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Total recall (Part 11)

Vintage technology strikes back

Inside the vintage vault

Sometimes the cutting edge has a soft, round nostalgic feel to it. If you do too, Total Recall is for you...

The A-Z of Analogue

Continuing MT's definitive directory of every analogue synth 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 10 may be ordered on Music Maker's mail order hotline: (Contact Details).

Part 11 - compiled by Peter Forrest


A very small American (New Jersey) firm in the early '70s. They made one model of a ready-built synth, the Performer, and several modules that you could build into a synth yourself - VCOs at $60, ring modulators at $50, VCFs for $56, envelope generators for $66, reverb for $40, and the power supply/rack for $90. They also made a 4,096-note (impressive, huh?) digital sequencer, the Digionic, and a video image-maker, the Ionicamera, which used the waveforms put out by the Performer to produce far-out patterns on a TV screen.


3-VCO 49-note (C-C) quadraphonic output pushbutton matrix monosynth, c.1973.

  • Large matrix of push-buttons for patching system.
  • The whole system, including the peripherals, was used on the children's TV show Wonderama on WNET New York in the Seventies.
  • Four outputs, for left/right/front/back quadraphony - which was expected to be big at the time.
  • Highly collectable


An Italian company - Jen Elettronica of Pescara.


37-note (C-C) 1-DCO monophonic synthesiser, c.1978 - c.1982.
Original price: £210 (£149 in 1981).
Target price: £50 - £100.
Users include: Eskimo & Egypt, The Future Sound of London, LFO, Man Machine.

  • Also called Synthetone SX1000.
  • Just one DCO, switchable 32', 16', 8", 4', sawtooth, square, and PWM.
  • Two ADSRs; white and pink noise; glide; one LFO; 12 dB/octave filter.
  • Used by some respected names in the early Nineties, but lacks a powerful sound and interfacing capabilities.
  • Simple, straightforward, limited sample fodder. One socket for audio output.
  • Colour-coding inserts on knobs tend to fall off.

Ease of use: ★★★


44-note (F-C) 7-preset monophonic synthesiser, c.1978 - c.1982.
Original price: £210 (£149 in 1981).
Target price: £50.

  • Designed to sit on top of an organ, so most of controls at front, below the keys.
  • Presets: synthy, harpsichord, flute, clarinet, violin, trumpet and piano.
  • Some control available: 32', 16', 8', 4', sawtooth, square, and two rectangular waveforms.
  • VCA has three preset positions: repeat, ASR, and AD (with no sustain section). Attack and decay/release times are variable.
  • VCF has similar controls, with cut-off frequency and emphasis controls.
  • LFO switchable to square or triangle wave, sliders for intensity and speed; can control VCO or VCF.

Ease of use: ★★★


OK, we know it's David Vorhaus. But what the hell's that? See Kaleidophon.

Actually an electronic music studio in Camden, it gave its name to a proprietorial one-off. It had a model number (KM1) but it was also referred to as 'the Kaleidophon'.


Electronic string bass with CV and gate outputs, c.1980.
Users include: David Vorhaus.

  • Possibly only a prototype, or series of re-worked prototypes, for use in David Vorhaus' Kaleidophon Studio. Joint winner, with Fairlight, of an electronic innovation competition at the Ars Electronica Festival.


At one stage the biggest manufacturers of electric musical equipment in the world, Kawai have always produced solid instruments (and, as the old joke goes, very 'useful' jelly). For some time they marketed them world-wide under their original name in Japan, Teisco, and it took them some time to realise that this was a marketing liability in Britain. All their more recent products seem to be under the Kawai name, but several of the early synths were produced as both Teisco and Kawai machines - identical except for the logo and the colour of the manual. Each model is included in the A-Z under the name that seems to have been more common.


see Teisco.


see Teisco.


37-note (C-C) monophonic preset synthesiser with aftertouch, c.1979 - c.1982.
Original price: £565.
Target price: £70 - £110.

  • One of many preset synths of the era, all seemingly derived from, or at least inspired by, one basic design - probably the Roland SH2000. This is definitely one of the best, though, with some unique touches, and some decent sounds.
  • Poor pitch-bend - just a slider with centre-detent. As usual for preset synths, no interface sockets - just headphone and two levels of line outputs, and an input for expression pedal.
  • Aftertouch has four control tabs : growl (LFO control of VCF), vibrato (LFO control of VCO), wow or brilliance, and pitch-bend up or down. Four more tabs deal with 'hold', flanging (a good sound although you can't alter speed or intensity), repeat (for banjo type strums), and portamento or glissando - which have a choice of various triggering methods.
  • Spring reverb built-in - quite an effective addition to most of the sounds, but you've got to treat the keyboard a bit gently. One of the very few synths to have a spring reverb - and this one (though it's miniscule) seems just as good as the one on an ARP 2600.
  • According to a little sticker on the bottom, manufactured "under license from ARP". Presumably that means they borrowed filter and oscillator circuits, and so on; or perhaps the whole design is actually an ARP original?
  • Sounds are almost all usable in some way: shakuhachi, 'wood bass' and flute/piccolo are all good, many others are good once you use the flanger or adjust the filter control in real time; and only the mute trumpet seems a real disaster.
  • Great manual: "Touch effect enables delicate choking play."

Sounds: ★★
Memories: ★★
VFM: ★★
Character: ★★
Ease of use: ★★★


37-note (C-C) 2-VCO monophonic synthesiser with filter bank, Feb 1981 - c.1983.
Users include: Vince Clarke
See Teisco.

You'll never be stuck with a Kawai SX-210.


61-note (C-C) 8-DCO, 8-voice, 32-memory polyphonic synthesiser, 1983 - c.1985.
Original price: £999.
Target price: £120 - £180.
  • Decent-sounding (for one DCO and a sub-oscillator) polysynth, but no MIDI or touch-sensitivity.
  • Incremental parameter control - only two knobs and one slider (for volume) on the whole machine, but 66 dedicated push-buttons with LEDs.
  • Chord memory; 8-voice, 4-voice or mono voicing. In mono mode, you can have up to 8-note chords, or in 4-voice mode you can have 2-note intervals (eg fifths) which are programmable - an unusual touch. Or you can use mono mode to stack all oscillators onto one note - not as effective as with VCOs, but sometimes powerful.
  • Two ADSRs; eight VCFs - better than, say, the Poly 800 - but no split or layer facilities.
  • Portamento and glissando - not totally controllable. Ensemble. Pitch-bender above the keyboard - not to the left - and no modulation control. Compact, like the Bit One/99. The LFO can be triggered and stopped by hand, and has quite flexible routing, including to the VCA for tremolo.
  • One other unique touch: the keyboard converts to an alpha-numeric keyboard for you to name your patches on the LED 'Voice Identifier' display - six letters/numbers maximum, but still a nice touch for the time.
  • E&MM review: Jul 83

Memories: ★★
Ease of use:

Next month: Kawai continued...

How the hell does this work?

It's a big Moog, and it's got a big manual. Need one?

If you picked up one of these at a car boot sale, you'd curse if there was no manual, wouldn't you? Before pausing to ask how a Moog Mk3 Modular found its way into the back end of a Volvo Estate next to an egg whisk and the complete Top Of The Pops Volumes 1 to 24, you'd be pestering the guy for even a photocopy of the contents list of the original service guide.

Well, next time this happens, help is at hand. Engineer and programmer Chris Newman has expanded his Intermanual Rescue service to include the supply of copied manuals for Moogs and a whole lot more besides. Originally, Chris provided user and service manuals for a crop of fashionable analogue synths. He even supplied Roland with booklets they had lost, written for their own products. Now the surge (or should that be Serge?) of interest in these bleeping relics has encouraged him to introduce a sales and exchange service for the synths themselves - including (whisper it gently) some digital models.

He will also buy your discarded keyboards and modules from you; make offers for deceased items which he can use for spares; and service and restore the insides and the outsides of synths you want to treasure. He has supplied The Mix with the following list of supported manufacturers: ARP; Bokse; Casio; Chase; Cheetah; Chroma; Digisound; EDP; EMS; E-mu; Fairlight; Korg; Kurzweil; Linn; Moog; Oberheim; Octave; OSC; PPG; Roland; Sequential Circuits; Simmons; SRC Friendchip; Waldorf and Yamaha.

To keep your Moog Mk3 Modular in full working order, call or fax Chris on (Contact Details). Or if that's a dream yet to come true, try him on that dodgy Stylophone.

A warm feeling

AKG's classic C12 valve mic, first introduced in the early '50s, is being relaunched at the APRS show. Called the C12 VR, it has an almost identical in sound to the original, and will cost £3170 inc VAT.

More from: Harman Audio. (Contact Details).

The digital revival starts here

Lightning, light-pens and loops - the golden age of the Fairlight Series II.

An approved Fairlight sample CD, released at the beginning of July, suggests that not all nostalgia centres around the analogue circuitry of yer Prophets and yer Moogs. Digital Domain has secured the rights to the original library of the IIx series, and has lovingly recreated that crunchy 8-bit sound in over 1000 samples. Fairlight aficianodos will spot immediately that the original library only had about 500 sounds, but in a recycling frenzy that will ultimately lead to the implosion of the Universe (we reckon), multisampling has been applied to the original Fairlight samples for added, er, samples. I don't know, just when we were getting used to knobs again...

More from: Digital Domain, (Contact Details)

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 (Viewing) | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15

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


The Mix - Jul 1994

Donated by: Colin Potter

Coverdisc: Mike Gorman


Vintage Instruments


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 (Viewing) | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15

Feature by Peter Forrest

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