The Atmegatron is loosely based on chiptune-style 8-bit sound generation, but in practice it’s quite different to what you might expect if you’ve used other, more traditional chip-based alternatives. This is a unique digital synth – and that’s before you even consider its impressive ‘hackability’.
One look at the Arduino-based Atmegatron’s front panel should give you all the clues you need that you’re dealing with something slightly out of the ordinary. In addition to a handful of more familiar parameters such as filter cutoff and resonance, you’ll find two multi-function controls used to dial in parameters (on the left) and adjust their settings (on the right). What initially appears to be a relatively simply monophonic synth module turns out to be much deeper than you might imagine.
As standard, the structure of the Atmegatron is as shown in the diagram above, but that’s just the starting point. It’s a very flexible setup which includes a software editor, allowing you to get creative with some more advanced options, including loading your own user waveforms into the oscillators.
And about those hacking options we mentioned… Because the Atmegatron is an open source project (an emerging theme among digital synths released over the last couple of years), Arduino enthusiasts are encouraged to tinker with the architecture and features of the synth.
But that’s only half of it. Head to the Soulsby website and you can even download alternative source code for the entire unit, turning it into an Atcyclotron wavetable synth, Atmegadrum drum synth, Delayertron effect unit, Duotron dual oscillator synth, or even a pre-release version of the four-note paraphonic Atpolytron.
For those who are really keen, there’s even a PCB version at half the price of the complete unit. A great saving if you’re DIY-inclined.
One of the most excitingly original synths to emerge in recent years, analogue or digital.