IK Amps Up Their Hardware Synth Game with the UNO Synth Pro series!
Released at NAMM 2021 the UNO Synth Pro and the UNO Synth Pro Desktop are powerful analogue synthesizers, packed with an amazing feature set.
The video below provides a quick teaser for those who prefer to watch and listen rather than just read specifications.
The next video is an in-depth walkthrough by the highly informative Enrico Dell’Aversana (UNO synth Pro Product Manager). You’ll hear plenty of great audio examples and performances plus further insight on some aspects beyond what IK’s marketing copy covers.
Below is Erik Norlander‘s Believe in Music NAMM 2021 presentation. Erik is one of the key developers behind the Uno Synth Pro and also Alesis’s legendary Andromedia A6 analogue synth.
The Original UNO Synth
In 2018, IK Multimedia rocked the budget mono synth category with their first hardware synth product – the diminutive yet feature-packed, real analogue synth – the UNO Synth. While some may critique its plastic chassis, keyboard, single LFO and the need to for the included VST/AU editor to access its full parameter range, Uno Synth’s rich analogue sound and massive bottom-end surprised everybody. Its two-pole, multimode OTA filter, although not capable of true self-resonance, preserved low-frequency content even at high resonance settings. Its unique 16-step Step Sequencer provided automation for up to 20 parameters simultaneously with behaviours easily likened to the Parameter Lock functionality found on Elektron’s instruments.
Inclusion of a full-featured VST/AU based editor/librarian was the icing on the cake allowing painless integration with DAW-centric studios and allowed artists to enjoy a real analogue mono synth with the convenience of plug-in workflows.
Let’s Go Pro – Two Ways!
Fast forward to January 2021, and IK has vastly elevated the original UNO Synth concept beyond expectations with variants available in two form factors and two price points yet delivering synthesis features consistent between these models.
The full-sized UNO Synth Pro weighs in at 5.8 kg having a mainly-metal chassis, striking aesthetics and a high-quality, 37 note Fatar keybed (type TPS9). While some other manufacturers sadly omit its inclusion, its keybed proudly sports Channel Aftertouch response in addition to Velocity response. A pair of independent Pitch and Modulation wheels have also been added.
The backpack/wallet-friendly UNO Synth Pro Desktop is a compact Tabletop module weighing in at a mere 0.7 kg. Like the OG UNO Synth, it has a capacitive-touch keybed. However, its design has been overhauled for enhanced playability, mimicking a regular keyboard, and has touch strips for Pitch/Mod expression. Although its keys do not generate Velocity/Aftertouch, these are available as sources in its Modulation Matrix via incoming MIDI events. An auxiliary USB power socket replaces the AA battery compartment of the original – you can power it using whatever USB Powerbank you already own.
The UNO Synth Synthesis Engine Expanded in Every Way!
Building on the monophonic, two-oscillator design of the original, the Pro series has THREE discrete, continuous-waveshaping analogue VCOs, with each VCO capable of PWM. Although it’s still a single-voice synth, the oscillators can operate in a 3-note Paraphonic mode whereby the VCF/VCA and modulation resources are shared and VCOs are allocated to separate notes. Unlike the original, oscillator Sync is provided, in addition to FM, and Ring Modulation.
The characterful, two-pole OTA based multimode filter of the UNO Synth carries into the Pro series accompanied by an additional SSI based multimode filter capable of two-pole or four-pole operation. Unlike the original OTA filter, the new SSI filter is capable of self-oscillation at high resonance. In concert with different serial/parallel routing options and phase flips, a total of 24 filter response combinations are possible extending the tonal pallet for the new UNO Synth generation.
If that wasn’t enough, the Pro series has two full ADSR envelopes and two LFOS. With much fanfare, sound-design power users will love the highly-flexible 16-slot Modulation Matrix enhancing the creative potential for realising intricate patches with plenty of scope for establishing organic movement.
Analogue Drive Circuit and Integrated triple-slot DSP Effect Engine
The simple FX processor of the original Uno Synth has also seen a tremendous overhaul. Sculpt and finalise your patches with three simultaneous effect engines offering 12 studio-grade effect algorithms to experiment with and enhance your sounds.
IK Multimedia has a long-established legacy as developers of DSP based effects in their plug-in range and the quality of these algorithms reflect this. Included is an Ensemble effect modelled on classic string machines (first appearing in IK’s Syntronik virtual instrument) thus, in tandem with the 3-oscillator Paraphonic playback, convincing string machine patches can be easily realised.
Prior to the DSP Effect engines, the signal path features a true analogue drive circuit giving the ability to exaggerate harmonic overtones and bring out further sweets spots of the VCF stage.
Analogue purists will be pleased to know that the DSP Effects run from sends which are then returned back into the signal path in the analogue domain, it is possible to preserve a 100% analogue signal path from end-to-end if so desired.
User Interface Improvements
Programming and navigation aspects have also seen enhancements. Raised-profile rubber button tops have replaced the capacitive-touch buttons of the original. A proper OLED graphic screen replaces the three-digit LED display providing more straightforward navigation of menus and also facilitates proper text labelling for Preset memories.
Speaking of Preset memories, these have increased from 100 locations (with 80 of these available for user patches) to an impressive 256 locations (with all locations available for user patches) which should prove more satisfying for prolific sound designers.
Better Connected with Greater Robustness
Connectivity has also got a renovation! The TRS-based 2.5mm MIDI sockets/adapters of the original has been replaced by traditional full-size 5-pin DIN sockets for MIDI In and Out with the output having optional Soft Thru. Stereo audio output is via a pair of full-size 1/4″ balanced TRS Jacks providing a reduced noise-floor and more robust connections.
The original UNO Synth had a simple stereo a 3.5mm TRS Audio Input which simply mixed in signals appearing at this input with the intention of daisy-chaining sources. New to the UNO Synth Pro, this audio input feature has expanded and can now process external sounds through the Dual-Filter stage, or the DSP Effect engine stage in addition to the original’s simple pass-through mode.
New CV/Gate Connectivity
If you’re looking for a convenient keyboard to play your Eurorack modular rig, the UNO Synth Pro series will serve as a capable controller thanks to the inclusion of a pair of 3.5mm CV/Gate Outputs.
The pair of 3.5mm CV/Gate Inputs allows triggering the synth engine from sequencer modules within your modular. Better still, you can make use of your favourite CV modulation sources to feed into its Modulation Matrix. Since the Modulation Matrix assignments are stored on a per-patch basis, the role you allocate to the CV/Gate outputs and inputs is not a global setting but rather localised for each patch.
Step Sequencing – Expanded!
Although the arpeggiator hasn’t changed, the integrated Step Sequencer of the original has expanded substantially from 16 to 64 steps. The number of lanes available for recording parameter changes into sequences has also expanded from 20 lanes to an impressive 84 lanes and these parameter sequence lanes may also address the CV/Gate Outputs.
Rather than working with a shared pool, Step Sequences are stored independently within each patch memory and thus the unit can store massive 256 Step Sequences. Furthermore, a Song Mode allows linking Step Sequences via patch memories facilitating an arrangement of subsequent Step Sequences.
If you’ve been looking for a combined Step Sequencer and Controller for your Eurorack modular that doubles as a capable analogue synth, the included CV/Gate connectivity makes the Uno Synth Pro a compelling proposition.
Availability and Pricing
UNO Synth Pro: $1419.99 AUD
UNO Synth Pro Desktop: $819.99 AUD