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Dream Esoteric Vintage Synth Setup
Old 5th May 2020
Gear Nut
jags's Avatar

Dream Esoteric Vintage Synth Setup

I really love the more esoteric vintage synths that are still out there. Been spending some time researching and have come up with what I would consider a dream setup that would actually be affordable and attainable for me in the future. Looking at this combination:

Yamaha SY-1 into a MoogerFooger MF-104Z Delay. Mono signal path into the ART Tube Mix board.

Korg Lambda ES-50 into a MoogerFooger MF-103 Phaser. The 1-2 outs into the 1 and 2 inputs on the ART Tube Mix board for control of each output separately or panned for stereo. The mix out going into a MoogerFooger MF-103 going into the stereo 3/4 channel input for the big stereo phaser sound. Creates the ability to mix and match!

Stereo aux sends from the ART Tube Mix board into a Strymon BlueSky reverb back into the stereo aux return. We all know why!

The ART Tube Mix board has just the right ins and outs and also has the correct vintage vibe.

Everything is analog for all the right reasons. The BlueSky, of course, is digital but I think I can live with that considering what the BlueSky will do to the sound. The classic wood enclosures of everything except the BlueSky will also allow me to showcase this in my living room! I already have the three effects units. Now all I need is to find the synths! Attached is a representation of the setup.

Here are some youtube links showing off how great these two classic synths sound:

Anyone out there have a setup similar to this? Any suggestions for additions or changes to the setup? What would be your dream vintage synth setup?

Let's have some fun with this. Thanks!
Attached Thumbnails
Dream Esoteric Vintage Synth Setup-vintage-synth-setup.jpg  

Last edited by jags; 5th May 2020 at 11:07 AM..
Old 5th May 2020
Lives for gear

I love the description on GS's SY-1 page. It's from the user manual from a time when the future was the stronger nostalgia.

"...create exciting new sounds... at the cutting edge of electronic music making... the synth truly embodies the evolution of modern music... The SY-1 is one of the world's newest and most advanced instruments... with nearly limitless versatility... with 26 realistic instrumental tones plus two additional space age tones (funny and pulsar)..."

It just makes me want to comb my hair and put on a suit and go to work at NASA. Let's make this future happen, hey.

The Lambda manual starts off saying "Ah, so you couldn't get a PS. Maybe soon you'll kick yourself for not waiting a year for the Trident? But don't feel too bad..." The Gearslutz description calls it "...home organ style... homely... obese... limited and primative..." and then goes on to say "There are 96 discreet envelopes and VCAs in this thing!" And unlike the optimistic description of the Yamaha's 'realistic' sounds, it says of the Korg "These presets won't win any awards for emulation..." but then again "The Chorus preset is... filtered through multiple fixed Formant Filters... The Strings are lush and wide... easily rivaling the Solina."

Lately I've been nostalgic for the year 2020 from the perspective of the 70s. Now, but as it was imagined it would be, back then. Jetpacks, parties, silver spandex, beanbag and egg chairs, funky lighting, funky space music.

Speaking of egg chairs, there was a White Elephant for sale in upstate NY a couple years ago, along with some other classics. Wish I'd had the space. Now, that's a space age instrument.

If you get these synths, please make at least a little funky space music? Maybe instead of a Big Sky, you could get a Space? Anyway, the name "Big Sky" sounds a little too tough, like Montana tough. But in the looks dept, that thing is more VW Beetle than farm truck or family roadster. It sounds good, but might be the most instantly recognizable of any modern (this century) reverb. Other than that, there's nothing wrong with digital reverb for analog synths. Plank the sides!

Foogers are awesome. But I hope you're not buying them now - their price is too hyped. I've never used an Art tube mixer. Is that a good thing?

No, I don't have a similar setup. That's the other pug. I'm on a "vintage style with modern equipment" kick right now. I admire your willingness and ability to troubleshoot 96 discreet envelopes and VCAs!
Old 5th May 2020
Gear Nut
jags's Avatar


Thanks for the great comments! I'm feeling that same "future nostalgia" exactly the same as you!

As I mentioned I do already have the MoogerFoogers and the BlueSky. The BlueSky is the little brother to the Big Sky and doesn't have the digital display. I thought the same as far as "planking" the sides of the BlueSky. You mentioned the Eventide Space Reverb and that would also definitely be a winner. Not sure about the digital display though. Another good contender would be the Empress Reverb as it definitely has a 70's vibe to it. I do not have the ART Tube Mix yet but I saw it and it looked like it would be a good match to keep the nostalgic feel of the setup. Seems that they are a bit hard to find but I think it will be easier to find the mixer compared to the synths.

I, like you, have also been on a "vintage style with modern equipment" mode over the past few years. Trying to keep everything analog as much as possible. My current gear list for my "analog setup" is as follows:

Moog Sub Phatty - MoogerFooger MF-104Z
Korg Minilogue - MoogerFooger MF-103
Korg Arp Odyssey - Arpie - Neo Clone - Dispatcher
Dreadbox Erebus - Midipal
Yamaha TX-7
Ensoniq ESQ-1 - RE-20
Waldorf Streichfett
Cyclone Beat Bot (TT-78)
Nord Drum 2
TC Electronic Helix Phaser for the drum modules

I also try to pair each synth with a dedicated controller or effect that will enhance the operation of the synth.

Also looking at picking up the following sometime in the future to add to the setup:

Behringer Deepmind 12D or Roland JU-06A
Behringer Pro-1
Behringer RD-8 or Roland TR-08

I also have a Lexicon MPX100 and Boss SE-70 effects units to hook up to the mixer for additional effects. Along with this I've got all kinds of effects pedals that I can always throw into the mix as needed.

In addition in the late 90's I picked up a bunch of VA gear but I'm trying to keep those toys for a totally different VA setup. Unfortunately right now I have had to pack all this gear up into boxes as we are trying to sell the house and make a move to the mainland. I have kept a very minimalist setup up and running that I put together for use on the road in a RV. It consists of a Roland JD-Xi, a Yamaha Reface CS, and a Korg Kaosillator into a M-Audio MicroTrack for recording. Actually quite a powerful setup as it effectively gives me 3 poly synths, a mono analog synth, drum machine, sequencer, 5 tracks of looping, effects, and digital recorder all in a very small and compact setup.

Yes I've got lots of toys! But to get back to the original topic of this thread, I'm really wishing to put together a real eclectic vintage late 70's setup that can be setup in my living room of my new house when I finally make the move. At least I do have the time to be on the lookout for a SY-1 and a Lambda and hopefully will find them in great condition at a great price!

Thanks again!

Last edited by jags; 6th May 2020 at 01:19 AM..
Old 7th May 2020
Gear Nut
jags's Avatar

More research and a new addition! I just discovered the Roland TR-77 drum machine while checking out this Korg Lambda video:

Turns out that the TR-77 was Roland's first drum machine! Perfect match for the SY-1 as that was Yamaha's first monophonic synth. The Lambda was Korg's second ensemble stringer but is way better than the first one they made a few years earlier.

The Roland TR-77 is also built in a nice wood cabinet to match the others and has a large flat top that will be a perfect platform for the MoogerFoogers and the mixer. And of course it's definitely an esoteric vintage classic!

With this addition I will have to scrap the ART Tube Mix as it doesn't have enough inputs. Luckily I have an old Behringer mixer with more inputs that I can slap a pair of wood slabs to the sides and should work out well. Attached is a representation of the entire setup.

I'm really liking how this is becoming a tribute to the three big Japanese synth companies and their first offerings to the music world. I was hoping to find a piece of Roland gear to go with the Yamaha and Korg duo and the Roland TR-77 is the perfect match! Plus the MoogerFoogers also give a nod to Moog which. of course, is America's greatest synth company. I'm really looking forward to someday actually putting this all together!

Thanks again!
Attached Thumbnails
Dream Esoteric Vintage Synth Setup-korg-lambda-yamaha-sy-1-roland-tr-77-moogerfoogers-bluesky-mixer.jpg   Dream Esoteric Vintage Synth Setup-trio.jpg  

Last edited by jags; 7th May 2020 at 03:05 AM..
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