20 Synthesizer design by Axel Hartmann

„We have 4 weeks left, until christmas 2016 will be here. And one more year of hard work lies behind us. The 20 is working and sounding fine now. And per today, I am very proud to announce, that for everyone, who is willing to purchase one of the rare machines, the day has come. Right in this moment, I opened the „reserve“ button on our website“ posted by Axel Hartmann & 20

A couple of minutes ago the above message was posted by Axel and „20“ on their Facebook sites.


For those who haven’t heard about the 20 synthesizer before:

„What if the design of a synthesizer was not dominated by economic considerations or with regards to certain brand criteria? What, if I could run free, use any material and manufacturing process, that I think feels right, fits and looks the best to design a synthesizer? If I could just choose the right ergonomic concept, no matter what it finally costs?

20 is this instrument. We dedicate this design to 20 years of designing synthesizers at Design Box.“ 

[with kind permission taken from 20-music.de]


The Sound Designers:
– Kurt Ader
– Dr. Peter Jung and Dr. Guido H. Bruch [boiling down Neuron samples to fit the 20]
– Peter Gorges
– Wolfram Franke
– Erik Heirmann

Read more about the sound designers and their work here.


„The outside is a 3-dimensionally shaped, full aluminium casing with an ultra-thin collapsable panel that opens up with the push of a button. All user interface elements are made of milled aluminium. Everything the user touches is real material, with pleasing haptics.“

[with kind permission taken from 20-music.de]

20synthesizer body manufacturing

The milling of the aluminium blocks takes several days alone. After all parts are finished, the outside of the casing is glass-bead blasted in a computerized process to achieve an optimum of accuracy for the surface. Then all visible parts are anodized, and the panel and the back panel graphics are laser edged. The entire process for the aluminium parts is done in a small, exclusive factory in South Germany, close to the Lake Constance.

[with kind permission taken from 20-music.de]

Listen to some sound examples on Axel’s SoundCloud:

I think this is one simply wonderful instrument. Axel made always clear what the intention of this project is (you can read it on their website and here at the beginning of this blog entry). I admire Axel’s courageous step to create an instrument with design in focus. Let me add, thanks to Stephan (Bernsee) who introduced me to Axel I had the opportunity to meet him at various occasions. I totally agree with Stephan who said, „Axel is one of the nicest guys in this business“. And therefore I wish Axel and all those who contributed to this impressive project great success!

All photos / renderings © Axel Hartmann and Design-Box
Text taken with kind permission of „20“

3 Kommentare

  1. With all respect but the typical Hartmann hyperbole is also again part of this project and if anything killed off the Neuron it where exactly those unrealsitic claims he put forward.
    – That totally unique concept mentioend here looks much like a Waldorf Wave, which was already inspired much by the Minimoog. – „3-Dimenesionaly shaped housing“: All hardware synthesizers are 3-deminsional objects.
    – The sounds are good but nothing revolutionary either.
    So although I hold Harmannn in very hig regard as an ergonomic layout designer he should stop making such extreme claims. The only impression I get is of a designer product for the decadent wealthy consumer. One can nowadays even get a goldpalted Minimoog from the Moog factory. As if that makes it sound better. PULLEEZE!

    • Peter M Mahr

      5. Dezember 2016 um 16:58

      Hi Marc,

      I think it is primarily a designer statement. Something I cannot say about the golden Moog Voyager. But this is my point of view.

      Agreed on the sounds though.

      Best regards,

      • Of course it is just a statement and I am sure that it will be a very fine instrument in every other aspect but I am personally rather allergic to such hyperbole. Not that it is not perfectly normal nowadays. „80% of the readers of this well known magazine say that our product indeed reverses skin aging!“ Hm, how did they get 100 % of thsoe readers to try it out in earnest anyway?

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