Do you love the THX Deep Note sound – that crazy sweep of timbres heard at the beginning of films? Do you wish you had it in a playable synth the size of a calculator? Deep Synth is for you.
First, Deep Note? Just to refresh your memory: (Turn it up!!)
Apart from being an all-time great in sound design, the Deep Note’s underlying synthesis approach was novel and interesting. And thanks to the power of new embedded processors, it’s totally possible to squeeze this onto a calculator.
Enter Eugene, Oregon-based professional developer Kernel Bob aka kbob. A low-level Linux coder by day, Bob got interested in making an audio demo for the 1Bitsy-1UP game console, a powerful modern embedded machine with the form factor of a classic Game Boy. (Unlike a Game Boy, you have a decent processor, color screen, USB, and SD card.)
The Deep Note is the mother of all audio demos. That sound is owned by THX, but the basic synthesis approach is not – think 32 voices drifting from a relatively random swarm into the seat rocking final chord.
The results? Oh, only the most insane synthesizer of the year:
Whether you’re an engineer or not, the behind the scenes discussion of how this was done is fascinating to anyone who loves synthesis. (Maybe you can enlighten Bob on this whole bit about the sawtooth oscillator in SuperCollider.)
Read the multi-part series on Deep Synth and sound on this handheld platform:
And to try messing about with Deep Note-style synthesis on your own in the free, multi-platform coding for musicians environment SuperCollider:
Recreating the THX Deep Note [earslap]
All of this is open hardware, open code, so if you are a coder, it might inspire your own projects. And meanwhile, as 1Bitsy-1UP matures, we may soon all have a cool handheld platform for our noisemaking endeavors. I can’t wait.
Thanks to Samantha Lüber for the tip!
And we got to interview the sound’s creator (and talk to him about how he recreated it):