MT-6B

A broken sound chip from 1984 was sent forward in time to destroy the future. Here, in our present. Tonight...

The story

I love 1980s home keyboards. Keyboards produced in this era couldn’t hope to faithfully mimic real instruments with their rudimentary sound chips but in trying to do so they often produced sounds with real character. The Casio MT-68 has gained a reputation as being a particularly interesting model as it featured an analogue filter that could be applied to the inbuilt digital waveforms.

A short while ago I bought a second-hand MT-68 with the intention of sampling it. When I first turned it on I was disappointed to find the keyboard was not working well. At all. The C keys are all silent. The other keys mostly play their intended notes but the voices themselves are corrupted to the point of sounding pained. Instead of electric piano, vibraphone and harp we have a series of buzzes, whistles and whines. Every once in a while pressing a key would release a digital scream. :-/

I decided to sample the keyboard in its current state before I see if there’s anything I can do to restore the original sounds. I recorded notes from various corrupted presets and pieced together something that you can actually play. The result is a brittle sounding, icy synth that reminds me of something from an early Autechre LP. I call it the MT-6B (for Broken).

## Using the instrument

I’ve included a filter control along with knobs for wonk, delay and reverb. I recommend mapping each of these to a midi controller and playing around. I find this instrument works well for slow spaced out atonal melodies. There’s a some randomisation going on so you should get some interesting subtle shifts in tone.

Interface

Reviews for MT-6B

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  • A surprising synth!

    This instrument features a fantastic sound, which I'd say resemblessomething like a synthetic distorted guitar. It's well sampled, well designed, and there's also a unique feature that makes it different than others. If you hold the notes, sometimes the tail just fades away, sometimes it builds up to a reverse-like pad with some glitchy textures, sometimes you get some harmonics, and others. This can produce some amazing results, although you can't control it at all.

    What you can control though is some nice effects in the very nice and minimal designed GUI. It's a recommendation for sure!

    Alex Raptakis23 April 2022