Vintage Synthesizers

Back in the late 1960’s there were basically only two “synths” you could buy:

The Mini Moog (pictured left), a three sound model that you played with one finger. To change from major to minor chords you had to turn the knob on an oscillator to move the 3rd up or down. This was priced at $2,000

The Arp Odyssey (below right), a two sound model that you played with two fingers. Unlike the Moog this used sliders instead of turn knobs. Price $2,000.

When Roland and Yamaha came out with IC based synthesizers (keyboard sounds on a chip) the bottom fell out of the market and the offerings from Moog and Arp dropped in price to $200. Today they are almost back up to what they sold for new, except you can only get them used!

Among the hotter items that eventually evolved in the 1970s included the Moog Polyphonic, which was the first analog synth that let you play full chords with six fingers.

The Arp 2600, which was more like the Moog offerings with patch cords and knobs. This was aimed at the college and university music departments, as well as serious musicians. Priced over $3,000 the first models were made in a garage before the company opened a dedicated production plant.

The Oberheim OB8 was an 8 voice polyphonic keyboard with a swtichable VCF, plus it could interface with the DMX drum machine.

The Prophet 5 from Sequential Circuits had 5 voices controlled from two oscillators, a white noise generator, a VCF, a VCA, an ADSR, LFO and the ability to add pink noise. The original model (known as Revision 1 and 2) had better lows and a "beefier" sound then the Revisions from 3 and up, which started using IC chips with different DAC, ADC and votage controllers. Some, however, feel Revision 3 and up were more stable in operation.

Even several IC offerings in the analog era from Roland, such as the Jupiter 8, are still hot in demand. An 8 voice polyphonic keyboard with 2 VCOs, VCF, VCA, ADSR or envelop settings. You could also turn this into a single note soloist keyboard (with all 8 voices layered for a very beefy sound) or make it a split 4 voice polyphonic (with two different voice settings at the split point), in addition to a 61 note 8 voice single polyphonic sound. The Jupiter 8 also store 64 patches in memory along with 8 presets.

-- E.R.D. and Tony Russo



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