This theremin-inspired synthesizer by Soma Labs is the trippiest thing ever

It’s a touchless synth. Need we say more?

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Flux by Soma Labs

Image: Soma Labs

Soma Labs has unveiled Flux, a new algorithmic touchless synthesizer inspired by one of society’s most fascinating instruments — the theremin.

For the uninitiated, a theremin is a no-contact electronic instrument that works via the power of electromagnetic interference. Quite possibly the only instrument that’s played without anyone touching it, theremins create a sound when you move your hands and fingers around its antenna to interfere with the electromagnetic fields.

Like the Theremin, Flux can be played without touching it. The synth features a continual touchless keyboard that offers seamless control over a number of sound parameters — all based on the principles of magnetism.

To interact with the device, the player uses two magnetic ‘bows’ pressed between their fingers. The interface then registers the bows’ movements and positions, thanks to an integrated multipolar magnetic sensor. The X coordinate of the artist’s right-hand bow controls the note’s pitch, while the Z coordinate controls volume. The left-hand bow’s X, Y and Z coordinates control the various synthesis parameters.

Since a magnet has two poles, Flux is able to detect the bows’ angle in addition to their spatial coordinates. This means that flipping the right-hand bow on the Y-axis changes the octave, which allows a range of six continuous octaves without transposing the keyboard. The left-hand bow meanwhile controls the timbres.

In total, users have access to a total of sixteen parameters, which should allow for some pretty dynamic timbre compositions. The synth also sports an even and clearly marked note scale, which makes it much easier to learn and intone than a Theremin.

Flux by Soma Labs
Image: Soma Labs

According to Soma Labs, Flux will feature a DSP-based engine with different synthesis algorithms covering distortions, complex FX and physical modelling models of non-existent, surrealistic musical instruments. It works in monophonic, duophonic, and polyphonic modes; Staccato-enabling and quantisation modes are also available.

Users can also save and recall presets with the entire states of the synth, including the engine, and all the tunings.

“Flux brings forth the musicality and expression of classical instruments, such as violin or vocals, enriched by new timbres and the flexibility of postmodern instruments, harnessing the power of current technology,” says the brand.

“Flux is a new Soma instrument under development. We hope to start selling Flux at the end of 2024.”

In the meantime, check out this impressive demo of the synth below.

Learn more at somalabs.


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