With exciting additions to our growing collection of synthesizers, and the evolution of our new Synth Suite, this article details the variety of synths we have at Spirit Studios from old to new.
Formally the S3 studio, this new facility focuses on all things synth. We’ve restored historical classics and purchased brand new additions. The Synth Suite is designed to encourage creative and experimental use of the variety of synths in the facility.
Multiple MOTU MIDI Express 128 units allow all of the synths to be routed together, so the range of equipment can be used interchangeably. This enables the layering and integration of numerous different synths into the workflow at the touch of a button. A Native Instruments MIDI keyboard is central to the set-up and can be used to trigger numerous synths at the same time. This all supports a simple yet extensively experimental workflow.
Located in the Synth Suite is an iconic synth we’ve had for nearly 40 years. This very synth was used by Graham Massey on 808 State’s track Pacific State. Sound on Sound did a Classic Tracks article on 808 State – Pacific State, where there’s mentions of Spirit Studios and this Juno-106 (you can see it in the photo of The 1989 incarnation of 808 State). Read the article here.
The Roland Juno-106 is a six-voice analogue synthesizer known for its versatile sound and affordable price. Each voice of the Juno-106 has two oscillators, which can produce a variety of waveforms, such as sawtooth, pulse, square, and noise. It also has a resonant low-pass filter, which can be used to create a wide range of sounds, from warm and mellow pads to aggressive and cutting leads. One of the most distinctive features of the Juno-106 is its built-in chorus effect. This effect adds a lush, shimmering quality to the sound, and is one of the things that makes the Juno-106 so popular among musicians.
It developed some faults a few months back, but the Tech team at Spirit have managed to source some replacement voice chips and have made some repairs to one of the printed circuit boards, getting it back into full service this October. Other artists that have used a Juno-106 in their work, include The Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, Laurent Garnier, Faithless, The Prodigy and Leftfield.
Another synth that we’ve had at Spirit for decades is the Roland JD-800, the specific purchase date is unknown, but it’s likely over 20 years.
The Roland JD-800 is a digital synthesizer known for its hands-on controls, evocative sounds, and powerful effects. It features up to four tones per patch, a resonant multi-mode filter, and a variety of analog-style waveforms. The JD-800 has been used on countless hit records and is a popular choice for both studio and live performances.
It’s been in storage for a while, due to some pretty severe damage to the case and system buttons. Brandon, a tutor, coincidentally had a faulty one, which he kindly donated to us. Using Brandon’s as the primary synth, we took the preset board from ours, along with the keybed and one of the cable harnesses to create one working synth. Some of the keys needed some heavy cleaning to return them to life, but the synth is now back in service.
Artists that have used a JD-800 include LTJ Bukem, Jean Michel Jarre, Luke Vibert, Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode and Akira Yamaoka in the The Silent Hill soundtrack.
Moog Subsequent 37
One of our exciting new purchases, the Subsequent 37 is a two-voice analogue synthesizer that builds on the award-winning Sub 37 Tribute Edition. Its control panel has 40 knobs and 74 switches, giving you immediate access to a wide range of analogue sound design tools and onboard sequencing options.
One of the most notable features of the Subsequent 37 is its all-analog signal path. This means that all of the synthesizer’s components, from the oscillators to the filters, are analog. This gives the Subsequent 37 a warm and rich sound that is characteristic of vintage analog synthesizers.
It also has a number of design features that are unique to Moog synthesizers. For example, the synthesizer has a Moog Ladder Filter, which is a type of filter that is known for its distinctive sound. The Subsequent 37 also has a Moog Multidrive circuit, which can be used to add distortion and overdrive to the sound.
In terms of build quality, the Subsequent 37 is very well-made. The synthesizer is housed in a sturdy metal chassis, and its controls feel solid and durable. Another benefit of the Subsequent 37 synth, is that it is relatively lightweight and portable, making it easy to transport to gigs and rehearsals.
Users include Trent Reznor, Boys Noize, Carl Cox, Noisia, Stephan Bodzin, Sub Focus, Deadmau5 and many more.
As we have two of these, we have installed one in the Synth Suite permanently. The Doepfer A-100 is a modular synthesizer system that has been around for over 40 years. A very versatile system that can be used to create a wide range of sounds, from classic analogue tones to modern electronic soundscapes. Used by Kraftwerk, Hans Zimmer, Nine Inch Nails to name a few.
Rebel Technologies OWL Modular
This is a fully programmable audio device, with 40 patches pre-loaded. It can be a poly synth, drum machine or pretty much any effect unit, with the patches selectable from a website. Access the patch library here. Intended to accompany the Doepfer as an expansion, this synth will also interface with some of the bookable equipment.
This has always been located in the S3/Synth Suite but we’ve repositioned it in the room for better access/usability. The MKS-70 is known for its warm and lush sound, as well as its versatility. It can be used to create a wide range of sounds, from classic analogue tones to modern electronic soundscapes. This 12-voice polyphonic analogue synthesizer has dual oscillators per voice with a variety of waveforms, portamento, chorus, delay effects and 100 presets. With an optional PG-800 controller. Used by Aphex Twin on his album Syro.
Yamaha Motif ES
The Motif range (there’s a keyboard alternative) has been used by artists such as Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Green Day, Gary Numan and many more. It features a 128-voice polyphony, AWM2 tone generator, massive waveform library, sampler, arpeggiator, sequencer, and a variety of built-in effects. It is available in three different models with a weighted keyboard and a large colour LCD display.
Synths in Audient Suite 1
We’re currently finalising the installation of the Access Virus TI and Nord Lead 2X in this facility. Both of which were previously installed in the Synth Suite.
The Access Virus TI is a virtual analogue synthesizer known for its high-quality sound, versatility, and ease of use. It features two oscillators per voice, a resonant low-pass filter, built-in chorus effect, variety of modulation options, built-in arpeggiator, variety of effects, and MIDI connectivity. As used by Paul Oakenfold, Sasha, The Prodigy, Dr Dre, Linkin Park, Radiohead, Michael Jackson and many more.
The Nord Lead 2X is a six-voice virtual analogue synth known for its warm and lush sound, as well as its versatility. It features two oscillators per voice, a resonant low-pass filter, and a variety of modulation options. The Nord Lead needed stripping down and all contact strips in the keybed replacing. It’s now fully functional and available to use. The Nord Lead 2X has been used by Fatboy Slim, The Prodigy, Leftfield, Jean Michel Jarre and A Guy Called Gerald.
Mac Suite 5
This facility has had a number of synths added to help enhance the teaching and learning experience. Access to analogue synths and drum machines, in addition to software provides a more dynamic approach to music production. Allowing students to work outside of the box and bring in different elements. This hybrid teaching and learning approach is more hands-on and engaging, particularly for workshops and demos.
Mac Suite 5 now permanently houses:
- Behringer MS-1
- Behringer MonoPoly
- Behringer RD-9 drum machine
- Mackie Mixer
In addition to the above, 15 synths are available to sign-out from reception and use in any of our facilities.
New for 2023
- Behringer MS-1
A monographic analogue synth, cloning the legendary Roland SH-101. Featuring a single oscillator with four waveforms: sawtooth, triangle, square, and sub-oscillator. It also has a resonant low-pass filter, an envelope generator, and an LFO. Capable of producing a wide range of sounds, from classic analogue leads to deep basslines.
The MS-1 also features a number of features that were not found on the original SH-101, such as a built-in arpeggiator and sequencer, and a MIDI interface. It also comes with a keytar attachment.
- Behringer MonoPoly
The Behringer Monopoly is a four-voice analogue synthesizer that clones the legendary Korg Mono/Poly. It features a wide range of sounds, a built-in arpeggiator and sequencer, and a MIDI interface. The Monopoly features four oscillators, a resonant low-pass filter, and a variety of modulation options. It is capable of producing a wide range of sounds, from classic analogue leads to deep basslines.
- Behringer TD-3-MO-SR
Behringers modded out replica of the iconic 303, a clone of the Devil Fish 303’s which were heavily modified versions of the original. These models have massively increased functionality and additional controls.
Other notable mentions include the Behringer Model D, Koma Elecktronik Field Kit and Korg Minilogue.
All of the synths are here to enhance the experience of teaching and learning at Spirit, inspiring creativity and experimentation. You can master the science of synthesisers on a range of our specialist courses. Explore our degree courses and industry courses to find the right course for you.
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