Still ompressive analog polysynthesizer designed by Italian
organ societies Elka & Orla.
Now Synthex reached the Olympus of all-time cult machine.
KEYBOARD (weight: 30 Kg) 61 keys (no velocity) huge with black metal panel and nice wood sides; the italian keyboard it originally came with a pair of legs attached on the sides.
The main panel counts a lot of tweaking fun: no less than 36 knobs + 84 buttons + 6 levers, in addition a joystick for pitch bending and modulation.
Back panel terminal connectors: tape interface, sequencer sync, double jack outs (split voice boards in stereo mode) a pedal control for filter cutoff (upper, lower or both sound layer) and finally a set of footswitch inputs (program up, envelope hold, envelope release and glide control).
Some later models also implemented a Midi interface, chek out Midi section for more information about digital interface.
VOICES up to 8 voices polyphony based on subtractive synthesis generated by 4 overlaped boards featuring 2 voices on each of them.
The soundboards are multiplexed and manage different playmode voices combinations like DOUBLE MODE which layers 2 patches or even assigned to 2 different SPLIT modes.
OSCILLATORS there are 2 analog oscillators DCO per voice at octave range 16' 8' 4' 2' 1'.
A single DCO offers 4 possbile waveforms: 1. saw
4. triangle 5. noise: in addition it possible to add a white-pink noise generator to the mix.
Synthex oscillators structure features a detune knobs at 5 semitones range, a SYNC function for oscillators pitches and a digital ring modulator with fixed value.
PERFORMANCE special Polyphonic Portamento has a GLIDE option assignable to OSC1 or OSC2 (or both at same time) with adjustable speed rate.
FILTER is a multimode resonant model based on 8 * Curtis CEM 3320chips. The VCF works in 3 different modes with possible polarity inversion option: 1. LP is the lowpass at 24dB/Oct slopes. 2. BP1 is bandPass at 12dB/Oct or BP2 at 6dB/Oct slope. 3. HP is highpass at 12dB/Oct.
The multimode filter is somehow unique for bumping basslines or harmonics brasse but also gritty for sound experimentations.
The filter can be round and sweet or nasty.
LFO section offer 2 modulators with a frequency range from 0.02 Hz to 20 Hz. 1. LFO1 offers 4 different waveforms (triangle, sawtooth, ramp and square) and modulates 6 destinations: pitch 1-2, osc width1-2, filter and amplitude, in addition the depth parameter can be set as well as a delay time. 2. LFO2 is simpler and directly triggered by the joystick: vertically it acts as a normal pitch bender while horizontally it changes the LFO amount sent to DCO or the VCF.
ENVELOPE there are 2 envelope generator in total. 1. EG1 : 4 segments and defines the Filter VCF. 2. EG2 : same segments as EG1 and it is hardwired to amplitude.
Also 2 extra functions for envelope control: HOLD and SUSTAIN.
EFFECT a stereo mode circuit routes each voice to right or left channel, in addition a 3-modes analog chorus (which has fixed rate and depth values) brings a very lush touch to the sound, perfect for vintage strings or evolving pads! Hear by yourself a specific recording in the demo section.
SEQUENCER features a 4 tracks with 128 events each saved in non volatile-memory. Notes are recorded in real-time or step mode.
There are 5 recording functions buttons: Write, Beats, Delete, Loop, Ready-Reset + 2 knobs for gate EG (long or short envelope) and frequency rate.
Each track transmits Midi out signals and can be activated anytime with relative button, then, during playback, the whole sequence can be shifted in real-time for performance.
SYNC internal frequency or slave mode controlled by external +5V trigger pulses.
Notes are recorded in real-time or step mode.
MEMORY holds 40 ROM presets + 40 RAM slots user.
No external storage nor Midi dump as the only way to backup your library is the tape interface which is quite easy and reliable, just remember you have to access to tape mode switching the appropriate tab on the back panel.
MIDI second and third Synthex versions implement a basic Midi interface that manage only basoc note ON-OFF data. The internal Midi buffer is pretty basic, consequently the CPU easily chokes at big data flows... in such case, just switch the italian beast OFF / ON.
MAINTENANCE definitely NOT the most reliable machine in the world: voice
boards lifespan that is quite unpredictable! fortunately enough there are not so many custom IC onboard, Synthex is mainly build with common electrical parts "on the shelf" most of them still widely available on the market, but maintenance requires patience and experience since there are a LOT of circuits inside. Anyway you should not worry too much about this aspect on the future, just be friendly with you trusted technician. Get free schematics HERE.
a picture of a Synthex overhauled personally by one of the original creator.
Production Series according to Castelfidardo center there were 1850 machines produced:
- wave 1: 50 units (no Midi)
- wave 2: 800 units (external Midi box)
- wave 3: 1000 units (standard Midi)
*Laser Harp is the preset used by Jarre. More info about this controller HERE
**Drums Sequential DRUMTRAKS
***Delay by Dynacord Pdd14
**** acid line Roland Tb303 drums+ Roland Tr909 + Vocoder SCV350