Top 20 Greatest Synths - Episode 6

More Than 26 Minutes of Lusty Synth Action      25/04/07

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26:48 mins
Top 20 Greatest Synths - Episode 6


Top 20 Greatest Synths (Episode Six)

Welcome to part 6 of our hit IPTV series about sexy synths and knob-laden romplers, racks an’ boards. At nearly 27 minutes this is far and away the longest episode yet and a real treat for all the fans that the show has picked up along the way during the series.

And with chart positions 5 to 3 it’s getting hotter than a sweat lodge as we hurtle towards number one slot at the top of the tree. Three more glorious instruments that have earned a place in the chart for a variety of reasons.

As well as the opinions of our regular contributors we also have an exclusive interviews with Dave Smith, Chris Stone and Gary Davies. These guys have virtually modelled the course of synthesiser history with their bare hands and it’s a great honour for us when they agreed to talk to our little show. Respect!

Also, a big thanks to everyone who has commented via Sonic or the many other blogs that have sprung up concerning our programme. All opinions are welcome, in fact we would like to offer you the opportunity to contribute to the show your own list of the Top 20 Greatest Synths, which we will make available on the site for all to see.

Here are the rules:
Rule 1. ‘Greatest’ means highly significant, important, popular, quintessential, influential, inspirational, iconoclastic and sexy in the truly lustful sense.
Rule 2. ‘Synths’ can include romplers and racks but no samplers, electric pianos or organs etc. (OK, we included the ‘Tron, so I guess you can put the odd one in!)
Rule 3. It’s about hardware, so no softsynths please. You can include your own comments for each synth and when you’ve finished your list post it here on the comments page and we’ll do the rest.

So get tapping and long may the great debate continue!
Episode 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 can be viewed here

<3. Sequential Circuits Prophet 5
Perhaps considered the quintessential synth of the 1980’s, the Prophet 5 was the flagship of Dave Smith’s Sequential Circuits range. It had 5 voice polyphony with 2 oscillators per voice, patch memory storage and 40 (count ‘em) glorious presets.
Apart from introducing micro processing, polyphony and patch memory to synth design, Dave Smith was also the driving force behind MIDI (in fact he coined the phrase). Not a bad CV, eh?
Dave continues to innovate with his range of Dave Smith Instruments that have been highlighted in many Sonic State features and videos over the past few years.
In this exclusive interview Dave talks about Sequential Circuits and what it was like to be a synth designer in the 70’s and 80’s.
We also feature footage of Francis Monkman from 70’s proggy outfit Curved Air giving a Prophet 5 lecture from what appears to be a very large pre-Eurohike tent.
Users include Peter Gabriel, Jean Michel Jarre, The Prodigy, Thomas Dolby, Depeche Mode, Genesis and many more.

<4. Yamaha DX7
It’s the early 80’s. Michael Jackson’s Thriller and poodle rockers like Def Leppard and Motley Crue dominated the charts. The Eurythmics release Sweet Dreams, New Order release Blue Monday and Yamaha release their DX range of FM synthesisers.
This was a very different time, folks, and the flagship DX7 becomes one of the most popular digital synths ever due to it’s crystal clear sounds and emulations of acoustic, string, wind and percussion instruments. But it outraged and alienated many with it’s indecipherable interface and split the synth world asunder with a raging debate that is as fierce today as it ever was.
In this episode we hear from the enigmatic Chris Stone and Gary Davies, the technicians who helped develop this operating system, and from many of its users who don’t hold back with their opinions on this contentious subject.
A big thanks to Jose Bara who helped provide the exclusive DX demos from his studio in Spain.
So many bands and artists used the DX7 and the DX range. Here are just a few: Orbital, Talking Heads, Scritti Pollitti, Vangelis, Supertramp, Les Rhythms Digitale, Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk and of course Brian Eno.

<5.Korg M1
An obvious favourite of the professor’s (!!), the M1 defined the term ‘workstation’ to a host of 80’s musicians and became one of the best selling synths of all time.
With demos by William Horne and an exclusive interview with Keith Emerson’s engineer (Gmedia Music’s Chris Mcleod) we outline the importance of AI (Advanced Integrated) synthesis, and the iconoclastic effect of the M1 on a generation of composers and music producers.
M1 users included Mike Oldfield, Rod Argent, Gary Numan, Banco De Gaia, The Orb and Depeche Mode.

<Top 20 Weirdest Instruments

In this episode you also get a sneak preview of our upcoming show, the Top 20 Weirdest Instruments.
Yes, it’s another chart rundown as we enter the twilight world of weird instruments and bizarre technology.
In this brand new series there’ll be rare footage, demonstrations and exclusive interviews with musicians and inventors alike as we examine in detail the strange musical devices that inhabit the darkest recesses of the musical universe.
And it’s not just synths. There’s acoustic instruments, outboard effects, software, even toys, in fact anything that makes a noise and is truly bizarre will be considered for the shortlist.
As usual the series will be presented by Professor Marc Norris who will also be treating us to extracts from his vast collection of videos and records from his remote manor house on the Weirdshire Moors.
So come with us on a journey to the uncharted edges of music technology and join in the search for the Top 20 Weirdest Instruments of All Time…Ever!

Voters who voted for at least one of the synths on today’s show include: Petermahr,roxettefan,s.jones,whitefish,
svevski,shai98,adutchdanceproject,duaneodonnell,abbfarm,ac010b4919,
mcrane,blueshamen,neomad,pbunky1970,mantzster,cpotten,alione,
analog1975,cinhubbos,renu812,hperrier,pcodigital2,lou.fashion,ncheri,
sawthomas,pauloapo,aceelera,jmolzow,sergiumuresan,apoptygma8,joib,
,doug,thestinsons,mibrilane,midiman,levarts,kungfugirlsclub (love you guys!),oscurosanchez,rommonger,brucejr1534,gf1030
and many many more.

Coming in Episode 7
That’s it for now; join us again next time as we reveal the penultimate chart position. The runner up to the greatest synth ever. Don’t miss it!
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9 Comments...  Post a comment    original story
beej    Said...

Hey, love this IPTV show! Marc Norris is a legend!

Anyway, interesting this one - out of the top five positions remaining, everybody knows the DX7, M1, Prophet 5 and Minimoog will be in there. But I can't work out that last position.

I'd guess the Mini will be voted at #1, which leaves the #2 position open. Hmm... Kurzweil K-series? Matrix-12? Fairlight? Arp Odysey?

I guess we'll find out next time!

25-Apr-07 06:25 AM


Simon Power    Said...

Hi there Beej...What's number 2? I'm afraid I couldn't possibly comment. hehe! By the way, The Professor sends his regards.

25-Apr-07 07:00 AM


Cloud    Said...

NICE Show. Congratulations!

Just one footnote about the DX7 & FM Synthesis - Native Instruments FM8 finally demonstrates the sonic potential of the DX in a clear, concise and easy to use manner. I'm surprised you didn't mention it in the show or add it to your links.

25-Apr-07 09:27 AM


Michael    Said...

Loved the Sequential Circuits interview.

Not a lot left I know about for the top two.

* Sinclavier * Fairlight * JXP (But I suspect they covered all those analog Roland synths) * MC-303 (Not likely, from what I have seen) * Kurzweil (Not likely)

01-May-07 01:12 AM


arclight    Said...

Good god this show is addictive. I've watched each episode several times.

Personally, I think #2 is going to be the Fairlight. At least, I HOPE it's going to be the Fairlight!!! :-)

01-May-07 04:58 PM


Daybreak    Said...

Great, I'm glad you've started going into more depth with each synth.

And giving us a better idea of what each sounds like made my day.

Thanks.

23-May-07 09:14 PM


Vic    Said...

I thought I was on top of the moon when I had my DX-7, JX-3P and my Trusty Mirage rack back in '86. All sonic palletes at the time were covered with these 3 pieces of gear. Other than a great controller with the E! I had installed in the DX-7, I still never really figured out how to program it. It was an eclectic piece though and built like a tank.

25-May-07 01:21 PM


Putas    Said...

Finally a show I really enjoy watching. It's really nice you read AND consider all of the posistive and/or negative comments. I really love the sound sample part of those presentations. The videos could be tighten into 14-16 minutes now, but it's an improvement anyway - keep up the good work!

26-May-07 08:54 PM


Alex the smart ass    Said...

OH! Now I know what he was quoting!!!! Say hello, wave goodbye!!! By SoftCall/Marc Almond!!!!!

Where's my cash prize?

23-Apr-08 10:52 AM


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