The Lyra 8 is an Organismic synthesizer. Organ-is-mic.
The concept from it's creator Vlad Kreimer is to do with matching an instrument with the non-linearity of how the human brain works in it's natural state - organically which is a thing for Vlad. Hence Organismic.
Incidentally Non-linearity is also a concept used in propaganda, especially well by the Russians. Essentially you drip out endless conflicting "news" until the people can't actually figure out what the hell is going on - sound familiar?
What Is It?
The Lyra 8 offers you 8 simple oscillators, with a wide, un-quantised pitch range, hyper LFO (2 that interact), dual delay and distortion.
Waves can be shaped from Triangle to Square for tonality (sharp control), plus FM operation between the pairs of voices.
I mean talk about abstract. But the results are wonderful, beautiful dreamy chord drones and floaty notes. Mad, out of control delay based effects and distortion will take you places i can guarantee you probably haven't been before.
There's no real traditional interfacing with the Lyra 8. Voices can either be put in drone mode in groups of four (1-4 and 5-8) or triggered via the eight metal contact points beneath each voice, with preset envelopes short (relatively) and long - really long.
You will be required to tune each voice by ear but it's not as difficult as it sounds - unless you have no ear for it - in which case you might be out of luck voices 1-4 and 5-8 also have a separate global tuning knob.
You can either modulate voices in pairs via the Hyper LFO or the CV input is available for voice pitching, but sadly this is completely arbitrary and creating music intervals is pretty much pot luck. A shame, as even being able send some kind of tuned CV sequence into the unit would greatly expand possible uses.
However after a chat with Vlad, he told us that the voices themselves are based on old 50X organ technology - according to Vlad, which means CV control is not easily possible.
Audio out is mono 1/4 jack, plus an 1/8th inch heapdhone.
Inputs for External Trigger/Gate - also triggers the voice envelopes but no hard gating or rhythmic possibilities here, which again is a shame.
CV Voice - 1/4inch - takes an incoming voltage and applies it pretty abstractly to the voice pitch. But no recognisable scaling.
Delay CV - control of the delay time
The delay is a noisy digital affair, slower times lead to more noise and bit reduction, but you can create very interesting and complex effects by having very short modulated delay times - using either the Hyper LFO or the Self mode - which returns the output back into itself. Feedback is somehow harmonically linked between delays - according to the manual. I have no idea either...
Distortion and FM
Distortion finishes off the signal quite literally, though a drive and mix knob ensures you can get some quite subtle colouring of the sounds too.
FM mode is completely unpredictable but gets the Lyra 8 into even weirder territory, you can create a closed loop FM setup with all voice pairs feeding back to each other. Vlad told me that I could have explored this more ( I consider myself chastised!) - I just couldn't get any predictable results.
Ethereal floaty drones and texture - yes. Angry, weird, tight, modulated delay pings - yes. Massive throbbing tones - yes. Completely out of control messy noise - yes.
Quality knobs and switches are used throughout, with a solid metal case. Inside, the construction is a work of art, beautifully constructed discrete through-hole circuit boards with chunky cable headers - it's very solidly made.
So who needs this? Honestly it is a luxury, but I guarantee that you will make sounds you cannot make with other instruments. Heavenly tones with sonic destruction at the extremes. You can also process an external input via the delays and distortion too.
At 540 Euros for the base cost it seems like a good price given the quality of construction, sadly you have to add tax and shipping, so it can get up to 700-800 Euros depending where you are in the world.
I really like it, but don't expect to be making killer basslines. Hit record and wig out.
I think the World is a better place for having the Lyra 8 in it. Not for everyone, but a unique and original instrument it certainly is.
SOMA Laboratory are ramping up production with a new European manufacture base waiting times should be down to a few weeks shortly.
Note, if you are feeling brave, you can also buy the Lyra 8 as a self assemble kit for $100 but looking at the construction internally, this is for the experienced DIYer/electronics buff.