Compusynth is like a love child of a west coast modular and the Altair 8800 computer

128-bit digital sequencer? 1,596 patch points? A combination of a 1970s modular system – and a 1970s hobbyist microcomputer? Composer/artist and engineer Giorgio Sancristoforo has dreamed up a new synth from an alternative universe.

Compusynth is another esoteric wonder from the maker of Berna3 and Gleetchlab. Giorgio continues to create these beautiful, integrated standalone applications – entire imagined studios in a single piece of downloadable software.

It’s is unique in that it merges elements of vintage 70s digital and vintage 70s analog to create a synth you really haven’t seen, borrowed from an alternate timeline. It’s a bit like if Altair had made its own version of the 200 series Buchla, with plenty of twists thrown in.

compusynth main 1

So, for the synthesis side of things, you get four oscillations with FM and variable waveforms for complex-style results – each switchable between VCO and LFO, which is handy. And you have a nice set of four low-pass gates (more reasonably labeled LPVCA), four envelope generators, a source of u– uh, random CV generator, and resonators. There’s also ring mod, an attenuverter, sum, and mixer.

All of this can be routed through a massive matrix in a separate window. Where things get interesting is the additions.

The memory sequencer is the Altair-inspired bit. This early hobbyist, DIY-style machine had a large front panel with lights and switches, into which you would manually dump binary codes. As a computer interface, it was dreadful. But as a music sequencer – well, then it’s a bit brilliant.

You’ll definitely want to read the (very clear) manual on this one – the 7-bit WOPR sequencer is not like something you’ve likely encountered before. But in addition to the switches, you can use a MIDI keyboard to input values. The advantage of this design: you get a full 128 bits that you can read in the loop, for really complex or long-running patterns.

All of this sounds daft, but Giorgio sent over a build and – damn, this thing sounds utterly amazing. With a lush tape echo in the mix, you get warm, fuzzy, dark sounds. It’s practically worth the price of admission to just dial up a preset and leave it making beautiful drones on your computer for the afternoon. If you do start messing around, there’s plenty of experimentation possible. You can then record the old-fashioned way by calling up a virtual reel-to-reel tape recorder, as with Giorgio’s other vintage-tinged inventions. Or you can route via a virtual audio driver to the app of your choice. No plug-ins here, but then I’d rather have Giorgio brainstorming this kind of thing than going around testing hosts and dealing with plug-in validation.

The VCS-3-inspired patch matrix. If you’re overwhelmed, there is a clear manual that explains how routing works, plus you can page through presets and see how different patches were created.


  • 4 VCOs
  • 4 LPVCA (low pass gate)
  • 4 envelope generators
  • 1 resonant low pass filter
  • 3 independent resonators
  • Microcomputer memory sequencer (a la Altair) with 3 tracks
  • 1 ring modulator
  • 1 attenuverter
  • 1 minimum function
  • 1 tape echo
  • 1 spring reverb
  • 3-channel mixer (sum)
  • 4-channel mixer with master output
  • Tape recorder
cs tape
Where your projects finish up.

19.50€ now for macOS Universal (M1/Intel), with a Windows version promised for next month. Grab it here:

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