Paul Vo Has Made An Entirely New And Impossibly Awesome Instrument

Paul Vo Has Made An Entirely New And Impossibly Awesome Instrument

Inventor Paul Vo has developed an entirely new way to modify the sound of instruments. Stringed instruments for now, at least. Before I twist your brain into knots trying to explain how it works, take a moment to listen to the Vo-96 acoustic synthesiser in the video above.

Moog teased this concept as the LEV-96 back in November, but this is our first really comprehensive look at what it sounds like.

It sounds like some sort of modulation effect is being applied to the guitars in the video but there are no analogue effects or digital processing. That is the real sound of instrument. It actually works similarly to one of Vo’s other inventions, the (electric) Moog Guitar.

The Vo-96 is the little battery-powered contraption between the guitar’s sound hole and bridge in the image below. It changes the way that an instrument actually sounds rather than changing the sound that an instrument has already made. Vo calls it “vibration control technology”, because, well, it physically alters the way the strings vibrate.

Usually, the way you alter the sound of an instrument is by altering a waveform with electronics and/or microprocessors. Consider, an electric guitar. The pickups are basically magnets that turn the vibration of strings into an electric signal. From there, you can run that signal through analogue effects and digital processors in a chain, and at the end, the electric signal is amplified, and sound is made by a speaker.

The Vo-96, changes the waveforms that the guitar is producing in real-time. The vibration of each string can be controlled at 16 different harmonic partials for a total of 96 discreetly controllable harmonic “channels”. (When you think about the real-time DSP logic necessary to apply that level of vibration control, your sense of reality might start to melt around you.)

The possibilities as you’ll hear in the video are nearly endless, and what’s more, Vo points out that acoustic synthesis technology can be applied to virtually any instrument. So far, the Vo-96 is just a concept, but one day soon, we might actually see this technology in a usable form. Fingers crossed. [Vo Innovations and via Create Digital Music]