For the best part of 20 years, musicians have been asking certain Japanese manufacturers for recreations of their classic synths, and finally one of them has been brave enough to do it. How does Korg’s reborn MS20 compare to its illustrious ancestor?
Clavia’s updated Electro range prove that if you need top-quality staple keyboard sounds, playability and simplicity, Nords still lead.
Virtual Analogue Modelling Synthesizer
It’s named in honour of everyone’s favourite giant ape, but will Korg’s new keyboard scale the heights or be shot down in flames? Find out in our exclusive review...
Rhodes restoration specialists Vintage Vibe have turned their expertise to manufacturing. So how does their creation compare to the classics?
Virtual Analogue Synthesizer
Studiologic’s new Waldorf-powered polysynth is here and it’s very yellow indeed. Put your sunglasses on and meet the Sledge...
Novation go back to their portable synth roots with a compact gem that reworks the Ultranova synth engine and adds a few extras...
Digital Combo, Tonewheel & Pipe Organ
The Nord C2D expands on the success of its predecessor with an improved Hammond emulation and the addition, for the first time, of real drawbars.
Roland’s Jupiter 80 has gained a little brother in the shape of the Jupiter 50. Does this slimmed-down synth offer the same Supernatural sound?
Years in the making, John Bowen’s Solaris is finally with us. So is this hugely ambitious synthesizer everything we hoped it would be?
Analogue Solutions make a bid for your cash with a retro-styled synth offering big, fat Moog-style sounds and a built-in sequencer. Could this be their best synth yet?
Analogue Bass Synthesizer
The Minitaur may look like a simple beast, but there’s much more to Moog’s most affordable synth than meets the eye...
Vermona have beefed up their four-voice synth and the result is an analogue monster with the emphasis firmly on performance.
An 88-note hammer-action stage piano as affordable as this seems far too good to be true. Is there a catch?
Self-contained keyboard synths have an immediacy that is seldom matched by synth modules or software instruments. There's a great variety of them available at the moment, but how do you know which one is right for you? Here’s a selection of the models we've looked at over the last couple of years, with links to the SOS reviews, to help you decide.
Arturia have broken away from their soft-synth roots with the MiniBrute, a 100 percent analogue monosynth. We put it to the test in our world-exclusive review.
Korg’s analogue tribe has two new members, both with little more than pocket‑money prices. Resistance may be futile...
The toy‑like exterior of Teenage Engineering’s OP1 belies the versatile synth, sequencer, sampler and recorder hidden within. We retreat to our bedroom and put it though its paces...
The latest addition to Arturia’s Analog Experience series takes their hybrid software/hardware synth concept even further.
Synth, organ, piano: the Nord Stage 2 does it all, and now even lets you load and play your own samples. Is this the best Stage yet?
The Jupiter 8 looms large in synthesizer history, and any synth bearing the name has a lot to live up to. Is the Jupiter 80 destined for the same legendary status? Find out in our world‑exclusive review...
Roland are hardly new to the digital piano game, and with years of experience to draw on, their new stage piano should be something rather special. Let's find out...
Rolands deluxe V-Piano has evolved, courtesy of a free software update...
Clavia have directed all their keyboard-making know-how into a single, lightweight stage piano — so it ought to be good...
The Story Of The Polivoks
The fall of the Iron Curtain revealed a surprise for Western musicians: a flourishing Soviet synthesizer industry. Its flagship instrument was crude, cheaply made, horrible to play — and sounded like nothing else...
Hear For Yourself
The Formanta Polivoks is becoming an increasingly familiar sound to Western ears — it is, for example, all over Franz Ferdinand’s most recent album Tonight. But for those who haven’t heard this mighty Russian beast in action, Sam Inglis created a few examples to accompany Gordon Reid’s Retrozone feature.
Yamahas new flagship stage piano is unashamedly specialist and expensive. How does it rank alongside the best sampled and modelled alternatives, or indeed the original instruments it strives to emulate?
Analogue Modelling Synthesizer
This versatile compact synth takes the essence of its close cousin, the Alesis Micron, and adds a twist...
Digital Combo, Tonewheel & Pipe Organ
The Nord C2 takes the Hammond, Farfisa and Vox emulations of its C1 predecessor and plunges headlong into the Baroque with a very impressive pipe organ.
Stage Vintage Keyboard
The brand new Korg SV1 rejoices in a collection of retro keyboard sounds and lovingly sampled acoustic pianos. Read all about it in our world exclusive review!
Have you ever longed for the sound and style of a Mellotron without the impracticality, unreliability and team of men required to move it? If so, you need yearn no more — thanks to the Memotron...
Until the 70s, the only way to reproduce the lush sound of an orchestral string section on stage was with the somewhat unwieldy Mellotron. And then something wonderful happened...
Synthesizer & Vocoder
The hugely popular Microkorg — the worlds best-selling synth for the past few years, according to its makers — has gained what Korg describe as a big brother. Will it repeat the success of its sibling?
Virtual Electromechanical Keyboard
You cant please all of the people all of the time, Abraham Lincoln once said — but Clavia aim to prove him wrong with their new Nord Electro 3 keyboard.
Creating a digitally modelled piano is a fantastically difficult thing to do, but that hasnt deterred Roland... Introducing the V-Piano — the worlds first hardware modelling piano.
In November 2007 we reviewed Kurzweils SP2X stage piano, and it underwent a typically rigorous and unforgiving examination in the process. So how will their latest version, the SP3X, perform?
Waldorf build on the success of their Blofeld synth by adding not only a keyboard, but also sample RAM.
The Voyager Old School sees Moog returning to their roots, but is there a place for an all-analogue, 1970s-style synth in the 21st century?
Software Synth & Hardware Controller
Arturia's 'hybrid instrument' teams a custom keyboard with their massive synth patch library plug-in. Is this the way forward for hardware/software integration?
In 2004 it looked like game over for Waldorf, but the German company are back, and with a hardware synth that more than lives up to their former reputation...
Clavia are as well known for their instruments' red livery as they are for the quality of their virtual analogue synths. The new Nord Wave has definitely got the colour scheme, but can it live up to the sonic reputation of its forebears?
Digital Combo & Tonewheel Organ
With the demand for (and prices of) old combo and tonewheel organs rising all the time, a keyboard that emulates both at a reasonable cost seems like an excellent idea - but can the Nord C1 cut it when compared to its ancestors?
The reputation of Sequential Circuits is up there with the likes of Moog and ARP, but is the first Prophet in 20 years a worthy addition to that heritage or a cash-in on former glories?
In 2003 the original V-Synth represented a bold leap forward in synthesizer technology. Can Roland take the concept further with the new V-Synth GT? Read on...
It's over 40 years since its inception, but the Mellotron has proved to be surprisingly enduring. We meet the men who resurrected the original sampler and review the most technologically sophisticated Mellotron ever, the brand-new M4000.
Synthesizer & Vocoder Keyboard
Korg's new synth may be small, but there's much more to it than meets the eye...
Vocal & Ensemble Keyboard
Roland already have one of the best-loved vocoding keyboard instruments to their name, in the shape of the vintage VP330 Vocoder Plus. Is their 2007 take on the same concept destined for similar classic status?
The world's first commercially available string synthesizer, the Eminent 310, came from an unlikely source, a Dutch home organ manufacturer. It was further advanced through an even more unlikely partnership, with the legendary American synth makers ARP...
Analogue Modelling Synthesizer
The SH201 - a versatile new modelling synth from Roland or a cash-in on past glories? Let's find out...
The first electronic instrument to reach a mass market, the Selmer Clavioline pioneered many of the basic concepts of synthesis, along with a few features that are still remarkable today.
Synthesizer & Audio Interface
Synthesizer, USB audio interface, MIDI controller — Novation's Xiosynth does it all, and at a very reasonable price...
Analogue & Digital Synthesizer
Pushing at the boundaries of synthesis, as ever, Dave Smith's Evolver range continues to, er, evolve...
They say that good things come in small packages — but just how much synthesizer can Korg cram into the tiny Micro X?
It lacked most of the features we'd expect from even a basic synth, but this rare Italian keyboard had a charm all of its own.
Programmable Monophonic Analogue Synthesizer
Bob Moog's final project carries his visionary synthesizer design into the future.
Synthesizer & Vocoder
The Radias is described by Korg as a synth and vocoder, but that's somewhat modest — it manages to cram analogue modelling, S&S, FM and formant synthesis into its stylish frame, plus a host of sound-shaping and triggering facilities. Plus that vocoder...
88-note Stage Piano
M-Audio have applied the same economies of scale to this digital piano that they have to their controller keyboards, with the result that the Prokeys 88 retails for well under £500, with the cut-down Prokeys 88SX costing far less.
Four-voice Analogue & Digital Synth
The Evolver began as a mono desktop unit, then became polyphonic, and now there's a polyphonic keyboard version. It's almost as if Dave Smith's latest synth is steadily evolving back into his earlier Prophet 5... We check it out.
Combining several types of sound generation in one instrument, Clavia's Nord Stage harks back to the multi-keyboards of the 1970s. Is it a funky revivalist, or should it be considered a thing of the past?
Modelled Analogue Synth
Creamware's Minimax is certainly not the first digital emulation of a Minimoog to be released — nor even Creamware's first. But it bucks the recent trend for software recreations of vintage synths — by being hardware. Can it replace the real deal?
Modelled Analogue Synth
The Virus TI promises to bridge the divide between hardware and software instruments, and create a world of Total Integration, while still offering the classic Virus sound. Is it a hard reality, or have Access gone totally soft?
Digital Stage Piano
Kawai's last few digital pianos have been finely wrought things of beauty: solidly built keyboards with an amazingly realistic playing action and beautifully sampled piano timbres. But their latest claims to surpass all of those. Can it possibly be true?
Rubber Fold-away USB MIDI Keyboard
Note: this is a genuine product, not an April Fool hoax!
Modelled Tonewheel Organ & Rotary Speaker System
Hammonds new B3 was the best-ever digital emulation of an electromechanical organ, but at over £15,000 it didn't come cheap. Fortunately, the XK3 puts the New B3's sound engine into a much more affordable package...
USB MIDI Controller Keyboard
Korg's Microkontrol was a highly versatile, yet compact MIDI controller — but perhaps, with its three octaves of miniature keys, it was too compact. With its four-octave, full-size keyboard, the Kontrol 49 looks set to put that right...
88-note Piano-action Controller Keyboard
No-one can doubt Fatar's long-established record for making quality MIDI controller keyboards, but that market has become highly competitive over the past couple of years. Can the new VMK188 hold its own against all the budget alternatives?
Giving a modern instrument the same name as a line of vintage analogues that have an assured place in the synth hall of fame invites comparisons. So is the Juno-D the rightful heir to the Juno throne or more of a young pretender?
Modelled Analogue Synthesizer
Less really is more — the 'smaller' name suggests a cut-down follow-up to 2003's Ion synth, but in fact the Micron includes most of the spec of its predecessor, and has added effects and a built-in sequencer too.
PREVIEW: Virtual Analogue Synthesizer
It's back! And it's deadlier than ever! We get a first look preview of the next-generation Virus...
Version 2 OS Updates • Anniversary Edition • VX351 • CP251
Since the release of the Voyager analogue monosynth last year, Bob Moog's company have been busy producing OS updates, special-edition versions, and accessories. We bring you up to date with a look at the lot.
Software-controlled Modular Synth
The Nord Modular offered a classic blend of flexible software and well-designed hardware in 1998. But can the improved G2 keep up with the soft synths of 2004?
Virtual Analogue Performance Synth
The follow-up to Clavia's Nord Lead 3 is not the Nord Lead 4 (well, not yet), but a beefed-up version of the Nord Lead 2! We find out why, and how it improves on the original.
Music Production Synthesizer
Two and a half years after the launch of Yamaha's impressive Motif workstation synth, the range has been further enhanced and upgraded. How much better can it get? We find out...
Weighted-action Keyboard Synth
Yamaha have taken a weighted keyboard from their latest digital pianos, added high-quality piano samples and Motif sounds, and thrown in a playback sequencer and arpeggiator, and master-keyboard facilities. Left to simmer, the S90 is the result...
This impressive-looking instrument provides modelled classic organ, piano and supporting timbres, and is designed to appeal to keyboard players looking for an all-round stage tool — though it could easily form the centrepiece of a home setup too.
Modelled Analogue Synthesizer • Virus OS 6 Update
This limited edition collectable synth comes complete with the advantages of new features in the latest Virus OS — and these features can also be added to previous Virus synths via a free update.
Modelled Analogue Synthesizer
The Ion might be a latecomer to the world of analogue modelling, but this has afforded Alesis the opportunity of learning from all the virtual analogues already on the market. Free and radical, or negative particle? We find out...
Dual-manual Modelled Combo Organ
Korg's CX3 digitally modelled combo organ went down a storm when we reviewed it some two years ago. Now it's time to find out if the dual-manual BX3 is twice as good.
Neuronal Resynthesizing Keyboard
What if an instrument could combine the realism of a sampler with the complete control over its sounds that only a true synth can offer? That's what the long-awaited Hartmann Neuron claims to do. We put it to the test...
Modelled Electromechanical Tonewheel Organ
Synthesized, sampled, or modelled, the Hammond B3 tonewheel organ has inspired many imitations over the years. Now, for 15 thousand pounds, you can own Hammond's attempt at recreating the original. How close have they come? We consider this year's Model...
Analogue Performance Monosynth
Ever since production of the original Minimoog ended in 1981, there have been regular attempts to create a product that would capture the hearts of keyboard players and synth fanatics everywhere in the same way. At last, the man behind the Mini has brought us the Voyager — an updated version of the original Minimoog for the 21st century. How does it compare to the original, how does it sound, and how does it play? Read this specially extended 10-page review and find out.
Professional Stage Piano
Every pianist dreams of owning a grand piano, but is it really possible to combine the feel of a grand into a stage piano and combine it with great sounds and master-keyboard functionality?
Modelled Analogue Synthesizer & Vocoder
Korg's Electribe grooveboxes presented their analogue-modelling technology in an affordable, dance-friendly format and were a smash success. Now, using the MS2000 virtual analogue synth as a starting point, they're hoping for similar budget triumph with the fun-sized Microkorg...
Analogue Solutions Vostok Analogue Pin-matrix Synth
Pin-matrix synths, like EMS's legendary VCS3 and Synthi A(KS), are fairly scarce these days, but Analogue Solutions' Vostok revisits the concept in more affordable form. Is it a vintage-inspired classic, or is it just history?
Yamaha S08 88-note Weighted-action Synth
Finding an affordable keyboard with a good weighted action and a healthy selection of sounds suitable for studio and live use isn't as easy as you might think. Could Yamaha's S08 be the Holy Grail?
Viscount DB3 Digital Drawbar Organ
Years after releasing their successful OB series of digital drawbar organs under the Oberheim brand, Viscount have updated their take on organ modelling with the new DB series. But the march of progress seems to have executed an abrupt about-turn...
The History Of Korg - Part 1
Over the 40 years of their existence, Korg have produced a huge variety of groundbreaking music gear, from electronic percussion to industry-standard synths, and from guitar tuners to digital recording workstations. This month, we look back at how it all started...
Access Virus Indigo 2 Modelled Analogue Synthesizer
Hot on the heels of the recent Virus C comes the Virus Indigo 2, now upgraded to include the new Virus C synth engine. And what a difference it makes!
Virtual Tonewheel Organ
The VK8 is Roland's latest addition to their long-established VK series of tonewheel organ emulations. But due to the current popularity of the tonewheel sound, there are now plenty of other Hammond imitators around. Can the new VK stand its ground?
The Mellotron MkVI (retro)
The Mellotron has had a chequered history, from '60s 'must-have' to '80s has-been, but it's survived bankruptcy and technological progress, and now it's back, in a brand-new, reworked form. We relate the story of this classic instrument, and see how the new version compares to the old.
Roland RS202 & Multivox MX202 (retro)
The Roland RS202 and Multivox MS202 are two classic string synthesizers that seem to share more than a passing physical and sonic resemblance. We investigate the machines and the myths, and solve the mystery once and for all.
Akai AX80 (Retro)
Prior to taking over the sampling world, Akai launched a hybrid analogue/digital synth with a unique interface.
The ARP Quadra Part 2 (Retro)
Last month we finished with the question, 'What is the Quadra? Is it a turkey of the first order, or a misunderstood and overlooked masterpiece?' This month, we'll take a closer look at the instrument itself to find the answer.
ARP Quadra - Part 1 (Retro)
Combining strings, a monosynth, a bass synth, and a polyphonic synthesizer, did ARP create the keyboard equivalent of 'Wash and Go', or a jack of all trades and master of none?
Modelled Performance Synth
Novation seem to be on a roll. Scarcely had the monotimbral A-Station made the cover of our December 2001 issue, when news broke of a £500 keyboard version. We look at one of the first UK production models.
v1.5 Analogue Modelling Synth
The Oberheim/Viscount OB12 was already a well-specified virtual analogue synth when it was launched in 2000, but it failed to gain much of a following. Now, after an OS upgrade and a cut in price, it's seriously good value for money...
Analogue Systems French Connection Analogue Keyboard Controller
The Ondes Martenot was one of the earliest 20th-century electronic musical instruments, and found favour with composers of avant-garde orchestral works for many years. Now, thanks to Cornish company Analogue Systems, it's getting a new lease of life...
Clavia Nord Electro Virtual Electromechanical Keyboard
Electromechanical keyboards - electric organs, electric pianos, and so on - are popular at the moment, and there's no shortage of software plug-ins modelling them. Clavia's Nord Electro attempts exactly the same thing in hardware - but how successfully?
The Rise And Fall Of Rocky Mount Instruments (Retro) Gordon Reid
The keyboard instruments created by American manufacturer RMI may be deeply obscure now, but without them, '70s progressive rock could have a very different sonic signature.
Vector Synthesizer (retro)
Boasting one of the most intuitive methods of sound creation ever devised, 1986's Prophet VS was meant to be US synth giant Sequential's commercial saviour. Sadly, it didn't succeed - but it did earn itself the status of American Classic...
Teisco SX400 Analogue Synthesizer (retro)
Not every old analogue synth can be a classic. Gordon Reid reflects on one that is not desirable, probably won't appreciate and, in many analogue enthusiasts' opinions, does not deserve to be hunted down - except, perhaps, to be put out of its misery!
Sounds of the '80s Part 2: The Yamaha DX1 & Its Successors (Retro)
In the second instalment of this two-part retro, Gordon Reid recalls FM's finest hour, and describes the heyday of what was perhaps the most successful family of synthesizers ever developed.
Part 1: The Birth, Rise and Further Rise of FM Synthesis (Retro)
Although FM synthesis has its roots in the sixties, the instruments that popularised it were to dominate the synth scene of the eighties. Gordon Reid uncovers the origins of FM and charts its rise to fame from its unlikely beginings in academic research in the USA.
Crumar Spirit Analogue Monosynth (retro)
If the Crumar Spirit is one of the best analogue monosynths the world has ever known, how come you've never heard of it? Gordon Reid explains...
Advanced Subtractive Performance Synthesizer
Clavia's new third-generation Nord Lead synthesizer augments its familiar virtual analogue modelling with enhanced FM synthesis capabilities, and introduces a striking new visual twist to the usual controller-rich Nord user interface. Simon Trask trips the light fantastic with Clavia's new Lead...
Access Virus Indigo/Virus OS v4
Originally planned as a limited edition, the 37-note Virus Indigo virtual analogue keyboard synth surprised even its makers - demand ran so high that it became a separate product. Gordon Reid considers the newest strain of this retro Virus, and the latest v4 OS software revision.
Roland's new entry-level performance synth is a full-length yet lightweight synth-action keyboard with ready-to-go sounds derived from recent JV and XV expansion boards. Nick Magnus investigates the RS9's family tree.
Korg's new music workstation combines the synthesis, multi-effects and sequencing capabilities of the Triton with a new performance-based interactive music generation system — one that goes way beyond traditional arpeggiators and auto-accompaniment sections for sophistication and versatility. Simon Trask is SOS's KARMA policeman...
16-voice Analogue Synth
Looking like a star cruiser, or something from the film 2001 (rather than just the year), Alesis' Andromeda is the first analogue polysynth that approaches the complexity of a digital workstation. But does analogue necessarily equate to quality? Gordon Reid cuts through the hype and investigates for SOS.
Rumours of a new Yamaha synth were circulating at January's NAMM show, but nothing was confirmed until a few weeks later, when SOS were invited to Yamaha's London R&D Centre. Matt Bell meets the Motif...
The XV88 is the first of Roland's new XV range of synths to sport a keyboard, and also adds all manner of real-time control facilities. Gordon Reid checks it out with two of the new SRX-format sound expansion boards.
Modelling Tonewheel Organ
The name may be the same as their old 1980 model, but the new Korg CX3 now employs physical modelling techniques in the eternal quest for the classic Hammond/Leslie sound. Gordon Reid finds out if it measures up to the real thing.
Dance Music Workstation
Looking like a 23rd-century Minimoog pumped full of anabolic steroids, Yamaha's sequel to the hugely successful DJX offers more of the same sampling, sequencing and performance features. Paul Farrer doesn't want to rock, DJX — but it's making him feel so nice...
In the final part of our two-part Retrozone, Gordon Reid charts EMS's further achievements, the reasons for their decline in the '70s and the company's phoenix-like rebirth in the '90s.
The Supernova modelling workstation earned a pile of accolades for its excellent 'analogue' sounds, superb multitimbral effects, and its user-friendly, knobular interface. But Novation have now withdrawn the original and replaced it with the Supernova II. Can something so good get better still? Paul Ward finds out...
In the first part of a two-part series, Gordon Reid charts the rise of EMS and their creation of the world's first self-contained portable synthesizer, the VCS3, and its velocity-sensitive keyboard, the DK1.
8-bit Sampling Keyboard, Part 2 (Retro)
Paul Wiffen continues his homage to the first 'musical' sampling keyboard, which brought sampling out of the dark ages of simple trigger playback and into the realm of filters, envelopes and performance controls which we take for granted on all modern samplers. The Emulator II was, as he explains, also responsible for other major innovations like on-board hard drives and CD-ROM libraries...
Analogue Modelling Synth
Legend has it that Sir Alec Guiness's character in Star Wars was named after Oberheim's original OB1 synthesizer; and, like that character, the OB-series has now overcome death to reappear in virtual form. Gordon Reid finds the new OB12 more powerful than he could possibly have imagined - at the price, at least...
Roland's impressive range of 'next generation' instruments have seen the company share a number of new technologies across a wide range of products. The latest of these is the VA7, an arranger keyboard which incorporates their revolutionary Variphrase technology. Paul Farrer makes arrangements...
8-bit Sampling Keboard
Unil the EII came along, Paul Wiffen had no time for sampling as a musical tool. But when he found all the filtering and enveloping he was used to from analogue synthesis, plus a sound fidelity which he hadn't heard before, he was a convert...
MIDI Keyboard Controller
With full-sized velocity-sensitive keys and versatile control capabilities, Evolution's diminutive MK125 could find many uses as a MIDI remote keyboard. Martin Walker tries one out for size.
Analogue Synthesizer (Retro)
Derek Johnson collects £200 as he passes 'Go' on his tour of one of Korg's more obscure vintage boards.
Analogue Synthesizer (Retro)
The Roland Promars helped to usher in a new era of microprocessor-controlled analogue synthesizer, but has subsequently been all but forgotten. Gordon Reid remembers the world's only 'Compuphonic' monosynth.
Analogue Modelling Synthesizer
Korg have been at the forefront of analogue modelling technology, but the new MS2000 is their first instrument to mimic the style as well as the sound of their analogue classics, right down to its incorporation of a virtual patching system. Derek Johnson powers it up.
Until now, the only implementation of Waldorf's wavetable synthesis with a built in keyboard was their pricey Wave megasynth. Now, however, they've repackaged their more affordable Microwave XT in an attractive keyboard unit. Paul Nagle tries it out.
Last month, Gordon Reid told us how he found one of the world's rarest synthesizers in Australia, and of the trouble he went to to get it home. This month, he explains what it is about the Yamaha GX1 that made it all worthwhile...
Modelled Analogue Synth Module, KB Keyboard & v3.0 Software
It is said that the next 100 years will see the rise of Superbugs, but Access's mutant virus is already here. The killer Virus modelled analogue synth has had a hardware upgrade to complement its ever-evolving software feature set, and is now available in a keyboard version. Paul Nagle allows the improved version to infect his studio and become delirious with delight...
In the first part of a special two-part feature, Gordon Reid tells the amazing story of Yamaha's ultra-rare GX1 analogue megasynth — and how it ended up in his living room...
The CS6X has more features than any previous Yamaha Control Synth, with plenty of polyphony, real-time controllers, onboard effects, and basic sampling. You can even fit PLG expansion cards, giving you access not only to fresh sounds, but also other forms of synthesis. Derek Johnson & Debbie Poyser see if it's 6x better...
Professional Stage Piano
Nick Magnus gets his hands on an instrument which is claimed to provide the best reproduction yet of the feel — and sound — of an acoustic piano.
Waldorf's flagship keyboard synth has been available for months — but until very recently, it was so unfinished that it was scarecely reviewable. Since April, Gordon Reid has stuck with it, painstakingly noting the improvements that have come with each system software upgrade, until finally, with the synth standing at OS version 1.13, enough features are working to justify a full SOS review.
8-voice Polyphonic Synthesizer (Retro)
Paul Wiffen made no secret of his fondness for the OSCar in September's issue, and now reminisces about the other great keyboard love of his life — the Elka Synthex, a synth whose reputation and influence far outweighs the number that were ever sold.
Some cheap monosynths from the '70s and '80s are now highly regarded and hugely expensive second-hand buys. Not so the Jen SX1000 which, says Gordon Reid, is an unjustly neglected nugget of synth history.
Want to get serious about your music? A quality master controller keyboard is a good place to start. Paul Ward looks at two machines that offer a little more than most.
Under hypnosis, Paul Wiffen regresses to an earlier life when he was involved in the development and marketing of what is now regarded as a British classic.
64-voice Expandable Synthesizer
Take the sound engine of the acclaimed JV1080/2080, add the data from three expansion boards (plus space for two more), a 5-octave keyboard arpeggiator, 40 multi-effect algorithms and four real-time control sliders and what do you get? Paul Farrer turns (XP)30...
Even the mightiest keyboard players have to start somewhere and quite a few started with Korg's diminutive MS10 patchable monosynth. Kingsley Sage shares his reminiscences.
Most US synthesizer manufacturers followed the now all-too-familiar corporate history of rapid growth in the 1970s followed by acrimonious dissolution in the 1980s. What happened to Octave, however, was a little different as Gordon Reid describes.
Analogue Modelling Synthesizer (Preview)
Waldorf's long-awaited Q synthesizer is now shipping, but without many of the features it will ultimately possess. Gordon Reid takes a hands-on look at what's here now and what's to come.
For those who want to fit an entire MIDI studio on a desktop, Roland have produced a baby keyboard stuffed with their Sound Canvas GM/GS sounds. Paul White clears space by his computer for the SK88 Pro.
Yamaha’s MOX range offers unusually tight integration with your DAW. Is this the way forward for synthesizer workstations?
Korg really know what they're doing when it comes to workstations, and their new one has been eagerly anticipated. Meet the Kronos in our world exclusive review...
Arturia have taken their Origin concept further with the addition of a keyboard and new modules. So is it now the only synthesizer you'll ever need?
Kurzweil's new workstation maintains the company's reputation for solid reliability, and does so at a lower cost than you might expect...
Korgs latest keyboard blurs the boundaries between their affordable Micro range and their pro workstations.
The M3 workstation, already a powerful beast, has gained impressive new features and an Xpanded name tag. Is it now top of its class?
Roland's Fantom workstation reaches its fourth generation with the 'G' series. So just how great is the Fantom family's great-grandchild?
Is there still a place for the workstation in the computer dominated studio of 2008? Korg certainly think so, and they're making a compelling case with their brand-new, touchscreen-equipped M50, offering much of the power of the acclaimed M3 for around half the price. Our world exclusive review digs deeper...
The new Motif XS range is top of the pile when it comes to Yamaha synth workstation technology, and thus will be going head-to-head with flagship contenders from other big-name manufacturers. Does the XS have what it takes?
Workstation & Sampler
Keyboard workstations have always been something of a Korg speciality, ever since they created the concept almost 20 years ago with the M1. Does their latest offering, the M3, live up to its pedigree?
As Roland revisit the Juno name once again, we look at whether their latest offering is a serious contender, or merely a bantamweight Fantom.
Korg's Triton LE series has evolved into the TR range, but does it deliver any more than a new paint-job?
Plucked String Synthesizer Expansion & Software Upgrade
An amazing new string-modelling synth is added to Korg's flagship workstation.
Looking to create a more affordable keyboard version of their Motif range of workstations, Yamaha have pared back the spec of the Motif ES a little — though not much — to create the M06 and M08.
In these days of fast, flexible computers and powerful virtual instruments, has the hardware workstation synth had its day? Alesis's Fusion mounts the case for the defence, offering four synthesis types, sampling, sequencing and hard disk recording — for under £900.
PART 2: We finish our examination of Korg's new mega-workstation, taking in the remaining synth engines, the sampler, the KARMA algorithms and the onboard sequencer, and draw our conclusions about it...
For over 15 years, Korg have produced the world's most successful workstation synths, and the OASYS is their new £5400 flagship, their attempt to take the concept to the next level. In the first instalment of our two-part in-depth test, we assess how they have fared...
At £1099, the Xa is the most affordable keyboard in the Fantom range. But, inevitably, features have been removed to make it such a bargain. Have Roland thrown out the works from the workstation?
Long before its debut this Spring, the new keyboard workstation from Korg was already the subject of much speculation. We find out what's really going on inside the OASYS's sleek metal case.
Computer-based Keyboard Workstation
It's a great concept — a keyboard synth that can run computer plug-ins. Open Labs have created one by putting an entire PC inside a keyboard. But is it a recording revolution, or an overpriced processor in a fancy case?
Roland's original Fantom workstation wasn't really much competition for Korg's Triton, so it was no shock to see it revamped last year as the hugely improved Fantom S. But surprisingly, Roland have done it again. What's new this time around?
Korg have redefined the workstation synth many times, and each time it has become harder to see how they could better their previous achievements. The Triton Extreme is a bold new colour, but does the rest of it measure up?
Kurzweil's high-quality K-series workstations have always commanded a premium price tag in the UK, but it's been a while since the range's underlying technology has been updated. Is their latest offering still competitive in 2004?
Multiple-Synthesis Keyboard & Sequencer
Elektron maintain their reputation for producing unusual, innovative instruments with the bizarrely shaped Monomachine; it features six types of synthesis engine, a versatile sequencer, and effects. Is it refreshingly original, or a step too far?
Despite the synth-spangled history of the company, it's been many years since a Roland product ruled the high-end keyboard roost, and 2001's Fantom workstation failed to change this. However, there's much more to the new Fantom S than one extra letter...
Instrument-modelling Hardware Synthesizer
Software instruments are flexible, upgradeable, and frequently offer better user interfaces, while hardware offers better tactile feedback and is easier to use live. But what if you could combine the plus points of both? Enter the Noah...
Expandable 64-voice Sample-based Synths
Alesis' QS6.2 and QS8.2 may induce a feeling of déjà vu — they look remarkably similar to 1995's QS6 and QS8. But eight years on, surely the spec has been significantly upgraded to reflect the passage of time...?
The V-Synth is a classic case of the whole being more than the sum of its parts. None of its impressive features are new — they've all been seen on previous Roland products — but nevertheless, it's the best new synth in years. We explain why...
GEM have made all kinds of keyboards, from organs to home keyboards to synth workstations. Their latest incorporates physical-modelling technology, samples of famous instruments, effects, and plenty of real-time control options to form a 320-note polyphonic monster.
Modelling Synth Workstations
The monotimbral K-Station offered keyboard players an affordable Novation -- but now, for a bit more money, the company have released the KS4 and KS5, which add plenty of new features, better keyboards and multitimbrality. The perfect marriage at the perfect price? We find out.
Korg's Trinity and Triton have led the workstation market for so long that updating the concept can't have been easy - after all, how do you improve the best? So what's new in the Triton Studio, and will it keep Korg comfortably ahead?
Roland Fantom FA76 Keyboard Workstation
Korg's Triton has dominated the workstation synth market for several years, but the past 12 months have seen challenges to this position firstly from Yamaha, with their Motif, and now from Roland. Does the new Fantom have what it takes?
Digital Synth Workstation (Retro)
The all-time best-selling synthesizer, Korg's M1 laid the groundwork for synths that followed. We go behind the scenes to reveal the secrets of its success.
Korg have dominated the top-end workstation market for several years with their Triton range, but apart from the rack version, there have been no lower-priced spin-offs. The Triton Le keyboard changes that, offering many of the Triton's powerful features at a more affordable price.
Yamaha Motif 7 Music Production Synth Workstation
In these days of virtual instruments and fully featured software sequencers, why should you even consider spending £2000 on a cumbersome hardware synth workstation? If the workstation is as well thought-out as Yamaha's new Motif, perhaps you should. Derek Johnson & Debbie Poyser are suitably impressed...
Kurzweil's latest workstation is very much the product of evolution, rather than revolution. Paul Ward finds out whether it's keeping pace with the rest of the synth world...
Kurzweil have always enjoyed a reputation for manufacturing high-quality workstations — their latest, the K2600, is reviewed this month. But back in the late '80s, this reputation was founded only on their impossibly expensive K250. David Etheridge explains how the 1000-series put them on the map...
With their latest workstation, Yamaha have clearly taken the view that the difference between a 'dance' instrument and a general-purpose one is more to do with control facilities than sounds. Nick Magnus tries out the S80.
Korg's Trinity workstation has, like their earlier instruments, become virtually an industry standard — but far from resting on their laurels, the company have upped the ante still further with the new Triton. Derek Johnson and Debbie Poyser provide an exclusive hands-on review.
Italian firm Generalmusic have made their reputation in the home keyboard market, but their new Equinox is an extremely well-specified professional workstation. Paul Nagle is suitably impressed.
Musical Instrument (Retro)
Norm Leete waxes lyrical about the mega-synth that introduced sampling to the world back in 1980 and went on to appear on innumerable hit singles and albums.
Workstation Keyboard (Retro)
Philip Meehan fondly remembers his first love Ñ a keyboard with the voice of an angel, the mind of a genius and the body of a heavyweight boxer in a big black coat.
Roland's latest high-end arranger is the company's first for three years, yet it looks strikingly similar to its predecessor. Does it have anything new to offer in an increasingly sophisticated market? Simon Trask arranges some time with the G1000...
There's a new star in the current galaxy of groovy dance-oriented synths, but does it outshine the rest? Derek Johnson and Debbie Poyser investigate Quasimidi's most comprehensive dance music creation tool yet.
Roland have repackaged their techno-centric Groovebox, the MC505, adding a keyboard and removing some of the performance features. The result is the JX305. But have they thrown out the baby with the bathwater? Derek Johnson finds out...
Korg have upgraded their well-established Trinity range of sample-based workstation synths with a new board offering the sonic capabilities of a Z1 polysynth. Simon Trask discovers if polyphony and additional physical models add new Z1ng to the Trinity concept.
Variable Architecture Synthesis Technology Workstation
It's certainly borrowed (for the purposes of this review), and it's unquestionably blue, but is it old or new? Paul Ward checks out Kurzweil's makeover of the legendary K2000 workstation to see whether it's a blushing bride or mutton dressed as lamb...
If you thought home keyboards were all about cheesy organ presets and bossanova backbeats the chances are you are just like Paul Farrer, but as he takes the wraps of Yamaha's new baby and rotates his baseball cap by 180 degrees he is astonished to find that he was completely and utterly wrong...
The high quality converters and resonant filter imbue the 16-bit Emax II with a musicality and sonic character second to none, claims Janet Harniman Cook.
Yamaha's new flagship workstation mixes 'n' matches several of the company's existing synthesis technologies and throws in a new one for good measure. But have they over-extended themselves? Simon Trask spends some time with the EX5 to find out...
Technics' new flagship keyboard is the company's most sophisticated offering yet — and the first keyboard to provide a full-blown colour LCD screen. But is it really an instrument for today's musician, or has the 'home' keyboard concept had its day? Simon Trask colours in the dots with the KN5000.
Rhythm Workstation (Retro)
The S3 was Korg's 1991 attempt to apply the M1 workstation approach to rhythm and sequencing, but it never attained anything like the success of its more famous keyboard sibling. Paul Nagle explains why.
Advanced Additive Workstation
Ten years after the K5, Kawai return to the technology which gave them the most successful implementation of additive synthesis ever, and include something of everything else they've learnt in the meantime. Paul Wiffen wonders if it all adds up...
The latest and largest addition to Roland's XP family is a strapping workstation with a monster sequencer and masses of programming muscle. Paul Nagle puts it through a complete workout...
Performance Sampling Keyboard
In recent years, samplers have become almost exclusively rackmount devices, widely used as production workhorses, but less so by the gigging musician. With the release of their first keyboard sampler in several years, Emu are hoping to change all that. Paul Wiffen heralds the return of the performer's sampler.
Keyboard Production Station
With more zones than a one-day Travelcard and an impressive array of physical real-time control options, the keyboard version of Kurzweil's K2500 represents a new frontier in digital synthesis. Paul Ward heads for the border...
Keyboard Production Station (Preview)
The long-awaited keyboard version of Kurzweil's flagship synth is finally unleashed. Paul Ward nearly falls out of his P-RAM with excitement...
Part 2: Gordon Reid concludes his review of Korg's new family of workstations.
Some synth manufacturers seem to be hedging their bets lately, building home keyboard auto-accompaniment features into seemingly serious synths, to appeal to both types of keyboard buyer. Will the strategy pay off for Yamaha's QS300? Derek Johnson finds out in style...
Korg shook the hi-tech recording world in 1988 with the introduction of the M1 workstation. With their new Trinity range, Korg are attempting to update the workstation concept for the 1990s. In the first instalment of this two-part review, Gordon Reid assesses how they have fared.
Acoustic Modelling Synthesizer
Technics' first foray into the pro synth market, the WSA1, catapults them to the front of the pack. Martin Russ discovers whether acoustic modelling synthesis really can create gold sounds from base metal.
Music Workstation (Preview)
Hot on the heels of their astonishing new Prophecy monophonic synthesizer, Korg are already near completing work on their next range of workstations, entitled Trinity. Gordon Reid was allowed a sneak preview of the next generation...
The JS30 forsakes the familiar rackmount sampler format for desktop presentation, and aims for simplicity and immediacy of operation. Derek Johnson checks it out.
Roland's latest attempt to part you from your savings boasts no less than 1700 patches, a well-specified sequencer, comprehensive effects section and expandability via Roland's popular wave expansion boards. Julian Colebeck takes it for a spin.
Acoustic Modelling Synthesizer (Preview)
With their background in home keyboards and high-quality electric pianos, it came as something of a surprise that Technics should enter the mainstream synth market with a physical modelling instrument. SOS attended the world preview.
Yamaha's new Virtual Acoustics instruments provide the cutting edge of sophisticated synthesis technology — at a price. But what is the company doing for the mere mortal musician amongst us? Martin Russ assesses their answer, the new W-series workstations.
Following hot on the heels of the TS10, the weighted 76-note keyboard and improved features of the TS12 make it a hot contender for 'top workstation'. David Crombie passes judgement.