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John Bowen Solaris Keyboard Synthesizers
Old 8th August 2014
  #241
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ionian's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by D_Davis View Post
How can something be sold for over $3k and not work?
Happens all the time with Vintage analog synths.
Old 8th August 2014
  #242
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D_Davis View Post
How can something be sold for over $3k and not work?
It is just the way product development works these days, get it to market before it is fully finished, update it while it is being sold as a new product, drop development before everything is ironed out, move onto getting the next new thing to market.
Old 8th August 2014
  #243
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In fairness to John, he is trying very hard to do the right things. He just acquired the source code back from SonicCore. They had been responsible for development but had totally dropped the ball on bug fixes and feature additions. I think John is arranging (or has already) for someone to do dedicated work on the code so hopefully things will get better. At least it is not dead ended.
Old 8th August 2014
  #244
Oli
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kpsiegel View Post
In fairness to John, he is trying very hard to do the right things. He just acquired the source code back from SonicCore. They had been responsible for development but had totally dropped the ball on bug fixes and feature additions. I think John is arranging (or has already) for someone to do dedicated work on the code so hopefully things will get better. At least it is not dead ended.
That was my impression of John as well. I have been in similar situations, and it can be really difficult to balance all concerns, particularly when cooperating with other organisations. IIRC, he has mentioned this issue in the past as well, when discussing other requests for development or production. It's normally not disingenuous, but can go awry when things don't go to plan. If not taking that approach, it can otherwise result in an unfunded or unfeasible project, or much higher price to cover periods of operating costs with no returns. Of course, I don't know the details of John's situation.
Old 8th August 2014
  #245
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ionian View Post
Happens all the time with Vintage analog synths.
Completely different.
Old 8th August 2014
  #246
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ionian's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by D_Davis View Post
Completely different.
Not at all. How much did you pay for your OB8 and you're still struggling to get it to play in key?
Old 8th August 2014
  #247
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Yeah, right, a 30 year old synth, with issues due to the age of components and need for maintenance, is exactly the same as a brand new synth, with issues due to an incomplete and/or buggy OS.
Old 8th August 2014
  #248
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roginator's Avatar
 

few more words ….

I like sound a lot …
and Solaris is very very flexible sound chameleon !!

I would recommend it to everybody .. but won't till it have OS that is fully working !

i don't think my unit is faulty !!

so far I don't like :
- setting a new preset usually cause a clicks ( loud ones) or somethings clicks with delays .. and I experienced it so loud that I was in shock and afraid it did not burn my new speakers! :(
- Machine freeze when works USB, machine freeze sometimes when midi is sequencing and you are tweaking sound
- Machine freeze when you are selecting some parts of menu
- 2 times machine did not boot on me so i needed to restart it and reboot
- sometimes i feel that machine lose a note when I'm playing it
- polyphony I don't understand .. it should be 10 .. sometimes simple things done and its only like 3 or 4 polyphonic …
- Wave oscillator still need a lot to be really easy and usable.
- there are some other but not that important problems .
- and its dark sounding synth compared to many other ones i have.

I believe John is working on new OS .. and I will give one more chance to Solaris ..
I exchanged few mails With john .. and I believe he will improve his synth .. he sounds to me like somebody who really cares about this product and i know he had a problem with guy who was working on OS and he is after somebody new who will finish OS for him !

things that blown me away on it :

- Routing is OUT OF this planet … nothing can match with that ( maybe I say Maybe EOS)
- VS, WT, CEM and MM oscillators are great .. and rotors are something that i never heard before .. great sounding basic sound sources.
- Filters and number of them just dream .. some filters shave that quality that I never heard on any digital device
- sequencer is simple and super easy
- its really easy to use ..
- most innovative synth made in last 20 years
- super nice and FAT sound of solaris !!!

I hope owe will see new OS in next few month .. if no I will sell Solaris ..

I must say …

Its too expensive for 10 voice mono timbral synth and not finished OS .. BUT .. if they fix OS .. its worth every penny and everybody should get one!

cause if wee look back .. I paid my JD 800 in 90s c/a 2800 DEM and it was only 6 polyphonic ( 24 oscillators Synth) .. and that synth is still in use so it worth it !!
Old 8th August 2014
  #249
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roginator's Avatar
 

I really don't see too big problems with Solaris maintenance in future …

its simple made.. and it is basically sound card with awesome controller in a box … i don't mind that as long as it have sound and works ..



Old 8th August 2014
  #250
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ionian View Post
Not at all. How much did you pay for your OB8 and you're still struggling to get it to play in key?
It's old - old gear needs maintenance. I knew that going in. That's what you sign up for with vintage gear.

Besides, half the patches play in key, and it doesn't crash.

Also, I didn't pay anything for it - traded. :P

Something brand new, out of the box, for $3k should work perfectly. Can't believe you'd even argue against that. The whole notion of paying to beta test a product is a travesty.

Ridiculous.

If my Analog Keys didn't work out of the box, I'd be livid. I'd get a refund, never use Elektron again, and would in no way be defending their actions.
Old 8th August 2014
  #251
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Returning the Solaris and getting an SE Omega instead, was one of my smarter decisions.
Old 8th August 2014
  #252
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BTByrd's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by zahush76 View Post
Returning the Solaris and getting an SE Omega instead, was one of my smarter decisions.
I guess it depends on what you're wanting out of the Solaris. If you just want a beefy analog-sounding subtractive polysynth, then the Omega is the way to go. To me, the most attractive things about the Solaris are the crazy digital things you can do with it, along with the rotors and modulation system. These are things the Omega can't really compete with. But they're very different synths at the end of the day.
Old 8th August 2014
  #253
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roginator's Avatar
 

solaris vs Omega is like PPG vs Prophet 600 for example..
totally different animals !!
Old 8th August 2014
  #254
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D_Davis View Post
I know right? Dude is being so totally obtuse it's hilarious.
He has to be trolling.
Old 8th August 2014
  #255
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You both understood me wrong. I didn't return the Solaris because i didn't like the sound. I returned it because of what's being discussed here: it was buggy. It wasn't packed properly. It was a bit damaged during shipping. It responded only to nrpn, and i work with cubase which is quite poor in that departement (so automating the Solaris was difficult) etc etc. Please, do not patronize on me as if i'm clueless and don't know the difference, or that i "got my expectations all wrong". I know perfectly well what the Solaris is, how it sounds, what it is capable of, and that a digital synth with VA, wavetables, vector synthesis and rotors - is different than a vco analog polysynth. It's just that it was a buggy mess so i gave it back, and i'm happy i did!
Old 8th August 2014
  #256
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BTByrd's Avatar
Zahush: That makes sense. I remember hearing about your ordeal with the damaged Solaris back when you first got it and had forgotten about your difficulties with Cubase. I wasn't trying to patronize, it just wasn't clear from your post why you returned the Solaris and got an Omega instead.
Old 8th August 2014
  #257
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Sorry. I should have explained myself better i guess...
Old 8th August 2014
  #258
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zahush76 View Post
it was a buggy mess so i gave it back
This is going overboard. There are some bugs in the OS that hopefully will be fixed sooner rather than later, but it's completely usable as-is. "Buggy mess" is hyperbole.
Old 8th August 2014
  #259
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NWSooner View Post
This is going overboard. There are some bugs in the OS that hopefully will be fixed sooner rather than later, but it's completely usable as-is. "Buggy mess" is hyperbole.
Dude, i was talking about my unit. If yours is fine then good for you. Mine was a buggy mess. Learn to read.
Old 8th August 2014
  #260
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NWSooner's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by zahush76 View Post
Dude, i was talking about my unit. If yours is fine then good for you. Mine was a buggy mess. Learn to read.
Yours was damaged in transit. Hardly the same thing...
Old 8th August 2014
  #261
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NWSooner View Post
Yours was damaged in transit. Hardly the same thing...
Not just that. And the damage in transit was largely cosmetic. Some of the bugs, though, were also reported by some of the other users. One example is the screen going gaga when in the preset search screen. Another was the difficulty to sync it (arp, step seq, lfo) to the daw's bpm. This was reported by several users. Another common bug was the Solaris freezing and needing reboot - all too often. Joystick making the synth freeze etc etc. These weren't just my unit's. So please.
If anything, i would suggest visiting the solaris forum, to the owners section. There's a LONG list of all sorts of bugs by different users. I imagine there's a good reason why the owners section is restricted. If i was interested in buying a solaris and would read all the stuff in there - i'd have some serious doubts...
Old 8th August 2014
  #262
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zerocrossing's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by NWSooner View Post
This is going overboard. There are some bugs in the OS that hopefully will be fixed sooner rather than later, but it's completely usable as-is. "Buggy mess" is hyperbole.
Maybe so, but it's relative to the cost, no? If the Solaris was under a grand it would be pretty easy to dismiss issues and wait for an update, but on a 4199.00 instrument I feel it's pretty fair to expect v1 to be at the very least rock solid. I know we're in the time where "get it out the door and fix bugs later" is the order of the day but I've been burned too many times. I once had a developer tell me over email that his audio looper (The Looperlative) had MIDI sync and would let me pre decide the length of my loop in a quantized fashion so I could press record and have it start recording at the next bar and end when the preset amount of beats had taken place. It not only didn't function in this way, but it didn't even sync to MIDI. I questioned him and he said, "Well, to be honest I don't use it that way and I didn't really test it." We were talking about a $1500 piece of digital gear.

I'm not saying that John Bowen is anything as bad as that nightmare (I eventually got tired of waiting for a fix and returned it) but I think I'd be less than patient if I was down $4200 and had a machine that wasn't stable. I can take feature incomplete but stable, but a hardware synth that crashes is a total fail IMO.
Old 9th August 2014
  #263
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing View Post
Maybe so, but it's relative to the cost, no?
Whether the description of the Solaris as "a buggy mess" is justified or not isn't anything to do with the cost in my view. It's either that bad or it isn't. If the issues occur only in very specific circumstances (which is the nature of a lot of software bugs) then how severe you regard them is going to be down to how often you encounter them during normal usage. That's not to say that any bug is excusable but if the developer is actively engaged in fixing issues then those type of replicable issues should be something that can at least be solved relatively quickly.

It sounds like John has had problems getting Sonic Core to implement fixes for reported issues and has had to acquire the code from them in order to be able get someone else to work on it. I've been in the position of having to develop software against code owned by another company who, for one reason or another, we weren't able to get bug fixes or feature implementations out of. It's a pissing nightmare, to be frank, so I do sympathise with John if that's been the circumstance he's found himself in. What matters to me is whether things start to improve now and how soon.
Old 9th August 2014
  #264
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I understand Zahush's concerns and honestly, if he was not happy with his Solaris, then it is perfectly ok to return it. I don't think it is for any of us to judge what is or is not tolerable in synth behavior for other people.

As for me, my Solaris had a bad effects board. It took 9 months to get it replaced. My wife and I did the necessary board swap ourselves once the replacement arrived. There is an extreme shortage of boards and a tremendous number of rejected boards John was getting in production. He is taking steps to address that issue and bring production back to the US. I have to say that I am really rooting for John. I don't think most people can appreciate all the things he is trying to do to make the product right for everyone. He is extremely responsive when you send him any emails.

There are several things I would definitely like addressed but they haven't been show stoppers for me. My new effects board works fine and my Solaris is not locking up like it was. I am confident John is going to find a way to get the code back on track. Even as is, the Solaris is an amazing instrument. It can do things that no other synth I own can do. It isn't just hype. It is also a pleasure to program with all the separate physical screens for each of the functions. There just isn't a lot of menu diving and tweaking is very fast. It is incredibly enjoyable to create patches on the Solaris because the routing and modulation possibilities are way beyond what is possible in most non-modular synths. It sounds incredible. The factory presets are mostly abysmal but that is a function of many of them being created well before the full feature set was fleshed out. There are newer patches on the forum that are pretty awesome.
Old 9th August 2014
  #265
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polybonk's Avatar
Just to put things in another perspective.

I have spent a lot of time on my Solaris.
Made a bank of presets.
Written a whole stack of music.
Worked with other artists.
Made a Sample loop library. etc etc.

No problems with any doing of that. Its about as buggy as my Alesis Andromeda. (as in room for improvement but nothing stopping me making endless music)

If I make a tonne of crazy modulation routing on patch after patch it can get stuck in a kind of mono synth mode. A quick restart and your good to go. Its pretty rare tho.

I wonder if some of these bugs could be fixed by trying a new CF card with a fresh download of the OS. Could it be that the OS on the card has the error?

I personally don't have any problems with using Solaris every day as a workhorse powerhouse of a synth. Totally worth the money as is IMO.

While I can understand the feelings of unhappy users given the experiences they are listing. I do not share the issues myself.
Old 9th August 2014
  #266
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kpsiegel View Post
I understand Zahush's concerns and honestly, if he was not happy with his Solaris, then it is perfectly ok to return it. I don't think it is for any of us to judge what is or is not tolerable in synth behavior for other people.
Absolutely. For my part I'm just trying to get a handle on the facts so I can judge for myself whether I want to follow through with my Solaris purchase. If it's reasonably certain that any existing issues will get solved in the near future then I'll still probably get one because the sound and capabilities are amazing, but I think that it's as much a matter of investing in John personally as it is just buying an instrument, and that takes a lot of trust.
Old 9th August 2014
  #267
Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing View Post
Maybe so, but it's relative to the cost, no? If the Solaris was under a grand it would be pretty easy to dismiss issues and wait for an update, but on a 4199.00 instrument I feel it's pretty fair to expect v1 to be at the very least rock solid.
No instrument is perfect, even our classic analog synths that we compare everything to. Take the OB-8 which cost about the same as the Solaris, but in 1980's money. If you bought a midi retrofit kit early on your unit would randomly lock up. It turned out that that two lines of code had been typed in reverse order, it only took a year of people complaining and several months of research to discover what was causing it before it was fixed, and that was on a relatively simple software system compared to the Solaris.

Also analog synths had hardware issues as well as software. Just take a look at this page to see most of the eco's (engineer change orders) that were required for the Xpander after it was released: Directory Listing. Notice the last order is three years after it was originally released.
Old 9th August 2014
  #268
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kpsiegel View Post
I don't think most people can appreciate all the things he is trying to do to make the product right for everyone. He is extremely responsive when you send him any emails.
I should mention that my only complaint was about the synth itself. As for John - i have to say he gives the best customer service and support. He is a true professional, and a gentleman. Very responsive and very fair.
Old 9th August 2014
  #269
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zerocrossing's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spectral Climax View Post
?his is true...great digital synths like Supernova 2, Q, NL2x etc...have not been replaced by any software. They sound unique even after many years of software evolution.
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...
Old 9th August 2014
  #270
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kpsiegel's Avatar
 

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? 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...
A reasonable question to ask. My quick answer would be that you couldn't tweak the patch in any meaningfully useful way if you were constantly waiting for some software engine to render the audio results. A lot of tweaking out the patches may involve changing feedback loops to and from the mixers or flipping different filters on a patch in different orders. This takes seconds on a Solaris but the changes in an underpowered engine would make the tweaking process unpleasant at best.

By the way, this is the major issue I have with Diva. It sucks up CPU in divine mode but it does sound really good. The problem is, you have to do the tweaking in lower quality to avoid killing your CPU. This sort of defeats the purpose to me anyway. It just ended up annoying me so much that I really don't use it. This is different than getting a patch and rendering it once you have the sound. I get all that. It is the tweaking that is just so much harder with a CPU pig. Thus, a hardware device like a Solaris is a real pleasure.
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