ASM Hydrasynth Deluxe Review – “It’s A Whopper!”

In his latest Sonic Lab review, host Nick Batt shares his thoughts on the new ASM Hydrasynth Deluxe – a flagship polysynth that offers deep synthesis capabilities and arguably the most advanced expressive control of any keyboard synthesizer currently available.

The Hydrasynth Deluxe essentially offers two of the synth engines from the original Hydrasynth, which you can use for additional polyphony, splits and layers. Patches are 100% compatible with the existing Hydrasynths.

The Hydrasynth Deluxe also features a 73-note Polytouch keybed, offering polyphonic aftertouch and a 4-octave ribbon controller. ASM says that this gives the new synth a level of “expression and control that is not equaled in any other hardware synthesizer on the market… Today or ever.”

Polyphonic aftertouch is a capability that gives you continuous expressive control over every single note you play, where most keyboards are limited to capturing initial velocity sensitivity.

Video Summary:

“We take a look at the new Ashun Sound Machines Hydrasynth Deluxe. The new model, announced just before Superbooth 21, doubles the voice count – either 16 voices in single sound mode or two complete 8 voice Hydrasynth Engines for split or layer. Each layer has a dedicated stereo audio output pair, and the Polytouch polyphonic after touch keybed gets enlarged to 73 keys.

Its a whopper.”

Pricing and Availability

The ASM Hydrasynth Deluxe is available now with a street price of around $1799.

18 thoughts on “ASM Hydrasynth Deluxe Review – “It’s A Whopper!”

  1. Thinking about how long we’ve waited for the return of Poly AT. A long time. Now in a 73-key version!

    Of course, I was looking for just a controller, — which raises the question of which synths/samplers/ROMplers will respond to Poly AT.

    This brings a lovely synth engine to the table as well. (pun intended).

      1. Robert – thanks for mentioning Roger Linn’s contributions.

        Linn (along with Geert Bevin, who created the firmware for the Linnstrument) has done as much as anyone to move expressive synthesis forward in the last few years.

        Roger Linn is a guitarist, though and that’s reflected in the LinnStrument and its adoption. The LinnStrument may be the most important MPE instrument to date, but its adoption has been limited by the fact that guitarists are a very different audience for synths.

        The Hydrasynth does a great job of bring polyphonic expression to keyboard playing synthesists. I suspect that the Osmose may do an even better job. No matter how you look at it, though, today’s synthesists have an embarrassment of riches.

      2. I have a linnstrument connected to the desktop hydrasynth and it sounds ***fantastic***.
        I also have a full-size weighted keyboard that I use as a MIDI controller for my non MPE-synths.

        The linnstrument enables a different kind of expression than the keyboard due to its guitar/ string instrument layout. Though I’d like to try a polytouch keybed at some point…

  2. This is great. Nick always does good work. I’m eager, and hopeful, that he was able to do a review of the little Hydrasynth Explorer too.

  3. Even modest synths run $800-1200, so $1799 street seems almost cheap here. The sound engine would be considered hot stuff anywhere, even if it only appeared as a boutique module. With poly AT, 73 keys and the touch strip, it can creatively muscle aside several instruments that cost a lot more. $5 says the panel space to the right is where you put your Hydrasynth Explorer. Maybe a Rick & Morty sticker, I dunno.

  4. Yeah this is kind of my holy grail keyboard because of poly pressure on regular-ish keys.

    I’m hooked on polyphonic expression on devices like the CME Xkey and KMI controllers, but they have minimal/nonexistent key travel, respectively.

    Hopefully this is ushering in a new era of polyphonic aftertouch/MPE keybeds with synth and piano action.

  5. Looking forward to this, but also no one has noticed Nick wearing a Access Virus t-shirt?!!! maybe im reading to much into it…hope my DEluxe arrives soon

  6. I will probably end up buying this just because it’s such a well-made keyboard to play (I have the 49 key version), and it really would make one an excellent controller (for playing anyway…there are others that let you more easily split/zone/control your armada of hardware synths).

    As mentioned in a few other post, for me the only slightly lacking aspect is the core sound. If this sounded as good to my ears as Reason’s Europa synth (another pretty deep wavetable synth), it would be close to perfect.

  7. What is amazing about the Hydarsynths, and Osmose is that we get amazing expression tied to powerful synthesis. Hydrasynths seem like a more standard “port of entry” in that you can immediately treat it like a regular keyboard and bang away in the regular sense. Whereas Osmose is more experimental and pushes to further expressive extremes. Yet both of these lines of keyboards are quite inexpensive.

    I don’t know if major manufacturers will ever get on board. They’ve played it pretty safe year after year.

    I won’t hold my breath about MIDI 2.0, either.

        1. It’s a matter of control, though. Having played the Osmose, it does a better job of any synth I’ve ever played of capturing the natural expression of your performance.

          If you’ve ever played a string instrument, then wiggling your finger back and forth to create vibrator is intuitive, and it just works on the Osmose. And pressing a finger to control volume and expression of an individual note also seems completely intuitive.

          The cool thing about the Osmose is that it lets you do both things completely independently. I wish it captured y-axis movement, like the Seaboard, but the Osmose is the first keyboard that brings expressive x-axis and z-axis expression to synth players in a really natural, intuitive way.

          1. I understand. I wasn’t really trying to compare them. I’m expecting the Hydrasynth to be more similar to the poly AT experience I had with an Ensoniq. The Osmose is quite different, as you say, offering many more dimensions. However, I get the impression that a mode to work-like-other-keyboards might not feel the same– i.e., attack velocity and feel. But I don’t know.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *