Analogue Solutions have taken a perfectly good synth... and made it better.
Back in May 2012, Paul Nagle asked in his SOS review of Analogue Solutions’ Leipzig‑S if it was the British company’s best synth yet. The twin oscillator mono synth reminded him, he said, of a Moog Rogue, “but a Rogue force‑fed on burgers and lard before being squeezed into a rack.” Tasty. Now Analogue Solutions return with a third synth in the Leipzig dynasty, the V3. Gone are the rack ears, new features have been added and a few modifications have been made under the hood to improve reliability and performance. Conspicuous additions since the Leipzig‑S include a headphone output and a line of 3.5mm inputs and outputs down the left‑hand side, for integration with a modular system or external audio sources.
Longtime Leipziggers will be pleased to know that amid all of this — plot spoiler ahead — it retains that signature filthy Leipzig character, which Analogue Solutions describe accurately as a “wonderful, angry, pure analogue sound”. Or, as Paul wrote with equal accuracy, “a brash bulldozer of a synth.” For Paul to float such an accolade about the Leipzig‑S is noteworthy: Analogue Solutions may not have the corporate clout of some synth companies, but their creations go toe‑to‑toe with even the most ambitious designs from any company in the world. Just look at their Colossus: an astonishing £26,000 12‑oscillator cross between a synth and a piece of furniture, with twin on‑board pin matrixes and two spring reverbs. The Leipzig V3, then, is a synth of considerable pedigree, and this only bolsters its appeal as a compact workhorse of a synth.
Here's an audio example to whet your appetite.
It might actually be worth holding the aforementioned Moog Rogue comparison in the back of your mind for this review — that synth, like this one, represents something I respect greatly: a developer’s decision to ditch the frills and create something simple and powerful. Like its predecessor, the Leipzig V3 ditches more frills than most in this respect: it has no screen, no presets, no auto‑tuning, no USB compatibility and no MIDI out. Each oscillator toggles between just two waveforms, saw or pulse‑width‑variable square, there’s a lovely Moog‑inspired ladder filter, a simple modulation matrix, a pair of ADSR envelopes and a VCA. It is, suffice to say, very analogue indeed.
I’ll say at this point that the raw sound of the Leipzig V3’s oscillators are simply a joy to behold. Rich and full of character across their entire pitch range and drivable at high levels (along with the filter) I could achieve anything from deep and clear bass stabs to reedy ’70s fusion jazz leads without so much as touching an envelope or modulation generator. Many of the V3’s circuits are indeed designs dating back to that era, so there is — dare I say it — a sense of authenticity in its...