Ashun Sound Machines aren’t your typical synth brand. They may not be steeped in decades of tradition and musical history, like many of their competitors, but as relative newcomers in the synthesizer market, they are approaching the scene with a fresh perspective and a contemporary outlook, producing some of the most innovative instruments we’ve seen in recent years.
Though the brand is new, the brains behind ASM have some pretty serious music technology credentials. Glen Darcey, the company’s CEO and design director, spent over a decade working at Arturia and Akai before departing to expand his vision and head up ASM. Teaming up with industry veteran Dominic Au, he embarked on a mission to create cutting-edge products that are not just another piece of gear to crowd the marketplace, but unique musical instruments that help musicians and producers express their creative vision.
ASM’s flagship product is the Hydrasynth. Announced in 2019, this groundbreaking synth is now available in four configurations: the Keyboard, Desktop, Explorer and Deluxe versions. The Hydrasynth is a digital wave morphing synthesizer that’s packed with truly contemporary features that are shared across each model. ASM’s mission is to produce unique products that offer something different than their competitors - to do what others aren’t doing.
This ethos inspired their decision to integrate polyphonic aftertouch into the Hydrasynth’s Polytouch semi-weighted keybed. Unlike many modern instruments that utilize this technology, the synth features a standard-sized conventional keyboard, so players can take advantage of the additional performance capability while using a comfortable and familiar interface.
What makes the Hydrasynth range unique?
The Hydrasynth’s sound generation is powered by three oscillators, which enable you to choose from a varied selection of 219 single-cycle waveforms. The user can morph from one wave to another, or utilize the synth’s Wavelist mode, which allows them to select 8 waves, arrange them in any order and morph between them.
This alone provides ample opportunity for creative and experimental synthesis, but combined with the Hydrasynth’s Mutators it opens up a pandora’s box of sonic possibilities. The Mutators, fed by oscillators 1 and 2, process and manipulate the sound in a myriad of ways: the user can choose between FM-Linear, for classic FM synthesis sounds, Hard Sync, Pulse Width, Wavestack modes and more.
In designing the Hydrasynth’s filter section, the ASM team used AI-powered Neural Network Filter modelling to produce a variety of filter types that covers both classic filter models and unconventional options for experimental sound-shaping. On top of that, there’s exponential capability for modulation, with an astonishing 5 LFOs that run through their own individual step sequencers.
In addition, the Hydrasynth benefits from an advanced modulation matrix that can be used to modulate almost any parameter, with 29 modulation sources and 155 modulation destinations, including the modulation matrix points themselves. The synth also gives the user the option to randomise any parameter (or ALL the parameters) - another truly unique feature that opens up the door to unexpected and unfamiliar creative territory.
Variations in the range
Across the Hydrasynth range, there’s four options that cater for every synthesist or producer. At the most affordable end of the spectrum, we have the Explorer, which offers 8-voices, 37-note mini keyboard and optional battery power, with reduced I/O. For those who have their own keyboards or prefer to sequence, ASM has created a Desktop version of the synth which features Polytouch pads.
In the mid-range we have the Hydrasynth Keyboard, which features a 49-note full-size semi-weighted keybed with a nifty ribbon controller for extra expressive control. And at the top of the line, ASM’s Hydrasynth Deluxe acts as the flagship model, providing 16 voices, a 73-note full-size keybed and all the I/O you could ask for.
Find out more about the Hydrasynth on ASM’s website, or purchase yours today.