What makes a synth famous?

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Re: What makes a synth famous?

Post by Pro5 » Sat May 09, 2009 11:54 am

I think it will get to a point where all musicians will have to return to washboards and rubber band banjos... to be 'different' again #-o

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Re: What makes a synth famous?

Post by masyst » Sat May 09, 2009 11:57 am

Or maby it will be something like the Reactable that are going to rule the music...
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Re: What makes a synth famous?

Post by HideawayStudio » Sat May 09, 2009 11:59 am

I think you've all forgotten the other -major- influence.... something which is not even permitted these days due to unfair advertising... the large white legends featured on the back of keyboards showing up on TV charts programs such as UKs much missed Top of The Pops. Many of us wouldn't have known what the DX7 or the Emulator II as spotty teenagers otherwise :D
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Re: What makes a synth famous?

Post by Christopher Winkels » Sat May 09, 2009 1:41 pm

There's something to that.

Back in the '80s when I was far younger and somewhat more stupid, I spent a lot of time synth-spotting on videos. That Emulator II logo on the back of Depeche Mode and Front 242 logos certainly gave those instruments a lot of cachet and credibility for me.

Conversely, seeing a dreadful band playing a synth (Level 42 with their ubiquitous DX-7s...I'm talking about you) made me disinclined to think favourably about Yamaha's offerings.

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Re: What makes a synth famous?

Post by masyst » Sat May 09, 2009 1:42 pm

Why wasn't any of Quasimidi's synthesizer a succsess?
As far as I know Quasimidi are out of business (I might be wrong)
I remember Jarre was using the Raven.
Was it just a sort of wrong synth to wrong time, kinda "we don't need any new manufacturs"
But Clavia made great succsess with their Nord Leads, they where just on year erlier than Quasimidi.
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Re: What makes a synth famous?

Post by kuroichi » Sat May 09, 2009 1:45 pm

I think a lot of the time hype makes some synths famous, or they become famous because of a particular person using them.

Funny thing is, in the past there werent as many analog drum machines built to the quality of an 808/909 with as many sounds in one box, so once the hit records establish the fame for the machine, I think the limited availability can keep it there. Which may explain their continued popularity now, even though there are a lot of high end drum machines around compared to past times.

I think when a machine reaches a certain amount of fame (808, 303, etc), the sound dosent play as big a role, as at that point a lot of the people hearing it wouldn't know the diferences.

For example with the 808, 303 and to an extent the SP1200, S950 and MPCs, a lot of the fame amongst non synth users comes from hearing the names mentioned, like how in modern R&B and rap (by modern I mean awful, not 'recent') the term 808 is just a cliche phrase thrown around to be with the trend.
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Re: What makes a synth famous?

Post by Solderman » Sun May 10, 2009 1:07 am

Ultimately it comes down to hearing THAT sound first. I was a fan during that entire span of time Acid-house was popular, and didn't find out what a Roland Bassline was until that phase was already over. For all I know, the acid sound in my favorite records could have been made on any synth, and in fact, not all acid music uses 303's.
Another example: The synth solo in "Through being cool" by Devo, which plays during Heavy Metal: A friend asked me, while we watched the movie, if I could make that sound with my gear. But you wouldn't require a Moog Source to make it, the band just happened to use one.

What I want to know is, what percentage of the masses actually cares about a synth, regardless of its fame, or not? And can you have that interest in said famous piece of gear without actually also having the gearlust for it? For the latter question, what I mean is, why is it that one has the conceit they can use that sound in their own music, and do something better?
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Re: What makes a synth famous?

Post by masyst » Sun May 10, 2009 9:13 am

Thats a good post, Solderman.
I think that's near a conclusion on why synth got famous.
Like that you don't need a Jupiter 8 to play Duran Duran.
But also, it has to be something else too. I mean the Minimoog, the most classical example, are used by many thousands popular bands, but it ain't just that that makes it famous.
It have THE sound. And that must have something to say for the other synths that are famous too.
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Re: What makes a synth famous?

Post by synthRodriguez » Sun May 10, 2009 11:38 am

Some synth's that are famous may end up being that way by default because they are breakthrough instruments, like the Roland JV-1080. It was originally popular much for it's multi-timbral capabilities although by its nature had a rather non-descript sound. Now it's famous for being on so much material, but maybe not for it's sound so much as its capabilities (at the time), and although it was no slouch in the sound department, that wasn't what ended up being the main driving force behind it's popularity.

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Re: What makes a synth famous?

Post by StepLogik » Sun May 10, 2009 11:43 am

Obviously the style of transformer on the power supply is the most significant factor. Synths with a toroidal-style transformer are always more famous.

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Re: What makes a synth famous?

Post by Bitexion » Sun May 10, 2009 4:41 pm

Yeah, but the Minimoog's "The Sound" is really down to the fact that it was the first monosynth people could buy that wasn't a mega modular system costing $10,000+, so every other portable synths' sound became judged after that. There were lots of musicians who refused to touch Moog synths, because they didn't want their records to sound exactly like the others..funny when you think how many shun certain synths for their presets being overused nowadays.

ARP's entire business strategy was to create synths that were different from Moog's synths. Thus they only went with sliders instead of knobs, weird PPC pads instead of pitchbend wheels, no modwheels etc etc. To cater for the crowd that didn't wanna be "mainstream".

Bob Moog once said that if ARP didn't spend so much time comparing themselves with Moog and create counterparts to their instruments (the same, only in a different way), ARP as a company might have still been around today.

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Re: What makes a synth famous?

Post by masyst » Sun May 10, 2009 7:48 pm

I like synths that are different, but it's a shame if that did the end for ARP
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Re: What makes a synth famous?

Post by Bitexion » Sun May 10, 2009 8:07 pm

If you're interested in the ARP story, look for the "The Rise and fall of ARP" somewhere. It was scanned from an american business magazine in the early 80's. I found it here, but threads are erased after a few months inactivity so I can't help you there. It's a great read about the fast rise and equally fast fall of a synth giant.

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Re: What makes a synth famous?

Post by aredj » Sun May 10, 2009 8:28 pm

My guitar rock only producer friend - "Yeah, maybe I'll get a moog sometime..."
Me - "yknow it only plays one note at a time?"
My guitar rock only producer friend - "really? Why is it so popular then?"

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Re: What makes a synth famous?

Post by masyst » Sun May 10, 2009 8:46 pm

Haha... I remember when I was at a music store in Oslo, I tried a Voyager there and after a bit off playing I asked the seller "is the Voyager really worth the money?"
He said that of course it was, it sounds brilliant and break trough the soundscape and when I play with my band, we're running the guitar trough it when I tweak the filters!"

At the other music shop I went to, where I know the seller, I asked the same question.
There the seller said that the Voyager is overhyped and overpriced...
Two different answers
A synthesizer will be for you what you want it to be...

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