Kids in the late 1960s and early 70s who wanted to carry around electronic music-makers in their pockets couldn't just whip out a smartphone and launch an app like they can today. Chances are that they pulled out a Stylophone instead. This battery-operated box had a metal keyboard that was played using a stylus, and its sonics were output via its own speaker. It was pretty basic, but satisfied the need to make some noise with ease. Now Dubreq has given the classic toy synth more features and more sounds in the shape of the upcoming Gen X-1.
Britain's Dubreq says that 4 million Stylophone's have been sold since launch, attracting quite a cult following over the years thanks to use by recording artists like David Bowie and Kraftwerk. There have been a number of variations and reincarnations over the years, including the incredibly expensive S2, but with the Gen X-1, the company has managed to retain the classic form factor and wallet-friendly price point while adding impressive new features.
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Due to be officially launched at the National Association of Music Merchants show in California next week, the portable analog synthesizer sports a 24 key metal keyboard played using a cabled stylus, has its own speaker and runs on batteries. The new kid on the toy synth block also has a bank of control knobs up top and a separate finger touch sensitive sound strip above the keyboard.
Players can now choose between square and triangle wave low frequency oscillation, tweak the attack and decay on its envelope filter, manhandle low pass filter settings and dial in some delay. There are sub octave and pulse width modulation switches to the side, as well as volume control and power on/off. And the Gen X-1 includes a 3.5 mm audio jack for plugging in headphones or sending on the funky sounds to powered speakers.
In a nutshell, Dubreq is promising that players of all ages will be able to create "substantial sounds and melodies" with a portable analog synth that won't break the piggy bank. The Gen X-1 is due for release in May for a recommended retail of £59.99 (about US$73). You can see and hear the next generation Stylophone in the video below.