SOMA Laboratory's description of the SOMA Laboratory Rumble of Ancient Times (RoAT) 8-bit noise synth and sequencer
Rumble of Ancient Times (RoAT) is an 8-bit noise synthesizer and sequencer inspired by the clever programming of the early PC era when an entire video game would fit on a floppy disk. RoAT is capable of a wide variety of sounds ranging from dense noise scapes to diverse glitching rhythmic patterns. The compact and portable instrument contains many elements that can be combined into surprising musical results.
The “heart” of the synthesizer contains 4 sound oscillators, each with a tunable waveform and an individual LFO, which can modulate the tone or volume of the oscillator. The modulated signal of each oscillator is mixed with other signals using 1,536 variations of complex summing algorithms that contain FM, ring modulation, bitwise logical operations and more.
The synth contains an 8-bit resonant lowpass filter with a distinct Lo-Fi character. The built-in sequencer can be synced to an external device and also send clock out. RoAT is battery powered and can work up to 130 hours on one set of AAA batteries. Rumble of Ancient Times is built on a very simple 8-bit microcontroller similar to the ones used in the “brains” of old refrigerators and other simple electronic devices. Thanks to some very clever programming, it’s also able to drive a very capable synth with many features!
In stark contrast to modern consumer electronics, this synth celebrates and emphasizes what can be achieved with efficiency of code and using chips considered obsolete by industry leaders. We live in an age where text editors can be 1GB or more and simple things like checking email require the latest OS and powerful processing, despite the core tasks being no different than 15 years ago with a fraction of the computational power.
So RoAT proposes a new kind of ecological thinking with the innovative use of chips that were developed and produced decades ago, instead of turning them into millions of tons of trash. We can still use technology that the industry forced us to consider obsolete, with the added benefit here of extremely low power consumption. It’s an environmentally friendlier approach than galloping in the rush of planned obsolescence that damages our planet and wastes precious resources.
Rumble of Ancient Times was designed and programmed by Kakos Nonos, a new creative mind who joined the SOMA development team. His very unique style of building electronic musical instruments combines quality craftsmanship, advanced programming and a love for medieval acoustic instruments such as gusli, wheeled lyre and bagpipes.