The Solaris

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The Solaris

Post by carbon111 » Mon Nov 05, 2007 6:56 am

I was privileged today to have given John Bowen's Solaris a test drive in my studio! Though its not quite finished yet and there are some re-designs in progress, I can honestly say its a programmer's as well as a player's dream!

It sounds absolutely wonderful and is very powerful! It took a few minutes for the interface to sink in, but once it did...wow! Flexible, deep and yet relatively easy to program due to the excellent UI despite the huge number of available parameters and choices. Most parameters are not buried in menus and are easy to access and tweak.

There are a ton of audio-rate modulations available on this thing, none of which generate any artifacts or aliasing at all...lots of FM possibilities, linear as well as exponential. The Moog-style filter was as warm and squelchy as one could want and could be run in other modes besides LP! The "Obie" clone was a good state-variable emulation. The oscillators were plentfull in both quantity and variety. Each patch has a unique architecture, essentially a massively parallel yet integrated "multi" unto itself.

I was suprised at how organic and non-digital it sounded! A one-on-one "taste test" against my analog gear proved this thing has that elusive low-end "beef". Its no slouch as a complex wavetable synth either, holding its own easily against my Waldorf Microwave XT and Ensoniq Fizmo.

You can do FM, physical modeling, subtractive, wavetable and vector synthesis on it as well as the warmest VA I've yet heard.- I'm really blown away! Time to start saving...or figuring out what will have to go ;)

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Post by RobotHeroes » Mon Nov 05, 2007 7:13 am

Samples! Samples! Or is this in a hush hush sort of state and we have to wait a while to listen? :)

6 screens?

Edit: "The Solaris is a purchase which will last for years, through new algorithm "expansion packs" and OS updates."

That's something I was talking about in the something blah blah improving synths thread. This synth is making me curiouser and curiouser.
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Post by carbon111 » Mon Nov 05, 2007 7:22 am

I'd love to oblige but Jon took it with him when he left :D

I thought it was lucky he let me take photos or even tell anybody about it seeing as it still has a ways to go ;)

I can honestly say it sounded as weird as any of my digital gear and as rich as any of my analog gear! There is so much going on there that you can pretty much make it sound like whatever you want :shock:
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Post by kogmachine » Mon Nov 05, 2007 7:24 am

I read a little about this in an issue of Keyboard. You've piqued my interest. Time to look into this some more.
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Post by carbon111 » Mon Nov 05, 2007 7:29 am

kogmachine wrote:I read a little about this in an issue of Keyboard. You've piqued my interest. Time to look into this some more.
http://www.johnbowen.com ;)

Current specs include (from John's website):

Oscillators - 4, each osc type selects from standard waveshapes, wavetable (PPG) type, sample playback, CEM (Prophet 5) type, or Prophet VS type. New types can be added as they are developed via an upgrade to the OS. There are 2 frequency mod paths and 2 waveshape mod paths. Linear FM is possible for all osc types through the Mod 1 path. Frequency mod sources include any osc, any filter, the external inputs, or any of the lfos, envelopes, controllers, etc. The Frequency Mod 2 path can be switched to act as a 'sidechain modulation source' for Mod 1 path.

Filters - 4 filters, each hardwired to its own mixer (hence 4 mixers).

Filter types include:
1) all pole possibilities for the Ladder (mini style) filter, including 24 dB Lowpass, Highpass, and Bandpass, 12 dB Lowpass, Highpass, and Bandpass, and 6 dB Lowpass, Highpass, and Bandpass.
2) State Variable Filter - 12 dB Lowpass, Highpass, and Bandpass, and Notch.
3) 24 dB Lowpass modeled on the Prophet 5 Rev1 filter (SSM2040)
4) 24 dB Lowpass modeled on the Rev 3 Prophet 5 (CEM3320)
5) Comb/Tube filter
6) FX such as sweeping EQ, phasers, etc..

New filter types can be added as they are developed via an upgrade to the OS.

There are 3 filter frequency (cutoff) mod paths. Mod 1 can be switched to modulate the resonance; Mod 2 can also be switched to control Mod 1 amount, and Mod 3 can similarly be switched to control Mod 2 amount.

ADSRs - there are 6 standard DADSRs. Each overall amount can be modulated, and each segment can be individually modulated from, Velocity, Keytrack, Mod Wheel, and 4 freely assignable Midi Controllers (CC1-CC4). Also, each segment can have a variable slope, from linear to exponential.

Looping Envelopes - there are also 2 looping envelopes, each with 8 Time&Level segments. There is overall modulation possible of Time and Level.

LFOs - there are 5 identical LFOs, with the fifth being permanently connected to the frequency of all oscs (therefore, it is called the Vibrato LFO). The LFOs have the standard waveshape types, and range from 0-524 Hz at the moment (we could set them higher if needed). There are parameters for Delay Start, Fade In, Fade Out, Rate, Waveshape, Retrigger, Phase, Level Mod and Rate Mod, Midi Clocking, and Offset (offset provides a positive unipolar signal for the lfo outputs).

VCAs - There are several models implemented for the final output stage circuit. Types will include: Linear, Non-Linear "Analog", SSM2020, CA3280 (Prophet 5 Rev3)

Vector Synthesis - There are 2 Vector Mixer sections. The prototype does not show it, but there will be an X/Y Joystick (non-spring loaded) in the leftmost section to provide control for the Vector Mixers.

AM Sections - 2 Amplitude Modulation sections, each of which have Carrier, Modulator, Algorithm and Shaper parameters. Ring Mod is one of the algorithms provided.

Effects - A wide variety of effects will be initially available, such as delay, flanger/chorus, reverb, EQ, etc. As with the other sections, additional FX types such as a vocoder or resonant filter bank will be added as they are developed via an upgrade to the OS.

More to come later.....
Last edited by carbon111 on Mon Nov 05, 2007 5:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Best Regards, James
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Carbon111 Website: http://www.carbon111.com

Carbon111 Blog: http://carbon111.blogspot.com

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Post by konvert » Mon Nov 05, 2007 7:35 am

*sigh*

Another one I will never have. :?

I will have to start robbing banks.
Or sell my a*s.

Decisions, decisions...
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Post by Mr. Black » Mon Nov 05, 2007 7:38 am

Considering that it produces sound at 96khz,to your ears did you notice a huge difference in sound quality when comparing to some other high end gear?Also how does the keyboard action feel,is it the same fatar action as the virus Ti?

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Post by kogmachine » Mon Nov 05, 2007 7:43 am

carbon111 wrote:
kogmachine wrote:I read a little about this in an issue of Keyboard. You've piqued my interest. Time to look into this some more.
http://www.johnbowen.com ;)

Current specs include:

Oscillators - 4, each osc type selects from standard waveshapes, wavetable (PPG) type, sample playback, CEM (Prophet 5) type, or Prophet VS type. New types can be added as they are developed via an upgrade to the OS. There are 2 frequency mod paths and 2 waveshape mod paths. Linear FM is possible for all osc types through the Mod 1 path. Frequency mod sources include any osc, any filter, the external inputs, or any of the lfos, envelopes, controllers, etc. The Frequency Mod 2 path can be switched to act as a 'sidechain modulation source' for Mod 1 path.

Filters - The prototype had 4 mixers and 4 filters, however, I am considering reducing these to 2 each. Many whom I talked with at the show said they only use 2 filters at most when creating a patch. If I make such a change, I can still provide filter pairs, wherein you would have a series or parallel arrangement within each filter type. This way you could still have 4 filters active within a patch.

Filter types include:
1) all pole possibilities for the Ladder (mini style) filter, including 24 dB Lowpass, Highpass, and Bandpass, 12 dB Lowpass, Highpass, and Bandpass, and 6 dB Lowpass, Highpass, and Bandpass.
2) State Variable Filter - 12 dB Lowpass, Highpass, and Bandpass, and Notch.
3) 24 dB Lowpass modeled on the Prophet 5 Rev1 filter (SSM2040)
4) 24 dB Lowpass modeled on the Rev 3 Prophet 5 (CEM3320)
5) Comb/Tube filter
6) PolyFilter, which provides many filter types including FX such as sweeping EQ, phasers, etc..

New filter types can be added as they are developed via an upgrade to the OS.

There are 3 filter frequency (cutoff) mod paths. Mod 1 can be switched to modulate the resonance; Mod 2 can also be switched to control Mod 1 amount, and Mod 3 can similarly be switched to control Mod 2 amount.

ADSRs - there are 6 standard ADSRs. Each overall amount can be modulated by Velocity, and each segment can be individually modulated from Velocity, Keytrack, Mod Wheel, and 4 freely assignable Midi Controllers (CC1-CC4). Also, each segment can have a variable slope, from linear to exponential.

Looping Envelopes - there are also 2 looping envelopes, each with 8 segments. There is overall modulation possible of Time and Level.

LFOs - there are 5 identical LFOs, with the fifth being permanently connected to the frequency of all oscs (therefore, it is called the Vibrato LFO). The LFOs have a number of 'patterns' as well as the standard waveshape types, and range from 0-524 Hz. There are parameters for Delay Start, Fade In, Fade Out, Rate, Waveshape, Retrigger, Phase, Level Mod and Rate Mod, Midi Clocking, and Offset (offset provides a positive unipolar signal for the lfo outputs).

VCAs - There are several models implemented for the final output stage circuit. Types will include: Linear, Non-Linear "Analog", SSM2020, CA3280 (Prophet 5 Rev3)

Vector Synthesis - There are 2 Vector Mixer sections. The prototype does not show it, but there will be either an X/Y Joystick (non-spring loaded) or a touchpad in the leftmost section to provide control for the Vector Mixers.

AM Sections - 2 Amplitude Modulation sections, each of which have Carrier, Modulator, Algorithm and Shaper parameters. Ring Mod is one of the algorithms provided.

Effects - A wide variety of effects will be available, such as delay, flanger/chorus, reverb, EQ, fixed and variable filter banks, vocoder, waveshaping, frequency shifting, etc. As with the other sections, additional FX types can be added as they are developed via an upgrade to the OS.
I didn't find the specs on the site. Thanks. This sounds like a great synth specifically for it's upgrade ability. Alesis let everyone down with the Ion, with promises of adding more features through OS updates that weren't completely delivered. Mainly more arp patterns. I hope John Bowen and his team deliver the goods. Looks like they already have.
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Post by RobotHeroes » Mon Nov 05, 2007 7:59 am

Be like yo jon don't mess around bring it back. I have to make some quick demo's for the guys it'll only take a few minutes.

Interest is at full power. No aliasing and digital crickly crack you say? Those specs are vicious. All this biggin' up from you carbon makes me want to hear it. =P~

Any ballpark prices? Crush our desire or give us a goal. I will be needing a polysynth in the future with some power and character. Else I can just cry and go back to looking for a Nord Lead or an MS2000 again. :lol:
Last edited by RobotHeroes on Mon Nov 05, 2007 8:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by synapsecollapse » Mon Nov 05, 2007 8:02 am

http://www.johnbowen.com/purchasing.html wrote:For units sold to customers in North America, the final price will be $3399 plus shipping and tax (if any); the pre-order deposit amount is still $1000. For European customers, the guaranteed pre-order price is slightly higher, 2500 EUR + VAT. Deposit amount remains at 800 EUR.

Once the Solaris pre-orders are all filled and the units go into stores, the retail price will be $3999 in North America and 2999 EUR + VAT elsewhere. First production is planned for February, 2008, with delivery shortly thereafter, in March.

A complete specification is still being discussed, but I'll be able to post something definite by December. As well, I hope to have some initial audio demos by then.

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Post by RobotHeroes » Mon Nov 05, 2007 8:05 am

Denied. :lol:

Edit: I still want to hear it though.
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Post by maindeglorie » Mon Nov 05, 2007 8:18 am

I love the idea, appreciate the work and effort, but still $2000 too much.

I edited my post to not offend anybody who can't handle me criticizing the price of a synth. :roll: Apparently we're in Red Square.
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Post by Yoozer » Mon Nov 05, 2007 8:27 am

Yeah, it's a softsynth :roll: That's why it has a metal case, displays, physical knobs and a physical keyboard. Spare me the napkin calculations, been there, done that.

Seeing how the dollar's plunging downwards, converting it back to euros doesn't make it that bad. Yes, it's a luxurious flagship synth, so it comes with a similar price and nobody's holding a gun to your head to pay it.

The interface is the most expensive; and this one tops a Nord G2 (which clocks in new at $1800, more when it was just released) You will most likely get the entire Creamware library in there, too; loads of flexibility.
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Post by carbon111 » Mon Nov 05, 2007 8:30 am

maindeglorie wrote:$3999!?! F**K THAT. That's ridiculous...etc...
LOL! Its all hardware and it will easily replace three $2000 synths in terms of power and flexibility. Just a few hours with it and I'm very impressed by its depth of features and ease of programming.

Instead of getting into yet another pissing match about price, its better to say this synth isn't for you if you think the price is too steep. Somehow people afford things much more expensive than this ;)

Unfortunately, this won't be a cheap one to make. Beautiful-sounding VA, FM, physical modeling, subtractive, wavetable and vector synthesis in one box, designed and programmed by one of the real synth pioneers himself...sounds like good value to me :D
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Carbon111 Website: http://www.carbon111.com

Carbon111 Blog: http://carbon111.blogspot.com

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Post by maindeglorie » Mon Nov 05, 2007 8:40 am

No man, pissing contests on these forums are not my thing. If they were, I would say... I'm going to be the first to drop $4000 on it.

That's right I forgot that the metal and wood are what makes the synth, great thinking right there, now it's totally worth the four grand. All hardware too! No oscillators based on code in there at all! Wow. I am going to be the first to drop the $4000!

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