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John Bowen Solaris Keyboard Synthesizers
Old 9th August 2014
  #271
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I can totally understand people spending big bucks on something and getting frustrated about bugs/incompleteness/etc, and I can absolutely relate to the desire to simply return the item while I still can rather than "wait and see." The whole point of buying new gear is the the perceived idea of reliability, a warranty and real product support. The Solaris carries a 3 year warranty, which I guess is reasonable but I consider that type of thing valuable for hardware failures and defects to show up, not to sit and wait for a complete OS. The point is, the warranty could be expired by the time that happens, especially if it is being developed by a very small company, and then you actually start really spending time with it, and maybe the thing blows up, or maybe something much better comes along?

If the device is unusable or incomplete I can definitely see the justification in returning the hardware with the intent to maybe buy again once it is complete. I have had to exercise this a few times, unfortunately, and genuinely had unusable products that I was not going to hold onto while I "wait and see"…which to this day (3 years later) are still at the very least feature incomplete compared to what was promised at launch, and most likely still does not work quite right for my intended application (despite being told by the owner of the company that it would).

This is not an attack on the Solaris, but manufacturers in general, that release incomplete products. I have no experience with the Solaris or John Bowen products in general, but I think it is a bit silly to criminalize people with bad experiences for wanting to refund their purchase of a top tier product.
Old 9th August 2014
  #272
SEED78
Guest
anyone who says they don't buy old synths because they are unreliable needs to read this thread.

shame, on paper this looks like a great synth.
Old 9th August 2014
  #273
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isham's Avatar
These are the kind of sounds this "unreliable" synth can produce, thanks to Toby for sharing these patches by the way. I can assure no other soft synth or digital keyboard I've tried has this sound textures/ unbelievable clarity and punch, difficult to put words on this ... only for that it's a keeper in my book


Last edited by isham; 9th August 2014 at 10:46 PM.. Reason: Wrong link
Old 9th August 2014
  #274
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roginator's Avatar
 

if you guys readed my posts .. I never said its unreliable or that I can't work with it … I just reported bugs and that freezing problem of it ..

have in mind that I love sound .. BUT Solaris need new upgrade OS with bug fixes !!!!!
Old 9th August 2014
  #275
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BTByrd's Avatar
It does sound fantastic. If it was bug free and had 16 or 20 voices, I'd be all over it.
Old 10th August 2014
  #276
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isham's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by roginator View Post
if you guys readed my posts .. I never said its unreliable or that I can't work with it … I just reported bugs and that freezing problem of it ..

have in mind that I love sound .. BUT Solaris need new upgrade OS with bug fixes !!!!!
Understood Roginator I got your point correctly ( thanks for your report), just replying to some comments about some issues (which exist) but they are not show stopper so far in my perspective.


Wanting also an OS update to improve some stuffs, I hope John is reading these days ... Many potential buyers here!

Quote:
It does sound fantastic. If it was bug free and had 16 or 20 voices, I'd be all over it.
Regarding number of voices: decision taken was not to add more voices to not sacrifice sound quality , in fact what I like in this synth so much is everything is a no compromise approach regarding sound quality or user experience, these are key for a synth (again for me)
Old 10th August 2014
  #277
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Spectral Climax's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing View Post
Have you tried the latest version of Discovery Pro? He finally nailed the filter. Check it out. It sounds like a NL2x without the aliasing.

I have a question though. It's not meant to be trolling to start a hardware vs. software war. I understand why a synth like the Solaris won't be bested, or emulated, by software in real time, but why couldn't it be perfectly emulated in rendered out tracks? It would seem to me that if a stock computer had enough time to chew on things and voices could be "frozen" with additional effect plug in software, you could, no? I know there are sonic characteristics that need to be emulated, but that is not a matter of muscle but of programming finesse.

I guess what I'm saying is in a simple patch of the Solaris running monophonically, how close could a synth like Zebra get?

This is more of an academic question, as for me, the way I do things I need real time muscle, though I don't need a ton of voices/timbers. The Solaris sounds like a dream synth to me. Worth it's price... but I can't imagine having that lump of cash to spend on a single instrument. I guess, with it's capabilities, I could theoretically replace all my hardware synths, but I'd then feel like I'd have all my eggs in one synth designer's basket. Maybe one day...
The NL2x is not just a filter. It has very characteristic oscillators and envelopes that are second to none. I'm going to try it though...software instruments are all about convenience.

The Solaris doesn't sound like a 3700 euros synth to me. Also, I think that it excels in digital sounds, but it doesn't sound good in analogue emulation like Diva or other software synths. I believe that it can certainly exist in VST form, but with much less features voices etc...
Old 11th August 2014
  #278
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zerocrossing's Avatar
Quote:
Good god I want one of these.
Old 11th August 2014
  #279
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zerocrossing's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spectral Climax View Post
The NL2x is not just a filter. It has very characteristic oscillators and envelopes that are second to none. I'm going to try it though...software instruments are all about convenience.

The Solaris doesn't sound like a 3700 euros synth to me. Also, I think that it excels in digital sounds, but it doesn't sound good in analogue emulation like Diva or other software synths. I believe that it can certainly exist in VST form, but with much less features voices etc...
Yeah, try the latest build of Discovery Pro. It's a winner. In many ways I like it better than my NL2x... so much so I sold it. There's no room for hardware in my studio unless it really offers something I can't get in software.

Well, as for the worth of the Solaris... that's I guess up for opinion. I'm listening to this right now:

http://synthesizer.at/audio/solaris_...workshop-1.mp3

and it sounds lovely to me. I don't think I could pony up $4100 USD for one, but I don't think that's because I don't think it's worth it. It's more like I don't think I'm worth it. I've long ago given up on being a professional musician and my chosen profession of Graphic Designer/UI Designer isn't as lucrative as it used to be. So... for my twiddling around in my home studio, which became more rare when my daughter entered the world, I'm happy with the mid-level gear I have and some good software.

But... is the Solaris supposed to be a VA? I don't ever remember thinking it was pushed in that way. I always thought it was more like a modern modular Waldorf Wave. That's what it sounds like to me anyway. For fun I went to look on eBay to see what the Wave is selling for and I found one with a "Buy It Now" of nearly $17000! So... $4100 looks a lot better for those in the market for such things, but as I said, for me I'll have to stick with software unless I somehow become ridiculously wealthy sometimes soon.
Old 11th August 2014
  #280
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing View Post
I have a question though. It's not meant to be trolling to start a hardware vs. software war. I understand why a synth like the Solaris won't be bested, or emulated, by software in real time, but why couldn't it be perfectly emulated in rendered out tracks?
Theoretically it should even work in realtime. When the XCIT-1 came out (which has twice the DSP power of the Solrais if I remember correctly) The Sonic Core guys claimed it was twice as fast as a quad-core Intel. Looking at the pure specs it was closer to as fast or slower, but those where the early days of SIMD and the Intels are still not really all that friendly to program for top performance....

So, a "modern" quad-core should be pretty much able to keep up with the Solaris (with slightly larger buffers, since we don´t run real time systems, but let´s be honest, nobody should be bothered by anything less then 10 ms latency...).

Like most digital stuff it is mostly a question of programming (and taste). I love the sound of the old sonic core stuff and the Solaris has that, but it sounds better. So for me it´s a clear win and I prefer it to e.g. Diva.

Obviously doing stuff like an audio rate modulation matrix (well it´s not a matrix in the Solaris...) and a bunch of multiplication at audio rate is going to be "expensive", so it is not a trivial programming task. However if you consider what the Korg guys did with a lowly Atom (a single core for the synth in the Kronos, the other for FX if I remember correctly), a bit of hard work should make the Solaris soundalike possible.

The bad news is, that the sonic core/Bowen DSP-guy probably will never bother and I just really like the sound of his stuff (and get really annoyed by the Plugiators editing software).
Old 12th August 2014
  #281
Gear Guru
 
zerocrossing's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by bug2342 View Post
Theoretically it should even work in realtime. When the XCIT-1 came out (which has twice the DSP power of the Solrais if I remember correctly) The Sonic Core guys claimed it was twice as fast as a quad-core Intel. Looking at the pure specs it was closer to as fast or slower, but those where the early days of SIMD and the Intels are still not really all that friendly to program for top performance....

So, a "modern" quad-core should be pretty much able to keep up with the Solaris (with slightly larger buffers, since we don´t run real time systems, but let´s be honest, nobody should be bothered by anything less then 10 ms latency...).

Like most digital stuff it is mostly a question of programming (and taste). I love the sound of the old sonic core stuff and the Solaris has that, but it sounds better. So for me it´s a clear win and I prefer it to e.g. Diva.

Obviously doing stuff like an audio rate modulation matrix (well it´s not a matrix in the Solaris...) and a bunch of multiplication at audio rate is going to be "expensive", so it is not a trivial programming task. However if you consider what the Korg guys did with a lowly Atom (a single core for the synth in the Kronos, the other for FX if I remember correctly), a bit of hard work should make the Solaris soundalike possible.

The bad news is, that the sonic core/Bowen DSP-guy probably will never bother and I just really like the sound of his stuff (and get really annoyed by the Plugiators editing software).
Interesting. I wasn't aware of the Scope XCIT-1. I'm looking at the XCIT-1 D and, for me, that makes more sense than something like the Solaris as I could care less about a keyboard anyway and I'm just as happy with a computer interface... in ways happier.

How does it work though? I fully admit that I've never really looked at something like this, do the instruments and effects just load up as VSTs in the DAW of your choice? Is there a sonic benefit over using good native VSTs, or is it just extra horsepower and the access to good software algorithms? I'm more or less happy with the power of my i7 now, but I'm about to downsize my studio due to space and that means tasks now done with hardware synths will now have to be done ITB.
Old 16th August 2014
  #282
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing View Post
Interesting. I wasn't aware of the Scope XCIT-1. I'm looking at the XCIT-1 D and, for me, that makes more sense than something like the Solaris as I could care less about a keyboard anyway and I'm just as happy with a computer interface... in ways happier.

How does it work though?
I never really used one, but I considered buying a couple of times (never really wanted to spend that much money...), so I looked into it.

Pretty good overview in this (old) review:
Creamware SCOPE

Basically there is a mode in witch you can use scope plugins as a VST (seems to be broken in 64-bit systems) and there is a "native" mode that "emulates" real devices. So you get a piece of software that allows you to attach a bunch of Midi/audio ins/outs to a bunch of mixer channels, FX and instruments.

It seems the guys that actually use it love it. It also seems that development at the moment is rather slow and SC is down to one developer. It seems the core guy will keep on doing scope (he kept it up for a VERY long time now), so investments in it are probably save, I would just not expect fast advances of the software.

For more details look through a dedicated forum, e.g.:
Planet Z • Index page

I would probably not get the scope-1D, since it has a lot less DSP power. From the sonic core site:
DSP Chips XITE- 1: 12xSharc (333 MHz), 6xSharc (60 MHz)
DSP Chips XITE- 1D: 4xSharc (333 MHz), 6xSharc (60 MHz)

There also seem to be some problems with the Xite boxes and the Zarg plugins (e.g. the "software" Solaris), that reduce polyphony to a few voices.

The Scope Solaris actually has more synthesis options than the hardware Solaris but only runs at 44/48 kHz and has no audio rate sources in the modulation matrix (I think). On the other hand it does have stuff like DX7 like oscillators.

For advanced synthesis the modular (2+3+4) package and the additional Flexor modules seem to be the way to go. Getting all of them will add something like 350$ and should keep you happy for quite some time. Even staying at modular 2+3, which comes with the Xites should keep you happy for a while.

On the other hand the newer VST stuff also sounds very good...
Old 7th September 2014
  #283
Just got my Solaris a few weeks ago and have been giving it a workout. I am very happy with it. Works great, gorgeous sounding filter models, the best aftertouch response and keyboard feel I've ever experienced, after the CS-80. And you can throw together very complex patches in no time at all.

Before selling gear and putting my money down for Solaris I did a ****load of research on Bowen and the synth's current status on the public Bowen Solaris forums. John is the most responsive synth maker I've ever encountered. The issues I saw mentioned, did not bother me and I knew what to expect going in.

I view Solaris as "Bowen's dream". If it's your cup of tea and you can swing it, you can go along for the ride. Arguments having to do with the price and number of bugs, make no sense to me, in this context. AFAIC they only apply to synths from mega corporations like Roland, Korg and Yamaha who have armies of programmers, engineers and testers.
Old 9th January 2015
  #284
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tobyemerson's Avatar

128 new presets and 9 minute audio demo of some sounds for the Solaris:
Old 9th January 2015
  #285
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ImJohn's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by tobyemerson View Post

128 new presets and 9 minute audio demo of some sounds for the Solaris:
Sounds totally awesome Toby and John!
Old 9th January 2015
  #286
Gear Addict
 

Deep, impressive sound. I would like to have a demo
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