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 gabber and hard house. Originally called the "Mentasm" or "Dominator", the name that stuck was the one likening the sound to that of a vacuum cleaner.

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, 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.[1] Where a Juno-2 is not available, Hoover sounds are sometimes produced by using samples of Alpha Juno-2 Hoovers and granular synthesis on these samples[citation needed]. The Hoover has become something of a fetishized item in certain circles of music production (not unlike the sound of the Roland TB-303 and the Reese bass).

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,[2] and sometimes is referred to as a "mentasm". However, mentasm normally refers to the sound sampled from this tune and re-used.

Another notable use 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 hoover sound has also appeared on the Prodigy's first hit single "Charly", in the song "inssomniak" by DJPC and in the song "Warp 1.9" by The Bloody Beetroots and Steve Aoki. It has been used by The Time Frequency on "Ectoplasm", the b-side to "Such A Phantasy".

The sound can also be heard in Lady Gaga's popular hit, "Bad Romance", Girls Aloud's "Something New", Die Antwoord's "'I Fink U Freeky", Nero's "Doomsday", Bella Thorne and Zendaya's song "Fashion Is My Kryptonite", Rita Ora's "R.I.P.", as well as Rihanna's songs "Birthday Cake" and "Phresh Out The Runway".

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

Hoover replacements[edit]

Although the original hoover sound was created with a Roland Alpha Juno 2 there are several replacements to choose from that include, but are certainly not limited to, the Alpha Juno 1, Alpha Juno 2, MKS-50 (Rack version of the Alpha Junos), and the JP-8000. The new Roland Juno G has a few presets that feature the Hoover sound. Also the Modor NF-1 is able of making real hoovers.

Virtual Instruments[edit]

Software synthesizers can create similar sounds. Here is a selection of them:

  • reDominator by audiorealism (the original synth "Alpha Juno" emulation)
  • WS-101 (the original synth "SH-101" emulation)
  • Trilian by Spectrasonics
  • Kv331 Audio SynthMaster
  • U-NO-LX by Togu Audio Line (a complete rewritten emulation of the Roland Juno)
  • Pro-Sounds PS-1
  • Audjoo Helix
  • JBM Hoovermaker
  • JxPlugins JX220
  • Korg Electribe
  • Lennar Digital's Sylenth1
  • Native Instruments' Massive
  • Reaktor (using the Razor ensemble with the 'Hoover' oscillator, or the Staubsauger ensemble)
  • reFX JunoX2
  • reFX Vanguard
  • Rob Papen's Predator
  • Tone2 FireBird
  • Tone2 Gladiator
  • Tone2 ElectraX
  • Tone2 Saurus
  • Image-Line Sytrus
  • Reason stock synth called "Thor"
  • Audiooxygen Gemini
  • PhutureTone Phutura
  • MuTools MUX Modular
  • u-he Diva (Can emulate the actual Alpha Juno)
  • u-he Zebra2
  • Damsin Music Machine


  1. ^ "Alpha Juno-2 Owners Manual" (PDF). Roland. 1985.  p. 21
  2. ^ Reynolds, Simon. "Generation Ecstasy". Generation Ecstasy. Routledge. Retrieved 3 May 2011. 

External links[edit]