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Soulsby Atmegatron 8-bit hackable synthesizer review

Hey what’s good?

Back with another hardware review for you, this time it’s from a new company Soulsby with their first release

The Atmegatron

Let’s check it out!

atmegatronSo what is the Atmegatron?

It’s a desktop 8-bit, monophonic synthesizer with lot’s of functionality.

It’s got 32 waveforms built in, 15 filter types, can store/recall presets, and you can even upload your own waveforms.

As if that weren’t enough, you can also change the entire OS to turn it into a totally different synth.

Oh yeah…the OS…it’s open source, so you can download and hack it yourself to make it do whatever you want if you’re into programming.

There’s a lot going on in this little box, more than you may realize upon first glance for sure.

Quick Specs

  • main features: 32 waveforms, 15 filters, 2 envelopes, 16 lfo waveforms, wave crusher, arp, bass boost, distortion, 16 patch memory
  • hardware: 1/4″ mono output, stereo headphone output, MIDI in/out, 6 pin header for programming,
  • price: 255 British Pounds (about $431), PCB version is 127 British Pounds (about $214)
  • product page: http://soulsbysynths.com/atmegatron-complete/

How does it sound?

Reel to Reel Tape RecorderI’m not a huge fan of 8bit synths, I’m not really into chiptune and such, but this synth looked interesting so I wanted to check it out.

I’ve got to say it sounds much better than I anticipated. I thought it would be a bunch of bleeps and blops, but you can get some really powerful sounds out of it.

The addition of distoriton and bass boost also helps fatten up the sound, but even without those you can get a diverse range of leads, noises, fx, and even bass.

Where this synth really shines is in it’s ability to transform into a totally different instrument by uploading a new OS.

I tested the official “Atcyclatron” which is a wavetable or wave cycle style synth released by Soulsby. This allows the synth to create a much more diverse sound with super huge leads and deep bass as well as even more fx and noises thanks to the wave cycle options.

However you know me, I want to know as much about an instrument as I can, so I got Paul to send me some beta versions of a couple OS options he is working on. One is the Atcmegadrum, which turns this little box into a drum maschine complete with step sequencer. I must say, working with the knobs and layout on the Atmegatron is really fun in terms of a drum sequencer, I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how it works once it’s totally complete.

Another OS I tried (and the one I kept on the longest while getting to know it) is the Atpolytron, which changes it from an 8-bit mono synth into a 4 note polyphonic synth!

Man…I was really able to coax some smooth pads and synths out of it, not “airy” but smooth and gritty at the same time thanks to the filtering. This is another OS that I think will be VERY powerful when it’s complete.

Now of course both of those were not officially released so what you see in the video is only  portion of what they will do once they are done, but it gives you an idea of the diversity of sound you can get from one box.

So what’s the bottom line?

Overall I was initially unsure what to expect from the Atmegatron, the layout looked weird and I’m not a chiptune guy.

I was quickly and pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to manipulate and navigate the layout, and the sound, while no doubt 8-bit, had a nice edge and dare I say a bit of fullness to it that I didn’t expect at all.

4subsI give the Atmegatron 4 out of 5 subs, it’s a very solid platform that sounds good and most importantly is really fun to tweak.

The ability to change or hack the OS is CRAZY and really allows you to get so much more from your investment.

It does require the purchase of a special cable, which is around 10 bucks or so, and there is a button on the back you have to switch to put it into “program mode”

The one thing I would say about that button is I would love to see it turned into a more accesible flip switch. As it is now, the switch is recessed and requires a small screwdriver, paper clip, or in my case a screw, to flip it.

This was done so it wouldn’t be switched accidentally. But I think a regular on/off switch on the back would be just fine.

It’s not heavy at all and feels solidly build, the function and value knobs have a little more give compared to the rest of the knobs on the unit, I would imagine this is due to the way they are used by turning and pushing.

All in all, it’s a great little desktop synth that I think many will enjoy…it’s currently sold out as of this review but more are expected soon. And if you can’t wait for the “complete” version with case and all, you can get a PCB version instead :)

Go on over and check it out, there’s plenty of videos and other information on the synth: http://soulsbysynths.com/atmegatron-complete/

Leave me a comment below and let me know what you think

 

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6 Responses to “Soulsby Atmegatron 8-bit hackable synthesizer review”

  1. Juan says:

    Nice beat

  2. Juan says:

    Nice review..:D As a owner myself of this little beast.. I can say there so much to this unit I have yet to do. And day by day I keep wanting more. And still haven’t gotten to the hacking but surely will do. And big plus and a very good investment. Thanks Soulby. JAY

    • saintjoe says:

      Totally agree, it’s very versatile, didn’t know what to expect but ended up really enjoying it!

  3. lincoln x says:

    sweet I want one, cant find them got the new roland touch base and vocoder, want this cause its like a matrix 1000 with knobs and the uploads for os, just wish it was 16bit or more.

    • saintjoe says:

      Thanks for checking it out, it’s a cool little synth, the 8bit engine is the aim of the synth, going for that 8bit sound with a bit more diversity. The OS system is really cool.

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