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Synthi or Doepfer?
Old 30th January 2008
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Synthi or Doepfer?

I've a chance to acquire a Synthi, but i've also recently been looking into the Doepfer modules. Ignoring price/sellability issues can anyone tell me why one would be better than the other? I'm a fan of the EMS sounds and the appeal also lies in the external signal processing side of it. The downside is their reliabilty (and price). The Doepfer side seems spoilt for choice with processors but is it as characterful? What's going to be more inspirational?

I'm interested in your opinions.
Old 30th January 2008
  #2
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Beermaster's Avatar
 

Hi, I have both ( well a Mega Modded VCS3 and a load of Euro rack modules ) -

Synthi are unique in the types of sound you can get and the character but there are some pitfalls that you should be aware of ( besides the staggering price they now fetch ) - the standard models VCOs do not track so melodic stuff is going to be impossible. The inputs are very sensitive without modding. SO in addition to the big initial outlay of cash you are then going to need lots of mods to get it in tip top shape for external processing and VCO tracking at minimum.

If money is no object and you can live with the limitations of Synthi ( such that they are ) then go for it BUT if not then go for The Euro Rack modular ( doepfer / A-Sys / Livewire / Plan B etc etc ) .

Analogue Systems are the only company that have licensed genuine EMS modules that you can pick to go with the system of your choice. They have the Synthi filter ( with both Mk 1 and Mk 2 Synthi filter types and response curve toggles ) and they have the brilliant EMS Trapezoid Gen ( provides a the genuine Attack-On-Sustain-Off EG with level and invert ) - Shoving a VCO through both of these modules gets VERY VERY close to the genuine sounds of the Synthi But with SO much extra routing and masses of alternative functions that the AKS could never do.

SO I'd save the money and go with the Euro Rack Modular route and make a killer system with the EMS modules for it !!

Beer
Old 30th January 2008
  #3
Gear Nut
 

Hi Beermaster

Thanks for the insight. I've already got a load of slightly misbehaving synths, memorymoogs, pro 5 etc and the thought of a Synthi and its problems even when its working is a bit daunting. If i could pick your brains some more, i'm just wondering if you've any other pointers on some of the more interesting doepfer modules for external audio processing? I take it you use the Analogue systems modules, does this include their VCO?

Is drone correct? I'm sure i've heard a few very radiophonic in quality sound bites from doepfer systems before.
Old 30th January 2008
  #4
Lives for gear
 

I can't find the synthi VCO on that site. Just filter and trapazoid.
Old 31st January 2008
  #5
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Beermaster's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Thoms View Post
Hi Beermaster



Is drone correct? I'm sure i've heard a few very radiophonic in quality sound bites from doepfer systems before.
Well yes and no, Analogue Systems not Doepfer make the EMS modules ( no VCO tho ) but as I said these are the EXACT same circuits component to component to the Filter and Trapezoid gen on the the MkI and MkII VCS3s. Robin from EMS oversaw and aproved the module design So you're most of the way there with the key elements of the Synthi sound - these two modules can strobe and Bleep and scream and burble. Unlike the original tho you can patch anything you like to any part of the signal chain or control chain.

As far as processing external sounds on a Doepfer - Eurorack system well here are a few sugestions.

A-Sys - BODE Frequency Shifter ( expensive but very cool )
A-Sys - Vocal Phase Filter - a triple resonant filter with loads of controls
Doepfer - Modular Vocoder System - Un-bloody-believable ! - Lots of options and a great mangler.
Harvestman - Malgorithm - Ultimate Bit crusher

And Filters filters filters - all kinds and all types of sounds.

Beer.
Old 31st January 2008
  #6
Lives for gear
 

there are so many interesting modules coming out now for the euro rack format that it just can't be beat. the EMS stuff is great for sure. sounds distinct etc and i'm sure you'd use the hell out of it. but a euro rack modular can be added to and expanded with all sorts of modules that the EMS can't compete with (though it certainly does its thing and that's worth having)

the livewire, harvestman cjewman etc modules all look appealing to me and the demos i've heard are really something.

analoghave has a list of the manufacturers that's worth taking a gander at just to see what your options are.

a n a l o g u e h a v e n , p o m o n a , c a
Old 31st January 2008
  #7
Here for the gear
 

modern modulars

I'd go eurorack and pick a few companies, dont limit yourself to one brand.

OSC: tons to pick from
Envelopes: Cwejman are awesome.
Filters: livewire/planB
FX: modcan / doepfer

AH in pomona is great to work with on custom frankensynths.

cyrusrex.
Old 31st January 2008
  #8
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beermaster View Post
Hi, I have both ( well a Mega Modded VCS3 and a load of Euro rack modules ) -

If money is no object and you can live with the limitations of Synthi ( such that they are ) then go for it BUT if not then go for The Euro Rack modular ( doepfer / A-Sys / Livewire / Plan B etc etc ) .

Analogue Systems are the only company that have licensed genuine EMS modules that you can pick to go with the system of your choice. They have the Synthi filter ( with both Mk 1 and Mk 2 Synthi filter types and response curve toggles ) and they have the brilliant EMS Trapezoid Gen ( provides a the genuine Attack-On-Sustain-Off EG with level and invert ) - Shoving a VCO through both of these modules gets VERY VERY close to the genuine sounds of the Synthi

SO I'd save the money and go with the Euro Rack Modular route and make a killer system with the EMS modules for it !!
+1

I've owned both a synthi and those synthi modules in the past. The synthi makes truly mad, strident yet somehow organic sounds and has a distinct tone. It can be really beautiful too, I'm not sure about the melodic thing if you include bell like timbres and stuff. It's hard not to remake dark side of the moon with it though.

The AS modules are also mad-ish but sounded a bit more hifi. Probably because they werent massively ancient for one thing.

There is also the whole interface thing with a synthi, its a unique controls & process with lots of odd little tricks and possibility of making useful mistakes.

NB If you can afford a synthi, you could see it as an investment, I sold mine for what I bought it for so had it *rent free* for 2 years.
Old 31st January 2008
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beermaster View Post
....snip..Harvestman - Malgorithm - Ultimate Bit crusher

..snip....

Beer.
you know your stuff. the vocoder is indeed awesome. and the AS system sounds a lot like the Sinthy, as said, a little brighter, the EMS I used was in very good shape, so I guessed it was because it is slightly different. (osc, wires, matrix may have something to do with it)
going to look further into the Harvestman modules. thank you.
Old 1st February 2008
  #10
Lives for gear
 

Nothing seems to shreak quite like the Synthi!
Old 1st February 2008
  #11
Lives for gear
 

If I was going to spend 7 grand on a synthi I would just save up another 5 grand and get a buchla music easel. The ultimate suit case synth
Old 1st February 2008
  #12
Lives for gear
 

If I was going to spend 12 grand on a music easel I'd just save up an extra $7k and get a nice 200e system.
Old 1st February 2008
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drone View Post
You cant get the Doctor Who sounds from a Doepfer.
Not that the original Doctor Who sounds were done on any EMS stuff, not that it matters.

I've owned a couple of Synthi A's at one time and they are very unique. Having said that as others have pointed out they do have their problems, mine and most others I have heard are very noisy. That matrix pin field has no shield on its wires so it makes a great radio antenna. heh

These days I can't really see much point in buying old modular gear when their is some much good new stuff out their. Maybe the Synthi is the exception but for the price you can sure get a lot of different eurorack modules and do a lot more sound wise then what a Synthi ever could. My two cents.
Old 2nd February 2008
  #14
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Beermaster's Avatar
 

"Not that the original Doctor Who sounds were done on any EMS stuff, not that it matters."

I beg to differ sir ! - The voice of the Daleks is the Ring Mod on the the VCS3. AKS/VCS3 were used ALL OVER the DR Who episodes

The title theme was obviously not AKS
Old 2nd February 2008
  #15
Gear Maniac
 

I always thought the Dr. Who theme was made with an VCS3. And the bassline sampled....
Old 3rd February 2008
  #16
thx1138
Guest
Depends on what Dr. Who theme you're thinking of.
The first couple surely didn't have any sampling on them.

YouTube - Making of the 80s Dr Who Theme
Old 3rd February 2008
  #17
Gear Maniac
 

I meant "sampling" to tape/ tape manipulation.

There was a video on youtube, where a guy talked about the tape editing, and the original Dr. Who theme, but I can't find it.
Old 3rd February 2008
  #18
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Coyoteous's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by thx1138 View Post
Depends on what Dr. Who theme you're thinking of.
The first couple surely didn't have any sampling on them.

YouTube - Making of the 80s Dr Who Theme
- Wow, CS80(?), Odyssey, SVC350 vocoder and a broken Countryman phaseshifter!

- and here I thought that version was tape-edited EMS (never really sounded like it, though).
Old 3rd February 2008
  #19
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Coyoteous View Post
- Wow, CS80(?), Odyssey, SVC350 vocoder and a broken Countryman phaseshifter!

- and here I thought that version was tape-edited EMS (never really sounded like it, though).
This is an 80s remake/version, not the original. But mayby you know that, and i misunderstood you?
Old 3rd February 2008
  #20
Old 3rd February 2008
  #21
Lives for gear
 

My fav sounds from DR who are those thick bassy sounds they would play every once in a while. I don't know what they were for, but every once ina while you'd hear this mental bass sound out of no where. I guess thats a synthi. I think the oscillators have a sound of their own.
Old 3rd February 2008
  #22
I always thought EMS Synthi 100.

Given this choice I wouldn't choose either.

I think the Synthi is a nice synth. Esoteric sounds and good audio processing, but ultimately not that versatile, certainly not deserving of the price tag.
Likewise, if I was buying new modular, I would buy into a bigger format system which was easier to navigate; Modcan, MOTM, Macbeth.

The ultimate esoteric synthesis is via Buchla IMO.
Old 3rd February 2008
  #23
Old 3rd February 2008
  #24
thx1138
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by kalle1978 View Post
I meant "sampling" to tape/ tape manipulation.

There was a video on youtube, where a guy talked about the tape editing, and the original Dr. Who theme, but I can't find it.
Ahh I think I know what you mean... the second part of that video off google explains that technique.
Old 3rd February 2008
  #25
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Coyoteous's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kalle1978 View Post
This is an 80s remake/version, not the original. But mayby you know that, and i misunderstood you?
Right, I knew that - but I still had it in my mind that it was supposed to be EMS, even though it didn't sound like it.

Where's a quick link to the original(s)?

Alchemists of Sound has the rundown, right?

BTW, here are pretty hires download links to AoS (they're big!!! - download only!)

http://fatbaron.com/alchemistsofsound.avi (700MB)

http://fatbaron.com/alchemistsofsound.wmv (176MB)

I made a DVD out of the big one a year or 2 ago with the help of a video expert friend (please don't ask me how, because I don't remember - it took a few apps and a long time!).
Old 3rd February 2008
  #26
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Coyoteous's Avatar
 

Back on topic: I'm with chrisso on the original question, but with an additional reason: the poor US dollar. This has me a hybrid American Modular - mainly MOTM (from kits) with Blacet, Wiard 1200, and a few Synthesizers.com modules.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisso View Post
I always thought EMS Synthi 100.

Given this choice I wouldn't choose either.

I think the Synthi is a nice synth. Esoteric sounds and good audio processing, but ultimately not that versatile, certainly not deserving of the price tag.
Likewise, if I was buying new modular, I would buy into a bigger format system which was easier to navigate; Modcan, MOTM, Macbeth.

The ultimate esoteric synthesis is via Buchla IMO.
Old 3rd February 2008
  #27
Lives for gear
 

Ive never been into this idea of buying gear to emulate other gear. The synthi is cool. Its inspiring. The interface is cool and the imperfections are half of the sound.
Old 3rd February 2008
  #28
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Beermaster's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisso View Post
I always thought EMS Synthi 100.

I think the Synthi is a nice synth. Esoteric sounds and good audio processing, but ultimately not that versatile, certainly not deserving of the price tag.
Likewise, if I was buying new modular, I would buy into a bigger format system which was easier to navigate; Modcan, MOTM, Macbeth.

The ultimate esoteric synthesis is via Buchla IMO.
I disagree on the price tag thing as these things are about as unusual and utterly individual as you can get. They're also Discrete and utterly brilliantly designed .. As for easier to navigate well if you've ever tried patching a big MOTM or Modcan system up with a mass of patch cords stretching all over the place and covering controls that you want to try and see then you'll see that the matrix system of patching on the EMS gear is the ultimate answer: one little pin ! - no mess.

Another thing thats always forgotten is that the EMS VCS3 is a Stereo synth with built in speakers and so compact too - Thats the ultimate.
Old 4th February 2008
  #29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beermaster View Post
I disagree on the price tag thing as these things are about as unusual and utterly individual as you can get.
Well it's purely personal taste, but I'd have to say Serge and Buchla seriously smoke the synthi for individuality. Have you worked on buchla and Serge, because I've worked on the Synthi quite a bit.
Nice sound, great to look at, overpriced for what it does.


Quote:
As for easier to navigate well if you've ever tried patching a big MOTM or Modcan system up with a mass of patch cords ..........
I owned a 4 x large case Doepfer/AS system.
When I added Serge and Modcan I realised how much a pain patching on the mini-jack systems was. The advantage of the Serge, Buchla and Modcan systems is also in the stackable banana cables.

Quote:
Another thing thats always forgotten is that the EMS VCS3 is a Stereo synth with built in speakers and so compact too - Thats the ultimate.
I owned an Arp 2600 and regularly used a friends Synthi AKS.........never found much use for the speakers.
Old 4th February 2008
  #30
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Beermaster's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisso View Post
Well it's purely personal taste, but I'd have to say Serge and Buchla seriously smoke the synthi for individuality. Have you worked on buchla and Serge, because I've worked on the Synthi quite a bit.
Nice sound, great to look at, overpriced for what it does..
I have a four panels of serge and I've had and sold Buchla 200 ( including some beta modules ) they are different but Serge is much more common but if you're talking about overpriced then just go price up a 200 or new 200e or two panels of STS with a spec comparible to the VCS3 then compare the price to a vintage EMS ! ! Its a lot more for this other gear

Bananas are not bad but you have the headache of earthing if you cross patch to other gear and still a mass of cables crossing over controls and labels

The speakers on the the EMS gear are just so handy for traveling and working on the move - no amp or mixer needed. also great for cross checking on a sound check and monitoring on stage.

But hey, thats just my opinion !

Beer
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