After missing its originally planned February release, Dubreq's latest Stylophone synthesizer is now available for purchase. This upgrade to the pocket-sized classic boasts new features and controls, an all-analog circuit and a hefty metal chassis. Most importantly, it has gritty tones and filters similar to the sounds of full-fledged monosynths.
The Gen R-8 isn't just a big version of the tiny Stylophone Portable Synthesizer from the '60s and '70s. Users have expanded tone-shaping options, like two oscillators, an LFO, a filter, an ADSR envelope and more, so they can create monophonic melodies and arpeggios. And the one-knob-per-function layout means there are no cryptic menus to scroll through when tweaking sounds.
Like the Stylophone models that came before it, what makes the Gen R-8 stand out is its lack of a traditional keyboard. The original Stylophone used a touch-sensitive strip, which was activated with a stylus. This allowed for smooth gliding from note to note to create unique sonic qualities, rather than hammering one key after another. The Gen R-8's control surface is much larger, allowing for finger playing rather than using a stylus.
If you've had a longstanding interest in the Stylophone, the Gen R-8 might be worth a purchase, especially considering the $349 price -- pretty low for a fully analog synth. However, if you're just looking to get in on the funky control surface, Arturia's MicroFreak features similar touch-sensitivity at the same price while also offering a more flexible sound engine. That said, purists are more likely to appreciate the Gen R-8's conventional, subtractive signal chain. If you do want to try the Gen R-8, you might want to grab one sooner rather than later. This first run is limited to 500 units.