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Total Recall (Part 16)

Vintage technology strikes back

Article from The Mix, January 1995

...including The A-Z of Analogue


The A-Z of analogue



Our definitive directory of every analogue synth in the history of the whole world ever. Included are keyboards, expanders and sound modules. Readers are invited to expand upon or correct any part of the A-Z. Parts 1-15 may be ordered from the Music Maker hotline: (Contact Details)

Part 16 - compiled by Peter Forrest

Logan



Italian organ firm, based like most of the others on the Adriatic coast. Why the Scottish sounding name? 'Log' from 'logic', and 'an' from analogue.

Big Band

49-note (C-C) multi-instrument keyboard. c.1980
Original price: £?
Target price: £30 - £50
Came out at same time as Vocalist - which makes sense, really. Having a Big Band with a Vocalist fits - apart from being totally the wrong image to encourage anyone to buy it in the early eighties.

  • Brass section has variable 16' and 8' volume, attack, brilliance, vibrato depth and delay, or has a failsafe preset if you need a bog-standard brass patch quickly.
  • Strings are similar, but have three footages, and attack and sustain (release) but no vibrato or brilliance controls.
  • Reed section has organ and reeds presets, mixable with accordion and musette - a bit of a rarity, that.
  • The piano section has two octave settings for piano, harpsichord, and sustain (release) control, as well as a piano pre-set if needed. Piano sounds aren't the Big Band's strong point.

Interface:
Sounds:
Controls:
Memories:
VFM:
Character:
Collectability:
Ease of use: ★★



Piano Strings Synthesiser

60-note (F-E) multi-instrument keyboard. c.1978
Original price: £750
Target price: £50 - £80

  • Piano not touch-sensitive. Tones: Piano 16' and 8', honky-tonk, and clavichord, all mixable by slider. Vibrato with variable delay and depth (also unfortunately affects strings).
  • String tones: Viola and violin, with chorus/phasing. Not overbright. Attack and decay variable.
  • Synth: one harmonically rich waveform, a VCF with level and resonance controls, and LFO control of VCF and/or phasing. Six push-buttons for preset variations of these controls.
  • Single triggering, so synth sounds won't re-trigger with legato playing. As on bigger Yamaha CS synths, rate of LFO can slow down or speed up as note is held - a brilliant effect.
  • Built-in semi-flight case.
  • Similar in appearance to Farfisa's Soundmaker - same steep back panel, same vertical sliders; which came first?
  • Two-way action on foot-pedal; back and forward for normal volume control, push on right side for sustain.


String Melody

49-note (C-C) string synthesiser. 1973 - 1976
Original price: £499 / £613 discounted to £450 (1976)
Target price: £50 - £80

  • At one time, the string synth to own.
  • Splittable keyboard, two octaves each side. Left-hand sliders control cello/viola/violin settings either side of the split, and 'perc' and bass for the lower split -'perc' is a pizzicato bass, and bass is simply an octave below cello, with modulation.
  • Five push-buttons for various preset sounds: Three rich and chorussed, two thin and weedy.
  • Attack and decay sliders for each half of the keyboard.


String Melody II

49-note (C-C) string synthesiser. 1977 - c.1980
Original price: £532
Target price: £50 - £80
Users include: Robert John Godfrey / The Enid, David Ferguson / Random Hold.

  • Some internal modifications, but externally and functionally identical to its predecessor. See above for other details.

Interface:
Sounds:
Controls:
Memories:
VFM:
Character: ★★
Collectability: ★★
Ease of use: ★★★



Organ

Users include: The Enid (two)

String Orchestra

49-note (C-C) string synthesiser with portamento. 1977 - c.1980
Original price: £599
Target price: £50 - £100

  • Very similar to String Melody, with additional features: Solo violin and oboe voices, and the brilliantly named 'slalom': Portamento on all voices, activated by a slider or by the 'touch-sensitive light'.


Vocal Synth

60-note (F-E) massive multi-instrument keyboard. 1979 - c. 1981
Original price: £2485
Target price: £120 - £250

  • Logan's ultimate synthesiser - 68 sliders and 51 pushbuttons (and something around 500 ICs inside).
  • Originally (1979) a four-octave (49-note) keyboard, C-C. Production models had an extra octave, necessary and justified considering the price and complexity of the beast.
  • Heavy — about 35kg.
  • A String Melody, Vocalist and a three-VCO monosynth, all in one keyboard.
  • Controls on the angled riser behind the keys, but also on the top - no stacking anything on this machine.
  • Keyboard split - lower part two octaves, upper part three.
  • Full-length ribbon controller for pitchbend and vibrato - though the pitchbend is more like autobend — as much as a tone down, sliding back to the note in 4 sec maximum.
  • Piano/harpsichord/honky-tonk sounds not wonderful; sustain worked by tilting the volume pedal.
  • Vocal sound is pre-set, but you can blend O, U and A sounds in real time. Bass comes in on lowest note, and can have portamento. Attack, accent and sustain (release) controls.
  • Main bunch of controls on top of instrument work the synthesiser section. Polyphonic section is 7-note polyphonic, with 8' and 16' brass sounds. Monophonic pre-sets (guitar, clarinet, horn, oboe, violin) can be selected together if you're into unpredictability. Monophonic 'free' setting gives you sawtooth or square and pulse-width waves, sync, white and pink noise, two ADSRs, single or multiple triggering, and keyboard follow for VCF. LFO has square as well as triangle wave, and can modulate VCOs, VCF or VCA.
  • Four left/right panning sliders for piano, strings/organ, synth and voices, to send them to stereo outputs. (Mono mix output also available.)
  • Chrome stand, which can tilt the keyboard to make the top deck of controls easier to use.
  • Colour-coded sliders and red/chrome pushbuttons.
  • Nothing else quite like it in the synthesiser universe. If you've got one, I want it.

Interface:
Sounds: ★★★
Controls: ★★
Memories: ★★
VFM:
Character:
Collectability:
Ease of use: ★★★



Vocalist

37-note (F-F) simple monophonic and polyphonic vocal synthesiser, c.1980
Original price: £?
Target price: £40 - £100
Users include: The Guitar Guru.

  • A slimmed down version of the Vocal Synth, only dealing with vocal sounds.
  • A huge amount of blank space either end of the short keyboard — presumably because the technology couldn't produce decent sound beyond a three-octave range.
  • Maximum polyphony six notes. Polyphonic section has volume and tone controls for tenor and soprano voices.
  • 'Tone' is actually a VCF control, which slides the cutoff point of a fairly resonant filter up and down.
  • Much more effective than the word 'tone' suggests, in that it affects the shape of the sound, from "ooh" to "aah"... Section also has controls for attack and sustain (i.e. release).
  • Monophonic section also has two octave selections of voice, volume controls, VCF control to alter cut-off and resonance point, and as an extra, vibrato depth and speed controls.
  • Two mono modes are selectable: one, where the top note plays the solo voice and the polyphonic section as well; the other where if you only play one note, only the solo voice sounds, but if you play more than one note, the polyphonic section comes in as well. You obviously have to adapt your playing style to this, but it's very effective on some material.
  • A unique sound, in its own way as characterful as a Mellotron or Vocoder — and perhaps becoming desirable for that reason.
  • Launched at same time as Big Band — a sister instrument even down to sharing the same flimsy little user's manual.

Interface:
Sounds: ★★★
Controls: ★★
Memories: ★★
VFM:
Character:
Collectability:
Ease of use: ★★★





Lord



Jeremy Lord, that is - one of the small band of British synthesiser makers. Not one of the ones who saw even temporary commercial success.

Skywave

49-note (C-C) monophonic synthesiser with joystick. 1978
Original price: £694
Target price: c.£100 - c.£500

  • First advertised in July 1977, shown in prototype form at the British Trade Fair 77, but only released a year later.
  • Prototype in two oblong flight cases, with control section vertical.
  • Release version more like a Minimoog in basic casework (hinged control panel), but still with flightcase styling on the keyboard section. Very large for what it contains (and a big question mark over electrical safety if operated with back panel up).
  • Two pretty stable VCO's, switchable from 2' down to 32', with sliders to mix the amounts of sine, triangle, sawtooth and square waves you want. Plus the facility to tune the two oscillators at your choice of preset interval, from a minute variation for chorusing to a fifth, or whatever.
  • Pink or white noise; an A 440 tone for tuning purposes; ring mod, sample and hold. Simple treble and bass controls.
  • Single ADSR has a Time control, which makes the sustain always last whatever time you set on it, regardless of when you take your hand off the keyboard.
  • Single VCF has unusual names for functions: Tune is frequency, Gain is resonance, Sweep sweeps the frequency up or down at a rate determined by the Time control. Not as versatile as having a separate ADSR for the filter, but refreshingly different.
  • Phaser speed-variable. Signal is routed to this or the VGA, ring mod, or VCF via four illuminated pushbuttons. At the time, gimmicky nonsense. Now, great — something that makes a synth have character.
  • Left-hand modulation control section very busy and crowded. Main feature is joystick: left-right for pitchbend (with return spring); upwards for modulation as selected by the switches in the control section; rotation to alter either volume or modulation speed — again chosen by switches on panel.
  • Power in, high and low level output sockets, CV in, external instrument in, headphone output, unusually on side rather than back of synth.
  • Quite a lot of pots have uneven response, not gradual change over all their travel. Several also work in the opposite direction from normal — eg. a clockwise turn making the LFO speed slow down. Confusing.
  • Flawed but very appealing to collectors.

Interface:
Sounds:
Controls: ★★
Memories:
VFM:
Character : ★★★★
Collectability: ★★★★★
Ease of use:





Lowrey



Holiday

60s Organ
Original price: £373 (1966)
Target price: £10 - £50
Users include: Jon Lord (Artwoods, 1966)



Luxor



Synth S

Monophonic synthesiser (modelled on a Korg monosynth).



Maplin



Manufacturers and suppliers of kit synthesisers and all sorts of electronic equipment from the 60s into the 90s. Because all Maplin products began life as kits, you had no idea as to the quality of construction. It's a good idea to check inside for botched circuitry or dry joints.

3800

48-note (F-E) monophonic 2-VCO kit synthesiser, c.1979 - 1980
Original price: c. £200
Target price: £40 - £180

  • Wide-range VCOs, switchable from 'low' to half-a-foot — four times higher than normal. Not sure why you'd want to go that high, 'though. Portamento, VCO2 sync to VCO1, sine, triangle, sawtooth, inverted sawtooth or square waves available, plus pulse-width fully variable. LFO puts out sine wave, not triangle wave.
  • Noise fully variable between white and pink. VCF 24dB/octave.
  • Two envelopes: One ADSR (called attack, decay 1, hold level, and decay 2) with additional control for 'delay' — the time the sustain is held regardless of how long the key is held down. The other called 'transient': three voltage controls, for start level, hold level and final level, and four time controls (5 msec to 5 sec) for delay 1, slope 1, hold delay, and slope 2 — designed to be sent to VCF, modulation or VCA inputs.
  • Very versatile for a non-modular synth. Oscillators stable; some strange design features, but some excellent ones.

Interface:
Sounds:
Controls : ★★★★
Memories:
VFM: ★★
Character: ★★
Collectability: ★★
Ease of use:



4600

48-note (F-E) 4-VCO monophonic kit synthesiser with patch matrix. c.1976
Original price: c.£490
Target price: £100 - £360

  • Virtually the same as the ETI 4600 synth, except for different colour front panel (black legend on white rather than white on black); probably unreliable, particularly if assembled by a non-expert, but potentially a very versatile source of amazing sounds.
  • EMS-style pin-matrix patch-bay, so tremendous flexibility. Check that the contacts are still good, as replacement of the pin-matrix is fiddly and possibly expensive.
  • Joystick — brilliant because you can route its output voltages to anything on the synth.
  • Two ADSRs and a transient generator as on the 3800.
  • Sharply angled rear panel — very Korg-like.
  • You probably couldn't have given one of these away a few years ago. You definitely could now. To me, for one.

Interface: ★★
Sounds: ★★
Controls: ★★★★★
Memories:
VFM:
Character: ★★★
Collectability: ★★★★
Ease of use:


Series - "The A-Z of Analogue"

Read the next part in this series:


All parts in this series:

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15 | Part 16 (Viewing) | Part 17 | Part 18 | Part 19 | Part 20 | Part 21


More with this topic


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Rough Mix

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Fast Forward


Publisher: The Mix - Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.

The current copyright owner/s of this content may differ from the originally published copyright notice.
More details on copyright ownership...

 

The Mix - Jan 1995

Donated by: Colin Potter, Chris Moore

Coverdisc: Mike Gorman

Topic:

Vintage Instruments


Series:

The A-Z of Analogue

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15 | Part 16 (Viewing) | Part 17 | Part 18 | Part 19 | Part 20 | Part 21


Feature by Peter Forrest

Previous article in this issue:

> Rough Mix

Next article in this issue:

> Fast Forward


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