Hoover sound

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The famous Dominator "hoover sound" first heard unaltered, then put through a phaser effect and the EG Attack levels altered.

Hoover sound refers to a particular synthesizer sound in electronic music, commonly used in rave techno, hardcore techno, gabber, breakbeat hardcore, trance, hard house and hard NRG. Originally called the "Mentasm", the name that stuck was the one likening the sound to that of a vacuum cleaner (often referred to via the genericized trademark "hoover" in the UK and Ireland).

The sound[edit]

The Hoover is a complex waveform that can be created with three oscillators, each spaced an octave apart, a heavy use of pulse-width modulation and a thick chorus effect. The sound is characterised by its thick swirliness that stems from a fast LFO controlling the PWM and the chorus. It was originally created by Eric Persing for the Roland Alpha Juno,[1] although the term 'hoover' was not introduced by him.

A Roland JU-1
The archetypal 'hoover' synth, Roland Alpha Juno

It is traditionally created with the Roland Alpha Juno-2, Alpha Juno 1, or rack mount version MKS-50 synthesizer using the built-in What the patch. The hoover sound generated on these synthesizers is unique for the use of a "PWM" sawtooth wave, which inserts flat segments of variable width into a sawtooth waveform.[2]

History and popularization[edit]

The hoover sound is believed to first have appeared in a commercial production in "Mentasm" by Second Phase (1991), produced in a collaboration between Joey Beltram and Mundo Muzique, and sometimes is referred to as a "mentasm". However, mentasm normally refers to the sound sampled from this tune and re-used.[3] This sound was widely used in Belgian techno tracks of the early 1990's.

Another notable example of a record using a hoover sound is "Dominator" by Dutch techno pioneers Human Resource. This track gained fame in 1991 and became a top 10 hit worldwide. Characteristic for this track was not only the hoover, but also the over-the-top rap: "I'm bigger and bolder and rougher and tougher, in other words, sucker, there is no other... I'm the one and only dominator... Wanna kiss myself!"

The sound has also been used in video games such as Streets of Rage 3, which was composed by Yuzo Koshiro and Motohiro Kawashima and Robotron X by Aubrey Hodges.

Works featuring the hoover sound[edit]

Title Artist Year Source
Acid Pandemonium Mundo Muzique 1991 [4]
Dominator Human Resource 1991 [5][6]
Charly The Prodigy 1991 [5]
Mentasm Second Phase 1991 [5][3]
Cactus Rhythm Plexus 1991
Inssomniak DJPC 1991
Anasthasia T99 1991 [3]
Tingler Smart Systems 1991 [7]
Brainstorm Fractal 1991
S.H.U.M. Jessie Deep! 1992 [6]
Fury Underground Resistance 1992 [3]
Ectoplasm The Time Frequency 1994
Are You All Ready? Tony De Vit 1996 [8]
Looking Good Lisa Lashes 1999 [8]
What! Eufex 2000
Hoover Time Stimulant DJs 2000
Warp 1.9 The Bloody Beetroots 2009 [6]
Bad Romance Lady Gaga 2009 [9]
Birthday Cake Rihanna 2011 [10]
Doomsday Nero 2011
Something New Girls Aloud 2012
I Fink U Freeky Die Antwoord 2012
Fashion Is My Kryptonite Bella Thorne and Zendaya 2012
Phresh Out the Runway Rihanna 2012 [11]
Hatshepsut Jlin 2017


  1. ^ Vail, Mark (2014). The Synthesizer. New York, New York: Oxford University Press. p. 322. ISBN 978-0-19-539481-8.
  2. ^ "Alpha Juno-2 Owners Manual" (PDF). Roland. 1985.[permanent dead link] p. 21
  3. ^ a b c d Simon Reynolds (July 22, 1998). Generation Ecstasy: Into the World of Techno and Rave Culture. Little Brown & Co. ISBN 978-0316741118.
  4. ^ Phil Moffa (May 26, 2014). "Key Tracks: Mundo Muzique on Second Phase's "Mentasm"". Redbull Music Academy. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c FutureMusic (March 10, 2016). "The 'Hoover' – we talk to AudioRealism". Retrieved December 10, 2019 – via PressReader.
  6. ^ a b c "Hoover Samples, Covers and Remixes". WhoSampled. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  7. ^ "Music/EDM history". Liz's EDM World. Retrieved December 11, 2019.
  8. ^ a b "A Bullshitter's Guide to Hard House". Vice.com. April 17, 2015. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  9. ^ "Dad Noise: The Hoover". Techno Dads. September 5, 2011. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  10. ^ St. Asaph, Katherine (2011-11-14). "Rihanna – Talk That Talk reviewed: Birthday Cake". Popdust. Retrieved 2019-12-12.
  11. ^ ""Unapologetic" – Rihanna". MusicRiot. December 12, 2012. Retrieved December 12, 2019.

External links[edit]