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Digital Subscriptions > MusicTech > Sep 2019 > UDO

UDO

The talk of the town among synthesists is undoubtedly the UDO Super 6, recently unveiled at this year’s Superbooth. While it has taken its design cues from classic models of yesteryear, the binaural sound and ‘superwave’ architecture of the company’s inaugural polysynth has its feet firmly in 2019…

There was a palpable surge of excitement upon the initial revealing of the Super 6 at this year’s synth extravaganza (and annual highlight) Superbooth. Firstly, there was the design – with the tactility of the pots, switches and faders harking back to the glory days of Roland, Korg and Yamaha. Once we were drawn in by the aesthetic, though, our interest was then taken to a whole new level by the depth of the thick, binaural sound that the Super 6 is capable of generating. We were, in a word, amazed, particularly considering that UDO is a first-time manufacturer.

However, George Hearn, the creator of the Super 6, has had a long and prolific history in the world of synth design. He invited us to UDO’s Bristol-based headquarters for an inside look at the building process of the machine that has got the industry salivating.

MusicTech When did the idea first strike you to start the company?

George Hearn I’ve been a hobbyist in electronics since I was a teenager and I’ve been building synthesisers since I was 18. Ever since then, I’ve been kind of building up to starting UDO, so it’s been a long time in the making. I’d gone on to have a career in electronics manufacturing, and worked on the design of quite a few synths – I was behind the 008 with Modal Electronics. But I’d also been making non-musical things for different industries and I wanted to ultimately just join together the things that I’m passionate about. I thought, ‘It’s now or never.’

It’s a good time to do it – hardware synthesisers are back and there’s a definite resurgence. We did actually look around the market, however, and realised that if you strip it down to ‘instruments’ – that is polyphonic, keyboard instruments – the consumer doesn’t have masses of choice. There was nothing out there that really captured that magical allure those vintage polysynths had.

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About MusicTech

It’s probably not all that contentious to say that everybody, at some stage in their music-making journey, needs a synth. Whether you’re working on deep, intricate soundscapes, creating pounding dance music or concocting chart-climbing pop hits, taking advantage of the myriad textures, pads and leads that the synthesiser provides is a no-brainer. This month, we celebrate this beloved instrument with a series of linked features, highlighting the history, science and ongoing development of the synth. We speak to Georgia, an artist who wowed Glastonbury with her retro synth-pop stylings; take a trip to Bristol to visit UDO and look at the making of the Super 6, a synthesiser that merges the very best of old and new technology; while Andy Jones delves into the synth’s pivotal role in shaping dance music. We also continue Adam Crute’s Sound Synthesis Masterclass series, this time exploring the science and mechanics of sampling and synthesis. Aside from our synth focus, we also have a fantastic interview with The Prodigy engineer and co-producer Neil Mclellan, who tells the inside story of the making of their classic record Music For The Jilted Generation. We also speak to MPG Breakthrough Engineer Of The Year 2019 Dani Bennett Spragg about her incredible career to date and her best-practice advice. Later, we experience the mind- (and ear-) blowing wall of sound that is James Murphy and Soulwax’s Despacio sound system. Our review section this month continues the synthy vibe that runs through this issue, as we get hands-on with Native’s latest iteration of Massive X, have some fun with Modal’s CRAFTsynth 2 and explore the scope of Softube’s Volume 3. I hope you enjoy the issue.