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$12,500 to spend. EMS Synthi A vs Modular
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Modular Synth General Discussion Goto page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4  Next [all]
Author $12,500 to spend. EMS Synthi A vs Modular
BTByrd
I'd pay $12,000 for a Synthi 100.
B-ry
For what it’s worth.....


I think it is important to work within your means and also to follow the form factor and workflow that inspires you. EMS stuff is exxxxxpensive for sure. The other side of that coin is that the values will keep rising. They are rare, sound unique and (IMHO) cannot truly be replicated. If you look at it from an investment viewpoint it can be a win (so long as you are. It going to compromise your current quality of life to purchase).
raylinds
A friend has a Synthi and it is great sounding, but it is in the shop fairly frequently. You could make a great modular for that kind of money.
ersatzplanet
Since this post is a year old, I wonder what the original poster ended up buying?
wackelpeter
ersatzplanet wrote:
Since this post is a year old, I wonder what the original poster ended up buying?


stopped making synth music and bought a guitar and a drum kit... wink
woVERTICES
I have a Pin Electronics Portabella and I love it...the random voltage generator combined w/the joystick is a potent sonic combo. I actually prefer it to my brother's aged EMS Synthi AKS, but that's certainly a matter of personal taste.
Best,
John
www.johnjpotter.com
joesdeals
Yes long time I have posted in this thread of mine.

I did end up buying a full eurorack modular solution.

I will wait on the Synthi until I got the balls to take the plunge at getting one. I think there is a lot of risk involved with a synth so old. I would have to try and test in person .

Got some great synths as well like the OB-6, Rev 2 Prophet, Arturia Matrix Brute. Moog Sub 37.

And about $7,000 in modules / pedals.
ersatzplanet
joesdeals wrote:
Yes long time I have posted in this thread of mine.

I did end up buying a full eurorack modular solution.

I will wait on the Synthi until I got the balls to take the plunge at getting one. I think there is a lot of risk involved with a synth so old. I would have to try and test in person .

Got some great synths as well like the OB-6, Rev 2 Prophet, Arturia Matrix Brute. Moog Sub 37.

And about $7,000 in modules / pedals.


As a previous owner of 2 Synthi AKS and a VCS3 (all at the same time), I can attest at the draw of the packaging. The suitcase is brilliant design and the pin matrix, although having some major flaws and some bad design choices, was very fun to patch. I feel that they are simply not worth the money they are asking for used ones nowadays. I got mine for about $500 each in 1975 dollars. For the +$10K they go for today, you can get the somewhat pricy Analogue Systems licensed clones and pay somebody to make a custom case and make all the extra bits and may still have money left over, and will have new tech that will be repairable and up-dateable. The only way anyone would ever tell the difference is if they had a real Synthi next to it to compare, and that would be comparing to that particular Synthi. Having three of them myself, the same patch never sounded the same on all of them.
mousegarden
ersatzplanet wrote:
joesdeals wrote:
Yes long time I have posted in this thread of mine.

I did end up buying a full eurorack modular solution.

I will wait on the Synthi until I got the balls to take the plunge at getting one. I think there is a lot of risk involved with a synth so old. I would have to try and test in person .

Got some great synths as well like the OB-6, Rev 2 Prophet, Arturia Matrix Brute. Moog Sub 37.

And about $7,000 in modules / pedals.


As a previous owner of 2 Synthi AKS and a VCS3 (all at the same time), I can attest at the draw of the packaging. The suitcase is brilliant design and the pin matrix, although having some major flaws and some bad design choices, was very fun to patch. I feel that they are simply not worth the money they are asking for used ones nowadays. I got mine for about $500 each in 1975 dollars. For the +$10K they go for today, you can get the somewhat pricy Analogue Systems licensed clones and pay somebody to make a custom case and make all the extra bits and may still have money left over, and will have new tech that will be repairable and up-dateable. The only way anyone would ever tell the difference is if they had a real Synthi next to it to compare, and that would be comparing to that particular Synthi. Having three of them myself, the same patch never sounded the same on all of them.


I loved the pin matrix, somehow it encourages more off the wall patching for some reason, I'm looking at a MatrixBrute now, for this very reason, I'm not paying those sums for an EMS, no way.
Rex Coil 7
mousegarden wrote:
... I loved the pin matrix, somehow it encourages more off the wall patching for some reason, I'm looking at a MatrixBrute now, for this very reason
I just finished reading the entire thread up to this point, and I kept thinking the same thing ... "if you must have a pin matrix, there's a wonderful 21st Century rendition offered in the Arturia Matrixbrute available for $2K". If I weren't already neck deep into a normalized 5U modular performance synth project, I'd most likely go with a MatrixBrute and a Dave Smith Pro2, along with one of the Yamaha 5 octave performance synths such as the new MoDX or one of the Montage units.

Only thing that worries me about the Matrixbrute is the reliability of the button matrix, however I suppose that model has been out long enough to produce information that may confirm my concerns, if it exists.

mousegarden wrote:
I'm not paying those sums for an EMS, no way.
For anyone willing to ... I like to discuss some beach property I have for sale located here in the southwestern Arizona region of the Sonoran Desert. I can make you one hell of a deal on (let's say) 500 acres or so.

(I said beach property, I never said anything about it being near a body of water).


cool
ersatzplanet
mousegarden wrote:
I loved the pin matrix, somehow it encourages more off the wall patching for some reason, I'm looking at a MatrixBrute now, for this very reason, I'm not paying those sums for an EMS, no way.


The pin matrix is a lovely concept and would be a great way to do patching if done correctly. The slide matrix on the Arp2500 is another close contender. The problem with both of these implementations though is that they were passive. At least on the 2500 the ins and outs on modules were buffered (at least it seemed that way, I don't remember any droop at all). The reverse topology on the Synthi stuff was its biggest design flaw to me. There was no input attenuation, only output. That means if you wanted to send one source, like an LFO for instance, to two destination (like a filter and VCO), the only way you could have different levels of LFO was to use a attenuation Pin (the green ones IIRC) that were of a fixed value. Also every time you added a CV to any pitch chain involving the keyboard, you had to re-scale the keyboard and if you added too many things, it would not be able to scale enough.

Though a Synthi is capable of making melodic sounds and be used as a simple synth, it is much better suited for abstract stuff because of these limitations. A modern synth with buffered matrixes and a modern topology are SO much easier to deal with.
sitarman
yeah, what he said, maybe matrixbute with a joystick into cv ins......
Graham Hinton
ersatzplanet wrote:

The reverse topology on the Synthi stuff was its biggest design flaw to me. There was no input attenuation, only output.


It's not a design flaw it's a consequence of having a mixer incorporated, which is what the matrix is. The output levels on each section are really the input levels to a mixer. You wouldn't want a mixer with fixed maximum input levels and only one output level.

Quote:

That means if you wanted to send one source, like an LFO for instance, to two destination (like a filter and VCO), the only way you could have different levels of LFO was to use a attenuation Pin (the green ones IIRC) that were of a fixed value.


Not the only way, there was the Inverter Pin mod which essentially put what is now called an attenuverter at any point in the matrix.
ersatzplanet
[quote="Graham Hinton"]
It's not a design flaw it's a consequence of having a mixer incorporated, which is what the matrix is. The output levels on each section are really the input levels to a mixer. You wouldn't want a mixer with fixed maximum input levels and only one output level.
Quote:


Then I guess I would consider the mixer incorporation to be the flaw. I understand the extra electronics needed to make an active matrix and know the limitations there too, but the topology being backwards from every other synthesizer I know of, back when it was made and currently being made, was always a problem even with the simplest patches that shared control CVs in multiple places. Using one axis of the joystick for more than one thing for instance.

[quote="Graham Hinton"]
Not the only way, there was the Inverter Pin mod which essentially put what is now called an attenuverter at any point in the matrix.


Were those available when the Synthi was made? They sure were not a standard part (I didn't know of the reverse matrixes between the VCS3 and the AKS). Sure there are work arounds, as is the nature of modular synthesis. You could pass things out one output (or the scope out) and back into the machine and attenuate (or boost) at that point but that was hardly efficient.

Just try one of the common patches you make all the time and use only the non-attenuating inputs of the modules. Use attenuators at the CV sources and multiples after that. That will give you a feel of what I mean.

I loved the Synthi. I wish I had kept mine even though I probably would have really abused them by now. I just bring up the topology thing because is is not obvious to many synthi lusters looking at these machines.
Graham Hinton
Rex Coil 7 wrote:
"if you must have a pin matrix, there's a wonderful 21st Century rendition offered in the Arturia Matrixbrute available for $2K".


That is a digital matrix for digital modulation sources only. You don't think that you get 256 VCA/DCAs for that price do you?

You can do the reverse price analysis and work out the component cost (subtract dealer, distributor and manufacturer markups) and then work out the cost of the switches and what sort of lifetime can be expected...

ersatzplanet wrote:
Then I guess I would consider the mixer incorporation to be the flaw.


If you have a matrix that doesn't mix then you end up with a white elephant like the Vostok or ETI which just use shorting pins.

Quote:

I understand the extra electronics needed to make an active matrix and know the limitations there too,


This is nothing to do with active versus passive matrices.

Quote:

Were those available when the Synthi was made?


I believe that the mod originated in the 1970s EMS service department who added features for customers unbeknown to the management.

Quote:
Just try one of the common patches you make all the time and use only the non-attenuating inputs of the modules.


Common patches for what? You can't do common Synthi patches on most other synthesizers. So what?

Quote:
I loved the Synthi.


Yeah, sounds like it.
ersatzplanet
Graham Hinton wrote:

Quote:
I loved the Synthi.


Yeah, sounds like it.


I know you have a reputation as a curmudgeonry guy on this board, but you don't have to add snarky to it too. I did love my Synthi's and had them for over a decade. I can love them and still point out their limitations. Just like I can call you snarky and still respect you.
EPTC
Jumping into this late, but if the question is "Synthi or modular" my guess is go for modular; you can immerse yourself in any variety of modules and not spend the entire $12,500 in one go, too. Might have a much more creative year if you spend $1000/month on modules (what FUN!) instead of twelve grand once, which might be slightly panic inducing.

If you want to really focus on a single instrument and already know it well to the point of dedication, then go $12 grand for the Synthi. But if it's for creative exploration 2-3 modules a month for a year will likely yield a more satisfying experience. (and maybe more original sounding work, as well, from the variety)
mousegarden
I think we ought to get synth prices in true perspective, compared with a lot of other instruments. A "decent" acoustic piano by someone like Bluthner or Steinway will be a lot more than say, a Synthi 100, a sax player or violinist just takes it for granted that his/her instrument is going to cost upwards of £10,000, possibly a lot more.
Paying five/ten grand for a vintage synth is at the bottom end of the music market in reality.
cycad73
Spend 25000 and get both, they will complement each other very well. it's probably better to start off with the conventional modular though.
MindMachine
joesdeals wrote:
I am wondering if I can build something similar if not better then the EMS Synthi VCS3 by using modular eurorack components.


Absolutely.

joesdeals wrote:
If a VCS3 is worth $12,000+. What if I use that money to just build a modular wall with a joystick and matrix module?

No.

joesdeals wrote:
What modules do I need to buy to replicate what a EMS Synthi could do?


All of them.
mousegarden
Replicas and imitations will leave you feeling very "meh" like owning a reproduction painting, when if you'd waited a bit you could have had the real thing. And you will always have this annoying thought in your mind.

This?



Or this?



This?



Or this?



Simply......no thanks.
joesdeals
^

Hard to argue with that.

Synthi is very unique
wsy
Part of the "Synthi / VCS3 Thing" is just how BAD they are compared to other equipment of the day, let alone now.

Take the pin matrix design. Piece. Of. Junk. No EE would ever use it that way; it's crosstalk city at best. And the pins get
gratchy if you don't twist em just right. And when you pin one osc to two inputs, and another osc to ONE of those inputs, guess
what - now the second osc gets moduation up one pin and down the other.

How about a sync input that, when getting static, blows out several FETs including those in the oscillators? Still haven't fixed the
buddy's VCS3 that he whacked exactly that way.

There's actually a whole set of mods just to fix the design idiocies in the Synthi, make the pin matrix more usable, add a
CV inverter, a lag, a S&H, fix the hum from the reverb.... all that.

It's not like the Synthi/Putney/AKS aren't good for what they do. But jeez, it's also not like they are some exquisite jewel. Like
a Moog, like a Buchla Easel, it simply IS WHAT IT IS. That's all. God didn't make them on the seventh day because he was
bored or something like that.

- Bill
Graham Hinton
wsy wrote:

How about a sync input that, when getting static, blows out several FETs including those in the oscillators? Still haven't fixed the
buddy's VCS3 that he whacked exactly that way.


There are no FETs in the oscillators.
wsy
Graham Hinton wrote:
wsy wrote:

How about a sync input that, when getting static, blows out several FETs including those in the oscillators? Still haven't fixed the
buddy's VCS3 that he whacked exactly that way.


There are no FETs in the oscillators.


You are probably right. And he did something he probably shouldn't have. But I do recall having to find some FETs at
Mouser which would work, then designing a tiny little circuit board to mount the Mouser FETs on, the Mouser part being
SMT and the originals being in little wire-type cases.

Anyway, we fixed the sync input but the oscs still don't osc.

- Bill
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