Propellerhead’s ReBirth is reborn as a hands-on hardware synth, and it’s all thanks to Look Mum No Computer

The original version might have been released almost 25 years ago, but Propellerhead’s Roland-aping ReBirth software still holds a special place in many computer musicians’ hearts.

Take Sam Battle (AKA Look Mum No Computer), for example. In fact, he was so taken with ReBirth when he fired it up on an old ‘90s Mac that he decided to set about creating a hardware controller for it.

The original version of ReBirth emulated two Roland TB-303 Bassline synths and a TR-808 drum machine, with a 909 emulation being added as part of the version 2.0 update. Look Mum No Computer’s bespoke hardware gives the user control of all these devices, turning ReBirth into a semi-physical acid-making monster.

In the video above, Battle shows you how we went about designing and building the controller, which he says he made “just for funsies”. 

There were some hiccups along the way - getting MIDI into the Mac proved to be particularly problematic, it seems - but the end result makes ReBirth look and feel more real than ever. In this case, though, shouldn't Battle change his name to Look Mum There Is A Computer?

The Mac and PC versions of ReBirth were discontinued in 2005, but the software lived on first on the iPhone, between 2010 and 2013, and then on the iPad. It was eventually sunsetted for good in 2017, following a claim by Roland that it infringed on its intellectual property rights.

ReBirth on iPad

(Image credit: Propellerhead Software)
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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