Top 20 Greatest Synths - Episode 5

Two More Rolands and a Korg With Chart Positions 8 to 6.      11/04/07

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12:46 mins
Top 20 Greatest Synths - Episode 5

Top 20 Greatest Synths (Episode Five)

Welcome to episode 5 of our hit IPTV series about all things synth-like and keyboards with knobs on.

This is by no means a definitive list, but more an excuse to show you some exclusive interviews, rare footage and cool pictures of lusty electronic gear knitted together by unhinged comments from our very own nutty Professor, Marc Norris.

There are literally hundreds of instruments and devices that won’t even get a mention here that are equally as important as the one’s we’ve chosen from the votes in our poll. But by the end of the series we will have name checked somewhere between 40 and 60 popular and well loved instruments in a 'chart show’ format that we hope the thousands of viewers are finding entertaining and even a touch nostalgic.

So to episode 5 with chart positions 8 to 6 featuring the JV-1080 & the D50, which I can now reveal, are the final appearance for Roland on the countdown. Not bad having clocked up a mighty FIVE chart positions. Also featured is the dinky MS20 with a passionate commentary from Portishead’s own Ade Utley. There’s one other Korg in the countdown and that’s in the next episode (and we ain’t giving away prizes for guessing what that one is!). Episode 1, 2, 3 and 4 can be viewed here

<6. Roland D50
The D50 competed with the DX7 and M1 with its PCM samples and Linear Arithmetic Synthesis to herald in a new era of digital sound technology in the latter half of the 1980’s. It was the first keyboard with on-board digital reverb, and added chorus gave a unique width and depth to the D50 sounds making it as popular and desirable in the 80’s as a ‘Relax’ t-shirt and a George Michael mullet. Dave Robinson (formerly of Future Music UK and current editor of ProSoundNews Europe) talks us around his own D50 with the kind of love that a man usually reserves for a first pet or favourite shirt. Bless him.

<7. Korg MS20
This dinky little 2 oscillatered monophonic lead and bass synth was mid range to Korg’s MS10 and MS50. Its hard-wired patchable design was reminiscent of the ARP 2600 system (see episode 4) and although in a different league, the MS20 offered flexibility, portability and affordability for a whole new generation of synth-heads in the late 70’s. Its classic looks and knob heavy front panel gave it instant cult status and it enjoys frequent renaissance periods with every new generation of electronic musicians. Ade Utley (Portishead) talks us through the front panel with added comments from Goldfrapp’s Will Gregory.

<8. Roland JV-1080
One of Roland’s most popular synths crashes in at number 8 on the countdown. You could find this 2U rack mounted unit in just about every jobbing composers studio in the mid 90’s ready to add its lush pads and washes to any number of library or film score compositions. This ominous black box housed a 64 voice 16 part multi timbral workhorse with 640 patches, 128 performances and an expansion card slot for extra Techno, Orchestral and World music sounds. Sonic State’s own Nick Batt reminisces about using this beast on his remixes as part of the dance duo, DNA. (You’ll remember their hit Tom’s Diner, but did you know they also remixed for Kylie and a whole load of other cool folk? Probably using a JV-1080…Oh yes!) The Chartgrazer’s on this episode are the Korg Prophecy and Waldorf Q.

People who voted for at least one of the synths in episode 5 include:

kruz.home, sineworm, giorgioarmani99, blaz.maselj, gontakak07, randall.hill, bart.skrbec, vocoded1, jtams, storro437, magnbir, Mstimming, maltemark, ronen_sabo, szetsch, jesse.juup, hhorley06, mirodeler, pcodigital, danielrowe, locomurdok2000, hradec007, mrmorg, tandell.forest, matti.kettu, john.lanius, hexfxtriks, morgan, gfl030, thehampshires, acidville, smartface05, kerzwhile and many, many more.

Coming in Episode 6
There’s not much in it between the remaining instruments apart from the number one that clocked up by far the most votes. There’s only 3 shows left in the series and the next one features chart positions 5 to 3. That’s episode 6 of the Top 20 Greatest Synths in 2 weeks time here at and other selected outlets. Ciao for now!


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14 Comments...  Post a comment    original story
REwire    Said...

At least this time someone played a synth. Too bad it was only the D-50. C'mon, next installment make some noise! All this could be text based, video needs audio!

11-Apr-07 12:57 PM

Cloud    Said...

The interview with Dave Robinson about the D-50 was spot on. The in-depth explanation of the synthesis engine AND AUDIO examples of the synth is what has been missing in the Top 20 Greatest Synths series so far. I hope you have more interviews of this quality in that in the pipeline.

11-Apr-07 04:26 PM

Daybreak    Said...

Again I have to agree with REwire.

Personally, what would blow me away would be a much deeper look into what makes each of these synths special, like what you showed with the D-50, but more.

If you decide to do another synth series, please do each consecutive video about a different synth. That way you can explore much, much more in depth about each ones abilities and uniqueness.

11-Apr-07 06:00 PM

DeathByPain    Said...

I just want to agree with the above posters; I really enjoyed the segment about the D-50. Looking forward to the next installment...

11-Apr-07 10:45 PM

johnny    Said...

i would love to hear sound examples of the synths on display, otherwise this is quite useless

12-Apr-07 04:51 AM


i would love to hear sound examples of the synths on display, otherwise this is quite useless

12-Apr-07 04:51 AM

john    Said...

i would love to hear sound examples of the synths on display, otherwise this is quite useless

12-Apr-07 04:52 AM

Chowning addict    Said...

I find this series really interesting. Love to see important musicians and producers talking about that machines. And as it is said above, "There are literally hundreds of instruments and devices that won’t even get a mention here that are equally as important as the one’s we’ve chosen from the votes in our poll.". For this series format, I find content is really good . If each synth is deeply checked one to one, It would become in a National Geographic 2 hours film each chapter. It would be good for another upcoming deeper series, sure!

Staying tuned for the coming 5 synths...

12-Apr-07 05:14 AM

Harold Balls    Said...

What is that banging and shouty track played during the ms-20 segment, particularly as the features and knobs are explained?

Anyone know?


Bueller ... Bueller

Great series, not a documentary, but quite fun.

13-Apr-07 09:44 PM

Simon Power, Producer TTGS    Said...

Hi there Harold, thanks for your comments. The track is called MAMMA by 10X and is available thru their MySpace site.

14-Apr-07 06:16 AM

fred johnsen    Said...

this list is a joke: the JV-1080? the Virus? the Proteus? the Melotron? are these last 2 even considered "synths"? if so, since when? i suppose if this is were a list of the most widely used electronic keyboard instruments of all time, ok, but sheesh...

14-Apr-07 08:52 AM

Simon Power Producer TTGS    Said...

Fred, we decided to include romplers and rack mounts, sorry if you missed that point at the start of the series.

As for the Melly, this highly influential keyboard deserves a place for entertainment value alone! Again this was noted from the start that the chart would include one non-synth.

But the Virus is a synth and should be included - remember it's not just our arbitrary choices, there were votes too. Thanks for your comments on the series so far.

16-Apr-07 03:56 AM

Megatheodor    Said...

I don΄t speak good english but i think the Top 20 is interesting and acceptable.We don΄t vote a synth because of it΄s legend(like the super..VCS 3 or APR 2600)but for the ability to hold on,in some different kind of music(i mean the object is the best possible quality and the friendly use).If you use smartly,5 tones of a little Proteus in a quality and expensive movie project,surely it will heart lovely,therefore we are looking for the 20 most lovely synths for any kind of music..Sorry for my baaad English.. (i love synths and i have 46 of the best..)

21-Apr-07 01:49 PM

radiowaves    Said...

The D-50 was not the first Synth Sampler. The Ensoniq ESQ-1 used sampled waveforms.

13-Jul-09 03:32 PM

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