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Boris Blank's Fairlight 3 on ebay
Old 23rd October 2013
  #1
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Boris Blank's Fairlight 3 on ebay

Boris Blank's  Fairlight 3 on ebayBoris Blank's (Yello) Fairlight CMI III. Huge Library! Fully optioned. Warranty | eBay


So, ignoring the provenance, what do I get if I bought a Fairlight series 3?

I note is says it has 32 meg, it this on board sample memory? Also it has 16 voices, is 16 part multi timbral, has at least 16 separate outs, and sequencing software. So really, I would have a similar thing with a big fat late S- series Akai?

Lets say you could by these for a little less - what would, in this day and age, be its unique selling point?

Just interested that's all, don't want any gear wars - would like to hear from owners perhaps.
Old 23rd October 2013
  #2
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Nice bit of electronic music history. Not sure what it's doing in Australia as Boris Blank lives in Switzerland.

Can you duplicate the sound with an Akai S series sampler? I think the Fairlight is going to sound unique due to its filters, sample rate, PCM algorithms, and other programming.
Old 23rd October 2013
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AstroZon View Post
Nice bit of electronic music history. Not sure what it's doing in Australia as Boris Blank lives in Switzerland.

Can you duplicate the sound with an Akai S series sampler? I think the Fairlight is going to sound unique due to its filters, sample rate, PCM algorithms, and other programming.
it says "seller refurbished". Maybe it got sent back to Australia for repair?
IMO, you'd be better off with a new computer, nice audio interface, midi controller keyboard, and a DAW of your choice. Probably less crash prone too.
Old 23rd October 2013
  #4
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That keyboard/unit with built in shuttle wheel looks quite nice, and while I have the utmost respect for Yellow, I would personally prefer it not to have the signature on it.

BTW- I know someone who once bought a Fairlight out of curiosity, but quickly had to get rid of it as that its girth was causing the floor of his studio to buckle...
Old 23rd October 2013
  #5
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Originally Posted by Alex Aliferis View Post
That keyboard/unit with built in shuttle wheel looks quite nice, and while I have the utmost respect for Yellow, I would personally prefer it not to have the signature on it.
Yello are the bull's b*ll*cks. I'd love to own it because of the sig. And the fact that it's bloody awesome!
Old 23rd October 2013
  #6
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"Yello Fairlight III. Signed front panel. There will be Boris's sounds included, as well as all the libraries listed below, in 4 x hard drives."

Boris's sounds will be included. Hence the price.
Old 23rd October 2013
  #7
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Quote:
There will be Boris's sounds included


I don't usually care about 'owned by...' but this is different. It ought to be in a museum. Wow, just wow.
Old 23rd October 2013
  #8
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Yoozer's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by AstroZon View Post
Can you duplicate the sound with an Akai S series sampler?
Imagine for a moment if that were possible. Do you think anyone'd still want these?

The fact that they still fetch high prices and that early Akais are like $100 should say enough
Old 23rd October 2013
  #9
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But this is the heart of the issue.

We all pay over the odds sometimes for something 'vintage' or that we could not afford when young. But we know it is not an indispensible bit off kit. For the price of my SCI Drumtraks i could get a modern drum machine that would sound every bit as good - but I just like its raw thump, the design - the wooden panels even!

So if i bought this fairlight, I would need either to hook it up to outboard - because I would need compressors etc to make a final mix, or record tracks into a DAW.

But what is coming out of those outputs that is so good? I know the sound library will be cool, but ignoring that - does it really trounce everything ever made since?

Dont get me wrong, I love Yello, if I was rolling in it I might buy it as a collector / curiosity - I'm just wondering if I would turn it on and think - actually stuff my set up - this is my new studio.
Old 23rd October 2013
  #10
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From watching interviews with Boris Blank and seeing studio pics, he now uses a mix of Akai and EMU samplers.
Old 23rd October 2013
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lhm1138 View Post
Boris's sounds will be included. Hence the price.
I think you could buy all of yello's records for a lot less...
Old 23rd October 2013
  #12
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I have his D50/D550 controller (but only knew after I bought it). Maybe I should put it on ebay as well and donate it to the salvation army. Or to Kris Weston.

Anyway, I never understood the personality cult with gear used by X and Y, but if there are some "genre defining" patches on a machine that might be a bit different. But I think the novelty factor wears pretty quickly. So yeah, into a Swiss museum with that piece! In the end it's like me playing on Mahler's Piano or Bach's Moog...doesn't change the fact that I am shyte player one bit.
Old 23rd October 2013
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by schmuck View Post
Anyway, I never understood the personality cult with gear used by X and Y, but if there are some "genre defining" patches on a machine that might be a bit different.
If i had the money i would bought that Fairlight without any second though, just for the Boris' samples, to compile them all, put into archive and give it to music students. If there's someone to learn from about sound design, it is from Boris Blank. He is TOP of the top, no competition whatsoever.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Syn303 View Post
From watching interviews with Boris Blank and seeing studio pics, he now uses a mix of Akai and EMU samplers.
Wow! Got anly URLs? I was sure he uses mostly software now. I also noticed a bit thinner sound in his latest works. Perhaps his new preference. I guess the Fairlight was off for quite some time. I'm a total fan btw.
Old 23rd October 2013
  #14
I looks like this is not his only system. One eBay photo shows the proper keyboard flanked by 2 racks. I don't mind a system optioned to the max, but for a collector (face it, that's the target market) it's going to have to have a working light pen and original keyboard to put pull in the serious money.
Old 23rd October 2013
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Solaris View Post
If i had the money i would bought that Fairlight without any second though, just for the Boris' samples, to compile them all, put into archive and give it to music students. If there's someone to learn from about sound design, it is from Boris Blank. He is TOP of the top, no competition whatsoever....
I have to agree, although there are others I admire as well, Trevor Horns team etc. Unsung hero.

I wish more of them were made I would like to have a go with one.
Old 24th October 2013
  #16
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Septik's Avatar
Maybe for Frank Zappa's Synclavier...



...Really though, this is an amazing piece :D
Old 24th October 2013
  #17
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schmuck's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Septik View Post
Maybe for Frank Zappa's Synclavier...



...Really though, this is an amazing piece :D
Huge Zappa fan here, but if you think he can even touch the level of Boris' sound design capabilities and ideas then you are very wrong IMO
Old 24th October 2013
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Septik View Post
Maybe for Frank Zappa's Synclavier...
Zappa is good, but Boris is beyond real.

Get Yello's remastered albums set. And i mean proper audio CDs not that iTunes 128kb joke. Pick any album I guarantee instant jaw drop to the floor. Some good monitor cans are preferred.
Old 24th October 2013
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by groundbass View Post
But this is the heart of the issue.

We all pay over the odds sometimes for something 'vintage' or that we could not afford when young. But we know it is not an indispensible bit off kit. For the price of my SCI Drumtraks i could get a modern drum machine that would sound every bit as good - but I just like its raw thump, the design - the wooden panels even!

So if i bought this fairlight, I would need either to hook it up to outboard - because I would need compressors etc to make a final mix, or record tracks into a DAW.

But what is coming out of those outputs that is so good? I know the sound library will be cool, but ignoring that - does it really trounce everything ever made since?

Dont get me wrong, I love Yello, if I was rolling in it I might buy it as a collector / curiosity - I'm just wondering if I would turn it on and think - actually stuff my set up - this is my new studio.
When I owned a Fairlight IIx (ex Hall & Oates), I ran through all the factory disks and was immediately able to identify sounds used by OMD and other bands. All I had to do was find the correct transposition and note runs and there it was -- it sounded like the record.

Some gear just "sounds like a record". The Fairlights, a Lexicon 480L, AMS delays and reverbs, TR-808, etc. Other gear just sounds like samples. There's an added girth, dimensionality, whatever that needs very little additional processing to sound like a finished product.

That being said, I wasn't willing to make my studio centered on the Fairlight, and it seemed a bit of a waste to have it sitting there for parlor tricks and simple playback, so I sold it. Sounded stunning though.
Old 24th October 2013
  #20
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tehlord's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Solaris View Post
He is TOP of the top, no competition whatsoever.

I don't think I've agreed with anything on the internet more than this.

I actually remember the day I got Stella on CD. I went out and spent all my pocket money on a new pair of Sennheisers to listen in greater fidelity.
Old 24th October 2013
  #21
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Xero's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Solaris View Post
Zappa is good, but Boris is beyond real.

Get Yello's remastered albums set. And i mean proper audio CDs not that iTunes 128kb joke. Pick any album I guarantee instant jaw drop to the floor. Some good monitor cans are preferred.
i was trying to explain this to someone the other day too

I don't know what he does but his mixes are perfection. He always gets the bass to sit in a mix in such a way that it'll shake the whole room but yet it doesn't overwhelm the rest of the song. It's like it creeps up on you. I don't even know. Everything always sounds so damn crisp too. Maybe part of it is the fairlight, but it's not just that.

needless to say if i had endless money that fairlight would be mine as well. though right now i'd probably rather spend 12k on a cs-80 first.
Old 24th October 2013
  #22
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NGC 5139's Avatar
 

Don, you're right with the thinner sound in the new productions from Boris.
I had a talk a few months ago with his assistant. Boris is now mainly ITB and mixing on a Focusrite Control 2802.
There is a shop 10 minutes from where I live which was selling most of his studio hardware (Synths & Outboard). I was there looking for some of his outboard equipment...
Old 24th October 2013
  #23
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I had the chance to buy Jack Nitzsche's Fairlight III system for $3500 in 2001. A pawn shop I always frequent had all the racks and keyboard just sitting there. I remember being offered 20% if I could find a buyer, but at the time was unable to.
Old 24th October 2013
  #24
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LightBlue's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AstroZon View Post
Nice bit of electronic music history. Not sure what it's doing in Australia as Boris Blank lives in Switzerland.
The machine is being sold by Peter Wielk. A lot of machines find their way to him as he's an ex-Fairlight employee who is still active in supporting them and is a recognised expert in the Fairlight world.

Quote:
Originally Posted by groundbass View Post

I note is says it has 32 meg, it this on board sample memory? Also it has 16 voices, is 16 part multi timbral, has at least 16 separate outs, and sequencing software. So really, I would have a similar thing with a big fat late S- series Akai?
This machine is a very late Series III and from what I can see with the TurboSCSI card and 24 output router is mostly MFX-2 spec, meaning it would be able to run revision 11 software and function as a 24 track 'DAW'. The 32meg is the waveform RAM available for samples. Most series IIIs originally came with 14mb on 7 x 2mb cards. These ran extremely hot and consumed lots of juice. The 32 meg card is a single card that replaces all of these. It was developed by a couple of ex-Fairlight guys (including Peter) and uses a single stick of (modern) memory hence doesn't emit any heat and consumes next to no power.

The 16 outs correspond to the 16 voice cards and hence are monophonic outputs. On a Series 3, there are 8 digital cards (2 voices on each card) and 8 corresponding analogue cards containing the filters and output stages. These are contained in discrete cages. In the pictures, the rack with Boris's signature on contains the digital cards and the rack with the cards with XLRs is the analogue side. The ribbon cables connect one rack to the other. Incidentally, the card next to the analogue output cards with the 3 x 25pin d-subs is the router card, with each d-sub outputting 8 channels. In Rev 9.34 and above, you can route any channel (1-16) to any output on this card, so whilst there are similarities with any hardware sampler, the discrete voice architecture and total isolation between the digital side and analogue side makes it somewhat different.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Aliferis View Post
That keyboard/unit with built in shuttle wheel looks quite nice.
This is the MFX controller that wraps up the old qwerty keyboard functions with controls for 24-track disk editor operation. It also has the added advantage of enabling a serial-port compatible mouse to be connected, which is useful if the g-pad on the original qwerty unit is getting a bit worn (the Series III does not have a light-pen).

Quote:
Originally Posted by groundbass View Post
So, ignoring the provenance, what do I get if I bought a Fairlight series 3?
From my perspective, ownership of a machine that has proven heritage, still sounds fantastic, and ownership of one of only 300 or so that exist. To me it's still a very useful machine, and once learnt is a pleasure to use. In terms of the Series III libraries, a lot of the sounds still stack up today (although I do recognise that it can't compete with the complexity of products such as Kontakt) and has a beautiful tone. Multi-sampled sounds have the high-fidelity that Fairlight were clearly aiming for with the Series III, but you don't have to stray too far from the sampled root to get that trademark Fairlight whispiness in the sound, which to me, gives it its own, unique character. It also has a great dynamic range, with probably the best defined bass of any sampler I've owned (and I've had most). One of the great things about the III is that it can play the 8-bit Series II sounds through the voice cards. To my ears, this is indistinguishable from the II itself.

Ultimately there are those on here that love their Jup 8's or Moogs and there are those, like me, who love their Fairlights!
Old 24th October 2013
  #25
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Originally Posted by bluegreengold View Post
I think you could buy all of yello's records for a lot less...
hahahah I like how u think.
Old 25th October 2013
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LightBlue View Post
......



From my perspective, ownership of a machine that has proven heritage, still sounds fantastic, and ownership of one of only 300 or so that exist. To me it's still a very useful machine, and once learnt is a pleasure to use. In terms of the Series III libraries, a lot of the sounds still stack up today (although I do recognise that it can't compete with the complexity of products such as Kontakt) and has a beautiful tone. Multi-sampled sounds have the high-fidelity that Fairlight were clearly aiming for with the Series III, but you don't have to stray too far from the sampled root to get that trademark Fairlight whispiness in the sound, which to me, gives it its own, unique character. It also has a great dynamic range, with probably the best defined bass of any sampler I've owned (and I've had most). One of the great things about the III is that it can play the 8-bit Series II sounds through the voice cards. To my ears, this is indistinguishable from the II itself.

Ultimately there are those on here that love their Jup 8's or Moogs and there are those, like me, who love their Fairlights!
Thanks for your detailed reply. So the main thing is the sound quality, which wether 'better' or not i would love to hear. I would like to try one, certainly before a Jup 8's or moog!. It would be an insight into how some of my favorite records were made, and it does not seam to take up to much space!

What is the sensible going rate for a similar system? - without it being "Ex someone famous" - which I suppose most of them are!




One day.
Old 31st October 2013
  #27
Regarding the sound of CMI's, as I had it explained to me by Fairlight:
The CMI voice card sample rate clock was not synced to anything. It basically had a clock generator for each voice to play each sample at the proper pitch. So as you stack up voices at one pitch, each is using it own clock and so you had a very asynchronous clock system. Other systems probably used a common clock which was then multiplied or divided for sample pitch. Even though the sample rate would be different for each pitch, it all tied back mathematically to a common clock. When I got my first MFX2, it was built from the CMI and had the asynchronous clock setup which wrecked havoc if you were trying to cross fade music on the same track (it wasn't phase locked like you would have in a common clock system.) Great for music creation, but lousy for DAW recording...
The MFX3 and all later machines adopted a common clock for all voice cards.
Old 31st October 2013
  #28
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OH, wow! All the praise of Boris's greatness made me re-check Yello - despite being the late 80s teenager, I somehow skipped on that band, since I only knew "The Race" and thought it is a cool, but only "fun" making band... you know one of those "Da da da", etc. bands... I was a big fan of other "synth" featuring bands and artists of that time - Peter Gabriel (I lusted over Fairlight because of him...), New Order, Kate Bush, Genesis, Duran Duran, Vangelis, JM Jarre, Kitaro, Talking Heads, Roxy Music, Nike Kershaw, Howard Jones, Talk Talk, etc.

But wow, checking Yello - even on YouTube the sound quality is outstanding, and not even so dated for the 80s and so much cool smooth sexy songs!! I thought they were "joke" band... but I see now they were more "smooth lovers" band! Great... Don't care about the Fairlight today, but appreciate that this thread made me re-discover Yello!
Old 31st October 2013
  #29
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Get the first 3-4 albums in the remastered version, like Don S says. They are amazing!
Love 'em to bits. Only Kraftwerk is up there..
Old 31st October 2013
  #30
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Boris Blank is simply a genius.
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