Today Massachusetts-based synth startup Superlative Instruments kicked off the crowdfunding campaign for their SB-01, which they are touting as “the world’s thinnest and first rechargeable” analog synthesizer.
The SB-1/Space Bee, which had its debut at Superbooth 2019 this spring, combines a vintage analog synth voice with modern connectivity and a dual-channel sequencer that allows the user to sequence the synth plus external gear.
Superlative Instruments’ SB-01 Features:
- Replica 3340 voltage controlled oscillator and classic 4-pole OTA VCF with discrete envelope
- USB, MIDI, and CV/gate input and output allow for simple musical interfacing with other synthesizers and modular gear.
- The SB-1 utilizes a newly-developed full-size keyboard based on tactile rubber dome switches for a fast and responsive feel.
- A precision engineered chassis enables a new form factor that is thinner than one inch, yet rugged enough for everyday portability and use.
- The SB-1 is the first ever analog synthesizer to incorporate a rechargeable battery, allowing all-day playability between charges.
- A new dual-layer sequencer allows for synchronized control of a second instrument via CV/gate or MIDI for a dynamic synth duet.
While the SB01 is a new form of synthesizer, Superlative’s inspiration was one of the sonic engines that laid the foundation of electronic music, the classic Roland SH-101. Superlative worked with Open Music Labs to create and hone a 1:1 version of the signature circuits that bring it to life.
The Kickstarter campaign page explains how the instrument works: “A 3340 voltage controlled oscillator feeds into a 4-pole OTA filter that makes for an iconic and unmistakable sound. Make it snap and sing with responsive analog envelopes, modulation, and portamento, or bring in external CV for deeper VCO and VCF control.”
The instrument also has a powerful live performance sequencer – a flexible step sequencer, centered around live performance and intuitive use for the broad range of skill levels. Patterns with up to 256 notes can be saved in 64 different locations.
While playing, the user can queue up stored sequences with CHAIN mode or launch them immediately with JUMP. In addition, SB-01 developers have included a unique MODULO mode for interleaving sequences. A sequence direction modifier and transpose latching function enable new possibilities, while the arpeggiator gives the user several modes including random play.
A dual-sequencer allows the user to simultaneously run two different independent sequences on internal and external tracks. This means the user can drive external CV or MIDI gear with the SB-01 keyboard, arpeggiator, or sequencer while having the same freedom onboard. To aid with performance, a color-coded layer feature always lets you see which track is active.
More Features. The SB-01 comes with “comprehensive” connectivity to other analog and digital instruments, enabling it to act as a controller in both a stage or studio setup. Pitch and filter control along with vibrato can be added with the unique 360° bender joystick (pictured). Take it “back to the future” with an optional keytar grip that offers 3-axis accelerometer control.
Pricing and Availability. Superlative Instruments has just today launched a crowdfunding campaign for the SB-01 synth. A limited number of “super-early-bird” and “early bird” backers can pre-order a synth for $899 or $949 US. The “regular” Kickstarter price to back the project is $999US. The $101,000 crowdfunding campaign (two hours after its kickoff, the campaign is at $66,000, over half-way to its goal) runs for another 29 days, and Superlative expects to ship the SB-01 in June 2020.