The Emphase Synthesizer

("Emphase" is a working name)

Following is a short description of the current development state of the Emphase synthesizer. The features presented here are not complete and are obviously subject to change. The product design will be modified as we continue development.

Two-Part Construction

Cabinets Mounted

When we mounted it for the first time

Cabinets with Electronics

Later, without the keybed but with prototype electronics built in

The housing of the Emphase synthesizer consists of two parts: the performance cabinet and the creation cabinet. The performance cabinet is very compact, but it contains all of the instrument's processor and audio components; it can be used separately from the creation cabinet in "play only" situations. The creation cabinet is a detachable extension of the user interface for sonic exploration and sound design and can also be useful for controlling a complex performance. It requires a connection to the performance cabinet for operation.

The Performance Cabinet

Performance Cabinet as a Rendering Performance Cabinet as a Rendering Performance Cabinet as a Rendering Performance Cabinet as a Rendering

An updated version of the performance cabinet rendered by our CAD software.

Features of the performance cabinet:

- 61-key Fatar keybed with semi-weighted long-arm keys; two-way (note-on and note-off) velocity sensitivity; global aftertouch

- Two high-resolution touch strips (ribbons). They can be assigned to pitchbend, macro controls, or single parameters and offer both relative and absolute modes.

- Indicator bar of LED dots in each ribbon

- Spring-loaded lever (not in current version) for pitchbending and similar applications

- Small control panel with an OLED display (128 x 32). In connection with the ribbons it can be used for:

-- preset selection

-- octave shift up/down, note shift, tuning

-- assigning ribbons, lever, and pedals

-- preferences: velocity curves, ribbon modes, etc.

-- selecting and editing parameters

- headphone jack and level knob

- master volume knob

- audio outputs

- four inputs for analog controls, such as pedals

- USB connector for updates and service (not in current version)

The Creation Cabinet

Creation Cabinet with Labels

Here we have put the first overlays with labels on the button panels.

Features of the creation cabinet:

The modular design is open for variable user interface concepts. The current configuration:

- Four Selection Panels, each with 24 buttons with corresponding state-indicating LEDs. The software-defined functions of the buttons are indicated by interchangeable magnetic foils.

- Edit Panel with 18 buttons, an incremental encoder, and a 256 x 64 OLED display


Parameter editing:

- selecting parameters

- displaying labels and values of parameters

- changing values


- browsing, selecting and recalling presets

- storing the current edit buffer as new preset

- overwriting, deleting, moving and sorting of presets


- between two presets

- between the current state and a preset

Unlimited Undo for all sound editing interactions

Materials and Manufacturing

- Wood (CNC-milled): Manufactured in Italy

- Steel (laser-cut, bent, welded): Manufactured in Italy and Berlin

- Aluminum (CNC): Manufactured in Italy

- Buttons and ribbon-controller strips: Made in Germany

- Keybed: Made by Fatar in Italy

- PCBs (printed circuit boards): Made in Berlin

The Graphical User Interface

Emphase can communicate with a computer, tablet, or smartphone to create a screen-based user interface. This will give an overview and access to all parameters and presets, as well as the morphing and the undo system.

- Any Wi-Fi-connectable device with a web browser can be used (platform independent).

- The web-based GUI runs on every browser (no installation required).

- New design concept allows zooming "into" parameters and details (as with digital maps).

- It can be used as an addition to - or as a replacement of - the creation cabinet and also used in combination with the hardware controllers (the two ribbons, for example) of the performance cabinet.