About Peter M. Mahr

Es muss Mitte der 70er Jahre gewesen sein, als ich das erste Mal “Switched on Bach” von Walter/Wendy Carlos gehört habe. Seitdem haben Elektronische Musik und Synthesizer nichts an Faszination und Vielfalt in ihren Ausdrucksmöglichkeiten für mich verloren. Der Haptik wegen und wohl auch bedingt durch meine Wurzeln, gebe ich nach wie vor Hardware den Vorzug, selbst wenn die Qualität so mancher Plug-Ins mittlerweile beeindruckend ist. Die Entwicklungen der letzten Jahre haben eine neue Generation an Klangschaffenden und Musikern hervorgebracht, die wie es scheint nun wiederum der Faszination der alten analogen Instrumente erliegen. Genau in diesem Spannungsfeld soll sich der Inhalt unseres Magazins wieder finden. ________________________________________________________ It must have been the middle of the 70′s when I first heard “Switched on Bach” by Walter/Wendy Carlos. Since then, electronic music and synthesizers have lost none of their fascination and variety in their means of expression for me. Because of the tangibility of it and probably also due to my roots, I still prefer hardware, even if the quality of some plug-ins is now impressive. The developments of recent years have spawned a new generation of sound professionals and musicians, who seem to again succumb to the fascination of old analog instruments. It is precisely in this area of tension that the content of our magazine can be found.
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NAMM 2013 – Dave Smith Instruments new Prophet 12

DSI Prophet 12

Press Release:

Dave Smith Instruments Unveils Prophet 12 at NAMM
All New Polyphonic Synthesizer From Master Synth Designer

ANAHEIM, Calif.—January 24, 2013—Dave Smith Instruments today introduced a new polyphonic synthesizer, the Prophet 12, at the 2013 NAMM Show. “After 35 years of creating synths, this is simply my best synth yet,” said Smith. “We sort of started from scratch on this one rather than spinning off another product from our previous designs.”

At twelve voices, the Prophet 12 boasts the greatest polyphony of any instrument designed by Smith. Each voice features four oscillators capable of generating classic and complex waveforms, a sub-oscillator, resonant analog low- and high-pass filters, and analog VCAs. The new Character section adds a variety of wave shaping and sound sculpting options, like Drive, Hack, Decimation, Girth, and Air. Additional features include a tuned feedback path, a four-tap stereo delay per voice, expanded arpeggiator functionality, deep modulation capabilities, and bi-timbral operation. The LFOs, delay, and arpeggiator can all be synced, either to the internal clock or an external MIDI clock. Two programmable position- and pressure-sensitive touch sliders take the performance controls beyond the standard pitch and mod wheels (also included).

“We’re already blown away by the sonic breadth of this synthesizer’s new voice architecture,” Smith continued. “It doesn’t sound like anything else and I’m very excited for people to hear it.”

The Prophet 12 is expected to be available Q2 of 2013 with a projected MAP of $2,999. View a video demo of the Prophet 12 at www.davesmithinstruments.com. Price and specifications subject to change.

Launched in 2002, Dave Smith Instruments is helmed by legendary musical instrument designer and Grammy® award winner Dave Smith. Dave’s many accomplishments include the creation of the Prophet-5—the world’s first fully programmable polyphonic synthesizer—and his legacy as the primary driving force behind MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface).

Dave Smith Instruments’ products are used by an ever-increasing roster of well-known musicians and are available from music retailers worldwide. Instruments include the versatile analog/digital hybrid Evolver synthesizers and the Tempest analog drum machine. Dave Smith Instruments is based in San Francisco, where the instruments are also manufactured. For more information, visit www.davesmithinstruments.com.

Watch Dave demoing the new Prophet-12.

Blog

NAMM 2013 – KingKORG analog modeling synthesizer

KingKORG

As part of Korg’s 50th anniversary, they will launch their new KingKORG analog modeling synthesizer.

KingKORG specifications:

  • eXpanded Modeling Technology synthesis system
  • 61 semi-weighted keys with velocity
  • 24 voice polyphony
  • 300 Programs (200 presets / 100 users), 8 categories
  • Max timbre: 2 (Layer / Split)
  • 3 oscillators (selectable types: analog, noise, DWGS, PCM and MIC IN)
  • 127 types in total (analog & Noise: 64 + DWGS: 30 + PCM: 50 + MIC IN)
  • 1 Filter (LPF, HPF, BPF)
  • 18 filter types (LPF: 7 + HPF: 5 + BPF: 6 / Included modeling filter)
  • Modulation : EC: 2 units, LFO: 2 units, AMP
  • Virtual Patch per timbre: 6 sets
  • 3 Program effects (PRE FX, MOD FX, REV / DELAY) + 2-band EQ (2-band) + stereo TUBE
  • PRE FX: 6 types (DISTORTION, DECIMATOR, RING MOD, GT AMP, AMP EP, TONE)
  • MOD FX: 6 types (FLANGER, CHORUS, U-Vibe, Tremolo, Phaser, Rotary)
  • REV / DELAY: 6 types (HALL, ROOM, PLATE, TAPE ECHO, MOD DELAY, DELAY BPM)
  • 16-band vocoder with Formant Shift and Formant Hold
  • Arpeggiator with up to 8 steps (step number can be changed), 6 types (UP/DOWN/ALT1/ALT2/RANDOM/TRIGGER)
  • Joystick, octave up / down buttons, Category / Favorite button
  • 16 x 2 character OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode)
  • 128 x 64 pixel OLED subdisplays oscillator and filter sections
  • Mic In | Connector Type XLR-3-31 (balanced)
  • Audio Output L / MONO, R, TS phone jack (unbalanced)
  • 3, 5 mm stereo mini-jack headphone out
  • DAMPER PEDAL jack (no “half-damper” support), SWITCH / PEDAL jack
  • CV / GATE OUT jack
  • MIDI In and Out
  • USB Type B
  • Dimensions (W x D x H): 1027 × 313 × 96 mm
  • Weight: 7.0 kg
  • CV / GATE cable for Korg Monotribe and MS-20

 

Blog

Moog Trivia Quiz – The Winners!

GreatSynthesizers - Moog Trivia Quiz

GreatSynthesizers – Moog Trivia Quiz

No doubt! Our Moog Trivia Quiz was not an easy one.

The correct answer is:

  • A = Voyager
  • B = Andromeda
  • C = Minimoog Model D
  • D = Slim Phatty

Although no one answered all four correct and due to the fact that this trivia quiz was not an easy one, we decided to give books to those participants who had at least two correct answers.

The winners of a single English copy of our GreatSynthesizers.com book are:

  • Alexey Kurylev
  • Jan

The winners of a single German copy of our GreatSynthesizers.com book are:

  • Studiodragon
  • Axel Fischer
  • Peter Sobczyk

Congratulations!

We want to thank all of you who contributed to our quiz. Well…. and there is probably another chance to win a book in the next weeks or month. Stay tuned!

interview

Richard Lawson
- Owner of RL Music

RL Music, based in Reading, Berkshire in the South of England is Europe’s largest Vintage Analogue Synthesizer dealer. We spoke to its owner – Richard Lawson.

Richard Lawson

Richard Lawson of RL Music in his studio

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Blog

German language Synthesizer-Magazin

SYNmag - Synthesizer-Magazin

SYNmag – Synthesizer-Magazin

Internet became the main source of information during the last 15 years. However, books and magazines are fortunately still of interest for many of us.

Although the Synthesizer-Magazin is in German, we recommend it to those of you, who speak German as well. It is definitely worth it.

Check their SYNmag website and a list of all available issues since their start in 2006. You can find every single issue here.

SYNmag Schwerpunktausgabe

SYNmag Schwerpunktausgabe “Analoge Synthesizer”

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Doepfer – Dark Energy II available

Doepfer announces availability of Dark Energy II Analog Synthesizer

Doepfer Dark Energy II

Doepfer Dark Energy II

Press Release:

GRAEFELFING, GERMANY: audio hardware developer Doepfer is proud to announce availability of its new Dark Energy II Analog Synthesizer, a redesigned version of the original Dark Energy, a standalone monophonic analogue synthesizer with inbuilt USB/MIDI interfacing and CV connectivity released to much critical acclaim in 2010…

So why the need to redesign something so successful so soon? Simple. Needs must. And who better to explain this than company CEO Dieter Doepfer himself: “As the Dark Energy had to be discontinued, because an important electronic component (CEM3394) is no longer available, we decided to do a redesign. The new Dark Energy II looks like the Dark Energy at first glance, but the basic sound of the Dark Energy II is clearly different because of the new circuits for the VCO, VCF, and VCA.”

Given the absence of that rich-sounding, analogue ‘synthesizer-voice-on-a-chip’ (CEM3394) from Curtis Electromusic Specialities successor OnChip, how does the Dark Energy II sound? Still rich, still analogue — with 20 to 30 minutes tuning time needed for the VCO’s temperature-controlled pure analogue circuitry, but different… mainly because of the completely different filter type.

Doepfer Dark Energy II

Doepfer Dark Energy II

Notable differences in specification between the two — together with a number of functional additions to the Dark Energy II — are as follows: firstly, the Dark Energy II features a sawtooth-based VCO core (compared to the Dark Energy’s triangle-based one), which, as implied, outputs a sawtooth waveform, with a waveform Shape switch for selecting sawtooth, off, or clipped/inverted sawtooth; meanwhile, that all-important, sounding-defining VCF is centred around a 12dB multimode filter with lowpass, notch, highpass, and bandpass, together with an all-new filter Mode control for continuous transition from lowpass via notch and highpass around to bandpass (as opposed the 24dB lowpass variety with linear frequency modulation (LFM) control found on the Dark Energy); the VCF’s exponential frequency modulation (XFM) control also has a polarization function, whereby the modulation source (LFO2 or ADSR) selected by the Source switch can affect the filter frequency with a positive or negative behaviour (by rotating rightwards or leftwards, respectively); finally, the VCA has an exponential scale (unlike the Dark Energy’s combined linear/exponential scale).

Benefitting those with a modicum of electronics know-how, the Dark Energy II offers much more internal expansion possibilities than its ‘Mk I’ predecessor courtesy of pin header terminals for the following functions: rectangle and sawtooth VCO outputs, linear FM input for VCO, hard sync input for VCO, lowpass/bandpass/highpass VCF output, rectangle and triangle outputs for each LFO, and optional reset/direction features for each LFO — all conspiring to make this already flexible synthesizer even more flexible!

The upshot of those differences is that sounds created on a Dark Energy II of course cannot be replicated on a Dark Energy (and vise versa) — though there is nothing to stop the two distinctive synthesizers from being daisy-chained together to produce an even wider palette of sounds. Indeed, several units can be polyphonically or monophonically cascaded (via internal MIDI out/MIDI in connections) to create an ‘über-synth’ of sorts!

Like the Dark Energy, the Dark Energy II is a standalone monophonic analogue synthesizer with inbuilt USB/MIDI interfacing and CV connectivity housed in a rugged black metal case with wooden end cheeks; likewise, sound generation and all modulation sources are 100 percent analogue, appealing to purists — only the USB/MIDI interface includes digital components, naturally! Again, vintage-looking, high-quality potentiometers with metal shafts are used throughout, and all are fixed to the casing — except for that all-new filter Mode control — to ensure stability. Spacing between them is generous (in comparison to the necessarily smaller A-100 Analog Modular System modules like the A-111-5 Mini Synthesizer Voice equivalent of the original Dark Energy) to ease sound-shaping manipulation.

Doepfer Dark Energy II

Doepfer Dark Energy II

In truth, then, the Dark Energy II is — to all intents and purposes — an all-new synthesizer from Doepfer! Why not plug in and play?

Find here a list of differences between Dark Energy I and the new Dark Energy II:

  • 12dB multimode filter with lowpass, notch, highpass and bandpass (instead of 24dB lowpass of Dark Energy I)

  • the previous LM control of the filter becomes the filter type control Mode (continuous crossfade lowpass – notch – highpass – bandpass)

  • the modulation level control of the filter “XFM” has so-called “polarizer” function. The modulation source (LFO2 or ADSR) selected by the Source switch may affect the filter frequency in a positive (right half of the control range) or negative way (left half of the control range)

  • the waveform switch is used to select between saw and clipped, inverted saw (in the center position the saw is off)

  • the basic waveform of the VCO is saw (not triangle like the Dark Energy I).

  • the VCA has a exponential scale (not the combined linear/exponential scale of Dark Energy I)

  • because of the pure analog circuit and the temperature control it may take up to 20-30 minutes until the VCO is in tune.

  • The sound of the Dark Energy II differs clearly from the Dark Energy I (mainly because of the completely different filter type). If you already own a Dark Energy I the Dark Energy II can be used as an expansion. But you will not be able to copy sounds of the Dark Energy I with the Dark Energy II (and vice versa) ! 

  • For users with electronic knowledge the Dark Energy II offers much more internal expansion features than the Dark Energy I. For example terminals (pin headers) for these features are available: VCO Hard Sync, linear VCO FM, rectangle and sawtoooth output of the VCO, lowpass/bandpass/highpass output of the VC, Reset/Sync/Direction for each LFO, rectangle and triangle output for each LFO. In addition an improved version of the glide option is is the planning stage that allows to turn on/off the glide function via Midi control change messages.

[Source: Doepfer website]

Blog

Timing – The Litmus Test

Innerclocksystems' - Timing Lackmustest

Innerclocksystems’ – Timing Litmus Test

Description © Innerclocksystems:

“Litmus Test – def: any kind of indicator used to classify something either favourably or unfavourably”.

Over many years of testing and checking the timing performance characteristics of different musical sequencing devices we rely on a very simple test that gives an accurate indication of how well it keeps time.

Take any sequencing device – in a sampler use a tight edited fast transient sound like a rim shot – look at it closely on an editor software application to make sure the start time is tight. On a ROM Player or sequencer with built-in sounds – select a similarly tight percussive sound or patch.

Ein Beispiel - AKAIs MPC 4000

For example – AKAIs MPC 4000

Make certain any sample output or patch VCA/EG settings are set to absolute zero/fastest possible attack time.

Sequence a simple two bar pattern at exactly 120 BPM with hard quantised Sixteenth Notes playing only your test sample.

Now play the pattern and record the audio output into any reasonable audio recording software application at 48 kHz for a few bars – Soundforge, Wavelab etc.”

Tested instruments:

- Roland: TR-606
- DSI: Tempest
- Akai: MPC-2500
- Akai: MPC-4000
- Analogic-ACS: TM-116 Analogue Control System
- Doepfer: Dark Time
- Korg: Monotribe
- TipTop Audio: Z-8000 Matrix Sequencer
- Akai: MPC-5000
- Kawai: R-100
- Analogue Solutions: Oberkorn MKIII
- Roland: MV-8800
- Roland: MC-909
- UREI: 964 Digital Metronome
- Akai: MPC-3000
- Akai: MPC-60 MK1
- Roland: MC-4B
- Roland: R-8MK1
- Elektron: Machine Drum SPS-1MKIIUW
- Roland: SH-101
- Linn: LinnDrum LM2
- Roland: CR-8000
- Roland: TR-808
- Roland: TR-909

Continue reading and check data by clicking the following link.

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Knifonium – Tube Synthesizer

Knifonium – Tube Synthesizer made in Finland

Knifonium

Knifonium - Tube Synthesizer

Five pieces of the first batch are already sold. Delivery will most likely be in May/June of next year. Another piece of the Knifonium is available (price = € 9.000.-, excl VAT). Probably there will be another batch produded, price per unit for the second batch might be increased.

Knifonium - Röhren- Synthesizer

Knifonium - Tube Synthesizer

Currently their website is under construction. However, if you want to follow them, their Knifonium Facebook site might be helpful.

Knifonium Tubes

Knifonium - Tubes

interview

Yves Usson – Co-developer
Of the Arturia MiniBrute

Yves Usson (aka yusynth)

Yves Usson (aka yusynth) in front of his beloved analogue modular synthesizers (left : home-made yusynth modular; right : synthesizers.com modular).

GS: Yves, can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

Yves Usson: Well, I am 55 years old and I live in Grenoble in the French Alps. Ever since I was a child I have always been attracted by science and technology.

When I was a teenager in the 70s, I was very interested in ham-radio and this got me into learning myself electronics by reading books and electronics magazines and I eventually became head of the club of electronics at my high school. Then I went to university where I lost two boring years at the medical school before I switched to biology. Then I passed all the degrees in cellular and molecular biology and eventually I received a PhD in 1985.

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