ASM Intros Hydrasynth Explorer, The First Minikey Synth With Polyphonic Aftertouch

ASM has introduced the Hydrasynth Explorer, a compact version of their innovative Hydrasynth keyboard.

The Hydrasynth Explorer is arguably the most powerful minikey synth ever, featuring a very flexible synth architecture, battery-powered operation, a new ASM PolyTouch mid-sized keybed with polyphonic aftertouch, CV/Gate connectivity and more.

It features the same sound engine as the original Hydrasynth, with an advanced wavetable synthesis engine, 3 Oscillators, dual Wave Mutators and 2 filters that can be configured in series or parallel.

Here’s a performance video by Dominic Au:

In the performance demo, all sounds are generated by the Hydrasynth Explorer.

Patches in chronological order:

Juno60 Brass GD
GlassHartCR78 PS
Industrialism DA
Big Snare MP
BladeTitles PS
Haty KFP
Juno60 SquArp GD
Uncertn Futur CM
Violent AdjentDA
CS80 Darkness RA
LidoMono PS
HYDRA Ride GD
Arpeology RA
Squeeze Lead AR
VHS Dreams MP
90124 SCD
PW Slow Brass AR
Wavescan GD
OminousScoringAR
LostSpaceTapesJC
Pipeline DA
LukesLazr PS
Claudia Love DA
BeatPPL Bass KFP
Space Flight TM
ProSource GD
Ohhh GD
Mouge Police RA
HYDRA Nuts GD
VCO OctaveSaw RA
Kinda Hot DA
SndsLikeSkit DA
Kotover KFP
BrassAmerican RA
Suitcase MK2 RA
Sproingg PS
94 Zap! RJ
The Hi-Garden MF
Wet My Frog DA
AxiAs
Jaunty Chapeau
Arcade FP
Hydra Hat GD

Pricing and Availability

The Hydrasynth Explorer is expected to ship in November 2021 with an MSRP of $799.00 USD ($599.00 USD MAP)/€599.00 EUR/£549.00 GBP/¥79,900 JPY. See the ASM site for details.

29 thoughts on “ASM Intros Hydrasynth Explorer, The First Minikey Synth With Polyphonic Aftertouch

  1. Really nice! I love that we’re seeing a new wave of aggressively priced synths. I have 5 octave keyboard controllers, so a smaller unit is actually preferable; why pay for keys and a larger case than I need?

    1. The collection four (!) fonts in the upper left corner is downright hillarious. A big patch of black tape will improve aesthetics about 195%. 😉

  2. This is a really good idea……..doesn’t it look cool. I think a missed opportunity being able to being powered by USB though……good luck twith it Hydrasynth!

  3. There are so many great benefits to this form factor. As a person who flies and travels a lot for shows, this is a great synth/midi controller that looks like it will travel easily from the carry-on of the plane, to the hotel, and to the stage. Battery power means this and an MPC Live will be an incredible production package. If you want to program patches on one of the larger Hyrdasynth models in your studio, and transfer it to the minisynth for live.

    Most mini-key synths have scaled back features in the synth engine, but the Hydra is one of the most powerful and expressive digital synths ever made. To have the same power and sound in this format is truly remarkable.

    I love the idea of this. I hope the keys feel good because I’m getting one, haha!

  4. That’s a winner we’ll see in numerous rigs. The price is very reasonable, even though it feels a bit odd to put poly AT on minikeys. I’m sure people will adapt, but if you have a larger poly AT controller, it’ll be the module to beat. Wavetables are taking over big time. Pair this with a Sequential Take 5 and scare the neighbors on a decent budget.

  5. Got the desktop, the idea of having a bitimbral voice Hydra by combining the desktop with the explorer is very tempting. Using Push 1 for poly AT in my current setup – does a pretty good job too!

      1. mobile setups, for one of countless reasons

        but yeh, i get it – its tough to conceive of anything outside our own little personal world when we are so self-absorbed

    1. Those synths may appear they do different things and are inexpensive considering the price point, but actually synths/romplers like MODX are not much more expensive when factoring in their tremendous capabilities,

  6. Strange that they dont make such device multitimbral and more than 8 voices, when it is digital anyway?

    My Waldorf Blofeld is 25 voices and 16-part multitimbral …on technology that is nearly 15 years older than this…

      1. Andreas & ragnhild

        You’re judging the Hydrasynth based on what it is not vs what it is – and you’re completely missing the point, as a result.

        The Hydrasynth is the most expressive keyboard in decades, and the design is tailored to playing, not to being used as a synth module.

        If playing expressively doesn’t matter to you, the Hydrasynth probably isn’t for you.

        Nobody is making multitimbral modules anymore because synths are so cheap that buyers prefer to have multiple synths, rather than dicking around with a complicated workstation style synth.

        And older synths had higher polyphony because synths were expensive then and people could only afford a few, so they valued polyphony and multimbrality, and accepted things like limited synthesis capabilities, aliasing and crappy effects. The best-selling synths of all time (DX7, M1) had 16-voice polyphony, so that’s plenty for a player’s instrument.

        1. Dear Torgood,

          I think you are missing the point, just because the companies are under-powering their designs, does not mean that you have to accept it. I 100 % disagree with your reply above, there are still lots of people who are still using multitimbral. Example the Nord Lead series is also performance-based synths and has multitimbral with a smart design, there you can stack your patches as desired.

  7. Andreas, I think its non-multitimbral because its framed as a live player’s instrument, like a Nord Wave. It’d be nice to have it be at least 4-part, but the touch strip, poly AT, CV/Gate jacks and multiple displays all say “Live work” to me.

    One other point: you might crave some added zones to AVOID a laptop live, admittedly, but in a DAW, you can create all the zones you like. It might be the case that they chose poly AT and the strip over adding another load to the CPU. There might be a sensible price-point thing going on, because they chose the right doable features back when they were white-boarding it. Hydras have a unique feel in the current synth spectrum.

  8. It doesn’t make sense to criticize a product like this for not being a Fantom, Motif, or Kronos. None of those instruments can do what this does, or sound like these can. This is a polyphonic, and very expressive digital synth. Its interface is dedicated to creating and controlling the sound in a fairly direct way. Compare that to another mini synth, the Jupiter Xm, which is great but totally different and also requires a lot of menu diving. Sometimes the best tool isn’t a Swiss Army Knife. No one is bothered by the lack of piano multisamples on a Prophet 5 or DX7, or the lack of a sustain pedal on a Hammond B3.

    This is the kind of instrument I would have in my live rig in addition to my Kronos and Electro, not in lieu of it. In that way, I think it will be incredible.

    If you need basic splits and layers, more controls, more range etc. then the Deluxe model might be the stronger choice for your needs.

  9. The performance demo was very well done. We got dozens of patches with some info about the hardware features all in a few minutes and good musical examples.

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