Neuron in use

The Neuron synthesizer is a High Tech machine, no doubt about it. But how does it work and what does it do? First of all, the instrument creates sounds from samples which are stored on the internal hard disk. The neural network engine will analyze the sound source and calculate a three-dimensional pattern of the sound characteristics. It will then define the 12 most important (i.e. characteristic) parameters of the sound and assign them to one of the joystick controllers. The parameters can be changed by moving the stick around - as you can only change four parameters at at time, three menu layers are used to make the other (less important) parameters accessible.

The most important thing about it: Neuron does not use the same parameters for any given sound (as "normal" synthesizers do), but it creates a specific parameter-model for each of the sounds. Plus, there is a blender-function that allows for merging two sound models. Hence, the individual model of one sound can be used to manipulate a second, totally different sound. This way, Neuron can expand the limits of synthesized sound production. There is an effects section too, which uses the same technology.

Hartmann say their user interface is user-friendly: of course, they do not have the users of (virtual) analogue equipment in mind. The layout is certainly distinctive, but not very intuitive, and the software needs a lot of fine-tuning too. Hartmann have crammed a huge amount of digital High Tech into the instrument, which makes it quite vulnerable. The hardware is definitely state of the art, Neuron features six outputs for surround mixes and a USB-connection.

Neuron definitely is an interesting and challenging instrument, but it is highly unlikely it will ever get within reach of humble musicians. That's because it will carry a hefty 5.000 Dollar/Euro price tag when it is shipped later in 2002. Obviously Hartmann plan to produce it in small quantities, for the freaks who demand something very special. The flamboyant Hartmann website will feature sound examples soon, so anybody interested can get an idea of what the instrument sounds like.

(rh 04/MMII)

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The left side of Neuron features the in- and outputs

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