Nonlinear Labs C15 synthesizer debuts at Superbooth event Berlin

Nonlinear Labs present their first product, the C15, a keyboard instrument specifically designed for the performing musician. In a dialog with the founder of the company, Stephan Schmitt, Brian Smith will give an introduction to the concepts behind the instrument. Together with the professional keyboarder Jojo Büld, Stephan will demonstrate the sonic capabilties of the C15.

The C15 is a polyphonic instrument based on digital sound synthesis. The purpose of the audio engine is not to model analog machines of the past or to play back samples or complex waveforms. Instead, we have chosen a puristic approach. Based on elementary mathematic algorithms, the signals are generated, modulated, shaped, and filtered in realtime. Therefore the sound can be dramatically influenced by the dynamic playing of a musician.

The signal processing structure is the result of years of evolution and has been condensed down to an essential, yet powerful arrangement of carefully chosen components. The only signal sources are two sine wave oscillators. They are connected to each other and to a feedback bus for phase modulation and their signals are processed by two wave-shapers, a comb filter, a multi-mode filter, and a chain of five stereo effects.

Phase 22 Synthesis Engine:

  • 2 Oscillators (sine wave, phase modulation, frequency randomization)
  • 2 Shapers (sine curve, adjustable foldback and asymmetry)
  • Ring Modulator
  • Comb Filter (tunable, with allpass and lowpass)
  • State Variable Filter (multi-mode, 2-4 poles, FM)
  • Feedback Mixer (4 input signals, shaper for the sum)
  • Feedback bus with 4 destinations
  • Output Mixer (stereo, 4 input signals, shaper for the sum)
  • 5 Stereo Effects: Cabinet (amp simulation), 8-pole Gap/Band Filter, Flanger/Chorus, Echo, Reverb
  • 3 ADBDSR Envelopes, adjustable attack curve
  • Velocity sensitivities for envelope levels, attack times, and release times
  • 4 Macro Controls, assignable to up to 86 target parameters
  • 8 Hardware Sources, mappable to the 4 Macro Controls
  • Number of parameters: 305
  • Resolution of the parameters: typically 1000 steps (250 … 15000 steps)
  • Resolution of key velocity, ribbons, lever, aftertouch, pedals: 4000 steps
  • 12-voice polyphony, variable Unison settings

Play Interface

  • 61-key (5 octave) Fatar keybed with semi-weighted long-arm keys
  • Note-on and note-off velocity sensitivity
  • Monophonic aftertouch
  • Two 800 mm touch strips (ribbons), each with 33 LED dots
  • Ribbon modes: absolute, relative, combinable with return-to-center
  • Lever (magnetic force loaded) for pitchbending and similar applications
  • Control panel with an OLED display (128 x 32 dots) and four buttons
  • Output volume potentiometer (at the front)
  • Headphone level potentiometer (at the front)

Parameter Editing

  • 4 Selection panels, each with 24 buttons and LEDs
  • Labeling by exchangeable magnetic overlays
  • Edit panel with an OLED display (256 x 64 dots), an incremental encoder, and 18 buttons
  • The ribbons are also assignable for editing of parameters.
  • Graphical user interface on any WiFi-enabled device running a browser, unique zoom-and-pan navigation, enabled for touch

Preset System

  • User-definable banks
  • Unlimited number of presets per bank
  • Infos and tags per preset
  • Morphing between the edit buffer and a preset, between 2 presets, or a series of presets

Undo System

  • Unlimited undo for all user interactions, including sound editing steps
  • Undo list with support for different editing branches (tree view)


  • Main audio outputs (L, R) (TRS, balanced by transformers)
  • Headphone output at the front (TRS)
  • 4 inputs for analog controls, such as pedals (TRS, flexible pin-assignment)
  • USB host connector for data exchange and software updates


  • Base unit only: 900 x 290 x 100 mm (width x depth x height)
  • Including panel unit: 900 x 410 x 160 mm (width x depth x height)

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