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What makes a synthesizer innovative ??
Old 1 week ago
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string6theory's Avatar
There are definitely other forms of innovation in the current subtractive synth realm. For example, Moog's patent-pending oscillators on the One. And, being granted a unique patent can be very good way to identify who is actually innovating, in the sense of coming up with something completely new. Look at Nikola Tesla and his barrage of electricity-related patents as a prime example (in another industry).

But, then there are other innovations, that are more sound and instrument-based, like The River, in which Laurent Lacatelier combined and integrated 8 Moog Source mono synths with his own Triko tri-chorus into the voicing architecture, along with a controlling "brain" in the RiverKey system, which is the physical keyboard and integrated OS, and when all combined he achieved a synergy way beyond the sum of its parts and code, into what I would consider an masterful innovation in sound synthesis.

How the whole sounds and responds is the final arbiter. And, even though sound will always be subjective, it's safe to say we all have a vast frame of reference from which to qualify new sound machines, whether they're called subtractive synths, guitars, basses, organs, active or passive monitors and amplifiers, microphones, pre-amps, eq's, compressors, effects, etc.

We're all in the field of sound, no pun intended. Innovation in producing high quality sound is always high on everyone's list, in all areas of music, recording and sound reproduction.

In the attached pic, I see almost 2 dozen products I consider innovative. From left to right, starting at the bottom...

Dunlop CryBaby Rack Wah - it's 6 cry baby floor pedal in one, are you kidding me!

Roland VP-9000 - these vocal and variphrase engines still sound fresh today.

Roland Integra-7 - yes, they're old sounds, but put together in an innovative package!

Oberheim Matrix 6R - a modulation and sonic powerhouse with DCO's that sound like VCO's.

Roland MKS-80 Super Jupiter - this is a 2U rack with 16 analog VCO's and packed to the gills with circuity... essentially a Jupiter-6 (and some J8) in a convenient rack.

Lexicon PCM-70 - a great sounding multi-effects unit with a focus on reverberation, highly usable to this day and beyond.

API 3124MV - 4 channels of API 312 preamps in a 1U rack with level, panning, fx send per channel and integrated summing bus and mixer, with it's own stereo fx return... fantastic stuff (based on their mb+ which I have in another rack).

Drawmer 1968 - dual channel vacuum tube FET compressor in an affordable 1U rack with analog VU meters that glow more orange and red as the signal is pushed. Some call it the poor man's API 2500 (which I also have in another rack).

Prophet-X - combining sample oscilators with digital and a 8 or 16-voice bi-timbral hybrid synth architecture that responds to PAT, including new stereo analog filters (a real sonic highlight of this board) w/Fatar players keyboard and tons of panel knobs & buttons.

The River - see above

Stereoping Programmers for the Matrix 1000/6R and MKS-80 Super Jupiter - these a brand new controllers for 1980's synths that feel, respond, function and control these rack synths in an ergonomic desk (or rack) position.

Roland V-Synth XT - like the VP-9000, Roland went to town with this vocal and variphrase digital synth powerhouse, packed with innovative features.

Moog Moogerfoogers - these (floor, desktop or rack) pedals were built with quality sound in mind, using highest quality components and build, to allow all manner of sonic shenanigans, still a breed apart from other fx units.

Souncraft StudioPatch - 96TT patchbays with front panel switchable Nornal, Half Normal, Thru at the turn of a screw. Built to last.

Antelope Orion 32 HD - 32 high quality conversion channels in a single rack space, using DB25 connectors, and integrated with ProTools HD (and my Apogee Ensemble TB through dual ADAT ports, effectively making the Apogee an additional PT HD interface).

Lexicon PCM-81 - packed with great multi-fx algos, this digital rack powerhouse is still awesome today.

Eventide H3000 D/SE - they created an instant classic with this innovative muti-fx unit, know for its outstanding vocal harmonizers, killer delays and filters.

Ensoniq DP/4 - they took a unique approach and combined 4 FX engines into one unit, configurable in a variety of way, making this a remarkable studio multi fx tool.

API DSM System - It stands for Discreet Summing Mixer, but the 8200's are innovative 8-channel analog line mixers in a single rack space, with 2510 op amps per channel, dual solo & sends per channel, 8 inputs, 8 insert sends, 8 insert returns and 8 direct outs. The 8200A's have their own 2520 transformer balanced mix bus (like the 3124mb+ and MV). The 7800 mater sections are literally packed with iron on the I/O, providing a real API Legacy console sound in a very nice rack-mountable package.

Tascam DA3000 - Korg were the first manu out with affordable stereo master recorders (their MR1000 the MR2000S series) capable of recording up to 5,6MHz 1-bit DSD, but Tascam followed up with their own innovative DSD master recorder design (right after Korg discontinued the MR in the US - but not Japan), using dual mono channels and including monitoring facilities and ample I/O. The Korg MR2000-BK-SDD is the blackface version with SSD that is still available on eBay through Japan sellers.

Expressive E Osmose - (last but not least) an exciting new synth and controller launch MPE/PAT capable that appears quite innovative and will be a fantastic expressive synth and controller for other synths, making them even more capable of expressive playing response.

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What makes a synthesizer innovative ??-synth-desk-racks.jpg  
Old 1 week ago
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