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Round Robin: Crazy Cycling 4-Voice Synthesizer from Simon the Magpie


Simon the Magpie Round Robin  · 

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Simon the Magpie

YouTuber Simon the Magpie’s new synth is the Round Robin, a cute desktop digital device with cycling voices, wild arpeggiator modes and a touch strip!

Simon the Magpie Round Robin

You may know Simon the Magpie. The wild man of SynthTube has released a few instruments and effects pedals before. His latest is Round Robin. Made in conjunction with Analog Weapon and DDC, it’s a cute and quirky desktop digital synth that does things its own way.

Four Cycling Voices

The first thing you’ll notice is the name. “Round Robin” may conjure up an image of a sampler, with each note triggering a different version of a similar audio file. This Round Robin isn’t a sampler, although it is digital. It’s actually a four-voice synthesizer and each key press triggers a different oscillator voice in order. In this way, it’s more like a Korg Mono/Poly, sort of a four-voice mono that can also play in polyphonic mode.

Simon the Magpie Round Robin
Simon the Magpie Round Robin · Source: Simon the Magpie

The other thing you’ll notice about Round Robin is the design. Like a Chompi or a Critter & Guitari, it’s a desktop device with controls across the top and musical keys in the form of buttons on the bottom. It’s covered in cute pictures and designs (sort of like Simon himself) and the magnifying glass-covered OLED screen is reminiscent of a Love Hultén design.

Round and Round

Before I get into the details, know that not all information has been released yet, with this article based on the (not gonna lie, kind of chaotic) demo video (below) and the “pre-user guide user guide.”

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Round Robin has four “instruments” inside it, Basic, Organ, Eerie and Allin. Each behaves a little differently but all make use of the four individual voice knobs plus the main waveform selector. For example, Basic starts with four adjacent base waveforms and rotating a Voice knob changes the individual waveform assigned to it. Organ behaves like, well, an organ, with each Voice knob contributing even harmonics additively. 

Continuing to the right, there’s a simple envelope section with two knobs, Attack and Release. Below these are the horizontal filter sliders, with Cutoff and Resonance arranged with the cutoff to the right of the resonance, unusually.

Modes and Holds

Round Robin can play in three different modes, Poly (up to four simultaneous voices – each different, of course), Mono (with a unison mode) and Arp

Simon the Magpie Round Robin
Simon the Magpie Round Robin · Source: Simon the Magpie

The arpeggiator is particularly complex, with a variety of possible note orders and timings. Additionally, it features pattern sequencing where arpeggiator timing and note patterns can be sequenced.

As you’d expect from a musician who made a drone synth, Round Robin has a hold mode. Two of them in fact, a regular hold mode plus one called Momentary Hold, which allows you to play along to held notes (as long as polyphony allows).

Effects and the Rest

Round Robin is a surprisingly full-featured instrument for something so small. Being all-digital (even the filter is digital) it’s no surprise that it also has effects, with tremolo, vibrato, bitcrushing and a wave folder reportedly on board. You control the effects with the touch strip, which also does pitch bending, waveform scrolling and voice adjustment. You can also record knob (and slider) movement for parameter looping. It also has a variety of scales including microtonal.

Simon the Magpie Round Robin line drawing
Simon the Magpie Round Robin · Source: Simon the Magpie

Too much to remember? There’s a handy cheat sheet of basic functionality printed on the bottom panel.

Round Robin is battery or USB-C powered. It has DIN MIDI in (but no out, sadly) plus a quarter-inch mono output jack.

Round Robin: Price and Availability

Round Robin looks like a lot of fun. It also sounds really good in the demo video. I can’t wait to hear more.

The synth is available to preorder now on Magpie Stuff. It’s scheduled to be delivered around August 24th. The price will be around $400 to $450 USD.

More Information

Simon the Magpie Round Robin lead

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John Smith

My John Smith is a seasoned technology writer with a passion for unraveling the complexities of the digital world. With a background in computer science and a keen interest in emerging trends, John has become a sought-after voice in translating intricate technological concepts into accessible and engaging articles.

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