The Crimson Chameleon!..
The Polivoks (Rus.: Поливокс) was designed by Vladimir Kuzmin with input on the aesthetics from his wife Olimpiada who was apparently inspired by Soviet military radios of the time. In production between 1982 and 1990 the Polivoks was manufactured at the Formanta Radio Factory in Kachkanar, Russian SFSR. With a retail price upon release of 920 rubles around 100,000 Polivoks were manufactured – peaking at a production rate of up to 1,000 units a month! Despite this, the Polivoks is not all that commonly seen an instrument outside of Russia.
Although intending to appear and sound similar to the Minimoog it has been said that Vladimir never had access to the instrument or indeed any technical information. On examining the schematics, I’d have to agree and go so far as to say the Polivoks is a very different beast indeed on a technical footing. Some have said the instrument was a poor man’s Minimoog but I truly think this is disingenuous to say the least as it sports some interesting unique features such as looping envelopes, a particularly efficiently implemented duophonic note assigner, and a quite remarkable and unique filter design.
In fact, whilst producing the original patches for this library I have been particularly taken by the filter on this unique instrument which is like nothing I’ve ever heard before. Sporting both Low Pass and Band Pass modes it can be quite an untamed beast at times but with care also capable of producing some really quite beautiful timbres.
It may be full of bizarre old Russian transistors the size of small flying saucers, plastic that feels like it was made from recycled Christmas cracker toys and easily winning the most horrific key-action ever made contest.. I truly adore this wonderful old analog chameleon of an instrument!
As always with all of my Kontakt Libraries the raw sample material has been captured faithfully and directly from the instrument (including in this case a few samples taken via a gorgeous 1968 Bruel & Kjaer type 2107 all- tube swept band pass lab filter). The Solo Synth Engine retains the sonic character of the instrument and yet help to present it in a new light permitting a wide range of tonal colours, textures and landscapes to be explored. With this in mind I have included many example patches in the library which I think will help to show the full potential of the Polivox library.
…oh and look out for the secret button!! :-]
This library requires the full version of Kontakt 4.2.4 or higher.
Approximately 685MB of free hard disk space is required.
845 24-bit Samples
64 Example Instruments
66 Example Layered-Multis
Dan Wilson (Hideaway Studio) Sound Design,Sample Capture,Example Patches & Demo.
Mario Krušelj Synth Engine Script.
Boris Chuprin Cyrillic GUI Translations.
Anders Hedström (Flavours of Lime) GUI Design & Graphics.
This time it was a gorgeous 1983 Rhodes Chroma!
After a very deep clean inside and out followed by a visual inspection it was quickly realised the original rather large and somewhat grizzly linear PSU had burnt out and was showing signs of several past repairs. News got round that a new cooler running switched mode PSU retrofit had been made available and was duly installed. Having returned power to the beast it quickly transpired that at least two voice cards had serious issues and were failing the dreaded auto-tune. This rapidly became a can of worms when it became apparent that almost all of the considerable number of analog multiplexors within the beast were practically dying in front of my eyes due to age and after the shock of being pressed back into action for the first time in several years. Following removal and replacement of some 40 or so unsocketed ICs much of the instrument returned to life leaving a final stubborn voice card really determined not to play ball. On discovery of a number of leaky transistor arrays and tired charge pump oscillators the final voice card eventually succumb to my continued harassment only to have a third voice card fail during soak testing!
After two weeks of intense toil this 16 VCO beast returneth to life… and what a beast!
Having sifted through and loaded up over 1000 patches during soak testing over 5.5 Hours of raw audio was captured directly from the instrument.
ARP’s Last Gasp…
ARP Instruments, the hugely influential name behind a string of famous instruments such as the ARP2500, ARP2600, Odyssey, Avatar, Omni, Quadra and Axxe, was in its prime during the 70s but by the early 80s the tables had turned for the worse and the company was losing money hand over fist thanks to a series of unfortunate business decisions, excessive cost of sales figures and overheads.
Work had started on the Chroma in the autumn of 1979. After two years of intense development interspersed by the project being temporarily shelved on a number of occasions things were looking decidedly shaky at ARP on the financial front. This was no fault of the R&D team behind this technically challenging design but due to increasing resistance from management who had their own battles to fight.
Philip Dodds was left to head a company dying before his eyes and several months of development were lost to company politics. The situation became dire and he was eventually left with little option but to close down the R&D department. Despite the ongoing stress of the situation he succeeded in selling on the IP rights to the Chroma design to CBS Musical Instruments and in the process was hired to oversee its production. If it wasn’t for this last gasp for survival the Chroma would surely never have existed.
The Chroma was an advanced digitally managed 16 VCO analog synthesizer released after the initial success of the Sequential Prophet-5. Both instruments offered patch memory with the Chroma sporting a bank of 50 user programmable patches. It was one of the first analog synths to offer multi-timbral operation, voice layering and keyboard splitting with velocity sensitivity. The voice architecture was unusually flexible whereby the firmware could route signals through two low pass filters, in parallel or series, or switch the VCA before or after the filters. Through a bespoke digital interface (Chroma pre-dated MIDI) it was even possible to edit voices in a program on the Apple II computer.
CBS released the Chroma in 1981 with a list price of $5295 and proved to be pretty successful with estimates of around 1400 units eventually sold.
56 Unique Instruments Presented in The Layering Engine…
Chromatix features a deceptively powerful layering engine which allows the user to create new sounds and textures with ease by selecting up to four out of a bank of 56 partial voices to be layered. Each layer has its own fine and course tuning, ADSR envelope, panning, velocity sensitivity, LFO and tone controls. This permits anything from huge pads to complex evolving sounds. Many of the demo instrument patches included are good pointers as to how some of these effects are achieved.
Above of each of the four voice panels there is an orange LCD display showing the selected voice. By clicking on each of the displays a pull down menu appears allowing one of 56 voice partials to be selected. With a potentially vast number of layered permutations at hand two different banks of 28 partials are available the first set assigned to channels 1 & 3 and the second bank of 28 partials assigned to channels 2 & 4.
Naturally the example instruments packed with the library can be used as is but where the fun starts is having a go dialing in your own sounds using the intuitive layering engine. All of your creations can be saved as .nki instruments simply by using the save as function by clicking on the files icon in the main Kontakt control pane.
The layering engine consists of four identical programming panels and an effects section. This release is the first to use a recently updated version of the layering engine which has recently been revised to include separate velocity sensitivity controls for each layer.
The TONE control is a deceptively powerful feature. In the fully downward position the signal is unaffected. As the control is moved upwards a continuously evolving complex EQ curve is applied. With some experimentation this feature can be used for embellishing formants within each voice partial and helping to sit each of the layers together in the mix.
This library requires the full version of Kontakt 4.2.4 or higher.
Approximately 1.35GB of free hard disk space is required.
1030 24-bit Samples
56 Partials/Voices presented in 4 Channel Layering Engine
75 Example Instruments
Dan Wilson (Hideaway Studio) Rhodes Chroma Restoration & Sound Design, Sample Capture, Example Patches & Demo. Stephen Howell (Hollow Sun, RIP) Original Layering Engine Concept. Mario Krušelj Synth Engine Script,GUI Design & Graphics Anders Hedström (Flavours of Lime) GUI Graphic Design.
“Polivox is a nice surprise! I expected a more generic-sounding synth instrument, but this thing has tons of character. It can do rich/evolving or cheap/oddball equally well, with a nice depth and texture throughout. The whole thing sounds more interesting and has more variety then I expected. Hideaway Studio has done a fantastic job in both the patch programming and sampling, and a lot of the character and quality of the final instrument are due to this. By the way, my Russian isn’t so good either—but when you hover your mouse over a control, it is labeled (in English, of course) in the Info pane at the bottom of the Kontakt window. In any case the interface is nicely designed and simple to learn, and the user manual is well-written, with some nice advice on playing the instrument and using the GUI.”
Loïc Forsyth (via Kontakt Hub)
“I have to say I’ve fallen in love with the sounds you created for the Blue Zone, they’re beautifully recorded and sampled and by far my favourite Kontakt library right now.”
Neil Davidge (Massive Attack).
“Like All Hideaway Studio Products… this is stellar. It is actually hard to overstate how excellent these sample libraries are. They are clearly a labor of love. They convey the “analog” spirit, while also adding originality, musicality and taste to the mix. All of the presets are done with care, but they can be tweaked considerably as well. In my opinion these are some of the very best sample libraries available anywhere and possibly the best value of any you will find.”
“So Happy I Found This!.. I love playing strings and this instrument is one of the best if not the best I’ve found. Right out of the box, every patch is beautiful and I look forward to building on what was provided. Sonically everything is superb, as is the great efx included with the program. Even though synth-generated, some of these patches sound better than my orchestral string programs. You can tell the value of an instrument by it’s inspirational quotient. I am 100% inspired by these. Very nice software, Hideaway Studio. Looking forward to your next products. Well worth what I paid.”
KontaktHub Customer on the String Collection..
Chromatix is proving to be a popular new Kontakt library.
A review was recently published by David Baer in the on-line music magazine, SoundBytes: Chromatix Review in SoundBytes
And a selection from a string of kind feedback from customers over the past few weeks:
“Thank you for this collection! I have always wanted to play a Synergy and now I can. I have only been playing for less than an hour but already am incorporating the sounds into a piece I am working on. I also appreciate the history of the instrument you relate here. What a great job!”
“I’ve been playing around with Chromatix for some time now and I think this is the best Sample-library I’ve purchased for Kontakt. Being the restless guy I am, I usually make small tweaks to existing patches to suit my needs.
But Chromatix have made me make quite a number of sounds of my own. (If you know some of the latest releases from Hideaway you’re also aware that the way you can build sounds with different layers of samples isn’t new, So I’ve had the opportunity to make sounds this way already, in other libraries.) But there’s something about the Rhodes Chroma that appeals to my taste and makes me dive deeper and deeper into a search for new sounds. Thanks Hideaway!
I know I’ve already made a comment on this library further up, but I haven’t used any other sounds for nearly two weeks now and I thought Chromatix (or Dan) deserved a ‘thank you’.”
M:) KVR Forum
“Bought this last week -well into double figures with my Hideaway sound sets now and this is right up there with the best of them!
I’ve never actually got my hands near a Rhodes Chroma, but I have had the privilege of hearing one in concert on a couple of occasions and this sample set captures the warm, powerful sound very well indeed.
What I’ve always particularly liked about the original Chroma’s sound is its potential for complexity and movement – that layering system! Dan has captured this aspect perfectly -as always, the GUI is superb – simple and intuitive, with the layers feature adding lots of options for experimenting and creating your own sounds.
Already using some of the sounds in a new piece and starting to create my own patches!”
ChamMusic, KVR Forum
“Just to say, I’m absolutely loving the new Chromatix sounds, particularly the minute attention to detail you’ve put into every patch. Things like Trails of Light, Galileo and Unknown Territory have a wealth of things unfolding and then the decay will offer a fluttering twist to give you just an extra sparkle of magic. Wonderful stuff!”
Simon Power, Meonsound
“Sublime. majestic. flat out gorgeous. I’ve spent about an hour just previewing patches, and I’m only through the “N”s. 🙂 I can only hope to compose pieces that are worthy of these sounds.”
Stroker_ace, KVR Forum
Just received news of a nice review by David Baer on three of Hideaway Studio’s libraries at the Sound Bytes Magazine:
Some of the Many Kind Testimonials Received From Customers on Other Hideaway Studio Libraries
“This is some of the purest, strongest ear candy I’ve encountered in years.”
GreyLion, KVR Forum
“A Little Gem.. How did I miss this one? I own many Hideaway products, but somehow this one passed me by! This is a fantastic little synth – warm, rich, punchy sounds that have that certain magical ‘something’ that makes them very special! It’s based on the old Yamaha CS01, a synth that I owned and used a lot way back in the late 1980s! ZERO 1 goes way beyond the quality of sounds that the original could produce and this is all down to the post processing done by Dan at Hideaway… That touch of tube warmth and subtle tape delay movement have produced a very capable synth right across the board…use it for leads, bass, pads etc…sounds that gel very well together in the mix. A serious bargain!”
Mark Taylor, KontaktHub Customer on the Zero-1 Synth
“Dan, I finally had the chance to purchase Synergenesis …WOW, this is even better than expected. I’ve only been playing around with the presets for an hour or so, and BOOM, Immediate inspiration! The Synergy has been my long time favorite Vintage Synthesizer for many reasons. Thank you for bringing the Synergy back to life, especially for those who have dreamed of actually playing/programming one. You will always have my support …Long Live Hideaway Studio!”
“Wow, Dan! What a fantastic story. I cannot thank you enough for going through such enormous efforts for not only preserving these unique technological wonders for the world, but also make them available for us to play them and enjoy them for such an affordable price!! Simply awesome!”
“Like many guitarists, I love the retro-analog world, but can’t always reside there. But thanks to Hideaway Studio’s Dan Wilson those ‘primitivo’ tones can flourish in my digital domains. Dan is easily one of my two or three favorite sound-mongers. He doesn’t just have access to the “right” gear — his recording, processing, mixing, mastering coupled with great GUI designs by Hollow Sun’s Stephen Howell are unfailingly hip and musical. At this point I don’t even audition Hideaway’s audio demos — I just buy everything Dan makes the instant he announces it. How convenient that his products are as affordable as they are awesome!”
Joe Gore [Tom Waits,Tracy Chapman, PJ Harvey, Eels, Courtney Love, DJ Shadow, etc.]
“These Blue Zone sound libraries are some of my favorites. Shimmering, murky, distant, distressed, and very evocative. I love sounds that feel like they’ve been through hell on their way to the speakers, and these are right on the money. Highly recommended, and such a bargain!”
Charlie Clouser, Film & TV Composer
“GREAT JOB!! I love these new old sounds. Wobbly, retro, noisy as hell in some cases, worn, distressed, evocative of a bakelite world…
Death to the Giant Silver Workstation…
Just great programming from an enviable source library. Unique. Saliva-prompting. Above all a profoundly musical collection of refreshingly flawed tones.”
Harvey Jones, Synth player with Sex and Sorrow, Nadia Ackerman, and Blow Up Hollywood
“when I first came across them, I spent a whole afternoon listening through in absolute wonder. They are without a doubt, some of the best tones I have ever heard & so meticulous in their detail. I’ll look forward to using them on up coming film & media production cues and in a variety of other projects, too.”
Simon Power, Composer & Sound Designer for BBC’s Doctor Who audiobooks
“Some jaw-droppingly beautiful sounds, and highly recommended!” DavyAch, KVR Forum
“This instrument is really made with the creative musician in mind , simple , efficient, reliable and inspiring…” Claude Samard-Polikar Musical director, musician and arranger for Jean-Michel Jarre and award winning film/video games composer. www.claudesamard.com
“I have Gforce VSM, K8U, Synth Magic, Tronsonic, etc. But after playing the demo song against a few of my fav’s, I feel like hideaway really has its own identity and spin on a familiar territory. I like the sound of its playability. It just works! Check it out.” KK, Chronic Audio NYCwww.chronicaudionyc.com
“Just to let you know – I hate you. I was really only going to look at your page and admire the work. Suddenly my mouse started clicking away. Now I have spent all my “play” money and part of my food allowance. Expect me for dinner at some point if I can ever get away from my computer. This stuff is just Gorgeous!” hueynym, KVR Forum
“This is startlingly beautiful! Well done – it’s a privilege to own such a great collection of synths, and I’m happy you share them with the world. I love the sound of real orchestras, but there’s something about the synthetic voices of the 1960s and 1970s that really works well with modal and minor key pop music.” Ray Savage
“Thanks so much for yet another great sounding, great looking and very cleverly programmed instrument! The price is equally great. 11 stars (of 10)…” Tpot, KVR Forum
“I love the The Pentodian Resonator Choir library. I thought it would be good, but I seem to be reaching for it every time I need a choir-like sound at the moment.” Shangsean, KVR Forum
“Pentodian Resonator Choir … Love it, absolute no brainer!!” don1thedon, KVR Forum
“Love this thing, and not the first I bought from Hideaway and really clicked with it straight away. Keep up the good work!” Vicshere, KVR Forum
“The Bass Machine has an awesome analogue sound to it! Loving what you can do with a bit of tweaking. Congrats on a great product.”
Phil Meadley (aka Lucidity Lo-Fi)
“Sounds beautiful. If you keep makin’ them, I’ll keep buyin’ them.” bharris22, KVR Forum
“Quite pleased inventive and creative work still happens like this. Also pleased it happens to come at this price!” thisplace, KVR Forum
“a truly inspiring, deep and unique treasure trove of organic sound. In fact, I got stuck on preset #1, Apollo Strings, and time just flew…” Joachim Smith
“I bought S-VX yesterday and am liking it a lot. I have only just scratched the surface but I can see lots of warm, moving tones and plenty of mangling opportunities. Well done. I look forward to more from you. And the Multis inspired me to try out a few of my own – there are loads of possibilities.” DarkStar, KVR Forum
“just bought this (S-VX), and been playing around for a bit, and every single noise that comes out of this beast is warm, lush, and straight-up INSPIRATIONAL! i have a suspicion i’ll probably be (over)using this beast for quite some time!” Funky Lime, KVR Forum
“First, the Noble Horns would make any soundtrack maker very happy. It has exactly the right blend of “almost acoustic” and “ageless” and “epicness”. I really, really dig the “grrraaaawwwwrr” of the sound. Amalfi Strings… yum. I think you’re at something that speaks to me in the exact right words. I cannot describe it better.” Petri Alanko, Game & Film Score Composer (Xbox 360 game, Alan Wake)
“Listened to the demo, concluded it was a bloody lovely sound library and bought it on the spot. Great bargain! I think it’s a lovely set of sounds. Really. Right in the zone for the work I am trying to do. Gorgeous. You have a very good ear.” tropicalontour, KVR Forum
“Dan, I saw your website on Rekkerd.org recently and checked out your demos. I got thru the first Orbitone example and immediately bought both of your sample sets. From earthy to epic, it’s all there. What really impresses me is the warmth of the samples. I’ve had some real fun combining both the Orbitone and S-VX Hybrid patches. I think the best thing that can be said of your sample sets is that it inspires me to make music! Great work!!! Keep them coming!” Rick G
Dear all – firstly may I heartily apologize for the lack of recent postings on the blog. I want to make it very clear that I am still very much committed to my sound design and that a considerable amount of raw sample material for new products is very much in the can awaiting attention. As many of you know, there are two sides to my passion in electronic music both in my sound design and returning cherished vintage studio gear to its former glory. What with there only being so many hours in the day, it is sometimes very difficult to strike a balance between these two obsessions in my life and I often end up feeling like I have let the other side down during times of particularly hard graft.
The last couple of months have been exceptional but more importantly represent a once in a lifetime opportunity…
Some of you may already be aware that I have practically lived with two extremely rare early groundbreaking digital synthesizers in my new synth workshop for several weeks now working very hard to return them to their former glory. The two instruments in question represent literally two out of the three known complete existing examples in the world. They are 1979 General Development Systems (aka GDS) originally costing $30,000 and designed in part by members of Bell Labs and MTI/Crumar. The GDS is the instrument that became the direct basis for the wonderful DK Synergy which you have all recently heard in sampled form in Synergenesis.
One of the two examples shown here in the recent photo was owned by a very famous pioneering German EM composer and founder of a very influential EM group. It was used extensively in number of well known recordings from the early 80s. This is just the keyboard console – the system comprises of a very large 8-bit computer with twin 8″ floppy drives running CP/M and a large serial terminal. Both systems are now back up and running for the first time in very many years and have been retrofitted with HxC disk emulators which is most definitely a first for this particular model of synthesizer. This has resulted in all of the original software and the factory sound library on 8″ floppy disks being safely immortalized in a modern digital format.
For those who are interested I have blogged the progress of both restorations at the Vintage Synth Explorer forum:
It is worth pointing out that such distractions on the hardware front are actually a great thing because all of my time spent working on such technical wonders of yesteryear serve much potential for capturing new sample material and subsequently lead to the basis of new releases. With this in mind the hope was to release such a major release for Christmas based on a significant amount of material captured from a wonderful old beast I restored earlier in the year. This library is still due for release but will now be expected in the New Year.
That said, I hope to have at least a little something to allow you all to have the opportunity to play some material captured directly from the KS GDS during testing along with a small offering with a festive edge in the next few days captured from a very rare vintage tube amplified electromechanical instrument. Also lookout for some festive offers on libraries from Hideaway Studio in the near future.
May I also take this opportunity to give you all my sincere thank yous for being so supportive over the past year. It has definitely been a year of highs and lows and the tragic loss of Stephen Howell has been extremely painful for myself and Mario and his family. During the summer I channeled a lot of my energy into building a wonderful new synth workshop which really helped to take my mind off of things. I even managed to finally construct an area dedicated to all of my vintage test gear which has since grown substantially. A large chunk of these vintage wonders were used in the making of The Blue Zone series and are now very much cherished so its great to finally have a dry and warm place to store them for future use.
Groundbreaking Pure Digital Synthesis Technology from the 1970s… in 16-bit Audio!
The 1970s were to be a magical time when a string of groundbreaking technology was conceived and developed at Bell Labs (BTL), Murray Hill, New Jersey. Many of the developments at Bell Labs have been pivotal and have subsequently played an extremely important part in shaping modern life. This includes the famous UNIX operating system (the grandfather of Linux and all its derivatives), the C Programming Language, fundamental parts of the technology that form the internet, digital telephony, satellite communications and audio/video compression techniques to name but a few.
During this time a very talented research scientist called Hal Alles was working on means to implement echo-cancellation in digital telephone systems. This led to the development of an advanced high speed digital oscillator system. On experimenting with the concept it became apparent that it might have some merit as the basis of an advanced music synthesizer using real time digital control techniques. Incredibly, Hal was permitted to setup a side project with funding to explore this notion and after very much toil and expense the Bell Labs Synthesizer or Alles Machine was born. This 300lb behemoth was nicknamed The Blue Monster or Alice for short.
At the heart of the Alles Machine was Hal’s high speed digital oscillator technology implementing 64 digital oscillators. The instrument was hosted by a DEC PDP-11 minicomputer (the same range of computers UNIX was developed on at Bell) and literally programmed in C to perform whatever task the operator wished to undertake. Needless to say without any form of dedicated controls, synth engine or patch programming interface very few musicians indeed were able to realise the true potential of Alles Machine!
Two musicians that were gifted with the necessary combination of skills to handle The Blue Monster were Laurie Spiegel and Roger Powell. Very sadly almost no recorded material has survived but the few recordings that have reveal a machine capable of generating huge evolving digital soundscapes – this is particularly apparent in Laurie’s Improvisation on a Concerto Generator from 1977.
Towards the late 1970s a number of synthesizer manufacturers became aware of the instrument including the MTI division of Crumar who saw the new technology as a means to leap ahead of the pack. A talented development team was assembled and it was agreed that Bell’s Hal Alles and Max Mathews were to offer technical advice on the best means of essentially commercialising the Alles Machine whilst making it much more accessible to every day musicians. The first instrument to be developed was the GDS (General Development System). Although the instrument was hardly inexpensive (it cost around $30,000 in 1979) an ambitious cost down exercise was undertaken to reduce the 1400 or so integrated circuits to only a few hundred. Amazingly, the design team was able to meet the stringent material cost target and the GDS was born.
Only 10 or so GDS systems were ever built but it became the sound development tool for its derivatives, the Synergy, Synergy II+ and Mulogix Slave 32. The GDS had a small number of influential owners who were able to work wonders with the new technology. This included Wendy Carlos and Klaus Schulze who released a number of albums and film scores in the very early 1980s heavily drawing on the GDS as a source of digital textures, pseudo realistic timbres and percussion.
Enter The DK Synergy…
Following the GDS was the Synergy (DK-1) which relied on the identical 32 high speed oscillator subsystem but coupled to a dedicated Z80 controller thus enabling the instrument to operate stand alone relying on voice cards plugged into the front panel to permit the user to select between or layer up to 4 combinations of 32 patches. A few years later a clever upgrade was offered to basically return the programming ability of the GDS to the Synergy through the use of an external host computer manipulating a special memory area known as VRAM. This variant was known as the Synergy II+ but was not sold in great numbers thanks in part to the release of the considerably more affordable DX7.
More Than Additive…
All variants were more than simply large banks of digital sine wave generators as found in more traditional additive synthesizers. They were unusual in that the oscillators could produce both sine and distorted triangular waveforms which could be combined in a very flexible manner ranging from straight additive synthesis, phase modulation or combinations of both. This meant that far more harmonically complex sounds could be generated without having to resort to a massive array of sine oscillators. Not only was the oscillator topology complex but the modulation abilities were truly groundbreaking. Each oscillator had its own envelope and a whole raft of real time modulation could be applied to each control parameter including the notion of switching between low and high velocity parameter sets.
Risen from Near Obscurity – Reviving Synergy #01205
Time has not been kind to the Synergy with many examples having perished years ago. Needless to say that very few have experienced a working Synergy let alone a full II+ system first hand in recent times.
Quite by chance earlier in the year I stumbled across a now very rare 1983 Synergy II+ in a rather burnt out state with a very interesting past. After a few days of intense research I was able return this poor beast to working order and I set about the soon to be arduous task of finding a suitable Kaypro II computer to be coupled to it to run the infamous synHCS host control application. The task of tracking down a working Kaypro was tricky enough in the UK but the task of running an OS, finding working application software, making a suitable serial cable to connect the two machines, configuring the link and locating the factory patches in the correct format proved to be a major headache.
Into the 21st Century…
As has been such an effective retrofit on other vintage instruments such as the Emulator II, with the invaluable help of its inventor, Jean-François DEL NERO, I successfully managed to install a superb HxC floppy disk emulation system in place of one of the 5.25” disk drives and embarked on the ludicrously tedious task of manually converting the disk images of the entire GDS/Synergy Factory Sound Library to virtual disks. This permitted me to audition several hundred patches in awe of this groundbreaking digital wonder…
Sampling the Beast
I decided to capture a broad selection some of the more impressive sounds. This turned out to be a bigger task that I had envisaged and after many tens of hours of run time the beast died in front of my eyes and after several hours of mild panic I determined that the very elderly and rather grizzly switch mode power supply had failed. To my great relief the beast was returned to operation the following day having retrofitted a modern high efficiency equivalent in its place (which was half the size of the original!). During my time sampling the Synergy a curious feeling crept over me that I have very rarely experienced whilst sat in front of a vintage instrument – that of sheer wonder that a team of engineers had the vision and bravery to develop an instrument so very ahead of its time and so different from those of the day. In fact, despite the number of wonderful vintage synths I get work on these days, the last time I felt this way was when I was returning the infamous 1938 Novachord #346 to life.
In short, I hope you enjoy playing the sampled instruments as much as I’ve enjoyed making this library…
The GDS/Synergy II+ is surprisingly capable of synthesizing all manner of percussive sounds including many of a similar but not identical nature to their analog counterparts from drum machines of yesteryear.
As well as the main body of instruments Synergenesis features over 220 percussive samples capturing a significant proportion of the drum patches featured in the original factory instrument library which dates back to the early 1980s. They have been presented as two main drum kits and as a series of sets primarily intended to permit the user to preview them and experiment with filtering and dynamics on select sounds. Multiple instruments can then be used in this manner over a number of midi channels if required. More technically minded users can remap the drum sets as they wish in Kontakt.
The drum sounds in this library are also presented in .wav format.
As well as the original 24-bit samples the percussion is also presented in 16 and 8-bit formats (all at 44.1KHz sample rate) in their respective folders for use on a wide range of software based sample players and applications as well as a number of hardware samplers such as the MPC series.
This library requires the full version of Kontakt 4.2.4 or higher.
Approximately 1GB of free hard disk space is required.
952 24-bit Samples*
298 Drum Samples in 8, 16 & 24-bit .wav format
61 Example Instruments*
48 Example Layered Multis*
Live music demo “The Max Factor” – recorded directly from one of the recently restored ultra-rare G.D.S. instruments*
*All purchases from Jan 2015 to include a multi-sample from the recently restored 1979 Crumar GDS (see news section)
Dan Wilson (Hideaway Studio) Synergy Restoration & Patch Design, Sample Capture, Example Patches & Demos. Stephen Howell (Hollow Sun, RIP) UI Concept, GUI Design & Graphics. Mario Krušelj Synth Engine Script
The Little Synth That Could…
In 1984 Dave Smith and his team at Sequential Circuits released the Six-trak which was one of the first instruments not only to feature the then new MIDI control system but was an early multitimbral offering. This was quite a technically advanced feature to be seen on what was a relatively affordable synthesizer in those days. Although we all know Dave Smith as a master of analog synthesizer design, whilst working on his designs, I am often left thinking that in fact he really should be better praised for his programming skills! Fitting a whole multi-timbral synth control system with patch recall, an arpeggiator, a sequencer, a stack facility and an extremely full midi CC implementation into a humble Z80 microcontroller running at 4MHz with its code residing on one tiny 16Kbyte EPROM is really quite an accomplishment!
Although very much overshadowed by the infamous Prophet 5, the Six-trak offers 6 real VCOs and analog filters courtesy of Curtis (CEM3394) which much to my delight self-oscillate in such a controlled manner that they can easily double up as second oscillators with a bit of careful programming.
As is so often with my ever growing collection of vintage synths at Hideaway, Six-trak number 1551 came in dead and was singing sweetly again after a few days of attention on the slab armed with the oscilloscope and soldering iron.
Having rescued this little beasty from the grave I was confronted with an empty patch memory so I set about programming up 100 new patches which resulted in a mammoth sampling session rendering over 4Gbytes of material that was auditioned in Kontakt. Having cherry picked some 70 or so of my favorites I set about looping some 870 or so samples and programming up 100 new instruments in Kontakt.
I have to say I was quite surprised by what I managed to get out of what on paper is quite a humble 1-OSC per voice polysynth. I think there are a few reasons for this – firstly I found the Six-trak to have quite a dark nature to its sound and the filters are great with the whole self oscillation thing launching it into sometimes complete instability but on other occasions rendering bells and percussive sounds aplenty. The way the VCAs are also setup permits the filter to be somewhat overdriven which adds another dimension to its sound.
The decision was made to capture almost all of the material directly from the Six-Trak as the instrument has quite a warm nature right out of the box. A small handful of the patches were post processed by feeding the audio through the wonderful triple chorus stage of the 1972 Eminent 310U to impart an extremely rich texture.
It is worth noting, as with all of my sampled vintage synth collection, that although the raw captured material is totally authentic many of the instruments in the library explore many new avenues. That said, I think many would be quite surprised what I managed to conjure out of this little wonder.
It has indeed been a fair while since my last release. Behind the scenes I have been extremely busy overhauling and restoring a whole raft of vintage synths including two rare and very special old beasts. These and others will form the basis of several planned major releases over the next few months…
This library requires the full version of Kontakt 4.2.4 or higher.
Approximately 650MB of free hard disk space is required.
871 24-bit Samples
69 Example Instruments
31 Example Layered Multis
“Some jaw-droppingly beautiful sounds, and highly recommended!” DavyAch, KVR
Dan Wilson (Hideaway Studio) Six-Trak Restoration & Patch Design, Sample Capture, Example Patches & Demos. Stephen Howell (Hollow Sun, RIP) UI Concept, GUI Design & Graphics. Mario Krušelj Synth Engine Script