes streamlines building both new audio devices and synths and effects based on VSTs or Rack Extensions. It also introduces new possibilities for musicians, like sharing patches across hardware and software versions of a synth, the ability to update your synth with new instruments, the ability to use your synth as a dedicated VST controller and more.

Here’s an overview of the platform from Mind Music Labs’ Matt Ward:

At this point, no details for pricing and availability have been announced yet for the Retrologue hardware synth.

18 thoughts on “Steinberg Retrologue Synthesizer Sneak Preview At Superbooth 2019

  1. Is it just me or did it seem like there was some serious latency or perhaps an issue where turning a knob didn’t do anything at first? I thought maybe it was the video tracking, but his mouth and words line up.. dunno, but if that’s the case, its not very usable in a live situation at this time.

  2. I tried this at Superbooth and it works great.

    I don’t think it’s intended to be a shipping design at this point, but a proof of concept.

    I was very impressed by the sound, but I agree that 8 memory slots is too few.

    Something that they need to work out is whether this wis going to be a Retrologue Synth, or a general synth hardware that can run any synth. I was intrigued by the fact that this platform would allow for an open System 8, which would be very cool.

    Also, if I member correctly, this can be used polyphonically.

  3. This may not be a popular opinion, however it is one I have held for some time. And the market has proven I am wrong obviously……

    Whilst I find this interesting and the technology holds much promise, it is a missed opportunity in the form factor. A more modern retro appearance would have served them far better than something that appears to look like a product of the 1950’s.

    Beyond that, the market has reached over saturation, there are simply too many overlapping products that serve same remake, redo, reinterpretation, and regurgitation. What the market needs is a recession. That will weed out much of the redundancy and allow creative forces to take hold once again.

    1. “The market has reached over saturation, there are simply too many overlapping products that serve same remake, redo, reinterpretation, and regurgitation.”

      Too many good synths? Hard to see how that would ever be a problem!

      The important thing to remember is that there have always been lots of instruments and that very few of them become classics.

      The future classics aren’t going to come from companies making knockoffs, they’re going to come from companies making unique, original synths. And fortunately, there are plenty of them coming out – like the Quantum, the Summit, the Moog One, the Digitone keys, etc.

      1. I think many manufactures, small, medium and large would shudder at the thought of a recession that would impact society as a whole not only the music tech industry, just so someone didn’t have too many overlapping music gear choices to make in life.

        1. I am not certain how you surmised that I was suggesting a recession is a positive for society, however consolidation will occur.

          And I would disagree with the notion that we have many choices. Yes, the selection and breadth of synthesisers have multiplied, yet the overlapping of line products are disappointing.

          I do however concur that the classics will emanate from the smaller developers.

          1. Sorry I interpreted “What the market needs is a recession” meant that the market needed a recession.

            Be aware that if said recession were to happen the only companies that would make it through it would be the likes of Roland, Yamaha, Behringer, etc.. And the ones actually innovating these days are small companies that would disappear, have a very hard time innovating or completely change there focus away from musical applications to more financially secure options to stay alive.

            The needed recession would do the opposite of what is needed. A free market, with growing competition is what has and does create innovation. Look into the eurorack/modular world if you believe that there is no innovation. Things are happening there that are not being replicated in traditional synth architecture as of yet. Not to mention VSTs/iOS/Mobile apps are brooding with new and unique ways to design sounds and produce audio content,

            Additionally, theres no need to find it disappointing that there is major overlap in hardware. Without actual statistics I’d assume that at least 90% of innovation comes from realizing that there is something missing in an industry. The other 10% might be accidental discovery. So if you find sadness in the commercial products you see, you can focus that emotion into creating your own niche product.

            1. Logic, you did not misinterpret my words, I had to reread my own entry to realise I did indeed subconsciously write that and although a “recession” is a hardship what will affect many, I do believe recessions are a helpful correction within the economic landscape.

              And you are absolutely correct in that a recession would affect many boutique synth makers and only the well positioned will be able to weather the downturn. However I also see that as measure of weeding out bad ideas, with some very good, until the next cycle.

              As a developer I am often amazed at the herd mentality within an industry pioneered by truly innovative thinkers. Granted, these days I am working on aerospace projects, my bread and vegan butter.

  4. The potential for this technology is incredible.

    Providing a robust hardware platform for creators will open some excellent opportunities.
    Imagine if the creator can stay focused on writing excellent clean code for their instrument/effect…
    and letting the ELK hardware realize that code.

      1. Good day Richard, I completely agree with you, this was a missed opportunity to really allow the form factor to complement the technology.

  5. I like the concept of a hardware unit hosting VSTs but I simply don’t get what they’ve done here: it has too few knobs to be a generic VST controller, no display for managing presets or additional parameters, and is the CPU so limited that it can’t gives us a polyphonic Retrologue synth? I’m confused.

    1. Yeah, seem like a cool concept, but needs serious refinement. If you are going to take a VST into the hardware world you at least need to bridge the gap between what makes a VST so great and what makes hardware so great or I think you’ve lost point. If you still rely on a computer (mobile device) to do 90% of the actual tasks that a VST does even after you’ve put it in a dedicated box, I think you’ve actually widened that gap.

      Items like MOD’s Duo X are getting closer, but lack straight up VST support and knob per function, What would be cool as fire, is if Plogue ported Bidule into hardware, with a wide touch screen center of device so you can route internal signals via virtual cables in real time. Rows of CV along the side for in/out CV controls and a bank of assignable knobs top & bottom. Now that would be a sound designers dream…

  6. i am really curious more about the os than the product, like can you use 32bit dlls in the os – if you can it will be awesome because you can use something like synthedit to make your own hardware synth

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