Hideaway Studio Proudly Presents: Synergenesis

Synergenesis Logo

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…

Synergy 01 lr

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

Synergenesis GUI

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…

Synergy Percussion

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.

WAV Samples

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.

System Requirements:

This library requires the full version of Kontakt 4.2.4 or higher.
Approximately 1GB of free hard disk space is required.

Download Contents:

952 24-bit Samples*
298 Drum Samples in 8, 16 & 24-bit .wav format
61 Example Instruments*
48 Example Layered Multis*
User Manual
Audio Demo
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)

  $25.00 inc VAT (908MB download)

Credits

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

HS-4KL-A016 26/09/14HideawayStudioLogo

Hideaway Studio Proudly Presents: 6-Trax…

6-Trax Multi GUIPresenting: 6-Trax…

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.

SixTrak_Repaired

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…

System Requirements:

This library requires the full version of Kontakt 4.2.4 or higher.
Approximately 650MB of free hard disk space is required.

Download Contents:

871 24-bit Samples
69 Example Instruments
31 Example Layered Multis
User Manual
Audio Demo

  $18.00 inc VAT (440MB download)

“Some jaw-droppingly beautiful sounds, and highly recommended!”  DavyAch, KVR

Credits

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

HideawayStudioLogo

Hideaway Studio Presents: Aliasonix…

Aliasonix Promo Pic 04An Early Soft Synth… Running on a 25 Year Old Home Computer!?

Most should realise by now that I have a fascination for rediscovering old technologies and combining the best of them in a constant attempt to create something new and unusual. Some of you will also know that I’m a big fan of the retro computing scene and especially the demo music scene that grew up around it during the mid ‘80s and into the ‘90s. Almost all of the time my technological foraging involves trawling up some physical lump of hardware but on recently rekindling my love of ProTracker on the Amiga I got curious one day and wondered if perhaps someone had attempted to not just play back samples as in Karsten Obarski’s pioneering Ultimate Soundtracker (that came close to bringing Fairlight Series II functionality to the unwashed masses on two floppy disks in 1987!) but rather to synthesize them from scratch…

What I was expecting to find was some sort of crude utility that took some basic settings and then went off and slowly processed a few waveforms to load into a sampler. To my amazement what I actually found was a relatively unknown program called Aegis Sonix released circa 1989 that managed to implement a full 4 voice subtractive soft synthesizer with a digitally modeled low pass filter and realtime dynamics control running purely in software.. on a 25 year old Amiga 500!! This predates even Dave Smith’s first soft synth for the PC by several years and surely must be one of the earliest ever examples of a purely software based real time subtractive synthesizer running on a home computer. It even has some pretty nifty features such as hand drawn oscillator waveforms and LFOs and a cool feature to add 2nd and 3rd order harmonics to any waveform.

So what does it sound like? Having finally tracked down a working copy of this relatively rare software my expectations were not that high but to my surprise what transpired was so primitive in nature that it imparted significant character in its gloriously aliased 8-bit audio. The filters really worked but in an odd way, the dynamics control and phaser effects full of steppy artefacts and most excitingly of all – it sampled beautifully rendering two octaves of MC68000 generated goodness.

I ended up programming up some 40 or so patches and set about capturing 630 samples in 24-bits directly from the line outputs of a recently acquired Amiga A1200.

It must be noted that Aliasonix is entirely based on waveforms captured from a low sample rate 8-bit source and therefore noise, glitches, stepping and aliasing are very much part of the intended charm and character of this library.

But what about combining technologies old and new?.. Feeding the raw aliased nature of the original 8-bit waveforms into smooth filters in a modern synth engine results in something more similar in nature to early digital/analog hybrid instruments such as the PPG Wave, µWave I and Mirage.

Introducing a Powerful New Synth Engine

Aliasonix GUIAliasonix is the first release from Hideaway Studio to feature a powerful new synth engine developed by Stephen Howell at Hollow Sun and his scripting guru, Mario Krušelj. Dubbed “Solo” the new engine is particularly well suited to serving lead and solo instruments with powerful real time modulation in a highly intuitive user interface.

  $18 inc VAT (300MB download for Kontakt 4.2.4 and above)

Download Contents

630 24-bit Samples, 70 Instruments with edit and save ability, 31 Layered Multis, New feature rich synth engine, Audio demo & Manual.

Credits

Dan Wilson (Hideaway Studio) Sonix Patch Design, Sample Capture, Example Patches & Demos. Stephen Howell (Hollow Sun, RIP) UI Concept, GUI Design & Graphics. Mario Krušelj Synth Engine Script.

HideawayStudioLogoHS-4KL-A014 14/12/13

Hideaway Studio Proudly Presents: The Blue Zone 01-25 Special Edition

“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.

“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

TBZ0125_Promo ImageThe Blue Zone, was originally incrementally released as an on-going series of one-off experimental electronic textures and instruments which grew over a year to form a unique sound library. It proved to be extremely popular with well over 4000 releases sold to date and now being used in TV, Film and Media studios across the world.

Since release The Blue Zone Series instruments found their way into a number of high profile projects…

Most of the sounds in the series have been created from scratch using unusual combinations of custom tube hybrid equipment, experimental analog circuits, tape delays, ring modulators, vintage analog gear and test equipment. These sounds and textures in this series are mostly but not exclusively aimed at Ambient, New Age and Sound Score genres. Each instrument is presented with a basic subtractive synthesizer interface permitting the user to further tweak the sound to suit his needs.

In celebration of the first year of the series a Special Edition release of the first 25 incremental releases are presented as one library along with their original audio demos. The instrument names have been prefixed to indicate their release number. 44 bonus layered multis have been included that span across the library – these have been prefixed with TBZxx and include several complex arpeggiated offerings. A “rogues gallery” of much of the equipment used to make TBZ01-25 can also be found in the documentation folder along with some production notes giving clues on what gear was used for each sound.

The Blue Zone 01-25 Special Edition presents all of the original incremental releases in the series and some extras…

Download Contents:

A full pre-installed download of all 22 instruments officially released to date along with the following extras is now available:

• 1GB of 24-bit samples
• TBZ13 Area_13 “The One That Got Away”
• TBZ24 Crystallum Modus
• TBZ25 Snow Flakes
• 44 New Layered Multis blending cross library textures with TBZxx prefix
• Original 78 .nkis & 56 .nkms now prefixed for easy identification of release
• Original demos for the first 25 releases (in mp3 format)
• 28 minute long compilation of select demos from the series (mp3 format)
• “Rogues Gallery” of much of the equipment used in the making of the series
• Production release note summary for clues on how each sound was made
• List of instruments and layered multis along with original release dates

$40 inc VAT (Full Bundle of Blue Zone Releases 01 thru 25:  1.2GB d/l Kontakt 4.2.4 and above)

System Requirements:

• Approximately 1.2GB of free hard disk space is required (full library)
• Kontakt 4.2.4 (full version)
• A Velocity Sensitive Keyboard is Highly Recommended
• A Sustain Pedal will prove very effective in many instances

Credits

D.A.Wilson  Custom Equipment, Sound Design and Audio Demos
Stephen Howell (Hollow Sun, RIP)  Conceptual GUI Design & Graphics
Mario Krušelj  GUI Script

HS-4KL-BZ99 (SE) & HS-4KL-BZ98 (BP) (25/11/13)

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Introducing The Hideaway e-Grand…

e-Grand GUIThe Hideaway e-Grand…

The 1938 Hammond Novachord, 1974 Farfisa Syntorchestra  and 1976 Polymoog 203A are all examples of three early polysynths capable of producing piano like timbres. The Novachord was without question the world’s first commercial all electronic polyphonic instrument designed to emulate the piano amongst other timbres.  To design something that electronically synthesized anything even remotely sounding like a piano in 1938 is nothing short of miraculous and a huge credit to the incredible ingenuity of Laurens Hammond and his fellow engineers!!  If you think I ever overstate this then look up his patents from the era – one of which is pretty much the definition of the basis of the modern analog synthesizer.  All have one thing in common in that they rely on formant synthesis to produce these tones. As is often the case, such instruments tend to exhibit sweet spots over relatively narrow registers. For while now I thought it might be interesting to try and carefully blend the best of these registers captured from the three instruments in an attempt to try and create something where an evocative, expressive and playable nature was more the end goal than realism. As it turned out the grainy organic nature of Hideaway’s very own and rather infamously “vintage calibrated” Novachord #346 provided a special ingredient in the lower registers, the Polymoog added much of the mid-range warmth and the really quite beautiful highs were thanks to the Syntorchestra with the help of the Omega 8. After much play testing the samples were carefully layered and tube equalised.

Hideaway e-Grand Wall

After bringing together such a rare combination of instruments I thought it might be quite fitting to introduce some equally unusual signal processing technology. I recently rescued a 1960’s Baldwin all tube “Panoramic” stereo spring reverb. After building a high voltage power supply and modifying the spring to be centrally excited with a piezo ceramic transducer a pseudo stereo signal could be picked up from the two ends. What is particularly unusual about Baldwin’s patented design is that the signal is AM modulated at 20KHz and passed over the spring as an ultrasonic wave. The signal at the end of the spring is then received and demodulated back to audio.

The advantage of this technology is that the spring, rather bizarrely, is nothing like as sensitive to vibration as a normal spring reverb tank. It is also much less prone to the usual ricochet effects caused by high energy transients. The frequency response is a little flatter too. Although I found the reverb was a little noisy, it sounded surprisingly dense and complex so I created a series of impulse responses and was very excited to hear they worked remarkably well as a convolution reverb.

Almost by luck it turned out that the reverb worked nicely not only on vocals but also with piano. In Kontakt some careful velocity to filter and attack mapping was applied along with sustain damper emulation. All in all, an unusual combination of instruments resulting in a nique electronic piano with quite a lot of heart.

Please note this instrument ideally requires the use of a sustain pedal.

Equipment Used

1938 Hammond Novachord #346
1974 Farfisa Syntorchestra
1976 Moog Polymoog 203A #3211
Studio Electronics Omega 8
1960’s Baldwin “Panoramic” stereo ultrasonic tube spring reverb
Two Hideaway Studio TEQ-9B Rackmount Active 9 Band Tube EQs

Sampled in 24-bits and presented in a simple but effective GUI along with 8 example patches which the user may edit and save.

Download includes a user manual and demo mp3.

System Requirements

Kontakt 4.2.4 or above
Sustain Pedal (not essential but strongly recommended)
62MB free hard drive space

  $8 inc VAT (55MB d/l Kontakt 4.2.4 and above)

D.A.Wilson Synth Restoration  Equipment & Sound Design
Stephen Howell (Hollow Sun, RIP)  Conceptual GUI Design & Graphics
Mario Krušelj  GUI Script

HS-4KL-A012 (11/11/13)

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A New Addition to The Blue Zone: Alien Waterscape…

Alien Waterscape GUIAlien Waterscape is the latest atmospheric addition to The Blue Zone for Kontakt 4.2.4 and above. A series of tube processed mostly white noise based SFX made with the Hideaway Studio Triple Tube Hybrid Phaser, a gorgeous 1966 Krohn-Hite 310-C all tube swept BPF, a White Noise Generator, TL Audio Tube EQ, an old 78 on a 1955 Garrard RC80M (well why not!), a very mangled bit of Blofeld and a recent very wet Atlantic Front!!

Tubed White Noise Setup

Dan Wilson Equipment, Sound & Patch Design, Stephen Howell GUI Design & Graphics, Mario Krušelj TBZ Engine Script.

HS-4KL-BZ23 (07/11/13)

A New Addition to The Blue Zone: Panoramic Tones…

Panoramic Tones GUIPanoramic Tones was the first opportunity to try out a new (old!) piece of kit I’ve been working on – a 1960’s Baldwin all tube “Panoramic Stereo Tone Converter“.  The PTC  is an extremely unusual spring reverb in that the audio is passed over the spring as a 20KHz ultrasonic AM modulated carrier using piezo ceramic transducers.  As a result it is much more complex than the usual offerings and has a considerably more tortuous signal path.  Having built a high voltage power supply to drive the chassis I modified the spring tank itself to add a transmit transducer in the middle of the spring with receivers at the ends to impart a pseudo stereo effect.  This very clever and almost forgotten technology has a number of advantages… firstly the spring is almost totally immune to vibration and it’s quite unnerving how the occasional accidental knock doesn’t result in the usual cacophony of clangs.   Secondly the frequency response appears to be flatter and the results somehow more musical.   I have had other success with this unit but that’s for later…

Hideaway Baldwin Panoramic Tone Convertor

Panoramic Tones was made by feeding patches I dialled up in the SE Omega 8 and Supernova blended and fed hot via a tube EQ into the ultrasonic reverb.

Credits

Dan Wilson Sound & Patch Design

Stephen Howell GUI Design & Graphics

Mario Krušelj TBZ Engine Script

HS-4KL-BZ22 (03/11/13)