The Stylophone line of tiny analog synths has been around for decades. The greats like Bowie and Kraftwerk have used them on iconic tracks, so they're not just limited to hobbyist use. At NAMM this week, Dubreq unveiled the latest, and the most powerful, version of the Stylophone to date: the Gen R-8. The same overall look is here from previous models with controls up top and a touch pad down below, but the Gen R-8 is larger than the "toy" synths that came before it. This is more comparable to the size of a compact keyboard synthesizer.
The added size, of course, means more features. Most notably, this new instrument dabbles in the modular craze, thanks to 19 CV/Gate patch points for extra tinkering. Going modular seems to be all the rage these days, and while it does add some extra sonic options, it will be interesting to see if it really adds that much to an instrument like the Stylophone. Beyond the modular functionality, the Gen R-8 offers a 16-step sequencer with eight banks so you can easily change things up. There's a fully analog signal path as well as a three-octave touch keyboard to power the noise you make. The keyboard also features glide and modulation keys to make things a little more expressive as needed.
A British design 12dB voltage control filter will give you those sounds you're familiar with on tracks like "Space Oddity" and "Pocket Calculator," complete with low pass, high pass, band pass and wide notch. Dubreq promises "room shaking bass" via a combo of sub oscillators and subsub oscillators. An eight waveform LFO and oneshot feature, grungy delay and a drive knob that provides an extra boost all contribute to the tool set here. Last but not least, MIDI in/out is included, so the Gen R-8 can be part of a more robust synth/production setup.
The Gen R-8 is expected to go on sale in February for $349/£299/€329. In the interim, you can get a taste of what it sounds like in the video below. If you're looking for something a little more beginner-friendly, there's a $25 option that runs on AA batteries as well. It definitely falls more into that "toy" category, but it's still fun to make noise with.