Superbooth 2023: Erica Synths’ Steampipe is an 8-voice physical modelling synth with no conventional oscillators

Erica Synths Steampipe
(Image credit: Erica Synths)

Superbooth 23: Erica Synths is offering something a bit different with Steampipe, a fantastically named ‘true’ physical modelling synth with eight voices of polyphony and no conventional oscillators.

We’ve seen plenty of physical modelling instruments in software down the years, but not so many in hardware. Steampipe is designed to mimic the way that sound is generated by wind instruments, strings, pipe organs and more, and has three major sections.

First up, there’s Steam, which mimics a musician’s lungs and mouth. More specifically, it simulates airflow, with the envelope section determining the force with which air is blown out. DC/noise refers to the sound that’s generated when ‘blowing out’ - this can be replaced with an external audio source if you wish.

The Pipe section, meanwhile, is akin to a flute. It’s here that the tone is formed, with the delay box subsection adjusting the tuning and shape. Finally, we have the Reverberator, which is used to add space and ambience.

Steampipe has been optimised for use with MIDI wind controllers but can also be played using a conventional MIDI keyboard. There are plenty of “organic and rich” presets, and you can create all kinds of “sonic imagery” that ranges “from wisps of cloud to fairground band organs, then to industrial horns of the railroad and finally, to massive, otherworldly ambiences.”

Find out more on the Erica Synths website.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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