Music

Stackable, modular hardware synth makes grooving easy

Stackable, modular hardware sy...
The Tone Lab plays chosen chords in a loop, with the sound determined by stacked components
The Tone Lab plays chosen chords in a loop, with the sound determined by stacked components
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Sound components such as an oscillator, effects and filters can be connected together in a stack to the left of the Tone Lab
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Sound components such as an oscillator, effects and filters can be connected together in a stack to the left of the Tone Lab
The Tone Lab plays chosen chords in a loop, with the sound determined by stacked components
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The Tone Lab plays chosen chords in a loop, with the sound determined by stacked components
Sound generator modules include effects like reverb and delay, sine/square/sawtooth wave oscillators and filters, and arpeggiators
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Sound generator modules include effects like reverb and delay, sine/square/sawtooth wave oscillators and filters, and arpeggiators
Design sketches and prototyping the Tone Lab
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Design sketches and prototyping the Tone Lab
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Getting your groove going with a modular synth can involve lots of patch cables or a screen full of intimidating controls, depending on whether you're playing with hardware or software. Or it could be a frightening collection of both. Industrial designer Colin Hearon set out to simplify the interface and has come up with an interactive, modular synthesis device called Tone Lab where players young or old stack up components to generate layers of sound.

The Tone Lab is a great looking piece of kit. Sound sequences are created by selecting and stacking tone generator components to one end of the base and then using four sliding chord units to alter what's being sounded out.

Sound generators include effects like reverb and delay, sine/square/sawtooth wave oscillators and filters, arpeggiators and so on. The idea is to build up as many or as few components of a sound that you want, starting with a waveform, then adding filters and effects. Each sound block connects to another via metal prongs to the bottom left.

Sound generator modules include effects like reverb and delay, sine/square/sawtooth wave oscillators and filters, and arpeggiators
Sound generator modules include effects like reverb and delay, sine/square/sawtooth wave oscillators and filters, and arpeggiators

Activating the device plays back the chosen chords in a loop, influenced by the stacked sound components. The chord discs can then be used to modify the various parameters by sliding them up or down in their given slots.

Naturally, you wouldn't want your sound stack tower to get too high or it may come tumbling down, but the design looks intuitive and easy to use. The Tone Lab looks to be standalone, and portable and outputs the created music via headphones or a powered speaker.

There's no word on whether the device will be made available, but the demo video below has more.

Source: Colin Hearon

Tone Lab

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