The black text flaked off all the way at the top of the unit so you can no longer tell the difference between the MIDI OUT/IN/THRU port. I had to put stickers on it. 2 of the encoders became loose and wobbled alarmingly. The skippyness of them may or may not be software related but I thought they were pretty terrible and those 4 encoders are critical to programming routing elements and assigning modulators.
I had a Juno-6 at one point that made it through 20 years+ and looked like it survived water damage and the silk screen print is still legible. I can't see The Sunsyn's paint job surviving that long.
Software wise I still got pretty bad problems with 1.22 but whether you get mega problems or not depends on how you use it
, what MIDI controller you use and what DAW you use. Most of the really bad OS bugs have been fixed prior to OS 1.22. The last great problem of the Sunsyn is its MIDI implementation which is fairly comprehensive but also quite sketchy.
If you have the Sunsyn on its own MIDI port (no THRU chains) and you only send note on/off, velocity and aftertouch to the Sunsyn then its fine.
If you try to send anything beyond that to the Sunsyn then things can get messy and fast depending on what MIDI you throw at it and how much. Some remote control makes it freak out and there are several people on the yahoo group that complain about it though there are very few documented solutions. I also had problems when it wasn't the first device in a MIDI THRU chain since it just wasn't responding correctly to my data maps and channel routing in MIDI OX.
It doesn't handle scripts well which is related to the point above in the sense that scripts just bombard the synth with loads of MIDI triggers at the same time, some or all of which might freak out the Sunsyn. One of the things I like to do is have all of my synths (software and hardware) controllable from a single keyboard and I don't mean just the knobs. I sometimes want some of the important buttons too, especially the multi function ones which need to be scripted in order to correctly cycle through all its functions correctly.
(edit: the Virus keyboard has a nice blank space next to the control surface which I use to put my dinky laptop on. Everything I need is within arms reach which is just perfect for what I want to do.)
I'll try to find a screenshot of the dashboard template I made for the Sunsyn because I did set it up so that I had complete remote control of it, almost like a VSTi but it caused lots of problems that lead to it crashing or behaving unpredictably.
Some of the worst issues I managed to fix however. Example:
cc#10 = pan. In 99.99% of all MIDI gear cc#10 is expected to be a bipolar value (-64 to +63) where
-64 = left
0 = center
+63 = right
On the Sunsyn, (panning) LFO3 responds to cc#10 messages and the rate of the LFO has a unipolar range where 0 = off and +31 = full speed.
You can see where the problem occurs right? Every time your DAW sends cc#10 messages, the Sunsyn will not pan left or right when anticipated but will speed up the rate LFO3. Now my DAW sends a bunch of reset triggers when you hit start/stop on the transport with cc#10 and cc#7 being affected.
I figured it out because on the Sunsyn's LED display, if I use MIDI OX to inject a cc#10 = 0 message, the panning LFO rate turns to 64 (which is an impossible value). The LFO ping ponged like crazy every time it receives this message and happened every time I created an automation clip, every time I hit start/stop, every time I send any MIDI message or used any script that does anything with panning to the Sunsyn.
The easy fix is to use a virtual MIDI cable like Yoke or Maple and set up a data map in MIDI OX where you discard all outgoing cc#10 messages on whatever MIDI port and channel the Sunsyn is on. Thats a very hamfisted solution though. A more elegant one would be to transform value ranges instead so that you do have remote control of the panning LFO across its full range (i.e. you would have to transform all outgoing cc#10 messages to unipolar values and transform 0 to 127 range to 0 to 31).
I also had to do this with cc#7 because some triggers caused it to reset the output volume and the Sunsyn can really go loud as shit. I had a few scary moments. All of this is irrelevant to the Xpander because it only responds to sysex. I should have done my research before buying it so that one is on me. It was my favourite sounding synth by a long way but I didn't feel in control of it, programming it is slow compared to more modern synths and so I always found it difficult to articulate.
The bottom line is that if you don't ever remote control your synths other than for note on/off and velocity then you are fine. If you want full remote control, you'll need to run MIDI OX all the time with a pretty big data map and get used to reading incoming/outgoing messages and seeing which ones screw up the Sunsyn. Certain remote messages make it just crash completely. For example, spamming glide on/off remotely on my Virus keyboard would make the Sunsyn crash and it wasn't a random thing. It was reproducible. It suddenly makes that 'clicking' noise it does when you turn it on, the LED display goes blank, sound cuts out and the whole unit becomes responsive. You have to switch it off and then on to make it work again.
I still have the data maps and port routings saved in MIDI OX if some folks experience some MIDI related problems. I did fix quite alot of my issues but I ended up spending way too much time fixing things than making music and became terribly unproductive. It sounded great and you do get that warm glow that people with Porsches must feel every time they get in their car but I wasn't getting anything done. Setting up VSTis for total remote control is much quicker and easier, you don't need to maintain lots of data maps to fix bad MIDI and I've pretty much never crashed a softsynth with MIDI events.
Finally, you never have to think about any of this stuff until it makes problems for you. Alot of this stuff I don't even need to think about with softsynths or Virus TI
or whatever because they just work from the get go. I think its worth mentioning because its not like you can go into a store and try out a Sunsyn if you are interested in buying one. You'll know what its about from the < 200 people that bought one. If MIDI is a big part of your setup then you better start learning MIDI OX because you are going to be running it full time. If MIDI is not important to you beyond basic keyboard control then you'll skip alot of this frustration.
Edit: If you were wondering, XBase 888/999 also has very flaky MIDI. MachineDrum isn't comparable to a 999 but one thing that makes MachineDrum stand above the beaten corpses of other drum machines is its *amazing* UI and rock solid MIDI. I think these things are highly underrated aspects of electronic instruments on this forum.