The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
Beware of boutique companies Rackmount Synthesizers
Old 12th June 2018
  #1
Beware of boutique companies

The smaller manufacturing community has a daunting task: compete with the majors.
You'd be a fool to try to make device that could compete with a Yamaha DM2000 or Korg Kronos, at their respective prices.
But some foolishly endeavor despite the enormous odds against them.

Three such companies have really let me down as of late:

Studio Electronics makes reasonably reliable products over the past 20+ years.
Few could argue the audiophile nature of some their products, namely the Omega-8 (and CODE) rack mount analog polys which are second to none.
And in consistent form, they carry a boutique price, as a fully-loaded CODE will set you back about $8,000.
However, as with nearly every analog, something will eventually go wrong, and the Omega is no exception. This is acceptable to me.
What isn't acceptable was the mis-information I was given on the return-rate which they claimed was 2-weeks, which turned out to be 3 months.
They stopped communicating with me over emails and never returned phone calls. I needed my synth!
During this long wait, my son got into grad school, I needed to raise some funds, so I opted to sell 6 of my poly-synths out of my arsenal. As the SE stuff is high-ticket, this would get me to my goal faster. I didn't have much time invested with the Omega-8, so when I flipped thru the available filters, the screen indicated there were CS-80 filters installed. I sold the unit under that impression.
The buyer contacted me to inform me there were no CS-80 filters installed, merely the mention of them in the units OS. Why single-out the CS-80s filters? Why no mention of the ARP or Roland filters? To be good to my customer I had to spend a couple of hours pulling out 8 filter boards out of my CODE to make good on the sale. Seemingly SE doesn't care about this.

Modal Electronics, from England, is another synth-based boutique company who dove into the highly competitive synth market.
While they had brilliant innovations and design, the units were nowhere near ready to be released for professional usage, especially the analogs synths.
I made dozens of inquiries to fellow Modal owners, retailers, and authorized repair shops to only find out its not known whether they are still in business.
What IS known as that I have lost all contact with the company and one of the few repair shops on their list refuses to accept their broken gear because they have no parts OR contact with the company. So I have a $5,000 paperweight which is completely useless and still under warranty.

GRP, an Italian company who currently makes (when they are in the mood) the A-4 mono-synth, and R-24 Sequencer. Very expensive and exotic, these synths are coveted by most hard-core analog purists. I got my hands on both of these units only to discover the A-4 needed so much work that I had to have the company email me over the schematics AND the VERY laborious calibration process. They swore me to secrecy and made me promise I would not release the schematics to anyone else. I thought to myself: "Hmm, these ARE just synths, not bombs" but I never got the unit to work the way it was supposed to, and again, no real support.


This has soured me into looking into other boutique companies like Waldorf and John Bowen because I fear more of the same: Huge outlays of cash for no or little support.

Your thoughts?
Old 12th June 2018
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Mushy Mushy's Avatar
 

The only common denominator here is you, so...
Old 12th June 2018
  #3
Lives for gear
 
tedtan's Avatar
 

I've never had any issues with the boutique companies I've bought from, but I'm not a synth player, so I've never bought from synth makers.

You'll probably get more synth specific discussion in the Electronic Music Instruments subforum.
Old 13th June 2018
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mushy Mushy View Post
The only common denominator here is you, so...
Uh, yeah, so what? Whats your point? If i buy a car that 3 years later has defective part that I could not have possibly known about, ends up killing my family, is that going to be your comment too?
Old 13th June 2018
  #5
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chromalord View Post
The smaller manufacturing community has a daunting task: compete with the majors.
You'd be a fool to try to make device that could compete with a Yamaha DM2000 or Korg Kronos, at their respective prices.
But some foolishly endeavor despite the enormous odds against them.

Three such companies have really let me down as of late:

Studio Electronics makes reasonably reliable products over the past 20+ years.
Few could argue the audiophile nature of some their products, namely the Omega-8 (and CODE) rack mount analog polys which are second to none.
And in consistent form, they carry a boutique price, as a fully-loaded CODE will set you back about $8,000.
However, as with nearly every analog, something will eventually go wrong, and the Omega is no exception. This is acceptable to me.
What isn't acceptable was the mis-information I was given on the return-rate which they claimed was 2-weeks, which turned out to be 3 months.
They stopped communicating with me over emails and never returned phone calls. I needed my synth!
During this long wait, my son got into grad school, I needed to raise some funds, so I opted to sell 6 of my poly-synths out of my arsenal. As the SE stuff is high-ticket, this would get me to my goal faster. I didn't have much time invested with the Omega-8, so when I flipped thru the available filters, the screen indicated there were CS-80 filters installed. I sold the unit under that impression.
The buyer contacted me to inform me there were no CS-80 filters installed, merely the mention of them in the units OS. Why single-out the CS-80s filters? Why no mention of the ARP or Roland filters? To be good to my customer I had to spend a couple of hours pulling out 8 filter boards out of my CODE to make good on the sale. Seemingly SE doesn't care about this.

Modal Electronics, from England, is another synth-based boutique company who dove into the highly competitive synth market.
While they had brilliant innovations and design, the units were nowhere near ready to be released for professional usage, especially the analogs synths.
I made dozens of inquiries to fellow Modal owners, retailers, and authorized repair shops to only find out its not known whether they are still in business.
What IS known as that I have lost all contact with the company and one of the few repair shops on their list refuses to accept their broken gear because they have no parts OR contact with the company. So I have a $5,000 paperweight which is completely useless and still under warranty.

GRP, an Italian company who currently makes (when they are in the mood) the A-4 mono-synth, and R-24 Sequencer. Very expensive and exotic, these synths are coveted by most hard-core analog purists. I got my hands on both of these units only to discover the A-4 needed so much work that I had to have the company email me over the schematics AND the VERY laborious calibration process. They swore me to secrecy and made me promise I would not release the schematics to anyone else. I thought to myself: "Hmm, these ARE just synths, not bombs" but I never got the unit to work the way it was supposed to, and again, no real support.


This has soured me into looking into other boutique companies like Waldorf and John Bowen because I fear more of the same: Huge outlays of cash for no or little support.

Your thoughts?
My thoughts and opinions only because you asked for them. A

SE:
Your fault completely. You misunderstood what the device was telling you and thusly sold it under false pretenses. That is your problem to solve.

ME:
Their fault completely. They need to communicate with their customers.

GRP:
You bought a broken synth. Sometimes that’s a chance people take when buying used gear. In my opinion, it’s between you and the seller. Also, you seem surprised that they would discourage you from passing the schematics around which I find absurd. Of course they don’t want their intellectual property out in the open.
Old 13th June 2018
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Axelrod View Post
My thoughts and opinions only because you asked for them. A

SE:
Your fault completely. You misunderstood what the device was telling you and thusly sold it under false pretenses. That is your problem to solve.

ME:
Their fault completely. They need to communicate with their customers.

GRP:
You bought a broken synth. Sometimes that’s a chance people take when buying used gear. In my opinion, it’s between you and the seller. Also, you seem surprised that they would discourage you from passing the schematics around which I find absurd. Of course they don’t want their intellectual property out in the open.
I wasn't looking for a line-item assessment, I was looking for people's experience with small companies competing with the big ones. The commonality here is the fragile nature of exotic/expensive devices and the lack of tech support.

The SE wasn't completely my fault. When I received the unit it was broken, so I sent it to be fixed. So I never had the opportunity to explore some of the details of the unit, because it would freeze and crash. The new OS they installed DOES give the false impression that a CS-80 filter is installed.

The GRP was bought in an estate sale, it wasn't broken, it needed extensive calibration which is a very laborious process. Seeing there may be 15 GRP in the USA, and even less people who are qualified to take the schematics for such an obscure and expensive device to profit somehow from plagiarizing it, is ludicrous.
Old 26th June 2018
  #7
500 series nutjob
 
pan60's Avatar
 

I have had the very best support and got the best product from the boutique manufacturers hands down!
The small companies will always get my money.
There is a crap load of folks with horror stories in the dealings with the large so called big boys.
As for me, i'll keep my boutique gear and relation ships.
Old 26th June 2018
  #8
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

I think, also, that way more of the companies who make our stuff are "boutiques" than you might think.
Old 27th June 2018
  #9
500 series nutjob
 
pan60's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
I think, also, that way more of the companies who make our stuff are "boutiques" than you might think.
plus one!
Old 28th June 2018
  #10
Deleted User
Guest
I live in fear of my Vermona and Dreadbox synths!
Topic:
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump
Forum Jump