“All synths today just sound the same.” Sure. Fair. Well, but then something comes along that sounds more like it’s ready to produce a trippy soundtrack for a wandering scifi epic about a journey to Jupiter, filmed in early-70s Czechoslovakia.*

Meet the Quandrantid Swarm. It’s the latest creation from French boutique Eowave, whose inventions have always tended to the experimental and unique. And while they also do modular now, I can’t help but feel this is Eowave at their best – making desktop instruments and oddball interfaces. These are creations with an eye to the past, but in some sort of alternate history that bent in a different direction.

There’s actually a lot packed into the Swarm’s retro-styled prototype. The synth voice itself is digital, but that gets routed through a 2-pole analog filter, modulation with eight selectable waveforms, and – what really defines the vintage character here – a spring reverb.

There’s also a unique touchplate interface, which acts as a keyboard (either monophonic or polyphonic) or an eight-step sequencer.

Plus there are patch points on the main panel, making this a bit of a tiny submodular.

MIDI and CV/trig connectivity let you integrate this with your studio.

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While they’re unveiling the prototype at Superbooth amidst a sea of modulars, this also demonstrate the particular place desktop gear can occupy. Sure, you could cobble together something sort of like this using a modular rig (though probably for a bit more scratch). But while that flexibility has inarguable value, I think there’s also something special about defining this particular set of functions as a single, integrated instrument.

Release date is TBD, with tentative retail pricing set at 499€. I’m seeing people complain about the price but I don’t know what they’re on about – there’s literally nothing that competes with this particular instrument, as it’s a one-of-a-kind invention. And I’m sure some people will find a home for it.

I had to miss the first day of Superbooth, but this is way up on my list to go see tomorrow, so shout if you have questions about this or anything else Eowave and I’ll dig up some answers.

In the meantime, for singular synths and ribbons and things, see:

http://www.eowave.com/

*Actually, there probably is such a film – exploring the masterpieces of Communist cinema should really be a topic for another post, if anyone wants to contribute. Poland, the DDR, and USSR had some gems I can think of off the top of my head. And… yeah, I’d still choose the Eowave to continue the tradition of unusual sounds, because those things still sound futuristic today. Maybe even more so.

  • Olivier Ozoux

    The price argument is always interesting. I use a different scale for what I know are handmade instruments made by indie/boutique companies, vs mass-produced in China gadgets, even if they were initially designed by hipsters in Japan or Sweden. And it’s not likely to sell much more at 399 than it will at 499. It’s on my list along with the MFB Dominion Club right now.

  • TJ

    Reminds me of the Forbidden Planet soundtrack
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unSrf-htPbk

  • Samuel Holland

    If you don’t like the price don’t buy it. People have gotten really entitled with cheap analog crap – if you want a volca get a volca.

  • Foosnark

    At that price range, my criteria is that it has to become an essential part of my studio. Maschine, 0-Coast and WMD Synchrodyne are in that category.

    While I think this is cool, it seems more like the sort of thing I’d bring out for one track in ten.

  • Played with this on Superbooth, it’s awesome! And those looks… wow!

  • papernoise

    To all of those who are bitching about the price: first of all it’s like Olivier Ozoux said below, it’s made by a small company, in small numbers, not mass produced by some multi-national corporation. Second: it’s got a real spring in it! It’s not one of those DSP-emulations of a spring, and even less some noisy digital delay like on the Volca Keys (and I’m saying this as sombody who really likes his Volca Keys). Third: it’s like Peter sais, there’s nothing out there that’s really like this. It’s a unique thing.
    So, the price seems pretty ok to me.