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Studio Electronics Omega 8 (Preview)

Analogue Synth Module By Gordon Reid
Published March 2000

Studio Electronics Omega 8 (Preview)

The long‑awaited Omega 8 promises much, even if its feature‑set is not yet complete. Gordon Reid takes a first look...

If you remember The Hitchhikers' Guide To The Galaxy, you may recall the classic scene in which our heroes inadvertently transform a pair of rapidly approaching nuclear missiles into a whale and a bowl of petunias. Since this occurs some miles above a planet's surface, the surprised fauna and flora then descend swiftly, the whale naively wondering whether the approaching ground will be friendly, while the bowl of petunias merely offers the comment, "Oh no, not again!" The author, Douglas Adams, suggested that if we could ascertain why the petunias made this remark, we might discover a lot more about the universe in which we live. Well, I'm not one for weighty matters, but, for reasons that will become apparent, I'm beginning to understand how the bowl of petunias felt.

Now let's talk about the Studio Electronics Omega 8. I knew about this synth as long ago as mid‑1998, at which time I heard that it would be a DSP‑free, multitimbral, rackmount analogue module with discrete oscillators and filters, plus a host of knobs and switches. In late 1998 it seemed that Studio Electronics would show the Omega 8 (or one of its more diminutive brethren, the Omega 5 or Omega 2) at the 1999 NAMM show, but it did not appear, even in prototype form.

Yet even then, the hype was remarkable. There were promises of elaborate MIDI control, dynamic signal processing, and expansive modulation, with sound creation and manipulation that could "very well exceed the boundaries of your imagination" (Yurgh!). Other hyperbole included "apparitional pads" (huh?), "foundational basses" (what?), "revelatory leads" (whatever they are), "electrosonic drums" (now I'm really confused), "other‑worldly" sound effects and "utterly massive synthetic soundscapes... for today's highly charged musical ecology." Despite such marketing crap, the Omega 8 has continued to tweak my interest, perhaps because I've long been a fan of the same company's SE1 monosynth — and now...

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Published March 2000