GM Lab X1000 and Pico Synth, new open-source synthesizers for under 200€

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At SoundMIT 2022, GM Lab showcased two new affordable open-source digital synthesizers, the X1000 and Pico Synth.

SoundMIT 2022 took place in Turin last weekend. A trade fair for synthesizers and pedals from small Boutique and large manufacturers. As already reported, the Italian developer GM Lab (Crumar Instruments) has shown a lovely, inexpensive string machine called Rondo. This is based on the same code as the iOS app Electrorchestra.

At the same time, the developer introduced another two new desktop synthesizers. Both are open-source and very affordable.

gm Lab X1000 Pico Synth

GM Lab X1000

Let’s start with the GM Lab X1000 which is a hands-on monophonic Synthesizer that takes inspiration from the rare Italian Synthesizer Jen SX-1000. Yes, this mono synth with the colored knobs. Important, the X1000 is not a Jen SX-1000 clone or replica but it only has a structure that is reminiscent of this obscure synth from the past.

The synth is all digital and uses an M110 chip like the Jen Synthesizer. However, with the difference, the filter and VCA were analog on the original Jen SX-1000.  The X1000 core consists of a multi-wave oscillator (saw, square, pulse) with manual pulse-width control and PWM via an LFO. There is also a noise generator and additional vibrato plus glide.

GM Lab X1000 Synthesizer

Then, you get a 12db lowpass filter with resonance and a dedicated ADSR envelope. Modulation side, you get two envelopes (filter and amp) and an LFO. A very simple Synthesizer that is perfect for taking your first steps in synthesis. On the backside, you have a MIDI input, the main mono output, and a headphone socket. It does not have USB MIDI and can therefore not be remotely controlled.

It’s nice that the synth has a lot of knobs which makes it very hands-on. These knobs are colored and each section has its own color. This way you can see the structure of the synth faster. And so it’s also very reminiscent of the SX-1000, which was also colored.

Pico Synth

Pico Synth is also monophonic but has a more complex engine. Don’t confuse it with Erica Synth’s Pico System, which is a modular synth. The core uses two Pi-Boards (RP2040), one is responsible for the sound engine and another for the patch memory, panel scanning, and MIDI.

It features two multi-wave oscillators (saw, square, triangle) with sync and PWM. A noise generator can also be added to the signal. Then, you can work wth a 12dB lowpass filter with cutoff and resonance controls. Additionally, you have controls for the LFO, velocity, and keytrack inside the filter section.

gm-lab pico synth

For adding movement to your sounds, it has two ADSR envelopes for controlling the filter, amp, or alternatively for creating OSC1 sync sounds. There is also an LFO for animating the filter, for example. To refine your sounds, Pico Synth also comes with a simple delay.

A big difference to the X1000 is the possibility to save patches right in the hardware front panel.

Another very hands-on, simple Synthesizer but one that has more functionality. Mainly two oscillators with sync, delay, and patch memory.

The French YouTube channel Les Sondiers has made a video about these new synthesizers at SoundMIT 2022.

GM Lab X1000 and Pico Synth will be available as a DIY kit and as a built version. X1000 will cost 139€ (kit)/ 179€ (built) and Pico Synth 159€ (kit)/199€ (built).

More information here: GM Lab 

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