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Synton & Macbeth questions Desktop Synthesizers
Old 12th August 2018
  #1
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Synton & Macbeth questions

As seems to always be the case, I find myself currently interested in some rare, obscure, and expensive synths. This time around it's the Synton Fenix, Syrinx, and Macbeth M5(N).

I was wondering if you guys could tell me what current values are for these synths and how often they come up for sale (and where is best to look for one).

Is there any sonic overlap whatsoever between the Fenix and Syrinx? Of course I'm aware one is modular/semi-mod and one is fixed, but just curious of the core tonality is similar. What are some comparable systems to the Synton stuff? I'm really really intrigued by their stuff- such a shame they're out of business and so expensive now.

Also re: the Macbeth... what is the difference between the M5 and M5N (and any other variant)? Also curious about value and availability. I'm guessing there's no chance Ken will ever make anymore of these? I'd love one of the blue ones.

Would love to hear from some Fenix, Syrinx, and M5(N) owners. Feel free to post photos!
Old 12th August 2018
  #2
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Gringo Starr's Avatar
 

I don’t own any of these but the M5 is what first got me interested in modulars. Anyways Ken Macbeth is working on the M7 which is basically going to be a new and improved version of the M5N. I’m assuming it won’t be done for another year but if you’re a patient person it might be worth waiting for.

If you don’t want to wait then keep your eyes peeled on Muffs BST. Fenix will rarely pop up but M5’s seem to come 1-2 times a year for around 5k of my memory is correct.
Old 12th August 2018
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gringo Starr View Post
I don’t own any of these but the M5 is what first got me interested in modulars. Anyways Ken Macbeth is working on the M7 which is basically going to be a new and improved version of the M5N. I’m assuming it won’t be done for another year but if you’re a patient person it might be worth waiting for.

If you don’t want to wait then keep your eyes peeled on Muffs BST. Fenix will rarely pop up but M5’s seem to come 1-2 times a year for around 5k of my memory is correct.
wow, that's terrific news about the M7- i had absolutely no idea! can i read more about it anywhere? will it be a similar form factor to the M5's? i will definitely be patient and wait it out. was pretty set on getting an EL2 (had an EL1), but think i'll pass in favour of the M7.

re: synton... i guess there's no chance of a reissue of any of their stuff? i know about the syntonovo pan synth and it seems cool, but i was hoping for something truer to the original. and of course a fenix would be incredible- no chance they'll make anymore?
Old 12th August 2018
  #4
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ModularOverkill's Avatar
 

Fenix is rare as hell, and typically goes for $12K+ if you want the Fenix 2/3 pair. I've seen one set come up for trade only, and another one come up for sale (which, uh, I bought -- hopefully will have it this week). I don't think there is much value in the Syrinx -- its value is mostly based on historical worth, I don't believe it has much of a distinctive sound or unique components.

As much as I love Ken's work, he is not a reliable manufacturer. I would not count on anything of his coming out when he hints it might. He is also particularly hard to communicate with -- you have to be FB friends with him to get any kind of response! No one even knew the EL2 was coming, and they're now sold out. He's announced other things that never saw the light of day either. For me, to get the Macbeth sound I would focus on trying to pick up his Euro modules (rare, but not impossible to find) or his 5U modules (incredibly rare). Frankly, the simplest thing is to just get a Micromac-D. They're not too expensive, they're semi modular, and they have the same topology as his Euro modules. It's a much better deal and sounds amazing.

I've seen two Macbeth M5s come up for sale in the past year. Both were $5000, both required local pickup. I purchased one of them (but have not received it yet).

I would urge you to make sure you understand why you're looking for such rare synths. The reality is that most rare synths don't sound that much more magical (if at all) than stuff you can buy more easily. I say this as someone that has bought (and sold) a lot of these over the years. On occasion some are the real deal (JP-8,Model D, Cwejman S1) and other times I was mildly disappointed (Elements, GRP A4, Q+).
Old 12th August 2018
  #5
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Gringo Starr's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ModularOverkill View Post
Fenix is rare as hell, and typically goes for $12K+ if you want the Fenix 2/3 pair. I've seen one set come up for trade only, and another one come up for sale (which, uh, I bought -- hopefully will have it this week). I don't think there is much value in the Syrinx -- its value is mostly based on historical worth, I don't believe it has much of a distinctive sound or unique components.

As much as I love Ken's work, he is not a reliable manufacturer. I would not count on anything of his coming out when he hints it might. He is also particularly hard to communicate with -- you have to be FB friends with him to get any kind of response! No one even knew the EL2 was coming, and they're now sold out. He's announced other things that never saw the light of day either. For me, to get the Macbeth sound I would focus on trying to pick up his Euro modules (rare, but not impossible to find) or his 5U modules (incredibly rare). Frankly, the simplest thing is to just get a Micromac-D. They're not too expensive, they're semi modular, and they have the same topology as his Euro modules. It's a much better deal and sounds amazing.

I've seen two Macbeth M5s come up for sale in the past year. Both were $5000, both required local pickup. I purchased one of them (but have not received it yet).

I would urge you to make sure you understand why you're looking for such rare synths. The reality is that most rare synths don't sound that much more magical (if at all) than stuff you can buy more easily. I say this as someone that has bought (and sold) a lot of these over the years. On occasion some are the real deal (JP-8,Model D, Cwejman S1) and other times I was mildly disappointed (Elements, GRP A4, Q+).
Congratulations on your M5 purchase! I’m sure it’ll be quite enjoyable and if it isn't then it looks like you have yourself a buyer.
Old 12th August 2018
  #6
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rasseru's Avatar
With ken it's easier to get his number and phone him. Really great guy to chat with


And yeah I've heard the 5u stuff is in the 100s kind of rare. Not sure if that's true
Old 12th August 2018
  #7
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ModularOverkill's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rasseru View Post
With ken it's easier to get his number and phone him. Really great guy to chat with


And yeah I've heard the 5u stuff is in the 100s kind of rare. Not sure if that's true
I've only ever seen the 5U stuff for sale once (via FB 5U group) and I regret not buying the whole lot (but very happy I got a few oscillators, filters, EGs, and a mixer).

So yeah, it's insanely rare.
Old 12th August 2018
  #8
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rasseru's Avatar
I got 3 oscs, 2 filters, mixer, eg.

It's funky as hell or really gnarly. Love it - not sure what system you were thinking of but it's out of my price range
Old 12th August 2018
  #9
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Last fenix 2 went for 12 grand without the sequencer....and yeah, it’s the best synth I own. There will be a new fenix soon, but a hybrid like the pan
Old 13th August 2018
  #10
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donato's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ModularOverkill View Post
Frankly, the simplest thing is to just get a Micromac-D. They're not too expensive, they're semi modular, and they have the same topology as his Euro modules. It's a much better deal and sounds amazing.
Agree. They're going for pretty cheap used also (comparatively). Like $1300-1900ish. I think they're a steal at that price. I expect that to be much higher in 5-10 years. Seriously thinking about picking up a second.
Old 13th August 2018
  #11
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oldgearguy's Avatar
 

I used to own a handful of Synton gear (Syrinx, keyboard-less Syrinx reissue, pair of Fenix I's). Never owned the Macbeth M5.

The beauty of the Syrinx is the filter design and the routing switch that lets you alter the ways in which the oscillators and filters are combined.

The bender pad thing is different and takes a bit of getting used to, but it works well (better than the PPC pads on an Odyssey for example).

If you strip the Syrinx down, you have some CEM-based oscillators running through the CEM 3350 filter design (yes, same IC as used in the Spirit and Chroma). So if you like the sound of the 3340 VCOs and 3360 VCA, you'll probably love the Syrinx sound. You can get some nice vocal type sounds with the dual formant design of the filter. Interestingly, it doesn't sound exactly like a Chroma or a Spirit, which goes to show you a synth's sound is more than the filter.

The core sound of the Fenix was very good, but I ended up selling them because
a) I decided I don't get along well with modular/semi-modular gear,
b) banana jacks

If you can find a Fenix for a semi-reasonable price, it may scratch the vintage/modular/patchable itch for you. Probably a 2600 or Antonus would be easier to find, but an original 2600 may have undisclosed issues, so there is always that.
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