Macbeth Studio Systems M5 by Oberon23
The Macbeth M5N is a three oscillator, two filter semi modular, analogue synth design, but you probably know that already or you wouldn't be reading this. So what does it sound like? Absolutely wonderful, one of the few modern analogue synths that can truly hold its head high in the company of the greats (I'm talking vintage Moog, Buchla) To be more specific - Ken Macbeth seems to have developed something of a house sound for his designs. He once described it himself as 'big and brash' and that is a pretty good general description. So although it has a classic ladder filter design as well as a multi mode filter it doesn't sound exactly moog like although it can get pretty close. Rather it sounds something like a moog on steroids, if you want to do NIN impersonations it can rip your head off. It has the ability to cut through a mix like no other analogue I have ever heard without loosing that sense of analogue fatness. (Did I mention this thing sounds HUGE?) So it can go from authentic vintage type tones through to more contemporary dance orientated sounds that leave plug ins and digital synths way behind.
Just a word about the interface - very loosely modelled on an ARP 2600 it has a generously proportioned layout and normalised connections which make it a joy to play. Breaking the normalised connections with quarter inch jacks takes you into the world of full scale modular patching and all the sound design possibilities that implies.
Other features of note - nice quality ring modulator, good snappy envelope generators, one of the quietest spring reverbs I have heard, sample and hold, noise sources, oscillator synch, oscillator and filter FM, pulse width modulation on the square waves, voltage controlled panning. Good tuning stability and accurate tracking over 5 octaves (using a Kenton pro midi to cv interface).
Downsides? only one really, this kind of hand built audio quality costs money, it isn't cheap. This is analogue in an old school style, so basically monophonic (although you can coax three note polyphony from it with the right midi to cv interface), no memories, personally I find that part of its charm but your mileage may differ if you are used to thousands of pre sets.
I've had mine for circa two years and I am still getting new sounds from it. This one is a keeper and no I am not related to Ken Macbeth in any way!
You can hear it in action here - Dave Bessell Tundra#1.mov - YouTube
and here - 3 a.m. Underpass by db - YouTube
But bear in mind that this is not HD quality.