John Bowen Solaris Synthesizer, heard of it?

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Re: John Bowen Solaris Synthesizer, heard of it?

Post by carbon111 » Sun Dec 21, 2008 7:20 am

The shipping specs of the Solaris:

* Price - retail US price will be $3,999
* General availability - April 2009 (after all pre-sales are filled)
* 4 Oscs, 2 Rotors, 4 Mixers, 4 Filters, 4 Amp/Pan sections, 8 Envelopes, 5 LFOs, 4 External Inputs, Flanger/Chorus, Phaser, Delay, 3 band EQ, Overdrive
* 2 Vector Mixers
* 2 separate AM (amplitude modulation) sections, with Ring, AM, Rectify, & Clip algorithms
* Joystick and multi-touch Ribbon controllers
* Arpeggiator and control Step Sequencer provided, with MIDI output
* Performance buttons include 2 assignable switches, Arpeggiator Start, Sequencer Start, Hold, (Tap) Tempo, Unison
* Polyphony count - expected to be 24 voices with all 4 oscs, 4 filters, 4 mixers, envelopes, LFOs, etc. running
* 96 kHz internal processing rate
* Insert FX pre-/post each filter section, with BitCrush, Decimate, and Distortion
* 4 pair of outputs; Main pair for v1.0, additional outputs reserved for future use (when Multi-Timbre Mode is implemented)
* separate Headphone out

Detail per section:
Oscillators - each osc type selects from standard waveshapes (MultiMode Osc), wavetable (PPG) type, sample (WAV) playback, CEM (Prophet 5) type, or Prophet VS type. The MM (MultiMode) type provides the following waveshapes:
Sine, triangle, ramp, saw, pulse, noise, S&H, morphing sine-to-saw, morphing sine-to-square, and a stacked "supersaw" with varible detune (based on the Shape parameter). Hard Sync is only available for MM saw, ramp, and pulse.
New types will be added as they are developed via an upgrade to the OS.

Individual "analog-style" glide is available for each oscillator.

There are 4 mod paths. Each one is freely assignable to select exponential frequency (normal pitch mod), Linear FM, or Shape as their destination. Mod Sources include any oscillator, any filter, the 4 external inputs, any of the lfos, envelopes, controllers, etc.. A 'sidechain modulation' function is provided for each path, using Controller (non-audio rate) signals. Controller signals are all lfos and envelopes, velocity, note, aftertouch, mod wheel, ribbon, joystick, select MIDI controllers, assignable CC knobs, etc.

Filters - 4 filters, each with selectable inputs.

Filter types include:
1) all pole possibilities for the MultiMode (MM1) filter, including 24 dB Lowpass, Highpass, and Bandpass, 12 dB Lowpass, Highpass, and Bandpass, and 6 dB Lowpass, Highpass, and Bandpass, along with some other combination modes, for a total of 23 variations.
2) 24 dB Lowpass modeled on the Prophet 5 Rev1 filter (SSM2040)
3) 24 dB Lowpass modeled on the Rev 3 Prophet 5 (CEM3320)
4) 12 dB Lowpass modeled on the Oberheim SVF
5) Comb/Tube filter (the "tube" is a comb with negative feedback)

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

For filter modulation, it's the same structure as the Oscillators - there are 4 mod paths. Each one is freely assignable to select Cutoff, Resonance, or Damping (if Comb/Tube is selected) as their destination. Mod Sources include any oscillator, any filter, the 4 external inputs, any of the lfos, envelopes, controllers, etc.. A 'sidechain modulation' function is provided for each path, using Controller (non-audio rate) signals. Controller signals are all lfos and envelopes, velocity, note, aftertouch, mod wheel, ribbon, joystick, select MIDI controllers, assignable CC knobs, etc.

ADSRs - there are 6 standard DADSRs. Each overall amount can be modulated by Velocity, and each segment can be individually modulated from Velocity, Note, Mod Wheel, and assignable Midi Controllers (CC1-CC5). 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. There are parameters for Delay Start, Fade In, Fade Out, Rate, Waveshape, Retrigger, Phase, Level, MIDI Clocking, and Offset (offset provides a positive unipolar signal for the lfo outputs). There are 3 mod paths, similar to the Oscillator modulation structure. The destinations here are selectable for Rate or Level.

VCAs - There are several models implemented for the final output stage circuit. VCA Types include: Linear, Log, and Sigma (Minimoog style). There is 1 mod path for the VCA, and 1 for the Pan position.

Vector Synthesis - There are 2 Vector Mixer sections. The Joystick (non-spring loaded) in the leftmost section is normally connected to both Vector Mixers, but can be disabled.

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 - Initially available will be delay, flanger/chorus, reverb, EQ, Overdrive. 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.
Best Regards, James
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Carbon111 Website: http://www.carbon111.com

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

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Re: John Bowen Solaris Synthesizer, heard of it?

Post by Johnny Lenin » Sun Dec 21, 2008 7:55 am

gd wrote:I feel for John on this one as it will likely be a very tough sell given the economic circumstances.
That's only part of it. I have no idea how well-capitalized JBD is, but if it's like any other startup, even if it has paid its development costs, covering manufacturing and distribution costs will probably require vulture capital and credit. That's going to be tough.

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Re: John Bowen Solaris Synthesizer, heard of it?

Post by seamonkey » Sun Dec 21, 2008 2:28 pm

I think was John was smart offering the first 50 units at $2800.00. This allowed him to have some working capital as well as see what the demand for Solaris would be and then taking a $1000.00 down payment for a reduced price on the second 50 units.
I believe John has taken a partner, I assume investor to help produce Solaris. John's reputation for continually developing software updates for his software instruments leads me to believe Solaris will only get better over time.
The economic situation is cylical and by the time Solaris hits the retail outlets I think things will start to turn around economically, if not it gives John time to make Solaris even better.
John has said on the John Bowen forum he understands Solaris will only appeal to a limited segment of the synth buying community, so he's well aware of the price versus sales question.

At present Solaris is available in the light and dark colors but once the first 100 units are produced they will most likely be available in one color, the reason for this is obvious, to keep production costs down and not having to build each Solaris per customer order.

I agree with a previous post, John has kept all the pre-order folks well aware of changes and delays by update emails. I must say it has been a great experience corresponding directly with the developer, as well as having input into suggested changes.

I must say it has been a long year, full of surprises and disappointments as Solaris emerged from a prototype into a completed synthesizer but one that I'm sure will be worth the wait.

Thank you John for following your dream and sharing it with us. :D
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Re: John Bowen Solaris Synthesizer, heard of it?

Post by clusterchord » Mon Dec 22, 2008 3:44 pm

carbon111 wrote:Oscillators - each osc type selects from standard waveshapes (MultiMode Osc), wavetable (PPG) type, sample (WAV) playback, CEM (Prophet 5) type, or Prophet VS type. The MM (MultiMode) type provides the following waveshapes:
Sine, triangle, ramp, saw, pulse, noise, S&H, morphing sine-to-saw, morphing sine-to-square, and a stacked "supersaw" with varible detune (based on the Shape parameter). Hard Sync is only available for MM saw, ramp, and pulse.
New types will be added as they are developed via an upgrade to the OS.
so, im not clear on this, is it possible to sync two CEM (P5 model) oscillators, for classic prophet sync tone.. or is it limited to using the MM oscillator ?


the "Sigma" VCA sounds exciting, hope the saturation model is accurate. and i hope to see the SVF filter (now only LP like OBX) get an future update to full multimode as the original SVF circuit, like on FVS, SEM etc..

overall, the specs sound great. i only wish i could afford a digi synth worth 4K at this moment. but, as someone said, until this gets rolling, we'll see how the market n economy fares. maybe things get lil better towards the end of yr..
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Re: John Bowen Solaris Synthesizer, heard of it?

Post by mao » Mon Dec 22, 2008 4:01 pm

I really can't justify this price for a digital synth... but this is only my point of view.

And why the solaris can't be done in a VST format? I mean look at the Neuron, an overpriced pc boxed inside a synth case with a software... and few months later they came out with the VST version.

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Re: John Bowen Solaris Synthesizer, heard of it?

Post by Stab Frenzy » Mon Dec 22, 2008 4:16 pm

mao wrote:I really can't justify this price for a digital synth... but this is only my point of view.
Is that because you value the amount that analogue components cost or because you're more concerned about whether the sounds you make are from analogue or digital synths?

I imagine most people that hear your music are going to say more about what it sounds like than trying to second guess what you used to make it.

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Re: John Bowen Solaris Synthesizer, heard of it?

Post by cornutt » Mon Dec 22, 2008 4:26 pm

mao wrote:And why the solaris can't be done in a VST format?
The Solaris is going in the other direction... it's based on an existing plug-in called Scope. It's a fair question to ask, "so what does the hardware bring to the table?" I believe the answers are:

1. Increased processing capability. With dedicated DSPs, there will be far more processing power than any desktop PC.
2. User interface. Knobs, buttons, screens, joysticks -- editing will be far easier, faster, and doable in real time. And of course it's got its own keyboard.
3. Optimized software for the application. The Solaris software doesn't have to deal with Windows. It doesn't have to worry about virus scanners, faulty drivers, undefined interrupts, BSODs, competing background processes, or non-discretionary DRM flakeouts. And it will never be made obsolete by an OS upgrade.
Switches, knobs, buttons, LEDs, LCD screens, monitors, keys, mice, jacks, sockets. Now two joysticks!

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Re: John Bowen Solaris Synthesizer, heard of it?

Post by carbon111 » Mon Dec 22, 2008 5:30 pm

clusterchord wrote:so, im not clear on this, is it possible to sync two CEM (P5 model) oscillators, for classic prophet sync tone...
I'm pretty sure the CEM OSCs can do sync...one of John's major things was tweaking the sync sound to get as close as possible to the P5 so I'm assuming that had to be the CEM oscillators.

The best thing would be to ask on his forum at his website...
Best Regards, James
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Re: John Bowen Solaris Synthesizer, heard of it?

Post by urgetoplay » Mon Dec 22, 2008 5:46 pm

Mao, The nuke version of the Neuron wasn't nearly as good as the stand alone hardware version. It was extraordinarily buggy and lacked several features.
No thank you on a watered down buggy sonically deficient Solaris.
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Re: John Bowen Solaris Synthesizer, heard of it?

Post by Max Websta » Tue Dec 23, 2008 4:50 am

Solaris will be the sweetest synth analog or digital, to come out in a long time.

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Re: John Bowen Solaris Synthesizer, heard of it?

Post by mao » Tue Dec 23, 2008 5:54 pm

Stab Frenzy wrote:
mao wrote:I really can't justify this price for a digital synth... but this is only my point of view.
Is that because you value the amount that analogue components cost or because you're more concerned about whether the sounds you make are from analogue or digital synths?

I imagine most people that hear your music are going to say more about what it sounds like than trying to second guess what you used to make it.
It's only because at the moment I didn't find any digital (hardware and software) synth sounding better or "like" my Andromeda or Voyager or DSI Evolver(analog side). There are some good digital like the clavia NL2 (and 3), the VIrus Ti and so on, but when you put them aside an A6 or a Voyager... well... I don't think they sound in the same way. So a hypa-expensive-digital synth is out of my interest at the moment. It will be a great synth I'm sure... but something is keeping me away from solaris hype. But c'mon we will see. I hope It will be a beast.

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Re: John Bowen Solaris Synthesizer, heard of it?

Post by urgetoplay » Tue Dec 23, 2008 7:51 pm

Fair enough.
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Re: John Bowen Solaris Synthesizer, heard of it?

Post by waveterm » Thu Dec 25, 2008 7:46 pm

Syn303 wrote:Isn't the Solaris just a repackaged Oberheim Matrix 12. However sounds kinda PPG'ish to me!
Sounds just like what the doctor ordered !!

I say perfect.

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Re: John Bowen Solaris Synthesizer, heard of it?

Post by Stab Frenzy » Fri Dec 26, 2008 1:24 am

mao wrote:
Stab Frenzy wrote:
mao wrote:I really can't justify this price for a digital synth... but this is only my point of view.
Is that because you value the amount that analogue components cost or because you're more concerned about whether the sounds you make are from analogue or digital synths?

I imagine most people that hear your music are going to say more about what it sounds like than trying to second guess what you used to make it.
It's only because at the moment I didn't find any digital (hardware and software) synth sounding better or "like" my Andromeda or Voyager or DSI Evolver(analog side). There are some good digital like the clavia NL2 (and 3), the VIrus Ti and so on, but when you put them aside an A6 or a Voyager... well... I don't think they sound in the same way. So a hypa-expensive-digital synth is out of my interest at the moment. It will be a great synth I'm sure... but something is keeping me away from solaris hype. But c'mon we will see. I hope It will be a beast.
Shouldn't you wait til you hear the Solaris before you decide it sounds like all those other synths? :?

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Re: John Bowen Solaris Synthesizer, heard of it?

Post by scope4live » Fri Dec 26, 2008 1:36 am

I was able to quit using my Oberheims live thanks to Scope DSP cards and Solaris soft.
However I have used analog all of my life and couldn't see being w/o a rackmounted updated analog as the Monophonic chores are important to me.
Solaris version 5.0 is now available in Scope and has added features that others haven't commented about here.
The seperate Oscillator glide amounts that made the Oberheim/Moog sounds is fantastic and makes the software version the best emu I have ever used. The only thing that Solaris or any other DSP/softsynth for that matter can't do is that very low end emulation and filter sweep. Just think of Geddy Lee's sound on the intro of Tom Sawyer.
To me, that is the only thing left in Bowen's analog emulations that just doesn't say goodbye to the Code 4 I use.
As far as Mid and High register emulations are concerned I was sad, but had to admit that my Oberheims were no longer needed, and could recieve a proper burial in a project studio.
Add to the fact that the digital aspects of Solaris can use Waldorf Oscillators, Prophet VS, Vector Synthesis and Sample Oscilallators, it's a no brainer to me that this synth is the best viable solution for a single synth approach for live performance I have ever seen, or used.
I bought mine when it was first announced like many other chaps, and I suspect the hardware having 96k and the new ADSP-21369 DSP chips will sound even better than my current, and ancient DSP's.
Here's what the old outdated software version sounds like as an anlog emulation, and a Waldorf type preset.

http://www.planetz.com/forums/download/file.php?id=4180

http://www.planetz.com/forums/download/file.php?id=3915

And for hearing the awesome destructive power using the Tube Filter.

http://www.planetz.com/forums/download/file.php?id=4026

No drums, just 3 stereo takes of Solaris version 5.0 software.
I cant wait to hear the voice of my new child at NAMM '09. Oberheim Filters...... [-o<
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