The Best Synths.
This month we have been PAT testing all the keyboards at ESP and it is taking us much longer than it should. What should take us five minutes per keyboard ends up taking much much longer as it is too hard to resist making wonderful and strange noises with the myriad of synths we have in the yard. With them fresh in our mind we thought that it would be a good idea to write up a wee bit about some of our favourite synths that we have available for hire.
The Beautiful Moog Subsequent 37
Moog Subsequent 37
Last Autumn we had a few acts request a Moog Subsequent 37 and we had been toying with the idea of adding one to our current Moog collection which includes the legendary MiniMoog Voyager and the Moog Sub Phatty. We didn’t need much more deliberation after this and we are happy to now stock one at ESP. The guys over at Moog set themselves the difficult task of improving upon the Sub 37 Tribute Edition, an already brilliant synth, and the result was the Subsequent 37, a rich and powerful sounding analogue synth with a massive tonal range. A big part of this undertaking was inspired by the feedback they received from owners of the Tribute Edition. They wanted to take on board these users comments and build an even better synth. Cyril Lance, a chief engineer at Moog had this to say about the process:
“We are really excited to incorporate community feedback into the evolution of an instrument. Adding CV interconnectivity was the starting point, but we have also increased the headroom in the mixer and significantly extended the range of Multidrive, giving the Subsequent 37 CV expanded sonic capability and modular control."
As noted above the expanded headroom in the synth’s mixer allows the synth to generate lovely warm clean tones even with volume cranked high, however for those looking for something with more bite, driving the re-calibrated multi-drive circuitry will generate some wonderful gritty tones. Driving it to the max will generate much grittier tones than the Tribute edition was capable of so the overall tonal qualities of the updated synth are amazing. As well as all its impressive functionality and sound the synth also looks exquisite and is another example of Moog's unparalleled aesthetic design.
MiniMoog Voyager - A Modern Classic.
Next up we have another amazing synth by the people over at Moog. The Minimoog Voyager is a monophonic true analogue synthesizer modelled after the classic Minimoog synthesizer that was popular in the 1970s and is meant to be a successor to that instrument. Just like the original Minimoog, the Minimoog Voyager was designed by synthesizer pioneer, Bob Moog. The Minimoog Voyager is a handcrafted, all-analogue performance synthesizer that incorporates the features and incredible sonic range of the original Minimoog, while adding a vast number of new features and improvements to its design. Most significantly it introduces patch storage so that sounds can be saved. It also includes a three dimensional touch pad, MIDI I/O, extensive patching facilities, mod wheel, and much more.
Just like the original, the Voyager has three analog wide-range voltage controlled oscillators, one noise source, as well as one audio preamplifier for externally-applied audio signals. Two resonant Moog-style filters are on-board and function in dual lowpass or lowpass/highpass modes and can be modulated by one of the two ADSR envelopes, the LFO, or external control. All knobs and switches can have their settings stored into one of 128 Program memories. There's also a 44-note keyboard, this time with velocity and aftertouch sensitivity. There are so many more features to this synth that we can’t cover them all in this article but the full spec can be found here.
Trent Reznor talking about the influence of the MiniMoog on his music
Although there have been many recreations of this synth in software form, and more recently in hardware with the impressive Behringer Model D that has authentically reproduced the circuitry from the original Minimoog synthesisers (for a fraction of the price of the original), nothing quite compares to the actual aesthetic and feel of a real Voyager. Cased in a beautiful, solid hardwood cabinet with a multi-position hinged control panel, its timeless design make it the perfect synth for any studio or live set.
Roland Juno 60
The Juno series is renowned for its influence on electronic music, and the Juno-60 is the standout of the series. This polyphonic synth’s signature sounds are brass, strings and organs with lovely analogue warmth, however it's capable of a wider range of sounds and has been used many times to create snappy basslines which work wonderfully with the synths on board arpeggiator. On the Juno-60 you can easily create patches for massive musical textures and ideas and the filter itself is just brilliant. The on-board chorus effects on the synth are part of its unique sound and give it an unparalleled warmth. The arpeggiator is unbelievably fun to play with and by adding some delay to the synths output signal you can make dreamy and percussive soundscapes. Nils Frahm is a major proponent of this synth and these sounds and techniques can be heard put to wonderful use in his track ‘All Melody.’ There is nothing quite as fun as hooking this synth up to our Roland Space Echo and in house PA and letting the arpeggiator run wild. We also have a Juno 6 here at ESP which is very similar in functionality and sound but lacks the ability to save patches which makes the Juno 60 just ever so slightly superior.
Nils Frahm performing his tracks all Melody and #2 which both feature the Juno 60 and show off whats possible with its impressive sounds and arpeggiator.
This synth is one our most recently acquired and has quickly become a real favourite. The Minilogue is a stylish, innovative, 37 slim-key fully programmable analogue polyphonic synth. With the Minilogue you can get your hands on the powerful sound that's only possible with real analogue and find inspiration with features including a polyphonic step and motion sequencer, on board tape-style delay, multiple sound shaping and filter options, and an oscilloscope display. All of these seamlessly integrated features make Minilogue as fun and easy to use as it is powerful. We have been having a go of the synth here over the last few days and have had lots of fun combining it with our Korg MS20 Mini.
Overview of the Minilogue by the guys at Korg themselves.
This is just a small snap shot of some of our favourite synths we have at ESP but there is so much more that we were unable to touch on. From the amazingly simple yet powerful MicroKorg to the expansive polyphonic Prophet 08 to the extremes of the absolute powerhouse workstation that is the Korg Kronos 2. There is something for every occasion. Head over to the synths and keyboards section of our site to see them all. If you see something that takes your fancy don’t hesitate to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.