UDO Super 6 Binaural Synthesis Audio Demo

At the 2020 NAMM Show, we talked with UDO designer George Hearn about the new Super 6 Binaural Synthesizer.

The Super 6 can be used as a standard polyphonic synth, but also has an Binaural mode, where you have a stereo synthesis audio path and the ability to do various types of modulation between the channels. The result is different than sticking a chorus and reverb on the end of a mono channel because the synthesis process is different.

Hearn gave us an update on the production hardware, which looks and feels professional, and also an extended audio demo exploring the binaural synthesis capabilities of the Super 6. The Super 6 can do bread and butter synths sounds, but here Hearn focuses on sounds and effects unique to Binaural Synthesis.

Note: The Binaural Synthesis effects are especially noticeable with headphones on.

27 thoughts on “UDO Super 6 Binaural Synthesis Audio Demo

  1. Interesting sounds, but I can’t find it in my wallet to put out $2800 when I already have a Korg Prologue.

    Not only is the binaural effect most evident on headphones, I’m guessing that it would be lost in a mix entirely when played using speakers.

    1. It isn’t binaural, in the way the term it is mostly used today. The effect is more like an advanced stereo chorus type of effect. It isn’t as distinct through speakers as it is in headphones, but it is clearly heard.

      In a mix, it would depend where the synth sits in the mix. That is true to a lot of elements in a mix, and a lot of people spend time on details on instrment tracks, that really wont come through in a mix.

      However it should also be time for the music industry to realize that most engaged music listening, nowadays takes plance in headphones, and not through two speakers in a stereo set-up. So the sound in headphones should be the priority nowadays.

      The super-6 has a nice interface, and the sound can be inspiring, and thus unlock creativity, and that can have a value of its own, even if it isn’t that obvious in a mix.

      But for me, it is too expensive. I could not justify spending that much on this product, even though I would really want one. I hope they sell enough to keep going as a company. Since it relies a lot of FPGA, chances are that prices could come down a lot in the future. It could be one of those scenarios, where technology might not have reach the cost effectiveness needed for a product to work on the market.

      1. „However it should also be time for the music industry to realize that most engaged music listening, nowadays takes plance in headphones, and not through two speakers in a stereo set-up. So the sound in headphones should be the priority nowadays.“

        While the fact is true that a lot of music is consumed on headphones the conclusion is wrong.
        Music/sound should work on headphones and speakers. why make headphones a priority?
        If we think like that we could just make music with 128 kbps mp3s on 10 € headphones. 😉

  2. The omission of a screen to provide critical feedback for sound design purposes and the ability to match certain parameters to another patch is an omission that took this synth off my list. I was very intrigued and yet terribly disappointed by the design choice.

      1. That is misguided and simplistic at best. The notion that a screen is somehow a distraction or diminishes critical listening capabilities says more about the user than the functional aspect of the screen itself. This is less about reliance and more about the ability to have greater degree of information and not working in the blind with such a complex instrument.

        I have heard these arguments before and I always astounded by the reasoning which seems falsely rooted in…..well I will remain polite for now.

        1. Yes, but having a screen usually leads to the control layout being less hands on because it does not have to be. Not having a screen foces the synth to be intuitive or else it will fail.

          1. having a screen means there is more in the menus to dive through whilst sound designing. I wouldn’t expect one on a total analogue synth but I do expect one on a DSP synth. for example, imagine trying to program WT synths without some sort of visual feedback? freakin nightmare trying to “remember” where the best bit of the wavetable was, but when you can visually see it you can get a quick “aha there it is” moment rather than panning up and down through the Wave file until you eventually think you got the point you remembered you liked.
            Besides we are in 2020 and personally I think we are still very basic and 20 years behind with most LCD/screen integration into synths etc.

        2. I think the point was that once a screen is added, it aggregates function at the direction of cost. Once you slap a screen on a synth, knobs start disappearing. Some folks, very unfondly, remember the 70’s and 80’s ‘single line LED and numpad’ UI of early digital synths, the epitome of unfriendly interfaces.

          You seen it in cars now. All the controls disappear and you’re menu diving in your car now. I’m tired of having a computer in every aspect of my life. Gimme a concertina and a tambourine!

          The best way to inspect patch values I’ve found is to write a simple parser for a path dump. Then you have all the data that makes a patch. Of course, you have to figure out what the dump data format is, but you wanted accuracy. Pop it into a spreadsheet, or use ‘diff’, it’s easy!

          1. A screen needn’t compromise the functionality nor the immediacy of any instrument. Display data on a larger crisp screen as knobs per function are manipulated is invaluable.

            I view a screen (pun intended) as I complement to any design.

            And as a Tesla owner I could not ever imagine having all of the controls my Audi had without the degree of control my car provides. Would I have liked a few more tactile controls, yes. However I will take the screen any day over pure tactility. I
            wish UDO well.

      2. I think it really depends on the way you create music. If you create on the fly and do not revised a patch the need for a screen or and endless encoders is less then when you are some one that alters patches you created before.

        Its a real difference in the way people design music. I always think like modular synthesis is more for people that create in the moment and devices like Elektron makes are more capable of easy altering previous creations. Most electronic instruments are some where in between these to principles.

      3. Someone obviously hasn’t seen a Quantum. That screen interface greatly enhances the sound design experience. They didn’t take away knobs when designing the Quantum. They used knobs/buttons where knobs/buttons made sense and used the screen where a screen made sense. I cannot imagine working with the large modulation matrix or with the samples/granular without the screen.

        1. Well said, any element that provides greater information and feedback is a positive. A screen can be as instrumental as any other parameter.

    1. I can agree that there are certain elements of this product (the mod matrix, waveform selection, and patch naming), where a screen potentially could have made it better.
      For patch matching, I would have picked LED indictaros on all parameters, over display, any day, as a patch is a sum of its parts, so a single value at the time, would not give a clear idea of the patch, even if the displayed value could be much more precise than LEDs next to each parameter.

      Prototyping and beta-testing is probably a bit too expensive. This and many other electronic instruments/music electronics could have needed an extra hardware revision, before going in to production.
      This synth can be very hands on, but I do think they have added a couple of features using key commands, that had it been possible, would have gotten their own dedicated control. One way to get around such issues, is adding a few extra controls, that by the first public showings, are un-assinged, or user assignable, that by the time the product enters producton, may have gotten dedicated functions and panel printing, or perhaps wont even have printings in the first production batch.
      They could have gone this far without a display, making sure that as much as possible was really hands on, and then added a display, just before production or they could have added it, and decided that the only use for it during development would be patch name, and settings that don’t affect the sound, to make sure they would not start designing a menu based instrument.

      There are a recent examples, of why people are hesitant when it comes to displays on synths.
      The Behringer Deepmind is inspired by the Juno-106, but the display is used everywhere, so it isn’t as easy to program (and hands on as the product that inspired it).
      A good synth interface is one, where there can be a “manual” button, that activates the panel, and still allows the user to program typical synth patches, without the display being involved. The Novation Peak, offered an interface capable of doing typical synth sounds, but lacked the “manual” button (one example of were a simple hardware revision, before production could have improved the design, instead they later added a functionality in firmware that allows users to set the init-patches to be panel based instead of init, which might be preferred behaviour of an empty patch, but is a workaround that is far from as easy as to just press the “manual” button, to activate the panel). (another exmaple of hardware that could have needed a revision, before production, is the Korg products with their open synth engine, as it lacks in terms of dedicated controls, for the user synth enginges).

      The display can be very useful at the next level of programming, with deep modulation matrixes, but USP features should to most extent get dedicated hardware controls on the panel, in addition to typical synth parameters.

  3. Love the sound of this instrument these stereo sounding patches is just what i like to create.
    I’ts to expensive and big for me, hope they make a module instrument some day with a binaural architecture.

  4. The hands on design is perfect for getting lost in playing. Like a Jupiter-6, this thing wants to be played. I am glad they did not put a crappy little screen into this thing, it keeps the design pure and simple. Looking forward to trying one of these out in person.

  5. Sounds crap, yet another analogue mono/poly rubbish
    Is there anyone out there to create something new instead of recycling 30 year of tech?

    1. “Is there anyone out there to create something new instead of recycling 30 year of tech?”

      Sounds like trolling. Is there literally any other company making a binaural synth?

      So many companies are making synths with great features now, like the Hydrasynth’s poly aftertouch and the Prologue’s ability to load user software.

    2. You do realize this uses FGPA’s with analog filters and binaural processing with the secondary oscillator going off into far more than “poly analog territory”.
      It certainly does not rely on 30 year old tech.
      The oscillators alone are about as far removed from 30 year old tech as you could get.
      7-core super-wavetable main oscillator with waveform download
      DDS oscillator 2 with FM, sync, sub oscillator and X-Fade modes
      Flexible hybrid FPGA & analog voice architecture etc etc….

  6. I dig this synth. Wish I had enough money to buy one. Most synth sounds are dead center in your brain and have no spacial direction. The moment you add effects like delay (slow ping pong), chorus, panning, reverb they start to sound alive & good.
    I think the Oberheim synths sound so good, because the voice cards could be arranged in the stereofield seperately and since they got allocated randomly, they sound much more alive than other synths with their center placement of voices. Esp. in unison mode this creates such a big panorama of sound. Love those OB-X and 8 machines.

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