The Korg Phase5 Acoustic Synthesizer & How It Works (Sneak Preview)

At Superbooth 2023, Korg Berlin was sharing a preview of the Acoustic Synthesis_phase5, a prototype acoustic synthesis instrument.

In this video, synth designer and Korg Berlin CEO Tatsuya ‘Tats’ Takahashi shares a preview of the unusual synth with Reverb’s Fess Grandiose.

In the 1850s, Hermann von Helmholtz created an acoustic synthesizer that could create complex sounds using an early form of additive synthesis.

While most electronic musicians think about synthesizers as instruments that generate sound completely electronically, in the 1850s, the German scientist Hermann von Helmholtz created devices that could synthesize sound electroacoustically, using an early type of additive synthesis. The Helmholtz Synthesizer was designed for scientific research, though, not musical performance.

The Acoustic Synthesis_phase5 builds on similar ideas, but seems closer to the work of Paul Vo, who created created the Moog Guitar and the Vo-96 Guitar, instruments that implement forms of acoustic synthesis with guitar strings.

Like the Helmholtz Synthesizer, the Acoustic Synthesis_phase5 is based on electromechanical control of tuning fork, and lets you mix overtones to shape sounds. But Korg’s device is designed to be a musical instrument, so it can be played chromatically. Because it’s built around resonating tines, the instrument can have initial attack qualities similar to a Fender Rhodes. But it can also sustain notes indefinitely and it can feedback like an electric guitar.

While both the Vo-96 Guitar and Acoustic Synthesis_phase5 give you granular control over the harmonics of the sounds they generate, the range of sounds that the instruments can create is constrained by the physical qualities of the instrument. So the VO-96 can create a wide range of sounds, but they all sound guitar-like, and the Acoustic Synthesis_phase5 creates sounds that have a bell-like quality that’s similar to a Rhodes piano.

The phase5 is a prototype, so no details on specifications, pricing or availability have been announced at this time.

10 thoughts on “The Korg Phase5 Acoustic Synthesizer & How It Works (Sneak Preview)

    1. It is certainly interesting to me, today!

      Super clever idea– I think those coils around the tines might be able to act both as pickups and as e-bow-like drivers. With a bit more DSP, there’s quite a lot that could be done. But as you may be suggesting, I think it will get MORE interesting as it goes.

        1. There is a DSP that analyses the incoming signal, compares it with a sound reference of how the tine should sound and processes the signal that is fed back to the tine through the magnetic coil. So the sound you hear comes purely from the vibrating tines. But the way these tines are put into vibration is manipulated by DSP.

          The coils only act as e-bow like driver, not as pickup.

          The pickup mechanism works more like a condenser mic with a metallic plate that has a voltage aplied under each tine.

          I was lucky to get a presentation at superbooth, It’s a super cool Idea but sounds still a bit rough imho. But I love the fact that korg just let’s these people just experiment!

  1. It’s nice to see guys like Tats being given the creative freedom to explore new directions within such a big company like Korg. Curious to see if it’ll end up a commercial product.

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