Review: Synthophone by Samplesso


Overall, a very impressive emulation that captures a unique sounding miniature instrument with the functionality of the Kontakt engine and effects. With Synthophone’s unique sound generation, it works really well for retro, chiptune-style sounds but could blend in quite nicely with some EDM or hybrid cinematic sounds.

Jump to the Demos of Synthophonei

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Review: Synthophone by Sampleso

The Synthophone is a sample emulation of the classic, miniature analog stylus-operated Stylophone, but with extra functionality through the Kontakt engine.

Synthophone sells for $39.99 from  Sampleso


I have to be entirely honest, and say I didn’t know what a Stylophone was before trying out this instrument. So let me give you a bit of a backdrop of the instrument for you as well if you don’t know. The Stylophone is a miniature analog stylus-operated keyboard, invented in 1968 by Brian Jarvis. It’s a metal keyboard that’s played by touching it with a stylus. This contact with the stylus on the metal keyboard closes the circuit on the board and produces sound. They were mainly sold as kids toys, but now Sampleso has deeply sampled this unique instrument and added their own take on the instrument by using the advanced Kontakt engine to build up unique patches with the instrument, plus they have added Kontakt-designed effects for the instrument.

As you can imagine as a miniature instrument it has quite a unique character and sound quality. The instrument consists mainly of synthesized sounds like synth keys, synth pads, and synthesized drums. Obviously there were limitations on the unit back in the day, but Sampleso have taken this further by deeply sampling the instrument, plus adding extra effects to it to help elevate this instrument library.

What’s quite interesting are the Registers, which capture 3 different registers of the instrument, which was also on the original device. Also, seeing as the instrument was played with a stylus, you can replicate the tap and release noise dials on the instrument with the Stylus Tap and Release dials.

You also have the option to use both the Mic and Line Input of the instrument. I found that their different outputs had quite big, different tonal characteristics. So, it’s definitely worth it to try testing out different outputs levels on the Mic and Line to see how it sounds with each patch.

The instrument has 5 pages of presets with 28 presets on each page, totaling in at 128 presets. Oddly enough they all have city/town names. I’m not entirely sure on the reasoning for this, but it would have been nice if the preset names were a bit more explanatory. Like Synth Pad, or Synth Lead or something like that. It would make for easier preset jumping and giving you a slight idea on what the preset might sound like. But I’m guessing on the original instrument maybe these were the programmed names of the patches. So its keeping it authentic by using these same patch names.

At bottom are a selection of different module tabs. Running across this you can set the Glide for the notes and an ADSR, but what I found to be really cool were the LFO, RPG, Step and Morph options. These tabs when activated really help you manipulate the sound. The RPG allows you to set up some arpeggiators on the instrument. The Step tab allows you to step-sequence filtering through the sound. and Morph has a set of complex boxes that set the different filters, their parameters, the start points, and their range and how they shift. So, you can get some interesting complex morphing sounds when this is enabled.

Underneath these tabs you have further effects like Filters, Lo-Fi effects, EQ, and Compressor and these effects can be modulated by the above module tabs, like the LFO, Step, and Morph modules.

So by jumping through the presets and then tweaking these modules and effects, you have quite a bit of flexibility with this miniature analog synth emulator.

As with all of our reviews be sure to check out the demos and videos included below to see if the instrument is right for your needs.


This is an 87 MB instrument. It contains 128 built-in instrument presets in one NKI file. The full version of Kontakt is required and the minimum system requirements are Windows 7 or Mac OS X 10.9, and 4 GB RAM


Demos of Synthophone by Sampleso

Videos of Synthophone by Sampleso