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Total Recall (Part 14)

Vintage technology strikes back

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 to 12 may be ordered on Music Maker's mail order hotline: (Contact Details).

Part 13 - compiled by Peter Forrest

Korg (contd.)



SIGMA

Monophonic 19-preset 37-note (C-C) synthesiser. 1979 - early eighties.
Original price: £776
Target price: £70 - £150
Users include: Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman

  • Unlike most preset synths of the time, you can mix presets together - a massive advantage. As Korg claimed, "On what other instrument could you instantly mix together an electric bass, a trumpet, and then put a sample-and-hold synthesizer effect on top of it?" The answer now would be 'practically any multi-timbral synth in existence' - but the answer then was... none, except the massively expensive PS-3300.
  • Three banks of rocker switches - Effect, Synth, and Preset. Each rocker has an associated knob above it, to alter one parameter. So, for instance, the portamento rocker has a knob to alter the speed of glide; the 'sample and hold' rocker has a knob to control the rate of sampling the waveform; and most of the instruments' dedicated knobs control attack and decay or release.
  • Like most preset synths of the time, it is aftertouch-responsive - but not as flexible as most.
  • Not one but two joysticks: one for pitchbend (switchable and variable for each section) and/or vibrato, and one for filter, noise and other modulation on the synth sounds.
  • Would you believe a quarter-tone option?
  • Ring modulator will modulate synth voices with instrument voices to produce some interesting and occasionally staggering sounds.
  • CV and trigger in and outs - again a huge advantage over any of its contemporary preset rivals, though unfortunately working on the Hz/volt system.
  • Plus filter and VCO control inputs, independent outs for the Synthe and Preset sections, and a headphone socket.
  • High as well as low-pass (12dB/octave) voltage-controlled filters.
  • MT retrospective: Aug 91
Interface: ★★★
Sounds: ★★★
Controls: ★★
Memories:
VFM: ★★★★★★
Character: ★★★
Collectability: ★★
Ease of use: ★★★★


SYNTHE-BASS

25-note (C-C) monophonic bass synthesiser. c.1977 - ?
Original price: £337 in 1977, £312 in 1978
Target price: £60 - £100

  • Rare little dedicated bass synth in built-in semi-flight case.
  • Good amount of control relevant to bass parameters.


TRAVELLER

Independent foot-controlled VCF unit. 1975 - c.1977
Original price: £90
Target price: £40 - £70


TRIDENT

Eight-voice 16-VCO 16-memory 61-note (C-C) polyphonic synth. 1981 - 1982
Original price: £1975
Target price: £250 - £400
Users include: Rick Wakeman.

  • Large and impressive-looking. 86 controls, and quite a deep instrument (524mm).
  • Programmable synth; brass and string sections; and two piano and one clavinet preset.
  • Joystick operates vibrato, pitchbend or trill.
  • 30 colour-coded push-buttons with associated LEDs. String synth section has variable 'bowing' sound - simulating the bow hitting the strings; variable attack, and high and low EQ. Strings and synth sounds often very good.
  • Brass section has variable attack.
  • Good flanger, with four control knobs: speed, intensity, feedback, and 'manual' - can work with any one of the sections at once. Why not all three?
  • Very good keyboard split/layer facility for its day: each section can be independently above or below middle C, or across the whole keyboard. Each section has its own volume control.
  • Some problems with relative levels - eg between piano and brass sounds - and volume wasn't a programmable parameter on the synth patches. Also (unlike on the PS3200) you couldn't adjust a control on a memory patch - you had to go back into 'manual' mode, and set all knobs correctly - bad news.
  • Five outputs, including separate sockets for each section. Trigger (for brass filter), VCF level and 'sustain pedal' inputs, plus overall volume control, and separate inputs for volume control of each section (if you're good with your footwork).
Interface:
Sounds: ★★★
Controls: ★★
Memories: ★★
VFM:
Character:
Collectability:
Ease of use: ★★★



TRIDENT MARK II

Eight-voice 32-memory 61-note (C-C) polyphonic synth. 1982 - 1985
Original price: £2999
Target price: £500 - £800
Users include: OMD

  • Improved (but more expensive) version of Trident. Number of memories doubled, volume parameter programmable, and ability to edit programs reinstated.
  • 'Silence' control on brass section - it will only sound when (your choice of) a minimum of 2,4, 6, or 8 notes are being played.
  • Surprisingly expensive on the second-hand market.
  • For other details, see Trident entry


V-C-F

Voltage-controlled filter and envelope-follower box with foot-pedal, c.1976 - c.1980
Original price: unknown.
Target price: £40 - £70.

  • High and low pass filtering; threshold, hold, expand and depth controls.
Interface:
Sounds: ★★★
Controls: ★★
Memories: ★★★
VFM:
Character:
Collectability: ★★
Ease of use: ★★★



X-911

Monophonic guitar synth/synthesiser expander. 1980 - c. 1983
Original price: £325
Target price: £90 - £130
Users include: Ryo Kawasaki

  • Can be used as conventional monosynth expander - much more effectively than trying to get a guitar or other instrument not to glitch. Just plug any monosynth into the input socket.
  • Hz/volt output for cascading more MS-series synths.
  • Six presets: Electric bass, tuba, trumpet, distortion guitar, violin, and flute, plus 'synthe' sound with some variable controls: envelope, waveform/footage, and VCF effect.
Interface:
Sounds:
Controls:
Memories:
VFM:
Character:
Collectability:
Ease of use: ★★


KUSTOM COMBO ORGAN

61-note (C-C) single-keyboard combo organ/combo amp.

  • Padded case on casters. Multi-coloured rocker switches, and some rotary knobs. Bottom 17 notes reverse colour.
  • Like a cross between a sofa and a Marshall 4x 12. One of the classics of late sixties/early seventies kitsch.




L - Le Caine



Hugh Le Caine, Canadian inventor (1914 - 1977) - see Electronic Sackbut.

SPECIAL PURPOSE TAPE RECORDER

In many ways the predecessor of the Chamberlin and thus Mellotron.

  • Twenty different sounds in different tempi available.




Livingston



TUBON

Strap-on two-and-a-half octave battery-operated bass keyboard. Mid-sixties.
Users include: Mike Rabin.

  • Electronic bass sounds - double bass, bass guitar, baritone sax, and others - even Livingston's adverts weren't sure how many: 'five or six tones rolled into one compact package'.
  • Basically a tube, with mini-keyboard at right-hand end, left-hand controller near the top, and chrome speaker at very top (left-hand) end.
  • Only right-handed players need apply.
  • A brilliant sixties artefact. Almost worthless - until someone digs one out and plays it on a video.
Interface:
Sounds:
Controls:
Memories:
VFM:
Character: ★★★
Collectability: ★★★★★
Ease of use:




Sputnik a-go-go



Back in the days when films consisted of terribly false-looking aliens trudging over heavily scorched hills, spreading fiery death rays among naive countryfolk, the wail of the Theremin was an integral part of an atmospheric soundtrack. Designed in the 1920s by Lev Sergeivitch Termen, this huge and versatile beast was the introduction to the world of electronic instruments. In many respects it still out-plays some of the new synths available now, particularly in terms of real-time control, with its funny looking metal protrusions enabling an infinitely more flexible means of controlling pitch and dynamics.

Playing the Theremin is very intuitive. To raise or lower the pitch, the player moves his/her hand toward or away from one such vertical rod, aptly labelled the pitch antenna. By moving the hand rapidly back and forth, vibrato is achieved. The amplitude is controlled in much the same manner, but using the horizontal 'volume' loop on the left side of the instrument instead. In the same way that vibrato is created using the pitch antenna, variations in volume can be attained using the volume antenna. Using these techniques, both dynamics and modulation control are much less stifled by the preset speed, modulation and depth parameters imposed by newer synths.

Now the good news. The Theremin is to be relaunched, this time with the added option of a MIDI interface, which means you can control all your MIDI modules with it. The Big Briar 'Series 91' Theremins, built by none other than Robert Moog, retain their classic timbres, alternately resembling the violin, cello and also human voice. They are also available in a number of cabinet shapes and finishes, including models similar to those built by RCA in 1929, and by Leon Theremin during the 1930s.

For your Theremin (available from late September), contact: Barry Wooding on (Contact Details).

Knights of the Moog

Rescue me: full support for Linn products (including the LM1, pictured) is provided by InterManual Rescue.


It seems that never has a month gone by without us mentioning InterManual Rescue. They appear to have become the Michael Beurk of the vintage synthesiser world, forever present, rescuing cats from trees in the metaphorical guise of a new manual or a repair service. Well, if Michael Beurk is going to release a book about other peoples' mishaps, then it seems only fair that we should mention the jolly useful work that InterManual Rescue are doing.

Their support for ageing analogue gear has now been stretched to cover a service centre and full support for all Linn products, including the LM1 and Linndrum models. There is also servicing available for E-mu's earlier offerings, giving a tired old Emulator and its successor, the Emulator II, a pit stop before it chugs off again to make merry music. Most other vintage synths are also supported, incorporating products from the likes of Akai and Waldorf, so if your equipment has an ailment, contact InterManual Rescue on (Contact Details).


Series

Read the next part in this series:
Total Recall (Part 15)



Previous Article in this issue

Rough Mix

Next article in this issue

Fast Forward


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

 

The Mix - Oct 1994

Donated by: Colin Potter

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 (Viewing) | Part 15


Feature by Peter Forrest

Previous article in this issue:

> Rough Mix

Next article in this issue:

> Fast Forward


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