Agnew Analog's Vacuum Tube Electrochemical Synthesizer

Agnew Analog's Vacuum Tube Electrochemical Synthesizer

Written by J.I. Agnew

 The Agnew Analog Reference Instrument Type 8001 is a unique electrochemical synthesizer, generating strange sounds through chemical reactions occurring in the built-in reactor cell.

The reactions occur by passing an electrical current through various electrolyte solutions. These can range from simple household items, such as vinegar, lemon juice, salt water, dry martini (stirred, not shaken) and various fizzy drinks, to more complex solutions, to satisfy the investigative chemical engineer in search of danger and excitement.



The reactor cell acts as a miniature galvanic bath, with a selection of different electrode materials offering a wide range of sounds.



The generated electrical signals are then amplified by means of vacuum tube electronics, which include inductor filters and feedback loops to further spice thing up.

The output stage is a powerful vacuum tube line driver, which can drive a 600-ohm line or any higher impedance load, balanced or unbalanced, at high signal levels. It can directly drive power amplifiers, and PA and recording systems, or even be connected directly to a guitar amplifier.

It uses two NOS General Electric 6201 double triodes, an NOS Sylvania 0A2 gas voltage regulator and a precision current regulator circuit, along with custom inductors, top-quality components, and a custom wound output transformer.

The circuit is wired point to point (no printed circuit boards), housed inside a sturdy military-grade folded aluminum enclosure, machined and powder-coated. The reactor cell parts were machined from various special alloys, using our 1954 Hardinge HLV precision toolroom lathe.



The concept was first developed by J. I. Agnew around 12 years ago, but it wasn’t until an order was placed by a harsh noise musician from Slovenia that it was resurrected and further refined into its final form as the Type 8001.

This is an extremely versatile instrument, offering a very wide range of sounds, a limited selection of which can be heard here:


This video demonstrates the Type 8001 alone, directly connected to an A/D converter, with no processing or additional effects. Only a single electrode/electrolyte combination was used for the recording.

Other combinations will produce different sounds.



Government agencies wishing to purchase thousands of these for large-scale deployment, please contact us. Everything we do is handcrafted, so you’ll probably have to wait a while, but at least by then nobody will be able to prove if it was the Type 8001 or not, that made the pandemic go away!


This article originally appeared on the Agnew Analog Reference Instruments blog and is used by permission.

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