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Cheetah MS6 polysynth rack module

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Cheetah MS6 polysynth rack module

Postby BillB » Sat May 09, 2015 1:24 am

Further to the thread about sampling here
http://www.soundonsound.com/forum/showf ... t=all&vc=1

...I wanted to put in a good word for the Cheetah MS6 synth module, which was getting a little maligned on one of the thread tangents. I picked up a cosmetically well-beaten up unit about a year ago, very cheaply (about £25 - obscurity has its benefits). I installed the MAAD ROM upgrade plus new battery (about £50), which gives big improvements in MIDI CC and SysEx control, additional waveforms etc.
http://www.maad.net/ms6/
I am working on an editor template for a Novation Remote Zero.

OK, it will never be a slider-laden Juno, nor does it have the potential complexity of the Matrix 1000, but to my ears it sounds very good indeed, especially for pads, which happen to be My Favourite Thing. The fact that it is multi-timbral is almost irrelevant, given the single mono output, but most of us don't need multi-timbral modules the way we used to. The SOS review, referred to in the sampler thread, is a very accurate assessment of its pros and cons.
http://www.soundonsound.com/SOS/apr01/a ... rozone.asp

Mine hums a little, but that is cured with a pseudo-balanced cable. I am well pleased to have this little slice of British synth history and would recommend the MS6 to anyone looking for some late 80s polysynth action on a budget.
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Re: Cheetah MS6 polysynth rack module

Postby Richie Royale » Sat May 09, 2015 2:50 pm

Thanks Bill. :)

I still defend my Cheetah sampler, but for its lack of fidelity ;)
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Re: Cheetah MS6 polysynth rack module

Postby Dave B » Sun May 10, 2015 1:56 pm

When it was launched, it was dubbed "A poor man's Prophet 5 in a rack". With some cheap reverb it became a great pad machine - I paired mine with the Yamaha R100 (remember those?). But it also had some power behind it, so that Wakeman would pair it with something else to give the 'bite' part of his lead sounds (typically a Yamaha V50 at the time) and it definitely sounded great to me.

Remember, it was only 300quid new and was a really handy unit to own. It was almost a no-brainer in those days. Oh ... and it stayed in tune as well. Definitely one of happier memories from 20 odd years ago :)
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Re: Cheetah MS6 polysynth rack module

Postby Stephen Bennett » Mon May 11, 2015 11:29 am

I thought we were all singing its praises - I certainly was! 8-)

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Re: Cheetah MS6 polysynth rack module

Postby BillB » Mon May 11, 2015 11:48 am

Hi Stephen, just re-read your post:
"My MS6 was proof that a DCO - based synth could be just as unstable as a VCO - based one. Mine made magical noises before it died and the replacement was as unstable - albeit in different and unmusical ways."

I suppose that could be taken as praise or damnation, I took it as the latter. Sorry if I misunderstood. But in any case, no harm in having a little thread about a nice synth.
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Re: Cheetah MS6 polysynth rack module

Postby Stephen Bennett » Mon May 11, 2015 1:04 pm

I was hoping that 'magical' was the operative word there - but I guess it could have been interpreted otherwise. :headbang:

It was certainly the best DCO synth I've ever owned - sad that my second was so different.

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Re: Cheetah MS6 polysynth rack module

Postby Stephen Bennett » Mon May 11, 2015 1:06 pm

Dave B wrote:When it was launched, it was dubbed "A poor man's Prophet 5".

Wasn't everything that wasn't a Prophet 5? :beamup:

I think I used to be dubbed a 'poor man's Prophet 5 player.' 8-)

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Re: Cheetah MS6 polysynth rack module

Postby Dave B » Tue May 12, 2015 9:57 am

Ah Stephen, you're right - but this was a poor man's Prohpet 5 _in a rack_ :lol:

We all know that the original Korg Polysix was the 'real' poor man's Prophet 5.... ;)
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Re: Cheetah MS6 polysynth rack module

Postby Stephen Bennett » Tue May 12, 2015 10:09 am

Dave B wrote:

We all know that the original Korg Polysix was the 'real' poor man's Prophet 5.... ;)

I had one. Oh dear....... :beamup:

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Re: Cheetah MS6 polysynth rack module

Postby BigRedX » Tue May 12, 2015 1:42 pm

I had one of these back in the early 90s. The sounds were great but the programming was so long and tedious especially if you wanted to do anything interesting with external MIDI CCs that often I would lose musical inspiration way before I'd finished getting the sound I wanted. In the end I got rid of mine and replaced it initially with a bargain price JP6 and ultimately a Nord Rack both of which were far more user friendly when it came to programmability and just as versatile sound-wise.
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Re: Cheetah MS6 polysynth rack module

Postby BillB » Tue May 12, 2015 10:29 pm

BigRedX

Can't argue with a JP6 or a Nord Rack - but neither could I pick one up for £25! Although the current market rate for the MS6 is probably £250+.

I think the CC programming got much easier with the MAAD ROM I referred to above, although there is always that detachment between calling up a sound on the hardware and editing it with a set of sliders/knobs, which in no way reflect the parameter settings. To be fair most hardware synths with memories suffer from this issue, but at least some can indicate the knobs' relationship to the parameter - for example on the Yamaha AN1X, press the relevant knob to see a readout for that parameter. Not perfect... As near perfect as possible is the Nord Lead/Rack 3 with encoder and LED rings for parameter display. Either that, or use software editors which can parse the hardware sysex dumps into a full parameter display.

Although I have other synths which are probably more versatile, I still like the little Cheetah. Probably like most of us, I have more synthesizer power now than I have ever had, but as Ken Long said in the sampler thread "I still enjoy making music the way I couldn't afford to do back when these machines came out."
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Re: Cheetah MS6 polysynth rack module

Postby Zukan » Wed May 13, 2015 9:22 am

I used to pick them up for the Curtis chips.
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Re: Cheetah MS6 polysynth rack module

Postby BigRedX » Wed May 13, 2015 10:26 am

BillB wrote:BigRedX

Can't argue with a JP6 or a Nord Rack - but neither could I pick one up for £25! Although the current market rate for the MS6 is probably £250+.


Can't remember exactly what the prices were, but back then I wasn't particularly flush so the JP6 wouldn't have cost very much more than what I got for selling the Cheetah!
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Re: Cheetah MS6 polysynth rack module

Postby BillB » Wed May 13, 2015 10:33 am

BigRedX wrote:
Can't remember exactly what the prices were, but back then I wasn't particularly flush so the JP6 wouldn't have cost very much more than what I got for selling the Cheetah!

Given the option, I think I would make the same exchange... 8-)
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Re: Cheetah MS6 polysynth rack module

Postby nathanscribe » Wed May 13, 2015 2:17 pm

That's the same "synth on a chip" as in the Matrix 6R, though they too are no fun at all to program. Good sound, terrible interface. I've ditched so many great synths because programming them was like pogo-sticking across the Pennines with a blindfold on.
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Re: Cheetah MS6 polysynth rack module

Postby Zukan » Wed May 13, 2015 5:12 pm

nathanscribe wrote:because programming them was like pogo-sticking across the Pennines with a blindfold on.

Lost my left one in '84 doing that.
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