Future-proof analog synths?

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Future-proof analog synths?

Post by pricklyrobot » Thu Jun 14, 2007 8:03 pm

I've read a few interesting discussions here on VSE about the reliability of vintage analog gear.

As someone who recently -- and somewhat grudgingly -- sold a Moog Source (partly because I needed the money, partly because I got a MiniMax ASB which seems to cover the same ground well enough for my purposes, but partly because I was afraid the Source would just die on me one day and I wouldn't have the means to fix it), and would like to buy another vintage analog some day when I have the money, I'm wondering what synths people think are the most easily kept in good repair.

Which ones have the fewest amount of proprietary or just hard-to-find parts? Are there any that are more easily repaired by people with general electrical expertise, as opposed to people who are specifically synth-repair techs? I imagine it'd likely be the pre-microchip '70s stuff, but would love to hear from people who know about this than I do (i.e. nearly everyone here).
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I refuse to buy anymore vintage pieces.

Post by maindeglorie » Thu Jun 14, 2007 11:49 pm

Unless it's a grail piece for me, like an ARP Quadra, I won't buy a vintage synth again. Basically, for me, it does not make any financial sense to buy a classic analog anymore. 1) They are all at the definite age that they need serious and costly repairs. (Trust me I know. My OBX-A, EML 101, ARP Solus and Omni have ALL been repaired within the last year.) 2) The premiums going for vintage analog is insane, and quite frankly, stupid.

I just picked up a Studio Electronics Omega 8, and yes, they are expensive. But they're not that much off of what you would pay for an OBX-A and a Prophet 5, and yes... they do sound that good. Within five minutes of playing it, I knew that I could now sell my OBX-A. The SE stuff is great, all analog (with the exception of envelopes and LFO), sound just as good as the Obies and Prophets, weigh a lot less than you would think and, best of all... are repairable by the company that makes them! That's worth it's weight in circuits! :D

Seriously, the next analog itch I get will be a modern analog by an existing company. Statistics say that it will be a Studio Electronics SE1-X wilth 99.9% probability. Sad to say, but the vintage synths, are just not worth it anymore. Unless it's an MS-20. :wink:

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Post by Stab Frenzy » Fri Jun 15, 2007 12:34 am

Yeah I think if you're worried about reliability then you should be looking more towards something new like DSI, Moog, SE or similar. Old things always will have problems eventually, that's just the way it goes.

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Post by crystalmsc » Fri Jun 15, 2007 9:49 am

hmm, not so sure about the Future-proof one, but there's a Future-retro one and that's hot :lol:
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Re: I refuse to buy anymore vintage pieces.

Post by Xab » Fri Jun 15, 2007 11:15 am

maindeglorie wrote:Unless it's a grail piece for me, like an ARP Quadra, I won't buy a vintage synth again. Basically, for me, it does not make any financial sense to buy a classic analog anymore. 1) They are all at the definite age that they need serious and costly repairs. (Trust me I know. My OBX-A, EML 101, ARP Solus and Omni have ALL been repaired within the last year.) 2) The premiums going for vintage analog is insane, and quite frankly, stupid.

I just picked up a Studio Electronics Omega 8, and yes, they are expensive. But they're not that much off of what you would pay for an OBX-A and a Prophet 5, and yes... they do sound that good. Within five minutes of playing it, I knew that I could now sell my OBX-A. The SE stuff is great, all analog (with the exception of envelopes and LFO), sound just as good as the Obies and Prophets, weigh a lot less than you would think and, best of all... are repairable by the company that makes them! That's worth it's weight in circuits! :D

Seriously, the next analog itch I get will be a modern analog by an existing company. Statistics say that it will be a Studio Electronics SE1-X wilth 99.9% probability. Sad to say, but the vintage synths, are just not worth it anymore. Unless it's an MS-20. :wink:
Hi,

You consider the synths you mention future proof because the company that makes them is still established and can service them. For me you are taking a wrong approach to the thing (or it may be that you change synths often enough so that you do not have to worry whether they will still be working in 10-20 years).
I admit that the analog components of today may certainly be more reliable than their older counterparts, and for me that is what is important. The actual fact that a synth does not fail in time is a seller and not the fact that when it fails the company is still around.
For that reason & though I love it, I would not buy a Juno-106 again. It is doomed to fail, whether Roland still stocks original parts or not. On the other hand, I have read on this very website that the Jupiter-6 is considered very reliable which for me is a seller.
So do not misunderstand me, this is no Studio Electronics bashing but rather a suggestion about what should your take on "future proof" be first and foremost.
The company still being around is of course a bonus.
Best Regards,
Xavier

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Post by Taxidermy » Fri Jun 15, 2007 11:26 am

Well, considering that the synth you traded up for is a digital synth that 20 years from now will most likely be harder to find replacement parts for in the case it needs to be repaired. I don't know if I would have made the same decision. Not that I wouldn't buy one of those ASB boxes in a heartbeat if I had the money.

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Post by crow » Fri Jun 15, 2007 11:30 am

tardis ..... ah said it once an ahl say it again...tardis
...and ah just thought, cuntin well hit it!
GOAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLL!!!!

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Post by pricklyrobot » Fri Jun 15, 2007 3:43 pm

Well, considering that the synth you traded up for is a digital synth that 20 years from now will most likely be harder to find replacement parts for in the case it needs to be repaired. I don't know if I would have made the same decision. Not that I wouldn't buy one of those ASB boxes in a heartbeat if I had the money.
It had more to do with the fact the MiniMax takes up less space, has poly capabilities, and isn't as likely to fail as soon as the Source might have. Not to mention I made a decent profit on the Source (or I will once the damned buyer gets her PayPal account sorted and actually pays for it, grrr!), even deducting the $600 I spent on the MiniMax.

I'm not overly concerned about the reliability of analog synths to the point where I'm ready to only consider new synths. I'd even buy another Source sometime in the future when I'm in a financial position (i.e. not paying tuition) to not only buy it but pay for repairs when it needs them. I was mainly just wondering if there are any particular vintage analogs that people have found less likely to break down than others and/or simpler to fix and find parts for when they do break.
tardis ..... ah said it once an ahl say it again...tardis
Or I could just get a dalek suit and then I'd be able to talk in synth, or ring mod anyway.
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Post by miket156 » Fri Jun 15, 2007 4:01 pm

pricklyrobot:

You might want to ask those same questions of a highly qualified analog synth tech. I suggest emailing Kevin Lightner. His email address is synthfool@synthfool.com. He hangs out a lot on Moogmusic.com. Great tech, has integrity, as well as spare parts. I would ask him about availability of spare parts for different models. He has mentioned in past posts on the Moog site that there are some synths that he just won't work on anymore for a number of different reasons. He's probably the most qualified from an experience standpoint to give you good advice.


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Post by Dirk » Fri Jun 15, 2007 8:43 pm

Besides Studio Electronics there is also Macbeth.

Both these manufacterers make very good synths that will last for years and years to come.
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Post by xpander » Sat Jun 16, 2007 6:17 pm

higher-end synths based on Curtis Electromusic CEM chips will be more future-proof than ones based on custom ICs; you can be pretty sure sooner or later someone will have popular CEM chips fabricated once enough synths are dead until replaced- esp 3340, 3374, etc- the common ones. i assume older synths based on discrete components and common ICs will be much more service-able even if an exact component goes out of production.

i definitely agree that buying one of the high-quality analogs on the market today is a great way to postpone your worries for a couple decades. :D

knowing what's under the hood and keeping backups of rare parts for the inevitable rainy day is a great idea, too.

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Post by Dirk » Sun Jun 17, 2007 6:36 am

xpander wrote:higher-end synths based on Curtis Electromusic CEM chips will be more future-proof than ones based on custom ICs; you can be pretty sure sooner or later someone will have popular CEM chips fabricated once enough synths are dead until replaced- esp 3340, 3374, etc- the common ones. i assume older synths based on discrete components and common ICs will be much more service-able even if an exact component goes out of production.

i definitely agree that buying one of the high-quality analogs on the market today is a great way to postpone your worries for a couple decades. :D

knowing what's under the hood and keeping backups of rare parts for the inevitable rainy day is a great idea, too.
All chips have a limmited lifespan of about 30 years, so in about 10 years from now all CEM and SSM synths will breakdown.
Discreate synths will outlive the chip synths.
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Post by Automatic Gainsay » Sun Jun 17, 2007 7:11 am

Go with Japanese manufacturers. While the Americans were making proprietary stuff, the Japanese were using off-the-shelf stuff.
I was told by a very reliable tech that the components within my Korg PS-3100 were all off-the-shelf, and still available. (the veracity of that statement was proven when he repaired it!)
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Post by maindeglorie » Sun Jun 17, 2007 7:15 am

Dirk wrote:
xpander wrote:All chips have a limmited lifespan of about 30 years, so in about 10 years from now all CEM and SSM synths will breakdown.
Discreate synths will outlive the chip synths.
I swear I don't work for them, but once again, Studio Electronics... all discrete! :D

The Future Retro thingy sounds amazing too.

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Re: I refuse to buy anymore vintage pieces.

Post by maindeglorie » Sun Jun 17, 2007 7:27 am

Xab wrote:Hi,

You consider the synths you mention future proof because the company that makes them is still established and can service them. For me you are taking a wrong approach to the thing (or it may be that you change synths often enough so that you do not have to worry whether they will still be working in 10-20 years).
I admit that the analog components of today may certainly be more reliable than their older counterparts, and for me that is what is important. The actual fact that a synth does not fail in time is a seller and not the fact that when it fails the company is still around.
For that reason & though I love it, I would not buy a Juno-106 again. It is doomed to fail, whether Roland still stocks original parts or not. On the other hand, I have read on this very website that the Jupiter-6 is considered very reliable which for me is a seller.
So do not misunderstand me, this is no Studio Electronics bashing but rather a suggestion about what should your take on "future proof" be first and foremost.
The company still being around is of course a bonus.
Best Regards,
Xavier
Yes. The ability to have an analog repaired by the company that makes them means.....drum roll........

1) That the parts are still available.
2) People that made the things are still alive and still capable of remembering how they work, and what the schematics mean.
3) That repairs will be affordable. (See answers 1&2)
4) The synth was made within the last five years, which says to me that it has a (synth) lifetime left in it.
TOTAL) Futureproof in my definition. Hey, works for me.

Yes, you are right. I DON"T think about whether a synth will be alive in 20 years. Why? Because I don't know if I will be alive in twenty years! That's a long time. If I can get 7 years out of an analog WITHOUT a repair... that's pretty much futureproof in analog terms. I would love to know anybody who owns a vintage analog that has not had to pay a ridiculously expensive repair in the last five years. It's not that I change synths quickly (I'm not into that at all), it's that I keep my expectations on the ground. I understand that analog has active current flowing through it, and that it eventually come to an end, and needs to be repaired. Now... when I have a problem with a VA... well that makes me furious! :D

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