ASM Hydrasynth Review With Stimming

The latest Electronic Beats video features producer and synthesist Martin Stimming sharing his take on the Ashun Sound Machines Hydrasynth.

The Hydrasynth is a new hardware synth that offers a massively deep and flexible sound engine and unique performance controls, including polyphonic aftertouch and a four-octave ribbon controller.

Here’s an in-depth overview from ASM’s Glen Darcey:

Hydrasynth is expected to come out November and cost $1299 for the keyboard and $799 for the desktop version. Details are available at the ASM site.

17 thoughts on “ASM Hydrasynth Review With Stimming

    1. Sure yeah, a VST in a box… that comes with a ribbon controller and polyphonic aftertouch. That alone is impressive enough to justify most of the price. A seemingly decent synth engine with a nicely designed interface and some cv ins and outs are all just icing on the cake

      1. I started my comment like an hour ago, left my desk for awhile, and came back to finish it having not noticed yours was already up. Thank you for saying in two sentences what took me two paragraphs lol.

      2. Too bad they just don’t develop a 61 note poly-aftertouch USB/MIDI keyboard controller with the ribbon controller built-in. I’d buy that in a minute.

        1. You may be missing the point entirely.

          If you want a poly-aftertouch keyboard controller, the Hydrasynth is your best option and is cheaper than anything comparable.

          Plus, you get one of the most powerful synth engines currently available.

    2. A lot of people will buy this synth purely for the combination of a polyphonic aftertouch keyboard, ribbon controller, CV controller, and highly playable arpeggiator all put together in one nicely designed package. Add in the extremely well laid out interface with a flexible wavetable synth and it becomes rather appealing, especially so for $1,299!!! Hell, I have a Quantum in my studio yet I’m still pumped and saving to get a Hydrasynth this winter. The poly AT keyboard will open up new possibilities on the Quantum as well as some of my other synths plus I can’t wait to get my hands on the Hydrasynth’s knobby arpeggiator section and ribbon controller! Is it basically a VST in a box? Yeah, I guess so… but I’ve yet to use a single VST/controller combo that replicates the hardware experience in the same way as having a dedicated synthesizer interface. Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol is about as close as it gets to a hardware experience and while I love my Kontrol S61 MKII for VST duties, it can never replace the connection I feel to the hardware synths in my studio. Perhaps if NI had designed an interface with oscillator, LFO, envelope, filter, etc. hardware shortcut buttons laid out like a typical synth it would be a more immersive experience but having the set of 8 knobs plus 8 buttons cover so many duties spread amongst pages upon pages of parameters makes it lose some of that connected feeling that people get from purpose built synthesizer interfaces. Quiet frankly, the interface design on the Hydrasynth is superb and if they had built a VST controller with stable integration rather than a hardware synth I would have said they absolutely nailed the concept of what is necessary to make a VST feel like a hardware synth while still being flexible enough to be used with a wide variety of software synths. I can certainly see people using it as a controller for their VST’s and wager that it will become the master controller for quite a few studios in the next few years.

      To get back to your comment… Is it a VST in a box? Sure… but so is the Access Virus Ti2, Elektron Digitone, Arturia MicroFreak, and practically all of the innovative Eurorack modules that have come out in the past few years. Analog is not the be-all and end-all of synths. It’s just a flavor and, like anything else, too much of it becomes boring quick. There’s plenty of sexy digital stuff out there, VST’s included, and it’s a category where nearly anything is possible.

    3. Strange comment. Is the Montage also a VST in a box? Are eventide reverbs just VST in a box? What about Mutable eurorack modules? You pass on all these?

    4. The most successful synthesizers of all time have been digital synths, with much more minimal interfaces, so not sure why you’d have a beef with this!

    5. There is nothing inherently wrong with a VST in a box, since some sound far better than nearly any “analogue” synth currently available.

      The real issue here is that this simply does not sound very good, and as subjective as that may be, this was hardly inspiring. I certainly hope that further development will improve this seemingly promising synth.

    6. First hardware synth I have bought in 10 years. No vst can sound like this, even if it did trying to program a vsti is a pain in the ass.

  1. After 30yrs of synth playing I’m no longer concerned if a synth is software, analog, digital or fashionable in any way. All I care about is can I use it in my music, otherwise it may as well be a paper weight.

    Our music requires pads, atmospheres and evolving layered sounds. It also requires exotic sounding leads that can sit in well with a variety of acoustic and percussive instruments live. I am a huge fan of Omnisphere but I really prefer interacting with a hardware synth so I have been looking for an affordable one to bring out to shows. Most of the great pad and ambient poly synths are too expensive to risk dragging around Tokyo in a gig bag, but the price point on this means I can risk it.

    Is it a VST sound? Maybe, but what is wrong with VST sounds? Half the movies any of us watch are scored with VST sounds these days. It isn’t analog… Don’t we have enough analog options today?

    My live rig has been a Nord Lead 4 (married to a bank of Strymon FX this thing is amazing), a DSI Mopho x 4 which gives me the analog I need, and weirdly enough the Korg Minilogue which is perfect for gigging since it weights nothing and some amazing patches can be created. Our BGM includes Omnisphere and some of our heavy analog synths, for more complex tracks.

    So Hydrasynth looks like a performance monster for pads and ambient sounds. With just the Nord 4 I think it will be enough sound to take our audiences to the places we want them to experience and still not overcome the beauty of the Ouds, Santoor, Shamisen and Persian percussion that finish out our sound.

    After all, what we all want are synths that result in music, that inspires fans to fall in love with our work and keep coming out to hear it.

    VST, Analog, Digital, doesn’t matter if the sounds suit your work. Interfaces don’t need to be beautiful, just workable and reasonably intuitive. Poly AT, ribbon controller and the amount of sound design potential here is great. And it is not too huge, heavy or three times the price so you don’t feel good risking it at gigs. They arrive in Tokyo next month and if the experience playing it is as positive as the sounds, this one will join our live rig. It is only in competition with the Summit now which I have not had a chance to try.

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