News has reached us of an impressive-looking mega‑synth nearing completion, designed for those who love a synthesizer “as it was in the 1970s — but new, with parts still in production”. Sure enough, Analogue Solutions’ new instrument eschews MIDI and USB, and is almost entirely analogue, barring some necessarily digital elements in the on‑board sequencers. Colossus is a large-scale synth (650 x 1700 x 700mm) in a solid metal case edged in hardwood, in the vein of ARP’s 2500 or the EMS Synthi 100, and built to what look like very high standards of engineering and construction.
Analogue Solutions acknowledge the visual influence of the EMS Synthi 100 on Colossus, with its twin horizontal 31x31 pin matrices (one for routing CVs, the other for audio), but designer Tom Carpenter explains that the synth contains no circuits derived from other manufacturers’ work, although it does include elements from older Analogue Solutions instruments like the Polymath, Telemark and Vostok; as he puts it, “We prefer to make our own designs.”
And it’s quite a design. The large knobs control metal-shafted pots, the frequency controls on the 12 (!) oscillators are upscale multi-turn verniers, and those pin matrices are apparently premium Swiss-made broadcast signal routers. In addition to the multiple oscillators, a look at the highly patchable front panel reveals no fewer than 12 VCAs and eight filters with dedicated envelopes, twin step sequencers, and other goodies including random voltage and twin noise generators, spring reverbs and ring modulators. For control, there are built-in assignable joysticks and touch keyboards.
Tom Carpenter admits that it’s been a long-standing personal ambition to build such a super-high-quality, no-expense-spared instrument; the commercial dimension is a secondary concern where Colossus is concerned. Nonetheless, you can now pre‑order one for a 2020 delivery — indeed, two systems are already earmarked for ‘name’ artists — but due to the high standard of engineering involved, the price tag, currently estimated to be over £20,000$20,000 per system, is definitely not for the faint of wallet [UPDATE: according to the latest from Analogue Solutions, the price is going to be £25,000... NOT including shipping, which will be significant with an instrument of this size — Ed]. Video and more detailed images of the Colossus should be available at Analogue Solutions’ website around the time you read this. You can also check it out in person at SynthFest UK (see www.synthfest.co.uk).