Portfolio Noah Vawter. The Synth of Death

What is this Deadly Synthesizer?

The silver box atop the other equipment on my desk is the synthesizer I designed myself.

Several years ago, I began experimenting with a DSP development kit for engineers called the EZ-Kit Lite. Very small in size, you could operate it with batteries, yet get 40 MIPS of performance. I hacked on this synthesizer for several years, designing a flash file system, a MIDI interface, and more. Finally, I wrote a synthesizer using an algorithm I first created as a senior qualifying project at WPI. As I went along, I detailed on the Internet how to do it. Since then, several dozen people have gotten involved and built their own Synth of Death!


I don't like to re-invent the wheel. I'd much rather dare to do something no one else would because the payoff is much greater. It usually leads to meeting new people and adventure! That's why, when I made my synthesizer algorithm, I decided to not *add* two oscillators, but to combine them non-linearly with a whole range of intricate mixing functions. I have never seen any other synthesizers do this! And the results are quite interesting!

Audio Examples

I'd love to tell you more about it, but for now, please just listen to these examples:

  • A Bit Blippy (mp3). or A Bit Blippy (ogg).
  • High-Pitched (mp3). or High-Pitched (ogg). Dig the samba beat!
  • Industrial Grind (mp3). or Industrial Grind(ogg). The meatiest sound! Just imagine blasting this to a stadium full of crazed fans!
  • Jazzy...Sort Of (mp3). or Jazzy...Sort Of (ogg). The same riff as industrial grind, only less bit reduction and different filter settings to keep it under control.
  • Squeeky Part (mp3). or Squeeky Part (ogg). This is me tweaking something called "Fricasee", which is a little bit like Phase Modulation. It has very dramatic effects when used with non-linear waveform combination!
  • Stationary (mp3). or Stationary (ogg). I'm tweaking the LFO in this one. The LFO adjusts the phase between the two input waveforms, which, as I've said elsewhere, is very important when considereing the non-linear mixing of two waveforms.

    More stuff on the web

    As I was doing all of the work on this synthesizer, I figured it was only natural to share it all in some way with other people who could benefit from my research and development. One day, I plan to actually sell a product based on my algorithms, but for now, it's all available for free here. Additionally, at that link, there are many more audio examples, synthesizer algorithms, free/GPL'd source codes, and pictures. Enjoy it!


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