Modern monosynth prices VS polysynth prices

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Modern monosynth prices VS polysynth prices

Post by cfernn » Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:03 pm

Everytime I see a new synth come out that's reasonably priced, I get all excited until I find out that it's monophonic. Then I just think...in this day and age, why not just make is polyphonic? I'm referring to synths like the Minibrute, Moog Taurus, now the Sub Phatty and the mini MS20 (I know this was originally mono but still had to mention).

Are these priced reasonably because they're monophonic? Does adding polyphony really justify a major price increase? For anyone who know how to build synths...is it THAT much more work to build a polyphonic synth? Seems like most modern polysynths are about triple the price of monosynths.

I guess to sum up my question... Is it simply marketing? Or is the price increase justified in parts/manufacturing/labor?

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Re: Modern monosynth prices VS polysynth prices

Post by Dr. Phibes » Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:16 pm

I'm not much of expert on electronics but from what I can tell producing an analogue polysynth without resorting to 'cheats' (like paraphony) essentially entails putting a bunch of monosynths in one box and engineering ways in which they can interact, like oscillating sync etc. Add to this bigger size, expectation of more a elaborate keyboard, attendant shipping costs and the price quickly goes up.

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Re: Modern monosynth prices VS polysynth prices

Post by Z » Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:23 pm

Here we go again.

I'm assuming you mean analog polysynths. In today's digital age, the market for a polyphonic synth is very small. You'd think with the number of analog synth enthusiasts out there, there'd be a bigger market, but you've got to really step back and see the entire synthesizer market and see that analog enthusiasts are a very small percentage.

The R&D of an analog polysynth will be very expensive. On top of the small percentage of analog enthusiasts, there is an even smaller percentage of people who can actually afford such an instrument and/or value the cost of true analog versus a virtual analog.

There are a few choices for new analog polys at the moment: DSI's Prophet '08 for around $2K, Studio Electronics' Omega 8 ($6K new, I think) and the $20K Schmidt. You can also build an analog polysynth system "per voice" through chaining multiple Arturi MiniBrutes @ $500 a pop or Moog Slim Phattys at $800 a pop.

Personally, I'd love to see an analog poly keyboard where you can add voice cards as you could afford them similar to Oberheim OB-X & Xa. I think that would be a great way to offer a polyphonic synth without an enormous "up front" price tag.

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Re: Modern monosynth prices VS polysynth prices

Post by meatballfulton » Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:43 pm

For a rough comparison consider DSI who offers analog synths in both mono and poly versions:

Mopho (mono) $399
Tetra (4 voices) $849 (add $450)

Mopho keys (mono) $849
Mopho x4 (4 voices) $1249 (add $400) -> good deal!!!

MEK (mono) $1270
PEK (4 voices) $2570 (add $1300!!!)

(These are online street prices)
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Re: Modern monosynth prices VS polysynth prices

Post by GuyaGuy » Wed Jan 30, 2013 10:01 pm

Four-door cars are more expensive than an equivalent two-door.
2-storey houses are more expensive than 1-storey ones.
4-legged dogs are more expensive than 3-legged ones, etc.

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Re: Modern monosynth prices VS polysynth prices

Post by Solderman » Thu Jan 31, 2013 2:39 am

Z wrote:In today's digital age, the market for a polyphonic synth is very small. ...analog enthusiasts are a very small percentage.
Factor in the increased likelihood that someone who is after real analog will want a product which meets or exceeds a certain standard, which is an order of magnitude higher than what they currently are using. The main reason all the simulation vsti's are such a joke is because all of that character and complexity must be intentionally programmed in. No CPU in the world can power software that simulates all of it.
That leads into...
Z wrote:The R&D of an analog polysynth will be very expensive. On top of the small percentage of analog enthusiasts, there is an even smaller percentage of people who can actually afford such an instrument and/or value the cost of true analog versus a virtual analog.
Designing and building analog polysynths from the ground up is f**k hard. I remember watching and waiting with baited breath on the Analogue Heaven mailing list as the Alesis Andromeda went from Mike Peake, David Bryce and Jeff Platt's baby to a mass-produced product. When I finally got one in front of me, I was thoroughly disappointed, both in sound and build quality. There are a number of technical issues, such as one mentioned here that prove how even a thoroughly designed and ambitious analog synthesizer project, made with modern manufacturing techniques, RoHS standards and higher tolerance parts, compared to their vintage counterparts, can result in a mere shadow of its intended vision: To bring new flexibility and power to 1970's technology designs, not resort to layers of menus and stepping in the controls, and remain faithful enough so more discerning customers, who somehow count flaws as features, are pleased. No one has made them as their flagship product for over 30 years now, so no one but a few boutique companies have the experience or clout to pull off a modern analog monosynth, let alone a polysynth, and make something of quality that is simple to operate and is elegant in design. The few who have are still limited in what they can produce compared to 30 years ago. The DSI polys all use NOS chips made in the 1980's for the heavier aspects of the design, for instance. And as evidenced by the Evolvers and Prophet 12, there is too much temptation to leave essential parts of the design to DSP and hope either no one notices the difference or welcomes it.

So factor in cost and complexity, and the number of people willing to commit, both makers and buyers, will quickly shrink to the minority it remains as today, regardless of the unwitting demand. Even then, the value versus effort/cost will likely never be matched: It's a compromise for those who love the sound, the interface and all the quirks that go with it.
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Re: Modern monosynth prices VS polysynth prices

Post by Ashe37 » Thu Jan 31, 2013 8:03 am

Solderman wrote:The DSI polys all use NOS chips made in the 1980's for the heavier aspects of the design, for instance.

No, they don't. Though the chip design is related to the CEM 3396 but not the same chip (especially since it has capabilities that the previous ones don't, like a sub osc) but the chips are marked DSI 120, SMD chips , that are RoHS compliant and NOS chips from the 80s would not be either of those. Would be a cool trick for CEM (now Onchip Systems) to make a synth-on-a-chip in 1986 that was compliant with an EU directive that would be written in 2002.

Anyway, another thing that adds to the complexity of polysynths that i haven't seen specifically mentioned is crosstalk and noise. Every voice you add, adds noise and the possibility of crosstalk to the system so the voice chips and their traces need to be kept a certain distance apart.... etc

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Re: Modern monosynth prices VS polysynth prices

Post by volumetrik » Thu Jan 31, 2013 8:52 am

Z wrote:Here we go again.

I'm assuming you mean analog polysynths. In today's digital age, the market for a polyphonic synth is very small.
Why did Roland put out the Gaia SH-01 then?

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Re: Modern monosynth prices VS polysynth prices

Post by V301H » Thu Jan 31, 2013 9:43 am

The market for a modern Polysynth is certainly there but only if it can be produced at a low enough price. In today's market only a select few vintage Polysynths even have a value in today's inflated dollars that exceeds their original 70's and 80's selling prices. Anyone producing a new Polysynth is competing with vintage gear that is already available at comparably low prices.

On the other hand, most vintage Monosynths sell for at least two or three times their original price. It makes more sense to produce Monosynths as they have a chance of competing with what is available on the vintage market.
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Re: Modern monosynth prices VS polysynth prices

Post by Bitexion » Thu Jan 31, 2013 9:52 am

Adding polyphony in the analog way means you need an extra set of filters, amps, oscillators for each extra voice.
This costs money naturally. A 16 voice analog synth with 2 VCO's pr voice actually has 32 oscillators inside, and 16 filters. 32 filters if the synth has a highpass + lowpass filter separately.
One for each voice. That's when it starts to add up, which is also why analog synths don't have 80-100 notes polyphony like the workstations or VA synths can. There it's all software and is limited by the CPU power. But with analogs it's all chips and resistors.

My Andromeda takes over a minute to autotune because it goes through every VCO and filter, and there's 32 of each.

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Re: Modern monosynth prices VS polysynth prices

Post by synthparts » Thu Jan 31, 2013 10:04 am

Ashe37 wrote:
Solderman wrote:The DSI polys all use NOS chips made in the 1980's for the heavier aspects of the design, for instance.

No, they don't. Though the chip design is related to the CEM 3396 but not the same chip (especially since it has capabilities that the previous ones don't, like a sub osc) but the chips are marked [url=http://prophet08.com/prophet08/6.jpg]DSI 120, SMD chips
i think he was talking about the fact the DSI synths also all use the PA397 which IS basically an SMD version of the CEM3396 VCF/Waveshaper/Mixer/VCA chip and were originally made for the Marion Systems synths in the early 90s. This low-cost combo chip is one of the main reasons the DSI synths all sound similar and don't measure up to older analog synths like the Prophet-5, OBs, Memorymoog, Voyetra-8, or Jupiters to me...
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Re: Modern monosynth prices VS polysynth prices

Post by volumetrik » Thu Jan 31, 2013 10:22 am

I think the market is bigger than it was in the 70s/80s, there were like 3000 Jupiter-8s made, surely today theres more than 3000 who want one, they originally cost like $5295 and now they go for $7000? crazy

But they were originally built in Japan, and it was more labor intensive, today you can take production to China and use SMT (btw new KORG MS-20 is not all SMT) they can be made smaller too to use less material/weight etc. So I'm not saying they should remake a Jupiter-8, if they made a hot new poly that was as good as Jupiter-8 it would sell like hot cakes, it would still be a profitable addition.

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Re: Modern monosynth prices VS polysynth prices

Post by pflosi » Thu Jan 31, 2013 11:20 am

volumetrik wrote:I think the market is bigger than it was in the 70s/80s, there were like 3000 Jupiter-8s made, surely today theres more than 3000 who want one, they originally cost like $5295 and now they go for $7000? crazy
5'000$ in 1980 = 14'000$ in 2011... It's cheaper now than new. There's really not much 70/80ies gear fetching higher prices now than new back then if you adjust for inflation. Actually I think there's only the TB303 and that's about it...
volumetrik wrote:
Z wrote:Here we go again.

I'm assuming you mean analog polysynths. In today's digital age, the market for a polyphonic synth is very small.
Why did Roland put out the Gaia SH-01 then?
Uhhhhmmmmmm... Huh? :|

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Re: Modern monosynth prices VS polysynth prices

Post by volumetrik » Thu Jan 31, 2013 11:44 am

pflosi wrote:
volumetrik wrote:I think the market is bigger than it was in the 70s/80s, there were like 3000 Jupiter-8s made, surely today theres more than 3000 who want one, they originally cost like $5295 and now they go for $7000? crazy
5'000$ in 1980 = 14'000$ in 2011... It's cheaper now than new. There's really not much 70/80ies gear fetching higher prices now than new back then if you adjust for inflation. Actually I think there's only the TB303 and that's about it...
volumetrik wrote:
Z wrote:Here we go again.

I'm assuming you mean analog polysynths. In today's digital age, the market for a polyphonic synth is very small.
Why did Roland put out the Gaia SH-01 then?
Uhhhhmmmmmm... Huh? :|
Do you know why it was $5000 back then? Because it used expensive computer parts like memory, CPU etc. I suppose you think a MiniBrute back then was $1500?

Now the reason I asked about Gaia is that it is an old school style VA, now who would buy such design if the market for such things is so tiny? Do you think if it had an analog board it wouldn't have sold just as good?

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Re: Modern monosynth prices VS polysynth prices

Post by bochelli » Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:37 pm

To me its down to the cost and almost certain competition , bet your bottom dollar if a poly came out some maker would clone it , the first polys were massive , costly, and some with reliability issues,today not known , mono is the safe bet, also i cant see any poly today offering something new without a trace of past polys, so i feel its not really worth the trouble,these new synths makers are only interested in money i feel the soul died long ago.
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